The Daily Grind
The life of a Nordic wax tech at the elite level can be thankless, sleepless and grueling. 4 am wakeups for wax testing after a long night of prepping skis are not uncommon. You haul countless pairs of athlete’s skis, breathe questionable fluoro fumes and still have to ski well and hard enough to test kick and glide. The kilometers wax techs ski in testing can total to more than the athletes do on a hard training day (without the massage, proper rest and regular meals athletes are treated to). This is the life Cory Wubbels, White Pine Touring grind developer and Nordic guru, lives when he’s working his other job as a U.S. Nordic Ski Team wax tech.
Waxing on the World Cup isn’t a cakewalk but on those days when everything gets nailed, its all worth it for the tech team. That’s what happened last week at the Cross-country Skiing World Championships in Val Di Fiemme, Italy. Up-and-comer (although that title is hardly appropriate anymore) Jessie Diggins and veteran Kikkan Randall teamed up for the exciting Team Sprint Relay event. For those unfamiliar with cross-country ski racing, the Team Sprint consists of two person teams, each alternately skiing a 1.3km loop (in the case of Val Di Fiemme) and tagging off to each other. Each skier will complete the loop 3 times and races are high speed, exciting and highly tactical. Crashes are not uncommon as racers battle for position and the race is one of the sport’s most grueling efforts; with short rest in between legs, the racers have little chance to recover before going 100% percent again.
With brilliant tactics, powerful skiing and fast skis, Diggins and Randall demolished the field by 7 seconds. Their closest competitors, Sweden and Finland, came in second and third respectively. The race wasn’t without a bit of drama – on her 3rd lap (5th leg in the race), Diggins’ pole was stepped on and broken by a competitor. Displaying some gutsy skiing and a cool head, she powered with one pole through the next 100m without missing a step, before getting a replacement pole from a coach. Despite the fact that the pole was much too long, Diggins got back to business and tagged off to Randall in the lead, with a gap on second. In typical Kikkan style, she built on this lead and crossed the line in dominating fashion.
Not only did they dominate, Diggins and Randall made history – this was the U.S.’s first gold medal at the Cross-Country Skiing World Championships, ever. But, they were quick to point out the team effort. As Diggins said on an interview on fasterskier.com, “It takes an entire team to make a race like this come together. It’s not just us two — it’s the wax techs, it’s the teammates cheering, it’s our friends. I think it means a lot and hopefully it’ll inspire some young skiers in the U.S. to get after it and stick with the sport.”
Part of that tech team was White Pine Touring’s own Cory Wubbels. A Park City local, when Cory isn’t waxing skis for World Champions, he’s developing stonegrinds and waxing skis here at the Nordic center. No stranger to hard work and definitely not one to bask in the limelight, Cory probably would be perfectly happy letting the athletes take the glory. However, the Jans and White Pine Family would like to give a little credit where its due and say ‘Nice work, World Champion wax tech! And, want to put some of the magic sauce our skis for the Round Valley Roundup?’
by Evelyn Dong