Well, it’s December and you’re pulling your skis (or snowboard) out of the garage for the first time in 6+ months. While they’ve been neglected for your warm-weather toys, they’ve lost their tune. Now’s the time to give them some much-needed attention before you head out on the slopes for your first day of the season.
Reconnect with your Snowsports Friends
Since your skis need some work, you might as well use the opportunity to reconnect with some of your long-lost ski friends. Pool your tuning resources, stockpile your beers and get the crew together to prep. It’s a great time to make plans for the season ahead, maybe even light a ceremonial bonfire to sacrifice old skis to the snow gods.
Find a Location
First you’ll need to find the best location to host your tuning party. Pick a well-ventilated spot in your garage or yard that can get messy–ski waxing is not a clean chore. Find a workbench to work on with ski vices (if possible). If that’s not an option, find something you can set under the tips and tails of your skis. A couple of shoeboxes or trash cans will work in a pinch.
Scraping Off the Storage Wax
If you were smart and had the foresight to put a coat of storage wax on your skis last spring, kudos to you! I was not one of those people.
If you did apply that coat of storage wax though, your work will be easy. Scrape off any excess wax that’s still visible and start applying a fresh coat.
If you didn’t apply that storage wax, take a moment to clean your bases. Use some citrus solvent and brush them with a nylon scrubber pad or ski base brush, creating some texture to absorb the wax. Then apply a fresh coat. Remember to let that wax cool before scraping or you’ll pull it all off. Cool your heels by testing out that new shot-ski, or have another beer.
Once the wax has dried, scrape off any excess. Work from tip to tail with your scraper until there is only the thinnest layer of wax left. And don’t forget to scrape your edges, as it’s common for wax to drip down the sides.
Many people will stop here and call it good (myself included). However, if you’re a perfectionist, you can use a series of progressively softer ski wax brushes to create a fine texture, making your bases smoother and faster.
You’re done! Put your ski brakes back on, sweep up all the wax scrapings and get out there. You can’t wax your skis too often and you’ll only get better the more you do it. It takes practice, so don’t be discouraged your first couple of outings. If it still seems a little daunting, look into a ski-waxing clinic at your local REI.
And a quick disclaimer: This is not the definitive guide on how to care for your boards. I’m not a ski tech by any stretch of the imagination. I’m a ski photographer and spend a lot of time on skis, and this is what I do with my gear. Take it for what it is.