Singing A Different Tune
As snow eases onto high country mountains across the West, it’s time to start thinking about breaking your skis out of their offseason jail cells and showing them a little love. If you’re anything like former U.S. Ski Team technician Jonathan “Napa” Weyant, pulling files and passing wax irons in preparation for the approaching season is an art form and a craft that he’s been perfecting over the past 19 years.
An admirable stint working with the U.S. Women’s Europa Cup group beginning in 2001 and then with the World Cup speed team leading up to and during the 2006 Torino Olympics kicked off Weyant’s impressive résumé. Then he was the mastermind behind Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett’s equipment preparation in ski cross before and during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics before assuming his role back with the women’s alpine team for five more years.
Ushering in a fresh beginning, Weyant has traced his roots back to Colorado to join forces with Gorsuch as its new director of ski service in Vail and Aspen. Best known for luxury online and retail storefronts inspired by aprés ski lifestyle in the Alps, Gorsuch has stayed true to its promise to provide high-quality service and goods by expanding its in-house tuning services with Weyant at the lead.
Weyant is enthusiastic about providing his unrivaled talent alongside the Gorsuch family name this season while furthering his craft. “I’m chasing perfection and always have ideas on how to do things better or differently,” says Weyant. “It’s like when somebody is a chef or a carpenter, and although it’s still work – and not everything is always peaches and cream – it’s interesting, and I get to learn something new all the time.”
With a hint of modesty, Weyant explains why he hopes to continue helping the ski racing community with his work. “To be able to work with an athlete and see a positive change when they’re struggling or watch them get a grip, that’s the quick and dirty of why I do what I do. And there’s no denying it can get competitive,” admits Weyant. “And now, to be able to work with Gorsuch is a great opportunity on all sides.”
Weyant will use top-of-the-line Montana Saphir B 1 Pro machinery to tune all race skis. “I basically get to drive a Bentley every single day while I work,” he says. The reality is that those who choose to use Gorsuch for tuning this year might as well be dropping their skis off at the Ritz for an overnight stay with Weyant.
Earlier this month, two Montana engineers visited Weyant in the Vail location to demo the Saphir B 1 Pro Machinery. Just like operating a computer, the machine uses mechanics with sensors and moving parts that are programmed to tune a ski based on pre-set functions. The machine, which advertises itself as a robot (and doesn’t look far from one), uses one stone, features automatic loading, and controls the material removed based on the geometry of the ski.
With a new 2,000-square-foot facility in Vail and the Montana Saphir equipment services offered at comparable prices, there’s no doubt Weyant and his Gorsuch team will be busy this season. Gorsuch will run trucks each day between its locations. If you drop your skis off for a tune at the Vail shop while Weyant is servicing the Aspen location, the truck will transport your skis directly to Weyant and then back to Vail to ensure a consistent, top-notch tune.
“Although I haven’t figured out how to clone myself and be in two places at once,” Weyant laughs, “I am the person who will be doing the race tuning and that’s a big thing for me. No matter what, you are going to get a consistent, high level of tuning.”
This season, Weyant has carried over some of his past clientele including U.S. Ski Team athlete Kipling Weisel and his technician Neil Lande.
“Jonathan has really amazing attention to detail and he has a great understanding of how to operate the machine,” alpine ski technician Neil Lande notes. “There aren’t many shops in the U.S., let alone Colorado where I live, that have the opportunity to get a guy with a reputation like his operating these machines. It can only produce one hell of a product.”
Lande plans to work with Weyant at Gorsuch throughout the season when he needs a quality stone grind for Weisel’s skis.
Weisel won’t be the only racer in the U.S. benefitting from Weyant’s reputation and Gorsuch’s Montana machines. This season, the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club (AVSC) along with various clubs in the Steamboat Springs area will send their athletes’ equipment to Weyant.
“Now that Jonathan is here, it’s a game changer for us,” says Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club Alpine Program Director Alice Black. “He has a ton of experience and to have him available to anybody from U10 athletes all the way up to our FIS athletes is something that we’ve really missed in this valley.”
The Gorsuch family is a longtime supporter of the AVSC. Jeff Gorsuch, who serves on the AVSC board of directors, provides equipment scholarships for the introductory ski groups every year.
“We’ve had tuning opportunities for entry-level skiers but not for the elite skiers which is huge,” says Black. “To have that gap filled with Gorsuch’s top-of-the-line machines and Jonathan as the ski tech, it just fits really well.”