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It’s official – the 5K loop at the White Pine Nordic Center in Park City, UT was rolled and skiable last weekend, and welcomed hordes of Nordic enthusiasts to their first taste of striding and skating for the season. While it may be a couple more weeks before snow and temperatures are consistent enough to declare the track officially open, judging by the crowds we saw on Sunday, Park City can’t wait to get on skinny skis. This early season limbo period is the perfect time to get your skis freshly ground, as you’re waiting for the snowpack to build up. If you’ve never had your skis ground before, you may think, “I just spent $X on skis, boots and poles, and wax, why should I spend more on a Nordic grind?” Read on to find out exactly what Nordic ski grinding is and why it matters
Stone Grinding Basics
First of all, what exactly is ski grinding? The quick and dirty explanation is this: using a stone grinding machine – in the case of the White Pine Nordic Center, a state-of-the-art Wintersteiger – our wax techs flatten the base of the ski. The flattening process is accomplished with a series of passes through the machine to ensure that gouges are smoothed out, and any uneven waves and burn marks, created by, shall we say, waxing accidents, are removed. As you’ve probably heard before, a flat ski is a fast ski. After the base is deemed sufficiently flat, we use the Wintersteiger to put on a new base structure (grind) which best matches the conditions the ski is designed for and which you, as the pilot of the vehicle, will be skiing in. After that, our Nordic ski techs saturate the base of the ski with soft warm wax and let that layer soak in with a Toko Thermo Bag treatment. The last step in the process is the hardening the base with a couple layers of cold wax to increase the durability of your skis.
OK, if you’ve followed me this far, you’ve probably had your skis stoneground before and don’t need any added convincing to get your fleet of skis ground this season. If most of this sounds like Norwegian propaganda to you, and you still need some convincing, read on.
When Do Skis Need a Stone grind?
If your skis are a few years old, and have never been ground, chances are that they’re sporting a few burns and undulations from ironing mishaps. These irregularities in the base of a Nordic ski cause it to slow down. Burned areas don’t absorb wax, because the pores in the base have sealed up, while waves in the base create more friction as you glide. The stone grinding process fixes both of these issues – the trashed outerlayer of the base is peeled off, so you get to start fresh with another layer of base. Ski manufacturers design skis with enough base material for a few stone grinds, and our techs are careful to remove just the right amount of base to ensure a flat ski. This process alone rejuvenates old bases – if you’ve given up on an old pair of skis because the bases are slow, give them a shot at a new life with a stone grind.
You may also want to have your skis ground if they previously had a grind not appropriate to your current region’s snow conditions, or if you have a fleet of skis and need a specific grind for warmer/colder/wetter/drier snow.
What Type of Base Structure Should I Get?
In general, the finer the base structure, the better suited it is for cold snow, due to the smaller crystals in this snow. Likewise, larger, deeper base structures are faster in warm and wet conditions, as channels are needed to reduce suction. The base structures offered at the White Pine Nordic Center are listed here in detail, but I’ll give you a quick recap.
CW1 – Ideal for very cold, snot-freezing snow. Because snow crystals are tiny and extremely sharp in these temperatures, with minimal moisture, this fine grind is designed to deal with dry friction.
CW2 – This is the grind we recommend for skiers in our neck of the woods (the Wasatch area) as well most of the West. A universal cold snow grind, the CW2 is fine enough to deal with packed Wasatch powder, while also moving moisture created by gliding skis. As a testament to this grind’s speed and versatility, this is what Patrick Coffey, the White Pine Touring Nordic Center director, is getting on his new boards.
MW1 – A medium grind for warm and more humid, but not saturated snow, the MW1 excels when snow starts to feel ‘sticky’. An easy way to think of these conditions is perfect “snowball snow.” While these conditions are not common in the West, they do occur. The MW1 is a better option for those with multiple pairs of Nordic skis.
WW1 – This is a niche grind. Designed for extremely warm or wet snow, the WW1 effectively channels running water away from the base of the ski. Yes, as awful as it sounds, people ski in the rain – the perfect conditions for the WW1. Consider this one if you’re planning on traveling to the Northwest or East coast for a race.
As we’re waiting for that next 6-inch storm to really get the Nordic season rolling here, now is the perfect time to get your skis up to speed for the season. If you ‘accidentally’ left them unwaxed over the summer, or put a few gouges in them last spring, don’t sweat it – fix them up with a stone grind. Drop off your skis at White Pine Touring on Bonanza Dr. or at the White Pine Nordic Center on Park Ave, which opens officially for retail and service on Thursday, November 21st.
Evelyn Dong, content writer