Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Snowy 2014...

Happy New Year 2014!
I'm wishing a Happy New Year to all the skiers out there!

May it be filled with above average snowfalls, and temps on the cool side.

I hope your skis stay off the rocks, and that you're always skiing a little better than expected.

And keep your skis tuned in 2014!  Ultratuned, of course...

Methow Valley Biathletes Excel at Jr Worlds Trials
Kelsey Dickinson Skiing big.
She's on a pair of Madshus RedLine
skate skis with the RDG grind.

Congrats to Methow Valley Biathlon's Paul Everett & Kelsey Dickinson for their selection to the Biathlon Jr Worlds Team and OEC in Czech.    Nicely done!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Let it Snow

fiddling with skis
We're having a little bit of a snow drought here in Washington state's Methow Valley.   There is less than normal snow on the ground and only 30km or so of groomed ski trails.

BUT, this morning the snow is falling!    That's very welcome.   The NOAA forecast says "2-4 inches".   Bring it.

Needless to say, new snow is always welcome for skiing.    But right now the new falling cold snow is perfect for testing new grind structures.    I've got a set of 8 pairs of Madshus Nanosonic skate skis that are specially manufactured as test skis, and right now they're prepped for testing some grind ideas that I've been fiddling with.  

It's a process that requires patience:  I can prepare the skis for certain conditions, but then I need to wait for the right snow conditions to test the structures properly.

Hand Selected New Skis from Nordic Ultratune

Are you looking for new skis to go along with your desire for improved performance? It doesn't matter what level of skier you are. We all want to hit the trails with skis and a grind & wax that are going to give us the best experience. Nordic Ultratune offers skis and world class grinds that help you achieve your best. Fortunately, we continue to offer our custom ski program tailored just for you this 2013-14 season.

Get the skis you want, selected just for you, from the best possible selection. Check out our available new skis from Atomic, Madshus, and Rossignol on our new website!

I work closely with the ski companies, knowledgeable World Cup skiers, coaches and servicemen to get the best possible information on ski fitting for each brand and model that Ultratune sells.

All skis are selected using the Ultratune Digital Flex Press in our shop. Whether you choose a ski from Atomic, Madshus or Rossignol, you'll get a well-fitted ski with a fast base finish that will result in great performance.  Email for info or with any questions!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Casey Smith at IBU Trials

Casey Smith
Casey Smith finished 1st today, by 47 seconds, in the 2nd IBU Trials race at Mt Itasca, MN.   He shot clean (0,0).

Smith, a first year senior, also won the first IBU Cup Trials race on Saturday the 14th.   On Saturday, Smith reported that it was "Tough shooting, 3,1.   About 3f so cold, but not terrible."  Saturday's win was close - less than 2 seconds separated first and second place.

IBU Trials races are at Mt Itasca, MN.

He also said that his Madshus skis that tested best were with the XC02 grind, just a tad better than the RDG grind.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New T-shirts and Methow Valley skiing.

Okay, it's just a minor thing, but I ordered some new t-shirts for the shop. Some new artwork, and a very basic black. It'll be available in men's & women's sizes, too.

Meanwhile, more important stuff! We are finally skiing here in the Methow Valley. The snow arrived just before the really cold temperatures, ranging from below zero (F) to the single digits. Voila, instant winter!

So while we're all happy to be out skiing, dressing warm is as much a factor in the enjoyment as nailing the wax. Skiing is a winter sport though, so enjoy the cold!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Skate Sprints

Caitlin Gregg at
West Yellowstone Nov 29th
Congrats to Caitlin Gregg on her win in today's skate sprints at West Yellowstone.

Caitlin skied with authority, winning the qualifier and each round of the heats.

Caitlin & Brian (her husband) switched to Madshus skis over the summer and are quite happy with the new skis and boots!

Naney Finishes 5th after Qualifying 3rd

Also, I got this note from Sam Naney this afternoono.   Sam finished 5th in the men's field, after qualifying in 3rd place:

Re: What works?
1 message

Samuel Naney Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 9:38 AM

To: Mark Waechter 
Mark, RDG ran competitively through the final. Got fouled up  before the last hill and missed the top gear for the finish sprint. But a good start. Thanks for the rocket skis!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks.

For many skiers, it's a day to pause and be thankful for the things that are good in our lives

It's also a brief pause, a transition from autumn to winter, and for many it marks the opportunity to get out on skis for the first time in the new winter season.

For competitors, it's the beginning of the race season.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, and joyful winter season.  Starting today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Smith wins biathlon NorAm in Canmore

Casey Smith  -  Madshus skier.  
This is a 2011 pic from Rupholding

Got the following short email from Casey Smith this afternoon:
From: Casey Smith
Sent:  Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 2:28 PM
To:  Nordic Ultratune
Subjetc: Re: how goes?

Hey Mark,

I forgot to say before but the first Noram race was today. It went really well I shot 0,1 and was 1st place. The full results are on zone4.ca.

I raced on the RDG skis and they were very fast! I tested them against the xc02s this morning and the RDG were faster. I conditions were overcast skies -5c and man made snow with some natural mixed in.


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Donut Hole

Here in the Methow Valley we're stuck in a bit of a weather donut hole so far this season.

We're skunked for snow - not a flake on the ground - and none in the 7 day forecast.    That's not such great news, but it's miserable when you know that the whole region around us has good snow!    Three feet at Stevens Pass, great skiing at SilverStar...     Ouch!
Brian Gregg at West Yellowstone.    
I'm pretty sure he fell down.

But I'm confident that the snow will be here soon.      With overnight temps below 10 F the past couple nights, the recipe is pretty clear:   Just Add Snow!

Meanwhile, the crazy friends of Ultratune are sending reports of great skiing all over the place, including the best Thanksgiving skiing in a long, long time at West Yellowstone.   Thanks for the pics, folks, you're killing me!

While waiting for the snow, I'm keeping busy grinding skis and getting ready to prep a brand new set of test skis!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Snow in the Cascades

During the last week of September a lot of precip fell in the North Cascades.    At higher elevations it came down as snow.

Here in the Methow Valley we were greeted by snowy peaks to the west and east.  Snow down as low as 4000 ft elevation made it seem like we're very close to winter!

From Mt Gardner to Goat Peak, the crowns of white have been visible for the past week.    A few have tried rock-skiing up at Washington Pass, but a bit more snow is really needed.    But it will be here soon!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Koos Top 20 In Drammen

I got a little update from Torin Koos, who had a great race in Drammen Norway this week:


In Dramman, I raced on a C3 classic ski with dry wax over a very thin klister base in the qualifer, then straight klister in the rounds. The snow was sugary on the climbs and fast gliding, with a little breeze and a high of -3C. I used the Ultratune D5 grind over two skis with i5 and a new classic ski I got from Rossignol with an A5 grind. The Ultratune D5 ski was def the most free, best gliding ski.

All Best,

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Birkie Recap from Caitlin Gregg

Here's an email I got from Caitlin Gregg, Women's champ of the 2013 American Birkebeiner:

The 2013 Birkie weekend began with near perfect conditions on the
entire length of the Birkie trail from
Cable to Hayward. Brian and I spent the three weeks prior to the race
training at altitude in Eagle, Colorado. We arrived
to the Cable area on Tuesday night and got right to work testing skis
and grinds Wednesday morning
during our final intensity session before Saturday’s 50km race.

When we woke up on Wednesday the sky was clear and the temperatures
sat at -14F. Realizing
that the temperatures would be warmer on race day we postponed our
workout a few hours till the
temperatures were closer to 5F. Brian and I grabbed our favorite XCO2
and RDG grinds and headed out
to the Birkie trail. Brian and I both agreed that the trail was firm
and the snow dry and very fine. The
XCO2 skis were running the best.

Thursday morning brought more cold weather but the temperature quickly
rose to almost 30F by the
time we were racing in the Elite Sprints on Main Street. Both Brian
and I races on our RDG grinds on the
trucked in snow. The sprints went well and we both left feeling good
about our ski selection.

Friday morning was early as we wanted to start testing near race time.
The past two years we have
tested at Bodecker, which is about 18K into the race. This year we
were met with
temperatures around 18F and 3 inches of new snow with more continuing
to fall and accumulate.
Keeping this in mind Brian and I brought out about 7 pairs of skis
each to test. Our grinds ranged from
our coldest XCO2 skis to our I5 skis. With colder snow below and
slightly warmer snow falling we felt the
best way to decide which pairs were fastest was to use a timing system.

My fastest pairs of skis were my XC02 Pairs closely followed by my S1
pairs. After skiing through the soft
conditions on each pair testing both climbing and gliding speed under
foot I decided to put my favorite
pair of XCO2 skis and S1 skis in the wax room to be prepared for Birkie morning.

About an hour before the start I brought my two pairs of skis over to
the groomed oval testing area.
I put one ski on each foot and began to test how they felt and how
they skied. I ski in both the skied
in areas and on the fresher non skied in snow trying to mimic
conditions that could be found out on
course. I was happy to see that there was a little path that headed
out on the trail where I could actually
test on the trail itself.

Both my skis felt very good but I could tell that the new snow,
although mostly plowed of the course was going to leave conditions a
bit soft. I opted for my S1 ski as it is a Salomon Soft Ground and I
had raced the Birkie with it the year before and felt that the flex
was perfect for such a long hilly race. Last year conditions were a
bit different and I ran a D5 grind on the ski but after the season was
over Mark and I decided to make the ski a colder weather ski and put
the S1 grind on it.

I could not be happier with that decision. My skis were extremely free
for the entire race and I could tell my glide was better than the
girls around me. Knowing you have your skis and grind dialed heading
up Main Street for the final sprint is a huge advantage. As I pushed
my hardest to get around the Estonian girl for the win I was ecstatic
when my skis glided past hers across the finish line. I skied a smart
race but knew I was going to have a good one less than a K into the
event when the first downhill brought me zooming by the other

-Caitlin Gregg
American Birkebeiner Champion 2013, 2010

A big win for Caitlin at the 2013 Birkie.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Preview - Madshus "Super Nano" Boots

Plain brown wrapper?  
A "sustainable" brown cardboard box.
For the 2013-2014 season, Madshus will have a new top-of-the-line skate boot called the "Super Nano".       I've seen early stealth prototypes that weren't quite finished, but yesterday a box arrived with a pair of size 44's that looked ready to go.

Starting from the outside, before you even dig in to the goods, you see a very "sustainable" brown corrugated cardboard box - gone is the glossy box that is harder to recycle.    Small thing, but it seems that the M company is doing their part to stay green with packaging.

Open the box and there's a little surprise; a mesh boot bag for storing the boots, or more likely a bag for carrying the damp and dire ski clothes after they've done their dirty duty.     Another nice little touch.    This is a pair of boots that will retail for over $700, so the nice little touches might be expected.

Boots and boot bag.   Red is mostly black.
It's pretty obvious that in Madshus' case, the new "Red" program means a black boot.   The upper of the boot still uses a generous amount of the durable and breathable Membrain fabric, and the interior space and construction look familiar to anyone who has worn the recent iterations of the Nano skate boot.   The bottom section material is no longer the rugged "cordera-like" red fabric, but is instead a black shiny (almost patent leather shiny) material with a subtle "carbon weave" design in it.

The upper carbon cuff seems to be from the same mold as last year's boot, but with different trim finish, and the hinge pivot fasteners are the same.

From the front.
So where's the big magic?    With the new Super Nano boot, the sole is the soul.     The outsole and lower cuff are all a single molded piece of carbon fiber that extends from the forefoot to the heel and up and around the sides.    It makes one really bad-ass stiff footbed!    Easily the stiffest skating foot-to-ski connection I've ever experienced.     This is the one thing that makes the boot expensive and high-tech and more noteworthy than the old Nano boot (which was and continues to be a great boot in its own right).

Fit...   ...you gotta wear this thing, right?    For me, this pair of size 44's is distinctly snugger and smaller-feeling than the 2012/13 Nano Carbon Skate boot that I normally wear.   It feels a little narrower in the toe box, and generally feels like I'd like to move up a half-size.    

Side view.
My opinion?    This is a super stiff, high performance racing skate boot.   The cosmetics are good, and construction is top notch, as it should be in a premium boot.      There's so little wiggle and play in the connection to the ski, that you'll notice it if your bindings are old and a little wiggly - something that most people never notice because of other bigger wiggles in the system.     The connection to the ski, and transfer of skating force, is the best I've experienced.    This will be a great skate boot for sprinters or short-distance racers.

Time will tell (and some long ski days, if I have a chance before this pair gets called back to the mother ship) if this super stiff footbed will be comfortable for long easy ski days, or marathons.   My guess is that a well fitted insole, and good skate technique, will make the trade-off off of higher efficiency vs flex/comfort a good exchange.

The soul of the Super Nano is the sole.
One big wrap-around molded carbon fiber piece.
NOTE - This is a late prototype, and it's not a final thing (I'm told) so fit may be tweaked yet.   Likewise the rubber NNN section will be fitted with the newest version with the lowered heel.

March Stone Grinding Schedule at Nordic Ultratune

You've been training this 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 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 typically 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 Feb 28th will ship out on March 4th.
  • Skis in by March 7th will ship out on March 11th.
  • Skis in by March 14th will ship out on March 18th.
  • Skis in by March 21st will ship out on March 25th.
There are still service batches scheduled before the end of the season.   Whether you're prepping some spring grinds for the spring tour events, or getting skis ready for next season, it's a good time to get your skis ready.  Don't delay... ...fast boards are a joy to ski on, and they're a real advantage.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gregg on Fire

Brian Gregg has won two SuperTour races in the past few weeks, and a couple of other well attended races as well.     This weekend it was in Aspen, CO.   
Brian Gregg on top of the podium.

Brian won both of the recent SuperTour races on the Nordic Ultratune RDG-1 grind.    It's a new grind this season, a very versatile grind for fine/dry conditions.   The RDG-1 ranges into warmer temps in areas that have low moisture in the snow - typically at higher elevations and anywhere the snow is staying significantly dry.

Congratulations to Brian!   He's one of the hardest working guys on the north american scene.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Methow Pursuit - Jan 26-27th... ...and Grinding Schedule

This coming weekend is the Methow Valley Pursuit.   It's a 2 day Pursuit format with a 15K interval start classic technique race on Saturday the 26th and a pursuit start skate 30K on Sunday.

The MV Pursuit has been a Northwest favorite for years, and this year the ski conditions here have been fabulous.     The Pursuit format, with the 15K classic at Sun Mountain's trail network, and the 30K skate running point-to-point from Mazama to Winthrop, offers a unique and challenging pairing.

There's still time to pre-register and race!

Here are some useful links:

Methow Valley Pursuit Information
Methow Valley Pursuit Wax Tips
15K Classic Course - Sun Mountain Trails
30K Skate Course - Mazama Corral Traihead / Methow Community Trail to Town 

Jan/Feb Stone Grinding Schedule at Nordic Ultratune

You've been training this 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 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 typically 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 Jan 24th will ship out on Dec 28th.
  • Skis in by Jan 31st will ship out on Feb 1st.
  • Skis in by Feb 4th will ship out on Feb 8th.
  • Skis in by Feb 11th will ship out on Feb15th.
You can see that there are still service batches scheduled before the big marathon events. There is still time to get a fast grind on your skis before the season's biggest races! But don't delay... ...fast boards are a joy to ski on, and they're a real advantage.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Waxing in the Digital Age

I'll zoom forward with the assumption that my readers are waxing their own skis, and using at least a basic waxing iron.

From that starting point, I'm going to say that if you're not using a digital waxing iron, then it is time to step up and get one.  

The Toko T14, in its newest version,
is really quite good for the price,
with a beefier base-plate.
The digital waxing irons have such good control of iron temperature that they really do provide an advantage to the user, and not just a digital techy bling factor.

For instance, with the tightly controlled digital thermostat you can wax the warm gliders (the yellows for warm temps, or base saturation, or hot-scrape cleaning) at 135 C (275F) with no smoke and very quick melt.     If the temp was at 145C (293F), there would be smoke and burning wax.      It's not a very big margin for error, and if you don't have accurate temp settings on your iron, you'd have to fuss and fiddle to get it right.   And that's assuming that the thermostat is tight enough to keep the temperature from swinging over/under the desired operating point.

It's even more critical when dealing with the cold weather gliders and the fluoro powders.    Getting the iron to the right temperature, with the very minimum of fluctuation, can really make a difference in the performance of the wax, and thus the skis.

With the proliferation of digital technology, the price on digital irons has dropped and now a good iron like the Toko T14 is around $140 which is about the price of a small package of the better quality fluoro powders.     Toko, Swix, and Star all make good digital irons.

Accurate temperature control, tight thermostat control window for minimum temperature fluctuation, simpler to use, and at a reasonable price: it all adds up to a tool that is easy to justify.     You should be using one.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Starting them young...

Here's a great shot of a few of our local Methow Valley Nordic Junior skiers.
Methow Valley Nordic Junior Girls
Skiers for life!
These kids are the most important part of our sport.    From the hundreds of "skiers for life" that form the backbone of our Nordic skiing community come the handful of champions that climb onto the top step of the podium at championship events.

A big congratulations to the Washington State natives who are knocking the lights out at Sr Nationals this week!     They started here looking very much like these kids.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Days and days of goodness

-10C is just about perfection.
Here in the Methow Valley we've had about 3 straight weeks of consistently perfect ski conditions.

Since Christmas, in particular, it's been a solid run of cold nights and daytime highs in the teens and low 20's.

Getting out on skis in the early morning has required some warm gloves and a bit of care to keep the ears covered, but the payback in glorious sunrise views has been a big dividend.

The silky smooth glide on skaters with S2 and RDG-1 grinds has been phenomenal.  


Congratulations to Torin Koos on a big win at Nationals.   Torin was skiing on some Rossignol classic skis with an Ultratune grind.

Sam Naney at the Mazama Ski Rodeo
Photo: Steve Mitchell
Also a nod to Sam Naney on his top-10 result in the sprints.   And Sam also got local bragging rights by running away with the cup at the Mazama Ski Rodeo (10K Skate Mass Start) last weekend.   Nice work Samuel!