The Tune Shop is now slopeside at Vail with new technology and 2x more space
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail tuning facility is up and running at Golden Peak
GOLDEN PEAK – A funny detail about The Tune Shop – Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s new slopeside tuning facility – is now that technicians have a drive-in garage, they are no longer receiving their skis by vehicle.
The Tune Shop has been up and running for about a month at the base Golden Peak, where athletes deliver skis and snowboards by hand to technicians who service them on the spot. The process is saving hours in staff time, not to mention the thousands of gallons of gasoline used in transporting skis back and forth to the former location at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy in Minturn.
The drive-up garage has already proven its worth, however, in transporting a new, state-of-the-art Wintersteiger Mercury machine to the shop. The machine serves as a complement to the Wintersteiger Race NC, which has been the club’s primary tool for years, used on Mikaela Shiffrin’s skis during the 2015 Alpine World Championships.
The new Mercury machine allows for some automation in techniques perfected on the Race NC machine, which can improve consistency, save time, cut down on taxing physical labor and allow the club to service all athletes when it’s at capacity.
All these cost considerations are key as The Tune Shop operates as its own business within the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail facility. It’s not funded by enrollment fees.
“We don’t pull from other programs to finance it,” said Geoff Mintz with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. “The Tune Shop is self-sustaining.”
Now operating out of a slopeside facility, with hours of driving no longer a job requirement, double the space and a facility that’s among the most sophisticated of any ski club in the country, the employees of The Tune Shop feel like they’ve just had quite a job promotion.
“It’s a game changer for us,” Brian Eggleton said. “We were able to lay out the space the way that we wanted to … starting with a clean slate, that brings a lot of satisfaction to us as technicians, that we have a really functional space.”
Eggleton, when asked how many hours per day were being spent driving skis back and forth to the shop’s former location in Minturn, was excited to reveal the number now that those days are behind him.
“At least two (hours),” he said. “At least.”
Today, “Instead of dragging our skis around, we can focus on business development, and that’s really exciting for us,” Eggleton said. “Our efficiency is way up.”
Black Friday business
One avenue for business development won’t be realized until next fall, when early-season training begins at Golden Peak.
“The big win is that this is on site for athletes and coaches to use,” Eggleton said. “It’s easy to access us, it’s easy to come down and have a conversation, we can troubleshoot easily, and we have an appropriate facility that allows us to do that effectively.”
National teams from around the world have been training on Golden Peak in November in recent years for its superior racing snow, but when it comes to tuning, they’re setting up benches in whatever space they can find, often in nearby hotels.
It’s a key time; for many teams, it’s a final camp before the season begins in earnest.
“Over the next three or four years, visiting teams with technicians and coaches are going to know that when they come to Vail for fall training, they can bring their skis to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and have us regrind skis, reset bevels, put structure in the skis, and that they can walk through the door and work with us on that specification,” Eggleton said.
Paul Suomi, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail head technician, said he expects The Tune Shop at Golden Peak will be a bit of a tourist attraction for ski techs at Golden Peak.
“The Austrian team all grinds on that same machine. They can come down with an SD card with all their grinds on it and plug it into the machine,” Suomi said.
Welcome to fall in Colorado, where a red flag warning one day is followed the next day by snow and rain.