Art of Ski Tuning

by Pete Davies September 18, 2016

Sun Valley Ski Tools are a relatively small company from the USA but produce professional grade tools for the ski market. World Cup ski technicians around the world rave about their tools and attention to detail. They have their own in-house production line using aluminium machining to produce new versatile products for the world of skiing. Wellsnowsports are proud partners with SVST and are excited to be bringing you their top range of ski tuning products.
It’s all well and good having the right gear but what’s the best way to utilise these products? Bryce Peterson of SVST has given us an exclusive interview and some top tips about ski tuning.
Bryce Peterson is one of the main sales and service staff at SVST and has seen first hand how the company has produced top end products. He suggests some of the best products on offer from SVST: “When it comes to putting an edge on, The Final Cut tool is the most precise tool on the market and has been for 25 years.  There are competitors who have knocked it off, but the precise angle cannot be matched. It’s unique in base bevellers because you cannot over bevel your base.”

There’s also another SVST product Peterson thinks is a must have: “The same can be said for the Pro Edge Beveller for side edge work.  We were the first to use aluminum and having the machine shop in-house makes the quality control unparalleled.”

The amount of time spent servicing skis is always a challenge for all types of skiers, Peterson explains how much time should be spent on edging and waxing: “Someone who has been race tuning skis will obviously be faster than a beginner.  That being said maybe a simple ratio would be 25 per cent of your time would be in edges and 75 per cent in waxing.  Waxing will simply take longer to do it correctly with all the different layers and brushing in between.”    

When you are on the mountain conditions can change rapidly, so it’s important to have the right set up for the right type of snow. Peterson says it can be tough to get the exact temperatures but there are ways to narrow down this problem: “You may not be able to pinpoint the exact temp of the snow once you’re on the hill but you can make an educated guess to apply your base layer waxes at home.  Then once you’re on the hill you can get an exact temperature range and apply the appropriate fluorinated solid, powder or liquid overlays.
“I’ve always heard that one thing to keep in mind is that if you’re not sure on temperature go on the cold side of things.  A soft wax on hard sharp crystal snow will be much slower than if you wax hard and end up on soft snow.”

SVST are proud suppliers of the US ski team

(Photo Credit: US Ski Team)

There are many disciplines in alpine skiing from slalom to downhill, but does the way you set up your skis differ from each event preparation? The SVST expert describes how the way each discipline is skied and why you should tune appropriately to that: “For a slalom event your edges are going to be the key to success because you don’t spend as much time gliding flat on the snow. However, for speed events you do spend more time flat on the snow gliding so base prep and wax selection is going to be more important.  While you can tune to the specific event you should not overlook your bases in slalom or your edges in speed.  It’s important to always maintain both for the best results.”
The bevel set up can differ too: “A slalom ski and a speed event ski are going have a very different bevel setup.  So you should always know what bevels your shop is putting on your skis, that way when your prepping your skis at home you’re matching the appropriate bevel angles.  Don’t assume that all your skis have the same bevels, they most likely don’t.”

Sneak peak inside SVST's Machine Shop!

There are many different angles we can edge our skis and we can pick and choose the edge angle we want, but what difference does one degree make to a racer’s performance? Peterson talks about how edge tuning differs for different situations: “The side edge bevel or your skis is what dictates how much grip your ski has when it’s on edge in a corner.  So the sharper the bevel the better it will bite on the frozen snow on a racecourse.
“It is my experience that changing side edge is a dramatic change for most experienced skiers.  Going from a two degree to a three degree bevel will make your skis feel like they are hooking up much faster and holding longer. So it’s great if you’re a technically strong skier, however if you’re not then a three-degree will feel very unforgiving.  It’s going to lock you into the turn and not want to let go.”  
However there is a downside to changing the angle: “The other dilemma to changing your bevel is that it will reduce the life of your edges, so it’s not something that you want to do very often.  I would borrow a pair of skis with a three degree bevel and try them out before I switched my own over.”
So how can you tell if you’ve serviced your skis well? The American says: “A well-tuned ski should glide smoothly from edge to edge.  A sign of poorly tuned skis is a feeling like the tip doesn’t want to come out of a turn or it doesn’t want to initiate the turn without laying it all the way over.  Your skis should go into turns smoothly and come out of them equally as smooth. 
“An important factor to this is how flat your skis are, which should be the first thing the shop looks at.  Once your skis are flat from tip to tail then you can find your preferred side and base bevels.  If your skis aren’t flat it won’t matter what bevel you have, they will never ski correctly.  We recommend a good base grind at least once a year and more often if you’re racing regularly.”
You can find a range of SVST top of the line ski servicing products on the Wellsnowsports online store!

Pete Davies
Pete Davies


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