At our Rennstall World Cup Tuning Center we work directly with local Junior racers and know what it takes to keep their skis running fast and holding firm. Read on for more information on base structure, edge bevels, and hot waxing for compeitive Junior racers.
Skiing has a number of uncontrolled variables. Ski racers, in particular, are faced with a different course set every time, changing visibility and varying weather conditions such as wind and temperature. “It’s man against the mountain, so to speak,” reflects Jesse Hunt, Program Director and General Manager of the Park City Ski Team. “This can be challenging for an athlete and challenging for a parent.”
Which is why no racer is an island. To be successful, junior racers must rely on the expertise of their coaches and a reputable tuning shop to make sure their skis have the right grind for the snow conditions. More aggressive snow, either man-made or on the dry side, calls for a finer grind. Spring-like conditions demand more of an open grind. While the coaches can provide insight into specific grinds, most leave it up to the ski technicians working on their athlete’s skis to make the call. At Rennstall, we first evaluate the ski to determine the appropriate amount of pre-grinding needed. Since most are base high or edge high, our technicians remove trace amounts of material to true out the ski. Then we apply the finish grind with a finely dressed stone making it as smooth as possible. We’re big fans of the angular cross-hatch, which we consider to be our most versatile grind, since it works in a variety of snow conditions.
One final piece of grinding advice. It’s best not to take your skis in for a professional grind the day before a race. It changes the whole way the ski is going to ski. After a ski is freshly ground, it has a break-in period for a grind to become fast again. After about a week of good skiing and a lot of wax cycles, the ski regains its full glide potential.
Side and base bevels for junior racers vary according to the athlete’s ability level and strength. For the youngest racers, bevels are usually set more conservatively. You want to give smaller kids more base bevel and a little less side edge since they don’t weigh as much.
He recommends a .7 to 1 degree base bevel for younger Slalom racers coupled with a 2 to 3 degree side bevel. For GS and Super G junior racers, Dewey recommends a 1 degree base bevel and a 2-3 degree side bevel. When kids graduate to the FIS level of racing, usually after age 15, the bevels change yet again. Slalom racers ski on a .5 degree base bevel while GS skiers race either a .5 or .7 degree base bevel. The speed demons of Super G and Downhill use a 1 degree base bevel. All FIS racers use at least a 3 degree side bevel.
So the question becomes – who sets the bevel on your kid’s skis? Younger racers and their parents should take their skis to professional tuners. Twelve to thirteen year olds willing to give hand beveling a try can do so knowing that Jans and Rennstall have their back. The same is true for older racers up to U21. Since tuning is an acquired skill, the ski techs at Rennstall are already familiar with all of the intricacies involved. We know that too much base bevel can make a ski feel passive, like you have to coax it into a turn. Or that too little base bevel can make skis twitchy, unpredictable and hard to slide. And as far as side bevels, too little means the racer will feel like he doesn’t have any grip on hard snow and ice. If any of these things happen to your skis, don’t try to correct it yourself. Take it to the race experts at Rennstall.
Scraping and Waxing
Think of the base of your ski like dry skin with pores that need to be moisturized, or in this case, waxed. A ski’s base has the most contact with the snow so proper waxing prevents it from getting too dry. The key is making sure that the base is prepped properly so that the ski is willing to accept wax to fully impregnate the base. This protects junior race skis from varying snow conditions from dry, cold snow to dirty snow. That said one of the biggest concerns with juniors who scrape and wax their own skis is the possibility of damage. Kids have the tendency to either use either too much or too little wax. Not using enough wax means the skis aren’t moisturized and the bases therefore aren’t protected when the heat of a wax iron is applied. The result is burnt bases.
To avoid this, athletes should make sure to match the setting on the wax iron with the specific temperature range of the wax itself. Then, once the wax is melted, it’s done. It usually only takes three to six passes at a moderate speed to achieve this. Don’t overthink it. You’ll overdo it.
Unlike waxing, juniors and their parents don’t need to fret about over scraping. They do, however, need to make sure to use the proper technique to avoid damaging the base of the skis. Never pull your scraper toward you. Instead, the top of the scraper should be angled forward as you push from tip to tail. If it’s angled backward, the scraper can dig into the base and create ridges.