NewsBoulder Nordic Sport: Visiting Madshus

FasterSkier FasterSkierAugust 16, 2011

Madshus Invests in New Technology

Roger, Nathan and Patrick went to Norway in June to test Madshus skis, boots and poles on snow at Sognefjell. The BNS crew got to test out some of Madshus’s new ideas for wet skis that we expect to see in production down the road. For this season, skis and boots remain mostly unchanged with some minor tweaks from last year. Madhsus’s pole offering for this season, however, is dramatically different.

Nathan testing Madshus skis at Sognefjell.

The new Madshus 2011-2012 pole has us excited. They are lighter, have a reduced swing weight and are stiffer than past models. The grip has been redesigned along with a new strap provides a very solid and comfortable feel. The engineers at Madshus have also changed the angle of the grip, eliminating the canting of previous models. Performance-wise, these poles are just a notch below the Swix Triac and top-tier One Way offerings and cost about $150 less.

The trip to Norway was a great opportunity to spend a couple of days with the Madshus developers and race service crew. This enabled us to get a sense of how they are fitting skiers and choosing skis for different conditions as well as what directions they are pursuing with experimental skis and equipment that will become the next generation of Madshus.

Nathan and Roger outside the Madshus factory in Biri, Norway.

The Madshus factory and production process is impressive and it is always fun and informative to get the tour. Norway has the highest cost per worker of any country in the world, so it is remarkable to see the dedication of Madshus to keep their high-end ski production in Norway. The passion the workers have for the sport and the products they produce is apparent as you move through the factory. Nearly every workstation has a signed photo from one of the top Madshus athletes thanking individual workers for helping in their success. Many of the workers are skiers or former ski racers. The cafeteria and factory floor have life-sized images of racers alongside the employees; the connection between the people who produce the skis and their product is clear.

Holding a foam ski core, Per Wiik explains the manufacturing process to Roger and Patrick.

Madshus had its best year ever in 2010-2011 and they are investing in new tooling that improves their already impressive manufacturing process. Madshus replaced an older section of their production line with automated robots that trim the skis into their final shape after they come out of the mold as well as a new automated stone-grinding line that will dramatically improve production grind quality. These new machines are able to do much finer and more precise work, improving quality and the finish of the ski while increasing output capability.

With the introduction of the 2010-2011 Nanosonic model, Madshus dramatically improved the skis in several ways. A new core material increased thermal resistance in the skis and nearly eliminated the issues we have seen in the past models with burnt cores and warped bases. This new core material also has much higher dampening qualities than previous material. The same composite foam goes into helicopter blades and the new Airbus A380. A bonus of the new material is that it can be milled into more precise shapes, allowing Madshus to engineer a 3-D ridge of material on the front of the skating ski to tune the stiffness of the ski. With the increased stiffness provided by the shape, they were able to eliminate material in the front of the ski, reducing weight and making the ski feel much lighter on the foot. There were a few issues with early skis where the tip was perhaps too stiff. After a few adjustments, final product has gotten great reviews from racers, our customers and us.

Several batches of skis nearing the end of the production line.

The Madshus skating skis come in three different models: R, HP & SC. The R model is a high-camber ski with sidecut that is quite stable, but most racers use this ski rarely–when stability is the highest priority, as in very icy conditions. The HP model is a lower resting camber ski with a harder finish and medium pressure zones; working well in harder, colder conditions. The SC stands for “soft conditions,” but is more appropriate as a universal ski. It has a higher resting camber and shorter pressure zones that work best in soft and/or wet conditions. In general, Madshus skate skis have a unique feel when compared to the other brands. Madshus skis are amazing on edge and skiers who are dynamic and always moving back and forth between the skis seem to be suited well to Madshus. They are very quick to build speed and accelerate.

Madshus classic skis come in two models, 102 (cold) and 103 (plus). The 103 has a new camber shape, called the VR camber, which has a lower height unloaded with a higher height loaded. We got a small selection of VR skis last year after testing them on snow in June. Everyone who got a pair raved about them. They work very well for klister conditions and also as a universal hardwax ski in all but the coldest conditions. This effectively allows a skier to get grip with a stiffer ski that keeps the wax off the snow while gliding. The success of the traditional Madshus cold classic ski is still found in the 102, which has a longer pocket that is higher at rest, but lower under load. The 102 is very smooth and easy to kick and fantastic in cold and soft hard wax conditions.

A Madshus employee inspecting Nanosonics.

We’re excited to continue building our experience with Madshus. We’ve had a great deal of feedback from customers who we’ve set up with Madshus skis, but would always like to hear more. Skis are constantly changing, even within a production year, and so any information we can use to improve the way we fit and select skis for people is more than welcome. You can send feedback to us on Madshus or any of the other products we carry at www.bouldernordic.com.

Get your name on our pick list today by filling out our on-line ski request form or call one of our shops.

Madshus' custom-made flex testing machine.

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