Skis are like snowflakesSome might find it a little surprising to learn that skis (and race skis in particular) are like snowflakes - each one that comes off the production line is unique. In fact, one of the ways that we measure what makes for good skis is how well the two skis in a pair match each other. At Fresh Air Experience Ottawa, we are in regular communication with manufacturers, racers, and, of course, local skiers to find ways to help people get the most out of their time on snow. We find that sourcing well-matched skis, appropriate for the skier’s size, and chosen with intended conditions in mind, helps to yield the skis that feel the fastest.
Race Room skis
At Fresh Air, we share your uncompromising standards, and only bring in skis with a track record of excellent performance. We find that sourcing well-matched skis, appropriate for the skier’s size, and chosen with intended conditions in mind, helps to yield the skis that feel the fastest. We have found that Fischer, Salomon, and Madshus deliver consistent, high-quality skis that meet and exceed the expectations of our clients.
To ensure that we stock the best skis available, we do an annual order of skis from the race rooms of Salomon in Altenmarkt, Austria and Fischer in Ried im Innkreis, Austria. The race room is a special warehouse maintained by a manufacturer to house the best skis that come off of the production line. Race room skis are subjected to an additional layer of testing above and beyond most production skis to ensure that the two skis in the pair are functionally identical. This includes measuring pressure points along the ski at a variety of loads to ensure that kick is predictable, and glide is optimized. Additionally, race room skis pass through the hands of seasoned professionals, whose experienced hands have squeezed thousands of pairs of skis, giving them an experts’ feel for when a pair of skis has a chance to be truly exceptional. We like to think of this process as akin to a winemaker who sets aside a barrel of the really good stuff to share with close friends.
World Cup skis are no longer reserved only for World Cup courses!
This year, for the first time, we are taking pre-orders from across Canada for custom skis from the race rooms of Salomon and Fischer. (October 1, 2020 Update: The order window is now closed. Please revisit for next season)
Our Salomon skis are picked as part of the Salomon Select program by Jean Marc Draeyer and Willi Engelhardt, the same pros who pick skis for World Cup athletes.
Fischer skis are picked by Graham Maclean of Fischer Canada, who works with some of Canada’s top skiers to get them on the fastest cross-country skis possible. Graham says, “I take the time to squeeze the skis and observe the flex of the camber - It's important to see if the skis move in the same way. What happens with tip and tail pressure as the transitioning from unloaded to loaded camber takes place is also important”.
Finally, race room skis are stone ground using patterns tested on the world-cup circuit, which are otherwise not available at the shop level in Canada. This adds an additional layer of value for those looking for a ski optimized for specific conditions.
Make the most of your training on race day
The result of this process is that race room skis can be selected to match body weight, and the conditions you expect. This level of detail is not possible when selecting skis at the retail shop level, or even from the Canadian warehouses maintained by Salomon and Fischer. You can think of these skis as being custom-made for you and your needs. Representing the cutting edge in research and development, and the refinement of exacting manufacturing standards, race room skis are your best chance to get an excellent pair of skis, allowing you to make the most of your training on race day.
Fresh Air Experience Ottawa has for several years offered skis from this exclusive program to Ottawa-area skiers with exceptional results. In fact, one of our staff members, Zoë Williams, qualified for a World Cup start on her S/Lab skate skis purchased through the program. This year, we are for the first time, we are taking pre-orders from across Canada. As there is additional labour associated with the selection and grinding of these skis, they are usually sold at a premium above retail.