Inside the factory: Picking the best skis
Wonder what the World Cup service techs and race crews are doing in the weeks leading up to the season openers?
We caught up with Madshus World Cup service techs Sylvain Fanjas Claret and Peter Blom, who work with the cross-country and biathlon World Cup racers.
These days, Sylvain and Peter are putting in long hours at the factory making sure the skiers get the skis they need in time to test and adjust them before they head off to the races.
Sylvain, who is entering his second season with the Madshus World Cup crew, works primarily with the cross-country racers. He is responsible for several of the top racers in the world, including Finnish veteran Krista Pärmäkoski, Norway’s turbo junior Helene Marie Fossesholm, U23-World Champion Harald Østberg Amundsen (NOR) and Lucas Bögl (GER), as well as two of the new Madshus racers: French sprint specialist Renaud Jay and the young Finnish racer Lauri Lepistö.
Peter has been working with the biathletes for the past six seasons, including World Champions and Olympic medalists such as Benedikt Doll and Vanessa Hinz from Germany and French veteran Anaïs Bescond as well as the next generation of stars like Sturla Lægreid, Vebjørn Sørum, Jørgen Krogsæter, Sivert Bakken and Åsne Skrede.
What are you doing this time of the year?
“We recently wrapped up picking skis for the World Cup racers, after three intensive rounds of on-snow testing. It’s important to get the equipment to them prior to the season, so that they can dial in their quiver of skis before they start racing in the end of November,” Sylvain says.
With the global launch of the all-new Madshus Redline 3.0 models, Sylvain and Peter are particularly excited about the upcoming season. Three years in the making, countless hours of research, testing and product development, and already proven on the World cup, the new generation of skis are now available at retailers and online.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
“The biggest issue is just sorting through the sheer number of skis. There are so many pairs to choose from at the factory, and they’re all really good, so it takes a lot of time to identify which pairs might provide a slight advantage to each individual racer. I’m truly obsessed with getting the best skis for all the racers. But that’s a good problem to have,” says Sylvain.
Peter, who shares Sylvain’s obsession for perfection, agrees.
“Yes, there’s a lot of skis to sort through, so we spend a lot of time testing, and we do a lot of it with the athletes. Starting in the winter and spring, we test at Sjusjøen and Beitostølen, then we move on to the summer ski center at Sognefjellet, and in the ski tunnel in Torsby throughout the summer and early fall,” he says, pointing out that the World Cup is the ultimate test lab.
“The Redline 3.0 has already been proven at the top level in both biathlon and cross-country, but I want to be sure everything is dialed and tuned for each individual athlete before I ship the skis,” Peter explains.
“All the Redline 3.0 skis are really light, easy to control and super fast”
– World Cup veteran Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN)
What are you looking for in the selection process?
“The point is to get the best skis to each racer, and that they have the right skis for all conditions. To achieve that, I depend on a good relationship with the skiers. I need to know the way they ski, what they like and what they are looking for in their skis,” Peter says.
How do you know if you succeed?
“In our line of work, no news is good news. If we don’t hear much from the athletes, and don’t get a lot of skis in return, it generally means they’re content,” says Peter and Sylvain with a laugh.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
“Honestly, for this season, I just hope that we have some sort of a normal competition season. I really hope the skiers are able to race. Beyond that, I hope that the work we put into their skis and equipment helps them improve and get one step closer to their performance dreams,” Peter says.
For Sylvain, it’s much of the same:
“We have a young team with a lot of energy, and they’re headed in a good direction. I think we have a great chance to make a good mark on the podiums this season, and for years to come. It’s really exciting to be a part of that process and help them achieve their goals. And I really hope the skiers like their new skis.”