Gear West purchased a Tazzari RP23 to bring our stone grind service to the World Cup level. Matt Liebsch has successfully used Tazzari stone grinding on the majority of his race skis over the past 4 seasons with great results. The Tazzari RP23 machine is a big advance over previous models and allows for the cleanest cut structure on the market and a race-ready finish on a base, right off the machine. With RP23, there is no longer a need for fibertex, multiple waxing or “skiing” in the new grind.
Who uses this type grinder, and how many in North America?
Nearly all top level racers use Tazzari for preparation of their racing skis but in Norway and other “Nordic” countries, many citizen and junior racers have their skis prepared with Tazzari stonegrinding for the fastest possible finish. In North America, many of the top teams and competitive college teams have their skis prepared with Tazzari machines.
What makes this grinder different from others?
The biggest difference between a Tazzari RP23 and anything else on the market is that the Tazzari machine was designed specifically for Nordic skis. Every other ski grinding machine was designed for Alpine skis and then modified to work OK with Nordic. The Tazzari diamonds used to dress the cutting stone as well as the stone itself are precisely designed for exclusive use on the delicate bases of Nordic skis. Another key component of the RP23 is the emulsion cooling system. This refrigerant system keeps the emulsion (cutting solution) at a constant cold temperature. This is critical because if you prepare Nordic bases with emulsion that is at or above room temperate, you run a very high risk of smearing the base structure while grinding the ski.
Who is Lars Svensson?
Lars Svensson is the man behind the machine and has been “the guy” in Nordic stone grinding for the past 3 decades. He worked with the Norwegian National Team when Daehlie, Ulvang and Alsgaard were at the height of their careers and stone grinding was becoming the norm at the world level. Lars led Tazzari’s Nordic stone grinding R&D and he personally designed the stone and diamond dressing tools, which are the most critical component of quality grind work. He has prepared over 150 gold medal winning skis during his service career.
What are some of the key points learned from training with Lars here in Minnesota?
The key take away from working with Lars is simplicity and quality. The machine, waxing methods, base preparation methods, everything service-
wise can be broken down into very simple methods. Lars does not speak any “voodoo” but keeps things very simple. Even though the RP23 machine is a complex system capable of creating very multifaceted compounding structures, most often simple is the best solution. The difference from other machines is that they simply cannot produce this same top level quality work.
Typically, how often are skis stone ground (won’t the base be ground away)?
World Cup level skiers are getting their skis reground multiple times per season and a more recent trend is regrinding after each per fluoro application. The temperatures required for application with some of the new waxes are 165-200+C. At these temperatures the amorphous zones (AKA pores) of the ski can close up with the application process. The end structure of the grind takes a back seat to having “open” base material, hence the reason why skis are being reground after every important race that requires powder application.
At the citizen level, a fresh grind every season is important to the health and flatness of the base. A fresh grind will be the fastest especially coming off a Tazzari machine. Regrinding every season as opposed to every 2-3 seasons actually increases the longevity of the ski because chasing flatness and deep burn out of the base after 2-3 seasons of use may require extensive base removal. A standard ski base has roughly 2.0-2.2mm of workable base. If the skis are in good condition, only a maximum of a tenth of a millimeter would need to be removed during a quality grind. Lars mentioned he had ground one world cup athlete’s favorite ski 42 times without going through the base material. Lars also mentioned many citizen racers in Norway are grinding their skis at the beginning of the season and again right before their “A” race. With the quality coming off the RP23 and the advances in hotbox and base prep, the skis can be race ready from service the night before.
What are some of the basic benefits of stone grinding?
The most critical component of stone grinding is removal of burnt or “closed” base material. This closed material cannot hold wax hence the bases turn white quickly and cannot hold wax to lubricate the gliding surface. The secondary benefits include getting the structure matched to the snow type and a flatter base.
How many grind patterns are available?
The number of potential patterns produced by a Tazzari RP23 is unlimited. The machine can control the diamond dressing tool down to .001mm and is full CNC. This being said, simple quality is still the best. Most World Cup skiers might have 4-8 different structures in their fleet. The Swedish National team only uses 5 different structures. In the Midwest our snow is generally quite cold and a citizen racer here might only need 2-3 patterns plus a hand structure tool. But “openness” of the base is more critical compared to having the exact correct structure.
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