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Swix Structure Basics

Tue, Dec  21, 2010 - By Andrew Gerlach

Structure is a term used to describe patterns cut into the base to reduce base contact on the snow and to release surface tension from water films caused by base friction. These structure patterns are most often produced by stone grinding machines at the factory during production or by shops that specialize in the stone grinding process. It is also possible to produce structures using hand tools.

For a period of time there was much experimentation and testing of many types of patterns in order to find the best structure for different snow types. The search with different stone grinders, different structure depths, widths, and patterns, all aiming to find “the ultimate structure ”,was overwhelming. Recently however, the development showed signs of simplification. Now service technicians agree more that snow types can be classified in more general terms to which more certain structure patterns can be matched. An appropriate structure is still of absolute importance, but it is applied with a set of basic principles in mind. The result is that variations in machine set structures are fewer and standardized. The tendency to “simplify ” variations in stone grinding can allow for a more accurate comparison of other significant factors such as skis and waxes, and in theory it is possible to travel with fewer pairs of skis.

Last but not least, structures made by hand on top of structures produced by machine have proven to give outstanding results. Manually set structures in combination with stone grinding can match the day ’s conditions more accurately and therefore enhance the effectiveness of a basic stone ground base.  There is an important difference between structures produced by machine and those produced by hand. Stone ground structures are cut into the base, and are more permanent in nature. Hand structures use “imprint ” tools that press the structure into the base, and consequently are temporary.
Swix imprint tools have the advantage of being easy and quick to use while at the same time offer the most adaptability of adjusting the structure to match the snow type. During the process of rewaxing the heat from the iron will cause the pattern to leave the base while keeping the stone ground pattern intact. In this way the base is ready once again for the next hand produced structure treatment and it is possible to apply the perfectly matching structure according to the conditions of the day.

Although there are variations in the patterns applied, structures can be classified into “fine”, “medium-fine ”,“medium-coarse ” and “coarse ” structures. The most frequently used structures in World Cup are “fine” and “medium-fine ”.

For classic races more coarse structures are used as well. The difference between classic and skating is related to more varying conditions in a skating course than in a classic track. Also the factor of “feeling ” that has to do with the resistance when “pushing ” the ski forward is significant in skating, but less in classic. The “free feeling ” can be lost, especially when skating uphill, when the structure is too coarse.  Learn more at and SwixNordic on Facebook.