Best Skate Skis This Season – Stu’s Report

There are some cool and new changes in race skis that will getting plenty of buzz this season!

Fischer has added TWO different models to their top-end Speedmax 3D Skate line.  Adding to their tech-loaded concepts that already include Gliding Sidewalls (marketed “3D” for their three sides that glide) and Cold-Base bonding (which was the catalyst of the original Speedmax introduction), the Speedmax line is adding a new construction mold called the “61K”.  The Fischer Speedmax 3D Skate 61K mold was initially designed to be a quiver ski for softer snow conditions, with flex characteristics that provide even more pressure relief at both the tip and tail than Speedmax’s traditional “610” mold.  While most skiers will find the greatest benefit of these skis on softer snow, some of the more advanced skiers will find that, if one’s balance is adequate, the 61K skis prove to be faster on a broad range of snow conditions as well. So, what was premeditated as a soft-snow quiver ski, may be your next “go to” ski despite the conditions.

Fischer Helium Demo XC Ski HQ
The XC Ski HQ crew got to test the new Fischer 3D Skate 61K skis last spring, AND the Heliums. We were stunned by how smooth and fast the 61K’s are, even on packed snow!

Also new from Fischer is the Speedmax Helium Skate skis.   Though largely unavailable in 22/23 for purchase due to small-batch manufacturing, you’ll be sure to see them on World Cup podiums this season.  By creating stronger and lighter weight construction concepts (including a carbon/glass laminate dubbed “Helium Shield”, and “Bidirectional Air Core”), the Heliums are now a virtual tie* with the reigning champion of “lightest weight skis”: the Salomon’s S/lab Carbon Skate skis.

The S/Lab Carbons have always had the most amazing feel and balance underfoot, and new for 22/23, Salomon has tweaked both their base material (introducing “G5%” base) and base grind (“SL22”), which have effectively made their “Universal” model have a broader temperature range of optimal performance; performing better in colder conditions as well as better in warmer conditions than earlier model S/Labs. Also exciting from Salomon is their continued improvements to the Salomon S/Max Carbon Skate which we fall in love with year after year.  They lured us in with their budget-friendly carbon construction, then seduced us by adding the coolest on-the-fly adjustable “Shift-In” bindings, and now for 22/23, are constructing the skis with a core that is 45% (by weight) made from 9 recycled plastic bottles (dubbed “S-Core”) – very earth-friendly and very cool!

Last but not least is the Atomic Redster S9 Gen S Skate.  Introduced for the 21/22 season, this model is new to our lineup this season, and has completely re-imagined the design of a skate ski by building a relatively drastic side-cut of 47/40/47mm tip to tail (compared to Fischer’s 41/44/44 and Salomon’s 44/43/44).  This new “Speedline” sidecut not only provides more stability, but adds major efficiency to each stride by tracking the ski to the middle of the trail at each kick.  Also innovative is their one-size-only 183cm, which will provide increased agility to anyone who has been skiing on 187cm or 192cm skis.  Don’t worry, each pair of skis is flex-tested and matched to a skier’s weight.  Oh, and the Gen S has the on-the-fly adjustable “Shift-In” bindings, too!

*The Heliums are advertised as 950g for 186cm, and The S/Labs are advertised as 980g for 192cm. True weights vary slightly between skis, and when weighing even length skis in our shop, our ruling is a “tie”.

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What’s the XC Ski HQ advantage? Cross country skis, fitted especially for you, at the best price. Period. When you order from our site, or talk directly to one of our ski fitting specialists, you can trust that you’re working with cross country ski experts who are focused on getting you in the right gear for you.

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