Why Start the Season with a Prep?
You have been training all summer… You have been putting you time in the gym, lifting weights and getting stronger. You have been to one or two summer ski camps getting your days on snow, dialing in your technique. The summer went by fast and it is now behind us and you are as strong and motivated as you have ever been.
We are now deep into the fall/early winter and you have no doubt purchased your new race gear for the 2017-18 season. It is an exciting day when you get your new quiver of race skis, you may have even started putting layers of wax into the base. It may appear that your skis are ready for training or race day, but your skis may need a lot more attention than you can imagine.
All summer while you were training, the ski manufacturers have been pumping out skis in their factory. Skis are a mass-produced product and there are a lot of excellent ski brands to choose from but every pair needs to be dialed into maximize its performance on snow.
As with any mass-produced item, there is only so much attention to detail that can be paid to any individual product. Skis are produced by using an assembly line process, it is the most efficient/cost effective way to bring a product to market. That being said, making a quality product quickly at a reasonable price is the goal.
During the assembly line process, the skis being produced do not get individual attention. The ski companies have a quality control team that combs through the skis at the end of the manufacturing process to make sure that skis falls in line with basic tolerances that are acceptable. The manufactures may look at overall flex, torsional stiffness, base structure or base and side-edge bevels to make sure the skis will perform properly. These tolerances are basic guidelines and can be improved upon once you get your skis home.
Most race skis come to you with too much base edge bevel. Base edge bevel controls how quickly the ski initiates the turn, it is the relation of the base-edge to the overall base material. The flatter the base-bevel (.5 degree), the quicker, more edgy the ski feels. If the skis have too much base-bevel (1.5 degree) the skis feel dead and damp and do not turn very well.
How do you fix this? Take your skis to a shop that specializes in ski race tuning and have them flatten the skis with a stone-grinding machine and reset the base bevel (and race structure) at .5 to .75 depending upon how strong of a skier you are.
The race structure that comes on your race skis is a generic or universal pattern that may or may not work well in your area. When you take your skis into the shop to have the base-bevel flattened, ask the shop what grind they recommend for your local conditions/weather. This is an often-overlooked aspect of ski performance and can make your skis faster.
Most skis are built using a laminate construction, this laminate construction is a sandwich of materials glued together with epoxy resin and enclosed with a fiberglass sidewall, top-sheet, base material and metal edges. The sidewall material is often too bulky (vertical) and requires shaping and cutting to allow for proper side-edge tuning. Take your skis to a good shop and have the skis initially “set-up” for the season. Sidewall shaping and sidewall removal is something that can be done at home, but the initial work is difficult and may be something you want to leave to the pros. Remember, once the initial work is done you still will occasionally remove additional sidewall material. Probably every 4-5 times that you side-edge file, your edge material will get close to the sidewall, requiring sidewall removal.
Now, with the sidewall material removed it is time to sharpen and set the correct side-edge angle. Sharpening skis use to be a difficult procedure using a series of files and diamond stones, but now with the advent of machine side-edge sharpeners the work is very easy.
The new SWIX Evo Edger can sharpen your skis to National Team perfection with just a few passes. Just remember to wear the proper protective items (repertory mask and eye protection) and you are off to the races. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irA3Dpuy5t4
Good luck with your early season training and look for us next month when we talk about “home race tuning and your skis performance”.
Good luck and go fast!
Swix Sport USA
Alpine Race Director