By: Daniel Benner, Team Lead of WinSport’s Rental Shop and certified Ski technician.
With the snow already hitting the mountains, it’s almost time to take the skis and snowboard out of storage for the winter and get ready for the first rip down the hill. Like any piece of equipment, the steps you take to properly prepare your skis or snowboard will be the difference between a smooth or rough first day out.
Perform an inspection
Skis and snowboards take a real beating in the latter part of the season in any year due to the increased exposure to rocks, vegetation and soil as the snowpack diminishes. If you inspect your skis and snowboard when you bring them out of storage, you’ll probably notice that the edges are rough, which happens when you inadvertently ride over rocks or gravel. For the same reasons, the base might be scratched or even gouged. In addition, you may notice it looks dull with a faint whiteness, which is an indication that the base is oxidizing, or drying out. All these reasons are indications you should get your ski or snowboard tuned at a certified shop.
If your edges are rough or rusted from winter storage, it’s a good indication they need a tune. Any certified shop can sharpen edges on skis and snowboards with a specialized machine. Most importantly, this will ensure you’ll be able to carve effectively into the snow while turning which helps you stay on your feet! It also will remove any rust that may have formed during winter storage. Typically, shops will sharpen to factory specifications, but technicians will also race tune skis upon request, which makes the base bevel at more of a degree so the skier or snowboarder can perform more aggressive turns.
Base grind / base patching
If your base is not looking smooth or has large gouges in it, it may be a good idea to have a certified technician assess the base and determine the best course of action. Depending on how deep the scratches or gouges are, a base grind – which involves putting the ski or snowboard through a machine which grinds down the base ever so slightly – makes the base completely flat and smooth once again. This not only helps with slide, but also improves control. Depending on the depth of specific gouges, the technician may also use a patching solution as well. Additionally, a base grind will leave a pattern in the base material that allows it to be more porous for wax absorption.
Waxing skis and snowboards accomplishes two things – increases the longevity of the base and, allows the ski or snowboard to slide more freely in snow.
There are two types of waxing application – machine wax and hand wax. Machine waxing is a great way to get a quick wax at a cheaper price, but the wax won’t last as long nor will it penetrate into the base of the ski. While both methods allow the ski or snowboard to slide more freely on snow, a hand wax will last longer and will penetrate into the ski, which prevents drying out or oxidation.
Ski binding test
Bindings are one of the most important components of a ski, allowing the boot attachment to connect with the ski and equally if not more importantly, release the boot when required. When purchasing or renting skis, the ski technician will set the DIN – the industry standard scale for release force settings for ski binding – which is based on skier ability, weight and height. Simply put, this calculation is crucial to the skier being able to ski at their ability without the ski releasing prematurely, while at the same time, releasing at a time which will prevent a serious injury to the knee. However, over time, wear, debris and temperature fluctuations can affect spring tension within the binding, which means the ski will not release at the intended DIN setting. Therefore, a check is needed to see if a binding releases at its DIN setting, or if it needs to be recalibrated. Some shops, including ours at WinSport, have a ski binding calibration machine, which shows what setting the ski is actually releasing at. If different than what the DIN setting is, the ski technician will recalibrate the binding so it releases at the true DIN setting. We recommend that bindings are tested every season.
Following all of these steps will help you kick off the ski and snowboard season on the right foot! Throughout the season, it’s a good idea to wipe down your skis and snowboards of all debris and melted snow to avoid problems with bindings and edges rusting and on average, try to bring them in for a wax every three full days on the mountain.
Daniel Benner and his team of certified technicians are located at the WinSport Tech Shop in the Frank King Day Lodge. Services include complete tunes including base and edge tunes, waxing, binding adjustments, binding testing and general repairs.