At the Start Haus, we have reached a distinct philosophy on what it takes to get speed skis to run fast. Our experience has taught us that in combination with hours of prep work, it also takes a considerable amount of snow time for skis to become their fastest. Occasionally there is an element of luck, an unexplainable phenomenon that causes certain skis to run fast right out of production. Luck aside, our philosophy is that fast skis are the product of hard work, diligence and years of experience on and off the hill.
Every new ski receives an inspection of its grind, finish shaping, and overall condition from the factory. Once a ski has been assessed, we can start the shaping process. The base edge is shaped first, with the majority of our speed skis being prepared with a 1 degree base bevel. We then highly polish the base edge for maximum glide. The base is then protected with vinyl base tape to make sure that no metal, aluminum, or fiberglass gets ground into the surface while shaping the sidewall and setting the side bevel.
With the base edges complete, we start shaping the sidewall. We carefully cut back the sidewall and top sheet to make the shape smooth and clean. This step is done with a combination of sidewall tools to minimize any potential drag from the sidewall on the snow. After shaping, the sidewalls are sanded and polished to a clean, smooth, hard, and fast finish. After the sidewalls are complete, we can set the side edge angle. This is typically set at 2 degrees.
Once all the shaping and polishing is complete, we move on to the work that has the greatest effect on glide. The base tape is removed, and we begin the process of brushing, waxing, hot boxing, and running the skis in. The goal of the base prep is to get the grinds softened, the base material soaked with wax, and the base conditioned for the rigors of hard snow and friction. We use a custom designed thermal oven as our Hot Box which insures an even, controlled air temperature everywhere around the skis. Each ski gets multiple sessions in the box. We start out with the softest penetrating wax from Dominator called Base Renew. Base Renew allows the wax to penetrate all the way through the base and allows the future layers of harder wax to reach all the way through the base as well. We then work through the hardness of Swix Hydrocarbons until we get to the hardness of CH6. Throughout the Hot Box process, the skis are hot-scraped and brushed out in between each cycle. By the time a ski is ready for its first trip on the snow, it will have been waxed and brushed out 15 times and hot boxed 5 cycles.
The next step is to run the skis in on snow, which is critical to continue the softening and the skiing in of the ski. It is also the most fun any of us at the Start Haus have had legally since we were kids. We take long high speed runs on the skis with very little edge pressure, commonly referred to as “bombing the run.” This provides targeted snow friction to help us finish the skis. After run-in, the skis get brushed out, hot scraped and they go through one more Hot Box cycle before they are glide tested for ranking.
All the skis are prepared with the same wax and glide tested in a speed track. We use a Tag Huer timing system that has one set of lights for start, a short set of lights that helps us to determine acceleration, and a set of finish lights that give us final time on the track. Armed with the information that our skis are now lighting fast, they are ready to be raced on.