25 Degrees Outward – Meet a Tirol Sled Maker

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Gallzeiner Company in Tirol’s Unterinntal has been handcrafting some of the finest wood sleds on the market for 40 years. Gallzeiner Sleds are widely respected for their craftsmanship and quality is the priority. They don’t want to turn their sledges into a mass product—instead, they give the same time, energy, and dedication to each and every sled that leaves their shop.

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Working many years in the same field is good for knowledge and experience, but maybe not so good for passion, dedication and innovation. Meeting sled maker Bernhard Lederwasch of “Gallzeiner Rodeln”, one of Tirol’s premier producers of handmade, high-end wooden sleds, there’s no feeling of routine, tiredness or lack of inspiration. A sense of enthusiasm and excitement and the pleasant aroma of freshly worked wood warm the space of his workshop. He runs his sled-making business in Buch near Jenbach with his wife, Helga, and his son, Philipp. The three of them take personal pride in each sled produced with traditional hand tools used alongside modern processing machinery. Deeply rooted in tradition, the wooden sleds are handcrafted with a lot of zest, verve and passion.

Traditional Craftsmanship: At Gallzeiner, wooden sleds are handcrafted with processes developed over 40 years.

Traditional Craftsmanship: At Gallzeiner, wooden sleds are handcrafted with processes developed over 40 years.

Absolute Perfection, Down to the Last Detail

Before asking him about details of the history and philosophy of his company, Bernhard Lederwasch starts talking, the words come gushing out. He shares some of his story of how he learned the old craft. He tells us which is his preferred wood for sled making, explains manufacturing techniques that are refined by practice and over time and provides insight into the process of making sleds. He talks about the perfect runner angle (about 25 degrees outward), the appropriate steel for the runners (a well-kept secret), the right treatment with his very own wax mixture (another secret), the cover of the sled seat that is cushioned to support the vertebrae, and finally, the carpentry skill and craftsmanship required to achieve absolute perfection, down to the last detail.

Bernhard and Helga Lederwasch on a short rest break. (Foto: Tirol Werbung, Alexander Ziegler)

Bernhard and Helga Lederwasch on a short rest break. (Foto: Tirol Werbung, Alexander Ziegler)

Gallzeiner sleds, which cost about Euro 400.00, there are less expensive and more expensive ones available, are custom sized to fit the new owner. It takes a lot of expertise to make custom built sleds so that they travel fast and safe and easily slide on icy curves.

Avoiding the Hype

Lederwasch says his favourite part of the job, aside from building quality products, has been getting to know his customers. It is about customer satisfaction and trust. Demand for traditional-style, high-end sleds for recreational use has increased in the last few years. But while several companies mass-produce sleds and sell them for less than Gallzeiner Sleds, they do not compare in quality or durability to his craftsmanship, Lederwasch says. He doesn’t want his company to grow, instead he aims at giving the same time, energy, and dedication to each and every sled that leaves his shop. That’s why he doesn’t enter into business with large sports store chains. That’s why he tries to avoid the hype generated by German TV shows. That’s why he doesn’t hire new employees. And, that’s why Gallzeiner Sleds are truly unmatched and widely respected for their craftsmanship by those in the know.

The only concession Bernhard Lederwasch has made to his growing success was to build a new workshop in the last year. But not to grow production—the family-operated sled making company produces about 900 sleds a year, and more wouldn’t be possible. In busy times, between October and December, customers wait up to eight weeks for their custom built sled.

With most Gallzeiner Sleds, future owners can choose wood and seat cover.

With most Gallzeiner Sleds, future owners can choose wood and seat cover.

“A Gallzeiner Sled is created when wood is worked with body, mind, soul and know-how.” (Bernhard Lederwasch)

The new workshop simply offers more space to work. And Lederwasch is proud of his new showroom, adjacent to the workshop. This is where the leading Gallzeiner Sleds are on display: The “Classic One Seater 22 Degrees”, a lightweight sled that is exceptionally maneuverable and suitable for beginners. Or the “Elite WR Professional” racing sled, which is custom sized to fit the rider and runs really fast. With most Gallzeiner Sleds, future owners can choose wood and seat cover.

The new showroom.

The new showroom.

Designed to last generations.

The flexible construction of Gallzeiner Sleds makes it one of the fastest and most maneuverable runner sleds on the market. Hand crafted with processes developed over 40 years, Gallzeiner Sleds are designed to last for generations. Each season, sleds that have been built by his father in law, the company founder, are brought in for service. Some of them are up to 40 years old. Weathered and slick from use, they are refurbished with love for the detail. Bernhard Lederwasch appreciates the opportunity to continue the art of traditional sled making. And he continues the tradition in the spirit in which it has always been carried on, giving each sled the time it takes. Their history of customer satisfaction has proven their snow sled as one of the best in the industry. Buying a handcrafted Gallzeiner Sled you will have a classic that will be cherished for generations.

Tirol Sled Makers

More Information for Sledding and Tobogganing Enthusiasts: www.tyrol.com/tobogganing

Text: Klaus Erler

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