Stone Grind­ing

Can It Make a Dif­fer­ence?

SkiTrax - - Waxworx - By Pa­trick Moore and Jack Cook

Here at the shop, we feel re­ally lucky to be able to com­bine our job with our pas­sions. One of the things we love about this job is that we get so close to the com­mu­nity. We meet a lot of peo­ple – World Cup ath­letes and recre­ational skiers, wax techs and equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers – all pas­sion­ate about ski­ing.

Over the years, we’ve seen many struc­tures and grinds on the var­i­ous new and used skis that have come through the shop. And it fas­ci­nates us how much of a dif­fer­ence just a small ad­just­ment can make for all lev­els of skiers.

But what are these grinds and why do they mat­ter?

Ev­ery­one will ben­e­fit from the right grind. It doesn’t mat­ter what kind of ski or wax you have if the grind isn’t right for the snow and con­di­tions.

At the World Cup Elite level, wax techs have to be metic­u­lous. They are op­er­at­ing with mar­gins that are in the frac­tions of one-thou­sands, where just a hair too much or too lit­tle of the grind pat­terns sep­a­rates the medal­ists from the re­main­der of the field.

More than just a pat­tern, the re­search and science be­hind grind­ing are prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant things to have hap­pened in this in­dus­try since we opened our shop doors more than 25 years ago.

Grinds are de­signed to make skis glide bet­ter in var­i­ous con­di­tions. There are dif­fer­ent grinds for dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures and con­di­tions, such as warm con­di­tions and cold con­di­tions, new snow, old snow, trans­formed snow and man-made snow, wet snow and dry snow, and any com­bi­na­tion of these.

But while the World Cup skiers have a large selec­tion of skis and grinds to cover all of these con­di­tions, most recre­ational skiers do not have such im­pres­sive re­sources. That’s why we sug­gest that most of our cus­tomers go gen­eral rather than spe­cific. There are grinds that cover a wider range of con­di­tions, such as a more univer­sal warm grind or a univer­sal cold grind, de­pend­ing on your re­gion.

A univer­sal cold grind is one of the most ver­sa­tile grinds on the mar­ket. And it is the one we sug­gest here at the shop in Ed­mon- ton, Alta. It cov­ers a wide tem­per­a­ture range and will work on a va­ri­ety of snow types, from quite cold and dry to quite warm. Ad­di­tion­ally, the univer­sal cold grind is a grind that takes well to a man­ual rill on top of the ba­sic grind, so this is one we rec­om­mend as a good, all­round grind.

For older skis that have seen a trail or two, stone-grind­ing re­moves base ma­te­rial in a uni­form, con­trolled man­ner, re­sult­ing in fresh P-tex be­ing ex­posed. This fresh P-tex will ab­sorb wax bet­ter and pro­vide the foun­da­tion for the ap­pli­ca­tion of a new struc­ture or it can be geared to a spe­cific con­di­tion that you ex­pe­ri­ence in your area.

When pur­chas­ing a new ski from your lo­cal shop, off the rack each of the man­u­fac­tur­ers pro­vides a univer­sal grind that you can feel con­fi­dent about when hit­ting the trail with speed.

Typ­i­cally, the grind that comes with a new ski is pretty good for the needs of most skiers, but most ath­letes at the top level will have new ad­di­tions to their fleet re-ground to suit their needs and to match the skis’ char­ac­ter­is­tics.

That said, the new grinds have im­proved tremen­dously over the years, so it’s hard to tell for cer­tain how they will per­form in your lo­cal con­di­tions with­out ski­ing on them on your lo­cal trails.

In gen­eral, many of the store skis have larger grinds than what we pre­fer here in Ed­mon­ton with the cold and dry con­di­tions that are typ­i­cal of Al­berta.

Over time, once you work with your skis and de­velop a feel for the con­di­tions they work best in (fac­tor­ing in air hu­mid­ity and snow type in your area), you can then work with grind op­tions that match the flex and char­ac­ter­is­tics of your skis.

This may take some time – trust­ing your judg­ment in terms of ski feel. How­ever, if you keep an open mind and leave bias on the ta­ble in terms of brand and age of the ski, you can do what the wax techs of the world do for each and ev­ery ath­lete: spend time, take notes and de­velop an op­ti­mal fleet of skis.

Wel­come to mind­ful ski­ing and have a great sea­son.

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