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New Ski Tune…What?!

The skis you bought for this season are still wrapped in plastic and leaning up against a wall in garage.  They look so shiny and so fast!  All you need to do is find some bindings, mount them up and they’re ready to go!  Right?  Not quite.

Unwrap those skis and really take a close look.  Turn the ski upside down and look at the base under some light.  Do you see rhomboid lines etched in the base?  If you do, this is known as “base structure” and its function (and presence!) is very important to how your new ski rides.  Briefly, when you are skiing down a run, you are generating significant heat due to friction.  This heat results in a thin film of water due to melted snow, and the base structure of your ski repels this water.  If your ski does not have structure, then it tends to “suck” to the snow, making the ski hard to maneuver.   There are different kinds of structure for different types of snow; fine structure for cold, dry snow and course structure for warm, wet snow.  If your ski came with structure from the factory, you are most likely good to go and can skip on to the next step.  If your skis don’t have structure, you most likely will want to take them in for a stone grind to structure your skis.

***Warning!  Skis can be sharp!  Take care when handling them as you may cut yourself!***

Now take a close look at the edges.  Find something with a straight edge, and put it on the base of your ski.  If you hold the ski up to the light and the edges are higher than the bases, then your ski is “edge high.”  This means your skis will be “catchy” and hard to turn as the edges will engage with the snow faster than you want them to.  If the opposite is true – your bases are higher than your edges – then your ski is “base high” and your skis will be harder to turn than you want them to.  This one is a bit tricky to diagnose – most ski edges on the bottom of the ski are not totally flat; they have 0.5° to 1.0° of “base bevel” from the factory.  The edge should be the same height as the base near the base, but then taper off near the edge of the ski.  A good ski from a reputable ski manufacturer knows this – and if you paid a decent amount for your new ski then it most likely is fine.  If your ski is “base high” or “edge high”, then you may want to have a base grind performed in order to level the bases to the edge height (or vise-versa).

Next, take a look at the side edges.  Are the edges even from tip to tail?  Do you feel any rough spots?  Generally, new skis are 1.0° to 3.0° side bevel, and the ski may be extremely sharp from tip to tail.  If you are an aggressive skier and have bought a traditional shaped carving ski with little to no rocker and a radius of < 20 meters, you most likely bought the skis to carve up the slope and lay down trenches.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you most likely will want to “detune” the tips and tails; in essence, dull the edges a bit near the tip and tails of your skis so they can engage (turn) as you want them to.  All rockered skis should have the tips and tails detuned.  They simply perform better.

Lastly, your new skis need a good hot waxing.  Your new skis didn’t come with any wax applied; I actually can’t even think of manufacturer that ships new skis with wax on them.  The base of your new ski is porous and thirsty.  Wax your new skis with a good base prep (soft wax, yellow or red) and let the wax soak in for a day or two (don’t scrape).  Put the skis in a warm room and then leave them alone.  After two days, most of the wax will penetrate the base (it didn’t evaporate!).  Wax them again, let them cool and then scape and brush, brush, brush!

If all of this sounds like a lot of hard work, well, it is!  It is also enjoyable (for some) to grab a cold beverage of your choice, head on out to the garage and get your skis ready to use for the season.  However, if you are not sure what to do, or are in need of some advice, then head on down to Tin Shed Sports.  Our ski experts will be happy to show you what to do or to do the work for you.  After all, that’s why we’re here!  Thanks for reading, and let’s hope for snow!!