Riverbrook Bike and Ski has many years of experience working on skis: waxing, grinding, testing, hand structuring, flex testing, and fitting. Moreover, Riverbrook's location makes it unique in experienced and knowledge when it comes to conditions on the American Birkebeiner ski trail system. Local knowledge combined with years of experience means that you get some great information and service.
OK, let's talk stone grinding. Why do it?
There are three principal/predominate reasons for getting your skis stone ground: flattening, structure for the predominant conditions, and-for older skis-removal of oxidized polyethelene (base material) to prepare the base for a new season of waxing. If you didn't have your skis stone ground at the end of last year before putting them up for the summer, you should consider it now - both classical and skating skis. Generally speaking, older pairs of skis are prime candidates for stone grinding. New skis might need it, but generally do not (we discuss new skis below). Be careful to not get totally caught up in the hype about "special" grinds that require you to send your skis half way across the country; while there are special situation advantages for world cup/elite level skiers with a very select grinding service (we know of only two), such fine tuned grinding will not be noticably better in ski speed over our standard grinds, also the grind does become obliterated through general skiing and maintenance (waxing, scraping, and brushing). Remember, fine tuned specialty grinds are that last 5% of the reason for getting a stone grind. Keep it simple; learn the basics of ski prep and maintenance, get a good grind for your predominant conditions, and you will save time and money.
Our overall approach at Riverbrook is to keep matters very straight forward based on years of experience of what actually works in the predominant conditions here in the upper Midwest. We use time tested standard grinds that always work, period. These grinds work great because they give your ski the flattening that is needed, remove oxidation on older skis, and cut a great performing structure (pattern) into the ski base. One of our top base grinds is the cold linear - this grind as done by our experienced grinder have produced some fantastic performing skis for years. From this point, skiers can (and do) use a hand structure tool (such as the Toko Structurite Tool) to modify the base structure as conditions warrant during the season. By approaching grinds this way one avoids the nonsense, hype, and additional costs while obtaining consistently high performing skis - all at a fair price. For 99% of the skiers out there, this approach is simply the best, most cost effective, way to approach stone grinding.
In the case of new skis, most ski manufacturer's factory stone grind (state of a new pair of skis) is really quite good, and has come a long way in recent years. In most cases new high end skis do not require any flattening or custom structuring. Moreover,the bases are brand new and therefore the odds of significant oxidation to the extent that stone grinding is needed is virtually nonexistent. Having said that, it is ALWAYS important to carefully inspect the bases and ask a Riverbrook team member about any surface irregularities and the factory grind on the ski base. Assuming your new skis have a medium-to-cold grind and are free of any significant irregularities, what is needed is some basic prep; typically, soft brass brushing and several layers of warm wax (either by hand, or thermo bagging) followed by alternating warm and colder wax (tends to harden the base). Also, it is important to use a very sharp plastic scraper and not push too hard when scraping the wax off - the idea here is to shave off not just wax, but also micro polyethelene fibers raised by brass brushing. For details on this basic prep, talk to a Riverbrook team member. Also, Ian Harvey of Toko has a time tested approach that will serve you well. Lastly, you should also consult with us regarding hand structuring as conditions warrant throughout the season.
So, what if you are part of the elite wave skiers out there looking for that extra edge? If you are a top level (elite Birkie wave, collegiate team member, national team development pipeliner) skier you may want to consider getting a new pair of skis ground based on seasonal differences, and different conditions, relative to several pairs of new (or older) skis you own that you only plan to use in those specific conditions. Simply stated, you may have several pairs of skis each dedicated to be used for different snow type/temperature range conditions. Factory grinds, as good as they are, do not discriminate that closely and the factories do not have years of specific knowledge of our local conditions. As a result, there is a good reason to have different grinds for snow condition/temperature differences for specific skis used in those conditions. At Riverbrook, we stone grind skis for these differences with great success, or as mentioned can refer you to an experienced specialty grinder - call to discuss!
Learn about Toko Thermo Bag Treatments.
I want to thank you for doing such an outstanding job on my skis for this year's Birkie! While it was a fast year, my skis were faster than those around me which allowed me to sneak in a few additional (and much needed) rest along the way. This was the first year I paid a ski shop to wax my skis and it was a big deal for me to not have control over how my skis were taken care of. I selected Riverbrook because I've known you over the years and trusted you would prepare my skis as if they were your own. I am happy to report that I'll be starting in the Elite wave next year for the first time in 20 years! I know a large part of this is due to having outstanding skis.