Ski and Snowboard Maintenance Tips and Tricks
MISCELLANEOUS TIPS & TRICKS
A CLEAN TOOL IS A HAPPY TOOL !
Ceramic Stones -scrub them gently with a brass Supertooth brush, using Ajax or Comet cleanser with water or vinegar and water to cut away grime.
Diamond Stones -scrub gently with a nylon Supertooth brush along with a little wax remover or Ronson lighter fluid.
Steel Files -clean frequently with a file brush and rub a little chalk into file teeth occasionally.
Plastic Scrapers -wipe away wax build-up frequently using a steel scraper, ski edge, etc. Resharpen with a pansar file, drywall sanding screen, or Tognar Burrsharp.
Steel Scrapers -keep sharp using a flat file and burnisher or Tognar Burrsharp.Base Repair Irons & Pistol-keep tips clean by wiping on an old scotchbrite pad while still warm.
Riller Bars/Structure Tools -clean out teeth and ridges on structure bars/blades with a bronze brush.
Wax Irons -wipe off wax and any dirt from the bottom of warm iron (not hot) with a soft, clean rag or old t-shirt (preferably not on someone's back at the moment!).
Scotchbrite, Fibertex, Omni-Prep Pads -Rinse pads under hot water (180 degrees F.) to melt away wax.
SCOTCHBRITE PAD WEAR
How often do scotchbrite or fibertex pads need to be replaced? I’ve used one for quite a
while now and it doesn’t seem to wear out.
- Gary Krysiak
We use scotchbrite pads until they’ve worn down to about 2/3 of their original thickness,
or have been damaged (melted) by cleaning the hot tip of a base repair iron or pistol. They
don’t really get “dull” otherwise, unless they get loaded up with wax or gunk...which can
often be cleaned out by rinsing them with hot water (which helps melt wax away) or base
cleaning solvent. These techniques will also help clean the pads, which is important since
you don’t want them to impart dirt to your bases.
Some alpine race skis (Atomic) feature narrow strips of ceramic base material inlaid along
the steel edges. This is done to help avoid base burn, since ceramic is harder and more
durable than p-tex.
You can tune, patch and wax these areas just as you do the rest of your base without a
For a mere $20,000. snow resorts can now buy a snow depth scanner that allows grooming machines to see where snow is thinnest or deepest on their slopes. By bouncing radio waves off the ground, the device produces a digital screen "map" of snow depth for groomers to see in their cab so they know where more snow cover is needed, or what shallow areas to work carefully around so they don't hit earth and spread dirt and rock on the snow. Heck, just think...maybe this could lead to getting more accurate snow reports in the future...well, at least we can always hope!
Thirty years ago, one in 3,500 skiers broke a leg each day. Today, it's one in 35,000.
Because alpine skis are still mostly handmade objects, don't assume they'll always have identical side-cuts on each side...even if they are supposed to. To determine this, set the two skis down on their bases side-by-side on a workbench so they touch at the tip and tail, and measure the gap between them at the waist. Make a note of this. Then reverse their positions on the bench and measure the gap at the waist again. Any different? If so, pick the best left/right ski arrangement to take advantage of the greater sidecut if you want the fastest turning skis.
PROTECT SKI & SNOWBOARD EDGES
To protect ski and snowboard metal and top edges, as well as car seats and the inside of ski/board travel bags from damage, buy 2 to 4 pieces of foam pipe insulation (for 1/2" pipes) at any hardware store. Fit these over your steel edges, as well as around tips and tails. Once your ski or board is in a travel bag, it should stay in place. If not, wrap some cord or bungy straps around them to hold 'em in place. In some cases, you might have to cut the insulation to accommodate bindings or ski brakes...otherwise this is a good cheap way to protect your gear.
-Simon Coope, Brooklyn, NY
GIVE NEW VISION TO OLD GOGGLES
If you have goggles (new or old) that you can't find replacements lenses for, give a call to the folks at Pro Lens (800)776-5367. They stock thousands of replacement lenses and they're available for $14 to $25 each. Just provide them with the goggle brand name, model number (if possible) and lens tint color. If the replacement lens is available, they'll take payment via credit card and send the lens to you. They also offer mirrored lenses, prescription lenses, and new goggles from all major manufacturers as well.
NATIONAL AVALANCHE SCHOOL
If you've already put in a chunk of time reading avalanche books, watching videos, attending weekend clinics, digging snow pits, practicing simulated rescues with transceivers, honing stability evaluation and routefinding skills...but still hunger for more avalanche knowledge...then check out this school. Held every other year, it's the oldest, most comprehensive and prestigious avalanche education event in North America. It's taught by an army of experts who know this stuff cold (no pun intended) and whose names fill the "Who's Who of the Great Snowy World"...if such a book existed, of course. Phase one of the school provides a classroom setting in which students learn and interact with these top professionals for five days of intensive study. Phase two is a three-day field session which is targeted for two different groups...those who patrol or want to learn more about avalanche practices in developed areas and resorts...and another for those who work, guide or travel in the backcountry. Attendance is limited to 200, and each individual is assigned to groups based on the area of interest to them. For more details, contact the National Avalanche Foundation at (303) 988-1111.
SKI & SNOWBOARD MECHANICS WORKSHOP
If you're looking to learn more about ski tuning, snowboard tuning or bootfitting...or are interested in getting a job as a technician at a pro or rental shop, then here's a school for you. The Ski and Snowboard Mechanics Workshops offer hands-on technical training ski, snowboard or boot technicians...as well as binding installation and adjustment for those who qualify. Although it's oriented mostly to shop employees, any individual can attend most of the many classes offered. They range from basic to advanced levels, and the workshops last 2-3 days. Nineteen different workshops are scheduled to be held at locations all across the country beginning in late September and continuing into early December. These workshops are held annually, so if you miss one at a location near you this year, don't despair....you'll get another chance next year. For more information regarding the Ski and Snowboard Mechanics Workshop, call (802) 899-2633.
HIT & RUN
In 1998, a group of Aspen skiers and snowboarders came up with a plan to help stop injuries caused by reckless skiers and boarders. Their purpose is to offer $500 rewards for information leading to the arrest of "hit and run" riders, as well as educate people on basic skiing and boarding rules on the slopes. Chaired by former racing ace Dick Durrance, the organization is currently only in existence in the Aspen area, but the concept could grow if other skiers and boarders across the country are interested in adopting it at their areas. For more information, contact the group by writing: Ski Hit and Run, Inc., c/o Paul Taddune, 323 W Main St., Aspen, CO 81611
HOW TO PREPARE FOR NEXT SEASON
This 10-step program showed up mysteriously in our email one day. We thought it only appropriate to share with y'all so you'll be properly prepared for next season...
1. Visit your local butcher and pay $30 to sit in the walk-in freezer for half an hour. Afterwards, burn two $50 bills to warm up.
2. Go to the nearest hockey rink and walk across the ice twenty times in your ski boots carrying a pair of skis, snowboard, accessory bag and poles. Pretend you're looking for your car.
3. To prepare your feet for ski boots, put a pebble in your street shoes and tighten a c-clamp around your toes.
4. Buy a nice pair of new gloves and immediately throw one away.
5. Clip a lift ticket to the zipper of your jacket and ride a motorcycle fast enough to make the ticket lacerate your face.
6. Drive slowly for five hours...anywhere...as long as it's in a snowstorm following an eighteen-wheeler without chains.
7. Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face. You'll almost feel like your skiing in front of a snowmaking machine.
8. Go to McDonald's and insist on paying $10 for a hamburger. Be sure to stand in the longest line.
9. Dress up in as many clothes as possible and then proceed to take them off because you have to go to the bathroom.
10. Repeat all the above every Saturday and Sunday
Every season, it seems, there are a handful of new "stars" introduced to the snowy world...these stars being, of course, an array of hot new skis so remarkable in their performance that you can't imagine anyone designing anything better. But then a year later (or sometimes even less), they're somehow superseded by another, even better selection of skis. Obviously, fame is as fleeting for skis (and snowboards, too) these days as it is for new hits on the top 40 chart.
Back in 1964, however, a ski was introduced to the world that survived a remarkable 24 year history. It was the first ski to utilize both fiberglass and horizontally-laminated wood core...and it set the stage for nearly a quarter century of ski construction. This "stratified" wood core, in fact, gave the ski its name...the Rossignol Strato.
Its racing pedigree was unmatched. It won instant acceptance by Jean-Claude Killy, Barbara Cochran and many other competitors on the World Cup and in the Olympics, and, remarkable by any standards, was considered a winning ski in nearly all race events. It's trademark maroon topsheet and simple understated graphics made frequent powerful statements on race finish podiums around the world.
The Strato was designed by Roger Abondance, a former cabinet maker who worked at the chalet where the president of Rossignol would stay when visiting in the mountains. The president was impressed by Abondance's abilities..so much so, in fact, that he hired him to build skis for Rossignol.
Abondance was a perceptive craftsman. He thought about how, when a ski flexes in a turn, the top of the ski is compressed, while the base is extended. He concluded that using wood like hickory and okume (an African hardwood) that have a small cell structure, would minimize compression near the ski top...whereas a long-cell wood like ash would extend and provide greater elasticity at the bottom. Using these woods in horizontal laminations allowed Abondance to thereby create a core whose contraction and extension helped keep the bottom of the ski on the snow for greater edging power and stability.
Although the Strato evolved over time from a World Cup and Olympic winner to become a mid-pack recreational ski, it remained in the Rossi lineup from 1964 'til 1988 and helped establish Rossignol as a leading name in the ski industry. And talk about being a hit...it comprised almost 90% of all Rossignol sales during the 1960's.
-thanks to Perkins Miller and former Ski Tech magazine
First ropetow...built at a farm near Woodstock, VT in 1934
First chairlift...Sun Valley, ID in 1936
First T-bar...Pico Peak, VT in 1940
First double chairlift...Berthoud Pass, CO in 1947
First gondola...Wildcat, NH in 1958
First ski shop...Boston, MA in 1926
BLAZING ROLLER SKIS
A gentleman in his mid-sixties was roller skiing recently when he was issued a citation by the police for speeding...clocked at 55mph in a 35mph zone. The poor guy must have been trying to reach his age in speed...but if he didn't make it, at least he probably set the record for his age group!
I usually toss my snowboard in the back of my pickup after a hard day shreddin' the slopes. To help protect the base and edges from getting fudged up back there, I clip two rubber bungy cords around the board...one up near the tip, another back near the tail. This keeps the base and edges lifted up off the truck bed and from getting ground up as bad as they would otherwise.
-Ty Parks, Bend, OR
To keep ski pole tips from scratching your skis and other gear during travel, take two old tennis balls, cut a small "+" incision in them with a sharp knife, and place one over each ski pole tip.
-Robert Miller, Bellevue, WA
APPLY TOP TAPE
Before applying clear tape to protect ski or snowboard topskins, lightly mist the area to be covered with water or window cleaner before rolling on tape. The moisture lets you easily displace air bubbles that otherwise get trapped under the tape. Be careful, though...too much moisture will prevent the tape from sticking.
-John Anderson, Webster Grove, MO
BEFORE PUTTING IT AWAY
After a day on the hill, take time to wipe steel edges and bases dry and clean...rust and dirt create drag. Let snow and water drain from bindings as well before putting your gear away.
HAIR SPRAY TIP
When installing new pole baskets or grips, spray some hair spray on the end of the pole first. It will help baskets and grip slide on, but doesn't leave a slick residue when it dries.
According to a report by a hospital in Salzburg, Austria, serious injuries (including broken bones, concussions, torn ligaments and skull fractures) was higher for sledders than it was for snowboarders and skiers during the 1996/7 season. Sledders accounted for 29% of serious injuries (1070 incidents), snowboarders ranked 11%, followed by skiers at 6%.
WORLD'S LONGEST ALPINE SKI RACE
Looking for a new challenge? The Inferno Murren is a Swiss alpine ski race that's been run for 55 years. Open only to amateurs, the course is 10 miles long and drops over 7000 vertical feet. The original course record set in 1928 was 72 minutes...the present record (set in 1992) is 13 minutes, 53.4 seconds. The Inferno was founded by a bunch of ski-crazy Englishmen lead by Sir Arnold Lunn. Descendants of Lunn attend every year's event. The race is held in January (call 41-33-856-8696 for info) in Murren, Switzerland. The cost is about $34 and registration is limited to 1800 participants.
PUTTING IT AWAY
To make a good overhead ski storage space in your garage, suspend a discarded pair of old skis about 9" below the ceiling and 32" apart using a few short 2x4 studs...then slide skis you want to store on these skis near the ceiling. A single pair of old 200cm skis will store up to ten pair of skis, and poles.
-John Ellis, Bellevue, WA
How fast can you shovel? The fastest timed run at the World Shovel Races in Angel Fire, NM reached speeds of 76mph, with the winner dropping 900 vertical feet sitting on a shovel in under 14 seconds. What's it all about? In earlier days before snowmaking became commonplace at resorts, trail crews would shovel snow onto slopes from out under the trees on either side, and then ride back down at day's end with their butts on a shovel.
Nowadays, at least part of the shovel racing scene's gotten a little more sophisticated. Rriders can still race in the regular class where it's just a shovel and their butt...but there's also modified classes where racers encase the shovel in fiberglass or sheet metal and add roll cages, arm restraints, steering and braking. Although we haven't checked out the races ourselves, our bet is the speedsters are using teflon-coated models for fastest glide.
WILLI GOES BANG!
Dynastar tuning wizard Willi Wiltz has long been recognized as one of the best techs on the Olympic and World Cup race circuits. The results of his quality tuning and waxing work for Tommy Moe and other ski racers is testament to this.
In March 1997, his tuning kit exploded accidentally at Dulles International Airport as it was being loaded as checked baggage on United Airline flight 921. Ironically, the explosion occurred near the plane after airport personnel had inspected the tuning boxes and permitted them on board.
The suspected items in Willi's kit were a butane torch, two butane gas canisters and a can of liquid acetone...flammable/combustible materials that are considered hazardous and are prohibited on all passenger flights. These items are not uncommon in many world cup tuning kits...but fortunately, the accident happened on the ground and not in the air where the results could have been catastrophic. Dynastar is currently working in conjunction with the FAA to help spread the word on the danger of travelling with combustible materials...especially in the ski/snowboard industry...and says they will fire any employee who attempts to carry on or check aboard any flammable or combustible materials on an airliner in the future. Although they are still engaged in discussions with the FAA, civil penalties of $27,500 against Willi and $350,000 against Dynastar are proposed. Hmmm...just think about the fancy stonegrinder, tools and fluoro waxes you could buy with a chunk of change like that! For more info on travel with hazardous materials, please contact the US Dept of Transportation (email address: [email protected]) for a pamphlet called "Hazardous Materials Transportation Training Models:Compliance and Enforcement".
A midwestern ski area (which shall remain anonymous) had a problem with a leaky seal on a chairlift bullwheel last season. The faulty seal was dripping oil on skiers and boarders as they were getting on the lift. Their short-term fix was to wrap disposable diapers around the bullwheel spokes to absorb leaking oil until they were able to replace the faulty seal during regular summer maintenance. Clever fix for a high-tech dilemma.
Some folks like to ski off-piste...but the truly extreme go off-snow for their thrills. Why? Because they can do it all year long! How? The Brits use dry slopes (perhaps to match their dry humor?) made of plastic...sorta like a vast carpet of upsidedown toothbrushes. They even have races...including the British Dry Slopes Championships. Unfortunately for the racers, the friction created by the plastic bristles cause so much heat underfoot that the ski bases literally melt and have to be replaced every 3-4 months!
Some big city folks can go to indoor gyms that have fancy moving-carpet ski machines that tilt and dip on hydraulic legs. Supposedly the ski bases you use on these puppies are made of Nylatron, some sort of plastic that supposedly runs slicker on carpet than p-tex. Heck, anyone know how this stuff works in snow?
Skiing and boarding sand dunes has long been popular among many desert (and deserted) cultures...rumor has it that a liberal dose of Johnson's Jubilee floor wax gives the best glide on sand...at least until the p-tex bases get ground into putty by the sand!
SKI AREA BLOWS UP
When Mt. Ruapehu at Whakapapa Ski Resort in New Zealand erupted in September 1995, it sent large lahars (flows of mud, rock and water) rumbling down the ski slopes like freight trains. The resort crew had previously been fully instructed about safety procedures in the event of an eruption, but no one expected the lahars to travel so fast. They'd been told they would have five or six minutes of time to get to higher ground in event of an eruption, but, in reality, had only one or two.
Fortunately, the eruption occurred an hour after closing time and no damage to people or property was sustained, although lahar debris missed one T-bar terminal by only half a meter, and two cars ran into each other in the parking lot with drivers in a panic to get away quickly.
BOMBING BIG SNOWS
Avalanche control at Alyeska resort in Alaska costs from $30,000 to $40,000 a season...this includes the cost of explosives, weapons to fire them, training and miscellaneous equipment. And that's only their first concern... Since daylight is in short supply in Alaska in winter, much of the work is done in darkness with crews wearing headlamps. The 105mm and 106mm recoilless guns used to shoot most of the explosive charges are, however, accurate up to over 5 miles from a target, so the crew can calculate the aim and trajectory angle of each shot with greater accuracy than by eyeballing it in daylight. Another challenge is the variety of Alyeska's climate...with a base at sea level (150" average snow depth), and the mountain top 3000' higher (500"+ average snow depth), a single storm can bring rain at the base, heavy wet snow at mid-mountain, and lighter snow at top...resulting in radically different avalanche control problems. While cornices and wind-loading might be primary concerns at the summit, rain might be the weakening influence farther down the mountain. Such differences in snow density and temperature sometimes cause 'glide cracks'...unusual formations at Alyeska similar to small crevasses in the snow that are not only a hazard to skiers and boarders, but represent possible shifts and instabilities in the snowpack as well. Despite these challenges, there have never been any avalanche-related deaths at the resort, says Alyeska's snow safety supervisor Jim Kennedy.
DUCT TAPE TIP #2467
If you're a telemarker and wear hard plastic knee pads underneath your ski pants, place duct tape on the outer surface of the pads, and on the inside of your ski pants at, above and below the knee. This'll help prevent rips and tears in your pants caused by rubbing the cloth against hard plastic.
Greg Olson, Olympia Fields, IL
EARLY SKI LIFTS
In the California Sierra's in the 1880's, local skiers persuaded the Johnsville mine owners to fire up the steam boiler on Sundays. They lined up at the stamping mill at the bottom and rode the ore buckets up the mountain...no doubt the first ski lift in the world!
from "Skisport to Skiing" by J. Allen
I punch a small hole in the bottom of one ski pole handle and use it to attach (using short nylon cords) a skigee to wipe water off my goggles, and a 1/4 piece of old credit card to clear ice from goggles.
-Bill Hatfield, Cincinnati, OH
Carry an extra snowboard binding screw and washer in an unused insert in your board...this way, you'll always have one with you. If your base gets iced up, use a credit card or season pass card to scrape it off. Soap works like a de-fogger on goggles, and you can find it free in many restrooms. A boot lace or clothing draw-cord can be used as an emergency ski or snowboard leash. For FREE FOOD at resorts, make your own Tomato Soup...5 ketchup packets, 10 creamers, 2 salt packets, 1 pepper packet, and 1 cup hot water...just stir all together and enjoy!
-Randy Lu, Palo Alto, CA
CLIMBING SKIN TIP
To help remove old glue off the back of self-adhesive climbing skins, lay a piece of old paper shopping bag between a heated wax iron and the skin base...it acts like a blotter to absorb that old goo.
-Ed Hale, Lake Placid, NY
INNER TUBE TIP #KT-22
Used bicycle inner tubes make good ski straps...use narrow road bike tubes for nordic ski straps, and wider mountainbike tubes for alpine skis. Cut two lengths of tube, one about 8" long, the other 16" long. The 8" piece is simply pulled over both ski tails simultaneously (positioned base-to-base) to hold 'em together. Then cut a slit down half the length of the 16" piece at one end and slide it over the tip of one ski to just past the curvature. Lay the other ski up against it, and tie it in place using the two loose 'tails' you cut in the end of the tube. If you lose a strap, it only takes a second to cut a new one, and you're only out a piece of rubber that was headed for the landfill anyway.
-Mike Frank, Anchorage, AK
WRAP & BAG 'EM
When traveling, wrap some clothes (jackets and warm-ups work best) around skis when putting them in a ski bag...this extra padding can provide valuable extra protection. Always pack your ski boots in your carry-on bag. If all your luggage gets lost, this move can make the difference between a funny story and a lousy trip. Skiing on someone else's skis for a few days is no big deal, but using boots that haven't been fitted just for you sure can be.
-Brian Nealon, NY
RACE COURSE SNOW PREP
To avoid rutted courses at the World Cup races in Beaver Creek, CO last winter, crews went to extraordinary lengths. First, they preset the race course. Then they rototilled the snow from start-to-finish through the gates to a depth of 12". Next, they hosed the entire slope with water, which was subsequently boot-packed all night long by a 40-member race crew. Then they packed it smooth on skis. Finally, they watered the entire course one more time and let it freeze. By race time, it was rock hard and ready to withstand the demands of the world's best racers.
TALES FROM THE TORTURE CHAMBER
K2 has several 'torture chambers' at their factory on Vashon Island, WA where they conduct destructive tests on snowboards. Tests are performed on boards, bindings and other products that are stored overnight in a freezer at 0° to simulate conditions on cold slopes. These tests include such malicious acts as bending boards back into the shape of a C to see how much force it takes to break 'em, another that twists the snowboard tip and tail in opposite directions to test for torsional flex, and a third that looks something like an orange-skin peeler where weights are attached to different layers of the topsheet and base to see if they will peel from other sections. Then there's the slap tester, which flips the board down so the tip of it smacks the ground, flattens out, and the board rebounds back up vibrating like crazy. Engineers then check to see where boards are delaminating, what layers are falling apart first, and what's holding together well. Through this testing, they discovered steel tips and tails delaminate first because they're the hardest material to bond onto a snowboard. As a result, they now use urethane instead of steel...not only is it more durable, but it's also lighter than steel, plus is easier to repair. K2 calls their torture work R&D...meaning ruin & demolish.
MEASURING SKI SIDECUT
This can be done two different ways. First there's sidecut depth, which is the greatest distance between the edge of the ski where it's narrowest at the waist, out to a straight line drawn from the edge of the ski at its widest point at the tip, to the widest point at the tail.
Secondly, you can measure sidecut radius, which represents the radius of a pure carved turn (no skidding allowed) a ski can make.
The original longboards were carved by immigrant Norwegian miners and loggers who worked in the California Sierra Nevadas. They were 10 to 16' long... considerably greater than European models...to provide enough flotation in the loose powder snow. They were primarily intended for long-distance travel, not maneuverability...hence they were straight-sided (no sidecut), and were steered by careful step-turning or delicate wedging while dragging a long single pole or staff. Tucking straight downhill, longboard racers reached speeds of 70mph. The original longboarders disappeared along with gold-rush fever as mines shut down and Sierra Nevada population dwindled. The last major longboard race was held in 1911.
EARLY RACE INJURIES
In the first men's Olympic downhill race held in 1936, 6 out of 57 competitors broke their legs, and 2 others broke their collarbones! Jeez...and we thought ski racing was getting dangerous now?
An alternative to base protectors is a couple pair of old athletic socks secured by some ski straps. This idea may not help your sales, but fits in nicely with your recycling program.
-John Scott, Okermos, MI
SNOWBOARDING IN BEIRUT?
A few winters ago, the Lebanese Snowboard Association organized an indoor snowboard race in downtown Beirut on slopes that boasted a snowmaking system, quarterpipe and chairlift. The races were part of a huge winter games festival that drew some 150,000 visitors and also featured a circus on ice with ice-skating white polar bears, bands, fashion shows and a climbing wall.
MILK CRATE SKI RACK
An inexpensive way to store skis is to get a 13" x 19" plastic milk crate. Then go to the hardware store and buy two 4" diameter (or slightly larger) 10' long sections of plastic drain pipe. Cut these into 18" lengths and put them in the milk crate...it should hold about 11 sections. If the pipes don't nest in there snug, put in some thin wood shims or smaller pieces of plastic pipe to tighten them up. Put the milk crate on your garage or workshop floor, and slide your skis tail first into the pipes to store them in an upright standing position. The 4" pipe should handle ski tails up to about 102mm wide.
-Jim Hyatt, Petaluma, CA
I wrap plastic waterproof tape around my ski pole shaft 3 or 4 times just above the basket for about 3". It acts as a cushion and helps absorb steel ski edge impact that might otherwise damage or weaken the pole shaft. Another benefit of this, especially if you use bright color tape, is easier pole identification when stored outside the ski lodge.
Before any backcountry ski trip I wrap a fresh supply of grey duct tape (10-12 wraps) around each ski pole just below the grip. This provides enough to make minor repairs, saves on pack space, and does not add appreciably to the swing weight.
-Ed Keim, Dillsburg, PA
If you have strapless pole grips that are hard to get on over thick gloves, just cut an inch or two off each wrap-over flap on the grip. This will make it easier to get your hands in the grips while still leaving enough to the flap to hold the grip on your gloved hand.
-David Steele, Alta, UT
A VARIETY OF TIPS
If your workbench is in an ice-cold room like mine (the garage), keep your boards inside at a warm room temperature until you're ready to work on them. Semi-warm bases are easier to repair/file/wax than cold ones. Work on one ski at a time, keeping its mate inside. Another alternative is to make a quick pass with a hair dryer to warm bases.
When waiting in a tram or gondola line and holding your skis, don't bang the tails on hard concrete floors...it can dent, loosen, or burr up the aluminum (or similar) tail protector. Instead, put the tails on your ski boots...in addition to saving ski tails everyone around will think you have real long skis.
A headlamp works great for close detail work at dimly-lit workbenches or places where your head keeps blocking the light.
If the footrest bar on a chairlift has lost its rubber cushion, don't rest your skis or board on it...let your legs dangle to avoid dulling edges or nicking bases accidentally.
When possible avoid sliding over those red plastic Load Here boards in chairlift loading areas that can scrape wax and structure off bases. Lift operators may growl, but your boards won't.
Lastly, here're some $ saving tips at ski areas:
1) Check destination ski areas for daily work programs (restaurant, maintenance, skier services) that pay with a lift pass.
2) Bring your own lunch and beer in a pack, stash it in the woods to keep it cold.
3) Rental shops usually sell replacement pole baskets, boot buckles, etc. for a lower price than pro shops.
4) Stick duct tape erratically on ski tops, poles, etc. to discourage theft.
-Chris Melle, Longmont, CO
Here's my on-the-hill tune-up/first aid, repair kit:
small sunscreen anti-fog cloth
3"x3" chamois cloth 2" piece of windshield wiper blade
1" piece of surform blade 1" square piece of pocket stone
1" square piece of gummi stone a packet of Swix F4 wax
circular OEclover-leaf, screwdriver 3"x3" sterile pad
2 band-aids aspirin packet
anti-bacterial handi-wipe pad
This stuff all fits in 2 fog cloth pouches which are in turn tucked inside two thermax glove liners.
-Roger Siddall, Des Moines, WA
To get rid of fuzzy sections on wool stretch pants, us an old twin blade razor. Carefully shave the fuzzy area after lightly wetting it with water. This is an old sweater trick but it works better on wool stretch pants.
After washing the tops of skis or snowboards with warm water and dish soap, let them dry then spray on some ArmorAll and spread it smoothly over the top. Allow the ski/snowboard to sit level for an hour, then lightly wipe with a paper towel. Then let the ski dry in a warm place for 24-48 hours. Many of the top scratches will not be visible anymore, and the long drying time creates a hard coating that will help protect the top and keep snow from sticking, too.
Don't throw away old socks...use them to slide over ski tips and tails, store sunglasses, files and other tools. Just be sure to wash them first!
-William Yates, Brownsville, VT
To protect ski pole tips from poking holes in your ski bag when travelling, cut some short lengths of surgical rubber tubing and slide them over the shaft at the tips.
-Mick Skolnick, Fawnskin, CA
To protect ski tops from surface scratches, keep them looking new longer, and increase their resale value, I apply a paint sealant auto wax product called Diamond Brite. It was recommended to me (for my car) by Ford Motor Co. assembly line workers, and I have used it with great results on both my cars and skis. It's expensive, but a little goes a long way.
-Paul McMorris, Suicide Six Ski Area, VT
MORE SOCK TIPS
Old socks with Velcro sewn in the middle make cheap protective ski straps that no one will steal. Women's nylon anklet stockings (worn under regular ski socks) will wick away sweat, add 25 F. in warmth, take up no room in your already too-narrow ski boots, and will make you look cuter with your boots off in the lodge.
-Mike Frank, Anchorage, AK
When travelling on airlines, I first pack my skis in my nice, padded, expensive ski bag... then put that inside my crummy, ugly, old beater ski bag for double protection and inconspicuous appearances.
-Harvey Whitman, Haslett, MI
EARLY SNOWBOARD DESIGNS
Tom Sims displayed his earliest snowboards at the Las Vegas ski trade show last spring... rubber band bindings, wooden swallowtail designs...lots of innovation and evolution was evident. But at the Wintersports Museum in Davos, Switzerland, you can see even earlier models...100 years ago, Swiss farmers used wooden snowboards to slide hay bales down snow and grass covered pastures while they stood on the back and enjoyed the ride!
Rossignol once developed a snowboard (called the Recycler, natch) with a base made from 100% recycled and a topsheet made with 30% recycled materials. Rossi took defective or imperfect base materials (which used to be discarded) and had them melted down and extruded back into usable material. As a result, the Recycler was less expensive to make and sold for less, but didn't sacrifice durability.
I use athletic tape wound around beneath my pole baskets to keep them from coming loose. This tape will absorb water and harden into a solid mass rather than unravel or chip as glue or other tapes might. It's especially handy for anyone running gates where the basket can be brushed off by slalom poles.
-Peter Winquist, Dover, MD
To wipe your runny nose without the risk of dropping your gloves or poles (especially off a chairlift) while you dig out a kleenex, take an old cotton sock (one that matches your parka color is ideal) and cut if off at the ankle. Pull the sock cuff over the outside of your parka sleeve and you're ready to catch that runny nose, or wipe the sweat from your forehead after that gnarly bump run. They are washable or disposable.
-Glen LaForest, Travis AFB, CA
AN INSIDE STORY
Snowboard cores are usually made from wood...about one square foot (1'x1'x1') of it, in fact, including waste material. It provides about 25% of the board's structural integrity, with the fiberglass wrap and topsheet providing 70-75%. Usually the wood core is made of one or more types of wood with varying degrees of hardness laminated together. These laminates can be as few as 10 veneer layers, or up to 80. The strength of the board is found in the glue of the veneers, which is usually a wood glue. Some manufacturers use soft woods in the middle and harder woods elsewhere...while others use a medium hardness wood for the entire core. An example of a softwood is aspen; maple and pine are hardwoods; poplar and spruce are medium. Hardwoods usually come from older-growth forests, while medium or softwoods come from younger forests.
SKIING HERITAGE JOURNAL
We've discovered a great ski history periodical called Skiing Heritage. It's the journal of the Int'l Skiing History Association and edited by ski sage Morten Lund. Issued 3 times a year, it's always a wonderful collection of stories on ski history, heritage, and personalities that any ski history buff will enjoy. For info and subscriptions, call (203) 379-2525.
OIL HANDLING CONCERNS
The 1989 Exxon Valdez accident spilled a staggering 10 million gallons of oil along the rocky shores of Alaska...but amazingly, Americans pour 20 times as much oil down drains and onto the ground each year. And since nearly 50% of Americans live in areas bordering the oceans, Great Lakes, or rivers, this runoff winds up polluting the water and threatens to swamp the sea's natural ability to assimilate it.
COSTS KEEP RISING...OR DO THEY?
In 1976, the average national cost of a full-day lift ticket at a ski area was $9. In 1994, it was about $30...a 70% increase. A season pass back then was about $200, compared to $520 in '94...a 62% increase. And a pair of top race skis was about the same...$210 then vs. $550. Sounds bad doesn't it? But figure in the cost of living changes over the same time period, and you'll find 1994 prices increased about the same as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). And that doesn't take into consideration the discounting offered or the improvement in ski technology, quality, and durability. So although the sport can still put a pretty good hole in your pocket, it's not much deeper than it was relative to everything else way back then.
WHERE SOME SKIS & BOARDS ARE MADE...
ATOMIC- south of Salzburg, Austria
DYNASTAR- near Mt. Blanc in Sallanches, France
ELAN- near Austria in Begunje, Slovenia
FISCHER- north of Salzburg, Austria
HEAD- Kennelbach in northwestern Austria
ROSSIGNOL- St. Etienne de Crossey, France
SALOMON- Annecy, France
Being Scottish and a miser, I have tried to make my tuning tools cheap but functional. My wax scraper has been a plastic electrical switch plate filed with a crisp right angle edge. A round tip table knife works fine for removing wax from the groove of a ski. I use a combination square to check base flatness. I square my side edges by clamping an 8" mill file to 1" x 3/4" block of wood to guarantee a right angle to the base. The wood can even be sanded to achieve a 1 or 2 degree bevel is desired. Use only one clamp to attach the file to the wood block...this way it can flex freely to conform to the sidecut of the side edge.
-Donald Scoby, Seattle, WA
Build your own Scraper Sharpener gadget- Download PDF here
From John Ellis AKA Coach Gadget!(winning tuning tip for 2011.)
Build your own Ski Vise plans- Download PDF here
Thanks to Joe P. from Connecticut, winning tuning tip for 2012
With race season drawing to a close, it’ll soon be time to prep your trusty gear for summer hibernation. Here’s a checklist to guarantee they’ll awaken refreshed and ready to virtually charge out of the start gate next winter!
- Check binding mounting screws to make sure they haven’t loosened up during the season. These are the vertically-oriented screws found at the base of the bindings…versus other release adjustment screws which should not be turned. Mounting screws require a #3 Pozidrive screwdriver on ski bindings, and a #3 Phillips screwdriver on most snowboard bindings.
- Check ski and snowboard topsheets for dings and nicks. If large enough to expose underlying fiberglass layers or core material (such as wood or foam), fill them using a two-part epoxy or urethane glue (to which you can also add color pigments to better match topsheet cosmetics). Slightly overfill any dings or nicks, then let the glue set up and dry thoroughly before removing any excess with a small flat-blade chisel. Finish up using 220 to 400 grit sandpaper (along with a sanding block) to blend the repair in.
- Apply a layer of paste wax (offered by all major wax companies) to ski and snowboard topsheets and sidewalls to protect them (like car polish protects the finish of your auto). This can also help deter unwanted snow buildup on topsheets, and provide faster glide along sidewalls during race season.
- Inspect sidewalls for dings, cracks or delaminations. If you see dings, repair them the same way as topsheets. If you see cracked sidewalls or edge delaminations, consult with a shop, since hidden structural damage may have been sustained.
- Check bases for gouges and scratches. If they’re deep enough to be easily detectable with your fingernail, fill ‘em with base repair material (small wood burning-type irons and p-tex string or ribbon are available to make very durable repairs at home), or go to a shop for help. This is especially critical when underlying fiberglass or core material is exposed, since water can then penetrate and cause deeper damage when it freezes.
- Check bases for flatness and appropriate structure. Snow can be unmercifully abrasive (especially icy race courses and glacier skiing) and grind away base material like sandpaper. Use a true bar to check base flatness (there should be little or no concavity/convexity), and check the base structure (if you can’t detect it visually or with your fingernail, it may need refreshing). Likewise, if you’ve switched to a coarser structure for wetter spring snows, you may want to re-establish a finer structure for next winter’s cold snows. There are several hand base-flattening tools and structure tools to handle these tasks at home, or take your gear to a good shop for a stonegrind.
- Snow abrades steel edges as well as base material, so check to make sure your base edge bevel angle hasn’t increased due to wear, and that the side edge bevel angle is still correct. Both base and side edge surfaces should be clean, deburred and polished. You can do this at home with the right tools (bevel guide, file, stones), or have it done at a shop.
- Race bases pick up a surprising amount of dirt during the season…and especially in spring when accumulated dust, cinders, pollen, grooming machine lubricants and other gunk in the snow resurfaces with a fury. Dirt creates drag and robs you of speed, so it needs to be cleaned out…along with any fluorocarbon wax residue that can inhibit new wax absorption.
- The best way to clean bases is by hot-scraping. Use a wax iron to heat a liberal amount of hydrocarbon base prep wax (offered by all major wax companies) into the base, and then immediately scrape it off using a plastic scraper. This pulls out dirt and old wax from the deepest recesses of the base. Repeat this process until no discoloration or darkness is visible in the wax scrapings, then use a soft brass brush to clean out the base structure. Now your base is truly clean.
- Hot wax bases by applying a generous coat of hydrocarbon base prep wax using a wax iron, but don’t scrape it off. It’s okay if some wax dribbles over side edges since this helps deter rust. Come next winter, you’ll scrape this storage wax off to reveal a clean, well-nourished base that’s ready to be race waxed for another season of speed!
- Safely stow your gear for summer hibernation by strapping skis securely together and storing skis and snowboards in a bag or clean area where they’ll be safe from dirt and handling abuse. Avoid extremely hot or cold storage if possible…room temperature is ideal.
- Boot maintenance.
- Walking across parking lots and around base lodges wears boot soles. This can jeopardize safe and reliable ski binding releases…and, if really extreme, can possibly affect stance alignment as well. Most race ski boots feature toe and heel sole pads that are replaceable to correct this…otherwise, you’ll want to take them to a good bootfitting shop.
- Pull liners and footbeds out of boot shells and let everything dry thoroughly before reassembling. Then buckle them up snugly to maintain good boot shell form and store them in a clean dry place (and out of the reach of mice or other critters who might otherwise nest or dine on liners!).
I have been an alpine skier for 47 years and am still a competitive racer. Years ago we ski bummed the races at places like Howelson Hill, Ajax, and Sun Valley. We couldn't afford a shop ski tune or, for that matter, a good file. Maybe my tuning tips are a little out of date, but I am submitting them anyway. Race day preparation went something like this:
1) Smooth out the scratches on ski bottom with the sharp edge of a broken beer bottle (use a 2" piece from the side of a brown 12oz bottle). Scrape until ski bottom is smooth.
2) Fill in deep gouges with melted plastic...suggest melting plastic rope from tarp on cartop carrier, or my favorite was my kid brother's toy car that he loaned me. Again smooth out with sharp glass from beer bottle.
3) File steel edges with a round stone knife sharpener...even low rent motel efficiencies usually had one. Work slowly because this is an important step when sharpening. Place ski tip in corner of room at floor with ski tail in your stomach. Draw stone towards you, then switch ends.
4) Mix wax over stove. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to one of those paraffin lids used to seal home canning jars. For some reason, the salt seems to extend the wax life. We may have also invented the first structured base this way.
5) Smooth the wax with a cork from a Drambuie bottle.
6) Dull the outside edges of ski shovels on a wooden snow fence.
7) If you use safety bindings, place a little motor oil on toes and heels and you are ready for the races.
-Bob Kearful, Amherst, NY
CO-ED SKIING IN IRAN?
After years of being shut down because the old hard-line government deemed that winter sports were unacceptably decadent, snow resorts in Iran are again reopen. Over a dozen resorts...including some of the world's highest...used to insist that men and women use different slopes, and that women completely cover their bodies, too (which most did anyway to stay warm). But now things are loosening up...men and women are riding the same slopes and wearing new fashions, too. But they still have to line up separately for tickets, and guys aren. t supposed to look at women if they're not already related. Whoa...talk about hard on the eyes!
CHEAP SKI RACK
Instead of leaning skis against a wall and cringing when they all fall over, buy a 10' length of 4" ABS plastic pipe at the hardware store. Cut it up into 2' lengths, then use ABS glue to glue these 5 sections of pipe side-to-side. Attach it to a wall or bench at floor level using screws, and you now have a storage rack if you slip the ski tails into the tubes.
-Steven Bowman, Beaverton, OR
SNOWSPORTS GO UNDERGROUND
The world's first underground nordic ski tunnel is open in Finland. Twenty-five feet wide and 13 feet high, it is 3/4 of a mile long and boasts a vertical drop of 165 feet. It's equipped with lighting and snowmaking, and has proved so popular (over 50,000 visits per year) that a shopping mall has grown up around the tunnel...so visitors can shop for sporting goods, get a haircut or massage, have lunch or buy souvenirs.
According to a tunnel spokesperson, "We can offer the greatest test laboratory for product development, and testing of products to be used in low temperature conditions". A larger tunnel to feature a halfpipe for snowboarders is also being built.
I saw some snowboarders on carving boards in Switzerland who had glued small pads of p-tex to the palms of their gloves. This helped protect their gloves when they made hand contact with the snow while ripping deep turns.
-Patrick Donnelly, Clarkston, MI
To refinish the topsheet on my skis, I took scotchbrite and worked most of the scrapes and scratches out (good enough anyway) and was left with a dull finish. I applied a half-dozen coats of ‘auto clear coat’ and they now look like new. After extensive flexing, the finish hasn’t cracked yet.
I use a little car polish to keep snow from building up on the top of skis or boards. I use the ‘no buff’ kind for added convenience.
HOSE CLAMP TIPS
Hose clamps work well to fix broken ‘flick locks’ on some extendable ski poles. I also use them in conjunction with a 2-3” section of old ski pole that’s been slit open to create a makeshift ski pole ‘splint’ if a pole snaps when touring the backcountry.
- Marcus Shell, Whistler, B.C., Canada
PLASTIC BAG TIP
A polyethylene sleeve can be used to help protect your skis or snowboard during travel or storage. It’s available for free from Home Depot...just ask at checkout and they will cut it to length for you. Tie off the open ends and you have a moisture-proof cocoon...plus the Home Depot logo adds a touch of class to your gear!
- Michael Barber <[email protected]>
Carbon- Carbon is the mineral that changes iron into steel. High-carbon steel results from .5% or more carbon content. Only about .8% carbon can be absorbed by the iron. Expressed as C.
Chromium- This produces hardness, lubricity and better edge holding power when combined with other additives. Used in larger amounts, it produces steel that resists rust...in fact, it takes over 12% content to produce high-carbon stainless steels. Expressed as Cr.
Manganese- Increases toughness and the ability to harden. Expressed as Mn.
Molybdenum- Increases hardness in tool steels. Expressed as Mo.
Nickel- Adds corrosion resistance to steel. Expressed as Ni.
Tungsten- Helps to produce a fine, dense grain structure in steel. Expressed as W.
Vanadium- Helps to produce fine grain in steel during heat treating. Expressed as V.
EXTRA TOOL GRIP
For extra grip when using screwdrivers, put an extra heavy-duty rubber band around the handle.
-Dan Ferraro, Highland Mills, NY
ELIMINATE FROZEN FACEWARMERS
If you wear a fleece neck/facewarmer on a really cold day, you sometimes find that, before you even get one run in, your warm breath moistens the fleece and causes it to freeze. To avoid this, I apply a piece of duct tape on the inside where my mouth is...it provides a barrier from warm breath and is also quite comfortable.
-Dan Hurwit, Schenectady, NY
1) Use the large heavy-duty plastic bags that airlines provide for backpacks and other non-standard luggage to wrap around my skis or snowboard before putting them in my big rolling ski/snowboard travel bag. It separates them from the clothing I pack around my gear and helps keep moisture (and rust) away.
2) I slip some foam pipe insulators from the hardware store on my ski poles to protect and separate ‘em from ski clothes.
3) I pack my folded ski clothes in dry-cleaners plastic bags inside the ski bag, so that if it gets searched by TSA, it’s easier to repack the bag.
4) Your big fully-padded rolling ski/snowboard bag, plus the boot bag is the best luggage combination I’ve found yet for airline travel. It carries twopairs of skis or snowboards, plus poles and clothes...plus, in spite of it’s huge capacity, I haven’t had to pay oversize charges for it (knock on p-tex bases!).