Leopold, student of the Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz in Switzerland, share with us his experience in manufacture of a handmade ski.I began to ski alpine when I was two and a half years old. Since that time, it has been my favourite sport to practice. I also started participating in races, which are always thrill. Skiing is completely different to most other sports because the one in control is just you and you need to have the right technique and body movements to be able to go the way you want to. When the question popped up, what to do in my Maturaarbeit, I immediately knew that I would write about something related to skiing.
A friend mentioned that he built his own skis at a private ski building factory, which brought me to the idea of also doing that. It interested me a lot how a ski is being manufactured and how it actually works. It benefitted me also in another way, since I’ve anyway needed a new slalom ski for races. Making your own ski benefits you because you are able to adjust many parts of the ski. I started searching for a private ski manufacturer, where I could build the ski.
I eventually got to know the company Build2Ride in Germany, which offers ski building workshops for racing skis, powder skis, touring skis and others. Making the ski was a great experience because I got a detailed explanation of how a ski works and how it gets build. That was extremely interesting, since I now am able to tell what is most important for skis and what materials will make a difference. I made a slalom race ski. Race skis are manufactured with the “Sandwich Construction”, where there is layer over layer glued together with resin. For making a good race ski, you firstly need to have a good wooden bond core for stability, preferably out of ash and beech. Secondly a good compression cord and tension cord. These are the plastic fibre layers above and below the wooden core. They spread the pressure over the whole ski, what gives you a better control over the turn of the ski. A strong camber is added to the ski by putting wooden pieces under the ski to create a curve.
When you ski your ski on the edge, you push the curve down. When you do that the edge has full contact to the snow, what makes the ski cut the snow and gives you more hold. There are many materials that can be used for different types of skis. Racing skis have certain material standards that are being used almost everywhere, like a wooden core of ash or beech. To change these can give ski completely different characteristics on snow. In general, I would say that it does not make sense for an amateur skier to get custom made skis, since it would not make a difference for them. You will feel it on a higher level, when the ski is adjusted on your body as you want it, with higher qualities than most manufactured skis in factories.