How often can I have my skis ground?

This depends on what needs to be done to the skis. If they are badly out of flat, or deeply scratched, it may be necessary to take rather more base off in order to produce a reasonably flat ski, and this will not leave as much base material for future restructuring. Flat skis with no damage, on the other hand, can be restructured over and over. Lars Svensson reports doing some pairs "maybe 40 times". Rule-of-thumb: Mantec structures are approximately 0.01 - 0.04 mm deep, and the base material on most skis is 2 mm thick. Most racers prefer to regrind skis annually, or in case of significant damage.


How important is flatness?

Probably not very; in order not to take too much base material off, I will often leave tip and tail areas still somewhat rounded. Top skiers know that this will not effect glide or stability. The main advantage of flatness is ease of waxing and scraping. Once the skis have been ground, probably 99% of the base is flat - but you may still see some rounding, or traces of old structure near the edges.

How important is having just the right structure?

It matters, but having almost the right structure is almost as good as having the right structure, so it's better to get an all-round grind unless you are able to dedicate a pair to certain conditions. The important thing is to have good, open base material, and a structure that is reasonable close to the snow you expect to ski on.

How do I know which grind or structure to choose?

The Ultratune Linear Series are all-round basic structures. The World Cup grinds are free running, all-around structures that have a broad operating range. See the grind menu.

Recommendations based on testing and feedback:

My Picks: XC02 for classic skiing on colder, dryer snows, S2 and i5 for similar conditions on skate skis, and M1D for warm, moist snows. These grinds should cover all but the most extreme conditions, and are the ones I do most of my own skiing on.

How important is stone grinding? Can't I do the same job by hand?

Almost. But I have found stone structures to be up to 1 km/hr faster in some conditions. In addition to the good structure that grinding puts into the base, it also ensures as flat a base as possible (both across and along the length of the ski), and provides you with good, open base material that will absorb wax well. Quite simply, top racers have their skis stone ground.

What is so special about the Manted Ski Numericontrol 140 CNC machine?

The Mantec is designed and configured specifically for cross-country skis. It has the finest ski transport mechanism. It also uses a softer stone, which can be dressed more delicately, and uses a unique balanced pneumatic pressure arm, which presses the skis very gently against the stone. Alpine machines (and operators) are used to wide skis  with steel edges, and the pressures and speeds used in grinding alpine skis will simply melt and seal the delicate bases of cross-country skis. Finally, the Mantec is computer controlled, so that surface speed of the stone is constant. This means that our grinds are a) completely replicable, and b) identical to those developed and tested by Stefano Vuerich for the Italian, Norwegian, Slovenian, and other European teams.


What is the Nordic Ultratune process?

Skis are prepared using a three-stage process: the skis are flattened, using a working structure. Then the stone is redressed, and the skis are polished, so that the final structure goes into a completely smooth base. Finally, the stone is dressed again, and th e specific desired structure is put into the base. Bases are then buffed, and a layer of wax is applied before the skis are returned to you.

What is Hotboxing, and what does it do?

The idea of the box lies in the fact that wax absorption is more a function of time than of heat. By far the majority of the skis I see have been heat-damaged by ironing too hot, for too short a time. The truth is, the entire ski must be held at a given temperature for several minutes for  wax absorption to be anything more than superficial. Testing has borne out these results, and the subjective impression is that skis prepared with the Hotbox are now faster than before, and retain glide to an impressive degree.


What does the Nordic Ultratune Guarantee mean?

I guarantee all my work. If you are not satisfied, we will fix the problem at no charge. Period.

What is your turnaround time?

Skis are generally in the shop for 3 to 5 days. On an average, a ski received by Thursday morning will be shipped on the following Monday. Allow 2 to 3 days for shipping (overnight shipping is available at extra charge). During the off season, skis may take considerably longer, as I only run the machinery for 10 pairs of more.

Why do you ask for skis to be scraped? Wont they be damaged in transit?

As the skis are to be ground anyway, any shipping damage or oxidization will be eliminated in the flattening and polishing process. Any wax that gets into the stone clogs it, so it is necessary to remove all wax before skis go into the grinder, and when doing a run of 20 or 30 pairs of skis, the time spent removing wax adds up! (All skis are travel waxed before being returned to you.)

Do I need to remove the bindings?


What is the best way to ship skis?

FedEx or UPS are both good. Skis can come in a ski bag, or in a cardboard box (try your local ski shop for boxes; also, most "mail stores" carry boxes). Remove ski ties (or they become part of our collection!), and tape the skis together with bubble wrap, paper, or foam between the tips and tails. (Click here for How To Ship Skis.pdf). Pack tips and tails in newspaper or bubble wrap. Please: no Styrofoam "peanuts"! It is helpful if you print the grind desired on the tip of the skis, with a marking pen.

Why no "peanuts"?

Styrofoam peanuts are not necessary: just wrap some newspaper or bubble wrap around your bindings, and maybe something around the tips. Skis shipped in peanuts are impossible to remove from the box without spilling the peanuts. I do not have space in my garbage for them!

What are the most frequent causes of base damage?

Probably the two most common forms of base damage I see are poor steel scraping and over-heating with the iron. A word about both may save needing to send in your skis for grinding!

Steel Scraping

Be sure to use a sharp scraper or good quality. Avoid thin scrapers that can bend and create rounded bases, and avoid using a burnished (wire) edge unless you are very, very sure what you are doing. The best steel scrapers are very hard steel, and need to be sharpened on a diamond stone. There is much more about this in The Complete Guide to Cross-Country Ski Preparation (The Mountaineers Books - ask your ski store to order it ) but learn how to make and use a 90 degrees edge on your scraper. Steel scraping takes skill and practice - so don't learn how on you good skis! And do not steel scrape newly stone-ground bases - this will remove the structure.


Bases melt at 135°C. Melting the base, no matter how little, effectually seals the "pores" in the base, so that they will not absorb wax. It is very important to keep the iron moving (see below), to check periodically to be sure there is enough wax on the base to insulate the plastic from direct contact with the iron, and to consider the type of ski you are working on: different cores react differently to heat. For example, foam cores will absorb more and more heat, causing the base to bubble as well as to seal. Fischers will handle ambitious ironing better than say, Madshus. Treat bases with care and gentleness!

Madshus rep and two-time Olympic wax technician Peter Hale adds this: "Ironing too hot or too long will melt bases. If you have the correct temperature on the iron, you can still damage the base with too many passes, moving too slowly, etc. I counsel that one should look at the base before continuing with the next pass of the iron. If the wax is still wet - molten- it means the ski has enough heat of its own to keep the wax liquid. This is the time to quit with that ski until it cools. On some skis and with certain waxes, at a certain speed of moving the iron down the ski, it might take two or three passes, while other skis & waxes it may accept 5-6 passes. I think this is important, as some customers -- and some coaches --have told me, 'I ironed all the skis exactly the same, Fischer, Madshus, Rossi, and this pair bubbled'."

Please read the paragraph below on ironing.

Ironing Guidelines:

For real wax absorption to occur, the base of the ski must be kept at the optimal temperature for 5+ minutes. It will continue to soak up wax for much longer. However, steadily ironing all this time can damage the base. Here is the system I have evolved:

Crayon a protective layer of wax onto the base: this will keep the iron from coming in direct contact with the base. Then drip a little more on.

Set your iron at the factory-recommended temperature, or about 25°C higher than the melting point of the wax. As a general rule, I rarely wax above 115°C (except for certain very rapid applications, as with Star MP100, which goes on at 135°C - but you move the iron FAST!).

Move the iron down the entire length of the ski in one steady motion, at a speed that takes around 30-40 seconds to go from tip to tail. This avoids too much contact with one spot, thus avoiding heat build-up.

Repeat 5 or 6 times, then put the ski aside, base up, and move to the next ski.

When you have repeated the process with ski #2, put it aside, base up, and return to ski #1.

Continue to alternate skis for at least three cycles.

Allow to cool before scraping (except for very hard waxes).