Åsnes Ingstad WL and Nansen WL skis: The Scales are back!
I have just received the first prototypes of the upcoming new Asnes Waxless Skis for the 2018-2019 season. Yes, the scales are back! Meet the new Ingstad WL and the Nansen WL. They are simply beautiful. Both models have been previously reviewed here and here, but let's take a closer look at the new WL versions. Note that they are prototypes, so they might not be exactly what the production models will be like. But according to Asnes, they are very close to the final product that will be in stores in November.
Norwegians probably learn how to wax before they even learn how to read. I'm pretty sure they use the Swix wax system to learn colors in preschool and daycare centers. They don't have much use for waxless skis. But a lot of people elsewhere around the world do, including myself. No, it's not for beginners or for people with lack of waxing knowledge. With all the new advanced fish scale patterns on the market, especially the ones from Fischer, it became a class of ski of its own.
In the last few years, the only Asnes waxless ski available on the market was the Amundsen. And it was not available anywhere in North America or Europe, it was sold only for the Swedish market. A few years ago, while traveling around Norway, some forum users (Hi Ben!) reported that the Asnes fishscale pattern was very rudimentary, and mostly used for rental shops. Well, this is definitely not the case with the new WL models.
What we have here is a nice and progressive advanced traction pattern. Kind of an updated, small Omnitrak morphed into an Offtrack Crown pattern. From what I can see and feel, it seems to offer much better grip than the old Omnitrak but with better glide than the Offtrack Crown. The grip vs glide ratio will always be a matter of compromise, but this new WL pattern feels just perfect for their intended use, considering the geometry of both skis and their moderate wax pocket camber profile. A more aggressive double camber pattern like the Vario Crown or the MGV+ would be too slow for a Fjellski like this, while a plain, round scale pattern like the G3 and Voile ones would not offer enough grip for such narrow skis. It looks like Asnes achieved a perfect balance here, tuned especially for backcountry XCD skis. Very, very promising. I wish there was snow outside right now to fully test them, they look FAST!
Precisely. Because for some of us, time spent waxing is time spent not skiing. Like the Fischer Easy Skin skis, the new WL models also come with Asnes X-Skin inserts. Just go out and ski, and put the skins on only for longer and more serious ascents. Take a look at the picture below and notice how the X-Skin inserts have been carefully moved a few centimeters to prioritize waxless efficiency over skins. Since the focus is placed on the waxless aspect on the WL series, the sweet spot where the skins usually go is now tuned for the fish scales. It doesn't matter much for the skins since they would be used here mostly for climbing or icy conditions where kick and glide efficiency is less important.
You know how I am always impressed by Asnes and how they make skis with the highest quality craftsmanship. The WL series are no exception. The company didn't bother coming up with a fancy name for their WL pattern. No tech primer on the polarity of their scales or 3D views of ski construction. The name Asnes itself is sufficient. People know that when they buy Asnes, they will get the best.
I would REALLY, really like to see waxless versions of wider Asnes skis, especially on their Toppturski series. But according to the brand manager, the WL skis are a test for the French and US markets to see if there is some interest. He mentioned that it would be somehow unlikely to see wider WL skis than the Ingstad, but who knows... We just need to show interest.
Not everyone had the fortune of being born Norwegian. Fortunately for us and all the folks who don't have a degree in waxology, a waxless version is available for the following models below. I just can't wait to try them on snow, I'll keep you posted... In the meantime, you can pre-order (or at least reserve them) now at your favorite Asnes retailer to make sure to get your hands on a pair. They should ship around mid-October. Get them while you can!
Have a great winter my dear friends!