This post is also available in: Norsk bokmål
We´ve heard about several solutions that is supposed to revolutionize glide and ski preparation through the years. The rumours often claim they are better than anything else. XC-marathon have thus spoken with Ole Kristian Sauge that has developed his own steel scraper in cooperation with the norwegian skiing federation and the norwegian national biathlon team. He provided us with several good answers.
Ole Kristian Sauge, according to your web site you have long epxerience with ski preparation?
-I have followed up my son, and in addition I have been active in the skiing community in Romerike (region in Norway outside of Oslo). My son have had results at a high level and I have prepared the skis for him in the period from junior to senior level. He double poled to 36th place in the elite class in the Birkebeiner race in 2016 with steel scraped skis and achieved a 41st place in the national championship of the 50 km the same year.
In addition I have prepared skis for many people taking part in xc-marathons the last 5-6 years.
Are the advantages from the steel scraper only about glide, or also the quality of the sole such as drying out, structure – or both?
-The main idea of the steel scraper is that you scrape off the dry oxidated outer layer of the sole. This material is of polyethylene, which reacts with air, sunlight, and more, and a decomposing of the sole happen inevitably. The steel scraper removes this suboptimal layer that arises from the decomposition: it gives a fresh, nice and plain sole. A smooth and nice finish. It is important to note that the steel scraper cuts instead of tearing up as is the case with a stone grinding machine. That´s why it is sufficient after the scraping process to brush the sole in order to get a good result.
The first time you have to make a little extra effort to get the sole completely flat. Afterwards, when doing more maintenance scraping, it is only just some few 100´s parts of a millimeter you remove. More or less a layer of dust. Thus – you can do this many times. The good gliding qualities will stay for a long time, since heat or chemicals are not added to the sole. In other words, it requires only a subtle drag plus brushing and polishing afterwards.
If you keep the skis dark and cool, the sole will stay fine also when it´s not season. At the start of a new season, it is sufficient with a couple of drags with the steel scrape, including brushing, and the skis are ready for use. It is also important to keep the sole and the structure free of dirt. Especially late in the season there can be a lot of contaminants in the tracks. Then, there can be a need to go over with a ski cleaner before brushing and possibly polishing.
A rock grinding machine gives different structure in the sole for different temperatures. Can you, and if so how, achieve different structures with your steel scraper?
-The steel scraper also creates structure. The scraper has to edges. One is grinded especially smooth to make less structure (cold conditions), while the other has a rougher shape that gives a more emphasized diagonal structure in the sole (for warmer conditions).
Thus, mainly, the scraper gives one structure for cold conditions and one for warm conditions. In other words, you can use the edges interchangeably and fine tune the structure as you get more experienced. Besides this a manual structure tool (for temporary adjustment of structure) can be good to combine with the steel scraper. When the ski sole is completely plane/flat, the manual tool will impress the whole sole.
According to the experts, many factors affect a well done stone grinded ski; pressure, speed and more. How can you copy this with a steel scraper?
-The steel scraper is very sharp, and you do not need to use a lot of power to achieve a good result. The ski should sit firmly in a waxing frame/stand when you work with the steel scrape. It is also wise to practice on a pair of old skis, so that you get to know the tool. This is something most people can do with a little exercise.
How are the results from the steel scraper when tested in races?
-Cross country-, combined- and biathlon national teams all use this in those circumstances when they think it is wise, but it is not wise in all situations. My son had access to 4-5 pairs of skis when he was active. 2-3 pairs were scraped with the steel scrape, and 2-3 were traditionally prepared. It is hard to say which method is best if one were to point at just one. It is the option to vary and prepare the ski on a short note related to the conditions of a particular day that is important. The steel scraper is not alone a tool that always gives the best glide. Other elements like ski tension, pressure zones, ski length, structure, finishing products (typically fluor products; ed. note) and more also matters.
But again; you don´t need to think about gliding and such before the training sessions, it is just to brush and get ready for training/touring. A waxing iron can, by the way, often give too much heat on the highest points of the sole, and this can lead to decreased surface properties.
How can this be as water- and dirt repelling – as fluor wax, which is important in long races where 5-10 000 racers have been racing before you and left wax in the tracks?
-There is no doubt that these expensive products gives better results when it comes to this, but how much should we negotiate with health, environment, etc. ? The best products often gives a positive effect on top. But they are expensive and damage health. And, of course you can ´top off´ a steel scraped ski with the same powder afterwards, that´s no problem.
Norske Ski (Norwegian Skis) is selling different versions; Multicut Pro and Standard, diamond whetstone and edge grinder; won´t it be expensive all together?
-You don´t need both scrapes. 95% of everyone skiing can manage with the standard edition. The Pro model is for those who work with ski testing, builds special structures (the Pro edition is so smooth and sharp that it allows you to adjust the sharpness of a warm structure for colder conditions) and especially interestes skiers. The Multicut Standard edition has to edges that gives fine/smooth and rougher structure for respectively cold and warm conditions. The diamond whetstone you shold also have. With this you keep the scraper sharp. The scraper cost 2400,- NOK and the diamond whetstone 600,- NOK in Norway.
This might sound expensive, but you can imagine for example for a family when you prepare, probably up to 10 pairs of skis. Then you´re down at a price of 300,- NOK pr. pair. Grinding and traditional gliding products become more expensive.
The environment is emphasized as an important factor? What about health when it comes to particles in the air, etc?
-There is no kind of air particle problems. Also no damaging chemicals are added neither on the skis or the environment around you.
What kind of cooperation do you have with the national federations?
-The national teams are using the steel scraper as a supplement to the other products: One particular day they have ideal skis, but the structure is maybe marginally to rough/sharp; then they can use the scraper (Pro model) to remove the sharpest edges of the structure to get them optimal. They can also level out the sole before they put them in the grinding machine.
It is important to emphasize that the steel scraper is one of many tools. It´s wrong to say that one of the tools leads to the better ski, no matter what tool you talk about. It is usually a mix of many products in addition to the knowledge one have, that gives the best skis. The elite athletes hav many different individuals that treats the different parts of the skis, which makes the end result good.
Several important advantages, but no miracle cure
You do not get the best skis in the world just through a steel scraper, but the advantage is to be more environmentally friendly, and you will always end up with a very good ski even if other methods for preparing the ski can be better in some cases. This is an easy and affordable way to get good skis. But the best glide in the world every time, I cannot promise. There are a lot of factors and everyone can still make big preparation mistakes. There is no one correct answer to what is the right waxing method.
These steel scrapers are only sold from Norske Ski AS. Everyone who is interested can just send me an e-mail ([email protected]) to get in touch and we can discuss further. We deliver quickly!
This tool is also very nice to use in dialogue with others; one can meet an evening and work on tje skis and exchange opinions together. When skiing people come together they always learn something new or get ideas that they haven´t thought of by themselves.