Thursday, December 24, 2009
Casey qualified for the Biathlon World Jr Championships this past weekend. The qualifying races were in Mt Itasca (MN), and for the youth men it was a best-two-out-of-three format. Casey finished 2nd, 5th, and 1st.
His good performances were credited to good shooting and fast skiing. Casey commented that with the 'same wax rule' in place for the qualifying races, it was important to have good skis with the right grind. He took two pairs of Madshus skis to Minnesota, one pair with an "i5" grind and the other have the "s2" structure.
Casey has been working hard toward this goal for the past 3 years. He's a no-nonsense young guy with a great work ethic.
He'll be traveling to Torsby Sweden in late January 2010 for his first taste of competition in Europe.
Casey competes as a member of Methow Valley Biathlon, and also competes in XC with Methow Valley Nordic.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
It is important to note that the test skis are factory matched pairs that were specially made as test skis. They've been tested to verify that they're very even skis (all tested with the same grind and same processes and waxing), so there are very few variables to botch the test data.
Expectations vs. Results? Today I was looking at minor variations in well-documented grinds. I find that there are no big differences in the data; this is pretty much as expected. As much as anything, I'm getting the test processes dialed-in for the season... ...there's finally enough snow and enough time available to start the weekly ski testing program.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The new patent from Salomon would incorporate some great ideas that have been available only on the NNN/NIS bindings up until now. The Salomon patent includes a means to adjust a binding plate fore/aft on a track, and a means to provide a wider base of support under the ball of the foot.
I applaud Salomon for stepping up to the plate! The NNN/NIS bindings with their adjustability and wider base of support have been the most innovative change in skiing in the past several years.
The NNN/NIS setup has now made the black strip in the middle of the ski an almost universal feature. It's a nice thought to think that Salomon is moving in this direction, too. I can only hope that Salomon and the folks that brought us the NIS plate will get together and make a universal standard plate that would be used for ALL cross-country bindings.
If you're curious about these things, Salomon applied for the patent in March 2009, and the application document was published about 6 weeks ago (see doc EP2108413, a type A1 European Patent Application). Of special note are figures 5 & 8 which show the adjustable plate and wide support, both in line drawings that are of a style typical in patents but which seem sort of quaint in any other context .
I know there are some folks who have said that bindings don't need adjustability, and don't need wider support under the foot. But I think it's clear that Salomon is now joining the bigger group of skiers who think that it's a good idea. This is good news for Salomon and good news for all cross-country skiers!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Anyone who has raced here in the past will recall the very snug and petite fit of the old race bibs, and the time finally came for replacement. More than one skier has compared the fit of the old race bibs with a "training jog-bra". I didn't make that comparison, but others have.
These beautiful new race bibs have the modern fit that you'd expect at high class venues. Very nice.
Here's a pic of the new race bibs. They're guaranteed to make you faster. Since everyone will have one on, there's not a huge advantage in that. But they'll definitely look great on the podium.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The new Mantec Grinder at Nordic Ultratune has several noteworthy features. Here's a video clip featuring the ski path control mechanisms and also the conformal drive pressure.
The ski path is controlled by a set of alignment rollers that are pneumatically activated. The mechanism assures that structure patterns are centered and aren't skewed.
Drive pressure utilizes a pneumatic tire to spread the pressure uniformly regardless of surface irregularities, including bindings, without a bridge.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
For me, the quest for a super headlight has been a result of needing to ski after work. In the dark, easy skiing with no trees (i.e. open meadows) isn’t too bad. But that night-time blitz through the trees, down Inside Passage on skate skis might be more than you bargained for without something super bright.
The price is $329. Shipping by USPS Priority Mail is $10.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
And here's a shot of Riita Lissa Roponen, courtesy of Atomic Ski Co and GEPA pictures/ Felix Roittner.
Are your skis ready?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
There are some updates to the Nordic Ultratune grind menu.
With the addition of the new Mantec grinding machine, and also as a result of collaboration with serviceman Stefano Vuerich of Val di Fiemme, Italy, the grind menu has been updated with 4 new offerings.
I've been working with team Slovenia at World Cup events since 2005. Through these channels I first became familiar with the quality of the base structures produced by the Mantec equipment. It was Gianaluca Marcolini who suggested that I get in touch with Stefano Vuerich, the leading World Cup ski serviceman who grinds a big percentage of all the skis on the World Cup circuit.
Since late winter Stefano and I have been working to get the new Mantec Ski Numericontrol 140 arranged for Nordic Ultratune. The machine went in last week, and along with the machine are some of the successful World Cup grinds from Europe.
Here's a brief summary of the changes:
Updated World Cup Structures:
- D5 - universal layered cross structure; typically 0C to -5C
- i5 - angle-biased structure for medium conditions, typically -2C to -10C
- S2 - fine, symmetrical pattern for cold conditions; typically -5C to -20C
- M1D - warm, wet, transformed conditions. Skate or classic klister grind.
Linear Structures from Ultratune will remain unchanged:
- LJ03 - linear grind for temperatures near 0C.
- MVL - general purpose linear grind for classic skis, finer than LJ03
- XC02 - for cold & dry snow; linear grind with a secondary polishing stage
- XC01 - for extreme cold conditions; linear grind with a secondary overgrind
The grinds that have been added to the menu are proven structures that are fast and also very versatile. Some of the new World Cup structures are good on classic skis as well as skate skis. These structures are all grinds that I've used and tested on the World Cup, and the performance data and race results attest to their quality.
Download a workorder form, and send some skis! Racing starts in less than a month, and with the SuperTour schedule featured in the early part of the season, there's no time to waste.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Stefano and Giuseppe and I were working to get the Mantec stone grinding machine fine tuned and completely dialed in. Stefano and Giuseppe are here from Italy for just this week, so there's no time to waste.
For me, the learning process isn't about how to "grind a ski" nor how to "tune a ski", but instead it's about how to fully utilize this particular Mantec grinder. It makes it much simpler for Stefano and Giuseppe that I already have a thorough understanding of how the machine variables and parameters affect each other, and how they're manipulated to get the structures that are needed.
By the end of the day today, we began loading some of the standard structures into the program memory on the Mantec. Progress. Lots of progress.
Funny stuff happens, of course. Today we stopped at the hardware store in the morning on the way to Ultratune, looking for some M2 metric machine screws. No luck; this is a small town hardware store, way out west. Lots of horse grooming supplies and not many metric screws. But it was funny to watch Stefano and Giuseppe make a bee-line for the cowboy hats! A perfect photo-op!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
The shipping crate weighs 2900 pounds, and is 5 ft x 5 ft x 8 ft. About the size of european economy car, only heavier.
Tonight I'll drive down to the airport to pick up Stefano Vuerich and Giuseppe Moroni. They're flying in from Milano to help with the installation of the new Mantec stone grinder. We'll be un-crating the machine and getting it installed in the morning.
A big thanks to Skip Smith for unloading a rack of hay bales and using the hay trailer to haul the machine the final mile. And thanks to the crew at North Valley Lumber!
I'll post something again tomorrow evening. Hopefully the machine will be in the shop and running by that time. Stay tuned. Ultratuned.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I didn't get any photos of the new snow. But here's a great picture of Anna Hansson Haag taken in La Clusaz last December, courtesy of ATOMIC Austria Gmbh / Felix Roittner.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
The top picture shows the electrical panel. Most of what you're seeing are terminal blocks for connecting wires. On top are the X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis controllers, and a power supply is also visible on the left. The wiring isn't all finished, and I'm sure that the wire runs will be cleaned up a bit.
The middle shot shows the central hub for the grinding wheel. Everything is quite sturdy and built of stainless steel in the areas that get wet. You can see the high-pressure sprayers in the right side of the fluid tank. You can also see the pneumatic feed wheel. This provides conformal pressure as the ski is fed into the machine, which helps to keep irregularities in the ski top from creating irregularities on the bottom.
The final shot shows the routing of air lines and pneumatic valve circuits. There is still plenty of pneumatic control in these new machines! Thankfully most of the pneumatic lines use quick-disconnect fittings. Everything looks tidy and carefully routed.
From the pictures you can get an idea of the complexity of the electrical and pneumatic systems!
The new Mantec grinder should be completed on Tuesday and testing will begin before the end of the week. Mantec will ship the machine in the following week, and it should arrive at Nordic Ultratune in the middle of October.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
New skis will be arriving from Rossignol, Madshus, and Atomic. These require sorting and inspection and testing so that pre-season ski orders can be filled. The new skis are picked and prepped well in advance of the coming season. Fast skis for everyone! But it takes careful work.
The new Mantec grinder will be arriving. Installation, set-up, and an on-site visit from the Mantec experts are all part of the game plan. Preparation in the shop has been going on through the summer with work space changes to accomodate the new machine.
Surgery for Margaret. My wife will be getting back surgery in September to replace a damaged lumbar disk. She injured her back in 1987, and has had a progressive deterioration of one disk. This will be replaced with an artificial disk, and she expects to be back on skis this winter! That's her skating in the picture, and she's really looking forward to being able to classic ski again.
Shop hours at the store will resume in late September. As always, I continue to do service work through the "off season", and then the store opens in late September with regular business hours for walk-in customers. Although we don't get snow in the Methow Valley until November, things are busy enough to require my full time attention by the tail end of September.
Today its 96F at our house. But I'm already thinking about snow. The second picture is the big meadow (Foster's Field) near our house.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Brian grew up here locally (Mazama, WA) and continues to improve. He's dedicated, talented, and he's working hard at becoming the best he can be.
With the hot weather here in the Northwest, the pictures from the Haig Glacier really look inviting!Hi Mark,Just checking in from up on the Haig Glacier. Theconditions are fantastic and training is going well.The last few nights have been clear and the trackhas set up well. There is a 7.5km loop which windsback and forth. The terrain is moderate which is nicesince we are nearly at 9000 feet.I am really impressed with the new PL3 grind. Thanksfor shipping it out to me, the skis are awesome up here.I feel bad for my teammate Matt. He put flouros on hisskis and mine are still faster.Anyways just wanted to say hello. There are more pictureson my site(www.xcSkiLife.com) Hope you are enjoyingthings back in the Methow.-Brian
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
It's also a relatively quiet time at Ultratune. A few batches of team skis are rolling in, and a few odd pairs of skis for forward-looking skiers. Some minor updates in the shop, mostly in preparation for the new Mantec grinder in September.
At Nordic Ultratune, August will bring a slow uptick in ski activity at the shop. New skis will begin to arrive. The phone will ring more often; emails become more frequent. Skiers awaken.
For cross country skiers, August brings a light to the end of the hot green tunnel. August days will start to become noticeably shorter; noticeably cooler. Nights longer, stars brighter. More ski-specific activities will creep into the day-to-day routine. There's a change.
If you are a competitive skier then now is the time for the diligent work that will pay dividends in December. Though it's hot and sunny, and friends are heading to the beach, stay focused on the task at hand and don't lose track of your training.
Don't let these hot July afternoons turn into dog days.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
A little bit of remodeling work got an early start when my finish carpenter had an opening in his schedule. Robert called and said, "Let's start tomorrow!" So that was that, and I set aside a week to make a mess in the shop. The remodeling is really very minor - making some extra space in the service area for the new grinder and a little extra room to move around.
The work is completed - mostly - and in the last couple days I've cleared out the backlog of skis that were in for grinding.
If you've been waiting for your skis, they'll be arriving in the next few days. Sorry for the delay.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
The choice was pretty carefully considered, and the Mantec Skinumericontrol 140 CNC has been selected.
Mantec calls it a Microgroover and I like that term, don't you?
What made the decision?
- Mantec has choices for diamond and stone configurations, for more structure options. A high quality grinding stone and diamond cutter is critical and Mantec has them.
- Mantec has the best ski drive and alignment mechanism of any grinder, avoiding the need for a binding bridge and providing uniform edge/edge down pressure
- Mantec uses brushless DC servo motors to control the stone dressing assembly, with diamond delivery precision to 0.001 mm; it's the best available
- Mantec has a variable frequency drive on the grinding stone, with speed control using a 9-bit DAC for resolution better than 1 rpm, and working speeds from 100-1600 rpm.
- Mantec has the best stone washing unit, a high pressure 5-sprayer system
- Mantec has a thermostatically controlled cooling system to maintain chilled emulsion temperatures for best cutting performance
Ultratune will add some new specialty racing structures this winter. We'll continue to maintain our grind menu and our existing machine will be in use too (we'll have a Mantec and a Tazzari).
Fast skis can be made by skilled ski techs using the Tazzari and Wintersteiger machines of course, but the new Mantec has greater capability. More than any grinding machine in America.
Our new Microgroover will arrive in early October.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Margaret was attending the 2009 FIS Trainers Seminar, and I was sampling the single-track on the mountain bike.
The FIS Trainers Conference was an educational siminar for coaches from Europe and North America, and had presentations on physical, tactical, and technical preparation, as well as strategic planning for long term athlete development. Researchers such as Holmberg (SWE) and Smith (CAN) are leading researchers in areas such as double poling, testing, and sprint preparation.
Margaret reports that the speakers were of the highest quality and the presentations were uniformly excellent and well worth attending. As you might expect, she came away from each day boiling over with enthusiasm and very stimulated.
It's worth noting, I think, that there were no USSA coaches at the seminar, and as far we could tell, Margaret (representing the Methow Valley Nordic Club) was the only USA coach in attendance.
Margaret will have a summary report in an upcoming Ultratune Newsletter.
Friday, May 15, 2009
It's Becca Rorabaugh's US World Juniors / U23 Ski Team Photo Shoot Competition. The point is to wear your team spandex and take a picture, the more inventive, public, and awkward, the better. Becca completely nails it. She's unbeatable in the Photo Shoot Competition.
You can find it right here (clicky and looky).
Becca is part of the APU Nordic juggernaut. Best luck to Becca for the 09/10 season.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
As an american driving the toll roads through northern Italy and Austria, I was amazed at the number of long tunnels burrowing through the alps. On the toll roads, you don't drive over mountain passes - you drive under the mountains. As our Austrian friends noted, it doesn't snow in the tunnels.
By the time we entered Slovenia it was raining again. As quickly as possible, at Jesenice, we got off the toll road and took the small backroads. It's immediately obvious that these small winding roads are perfectly suited for cycling. The countryside in the northwest part of the country is both mountainous and pastoral. Sweeping valleys between steep alpine peaks.
We rolled into Bled ahead of schedule and had time to walk through the small town and get our bearings before meeting with our friends from the Slovenian ski team for lunch. It was great to see Marko, Barbara and Vesna again. For the rest of my life, I will remember Slovenian creme cake!
Over lunch on Wednesday afternoon, Vesna and Barbara volunteered to be our guides for an outing on Thursday. They met us bright and early and off we went. Vesna has a sponsor deal on a sporty car, and it's pretty easy to spot on the road.
Barb and Vesna took us to explore the "Postojnske Jame" and "Prejamski Grad" (pronounced "postoinshki yama" and "preyamshki grod"). The first of these, Postojnske Jame, is the biggest of the karst caves in SLO... ..this cave is nearly 21km long and has 3 levels. We were able to cover about 4km of the cave. It was pretty spectacular. Huge open areas with ceilings as high as 150 feet... Giant stelagmites and stelagtites. Amazing. Apparently there are 9000 caves that have been located in the karst formations in Slovenija. Caves are a good place to be when it's raining and cold outside. (Note: with no lights on it's very dark ; - )
Prejamski Grad is a castle built into the side of a mountain, which backs up onto a couple of cave entrances that also connect to the big karst cave system. It was easily defended because it was built into the side of a cliff (1200's), and also easily evacuated by stealth through escape routes into the cave tunnels. Some robber-barron was able to withstand a one-year siege because he could go out for pizza and beer through the back tunnel.
Here in SLO, a country smaller than Vermont, there are a grand total of 250 ski racers (including the youngest juniors), and a grand total of 6 women competitors over the age of 20, but 4 of them are world cup skiers. They love skiing, and yet they work pretty hard at it and don't muck about. And they're terrific tour guides.... Margaret and I had a blast. Only 9 months until the Olympic games and these young women have every week scheduled already.
After a long lunch, we said "hvala & lahko noč" to Barb and Vesna and headed back to Italy late in the afternoon. (hvala = thanks; lahko noč = good night... ...my SLO is limited, but those two things are part of my vocab so I use them often).
...by the way, I got stopped by the polezia in Slovenija on Thursday morning. I felt like we were in a spy movie... Two cop cars escorted me to the side of the highway at an exit, then one of them sped off. The offficer came to the window and asked in broken slavic lilting pseudo-english (after figuring out that we don't speak SLO or ITI) if we could hand over our "papers". I suddenly felt like it was a Le Carre' plot... I knew i wasn't going too fast (only 90mph, and getting passed like I was in a ski race). He inspected all of our documentation (passports, licenses, registrations, & my Hank Aaron baseball card). It turns out that I had failed to turn my lights on (lights required during daytime here) and also I didn't have the "vinjet" (pronounced "vignette") permit to drive on the toll road, and I was subject to a $e350 fine. BUT we were right by a shop that happened to sell vinjet tags (and killer cappucinos, I might add), so the officer let me off --- I had to buy a 6 month tag for $e35, but that's much cheaper than the consequences.. The cappucino was only 1 euro, so the total for a cappucino and driving permit was only a little more than a cappucino in JFK airport. Soooo, if anyone needs a toll-road pass for SLO, i've got one with 5 months and 30 days of remaining time.
We decided that I'm probably the only one who has visited Austria and Slovenia who hasn't seen big mountains. The rain and low clouds put a cap on the scenery this week. Too bad. Having said that, I can tell you with no qualms that SLO has some absolutely beautiful country for cycling (backroads everywhere and not many people). Add hiking, skiing, etc. The only catch in SLO is that the language is a real jaw-cracker... ....on the other hand, everyone knows english.
Margaret was very surprised that the language seemed very soft compared to german (she was expecting gutteral harsh tones). It has much softer consanants and some rolled "R's" and is not harsh at all to hear. We got some 2-on-2 tutoring on pronunciation, and at least for a few days I'll be able to pronounce some words with out destroying them too badly.
Okay that's waaaayyyyy too much. Across the street from our hotel Thursday night we got some really nice cheese (2 kinds, actually), a bottle of Montepuciano d'Abruzzo, and a fresh baguette, for $e10. sigh. Hvala; Lahko noč, -mark
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
We arrived on Saturday in Pisa, Italy, and spent the weekend recovering, sightseeing, and visiting with Gianluca & Roberta and their great little boy, David. I know Gianluca as the head serviceman for Slovenia, and it has been great to visit with him, meet his partner and family, and have a first-class set of guides for seeing Italy. As they say, "When in Rome..." In this case, it's been Pisa and beyond.
Monday was a long rainy day. Our first appointment was with Mantec in Sarmato (near Milano); a drive of about 300 km. In a rented Nissan Micra, Margaret and I were chasing a crazy Pisano on narrow rainy mountain Italian roads at startling speeds. Needless to say, we arrived on time.
At Mantec, Margaret & I (and Gianluca) met with Rinaldo & Giuseppe Moroni of Technolami/Mantec, and Stefano Vuerich, one of the top ski servicemen in the world. Everyone was very welcoming and very accomodating of our abysmal Italian language skills.
After a very useful meeting, we decided that the best step was to make a change of plans and high-tail it to Stefano's service center in Val di Fiemme. This required another 300 km of driving across northern Italy. I took some minor satisfaction (at my wife's annoyance) of arriving at Val di Fiemme ahead of Stefano, even though we stopped for lunch and gas. Stefano and I were able to have some good shop talk...
Before it got too late, we had another 400km of driving to get to Udine. From Val di Fiemme we crossed Passo San Pelligrino in a snowstorm, and through driving rain the rest of the day. (Let's not discuss getting lost in a maze of traffic circles while trying to find our hotel, at night in a downpour when my wife was tired and hungry...)
Tuesday morning we were up and on the road early to reach Altenmarkt Austria where we met with Franz Schlager from Wintersteiger, plus Norbert Irouschek and Martin (?last name?) of Atomic.
Franz and Martin walked through the features and function of the top-of-the-line Wintersteiger Micro-NC. The machine clearly is capable of top quality work when used by expert servicemen.
Norbert and Martin provided an expert's seminar on picking/fitting skis for world cup skiers. Plus there was a lot of talk about base structures (grinds) that they're using, and banter about upcoming new skis for the next couple seasons... The Atomic race room is a very nice shop, very obviously set up by technicians, and neither dirty nor "overly polished" -- very functional and professional. It all happens here. Cool. It ended up being exceptionall cordial there with a nice long lunch (schnitzle and pancake soup).
The last two days has left us with lots of information and lots to think about in the coming weeks as we close in on a decision on a new grinder for Nordic Ultratune.
Friday, April 10, 2009
There is a lot to do during the Whistler trip, but its not high-stress and not highly structured. No alarm clocks, no fixed schedule. The atmosphere was light. Smiles on every face almost all the time (photo: Gianni & Ivan getting ready to ski).
Also for me it was a chance to do a tiny bit of testing with wet/warm structures. And there is always work to be done when skiing is involved. Warm spring weather turns waxing into an outdoor activity!
Friday, April 3, 2009
Nordic 2008-09: Season of Atomic heroes.
Once you've opened it, click on the page-turner on the lower right corner, and you can follow their scrapbook of season highlights.
There are some nice shots of Demong and Lodwick from their incredible season. And of course DiCenta, Aukland, Nystad. Lots of ski jumping stuff, if you're into that. And biathlon. All nordic, though, so it's worth a look.
As a teaser, there's a section near the end (pages 62-64) with some info on the construction of their new Featherlight cross country skis.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
With spring's arrival comes a change in schedule at Nordic Ultratune.
During the spring and summer, service work goes on as usual but on a more relaxed schedule. The shop will not have regular hours during the spring, and drop-offs and pick-ups should be arranged in advance (call - I'll be happy to meet you at the shop). You can reach me by email or leave a message at the shop (509) 996-4145 and I'll get back to you.
So, yes it's still a good time to pick a great grind for your race skis, and yes please do send skis for the 'end of season' grind and hotbox work - that's a great idea, in fact. And do email with questions or comments or requests.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I've been testing some Atomic World Cup skis, and decided that I should check the weight.
The other "big 3" ski brands advertise their top model as being in the range of 500 grams per ski, and much to my chagrin they ALL test heavy.
I use an Acculab digital scale with 0.1 gram resolution, and it has plenty of accuracy and precision for wax absorption tests and the occaisional "weigh in" for new skis.
What's it mean? They're light. It's not everything when choosing a ski, but in a time when ski companies are doing crazy things to trim 5 grams ("hole ski", anyone?), a lightweight ski that gets it done with no caveats is to be commended.
Stay tuned for some on-snow reports for Atomic's skate and classic skis.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The following is a short excerpt from Trond's email :
Thanks a lot for the skis and the job you did - the skis were a pleasure to work with....
ALL three of our men used their freshly ground skis with the MVX grind in the 20km skate race - they had awesome skis.........They went 2, 3 and 5 in the race. We waxed with BD8 and with FC8x on top coated with helix warm. Sadie Bjornsen also used her newly ground MVX skis - she said they were fast!
You can expect skis from us in the spring,
Results for Men's 20K, click here. It's always nice to hear about the skis running well straight out of the box.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
In addition, the Atomic World Cup skis are super light - they're the lightest world cup ski on the market right now.
Here's a spy photo of the boots. The new Atomic World Cup boots will be available in two flavors: Red/White, and a sensible black version.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Congratulations to Leslie and Sol! Well done.