This issue may be all about the latest and greatest hardgoods, but even the slickest new skis will slow
you down — unless you know how to properly prepare them for the races ahead in the 2011-2012 season.
I like to think of ski prep in the following terms:
setting angles in steel
Base flattening is intimately connected to base bevel — it’s the heart and soul of a ski, and the correct application and
angle is the greatest contributor to the feel of a ski. Today’s skis are good; really good. Yet they’re most likely not up to snuff
for precision skiing applications, whether you are a racer or just
a skilled skier. Why? It has to do with the production process.
New skis travel down an assembly line of wet sanding belts and
stone grinders in order to level the plastic base along the length
and width, and then finally to impart the finish structure. But to
do so, the base edges need to be relieved quite a bit so that they
are not being ground down in the factory finishing process.
For years, I’ve watched well intentioned athletes, coaches,
masters, and technicians examine a new ski, approve of the
pretty factory grind, and then attempt to set a base bevel angle. In reality, this is what is most likely happening, at right:
Instead, new skis should be precision ground to total flatness,
and then the base bevel should be applied. This is not always
an easy process. It requires very slow grinding speeds, many
passes over a high-end stone grinder (sometimes 30-plus), little
or no feed-wheel weight, and a great feel for stone grinding. It’s
a combination of these personal technician skills and a great
machine that makes certain shops a “go-to” for race ski grinding. See the cross-sectional views at right, which shows the
end result of a high-end race shop grind, and the base bevel
applied correctly across the width of the base steel.