The 3 main factors to having fast skis are ski flex and design, structure, and wax. You could throw base material in there too, but most people have what they have, so that is more of a World Cup level topic. (Note that many skis have different base material that matches the type of conditions that they were designed to ski in, so this is addressed in the ski selection process. Example: Rossignol S3 or C3 have a “wet” clear base material to match the flex and structure that the skis come with). more..... Far and away, the most important factor in having fast skis are the skis themselves. Given a particular condition, the skis need to match the condition in terms of their flex and design as well as match the skier (weight and ability). If snow is cold, dry, and slow snow, a fast ski will generally have a low camber and a relatively long area of contact in the tip and tail sections. Assuming the structure and wax are “cold”, the skis should be good assuming they are fitted correctly. If the skis have a high camber and a short area of contact in cold, dry, and slow snow, the wax and structure can still slow the skis down further, but the skis will not be very good regardless of how optimal the other two factors are. It is the same in wet snow. Clearly, having a low camber and more contact between the ski base and the snow will result in more suction and more opportunity to pick up dirt creating more friction and more suction. Minimizing the contact results in much faster skis for the short term and especially after some km are skied. The disadvantage of using a lower cambered ski with longer contact area can not be overcome with “wet” structure and wax to the point that the skis are really good. This is especially the case in dirtier snow where the addition of a deeper structure to compensate for the increased suction (surface tension) created by having a longer contact area will only result in more dirt attaching itself to the ski base which makes the ski slow due to the added friction of having dirt on the base as well as the increased suction because the structure is filling up with dirt and the previously hydrophobic base material is covered with dirt and no longer hydrophobic. Bottom line is that in order to have fast skis in all conditions, the skis need to be the right flex and design for the conditions and they need to fit the skier such that the contact area matches the intent of the ski design. If you put a 200 pound guy on a ski designed for a skier of 160 pounds, there will be an increase in contact area. Also, the more aggressively a skier skis, the more care needs to be taken to ensure that the skis are stiff enough to accommodate being suspended on the right length contact zones. Structure is the next "most important factor", especially in the two extreme conditions which are cold, dry, slow snow and wet snow. In cold dry fast snow that is for example transformed, a more fine structure can be used with great success. A base finish that is not a “cold” grind (very smooth) will not run fast in cold, dry, and slow snow regardless of the flex of the ski and what wax is chosen. In very wet snow, a “cold” grind will not run fast even if the ski and wax are optimal. All 3 factors in having fast skis need to be considered. Satisfying any one or even two factors will generally not yield fast skis if the third factor is in conflict with the conditions. Most times, the factor that is most in opposition to the conditions determines the speed of the skis, not the ones that are in agreement with it. So, my recommendation is to consider skis from a macro level starting with ski selection (should not be too soft or too stiff!), then the structure followed with an adequate base preparation and then finally wax. It is not as complicated as it sounds if you are a passionate ski enthusiam or a racer (i.e, you are willing to invest financially as well as in physical preparation).
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