Since Gear West opened its doors in 1992, stone grinding of race skis has come from being a radical proposition regarded with skepticism to an entire field of study and a necessity for any serious racer. The reason for this is simple: when it comes to speed, getting the right grind makes all the difference.
But what is grinding? Stone Grinding is a process that removes a small portion of your ski’s base and applies a specific pattern of very small grooves and ridges known as a structure to the remaining surface. All modern skis are ground by the manufacturer to establish an initial structure, but over time, this will wear down. Likewise, bases that have been overheated or otherwise refuse to accept wax can only be repaired by grinding off the sealed layer of base material. To get the most speed possible, even new skis should be ground before use as most factory-applied grinds were developed to be inexpensive to apply to a high volume of skis, but are not necessarily the fastest.
It is vital to note that for the highest quality and fastest grinds, two elements are required: a high precision machine and an experienced and well trained grind tech. It is here that Gear West sets itself apart. We have recently invested in a new Tazzari RP23 grinding machine, as well as specific World Cup level training for our lead grinder, Matt Fox. The Tazzari RP23 is used by National and Olympic teams the world over and is the only stone grinder in the world that was specifically designed for the needs of Nordic skiing. No expense was spared in designing the RP23, which features the most advanced stones on the market, a state of the art computer numerical controlled (CNC) dressing system, and a dedicated emulsion cooling unit. These features combine to deliver the fastest and cleanest cut base finish possible to our customers.
As for the man behind the machine, in addition to the years he has spent honing in his skills with thousands of grinds applied and countless hours testing structures, Matt Fox has been able to work with Lars Svensson of Tazzari to develop our initial grinds for the Tazzari. Lars is the lead designer of the RP23 and has created many of the most popular grind structures on the World Cup circuit.
Over the course of the winter, Matt also will continue to develop and refine new grinds, testing them in many different conditions and at locations around North America. This includes testing grinds that will probably never get beyond “experimental” status; even these help provide us with the knowledge of how different structure variables affect performance.