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ski tuning and subsequent injury-question

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
I am a 53 yo woman, learned how to ski 4 years ago.   I bought new Elan skis last year and went to Holiday Valley, NY, had a great time and never skied better.  I am a cautious intermediate skier, but I like to progress and challenge myself.  In HV, I skied intermediate and black diamond terrain.    On my way back into town, I dropped my skis off for a tune, and my skis have not been right since.  I felt unsafe, unbalanced and awful, and I fell at the end of the year.  I rarely fall.  A friend said the skis were sharpened to the tips, and he took a stone or file and dulled the tips. They were somewhat better, but the season ended. This year I went out three times and could barely do intermediate without feeling unsafe.  A buddy on ski patrol did a couple runs with me and checked out my form and gave me a couple tips, then I was on my own again, and I tried to get my confidence up when I fell.  My left ski stayed on, and I had to be taken down by ski patrol, hospitalized with a plateau tibial fracture.   I am very anxious when I think about skiing again.  I'm broke, on short term disability. My income depends on me getting back up on both legs again and not getting hurt again. 
My question, though, is this-how can my skis go from wonderful to dangerous by a tuning?  In hindsight, 20/20- I should have had them retuned.  I just thought I had to get my ski legs back.  I am missing 40 inches of new powder here in Pa-something that doesn't come along very often.  Trying to keep my spirits up while I recuperate.  
Can anyone comment on this tuning job? 

Thanks
Carrie
post #2 of 47
I think you first need to find out if you can what sort of turn they had when you enjoyed them.  Were they sharp.  What base bevel and side bevel did they have.  What about snow conditions?  Was it icy, deep, or hero snow/.

Typically skis seem safer when they are sharp, but some people who don't know how to ski prefer not to have to worry about what their edges might do to them if they make a mistake.

Was you problem that you tried to turn and the skis just went straight or was it that the skis wanted to turn sharper than you expected them to?  How do you turn, do you point the tips in the direction you want to go, or do you tip the skis on edge and let them lead the way?
post #3 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by cargalrn View Post

Hi all,
I am a 53 yo woman, learned how to ski 4 years ago.   I bought new Elan skis last year and went to Holiday Valley, NY, had a great time and never skied better.  I am a cautious intermediate skier, but I like to progress and challenge myself.  In HV, I skied intermediate and black diamond terrain. 
 

Good for you!
 


   On my way back into town, I dropped my skis off for a tune,
 

Why?   What was wrong with them?


and my skis have not been right since.  I felt unsafe, unbalanced and awful, and I fell at the end of the year.  I rarely fall.  A friend said the skis were sharpened to the tips,
 

This could be something as simple as a burr.

Or a bad edge grind.
post #4 of 47
I call troll:

Quote:
Originally Posted by cargalrn View Post
 
My question, though, is this-how can my skis go from wonderful to dangerous by a tuning? 
 

They can't.
post #5 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post

I call troll:
 


They can't.
But, but, but, that's not what Dewey, Cheatum and Howe - Partners in Law said!
post #6 of 47
There are lots of ways a tune can change how a ski functions.  Truly bad things that can happen during a tune include lowering the base below the edges, which can be done be allowing a base grind to heat up the skis, which in turn will cause the base p=tex to expand more than the edges, so that when both are ground to the same height, there is less p-tex than will be needed to maintain a common base when both edges and base cool back to skiing temperatures.  This creates a ski where teh edges are higher than the base, and is called a "railed" ski.  It does not sound like this happened.  Another way to ruin a ski would be somehow to dull the edges, which also sounds not to have occurred, otherwise your pal would not have attempted to dull the edges at the tip and tail for you (this is not a good way to tune a shaped ski, and is a holdover from the days of straight skis).  I suggest that you and your pal who dulled your edges have an older skiing technique, and may not have been taking full advantage of the skis' shape.  One way to make a ski less skiable, would be to impart a steeper edge angle.  A normal tune is roughly one degree of base bevel and two to two and a half degreeof edge bevel, which creates an 88 1/2 to 89 degree angle between edge and base.  I have skied a pair of skis tuned for a racer where the base bevel was one and a half and the edge bevel was around six degrees.  That ski could carve, but was really hard to skid, and I found skiing it unpleasant except when carving.  I did buy the skis, but only after a manufacturer's spec tune had been restored.

It sounds to me as though you are attempting to blame the tune for your troubles, perhaps in terms of a lawsuit.  I think it would be hard to prove the tune was the proximate cause of your injuries, especially since you had a friend alter the tuning of the ski.
post #7 of 47
Thread Starter 

No, I'm not looking for a lawsuit.  I really don't understand all the ski tuning jargon.  All I know, is once they were tuned, the skis went from wonderful to awful and unsafe.   Why did I get them tuned?  I understood that skis should be tuned every after skiing six or seven times. I skied on them around eight times before I got them tuned. It was a convenient time for me.  I was taking care of my new skis.

Thanks for the responses.  I am just trying to figure out how I went from a sport I enjoyed to injured.  I do understand the inherent risks of the sport.  However, something was very wrong with them after I got them tuned. 

post #8 of 47
What you are experiencing is fairly common. When they tuned your skis they probably sharpened them all the way to tip and tail, which causes them to hook up way too easily and have a mind of their own.  This happens when they use a machine instead of hand filing them.  It is particularly a problem with shape skis.  

Your friend was on the right track, but you probably need to "detune" the tips and tails even more.  Have someone who knows what they are doing take care of it, because once you dull them too much you cannot get the edge back.  I dull mine to the running surface, and then bevel the edge from dull to sharp ending about 2 inches back on the flat part of the edge, although many people like them sharper closer to the ends of the running part of the edge.

When skis are too shape at the ends, the tips and tails will catch the snow unexpectedly and throw you around, and it can be dangerous.  A good ski mechanic should always detune them after a machine grind.
post #9 of 47
 Don't forget - sometimes skis just hook in and you fall. I've had 2 falls in 3 years and both ended the season (including a tibial plateau fracture, but was back 95% a year later!)

If possible, take the skis back to the shop you purchased them from - if not, pick a local shop and ask to speak with the owner of shop tech. Tell them your concern and that you want the skis tuned to an intermediate's level. Don't mess around with it yourself if you are not comfortable tuning them.

Don't listen to the half-empty glasses- it WAS the tune! I crashed last year and am convinced the snow slipped out from under me (no, I'm not kidding - that's my story and I am sticking to it! LOL) 

All that matters is that you get well and get back on them asap!
post #10 of 47
A tune can mess up your skis. Have someone who knows the difference between a good tune and bad tune look at the skis. Razor sharp from tip to tail is hard to ski, it just wants to dig in and carve, nothing else. A bad grind could leave the bases high or low, both bad conditions. A tuning bar and a knowledgeable person will be able to tell you what is up.

There are adjustments to your boots that can 'self-adjust'. Cant and forward lean are two that are fairly common. Who knows, maybe its the boots?

It could also be the skier, but only consider changing as a last resort.

Seriously, get the advice of a pro that has seen you ski. They can evaluate the skis, the boots and the skier.

I hope you heal quickly and are back on the boards in top shape next year.
post #11 of 47
all the answers are already in this thread. tuning is complicated and you will feel what is done to the edges when you ski. reading the thread and weighing the facts, I think it is possible that the edge bevel angle was changed and it felt edgy and twitchy to you. restore all angles to a moderate configuration, 1 degree base and 1 degree or 2 degrees edge max. or find out what the factory angles were and restore to that, it's really not a problem or a big deal.
post #12 of 47
Tibial plateau fracture!  Bummer I had a Complex one too!   You can see the pics on my page. 

Anyway, if you are used to skiing a pair of skis, then you get them tuned, they are going to act a little different.  If you were skiing dull, detuned skis, then you are going to notice a huge difference.  This is what I suspect in your case.

Others have given good advice too.  Like base bevel.  If you ski a dull 1 degree, then they grind, and set to .50, and don't detune as well, well you are in for a surprise!    Most rec. skiing is done with a 1 degree base, and a 2 or 3 degree side.  Any good shop would have asked you what you want your edges set to.   It pays you to know what tune you are skiing.  I don't recommend detuning any ski, "shaped" or straight.  

Base grind type will also change the way a ski handles.  For example, a down hill racing grind would be very hard to skid, or slide.  It wants to go straight because of the deep linear grind.

As for your break, just look at my X-Rays.  I know it's a hard road, but you can come back.  I did within a year.  This year feels even better.  Second year now. 

Best to you as you heal!
post #13 of 47
Did you have them tuned where you bought them?

Suggest you ask to try a demonstration pair of the skiis and see how they feel compared to yours.
post #14 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by cargalrn View Post

No, I'm not looking for a lawsuit.  I really don't understand all the ski tuning jargon.  All I know, is once they were tuned, the skis went from wonderful to awful and unsafe.   Why did I get them tuned?  I understood that skis should be tuned every after skiing six or seven times. I skied on them around eight times before I got them tuned. It was a convenient time for me.  I was taking care of my new skis.

Thanks for the responses.  I am just trying to figure out how I went from a sport I enjoyed to injured.  I do understand the inherent risks of the sport.  However, something was very wrong with them after I got them tuned. 


There is an awful lot of ski-tuning jargon being put out on this thread.  Short answer to your original question:  there are any number of ways that skis can be "ruined" by a tune.  Basically, skis are designed so that the edges (the metal things on the sides, which are responsible for control) engage progressively while you're skiing.  i.e., your edges aren't an on/off switch; you're not either "on" or "off" them while you're skiing, there's a whole lot of gray area there.

To allow that progressive edging to occur, the ski bases must be truly flat, and the metal edges need to be angled away from the plastic bases.  If the plastic bases aren't flat, or if the metal edges are angled at some "bizarre" angle, your skis will feel virtually uncontrollable.  I've certainly demo'd skis from various shops that were virtually un-skiiable.

A good ski shop should be able to measure your skis and determine just what sort of tune was put on them.  Anything that we put on here is simply guess work.
post #15 of 47
Thread Starter 
I do appreciate everyone's response.  The next step is the ortho on Weds, and I'm asking for a bone scan to determine if I'm osteoporotic, and if he thinks I can ski again; there may be soft tissue damage that he won't address until the bone heals (acl or mcl).  This is my third broken bone as an adult and the 2nd in four years.    The biggest issue now is anxiety.  I swear those skis felt so horrible, they did hook the turns post tuning that I am anxious just thinking about skiing again. 

Thanks again,
Carrie
post #16 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by cargalrn View Post

I do appreciate everyone's response.  The next step is the ortho on Weds, and I'm asking for a bone scan to determine if I'm osteoporotic, and if he thinks I can ski again; there may be soft tissue damage that he won't address until the bone heals (acl or mcl). This is my third broken bone as an adult and the 2nd in four years.  

Yes.  Get well, and get well thoroughly!
 

  The biggest issue now is anxiety.  I swear those skis felt so horrible, they did hook the turns post tuning that I am anxious just thinking about skiing again. 
 

Epicski and the folks here might be able to provide a few options to help with that:

a) You're PA-local and you ski at Holiday Valley.   There are quite a few members here with /very/ good tuning expertise who might be able to help, either personally or by suggesting someone they can vouch for.

b) Epicski clinics at the start of next season, where seriously expert people can take a look at your skiing and your gear both.

As I said above, it is very possible that the skis have a relatively -minor- problem.   Work on healing and fitness and mindset; the rest is far easier to sort out.
post #17 of 47
A bad ski tune is like a bad front end alignment on your car. It can make a fine piece of equipment operate like crap. Both can also be remedied.

Best of luck with your knee.
post #18 of 47
If I ever needed to get my skis tuned (I usually tune myself...but if I don't' have my tuning gear with me and if I'm on a trip), I always ask them to sharpen all the way down with no detuning- I prefer to do that myself- about 3 inches detuned from the tip, 2 inches from the tail.

I don't trust any shop to do it properly, and here, if I mess up, at least I know its my own fault- not someone else's. I'm completely in control.
post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

What you are experiencing is fairly common. When they tuned your skis they probably sharpened them all the way to tip and tail, which causes them to hook up way too easily and have a mind of their own.  This happens when they use a machine instead of hand filing them.  It is particularly a problem with shape skis.  


Um....no.

When you sharpen the edges all the way from tip to tail the ski will do exactly what you tell it to. It doesn't have a "mind of it's own" , it responds precisely to your input. If you tell it to do a faceplant, you'll do a faceplant. 

A ski with dull tips and tails won't be as responsive and you can get away with sloppy technique.  The price you pay for this "forgiveness" is lack of precise control.

Myself, I like precise control and specifically instruct the tuner to not de-tune the tips and tails.  YMMV. 
post #20 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post





Um....no.

When you sharpen the edges all the way from tip to tail the ski will do exactly what you tell it to. It doesn't have a "mind of it's own" , it responds precisely to your input. If you tell it to do a faceplant, you'll do a faceplant. 

A ski with dull tips and tails won't be as responsive and you can get away with sloppy technique.  The price you pay for this "forgiveness" is lack of precise control.

Myself, I like precise control and specifically instruct the tuner to not de-tune the tips and tails.  YMMV. 








 

The OP is a 53 year old woman who learned to ski 4 years ago, so I am assuming she does not need hair trigger turning control.  I have experienced it myself, tuning skis for others, and particularly with shop tuned skis.  They run the bottoms and sides through the grinder, razorize the edges tip to tail, and the skis are so twitchy that if you inhale too hard an edge hooks up and they start to turn.  This is particularly bad when it is a tail.  Intermediate skis are not as torrsionally stiff in the tips so they will initiate turns more easily.  If you combine that with a sharp edge to the tips, they can be uncontrollable for a novice skier.  Regardless of your preference, I believe that detuning the tips and tails for recreational skiers is the norm, particularly on skis with lots of shape.

I remember that Phil Mahre sharpened the entire edges of his skis, "in case he needed that part," so perhaps you ski like him.
post #21 of 47
If a newly tuned ski changes performance so much that you are uncomfortable, it seems to me one should take them back that day to where they were tuned and explain the issues. Any good shop should check them and correct them.

A couple of years ago, I had a similar situation and the shop reworked them. It was not fun skiing them on the original tune. Fine the next day following fixing. Not sure what they did.

What is concerning is that you continued to ski on them. It's water over the dam, but, never ski on skis that make you uncomfortable. Never!
post #22 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post



 


They can't.
 
I disagree. I had a tune done by a so called shop tech three years ago that rendered my skis a danger to life and limb.

I am no expert skiier, but catching an edge five times in two runs (just after the "tune") was a bit much. I took the skis to another tech and he couldn't believe how messed up the edges were. Tech number two restored my skis to a safe and sane condition.
post #23 of 47
Thread Starter 
Yes, should have had my skis retuned.   It is my fault.  Hindsight is 20/20.   Since summer came between the tune and the new season, and a job loss and new job, my mind was not where it should have been before the accident happened. 
Again,
Thanks for the encouragement and responses.  I wish I had taken care of the problem, I'd be skiing on Utah powder is Pa.
post #24 of 47
Cargalrn

I have seen this happen before when a ski is tuned especially by a machine.

In one case the skis are what they have called "Railed" where the edges were higher than the base and in the other they were just what we call base ground and the ski was somewhat different afterward than the factory tune.

A very simple way to determine what is going on with the ski at no cost to you is to lie a straight edge across the bottom of the ski.  Take note if there is a gap between the staright edge and the base, etc.. to see if the edges are higher than the base (with ski upside down) - this is what is called "railed" and is very difficult to ski.  Check at tips tail and a couple of places in the middle.

A "Railed" ski will grab very easily when not on edge - especially if you like to have siome skidding in your turn.  It can ruin a ski day or a holiday.  The good news is that a competent tuner can usually fix this.

I am not sure how the Elans come from the factory but the Head skis come with a very slight "base bevel".  This means the base edge angles upward from the base (with the ski upright) at 1/2 degree angle.  What this does to skiing is allow your skis to not engage the edge until you oput the ski itself on an angle.  Some skiers like to have a zero degree base bevel and some skis I have tried come factory tuned that way.  They will seem very sharp and even a bit twitchy compared to those with a slight base bevekl which will seem a bit duller and more forgiving.

I had purchased a brand new pair of Slalom skis for my wife and we went out West.  She loved the skis but we picked a poor snow year for Panorama BC and there were a lot of scratches in the base.  So when we returned I had a base grind performed and she did not like the way they skied.  That is when I contacted the manufacturer and we were told the skis come with a 1/2 degree base bevel (and the base grind changed this to zero degrees).  It totally changed the way the ski performed.

I have a contact who is a Tech rep for Elan.  I will find out what teh Elan factory tune is and post here.

In the meantime - check your bases and most importantly you should take back to the store where you bought them and explain exactly what you have detailed here.  That you liked them when you bought them and that they were tuned and now ski differently.  Also explain that a friend attempted to detune the tips and tails which made some difference.  The shop should be able to determine what caused your probalem and fix it.  I am confident that your skis can be restored to an enjoyable state.

Note that most modern skis are sharp from tip to tails as opposed to straight skis of the early 1990s and before.  Technique has changed and demands this. 

Mike
head rep
CSIA III instructor
post #25 of 47
I've found that (racing aside) the better the skier, the less they obsess over how their skis are tuned. Anybody remember that Doug Coombs tuning video? I'm really not trying to be a jerk here, but I think there's a lot more going on than a base bevel that's half a degree off. Most of the replies on this thread just reek of enablement.
post #26 of 47
If they put a zero degree base bevel on your skis, they would be very obstinate if you asked them to do anything but carve edge-locked curves.  They would seem very unmanageable when you tried to go straight, but would hook up instantly when you tipped them onto either edge.  Is that what happend?

Did you have too much grip at the edge or not enough?

Please describe the problem with a little more detail than feeling unsafe and unbalanced(if you're not a troll).  Maybe the problem had nothing to do with your skis and you had an inner ear infection, if that's the only description you can give.
post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post

I've found that (racing aside) the better the skier, the less they obsess over how their skis are tuned. Anybody remember that Doug Coombs tuning video?

The better the skier, the better their coping skills to deal with *crappy* tunes.


I'm really not trying to be a jerk here, but I think there's a lot more going on than a base bevel that's half a degree off.
 
I don't.  

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this could have been something as simple as a burred edge.   Having a burr on could easily destroy a new skier's sensation of reliable balance on that edge, because it will engage and release unpredictably.   Less predictably than a dull edge, even.

The 'detuning' then took the burr off on a section of edge and the skis got *slightly* better.   Only not enough better to support a good, trustworthy sense of balance.

Of course, more complicated scenarios could exist, but there's no need to go into them now, before she's healed.


Most of the replies on this thread just reek of enablement.

Enablement to do what?  Blame the skis?  <shrug>  

To my nose, they reek of Monday AM QB and overtech that will not help someone regain confidence.
post #28 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jer View Post

I've found that (racing aside) the better the skier, the less they obsess over how their skis are tuned. Anybody remember that Doug Coombs tuning video? I'm really not trying to be a jerk here, but I think there's a lot more going on than a base bevel that's half a degree off. Most of the replies on this thread just reek of enablement.

I wouldn't think that a 0.5 vs a 1.0 degree base bevel change would wreck a pair of skis to the degree that the OP is talking about either.  However, I distinctly recall one pair of demo skis I've tried where something was so wrong that I was afraid to turn.  I literally wound up side-slipping down to avoid turning.  At the bottom, I switched to my regular skis and everything was back to normal.  Now either I completely forgot how to ski for one run, or the tune was wrecked on those demos.  I told the shop that something was off, and they refused to believe it.  I've certainly never used them to tune my skis.
post #29 of 47
The OP's friend only detuned the tip. If the OP likes to skid turns, as many cautious intermediate skiers do, the tails could need detuning as well. More details on how the skis failed to perform as desired, how the OP actually skis, not just the terrain, would prove helpful.

I'm still for a pro taking a look at the skier and the skis and making an evaluation. We are really just grabbing at straws.

 
post #30 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by cargalrn View Post

Yes, should have had my skis retuned.   It is my fault.  Hindsight is 20/20.   Since summer came between the tune and the new season, and a job loss and new job, my mind was not where it should have been before the accident happened. 
Again,
Thanks for the encouragement and responses.  I wish I had taken care of the problem, I'd be skiing on Utah powder is Pa.

Yes and for sure, hindsight is 20/20 vision. We all do something that, for whatever reason, we regret. Last year, I tried skiing a trail that was over my head and paid for it in an injury. There is no such thing as going back in time, so just live and learn. We are all imperfect humans.

I feel for you and your injury. Newer skiers just don't know things that many here have posted as to what went on. Many people who ski don't know anything about equipment and just give it to a shop and hope for the best. Why your skis changed is not that important of a life lesson. Dealing with change is a life lessson.

When your brain tells something is wrong, anytime, anywhere, listen to it, and, stop what you are doing, and ask a lot of questions. One of my criteria this year is to make good decisions about the difficulty of trails I ski.

And feel free to ignore advice given on the internet.

Best wishes in physical and financial recovery.

 
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