Thursday, December 27, 2012

Is it too late to stone grind for the Birkie?

by Tony Mommsen
See our Stone Grinding Services

7 weeks to the  Birkie
You forgot to get your skis stone ground last fall. Last winter you thought they were looking a little scratched or not quite flat. You know “Flat skis are fast skis”. But you also know after stone grinding it takes time to build up wax layers needed for fast skis.

 Why stone grind
Skis get beat up. Rocks can scratch, irons can glaze or concave the bases. Fluoro and other materials can clog-up your bases and reduce their ability to accept new wax. Our first pass through the stone grinder is to remove these irregularities and give you clean, flat bases. The second pass we add micro-structure for the conditions (temperature) the skis are to be raced in. Structure controls the adhesion or cohesion also called suction or friction. For cold conditions we add less structure, for warm conditions we add more. 

If your skis are needing some love,
check out our stone grinding services

Grind now or wait until summer
Look at your ski bases today and if you see problems you should grind them soon or wait until the season is over. Grinding now will give you time to saturate your bases with wax and give you fast skis for the Birkie.

Race day for the Birkie (or any race) can be any weather condition: new snow, hard pack, cold or thaw. If you have more than one pair of skis, each pair should be assigned to the temperature range where they work best. You may have a cold, medium and warm skis. Grind them to match: cold skis will have less structure, warm skis will have more. During the season wax each pair for their temp range. A week before you should have a pretty good idea of the race day conditions and be able to focus your efforts on one (or two) pair of skis.

Step One - Select Race Skis
From on-snow experience, designate skis for cold, medium and warm conditions. We suggest cold and medium grinds. If weather is warmer on race day racers you can add more structure with a hand riller. Aggressive, warm weather grinds are difficult to remove the days before a race. Bring these skis to Gear West, we will confirm you made the right selections, and determine if stone grinding is needed.

Grind plan for two pair of race skis
a. Cold grind
b. Uni2 grind

Grind plan for three pair of skis
a. Cold grind
b. Medium - Uni 2
c. Warm - Uni 3

After the Grind
Hot boxing is included with all grinds -- this gets ski bases fully saturated.

Hot Boxing
Hot boxing is free with all stone grinds. We apply a layer of special soft wax to your newly ground skis and place them in a box where they warm for several hours. While in the box the wax penetrates the base.

Hardening off the base
Post hot box you should apply four to five layers of hard wax (like blue). These layers is called Hardening off the base and will make the base is more resilient to wear. 

The right company
The best knowledge! The best equipment! The stone grinder of choice for Gear West
is the Montana Crystal SR producing a superior structure that is fast the first time
you put it on snow.

Gear West Stone Grind Services
Stone Grinding - $59.99 pair.
Learn about our grinds below - bring your skis in and we will help select the right grind.

Cold C1
The Gear West C1 Grind is our coldest structure pattern. The ultra fine broken linear structure is designed to effectively ride over the sharpest of snow crystals (often seen on dry, fresh fallen flakes) at the expense of moisture management that "warmer" grinds provide. We suggest it for temperatures below +10F when the humidity is below 20%

Uni U2
The Gear West U2 Grind is the best all-around ski grind in the Midwest. While it won't perform quite as well in either very dry and cold conditions or exceptionally warm and wet ones, it's modest broken offset structure truly excels in "typical" conditions. It performs best in fine, transformed snow, which often occurs when temperatures are between 5 and 20F when the humidity is between 20 and 80 percent.

Uni U3
Providing some additional moisture control over it's sibling, the U2, the Gear West U3 Grind is an ideal all-around grind for high-humidity areas or for dedicated warm-weather skis. It runs best on old corn snow (which often exists when the temparature is between 20 and 30F and the humidity is above 40%), though it does not run as well in finer or fresh fallen snows.

Wet W40
The Gear West W40 Grind is designed to channel moisture and provide maximum break away speed in the wettest conditions. It's wide and aggressive open linear structure allows for remarkably fast skis in melting or moisture-dense new snow, though it may struggle in fine-grained or new snow.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowstorm Brings Excitement to Gear West Ski and Run

Snow affects mental health and Sunday's storm proves it. I have worked at Gear West Ski and Run for just a couple weeks and I have seen how snow puts smiles on customers and employees. Let's call it Snowstorm Happiness Syndrome. It’s contagious.

11:30 A.M. Sunday snow was falling hard and roads were in rough shape. Dana pulled into the Gear West parking lot to find four customers waiting for the store to open at noon. Each of the customers had all-wheel drive and they were on their way to the ski trails. They were picking up new hats and gloves or their newly waxed skis.

Even with difficult travel the shop was busy all day on Sunday. Those who bought new skis waited for bindings to be mounted so they could use them that afternoon. They would be skiing on the trails at Baker Park or French Park.

Brian demonstrates scientific measurement of snow depth - "See. Exactly 12 inches"

Gear West employees were as excited to see the snow as our customers. Lynne skied before coming to work Sunday, Brodie didn’t work Sunday but explored the back roads of Brooklyn Park on his fish scales during the peak of the storm. I had Sunday off so I skied from my house  to Theodore Wirth Park. As I skied I enjoyed seeing the snow pile up on the fences and branches. These are the days we Gear Wester live for. 

Gear West Ski and Run wrapped in snow

Monday.  The sun is shining and snow is deep around the store. The parking lot is half full with customer cars. I can feel the excitement as I walk into the store. Everyone is smiling. The phones are ringing, Speedy is helping customers with new skis and Brodie in the shipping department is boxing up new orders.

From my desk I can hear Speedy talking with customers. “I want skis I can break trail with or ski in set tracks” the Speedy says “These skis will work great, they are wide enough for breaking trail yet they fit in the track without rubbing on the sides.”. This is a break-your-own-trail kind of winter and we are all loving it. 

Speedy love touring on the Salomon Elite 5 Grip.
Speedy says "These skis make winter fun. You will get great performance wherever there's snow. 51mm wide in the shovel - makes it ideal for breaking trail yet goes in a set track nicely without scraping the sides all the time. 3D core better lift in the waxless area so the fish scales don't drag. G2 Plus waxless pattern gives a great kick and still a good glide. Very low maintance but you can apply Toko Grip and Glide over the the entire base and you glide through the snow. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Matt Liebsch - Early Season Race Recap

This year was my first time making an effort to jump into the race season “all-in.” In the past, I have trained through the early season, skipped races, and spent only a little time at altitude in preparation for the early season altitude racing… mostly this was due to financial constraints.

My 1st goal of the season was to qualify for Canmore World Cups. Fortunately, this season I have great sponsors and better funding so I could get to altitude early in the season and race fast at the opening SuperTour weekends.

The first weekend on the SuperTour schedule was West Yellowstone. This year was tough because there was very little snow. Ski enthusiast and athletes had to drive 40 minutes each way on a forest service road to get to the snow. This added a lot of extra logistics and travel, but the race organizers rallied to pull off a great race.

The course was a tough 9km point-to-point freestyle race that had a net gain in elevation. Chris Hall provided fast Fischer skis waxed with Swix SuperCera. I was blessed with fast skis, good race feelings and managed to pull out a win, one step closer to Canmore!

This was my first race trying a little shorter pole than I have used in the past. A shorter pole helps my technique as I can get over the pole better and have a stronger angle of attack when initial pole plant happens. I feel a little longer pole fights me initially and ski technique is all about that initial impulse.

With one race in the bag and one sprint race rescheduled for Bohart Mountain Ranch (due to low snow in West Yellowstone), my family and I traveled up to Bozeman for 3 races in 4 days.

In Bozeman, Bill Pierce with F.A.S.T. helping me with waxing… and with fast skis I still had a tough time with my first skate sprint race. I missed qualifying by 1-2seconds and I never got comfortable on my skis. It was tough not making it to the rounds where all the fun happens!

Ready to start the 9k point-to-point at West Yellowstone. Brian Gregg right behind

The second race was a classic sprint and due to low snow, and the race was moved to the upper trails. The upper trails of the sprint course were flat enough that almost all the men double poled the qualifier and heats. I was perfectly OK with this as I love double poling. I felt a little flat in my qualifier but got in with an 18th placing.
Waxing for the Bozeman sprints

In my quarter-final, I finished 4th in a stacked heat… the 3 guys in front of me included USST members Skyler Davis and Erik Bjornsen and Olympian Torin Koos. I had a little bump and go in the backstretch that slowed me down, otherwise I skied about as well as I could.
Sprinting at Bozeman as the sun sets in the west.

Sunday was the big one. One last race to decide who would qualify for the distance races in Canmore. I started with bib #1 in the front of the chevron and I thought “there is no chance I will have a problem getting out of the start clean”… wrong!?! About 5 seconds into the race I had my pole stepped on, which pulled me sideways and then someone skied through my pole and broke it. Ouch! Almost a repeat of last year at Green Acres, but I was the only one held up. I got moving and I eventually found a suitable replacement on my 4th pole. I dug deep to try and ski back to the front from 90th place. The wheels came off before the finish from all my exerted adrenaline dumped at the start. I finished 14th which happened to be good enough to secure a start at Canmore World Cups in December!

More updates coming once I am in Canada

Thinking snow,