European Shopping Trip

As noted in the March newsletter, I'm shopping for a new grinder in Italy & Austria.

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.