Saturday, March 6, 2010

2011 Madshus Nanosonic Tested

by Mark Waechter, Nordic Ultratune

In the days just prior to departing for the Olympics, I was able to test a few pairs of the 2010/2011 Madshus Nanosonic skate skis.

The 2010/2011 Nanosonic is all new. Only the name remains the same. The Madshus ski has a completely new shape - the entire design is changed. Yes, the graphics are updated too, of course, but the whole ski is new and that's worth discussing.

The Design

Anyone who has seen the Madshus skis in the past ten years is familiar with the top-side shape - the curved hump/spine that runs lengthwise - it's the Madshus shape that has been constant throughout the Hypersonic and Nanosonic lifetime. But that's all changed now.

The new "3-D shape" is simpler and cleaner. The use of varying depth features extends all the way up into the tip of the ski to reinforce the perimeter of the shovel, allowing a light tip with some engineered control of the tip flex and tip strength. Through the middle fore-body of the ski, the profile is smoothly continuous, and avoids any discontinuities that would create "hinge-points". The effect is visually very clean and simple and elegant. It looks great, and it is a smart design.

The middle section is squared-off and has the standard black NIS plate. This is nothing new - most of the ski world is now using these plates on the skis. Adjustable bindings and NO SCREWS are both a great idea.

I spent a lot of time discussing the top side of the skis because the Madshus design actually uses the shape for structural purposes (not a new thing with skis - Atomic also relies on topside shape in the ski design).

The tips of the ski are trimmed down compared to the past Nanosonics, and the length has been reduced. They're still calling the skis "185, 190, 195cm" because the running surface length hasn't changed, but they measure about 3.5cm (1.5 inches) shorter than before. There's also a noticeable up-turn in the tail that makes these skis the easiest skate ski to ski backwards on! Weight for a single 190cm ski is just a few grams either side of 500 grams on the six skis I weighed. So, weight per pair is about 1000 grams. That's good; lighter than most.

The bottoms are different. There is no colored graphical insert at all. Just plain black continuous p-tex over the whole length of the ski. I gotta tell you, I really like this. It's just simple and "no baloney". Easy to work on, and simply better engineering. Lets hope that they keep the all-black bottoms. Plus, the new skis seem to stay flat better than in the past. I discussed this with Per Wiik from Madshus/Norway, and he told me that some changes were made to the layup of the ski to improve the flatness. I spent a week intentionally waxing the crap out of the demo skaters with LF6 (over and over again), and then stone ground the skis at the end of my testing, and based on my sample of 3 pairs (not a significant sample size, but more significant than "none"), I'll tell you that I'm really happy with the way they stayed flat. Thank you Madshus!

Madshus designed different versions of the Nanosonic skate ski, and it's best to describe the three different camber versions with respect to the on-snow testing.

On Snow

On snow you'll recognize the smooth neutral feel of the skis. The Madshus camber design concept remains the same on the new ski, so they still have that familiar Madshus glide. Smooth and solid.

I was testing the 3 versions of the new Nano skaters that will be available. Madshus designates them as the R, the HP, and the SC. They've tweaked the camber characteristics for these designations (especially the HP and the SC), so it's probably easiest if you toss out your old ideas about what they mean. I think Madshus should have used new names for these skis, but...
  • The "Nanosonic R" skate ski has a high and active camber, and it also has some side-cut. I thought this ski felt very lively and quick through the turns.

  • The "HP" has a medium-high camber and nearly straight sides. This is the ski that I think is the "all-around best". Personally, I like the way these move on the flats, since they roll inside-edge-to-outside-edge without carving away from me while doing a field skate and get a very long controlled and smooth glide. And in softer conditions they've got a little more platform in the mid foot and track nicely through the length of the ski while climbing. The fore body camber extends a little further forward than past models (this seems to be a trend in the industry; Rossignol is doing this, too), and the contact pressure area in the front of the ski closes progressively while transferring weight onto one ski. It's a good all-around camber in the front, with progressive tip flex that isn't board-stiff and it's not floppy. If these skis are picked at 5-10kg above body weight (closing pressure at -8cm), then they'll have some pop and feel pretty lively. A slightly softer pair, around 100% body weight, will be a bit more compliant in cold and soft conditions. (as a note, Madshus uses what they call the "U+" camber on this ski) If you're filling a quiver you might get a couple different flexes, or similar flexes with different grinds.

  • Finally, they're calling the ski with the lowest and stiffest camber the "SC". They intend this ski for wet/soft conditions. (Madshus has referred to this camber as the "U++" in their past world cup models) Personally, I consider this a more specialized ski. The difference between this ski and the HP are a little subtle. The camber firms considerably just before final closure, and the ski sits lower to the ground at rest. Also, there's more of a "hot spot" in the contact area in the front (good for wet stuff), and a little bit more noticeable tip-splay. This ski will have to be selected at about 120-130% of body weight (pressure to close to 0.05mm at 8cm behind balance point) for a good fit. As a note, this is also a nearly straight sided ski (same side cut as the HP).

All three models ski well. The ski is a worthy successor to the old Nanosonic. Madshus has retained their overall ski design concept - these skis still feel very much like Madshus skate skis. They glide smoothly, and control is excellent.

I think it will be critical to get these skis fitted appropriately -- it would be a mistake to fit these versions with the same closing pressure. The models are distinctly different, even if those differences are subtle.

Odds and Ends

I brought a pile of these new Madshus skis back from Whistler during the middle of the Olympics to grind for the prevailing conditions, and I noticed that they were all the HP and SC versions (nearly straight sides). It appears that those versions are prevalent among the World Cup skiers.

Graphics! They've made the ski brighter and bolder. Less black and dark accents, and instead the new color is more of a "lipstick red". The skis look great, though the graphic details and lettering are a little bit grainy in the print resolution ( about nit-picking!). As in the past, the top-sheet is a glossy smooth finish. Madshus does the best job in the industry with finish on the skis, I think, and this new ski continues that trend. Very nice.

I'd like to apologize for an appalling lack of great pictures. The fore body (and tail) cross section is worthy of a nice picture (worth a thousand words...). I had to dash off to Whistler and didn't get the "money shot" that I need before leaving, and didn't get the pics at the Olympics . Now the skis are gone. As soon as I get another pair, I'll update this posting with more photos!


With the ski season winding down, the remaining Rossignol, Madshus, and Atomic skis and boots are on sale. As always, the skis are top quality and all skis come with a grind and hotbox service at no additional charge. Sale prices are limited to in-stock items. Send email if you have questions.

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