Tips on keeping your equipment in good shape |

Tips on keeping your equipment in good shape

SUMMIT COUNTY – For early-season skiers and snowboarders who feel they’d have a more controlled ride down the mountain with dinner plates strapped to their feet, perhaps it’s time to take their equipment in for a tune-up.

“People seldom put enough attention toward taking care of their investments,” said Jim Deines of Precision Ski in Frisco, ski tuner of 30 years and ranked best in the industry in the October issue of “Outside” magazine.

“Case and point – I had a guy in here yesterday who said, `Yeah, I got my skis here about two years ago,'” Deines said. “He was asking how much it was to wax skis and asked if I thought his skis needed it. I said, “I think they might need more than that $5 wax job. Wax is a one or two day proposition. The truth is, every time you go out to ski, whether it’s a half day, or all day or a few runs, your edges wear a little bit,” Deines said. “They lose their sharpness, and the wax is abraded from the base of the ski.” Deines said skis should be waxed and the edges sharpened every five to 10 days on the mountain and a full tune is probably necessary about every 20 days.

“It’s how hard people ski,” said Tom Hahn, head technician at Christy Sports in Dillon. “As the terrain opens up, when I’m riding, I always carry a stone with me to take down burrs. It definitely adds to the life of your skis.” Burrs can be felt when running a finger along the metal edge of a ski or board, and can be smoothed over with a diamond stone.

Skiers and riders in Summit County who care about their equipment and who spend multiple days a week on the mountain should have a diamond stone on hand as well as some kind of easy wax to apply the the base of the skis or board every couple days like car polish.

For the avid skier or rider, however, this basic maintenance won’t cut it forever.

“You can only flatten your edges so many times before you need to have your base flattened and stone-ground,” Hahn said. “You can usually tell when the base dries out, and you can tell when when the edges aren’t performing as well as they once did.”

It’s not difficult for most skiers and riders to recognize when equipment loses its edge. If there is little control hitting a slicker area on the hill, or no grab when stopped on steep terrain, it’s a telltale sign the edges have rounded off. Inspecting the ski to verify this, technicians often use “the fingernail test” where they scrape their fingernail on the edge, and if shavings come off, it shows the edge is probably decent. Also, white streaks on the base of the equipment is a good indicator that it could use some wax, according to most technicians.

“When you look at the base, you’ll see the materials are very porous,” said Peter Lowell of Polar Revolution in Keystone. “It becomes very dry, like your skin becomes very dry. You want to keep those pores filled. As far as edges go, if you’re avid skier, you’ll wash out of your turns and know (the skis or board) is getting into that dull edge.”

The harder the snow, the faster skis and board lose their edge. A professional tune is necessary at least once a season for skiers and riders spending several days a month on their equipment. Basic tunes and quick edge work usually runs between $5 and $15. A deluxe tune, which covers base grinds and welds if needed, P-Tex for gouges and a full finish of hot wax and edge-sharpening, runs in the ballpark of $40. With control being the most important element of any good day on the mountain, proper maintenance of equipment is a must.

“Some people are just used to skiing on poorly tuned equipment,” Hahn said. “It could be pretty dangerous. All you have to do is lose your edge on one turn on the hard pack. As crowded as the trails are, that could be scary. It’s definitely safer to have reliable equipment.”

As far as daily maintenance, in addition to applying wax and using a stone to wear down burrs, which Deines said can make a shop tune last twice as long, Deines points out simply drying off gear before tossing into the car at the end of the day can make a big difference.

“Getting the moisture off can prevent rusting and get rid of chemicals that might have gotten into the snow,” Deines said. “A lot of that moisture is holding magnesium chloride and other things that are rough on skis. Taking a towel and wiping off the water and snow can do wonders for the life of the ski.”

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