Cross Country ski gear - Fischer, Toko

It was to be my biggest ski year to date — three weekend trips, a 51-kilometer race and tons of training. In preparation, I researched ski gear before the snow fell and picked up a new pair of sticks a week after Thanksgiving.

Since then, my Fischer Nordic Pacer skis ($219; http://www.fischerskis.com) have seen use and abuse on hundreds of kilometers of trails. I chose this model for its unique design, low price and top-end features.

Following a trend in the skate-skiing world, the Nordic Pacer comes in shorter lengths. I’m 6’1’‘, but these skis are just 171 centimeters long. They are wider underfoot and have pronounced sidecuts on front and back.

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Fischer uses the same strong and lightweight core materials on top-of-the-line race skis and mid-level models like the Nordic Pacer. Three running groves on the ski’s base enhance stability, and a sharp, strong edge lets you transfer power quickly from ski to ski while skating.

These details create a fast and light ski that is more stable than traditional longer, skinner models. I like the shorter length for control and, versus my old 200-centimeter skis, I have not noticed a significant difference in speed.

For poles, I went with Toko’s A 161 ($150; http://www.tokous.com). Like the skis, these poles are made for intermediate and advanced skiers who want good-performing, durable equipment without a sky high price tag.

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The A 161 poles are made of a lightweight carbon/fiberglass hybrid material and feel well balanced in the hand. They come with small race-style baskets meant for groomed trails only. And a wrap-around Velcro grip strap keeps your hands in place on the pole hour after hour on those epic ski outings.

Also worth noting, Toko poles have an unconditional one-year warranty — you break them on the trail, the company sends you a new pair, no questions asked.

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