Ski Servicing - What are the benefits and what to look for?
Nothing quite compares to the sensation of gliding down the mountain on a perfectly set up pair of skiis on fresh powder or first tracks on a perfectly groomed corduroy piste, with the office door firmly shut behind you and a vin chaud or a hot chocolate at the bottom of the hill.
The perfect set up of ski is essential for this experience – how can we find this. It can be confusing where to look, how much to spend, and if spending more even makes a difference.
If you own your own skis, what do you need to ask for when taking your skis to be serviced before your holiday. If you rent skis, what sort of skis do you ask for, what set up do you need, how can you check that the skis have been serviced correctly and still have spring in them.
This article explains:
- What edge angle and bevel is and what angles are appropriate under different conditions and skiing abilities.
- The benefits of a structures finish to the wax.
- Binding set up
- Spring in the ski
The article also explains where, in Les Gets, you can have servicing to this level.
From a ski instructors experience, many skiers have the perception that icy conditions are bad conditions, however, it can be an amazing sensation, gripping on hard ice, having a sharp edge and in complete control and having excellent grip. Many people do not like skiing on an icy piste, when the reality is they have simply been skiing on blunt skiis.
A good ski shop will check the sharpness of the ski each week and will sharpen it as needed.
A blunt ski can make the rotation of the ski easier for a first time skier, however, after a few days, even a snow plough skier will be using the edges without even realising it. A blunt ski will have less grip which will mean that the skier will have less control. Blunt skis are only suitable for someone who skis in the ski park who specifically wants to hit the grind rails and boxes ( where the skis need to be blunt for obvious reasons) and day one/two of someone new to sking.
What angle do you ask for?
Different angles are appropriate under different conditions.
The normal edge angle is now 89˚, an advanced skier may chose 88˚ or even 87˚ for specific types of racing.
Bevel is the angle of the base edge. See pictures above.
Bevel will make a ski more progressive when going onto the edge, giving more time to find balance. Most ski instructors will have a 1° bevel on their skis.
Waxing and the benefits of a Structured Wax Finish
Of course, waxing is critical to ensure that the ski slides smoothly across the snow, however, there is more to waxing.
Skis ride on a film of water produced from friction of your base and edges curring through the snow. Ideally, the base structure should be finished according to the snow conditions, to give the best sking sensation:
- In cold dry snow, the structure should be fine to hold water longer.
- On crystalised snow, the ski base should be as smooth as possible.
- On wet snow, a coarser base is better, to minimise points of contact and therefore to minimise friction.
If there is no structure to the finish, even if the ski is well waxed, it can stick to the snow as opposed to glide, the difference is more noticeable in deep powder.
Binding set up
DIN setting is the pressure at which the ski will release. This needs to be set so that the ski ‘pops off’ if one has fallen over – so as to prevent injury, though not too tight so it ‘pops off’ when carving fast or on the top of a mogul.
The ski shop will set this according to skill, weight and physical condition.
First, what is pressure? - To explain this, consider that the ski will bend inwards when carving and outwards when on top of a mogul; this means that the bindings will naturally grip tighter when carving and will become lose when on top of a mogul. To ensure that grip on the boot is consistent, the binding has an adjustment at the rear of the binding, to counteract this effect. If this is not set correctly, the ski will not adjust the forward pressure correctly and could pop off. A good ski servicing shop will ensure that the forward pressure is set correctly.
Spring in the Ski
All skis have fibres which make them have ‘bounce’. A ski with spring is much more responsive, performs better and is far more fun than a ‘dead’ ski. Good quality skis will have spring for two or three seasons, however, lower quality skis will barely last one ski season.
The better quality rental shops will both replace their skis more often and have higher quality skis, hence the chances of a ‘dead’ ski from a good quality rental shop are much reduced.
Berthet Sports have invested in a state of the art robot ski servicing machine, shown opposite, this can:
- Give a perfect, sharp finish to the edge and to the bevel angle.
- Can create an excellent finish to the wax, appropriate to the conditions.
- Additionally, Berthet have high quality skis and replace them regularly, ensuring all skis have good spring and are very responsive.
A picture of their robot servicing machine is above.
We recommend Berthet for the reasons that they: service skis very well, they have a very broad range of skis available from beginner to expert, they offer good value for money they have ski storage available in their shop and their location is excellent – being opposite the piste.