THIS IS THE 2D PART OF THE ‘VISIT TO KITEE SKI FACTORY, FINLAND’ STORY
“Freshly baked” skis being inspected.
The new skis are cooling down on the racks. What’s left is to have another milling machine to cut a groove along the gliding surface and to add a coat of lacquer on the top to prevent snow and ice from sticking to it.
My camera caught custom skis made-to-order for Finnsisu, Yoko and Karhu distributor in the US.
This is a stone grinding machine, of course. All the race skis pass through it on their way to the last stage…
…And this is the famous Optiwax Glide Tape Waxing Machine and her master and designer, Jari Joutsen, preparing the skis – we could assume those are for Kikkan Randall, brand ambassador in the US and elsewhere. I did not catch Jari in action – but the process is exactly the same as on this video:
Those are “transparent”, i.e. non-graphite, plastic ski for warm weather. No waxing – flour powder only!
The “skin skis” are getting their skins.
And still, the best-selling and the most talked about product out of the factory are Optigrip skis. After every other process is complete, the finest layer of proprietary nano-coating is applied on the gliding surface making kick waxing totally unnecessary. . The composition of the mixture and the actual process of application are kept secret, and I have been asked neither to film nor divulge what I saw. Optigrip skis are hugely popular in Finland – some 75% of the total production at Kitee are Optigrip skis!
A new addition to the Karhu ski quiver – Carbon DP for doublepoling. Very stiff and high camber skis, yet with soft tips!
All skis are being tested on a machine that is happily running Windows 95. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! The race skis, however, are being additionally tested on Ski Selector, the Swedish computerized device that is precisely measuring grip, stiffness, camber characteristics and sliding properties of each ski. A sticker with those essentials is attached to each ski – and that’s how perfect matching pairs are selected.
Finally, “the Alibaba cave” Here one can find the ideal pair for every weight, style, and weather condition.
I want to wrap up my story where I started it – the top racing skis are not so different from the 2nd and 3rd best lines, after all – the former would help shave off some seconds in a heated race, while the latter would be perfectly adequate for exercising, training or mass marathons. Selecting the right pair for your weight and technique level is far more important than having the top model!