Tips and tricks for consistent success
Pull back the curtain on some of the top World Cup’s technicians, and you won’t find much wizardry. Instead, you’ll see some fairly boring routines. But it’s these daily habits that lead to whizzing-fast times on the racecourse and eye-popping, podium-topping performances by athletes across the spectrum.
“Every technician has a routine,” says Aaron Haffey, who tunes skis for Norwegian Leif Kristian-Haugen. “Mine is about handling the ski fewer times. Every movement is deliberate. Efficiency is critical with large numbers of skis, but it is equally important with just a pair or two.”
Fellow serviceman for the Norwegians Pepi Culver compares tuning to putting on the golf course. “You need to develop a pattern,” he says. “You’ll find yourself working more efficiently, and when you get interrupted, you’ll be able to go back to work knowing exactly where you were in the process.”
Of course, you should find your own individual approach to consistency. In the same way that base bevel and ramp angles vary from racer to racer, so does the daily routine. But, armed with a few basics (and maybe a few new tools), you can redefine how you tune and how effectively you spend time working on your equipment.
This old-school step, of using a 5- to 7-degree side bevel tool with a Panzer file, is an essential part of Jonathan “Napa” Weyant’s routine as he preps skis for the U.S. women’s Europa Cup squad. “It’s a lost skill that most people don’t still do,” says Napa, who relies on back-filing to periodically to clear away material next to the edge to keep your side-edge bevels accurate and edges sharp. “Ultimately, you end up filing less by taking a little bit of material back-filing and then just a little bit of edge to maintain the desired bevel and sharpness.”
2. Turning down the iron and applying more wax
Culver has spent years watching junior racers and their parents tune skis. “So many athletes,” he says, “use too little wax, and run their irons way too hot.” If you’re interested in preserving the integrity of your ski base and want to spend less time fighting base burn, turn down your iron and be generous with the amount of wax you apply. You’ll end up with more spillover off the base, but maintaining an adequate layer of wax between the ski base and iron is crucial.
3. Keeping tools in good working order
This will ensure the highest quality work in the least amount of time. “Overused, dirty, and otherwise neglected stones, files, guides, and cutters reduce the quality of your work,” says Culver. “Just take care of your tools!”
4. Ditching the spring clamp
“It’s a huge mistake,” says Haffey. “You might think you’re getting a 3- or 4-degree edge bevel, but those clamps aren’t strong enough to keep your files and stones true to the angle that you’re trying to impart.”
5. Investing in the right tools (and tunes)
“My ManTac scraper sharpener is still the best tool I’ve got on my bench,” says Haffey. “Also, the Snowglide edging tool is amazing — super user-friendly and precise.”
Adding tools adds up, but the increased quality, precision, and time savings will more than cover your cost in the long run. And don’t forget to throw in a little fun. “Make sure you have a good sound system in your ski room,” says Haffey. “It really helps make the tediousness of your routine more bearable.”
6. Experimenting from time to time
“I’m always trying out new tools, but sidewall and second-edge removal tools are at the top of my list,” says Culver. “Technology keeps advancing tools, and if those new advancements make my life easier while maintaining or increasing the quality of the work I put out, count me in.”