New Ski Service at Gear West

David Chamberlain here, I am the new service manager at Gear West. It has been a busy start to the season at the shop with people thinking ahead to what might be a challenging winter. We have seen folks from all walks of life come in asking questions about what it takes to get into skiing. Some have skied before, others have not, but the common theme is they are looking for something to do in a winter when things to do might be limited. It has made for a busy fall, but it has also been really fun to work with so many people this way.

We have also seen the racing crowd taking stock of skis and bringing in race skis for service. One of my duties here at the shop is to run our Tazzari stone grinder and I am very excited to be putting the experience that I have with the machine to use. Stone grinding takes off a small amount of base material, flattens the base of the ski and presses in a new structure. Over the course of a season’s worth of waxing, training and racing base material can get dull and dead – the best way to rejuvenate a race ski is to have it ground. New skis are also worth having stone ground. Skis from the factory are not always completely flat and they often have inconsistencies from factory machines that mass produce grinds.

We made some very nice updates to our Tazzarri machine over the off season. The new variotech technology is one of these updates. The variotech allows us to make structures deeper and more angled from tip to tail. This is accomplished by increasing the pressure and speed of the feed wheel incrementally as the ski passes over the stone. While skiing as a ski passes over the snow friction is created, also creating suction and water that needs to be released and channeled. The changes in structure over the length of the ski allow for this action to happen down the ski where it is needed most. This type of structure also helps while climbing on skis – heavy structure at the tip of a ski can often slow the tip down as it is pushed over the snow. With the variotech technology we can keep the structure much less aggressive at the tip allowing it to float better over the snow.

The variotech requires more work, but it is fun and satisfying work to see the final product. The tip sets off a counter as the ski comes off the stone and every 10 cm the structure is programmed to change as the ski moves down the stone. Different lengths of skis need to be reprogrammed to accommodate the right amount of change. This all represents the incremental gains that we can provide here at Gear West to bring you the fastest ski possible.

Along with the variotech we also have updates to the pressure system that controls the feed wheel of the machine. The pressure is not only downward onto the feed wheel, but also allows for upward pressure to help make more precise structures. This has changed the way that we program pressure into the computer, but makes a much better structure in the long run.

Tazzari also has plans for updates to their diamonds and stones to be announced this winter, stay tuned for an update on those changes. We will be taking full advantage of the new products that Tazzari puts out going forward.

One thing we can do at Gear West is to evaluate skis and make recommendations for grinds. The first consideration is to evaluate the condition of the base material and cleaning up the

base can be enough to recommend that a ski be ground. Secondly, we can evaluate the ski and make a recommendation based on whether the ski might perform better with a different structure pattern. This is the time of season to make these decisions and there is plenty of time to get skis into us for grinding. Another point to make is that stone grinding is not just for race skis, everyone who enjoys the freedom of moving fast over the snow can take advantage of a clean and well-structured base. It is a good way to care for your skis and can often be done as much as every season.

No matter the circumstances this winter – skiing is definitely going to happen! Racing might be a bit more of an adventure than years past – but most of our favorite Midwest events are working hard and taking the steps to bring us events in some form. Stop by the shop or give us a call for more information about our services that can help you get ready.

- David Chamberlain

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