Whose Hands Is The Success Of Your Skiing In?

Phil Smith, Snoworks Director, reports on one aspect of your skiing performance that should not be left to chance – Your skis.

A number of years ago I met someone on the slopes who was about to give up skiing completely. He just could not get it. He was struggling and frustrated. He believed it had something to do with his skiing – his technique. He was literally ready to catch the chairlift back down, hand back his skis and give up skiing for good. Luckily I managed to persuade him to meet me after his ski lesson. He was fit, reasonably young and there was no reason why he should not be able to ski.

I met him on the slopes and saw him do two turns and immediately recognised there was something wrong with his skis. They had been serviced badly and that was the reason he was struggling. I managed to get him on a lift back down to the village, walked with him into a ski shop and asked for a brand new pair of skis that had recently been placed into the hire stock. This way I new that nobody had tampered with the skis and could be assured they had not been serviced by a poorly adjusted machine or by a poorly trained technician.

We went back out and he could ski – he could ski well. The difference was astronomical. He could ski and was loving it. In fact he now skis every year and can venture off-piste and into the backcountry with ease. On that day he could have so easily given up for good simply because he was using skis which had been badly serviced.

Can skis make that much difference? You bet they can. This is just one example of what can happen to thousands of skiers every year. For most people the most important bit of their equipment, the bit that connects them to the mountain is left in the hands of someone they don’t know and someone they have no knowledge about.

For most people going on their annual ski holiday the choice of skis is left to the person that meets them at the airport and accompanies them on the bus on the way to the ski resort. He / she moves around the bus selling ski hire on the way to the resort. The choice of skis is often decided at that moment, with no knowledge of the type of ski, the quality of the ski, the servicing, the shop or the person who is going to fit the skis. Sometimes skis are booked in advance over the internet to save a bit on cost or insure they have skis reserved. It’s complete chance and the decision is often based on cost with no knowledge of how much effect getting the right, well maintained equipment can have on the outcome of the skiing holiday. An average ski holiday can cost upwards of £1,000 so saving 20 or so euros on ski hire is a big price to pay if the skis could ruin your holiday.

Last season I was skiing on my new Salomon BBR 8.9’s. Normally I try to avoid putting my skis over a machine for a service if I can and just ask for the edges to be sharpened and the skis waxed. With skis that are very shaped the quality of the base is paramount. You only need a slight concave or convex sole or the edges left proud from the base and the difference in the skis performance is astronomical – negatively.

When the skis need repairing then a shop and a machine it normally is. I took my BBR’s into a local shop to get them repaired, then took them out for a ski afterwards. I literally could not ski on them. The skis would not move sideways on the snow making it more or less impossible to control speed. The skis had been left with the edges proud of the base. Equivalent to a builder trying to lay brinks with a wonky spirit level! Or a top chef preparing a gourmet meal with no scales. It’s guesswork and the result – pure luck!

I returned to the same shop, explained that their machine was adjusted incorrectly and asked for the skis to be redone after the machine had been adjusted and the technician changed. Better, but still not good. I took them to another shop which boasted the best, most expensive and the latest ski-servicing machine around. The operator – unknown! Better but still not right. Finally, some advice from a colleague. There’s only one place to take your skis in this resort. I followed his advice, found the shop, chatted with the owner and over the machine they went. Back to new. The skis worked a dream and my enjoyment from my skiing back to normal.

That was one experience and luckily I could recognize straight away the problem and rectify it. But how many skiers experience this every winter and are unable to recognize the problem. Skiers that continue to struggle with their skiing for some reason and just put it down to poor technique?

So how do you know if your skis are badly tuned? It’s simple. Skis needs to be able to slide sideways on the snow. They have to be able to skid. The edges can be as sharp as you like but even with razor sharp edges the skis should be able to skid unhindered. So if it feels like the skis cannot skid or they skid sideways with jerky catchy movements then you have problems. To work well skis have to be able to skid and grip with ease. The main problem is when the base of the skis are left concave after being put over a machine. The edges are proud of the base so they catch in the snow and the skis can’t skid. It’s like being stuck on rails. No ability to skid, then no ability to control your speed. Except if you go around the corner and back up the hill. But boy it’s hard work, it just feels like the skis are running away from you all the time. If you’re pretty experienced you may be able to cope with them but it certainly isn’t pleasant and if your less experienced you may just end up blaming yourself and want to give up.

Poorly or incorrectly maintained skis is like driving a car with bald tyres, using training shoes with no grip, ice skates with blunt edges, using a non stick frying pan that doesn’t slip. Skis should be easy to use and if they’re not then there’s definitely something wrong with them.

At Snoworks we recognize the importance of making sure your connection with the mountain, your skis, are not only the right skis for the job but are serviced and maintained correctly every single time. That’s why every season we invest in new skis direct from Salomon and make arrangements with a local ski shop we know, trust and have tested, so we can ensure our skis are always as good as new every single time a guest uses them.

Making the best use of our partnership with global ski company Salomon we have invested in brand new skis for the 2014/15 season for our guests.

Salomon Q-98

Book any course on the Snoworks programme and you can reserve your skis for the course in advance if available. Cost 110Euros for 6 days. We also have links with local ski shops that we have personally vetted in both Tignes and The 3 Valleys to service the skis every week. So whatever week you come skiing, you can rest assured you will be skiing on skis that are as good as new.

The Q-98 is a fairly wide ski with a width underfoot of around 98mm (between 94mm and 98mm). It’s designed for more off-piste due to it’s width but still has playful qualities and big rockers so easy enough to turn and ski on piste whilst having great flotation in the off-piste.

But the most important aspect. They are all serviced well!

We have a limited supply available in our resorts so if you don’t want your ski choice left to chance, call our office and reserve both your ski course and skis NOW.

If you don’t manage to book early enough to reserve your skis direct from Snoworks then our team of instructors are on-hand so they can advise on arrival in the resort where to go for your skis and which skis to use.  Dare I say – best not to book them in advance as many shops are unable to offer the skis advertised and you’re also tied into a contract plus you have no idea about the servicing. At Snoworks we have no ties to shops and we do not work on commission, so our priority is to get the most suitable and best serviced and maintained skis possible so that your ski choice is not left to chance or not left to the guy that meets you at the airport that has never seen you ski!

For a full listing of Snoworks ski courses coming up
click here

To find out if Snoworks Q-98 skis are available for your chosen course call our office on 0844 543 0503

Salomon (5) Salomon BBR (7) salomon skis (5)