Sightseeing in Northern Michigan: Crystal Mountain Skier Services

Passion comes in many forms, and when the snow flies you can see that feeling on the slopes.

But what happens when your skis don’t cut like they should, or your boots start to hurt your feet?

You might want to head inside and meet these two guys. Their passion is your enjoyment. 

Meet Crystal Mountain’s skier services director Ron Shepard.

“I like when people get out on the hill and say, ‘I can’t believe what you did to my skis’," says Ron.

And their certified podiatrist Jim Riley.

“My primary goal is to help people enjoy skiing. I custom fit ski boots,” explains Jim.

Let’s start in the tuning shop.

“Our skis are designed to glide through the snow. They’re designed to grip on ice or firm snow when necessary, and with each use we abrade that edge just a little bit and we damage our bases just enough that-that glide tends to go away,” says Ron. “We remove any rust and sharpen the edges returning the base bevel, the tip of the edge, to its factory settings, then we sharpen and polish the edges.”

Ron explains, “Next we wax the skis, and again, it’s all about glide. We wax the skis so they go over the snow smoothly."

And you may not believe what causes the most damage.

“We also see some people who ski right through the parking lot and skis were not designed for those off road adventures,” says Ron.

And they have a high tech solution for that.

“The ceramic disc grinder is about as high tech as it gets. It allows us to put on exactly the same tune as the factory. The bevel, the angle of the edge is perfect and it puts on these little sipes, little marks that actually let the edge cut through ice and grip better," explains Ron.

“Fundamentally, the basis of our skiing and our turning is built off of our feet. We want proper support from the ground up to ski better,” Jim tells us. 

We all know when our feet hurt the day can be ruined. Crystal Mountain has a way to solve that problem.

“We’re going to start with an analysis of your foot. We have a tool here, it gives us a pressure map of the bottom of your foot and a width, and we’ll take that and look at your ski boot and we’ll determine if we can make this boot work,” explains Jim.

Then Jim can actually mold a boot to your foot and make the boot your own.

“We can cook shells now. We can entirely cook a whole boot and mold the whole boot to you in a 10 minute process,” Jim tells us.

“We offer a demo of foot beds. Just coming in here, putting a foot bed in your boot and sending you out skiing, and they’ll come back in and say, ‘Well I don’t know if I can tell a difference’. When I take that foot bed away from you and you go back out, 9 out of 10 people come back in asking for it. It’s that noticeable,” says Jim.

“Most of our people might not be old enough, but if you’ve ever drove a car without power steering you know the feeling. That’s what it’s like not having foot beds in your ski boot. You can get it done, you can turn, but once we add a foot bed in your boot you have power steering, you can do everything quicker, faster with less fatigue and you’ll probably be warmer.”

And that’s what Jim and Ron do. They’re here to keep you safe, comfortable and enjoying your season on the slopes. 

“We have to be pretty good, because we’re going to hear back from you in a half hour. You’re going to come back in here and tell me what I did right or wrong so we really try and know what we’re doing,” says Jim.

Ron adds, “It makes it that much more fun.”

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