When I (Stella) had lived in Wisconsin, classic cross-country skiing was my passion sport – I loved it! However, my love for this form of skiing had fizzled shortly after moving to Colorado four years ago when I noticed the difference between the two different types of terrains. I had become discouraged by all of the hills, and really struggled with them. After skiing a few times at some Nordic centers in Colorado, I had decided to focus on backcountry snowshoeing instead.
This winter, however, I decided to give it a try again. I took a refresher lesson in classic skiing, and a skate skiing lesson. And although I liked skate skiing, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to whole-heartedly pursue it. A stirring in my heart told me to give classic skiing another chance. After doing some extensive research about all of the different types of cross-country skis, I have finally found a solution that would help make classic cross-country skiing more enjoyable in mountainous terrains.
Classic cross-country skis are broken into three categories: (purely) classic, touring and back country. My old skis are the Rossingol EVO Glade 176cm (length), which are at least nine years old; they are labeled as ‘touring’ skis. The kick zone possesses a fish scale pattern, which is now smoothed from years of use. I had those skis and bindings fitted specifically for me at a ski shop, and they had worked great while skiing in Wisconsin. But they are truly inadequate for skiing in mountainous terrains.
TYPE: After thorough research, I decided upon the Fischer Spider 62 Crown Cross-Country touring skis, and I am beyond thrilled with my choice! These skis are highly versatile because they allow users to ski within groomed tracks, and outside of groomed tracks for light off-trail use. This will come in handy when we want to ski in parks or other places that do not have groomed tracks, and when groomed tracks start to thin out the Nordic centers. This ski is 62mm wide, so they fit perfectly within the groomed tracks at Nordic centers. (The other set of skis that I was considering are the Rossignol Evo OT 65 Positrack, which are the skis Larry purchased).
SIDE NOTE: This is a waxless type of ski, which means that you do not have to apply kick wax. However, do not underestimate the value of applying a glide wax every time before you use them! We especially like Swix F4 All Temperature Universal Glide Wax.
LENGTH: (purely) classic skis tend to be very long and narrow, which provides users with the advantage of speed. Touring skis are often fitted to be a little shorter, and sometimes wider than the (purely) classic skis. And even though my old skis were fitted specifically for me, they had always felt quite long. When you look at the manufacturer’s recommendations for touring skis, they are based upon weight (rather than height). I learned that a touring ski between the lengths of 165-169cm is ideal for me.
You may be wondering how much of a difference a few centimeters can make, and I can tell you that the difference is HUGE! The advantages of a shorter touring ski includes: better control going down hills, more effective herring bone traversing up steep hills, more control going around corners, and an overall lighter ski allowing more ease of use.
I had a lengthy discussion with the REI retail specialist about whether I should get the Fischer Spider 62 Crown in 169cm or 179cm since I had been accustomed to a longer ski previously. He affirmed that if I went with the 169cm, I would end up sacrificing glide/speed due to the shorter length. Instead of following the manufacturer, and my gut instinct, I went along with the retail specialist’s advice and purchased the 179cm – it had been the wrong choice! I promptly returned them and ordered the 169cm, and the difference is nothing short of astounding. (I plan to go into detail about all aspects of this ski, and will break it into sections). This first section discusses the length:
- Glide: While skiing on the Fischer Spider 62 Crown 169cm ski, I no longer ‘feel’ the length of the ski dragging behind me like I had before with the other longer skis. This shorter ski is so light that it is significantly easier to kick with, and my glide has actually improved because there is less ski that needs to move underneath me. Having an efficient glide and stride with these skis is effortless.
- Traversing up steep hills: I also notice a difference with this length of ski when I need to herringbone up a steep hill. Previously, it had always been very difficult for me to do this because the back of my skis had always crossed over one another – because they were just too dang long! Here in Colorado, where most of the trails at the Nordic centers have lots of steep hills, being able to do this with ease is critical! And this is the biggest reason why I had given up on cross-country skiing shortly after we had moved here. That problem is now solved!
- Down hills and turns: This shorter ski provides me with so much more control when going down the steep hills, simply because there is less ski to contend with. This means that my knees do not have to invert so much into a snowplow type of position in order to gain control. This same notion is also applicable for turning within and outside of groomed tracks. Everything is so much easier now than it has ever been.
DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION: I will break this into two sub-categories, and will then explain how they affect different aspects of cross-country skiing.
- KICKZONE: The kickzone is the area underneath the ski, right in the middle, that has some form of gripping/textured pattern. The material pattern of the kickzone will vary from ski to ski. The kickzone material on this ski feels kind of rubbery, and is raised like little square bubbles. The kickzone on this ski has completely changed my skiing experience.
- Glide: The pattern and material allows the ski to grip the snow so that I can perform an efficient kick, which then allows me to have an efficient glide. My old skis possess a smooth fishscale pattern (which is worn), unlike the raised, rubbery, bumpy pattern that these have. My stride/glide has improved two-fold. Also, when I ski outside of the groomed tracks (ex. in the skating lane), I still have complete control, and am not sliding all around , like I would have on my old skis.
- Traversing up steep hills: The pattern and material of the kickzone is also vital for traversing up hill. In fact, the kickzone on these skis is so superior that I often can just step ski right up the hills, versus having to do a herring bone formation. This is because of the ‘grip’ that the kickzone provides. I could never, in my wildest dreams, be able to accomplish that with my old skis, as I would be sliding backwards at the even the slightest of hill unless I used a herringbone formation. Not having to always herringbone has saved a great deal of wear/tear on my knees.
- METAL EDGES: Here is where things get really interesting. I was unfamiliar with metal edges on skis until I had begun my research. Some skis have partial metal edges, while others have metal edges that run the full length of the ski. What is the purpose or advantage of having metal edges? In one word: control. Metal edges are often used on touring and backcountry skis because of the stability and control that they provide. And once you’ve cross-country skied with metal edges, you’ll never want to ski without them! The Fischer Spider 62 Crown skis have full-length metal edges, which I love with a fiery passion. Skiing up and down the steep hills is now an enjoyable experience!
- Traversing up steep hills: Metal edges are extremely useful for the herringbone formation when going up very steep hills. The herringbone formation is when you invert your knees (pull them inward), dig the inner edges of the skis into the snow, and cross the back of your skis in a v-shaped pattern. Think of it as the opposite pattern of a snowplow position. With metal edges, it makes this formation so much easier because the metal digs into the snow to provider users with more grip and stability.
- Down hills: When I had skied in Wisconsin, I feared going down any hill because my skis had zero control, even when using a snowplow formation. And I often find people who walk down steep hills with their skis because of this issue. With a metal-edged ski, you will never have a problem again, regardless if the ski has a partial or full-length metal edge. And not only do I have complete control in a snowplow formation while going down very steep hills, but I often don’t even need to engage in a full snowplow because of the control that these edges provide.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Fischer Spider 62 Crown Cross-Country touring skis have renewed my love for cross-country skiing because I now have a ski that functions ideally for the terrain that I am in, and they provide so much more versatility of use. I actually love cross-country skiing now more than I had before, and it is all because I have found the right type of ski for me. They are nothing short of perfect. And because of my experience with trying this ski in two different lengths, I have to urge you to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation based upon your weight.
End Note: Stella has paired her Fischer Spider 62 Crown IFP Cross-Country Skis with the Rossignol X-6 SC Combi Boot. Click link for her review.
See the review for our Madshus Panorama M78 Backcountry Nordic skis.
Overall: Excellent Purchase
Price paid: $299.95 with Turnamic Bindings
Place Purchased: REI
Link to REI website: REI
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