By Mark Waechter
We’ve all heard the whining. “My skis were slow! She passed me like I was standing still. I could have kept up with good skis!”
Nothing beats a smooth gliding pair of skinny skis for a memorable experience! Skis that make the uphills easier. Skis that are a magic carpet on the gradual downhills.
So, you ask, how can I do this? It’s simple. Drag those skinny skis out, and give them the TLC that they deserve.
First Things First
The very most important item that affects ski performance is how well the skis fit the skier. Anything and everything you throw at your skis will mean very little if the skis simply don’t fit you well. This seems obvious and simple, but it must be stated because there’s nothing that a fancy wax can do to make your skis run well when they’re just not the right skis for you. So make sure you’ve got the right skis – skis that fit!
Caring for Skis
Here are a few tips to help improve your skis’ health, and the quality of your ski days as you glide around on the snow this winter.
Clean your skis regularly. You would be surprised how much grunge attaches to your ski bases. Even in microscopic quantities, all that grunge slows the skis down. So, after every other outing, give your skis a “hot scrape.” To clean your bases with a hot scrape, melt a layer of soft (yellow) glide wax into your bases, and while the bases are still warm, scrape them with a plastic scraper. After you give them a hot scrape, wax them with the wax-of-the-day and let them cool before scraping and brushing. There are also plenty of good ski-specific cleaners for removing gooey grip-wax and dirt from the grip zone of your classic skis, available at your nearby ski shop. The best I’ve used is called Toko Gelclean.
Wax often. Have you ever taken at look at your bases after a few days of skiing, and noticed a whitish-grey tinge to your bases? That’s not good; it’s the sign of degraded ski bases. Without the lubrication that wax provides in the P-tex (high quality base material used on skis), your bases will become degraded. The polyethylene base breaks down if the skis are not well-loved and taken care of. When a base deteriorates it doesn’t hold wax well and the ski slows down. After every other ski, or better yet, even after every ski outing, wax the glide zone of your skis.
Watch the temperature of your waxing iron. Wax with a warm iron set between 250 degrees and 270 degree (Farenheit), and not with a hot smoking griddle! Use a good wax iron made for waxing skis. Overly hot wax irons are notorious for searing those ski bases shut. All too often skis have hard, burned bases even after just a few wax jobs. Overheating the bases seals the pores in the outermost layer of P-tex and the bases will no longer absorb wax.
Store them with wax. If you’re putting your skis away for a few weeks (or for the summer), store them with a layer of wax on them. The wax layer keeps the ski base from getting dry and hard. Then when it’s time to ski again, just scrape off the wax and you’re ready to go!
This article is reprinted by permission from the January 2013 Methow Valley Nordic Club newsletter.