Not all skis and snowboards are created equally. Before deciding to buy gear, a little research will go a long way in avoiding unexpected service expenses to keep your equipment in top performance condition. There are more options for cross-country than alpine, but “waxless” does not mean maintenance free.
Time for Wax
There are plenty of arguments for and against waxing more or less often. Some novice skiers and riders believe a little grip will help slow them down and maintain control; when really it takes a good coat of wax to have any control to maneuver through patches of different types of snow. Wax can also keep the base of the ski from drying out.
Depending on conditions, waxing is recommended every 2-10 days on the mountain. Man-made snow, cold, ice, slush, and terrain parks all contribute to the wear of wax. Days of soft powder are much more base-wax friendly.
As wax starts to wear, edges become somewhat chalky, dull, and gray. When bases get to be grainy instead of smooth, there may have been one ride too many.
Hot wax is a deeper wax that involves an iron, heating the base so that it becomes porous. A hot hand wax process takes about 20 minutes and helps protect the integrity of the ski itself. Kits are available for do-it-yourselfers, or it can be done at a professional ski shop for a small fee – usually under $20. Topical wax can be sprayed, rolled, or rubbed onto a base. Some believe a daily topical wax will help prolong the life of a hot wax beneath, but cannot replace the function of a hot wax.
Time for a Tune-Up
When skis or a board feels sluggish or turns start to lose their ‘edge’ and become wide skidding glides, it is time for a tune-up. Most basic tune-ups include a belt grind, edge sharpening and a fresh coat of wax and can cost between $25 and $60. Depending on how much needs to be resurfaced or repaired, a tune-up can be done at home, but is probably not the best idea for the power-tool challenged or those who don’t completely understand the bevel properties on their edges. The last thing anyone wants to do is round-off the edges of skis or a snowboard – unless they are done making turns. The best bet is to ask around and find a shop that has been around a while with a good reputation.
Time for P-Tex
Even the least aggressive of skiers can end up with gouges and grooves in the base of their skis. There is no way to avoid the wear and tear of rocks, debris, getting on and off lifts, etc. Aggressive skiers and riders can expect to beat up their bases and wear out wax much quicker. However, most people won’t need to bother with p-texing, because they will end up on new gear before any damage is bad enough to hamper their gear’s performance; most of the time a good tune-up and wax job will take care of it.
P-tex is a polyethylene base material used to fill in gouges on ski or snowboard bases that is durable, but easy to repair and accepts wax. P-tex comes in candle form and drips can damage flooring material. Its fumes can be toxic, so it is important to use in a well-ventilated area, or leave it up to a professional.
By: Kerry Phillips