Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why No Isotropic Structures?

I am occasionally asked why ski bases don't have random or non-directional structures.    Typically the question is posed with the addition of " a golf ball!"

The idea of random isotropic surface structures seems attractive at first.    Something simple, elegant, and maybe even something easy to apply to a ski.     Imagine a surface finish on a ski that could be sprayed on! Perhaps smooth indentations on the ski base from a shot-peen gun, or cuts from an abrasive sandblasting apparatus.    That seems simple and relatively inexpensive.    But would it work?

Golf balls travel through the air, spinning, without a set orientation to the travel direction (imagine having to line up the golf ball just so on the tee...!).     Additionally, the axis of spin can translate while the ball is flying through the air.      So a non-directional isotropic arrangement of the dimples is best.  

Angled pattern, but the structure elements are
all aligned length-wise.
But a ski doesn't travel randomly; it doesn't behave the same in all directions.    Cross country skis travel in a straight line, and always work through the snow tip-to-tail.     For this reason, the base structures are optimized to maximize the benefits, and minimize any negatives.      Structures and base finishes need to take into account the motion of the ski against the frictional interface.

Note that while skating there is typically a bit of torsional force and movement of the ski in the snow.   Additionally, skate skis usually slide through less transformed snow than a ski in a set (classic) track.    So skate skis and classic skis are sometimes treated differently.

The skate ski structures are tending toward broken patterns, which have easier separation and less stickiness in the ski release.      Long, straight, continuous linear structures with continuous frets tend to track well but have a stickier release or separation from the snow.        Broken structures with linear elements, but with angled interference patterns are proving to work very well on both skate and classic skis.

So, skis don't get the simple isotropic base structures, but rely on lengthwise oriented patterns.    The ski structure designs utilize depth, spacing, orientation, and pattern to optimize the ski speed through the snow in various conditions.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Maine, mainly

The Technolami Mantec Ski Numericontrol 140 NC
Sixty five pairs of skis showed up, in big clumps, during the 4 days before Christmas.    Primarily they were skis needing last minute grinds before US Nationals in Rumford.        It resulted in a week of long days, but all the skis were completed on time, and are on their way.        I have a hunch that some of those skis will be on the podium next week.       Good luck to all the skiers heading to Rumford!

January Stone Grinding Schedule

Your big ski events are coming up in the coming weeks, so make sure your skis are as ready as you are.

Prepare all of your skis to run their best with a fresh grind and hotbox service. At Nordic Ultratune, a grind batch starts every Thursday and those skis are ready for shipping on the following Monday -- just 4 days later.

Return shipping is FedEx Express Saver, which is 3rd day delivery. So, skis that are shipped out on Monday will arrive back to you on Thursday.

Here's the upcoming service schedule at Nordic Ultratune. Use these dates to make sure you get your skis ready before your most important races.
  • Skis in by Dec 30th will ship out on Jan 3rd and arrive back to you by Jan 6th.
  • Skis in by Jan 6th will ship out on Jan 10th and arrive by the 13th.
  • Skis in by Jan 13th will ship out on Jan 17th and arrive by Jan 20th.
  • Skis in by Jan 20th will ship out on Jan 24th and arrive by Jan 27.
  • Skis in by Jan 27th will ship out on Jan 31st and arrive by the Feb 3rd.
There is still plenty of time to get a fast grind on your skis before the season's big marathon races kick off!     But don't delay... boards are a joy to ski on, and they're a real advantage.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Christmas day here in Mazama has been a nice day off.     Today is the first day off that Margaret and I have had together since September!  
At the Basecamp Bridge over the Methow River
After an early breakfast, we skied from the back door, heading up-valley at a relaxed pace.   Stopping for photos and chatting, but wary of tree-bombs from the heavily laden pines and cottonwoods along the trail; the trees are dropping snow and branches today.

Margaret stole my "Lake Express" hat.   It definitely fits her better than me.
The Methow River is just a trickle at this time of year, and sometimes there is no surface water at all.    This year there is noticeable flow; it makes a pretty backdrop with the snow.     The ski trails pass by the North Cascades Basecamp, which was taken over by Steve and Kim Bondi this past autumn - they're doing a great job there.    From the Basecamp, the trail crosses the river, and offers long kilometers of trails in the narrow valley near the confluence of the Lost River and the Methow.
Skis leaning against the side of the house.
We skied for 2 hours and looped back to the house.   Back at home this afternoon, there's time to relax and get started on a book.    Some phone calls with family and friends.      There's not as much to do when you live in a quiet, snowy, rural mountain area, but it takes longer to get anything done.   So it works out well.

I hope you all are having a peaceful day and are finding comfort and joy with family and friends.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From the house with the spouse

Skiing with Margaret
We've got a ton of great snow here in Mazama, WA right now.    About 3 feet of snow in our yard.

It's a Saturday morning, and for me that means a chance to get up early and ski right out the back door with my wife Margaret.     We get up early and out the door at the first light since my ski hours are constrained by my work schedule.    For Margaret it's a normal weekend - and she'll often ski with me, then sneak out later for another ski later in the day.

Of course, I've got to get to the shop by 10 to get things rolling.    Nordic Ultratune is really hopping right now, right in the final days before Christmas.   If you're in town, stop in at Nordic Ultratune and say Hello!

Rode Super Extra Blue
The classic skiing has been especially good in the past week.    I've been skiing on the same Rode Extra Special Blue for several days, just a little touch up before going out each day.    While the weather holds in this pattern, I'll stick with it.

If you need any Rode grip waxes, just let me know.   Nordic Ultratune has all the Rode stick waxes and klisters in stock.     Rode grip waxes are very versatile, and should be part of your wax box.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moving Snow

22 inches of new snow fell on Saturday night here in the upper Methow Valley.

I spent most of Sunday morning moving snow so that I could get to the shop, where I got the opportunity to shovel a couple feet off of the sidewalk and entryway to the building.

Moving two feet of new snow.
Needless to say, I didn't get any skiing done on Sunday.    But all the outbound skis were ready for FedEx, and the Nordic Ultratune stone grinding schedule wasn't affected by the big winter storm.

The local trails association is hustling to get all the trails packed down and beautiful, and I'm hoping to get a really great long ski outing on my day off this week.

Stone Grinding Schedule

Here's the upcoming service schedule at Nordic Ultratune. Use these dates to make sure you get your skis ready before your most important events.
  • Skis in by Dec 16th will ship out on Dec 20th and arrive by the 23rd.
  • Skis in by Dec 23rd will ship out on Dec 27th and arrive by Dec 30th.
  • Skis in by Dec 30th will ship out on Jan 3rd and arrive by Jan 6th.
You can see that there are still a few service batches scheduled before Christmas and the post-holiday races (including Sr Nationals!).     There is still time to get a fast grind on your skis before your biggest events! But don't delay... boards are a joy to ski on, and they're a real advantage.

Monday, November 29, 2010

December Stone Grinding Schedule

James Southam has well prepared skis.  
Photo: Ian Harvey / Toko
You've been training to get the most from your skiing, so make sure your skis aren't a limiter.

Prepare all of your skis to run their best with a fresh stone grind and hotbox service. At Nordic Ultratune, a stone grinding batch starts every Thursday and those skis are ready for shipping on the following Monday -- just 4 days later. Return shipping is FedEx Express Saver, which is 3rd day delivery. So, skis that are shipped out on Monday will arrive back to you on Thursday.

Here's the upcoming service schedule at Nordic Ultratune. Use these dates to make sure you get your skis ready before your most important events.
  • Skis in by Dec 4th will ship out on Dec 8th and arrive back to you by Dec 11th.
  • Skis in by Dec 11th will ship out on Dec 15th and arrive by the 18th.
  • Skis in by Dec 18th will ship out on Dec 22nd and arrive by the 26th (the 25th is a holiday).
  • Skis in by Dec 26th will ship out on Dec 29th and arrive by Jan 3rd.
You can see that there are still a few service batches scheduled before Christmas and the post-holiday races (including Sr Nationals!).     There is still time to get a fast grind on your skis before your biggest events! But don't delay... boards are a joy to ski on, and they're a real advantage.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Assessment and Preparation

The first days of skiing are in the log book now (hopefully!).

Whether you were at West Yellowstone, or Silver Star, or on the local 2 km Gerbil Loop, you've gotten a chance to put some km's on your skis. At this time of year it's important to assess the performance of your skis and prepare them for the next races.

Brian Gregg got a podium spot at West Yellowstone.
Photo Credit - Ian Harvey / Toko 
If you've got a few pairs of skis, you'll need to decide if your favorites have the stone grinding structures to match the skiing that you've got planned. If you're a competitor you have to try to match the skis with the conditions - this can require a bit of "crystal ball gazing" and guesswork.

If you have several pairs, then it's important to make sure you've got the majority of situations covered to get the maximum performance from your available pairs of skis.

In the first half of the season, especially in the Western USA and Canada, emphasis on good pair of skate and classic skis for cold/dry conditions is a must. At altitude and in dry climates, the fine structures perform much better than the universal grinds that come on new skis.

For cold new-fallen snow, high altitudes, and dry snow, the Nordic Ultratune S1 will run well and performs down to the FIS limit.    Try the S1 on skate or classic skis - it's very versatile in cold/fine conditions and has excellent top-end speed.  The S1 has already proven itself this season with top results in West Yellowstone SuperTour races.

The S2 makes an excellent cold climate all-around grind. If the snow hasn't been through significant thaw/freeze cycles and humidity is low, then the S2 will perform up into the upper 20's (F), with a bottom end near 0F.

Another tried-and-proven performer is the Ultratune XC02, which is a long-time favorite among skiers and is a great choice for anyone with a dedicated pair of "very cold" classic or skate skis.

Turn-around times on grind work continue to be fast. Skis arriving at Nordic Ultratune by Thursday will be shipped back out (or ready for pick-up) by the following Monday - just 4 days later.

Be ready for your big events. Get the skis up-to-speed now.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ultratune Duo in West Yellowstone?

Caitlin Compton & Brian Gregg of CXC Elite
I got an email from Brian Gregg of the CXC Elite team.

I like the pictures of you and Margaret up on the pass.  Just wanted to let you know there is another Ultratune duo out in West...

Looks like there's plenty of snow this year in West Yellowstone!  

November 2010 Nordic Ultratune Newsletter
A lot more than I can post here. It's a twelve page newsletter with lots of good information. Take a look (click here).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

It's beginning to look a lot like   SKI SEASON!

It began snowing at the shop today at about 10:30.    Tuesday the shop is closed, but I was in taking care of some skis.      When I looked up and saw the white stuff coming down I simply turned off the gadgets and headed for home.

There's about two inches so far, and there might be enough for some rock skiing before dark if it keeps on falling.

The picture was taken right behind our house where the ski trail heads toward the Goat Creek bridge.

There's nothing like new falling snow!

Stone Grinding Schedule
Use these dates to make sure your skis are ready for the start of ski season or your most important ski events.
  • Skis arriving at Nordic Ultratune for stone grinding by Nov 11th will ship out on Nov 15th and arrive back to you by Nov 18th.
  • Skis in by Nov 18th will ship out on Nov 22nd and arrive by Nov 26th (Thanksgiving is the 25th)
  • Skis in by Nov 26th will ship out on Nov 29th and arrive by Dec 2nd
  • Skis in by Dec 2nd will ship out on Dec 6th and arrive to you by Dec 9th
There are still one or two service batches scheduled before the Thanksgiving week training camps (and races).   There is plenty of time to get a fast stone grind on your cross country skis before the season really gets moving!     Why wait? here for workorder form download.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weights and Measures - Skis and Bindings

Last week I weighed some skis and bindings.

I used the "2nd largest size" in all the brands as a good representation.    These have different lengths listed by the ski manufacturer, but when they're on the rack they all are within about a centimeter of each other in actual tip-to-tail length.

The FIS allows skis down to 750 grams per pair, with no limitation on mass distribution.    None of the ski makers is anywhere close to breaking that rule.

The measurements are in grams, and were made using an Acculab VI-4800 digital scale (with 0.1g resolution), using actual skis.   Weights are for one ski, or one binding - not per pair.    All of the skis listed are skate skis, but both skate and classic bindings are shown.   In most cases I weighed 4 individual skis and averaged the results, rounding to the nearest gram.   All the skis are 2010/2011 models.

You can see that the Atomic World Cup FeatherLight is about 10% lighter than nearest other offering.    In fact the Fischer Hole Ski is 20% heavier than the Atomic.   That's significant.

But it is worth taking a quick look at the "ski + binding" combinations, since that's what we actually ski on.

This is where things turn upside down.   The lightest real world combinations is the Rossignol Xium WCS with the Xcelerator binding.    The Atomic FeatherLight with the NNN R3 (screwed down binding) is only a few grams more.  The Madshus Nanosonic with Xcelerator binding is close behind.

It's possible that you could skate on an Atomic FeatherLight with a ProPulse binding, and that would get you a total weight of under 600 grams for one ski+binding.     But so far I haven't seen anyone use that setup.   (Note:  I called Salomon in October to ask if they've got firmer bumpers for the ProPulse, they weren't able to provide an answer - it was clearly,  "I don't know...")    With or without a firmer bumper, the ProPulse might be a possible skating option.

The "Pilot + Wedge" option with any ski makes a relatively heavy choice.     And of course, the super-light Xcelerator binding will only fit on skis with an NIS plate.

Overall, you can get a ski+binding selection of a little over 1200 grams per pair if you're careful.    While none of the brands are anywhere near the FIS limit,  skis this year are quite a bit lighter than choices from just a few years ago.    It does make a difference.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rack 'em up.

It is busy at Nordic Ultratune in November.  Stone grinding is the best way to prepare your skis for specific conditions you'll encounter this winter.      The vast majority of the skis that arrive by FedEx and UPS right now are being prepared for the upcoming ski weeks at West Yellowstone and SilverStar, and for the early SuperTour and NorAm events.

There is still time to get stone grinding before Thanksgiving.    Check out the stone grinding selection guide.  Download a work order form (click here).   Skis that arrive by Thursday ship back out on the following Monday, just 4 days later.  Every week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 2010 Nordic Ultratune Newsletter

A lot more than I can post here. It's a twelve page newsletter with lots of good information. Take a look (click here).

And here's a shot of Brian Gregg, the 2010 USSA SuperTour Distance Champion, courtesy of E.A. Weymuller.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Methow Valley Nordic's 14th Annual Ski Ball

If you're anywhere near Winthrop, WA on November 13th, then please plan to attend the 14th Annual Ski Ball.

The annual Ski Ball is the big soiree and fund-raiser for the Methow Valley Nordic Junior Team.  

This year's theme is "Winter Dreams", with dinner and dancing to the tunes of "Honey and the Killer Bees".     There will be a silent and live auctions, with all kinds of great things to bid on.    Dress up and make an evening of it!

This is a really easy way to support the juniors!    You'll have fun, and the cost is no more than you'd spend on any date.    

Our juniors are the future of the sport.    Come out and show your support and have a great time!

I'll see you there!

Details:   5:30 p.m. at the Winthrop Barn on Saturday, Nov 13th.

For info call Janice at 509.341.4400  or check out the MV Nordic web site.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pacific Northwest Events

I thought it would be worthwhile to compile a list of upcoming events for the Pacific Northwest.

Dec 19 - MBSEF Pategonia Pursuit - 6K-CL / 12K-SK
Jan 1 - Mazama Ski Rodeo - Skate 10K
Jan 8/9 - Bend OR JOQ  - MBSEF race weekend
Jan 15 - Leavenworth Skirennen - Skate 10K
Jan 16 - Kongsberger Gunnar Hagen Memorial - Classic 30K & 10K
Jan 29/30 - Leavenworth Bavarian Cup -  TBD technique and distance
Feb 5/6 - Methow Valley JOQ - Skate Sprint & Classic Distance
Feb 13 - Spokane Langlauf - Classic 10K
Feb 19 - Tour of the Methow Valley - Noncompetitive 80K Tour
Feb 20 - Kongsberger Stampede - Skate 15K
Mar 3-10 - Masters World Cup - at Sovereign Lake, B.C. Canada
Mar 19 - Cascade Crest - Skate 30K at Mt Bachelor
Mar 20 - Kongsberger Ozbaldy - Skate 50K

Even though it's late October, there are some events that aren't nailed-down yet.   As a result, this list isn't really complete.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mountain Snow!

The season's first big mountain snowstorm is upon us!  

Dust off the rock skis, and get ready to blow off a little bit of the pre-season steam.     If the NWS prediction is correct, there will be enough snow to make some early season tracks at nearby Washington Pass.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Glide Wax App for iPhone

Hey, check out this iPhone utility!

The Nordic Glide Wax utility for iPhone and iPod Touch, provides glide wax recommendations (Swix, Toko, and Solda) based on temperature, snow type, and humidity.

It's similar to on-line wax advice utilities, but this tool resides on your iPhone and can be used anywhere. Plus, it handles recommendations for all three brands at the same time, so you can mix and match based on your preference or based on what you've got in your wax box.

The Nordic Glide Wax utility (this goes to iTunes site) was created by Brian Drye. It's only 99 cents! If you've got an iPhone or an iPod Touch, then you ought to give it a try.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A View of the Process

Torin Koos came into the shop a couple of times while I was working on his skis in September.    He brought a camera with him and asked a few questions.    It was casual, with no script, no prepared questions, and certainly no rehearsal.

The video clip is Torin's concept, and his production entirely.    I think it's good because it shows his view of what's interesting and important at Nordic Ultratune.  Take a look!

I think the video clip is informative.      While it isn't a complete description of what is done with each pair of skis, it does give you a good idea of the process and technology. 

A big thank you goes out to Torin.     Check him out at the Methow Olympic Development site.   Or at Torin's blog with FS.      Or at his blog with In The Arena

Monday, October 4, 2010

Greetings from Slovenia

On Sunday I received email from Barbara Jeseršek, a friend and skier from Slovenia.

Barbara is a young skier on the Slovenian World Cup team; she's 24 years old. This past winter she had a great Olympic experience that provided extra motivation to train to reach the top. Barbara races on Atomic skis. A couple of new pictures from Dachstein are here.

It was great to hear that Barbara has had an excellent summer of training and that she's motivated for the upcoming World Cup season. For Barbara, the summer training is now being replaced with on-snow training, with racing just a few weeks away.

Here's a short excerpt:

We did first period of snow training on glacier - Dachstein!! Tomorow I'm going back to Ramsau. It was nice sunny week and I was skiing in T-shirt :)

In Nowember we are going to Sjusjoen for training camp in Norway and than to Gallivare to start first WC races!!!

Barbara's email was a good reminder that the racing season is just around the corner - an idea that might seem alarming during the warm and sunny indian summer days in the west.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Picking skis in Utah

Howdy from Utah. I picked a pile of Atomic Featherlight skis Today.

The Atomic skis look super. As a group I am really impressed with the quality of the skis this season. There are about 1000 pairs of Atomic World Cup Featherlight skis here in the Ogden warehouse right now. I started the day by picking skis from the big racks, based on length and flex numbers. Then I unwrapped every single pair and did a couple of quick tests on a bench. I rejected fewer than 10 pairs of skis that I pulled down, and I'm very picky.

The first photo shows me and Atomic's Rick Halling inspecting a pair of skate skis.

Good timing. Rick Halling tells me that 200 pairs are being pulled tomorrow, so the selection would be somewhat diminished if I waited even a few more days. This afternoon we packaged up all the skis, and they're shipping out tomorrow to Ultratune. They should be in the shop by Monday.

The second pic shows some of the new Featherlight skis on the vertical rack at the Atomic warehouse. Note that they keep the skis stored standing in the rack rather than squashed in boxes; it makes picking the right skis a very straight-forward operation.

One thingis certain - I'd go blind working in the Atomic warehouse; the lighting is awful!

The third shot shows me hamming it up a little bit in front of the camera. I don't really "peepsight" the skis when I'm checking them out -- these look good, but I know the bases will look great after they've got an Ultratune grind.

All the skis were inspected by the shipping department, and then Rick packed them up to ship to Ultratune (foto 4). The cart in the foreground has our skate skis.

After finishing with the skis this afternoon, Rick H took me for a drive up into the mountains to the east of Ogden. The area around Snow Basin ski area. It’s absolutely gorgeous up there. Rick does a lot of road cycling and says it’s one of his favorite places to ride. The scenery is quite a surprise to me because this particular area isn’t dry – it’s covered with deciduous trees (oak, maple, aspens). Also it’s site for some of the xterra races. Very pretty. Ahhhh. Autumn colors.

Now I’m at the hotel, and I’m exhausted. Nothing to do but find some cheap dinner and crash until the a.m. flight back to Spokane, and then drive home. I printed my boarding pass here at the hotel, so I go straight to security and out to the concourse (no checked baggage).

That's it for now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sorting out the race skis

Torin Koos has been training in the Methow Valley for much of the summer. Koos grew up just down the road, and he's very much at home here - living in Mazama and taking advantage of the opportunity to roller-ski, run, and ride in the area.

Torin has also taken the time to get his big bag of race skis sorted out and tuned up for the coming season. We've spent a few sessions flex testing skis, sorting and grouping the skis, and finally we've selected grinds for all the race skis. The goal is to have a logical matrix of flexes and structures to handle race conditions, and to keep it pretty simple and streamlined.

With over 30 pairs of racing skis, there are five grinds represented. With any flex grouping there are a few structure options. With any base prep, there are a few camber choices. It's all logical, relatively simple, and organized.

Whether you've got 4 pairs of skis (2 skate, 2 classic), or if you've got 40 pairs of skis, a simple and organized approach is best. Choose versatile grinds to handle the conditions you'll likely see.

Torin has enough smarts and experience to know that the time to get all the skis ready for racing is NOW. Why wait until the snow is falling to get the quiver of skis prepared for the races?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Grinding Schedule Resumes

The first day of Autumn is this week. And with it, the normal winter grinding schedule resumes at Nordic Ultratune.

That means that I'll be running a batch of skis each week, and that turn-around on service will be fast. Skis that arrive by Thursday each week will be shipping back out on Monday by FedEx.

Granted, there isn't any new snow in the lower 48, but the days are getting shorter and you only need to flip a couple of calender pages to get to the first on-snow camps.

Get your skis to Ultratune for a grind and hotbox so they'll be fast when the snow arrives.

Monday, August 23, 2010

We're back!

I've been away, paddling in Quetico Park in Ontario, Canada, but now I'm back in town. Quetico Park is a huge protected wilderness area of lakes, rivers, bogs and pine forests in the central part of the continent, just north and adjacent to the Boundary Waters (northern MN).We (Mark & Margaret) spent 9 days paddling a big loop of about 165 miles, with 42 portages. The portages are trails that connect adjacent bodies of water, and on these portage routes the canoe and equipment are carried; on our trip the portages varied from about a mile to as short as the width of a beaver dam.

Much of the trip was spent paddling the historic routes of the Voyageurs, the fur traders who transported goods across the continent on water routes. The canoe routes and portage trails in the Quetico wilderness have been used for literally thousands of years by the original inhabitants of the north woods, and appear almost unchanged today.

Mosquitoes were an issue, thus long sleeves, hats, and long pants. DEET was used liberally. I will resist the temptation to go on a rant about mosquitoes.

For us, our annual canoe trips are a great break from our normal working lives; we try to plan a new trip each summer. For Margaret in particular, this was a big trip since it occurred 11 months after back surgery to replace her L5/S1 lumbar disk with an artificial disk. Margaret was paddling 7-9 hours per day, and shouldering a 50 lb. pack on the portage trails with no problems.

Back in the shop:
I'm back in the shop part time now, getting ready to roll full time in mid-September. There's already a steady stream of skis arriving for service, and I'm getting things ready for the arrival of new skis from Atomic, Madshus, and Rossignol. It's an exciting time at Ultratune, even if the snow won't arrive for a couple more months.

Keep an eye out for more frequent posts here. After a great trip to rejuvenate the spirit, I'm back with a big smile and ready to roll into the ski season.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Anna Haag talks about the 2015 World Championships

This year’s annual FIS congress included the selection for the 2015 Nordic World Championships. The meeting was held in Turkey, and the finalists included Sweden, Finland, Poland and Germany. Sweden was smart. They brought along some of their top athletes to be part of the presentation in their bid to bring the World’s to Falun. Nothing like hearing it straight from an athlete’s mouth.

It definitely worked because Sweden beat their rivals to become the hosts for 2015. Key in that presentation was Olympic medalist Anna Haag. She took a short break from her training to talk with Rick Halling about the World Championships and what it means for the event to come to Sweden.
Anna Haag on the left.
She brought Sweden Olympic medals and the 2015 World Championships.

Rick Halling: Congratulations on winning the bid for the 2015 World Championships. I watched your presentation for Sweden, and I watched Justyna Kowalczyk’s presentation for Poland. It was obvious that the athletes who went to Turkey were not there simply because their federations told them to come. It was quite clear that the athletes truly cared about being the hosts for the World Championships. Why was it so important for you to bring the World Championships to Sweden?

Anna Haag: I was born in the region so for me it’s a dream came true having a new world championship in my home region. I remember the last one, 1993, and I think that my interest in cross country skiing grew just because of that. So, for many reasons, I really want to ski and have a championship in Sweden and in Dalarna (the region).

Rick Halling: Aren’t there also some major drawbacks with the World’s taking place in your own country? You have to admit, there is far more pressure on the home athletes than on the visiting teams. Swedish journalists can be pretty tough on Swedish athletes, don’t you think they will be even tougher when the event is at home?

Anna Haag: I’m pretty sure they’ll be tough, but that is also one of the things that make it even more special and charming. If you can handle the pressure and take a medal at a championship in the home country, you’ve really make something special and really, really fantastic memory for the rest of your life.

Rick Halling: Can you describe your role in representing Sweden at the FIS conference? Do you think you made much of a difference?Anna Haag: I don’t know. But I think that we (me, Emil and Charlotte) helped a bit. We are young and every one of us will ski (hopefully) in Falun, so everything that we said was true. We really wanted the championship to Sweden!! And we did get it!

Rick Halling: You convinced the FIS representatives to hold the World Championships in Sweden. Now, persuade American Masters that it will make for a great vacation to fly to Sweden and attend the Worlds in 2015.

Anna Haag: Oh, that’s a hard one. But to see a ski competion “for real” is something really special. And in Falun 2015, there will be a lot of things to do except just sport. Falun has a lot of culture and a great surrounding with a lot to do and see. I think it will be a great experience!

There will be more than just skiing at the 2015 World’s.
Exciting cultural opportunities can be found a short drive away.

Rick Halling: One thing that prevents Americans from attending events like the World Championships is that they are concerned there will be no place for them to ski when they are there. There may be no trails for spectators or there will only be a very short loop open to the public. Will the World’s in Falun be like that? Or, will average folk be able to find plenty of nice and convenient trails to ski on between watching races?

Anna Haag: If there is a great winter, like the last one, it will be a lot of tracks and cozy trails around in the village and neighborhood.

Rick Halling: I have not seen a schedule yet, I don’t know if there is one. How many days between when the World Championships end and the Vasaloppet takes place? Will that be a realistic option? Can tourists attend the World’s in Falun, stay in Sweden for a few more days and then be a part of the Vasaloppet?

Anna Haag: The management from the Vasaloppet said in Antalya, that if Falun got the WCS they will have to move the Vasaloppet for the very first time in history. Ever since the very, very beginning of this completion, it has been hold the first Sunday in March. Otherwise the Km and the Vasaloppet will be at the same day. So let’s hope that the Americans can both watch the WSC and ski the Vasaloppet.

Can classic distance specialists like Anders Aukland
take advantage of the proximity of the World’s to the Vasaloppet?
Over 140 km of racing in less than a week!!

Rick Halling: Final question. Let’s say a visiting family goes for a nice ski that morning, watches the races that afternoon, and they are very hungry and want a traditional Swedish dinner that night. What do you recommend they should order at one of Falun’s better restaurants?

Anna Haag: They should order elk and potato, grilled or steaked elk. That’s my favorite!

Elk Steak, yumm, yumm!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

NTG Training Camp Preview?

Not exactly a preview of the 2010 NTG Training Camp... ...but a great clip from a training camp in Østerdalen Norway in the early 1960s.


Stone grinding work continues through the summer. Naturally, the pace and schedule are a bit more relaxed. Typically the turn-around in the summer is a couple of weeks instead of the same-week service that Ultratune provides during fall and winter.

Pick a grind, fill out a work order form, and ship your skis.


With the ski season winding down, the remaining Rossignol, Madshus, and Atomic skis and boots are on sale. As always, the skis are top quality and all skis come with a grind and hotbox service at no additional charge. Sale prices are limited to in-stock items. Send email if you have questions.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thanks for the Thanks

You can help Caitlin as she continues to pursue her skiing ambitions. Click here and help.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Springtime roller ski training can be casual...

In Europe, it appears that some of the spring training on roller skis can be pretty casual.

I've been testing some One Way classic and skate roller skis, but so far I haven't tested the extreme conditions that they have.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Skiing and Summer Service

There was great spring skiing at Sovereign Lake Nordic Center (at Silver Star, or Vernon BC) this past weekend.

Several juniors from MV Nordic, plus Brian Gregg and me and my wife, Margaret, took the trip. Grooming was excellent, and the snow coverage was super. It was prototypical spring conditions, with firm track in the early morning that softened by noon.

As you can see from the pic of Margaret, the vibe was very casual and relaxed. Classic skiing on "rub-skis" (a.k.a. zero skis) was terrific in the soft, moist, snow if the late morning.

After 6 weeks off of snow, it was good to get a few days of skiing! I think there will be another opportunity in Bend, OR (Mt Bachelor) in June, too.

Summer Stone Grinding

Stone grinding work continues through the summer. Naturally, the pace and schedule are a bit more relaxed. Typically the turn-around in the summer is a couple of weeks instead of the same-week service that Ultratune provides during fall and winter.

Pick a grind, fill out a work order form, and ship your skis.

Here's a little video clip showing the Mantec grinder at work at Nordic Ultratune.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Holmenkollen Momento

Brian Gregg was in town for the weekend to attend a wedding. He stopped by the house this morning to say hello.

Brian never stops working on his skiing and training, and spent a good part of the morning discussing the upcoming summer's training plans, and general chit-chat about the past season. His energy and enthusiasm is infectious and motivating.

While he was here, he gave us a signed race bib from Holmenkollen. These bibs are a real cherished momento for anyone who races in one of these prestigious events, and it really leaves me almost speechless to have him give one to us. The new bib will certainly go up on the Ultratune "Bib Wall" at the shop. It's a real treasure!

Like other racers, Brian is already making plans to get his quiver of skis prepared for the upcoming ski season. We'll be working to make sure he has the right grinds on the appropriate pairs of skis so that he's got coverage for all the conditions he'll face for the first half of the 2010/11 season.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Skiing in May?

There's a great opportunity for skiing next month. Sovereign Lake Nordic Center will be grooming daily from Friday May 7th through Sunday May 16th.

During this time they will maintain about 15km of trails suitable for all levels of skier. Many teams take advantage of this period to get in some late (or really early) season skiing as well. The day lodge will be open from 9am to 1pm during this period.

Sovereign Lake is located adjacent to SilverStar Mountain, near Vernon BC (Canada, eh?). Accommodations are available either at Silver Star, or down the hill in Vernon.

Here's a pic of Petra Majdič taken at the World Cup at Sovereign Lake in 2005.

Sovereign Lake Nordic Club, together with SilverStar Mountain Resort and Greater Vernon, is hosting the 2011 Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup of Cross Country Skiing (March 3-11, 2011).

A trip to SilverStar / Sov Lk in May is also a great chance to get a preview of the MWC-2011 venue! It's only 320 days until Masters World Cup, and for a few hundred USA and Canadian skiers, it will be the highlight of their 2010/11 season. You can get a head start by checking out the courses in person.


With the ski season winding down, the remaining Rossignol, Madshus, and Atomic skis and boots are on sale. As always, the skis are top quality and all skis come with a grind and hotbox service at no additional charge. Sale prices are limited to in-stock items. Send email if you have questions.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 2010 Nordic Ultratune Newsletter

A lot more than I can post here. It's a twelve page newsletter with lots of good information. Take a look.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New SNS Propulse Classic Bindings

Okay, so it's not exactly stop-the-press news that Salomon has a new classic binding for the 2010/2011 season. The new SNS Propulse binding is a greatly improved version of the old Profil classic binding. That's right - a single bar and an elastomer return spring.

Depending on who you talk to, this new classic binding is either a replacement for the Pilot Classic, or simply an alternative. I can tell you that while I was working at the Olympics in Whistler, I saw very few skiers using the Pilot Classic bindings... ...most skiers who are still on SNS bindings were using the new SNS Propulse. And for good reason.

I had a little bit of trouble getting my hands on a set for testing, but thanks to Rick Halling at Atomic, I got a set of the Atomic version (same binding, in with Atomic labels and colors). I received them mid-week, and did some quick tests and mounted them on a set of Atomic WorldCup classic skis for some weekend klister skiing.

First of all, you should know that the new SNS Propulse binding comes in two versions (RC1 & RC2). The RC2 is the "normal looking" version, while the RC1 has a very minimal design that ditches the heel plate and just has the central ridge screwed down to the ski. I was testing the RC2 version as shown in the photos.

The ProPulse RC2 is a bit lighter than the Pilot Classic. The ProPulse RC2 weighs in at 251 grams per pair (measured), which is a little lighter than the Pilot Classic. A savings of about 10 grams.

It was noticeable to me that the new Propulse bindings are a bit wider than the old Profil (or Pilot) bindings. The new bindings are 46mm wide, which is about 15% wider under the ball of the foot than the old bindings.

The new SNS Propulse has an improved rubber bumper that seems less likely to pop out of place over time, compared to the old Profil bindings. And the new latch mechanism is low profile and seems to be easy to grab, and also latches securely.

These new bindings also have a big spacious notch in them to allow plenty of room for that unused 2nd bar on the newer generations of SNS classic boots that were originally designed for Pilot Classic bindings. Even with lots of sticky snow, there won't be a problem with it clogging up. Nice. I think it's really great that Salomon made the new Propulse classic binding backward compatible.

I got these out on snow on Friday, March 26th, at Stevens Pass Nordic Center. The bindings were on a pair of 206cm Atomic WorldCup classic skis, and I was skiing with Start Red klister. It was wonderful to be out skiing in late March with a big snowpack there at Stevens and great grooming!

The SNS Propulse bindings felt comfortable right away. I've never been a fan of the Pilot Classic bindings - to me they always felt like there was something going on under my foot and I didn't like the way it felt. The new Propulse bindings have a good feel on the snow; a good feel on the ski. In my opinion, this should be the classic binding for skiers using SNS boots.

I was also using a pair of the 2010/2011 Atomic World Cup classic boots with the -17mm setback. I think these brand new classic boots are the most comfortable SNS boot that I've ever used. They have a sock construction and a nice snug fit in the heel - no slipping or blisters at all even on the first day out in them. They get a big thumbs up as well.

Any dislikes? The SNS Propulse bindings are still screwed down to the skis, so you don't get the adjustability that NIS/NNN bindings have. If you're counting grams, these new bindings are the lightest offering from Salomon but they're still 80 grams per pair heavier than the new NIS Xcelerator bindings from Rottafella.

Overall, I think the new SNS Propulse will be the "go-to" classic binding for SNS boot users. They are very good - a big improvement over the old Profil bindings, and a big improvement over the Pilot Classic bindings.

Now... I wonder if you can get some firm bumpers for these and use them with skate skis?


With the ski season winding down, the remaining Rossignol, Madshus, and Atomic skis and boots are on sale. As always, the skis are top quality and all skis come with a grind and hotbox service at no additional charge. Sale prices are limited to in-stock items. Send email if you have questions.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Methow Valley Junior Aims High

Casey Smith earned a gold medal in the 7.5km Sprint race at the recent Biathlon Championships in Fort Kent, Maine. Casey is 17 and competes in the Youth Men division in biathlon for the Methow Valley Biathlon Team, and he's also a PNSA/Methow Valley Nordic standout as a J1.

Casey has had a great season, competing in December at the Jr World Trials in Biathlon, then traveling to Sweden for the Biathlon Jr Worlds in January. Returning home, he competed in the JOQ events in the Pacific Northwest. Then in March he traveled to Maine for JO's and the Biathlon championships.

Smith's win at the Sprint race was his first gold medal in a national title event.

Congratulations to Casey Smith and also to the coaches and supporters who helped make it all happen!

The photo is from the biathlon range at Ft Kent during the National Championships, courtesy of Betsy Devin-Smith.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Black Jack

Grooming ended here at home last Tuesday and the local season is winding down. So Margaret and I took the weekend off and zipped up to Black Jack Cross Country trails in Rossland B.C.

Neither of us had ever skied at Black Jack before. It's only 200 miles from home, and they've still got plenty of snow and they're grooming daily.

The trails at Black Jack are super! Make no mistake, they're challenging trails with lots of up and down, but the trails flow beautifully and the fast and curvy downhills are very skiable and put a big smile on your face. With 30km of trails, plus about 10km of trails on the adjacent (connected) biathlon trails, there is plenty of variety to fill a weekend. The trails are situated at about 4000 feet above sea level, and they get a long season with plenty of snow.

There are trail-side warming huts along the trails which adds some opportunities for family outings with picnic gear. Here's a shot of one of the huts, situated with a great view and located just about 5km from the trail head.

We had the added bonus of getting a chance to stay with our friends Ethan and Alex who live about a block from the trail head. And in the afternoons we were able to play the part of weekend tourists, wandering through downtown Rossland, an old mining town with a lot of cool old buildings and a very vibrant retail district with funky shops and great places to get eats.

To top it off, it seemed that everywhere we turned Margaret was running into someone she knows from Canadian ski days - it seems that Canuck skiers all end up in Rossland!

If your home ski area is running out of snow, a short road trip might be a great way to celebrate spring and also stretch your ski season.


With the ski season winding down, the remaining Rossignol, Madshus, and Atomic skis and boots are on sale. As always, the skis are top quality and all skis come with a grind and hotbox service at no additional charge. Sale prices are limited to in-stock items. Send email if you have questions.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trying the Atomic FeatherLight Skate Skis

A couple days ago a ski box arrived at the shop. Okay, so that's not particularly momentous at Nordic Ultratune. Ski boxes arrive daily.

But this small, "one pair" box, had a pair of the 2010/2011 Atomic skate skis. Atomic has made the name a bit more complicated since Atomic calls it the World Cup Red Cheetah FeatherLight. Most people are calling it the "FeatherLight" or "World Cup FL".

The naming might be confusing but there is no confusion about the skis. Maybe you saw some of these while watching the Olympics? New graphics? Click that picture on the right to make it bigger; go ahead and try it.

Atomic keeps the bold, bright graphics. Lots of red and white, but they've added some darker-colored accents. Eye catching on the podium.

The FeatherLight keeps the camber characteristics of the Red Cheetah skis, but reduces weight a little bit by changing some internal sidewall material. The camber design, the layup, the base, the side-cut -- all those features remain the same.

The Featherlight has been in use on the World Cup for over a year. I've worked on quite a few of them at Ultratune, but only a handful of skiers have had them. For 2010/2011 they are entering the mainstream and are available to everyone.

I know that there are some of you who can't get enough of those bright yellow suits that Slovenia wears, so here's a picture of Barbara Jezeršek. She's rocking Atomic.

The Atomic skate skis are fitted differently than other brands (each brand is fitted differently, so it's not just Atomic that's "different"), and care is needed to pick a good flex in order to get the best performance. From my experience, the error fitting Atomic skis is usually in picking them too stiff rather than picking them too soft.

As with any non-NIS ski, positioning the bindings has to be done with care. As a note, this pair of 190cm skate skis weigh in at 506 grams per ski, which is right where they're advertised (the smaller sizes weigh a bit less).

On the snow, the skis feel like the 2009/10 version. They're quick, stable, and a blast to ski on. They're super on technical descents, and very nimble climbing. I think they're really great all around skate skis, handling sugar well and firmer conditions well, too. The test pair is running on an "i5" structure from the Ultratune Mantec grinder, and they're fast. When I'm picking the Atomic skaters, I usually recommend the "cold" version as having the best camber for an all-around ski.

So, in total, the skis feel much like the current version. That's great! The graphics got an overhaul, and the skis are a little lighter. They're a winner.


With the ski season winding down, the remaining Rossignol, Madshus, and Atomic skis and boots are on sale. As always, the skis are top quality and all skis come with a grind and hotbox service at no additional charge. Sale prices are limited to in-stock items. Send email if you have questions.