With the ever rising costs of lift tickets, travel and skiing in general, why wouldn’t you have your skis riding to the absolute best of their ability?
A freshly tuned ski will be more responsive, faster, give you better edge grip and deliver overall better performance. Many people can wax and sharpen their skis at home, however, that can be messy and time consuming. Hand tuning your edges requires experience, patience, and a fair amount of time, and unless you have access to professional tuning equipment putting a sharp edge and wax on your skis is not quite enough.
Specialty ski shops have experienced techs that run their machines who have had hundreds, if not thousands of skis move through their hands every season.
So you might be asking yourself, what steps are involved in getting your skis professionally tuned?
When you first bring your skis into a specialty ski shop they should be examined by the professional taking them in. They will be looking for any base damage or core shots typically caused by hitting rocks in low snow conditions.
Base damage can easily be repaired properly by an experienced technician. If you have minor gauges or core shots, a well equipped shop will have a base welder or p-tex gun that will do much better job of filling in the damage than you will by by hand filling them with a p-tex candle.
Having gouges in the base of your ski creates drag when you glide through the snow, ultimately slowing you down – and no one likes a slow ski. Base repairs, when done by a professional with the proper tools can look seamless and as good as new.
Well equipped ski shops usually have a machine that is capable of putting crisp and precise edge angles on both the base and side edges of your skis. One thing that many at home tuners do is neglect the base edge of their skis.
The base edge of your ski is equally as important as the side edge, and these machines use ceramic discs that sharpen both edges. They also have the ability to change the bevels on your edges depending on your skiing style.
Racers and aggressive carvers typically prefer a slightly different edge angle on both the base and side edges of their skis, causing the ski to react a little differently. The most common edge angles for all-mountain skiers is a 2-degree side edge and a 1-degree base edge bevel. Having 2versatility in your turn shape.
The Base Structure
While you may be able to sharpen your edges and wax your skis at home, one of the most important aspects of tuning is often neglected.
You cannot put a nice structure on the base of your skis at home. This is often called a stone grind, by running your skis through one of these very expensive and sometimes complicated machines it flattens out the base of your ski, and flat means fast.
The purpose of the stone grind is to etch a pattern or structure into the base of the ski. This structure allows the water and snow crystals to flow through the base of the ski faster and more efficiently. Some specialty shops offer different structures or patterns for different snow conditions, humidity levels, and temperatures. In most cases this is considered an upgrade for a more personalized tune, so be sure to ask your tech, and ask what he recommends for the conditions you are going to be skiing in.
Don’t Forget the Wax
If you are reading this you probably know that waxing your skis makes them faster, but do you really know how?
Ski wax is a water-repellent to keep your skis gliding easier and more efficiently across the snow, ski wax also works as a preventative to keep snow from sticking to your base.
Different waxes should be used for different temperatures, humidity levels, and snow conditions. Most ski shops allow you to do a wax upgrade for a wax better suited to the conditions you will be skiing in.
One of the latest and greatest ski tuning machines is called a Wax Future. Wax Future uses an infrared lamp to warm the base of your ski and open up the pores, the wax is then crayoned on. The light will pass over the skis a few more cycles so the wax can seep deeper into the base, thus making them more water-repellent for a longer lasting finish.
Check out this video of a ski getting a fresh tune:
Even if you are not looking to earn the fastest times on the World Cup circuit, having your skis tuned professionally will keep them riding much smoother and more responsive, and every skier benefits from that.
If you have noticed your skis acting a little sluggish or slow this season, we strongly recommend taking them into your local ski shop or the tuning shop at your local resort, so you will be skiing as smooth and efficiently as you can.