Stoking the Season, part 2: Snowboards and skis (with video) |

Stoking the Season, part 2: Snowboards and skis (with video)

Editors note: This is the second installment in a four-part series about preparing for ski season. The series will touch on physical preparation, gear tuning and fit as well as what to do once you’re at the mountain.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As eager as many will be to grab their board and boots out of the closet, do a quick dusting and hit the slopes, gear needs a bit more preparation than that.

It’s important to tune and wax snowboards and skis to keep them in the best condition for as long as possible.

Unless you stored your board with wax on it all summer, it will need some before you strap in and start your season. A good tuning on the tip and tail would do it good, smoothing out all the dings and divots.

With the right tools and training, anyone can tune their snowboard or skis on their own. 

Even new boards need some care before hitting the snow. The factory tune that a board comes with is not enough to protect it. It still needs a good wax.

“You need to detune the tip and tail, so it’s not all hooky and edgy on the person,” Powder Tools Store Manager Bernie Tomassetti said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or a beginner. That’s what you’re supposed to do.”

To keep your board in the best shape between shred sessions, store it somewhere cool where it won’t get dinged up. Don’t place it in direct sunlight either, to keep the wax fresh. 

Powder Tools Store Manager Bernie Tomassetti waxes a snowboard.
Powder Tools Store Manager Bernie Tomassetti waxes a snowboard.

It’s pretty easy to keep skis and snowboards in good condition.

“Don’t go up Rabbit Ears in October or Buff Pass. Ride it down a street or a parking lot. We’ve seen everything. People ride it down cheese grater stairs.”

Unfortunately, there will come a time when a snowboard must be retired. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell when that is. If the board beneath you is cracked or broken, it’s time to get a new one.

“A lot of times people hold on to boards extremely long, but everything has a shelf life. Your base starts getting moisture inside of it, and it starts separating from your core,” Tomassetti said. “The whole base actually rips off your board, which is very unsafe. You see it with entry level, lower price point boards that are sub-$400 after a few years. Especially when people live in a hot climate like Florida or Texas.”

Skis require similar setup. They’ll need a preseason wax and tune to get rid of any burs and prepare the base.

“Wax accordingly for conditions. The more you wax your base, it’s not just going to make the skis glide, but the application of wax and heat over and over actually helps to harden the base, make it more durable,” said Steven Keller, repair manager at Christy Sports. “That’s especially important this time of year when you conditions aren’t as robust as they may be in February or March. If you do hit a rock, and you’ve been waxing thoroughly, it shouldn’t do as much damage.”

When it comes to selecting which skis are right for you, it depends on your discipline, expertise level and preference. Keller suggests going to a local shop and asking.

Skis line the walls of Christy Sports ahead of opening day.
Shelby Reardon

“A lot of times if you’re new to the sport, you don’t know what you don’t know,” he said. “The internet is great for pricing, but not so great for service.”

Like snowboards, skis should be stored somewhere cool and dry. Keller doesn’t suggest keeping them on your roof rack or in the back of your truck. Another similarity between snowboards and skis is they can both be deemed ‘dead’ when the spring is no longer there, and the material has degraded. 

Consistent inspections of your skis will help expand the lifespan, which is generally 100 days of use. 

“Keep up on service. Try not to wait until they’re so bad that the shop has to do so much,” Keller said. “If something looks weird, go check it out at the shop.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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