A veteran Team Player
Every flick of the finger is perfect, and the process continues without a hitch when a new ski is created step by step. No surprise here, because nobody has as much experience when it comes to ski building as she does: Lydia Bucher, for 18 years a part of the ski building department.
Her workplace basically looks like a traditional workbench. A small grinding machine, a hammer and chisel, a scissors, a broom, as well as numerous clamps are all at the ready. Lined up at the back on six shelves are the various materials that Lydia needs for building skis. Today on the schedule: the Laser AR and the Laser GS FIS. During one shift, one person normally makes two different models. “In a press there is always room for two skis, so we can take advantage of this in the best way,” Lydia explains.
Building. This means in one “cassette,” so to speak, the individual materials for a ski are layered on top of each other and secured. Base, fiber glass and aluminum, then comes the wood core. Then the same layers all over again and, at the end, the topsheet. Sometimes, one thing or another needs to be trimmed or ground so the shape fits perfectly. And this all by hand and only one ski at a time. “The principle is really quite simple,” Lydia starts to explain. “What is underneath the core also is on top in the same order.” So really simple? Not really. There are on average 10 layers and another few steps per model, but there are small but detailed differences between the models. Meaning to keep your eye on the big picture isn’t so easy. Indeed, Lydia knows skis, knows their construction, knows what it comes down to. Thanks to her experience, she learns the ins and outs of new model in short order.
Her favorite skis to build are the Laser models. “They are our classics and you have a routine that simply goes on auto-pilot.” It’s a little different with the Stormrider models. In every collection there are always new shapes or other technical innovations. And the FIS models also pose more of a challenge because these skis have additional layers or other special construction. “With these you really have to focus and take care that you don’t forget anything, and that you put it all together correctly.” In not much more than 20 minutes, she has the time to build four skis. Because that’s how long the ski needs in the press at 140 degrees under pressure of some 40 tons. All told, she builds 36 pairs of skis on any one day. “That’s not really so stressful,” Lydia says, but there really isn’t any room for error.
A trained eye is the most important to prevent mistakes. And that is what Lydia most definitely has after almost 20 years of experience now building skis. “Sure, mistakes can still happen. But after all these years I notice very quickly if something isn’t quite right or doesn’t fit right, and that is really important.” Because once it’s all in the press, it’s too late. The skis that in that case come out are unusable. “In any case, that is most certainly what I want to avoid.”
With her expertise and experience, Lydia is also there for her colleagues, gladly giving tips and explanations. Still, this is not always easy because in ski building not everybody works the same way. “A total of 15 work in this department. Most develop over time their own techniques or methods which also of course work.” But in the end everybody can learn something from the other. This team spirit, solidarity and the casual interactions with each other is what Lydia in particular likes with her job.
Although Lydia has already spent half her working life building skis, she herself doesn’t ski. “Somehow I just never learned.” That doesn’t mean, though, that she isn’t enthusiastic about ski sports. Quite the opposite. “I am a huge fan of our athletes and follow the World Cup races whenever I can on TV.” A proper dose of nerves also goes along with that when a Stöckli skier is at the starting gate. “My neighbors can hear it then, too,” she says.
It is this passion for ski sports, be it actively on the slopes or simple watching on TV, that unifies everybody at Stöckli. “Whether you want to or not, if you work here, you will be infected with the Stöckli fever sooner or later.” So of course Stöckli means much more than just building skis to Lydia. In first order, she speaks of pride. Pride in the great products, pride in the achievements of the athletes, pride when Stöckli comes up with her friends or family. Of course, Lydia’s neighbors will again this winter be a part of it all when Stöckli athletes are in the hunt for top times.