An insight into the workshop at Die Börse, a ski and bike shop in Innsbruck that also offers equipment rental and service. City visitors can easily get a taste of mountain air thanks to the diverse services ranging from rental skis and clothing hire to free hotel delivery. And winter sports fans can save on excess baggage without having to compromise on new equipment. The top floor has everything from colourful jackets to warm ski socks. In the basement, ski and snowboards are prepared for the slopes.
The smell of hot wax and ground metal fills the air, water rushes through the grinding machine and from somewhere I hear a “clack”. There it is again, “clack”. These are the wonderful sounds and smells that define a workshop. Personally, I really like workshops. Maybe because I enjoyed playing in them from a young age. I love to watch in admiration as new things are created and broken objects are made whole again.
Ski and snowboards waiting for a service.
In this workshop, Martin Schauer is in charge. And today he’s giving me a tour behind the scenes of ski servicing. We pass a metal stand filled from top to bottom with skis and snowboards. All of them will be serviced today. Here every piece of sports equipment gets the attention it deserves.
„A ski without a service is like cycling without air in your tires“, Martin explains. Well-prepared equipment and correctly adjusted bindings are essential for optimal enjoyment of the sport. And this applies whether you’re a beginner or a pro. It’s a misconception that blunt edges and slow bases make it easier to learn “because they make the skis slower” – it’s always better to have equipment that is well maintained and responsive.
Repairing, grinding and shaping
The large piece of equipment in the room is a professional grinding machine. In addition to grinding various base structures, it also grinds edges and slightly angles them on the base side.
First comes the base grind, which can be done fairly often over the lifetime of a pair of skis or a board. Then the machine grinds and shapes the edges, vital for on-piste performance. It works more precisely than is possible by hand but Martin still goes over the edges again with a gummy stone for the final finish. When and where he needs to apply more pressure…this is a skill he has developed through years of experience.
Some bases are repaired before being run through the machine. Large holes need to be filled by hand, whereas the machine can even out lots of smaller scratches as it fills the base. „Holes need to be filled in because otherwise water can get right through to the core“ Martin explains.
Here ski bases are repaired.
Martin adjusts the grinding machine.
Good edges are worth their weight in gold.
Yellow, red, green, blue and white blocks of wax are applied to bases by hand. The right wax is selected based on temperature and snow conditions. But as a basic rule: „better the wrong wax than no wax“. Tip! Another misconception is that wax shouldn’t be completely scraped off skis or boards. Excess wax will make you stick. So if you like to wax your skis or board at home: always take care to scrape it off well. Pro tip! As waxing is normally done in a warm place, take a small brush with you and run it over the bases again when they’re cold before your first run.
If this is all too complicated, you can use liquid wax. There are a lot of brands to choose from and it can be easily applied while on the mountain. Obviously this doesn’t replace a hot wax but it can be a saviour on “sticky days”.
It’s pretty easy to adjust snowboard bindings as long as the rider knows what they want. Those who don’t know should just ask for advice on binding angles and stance widths. Skis are more complicated. For safety reasons, ski bindings may only be adjusted by trained technicians. Bindings are adjusted and tested based on information provided by the customer (weight, ability, age, sole length, etc.).
It’s important to adjust ski bindings correctly.
Custom insole preparation.
If boots rub and/or pinch in certain areas, there are various technical options for adjusting the liners and shells. Custom insoles may also solve foot problems that are caused by misalignments.
My visit comes to an end, an hour and a half in the workshop passed by in a flash. At the check-out, two tourists are handing in their skis and picking up new ones. More specialist equipment, such as extremely wide powder skis or splitboards, is also available to rent. One-day ski tourists can even hire jackets, ski trousers, gloves, helmets and glasses in addition to ski equipment. A free hotel pick-up service collects customers for trying things on and equipment is then selected on-site. On the last day, equipment can be left at the hotel for a € 3 pick-up fee.
When I hear about the free ski bus that takes tourists with an Innsbruck Guest Card to the nine ski areas of the Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck, I’m almost a little jealous. But then again, I live here. In a place where others spend their holidays. And I still like my snowboard best.