NEW HAMPSHIRE’S SPORT THOMA SKI SHOP BEEFS UP ITS RACE
PROGRAM WITH WINTERSTEIGER BY HANK MCKEE
Back to the Future
Ready to go.
LINCOLN, N.H. — Walking in the front door of the Sport Thoma
Ski Shop here leads to a tidy and very full ski shop full of new apparel. The next room has recreational skis. And above the door to
the third room is a sign that reads, “Race Room.”
For one immersed in ski racing there is a comfort that comes with
walking through that door. It smells like wax. Jovial people are moving quickly. This third room is chock-full of race gear: skis, boots,
poles, helmets, armor. It is not a limited selection. Every major competition brand is stocked, plus a couple of new ones, like Dodge
boots and Bomber skis, both U.S. products.
If the immersion has been of a lengthy sort, the memory might go
back to Ed Chase, the man who tuned skis for the Mahre brothers. He’s instrumental in the Sport Thoma race program and points
around this room as he says: “This is all retail race product. There is
no, what we would call, consumer public product in this at all.”
But it is through the next door where things come sharply into focus. It’s the main portion of the service department and is dominated by a huge Wintersteiger ski prep machine, a quarter of a million
dollars worth of high-tech grinding. The machine is just a few weeks
old and has already seen a goodly amount of work. In a long narrow
storage area behind the Wintersteiger are batches of skis, grouped
by race program, ready for pick-up. The pack for Waterville Valley is
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out front. Down the narrow back room are skis batched and ready
for the race programs of Burke Mountain, Nashoba, Franconia,
Bretton Woods and Ragged Mountain. “And we’re just starting our
pile for Loon,” says Chase. “They’re just coming in today.” There
are hundreds of pairs of high-end race skis in this room. It’s a bit
mind-numbing to consider.
Sport Thoma has been around a long time, founded by Chris
Thoma three decades ago. The focus on racing is more recent,
and the escalation of that focus is fresh.
The Wintersteiger machine was delivered in August and assembled in September. The previous tuning machinery is in a small side