Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Adventures in Waxing Skis

When I volunteered to be the Cross Country Ski Coach, I knew I was volunteering to face several scary experiences. Among them:

  • having to teach a sport I had never participated in and know nothing about, thus setting myself up for major embarrassment and ridicule
  • being responsible to keep kids from getting frostbite in -30 weather.
  • keeping watch to ensure that none of my skiers are eaten by polar bears (this is a legitimate danger in Shishmaref; during our long practices outside of the immediate village we have to be accompanied by armed escorts)
One of the experiences I was particularly not looking forward to was the waxing of the skis. Because I've never before participated in cross country skiing, I had no idea how to wax skis. All I knew was that it would involve blocks of wax like this:

and irons hot enough to produce lots of steam like this:

The idea of mixing scalding hot irons, melted wax, and a bunch of junior high kids did not sound like a good idea to me... But, tomorrow the kiddos have their regional championship meet, so we couldn't put it off any longer.

We had to delay our waxing because I had a test proctors meeting after school. I had to attend a video conference teaching me how to avoid the evils of unauthorized bathroom breaks and inadvertent "coaching" during standardized testing. The meeting went long, and my ski team was bouncing around the hallway waiting for me to finish. I still had some things to finish in the school, so I gave the kids my keys and told them to get started.

This wasn't exactly the most responsible thing I've ever done, and I had visions of crippled kids and liability lawsuits in my head when I finally made it to my classroom. I walked in and found my team systematically waxing their skis without a hint of chaos. They had even lined the tables with butcher paper so they didn't get wax on them!!!!! You may not appreciate the sheer amazement of that act. These are the same kids that I have to remind to please spit IN the garbage can and ask nicely to stop walking on top of the tables with their wet shoes.

So, it turns out that waxing skis is actually the easiest part of being the Cross Country Ski Coach. My skiers made it through with all of their fingers and appendages intact, and we didn't start any fires. Bonus.

If any of you are curious. Here is the process for waxing skis Shishmaref style.

Melt a bunch of wax so that it drips across the bottom surface of your skis:

Run a very hot iron across the dripped wax so that it smoothes the wax across the ski:

Scrape off the excess wax with a thin plastic scraper.

Use a stiff brush to buff the wax coating to a smooth finish.

I hope that comes in handy next time you need to help a group of kids wax their cross country skis. Hey, I never thought I'd be doing it either...


jake said...

FIRST POST!!! Welcome to the blogging world - I'm looking forward to more.

rinalston said...

Way to go Angie. I've Snowboarded. But I've always paid to have my board waxed. So Congratulations! I too have felt like waxing would be very complicated and scary. Thanks for sharing! =)

JEM said...

Holy smokes! I guess I wasn't too far off on the polar bear thing. Please don't get eaten. Also, I'm so stoked that you've joined Blogtown! It's a great place to be. And I can't wait to read more about your life at the North Pole. A few things I want to know: Why Alaska? Is this a permanent situation? How long have you been there? How big is your town? Do you have a ward there? I'll think of more I'm sure.