Fortunately, just as craftsmen maintain sharp tools, skiers and riders can also maintain their skiing tools.
Today, while many skiers may choose to have local mountain shops regularly sharpen edges and wax skis it is also possible to purchase a sampling of tools to maintain skis. Interested? Consider these steps:
1) Wipe skis. Skaters wipe edges regularly. Wiping skis following use minimizes corrosion and helps remove pollutants.
2) Inspect bases. Ski bases perform best when free of gouges. Either fill or have the shop fill major gouges.
3) Use a file guide to keep side edges smooth and sharp. “Use a file guide to maintain that edge and angle,” suggests Jed Duke, Division Manager for Blizzard Skis. “Once that base edge is set do not file that base edge,”
First use a thick rubber band to hold the “brakes.” Second, consider marking the edges with black magic marker. Working tip to tail to gradually remove the magic marker start with a diamond insert to remove major marks. Lightly file. Finally, polish with another diamond.
4) Wax. Waxing protects a ski base and allows a ski to more easily glide and turn. Unfortunately, hot waxing CAN damage a ski. Fortunately, there are options! One amazingly simple and effective tool is the Pro-Glide Waxing System (formerly Wax Wizard). The skier simply rubs ski wax from a block onto the base and polishes the base with this round tool which “melts” the wax into the base using “line contact pressure.” It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s safe.
For those interested in hand-tuning the good news is that a variety of tools are available in either your favorite mountain shop or online. From a basic plastic guide with variable side edge settings (one example is the FK Variable Sharpener from Reliable Racing) to a highly precise SKS Racing Combi file guide with wheels and a carbide steel bit - the options are wide.
Uniquely, too, Edge Tune sells a dremel-powered edge guide which brings ceramic stone grinding technology to home tuning. Their website also includes helpful demonstrations to educate tuners.
Websites include the following: Edge Tune, www.edgetune.com; Reliable Racing, www.reliableracing.com; FK Tools, wwwfktools-us.com; Sun Valley Ski Tools, www.svst.com; and Pro-Glide (Wax Wizard), www.SkiMD.com.
In the East a day of hard skiing on frozen hardpack can degrade edges. Fortunately an edge guide, diamond insert, file, and wax can generally maintain a performance edge.
Recognize that World Cup racers have their skis tuned daily. Moreover, top tuners on the World Cup use a range of hand tools to maintain a polished edge while minimizing edge removal. Hand tuning can be accomplished with a minimum of time and effort and can nicely compliment periodic shop tunes.
If you are new to tuning, multiple websites have videos. Maximize your investment. Stay tuned, from that first run to your last run.
Contributing columnist Tony Crespi has served as both a ski school supervisor and coach. A contributor to publications throughout snow country, his column is published throughout the season.