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How to Get your Skis and Snowboards Winter Ready

Dust off the skis and snowboards; winter is here! Like most of us, you’re probably guilty of packing your skis/snowboards fresh off the hill in April, out of sight, out of mind; who could blame you?

You were right, ski season was over, and it was time to shift to bike season. You could have spent a couple of hours waxing and tuning your skis or snowboard at the end of the season, or you could get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Don’t worry; we’ve all been there, but it doesn’t have to slow you down this winter! It’s not too late to get those weapons waxed and sharpened; read on for our step-by-step process to ensure you are ready to hit the slopes.

How to prepare your skis and snowboards

Photo: Blake Jorgenson, Extremely Canadian 

Step 1: Show them love

Let’s be honest; it’s December, you haven’t thought about your skis or snowboard all summer. It’s time to pull them out and show them the respect they deserve. These tools will last you all winter, and you need them in working condition for the beginning of the season. 

Like most things that you keep in the garage or closet, they get covered in dust. Fill the sink or a bucket with hot soap (dish soap works great) and use a microfibre cloth to wipe the top sheets and bases. Try to avoid washing the bindings, as there are many critical moving pieces. A dry cloth will clean the bindings best to keep the soapy water out. Once your skis/snowboard are nice and clean, it’s time to make them shine like new again.

Ski and Snowboard Wax

Step 2: Sharpen those edges 

First, you want to feel your edges. Keep an eye out for any rust; it is possible to get build-up if your skis or board were put away wet. Next, take note of any nicks and burrs by running your hand along the edges. You’ll find most of the dents around the bindings on skis. 

If you’re planning on tuning your skis/snowboards at home, it’s time to invest in the proper setup. First, you’ll need a level area and be able to secure your skis or snowboard, so they don’t slide around. A piece of plywood, two sawhorses, and two vice grips will work great. Once you’ve secured them into the vice grips and used an elastic on skis to hold the breaks down, it’s time to sharpen. Depending on the condition, you should start by using a steel or diamond stone. They come in 200, 400, 600, and 1000 grits. I would suggest also picking up a stone guide to help ensure your putting even pressure on the edges. Next, you want to go in with either a blue or green gummi stone. The colour depicts if it’s medium or soft grade. The gummi stone is used to remove any microscopic burrs created by the diamond stones. 

Choosing the correct diamond stone - Side Cut

  • 200 grit is used for sharpening, removing burrs and hardened edges. Great for getting your edges back to the angle your desire quickly without using a file.
  • 400 grit is used for sharpening and polishing. A great all-around stone if choosing only one.
  • 600 grit is used for fine polishing.
  • 1000 grit is used when you desire an extra high polish and are concerned about hundredths of a second or really care about how the edges perform on the hardest snow surfaces.

Investing in the proper gear to tune your skis/snowboard can be a daunting task, from not correctly knowing how and choosing the right equipment. Side Cut has made educational videos to show you the basics of how to tune and set you up for the job. They also offer an intro to ski tuning packages that get you started with all the gear you’ll need. 

Find more at Side Cut or visit them in Whistler.

Getting Ready for Ski Season

Step 3: Hot wax 

It’s time to make your speed stick(s) fly again. First, you’ll want to remove any old wax; using your metal brush, firmly push against the base to remove any built-up wax or dirt. Next, if you have any residue or skin glue left on the bottom from the previous season, try using a base cleaner to remove anything. We don’t recommend using the base cleaner more than twice a season. It can dry out the base but is the best way to remove build-up. Apply the cleaner to a dry cloth and light wipe over the base. 

Now that your bases are ready to go, it’s time to apply the hot wax. Choosing the suitable wax for the job can be the hardest part. Most waxes are suited for different temperature ranges. 

Here is a helpful link to help understand the different types of waxes: How to choose the right wax

Or try a wax that isn’t subject to temperature change: Nanox

Once your iron is up to temperature, it’s time to drizzle the wax on the bases. If your wax starts smoking, your iron is too hot. Change the temperature and allow it to cool before trying again. Press the wax to the iron, back and forth over the entire length of skis or snowboard. Avoid applying too much wax as it will make it challenging to scrape off after it dries. Next, run the iron on the base of the skis/snowboard to spread the wax evenly. Work the iron tip to tail, ensuring the wax meets the edges. If it doesn’t reach the edge, add more wax. Do not let the iron sit in one spot for too long; it can damage or delaminate the skis. Make 3-4 passes on the skis, then let cool to room temperature. 

Once your skis have cooled, it’s time to scrap off the excess wax. Be prepared to have dried wax all over the floor. Use the short end of the scraper to remove the wax from the edges. Hold your scraper at a 45-degree angle, with firm pressure scrap tip to tail. Continue scraping until the wax starts coming off in curls and fine powder. Overlap the strokes until you’ve completed the width of the skis or snowboard. 

Just like that, you’re finished and ready to shred the resort or backcountry!

Whistler Skiing Snowboarding

Photo: Whistler Blackcomb, Robin O’Neill 

Step 4: The triple check 

Just before your first day, triple check your bindings are all moving in the right places. Also, check your DIN settings before heading out, especially if you’ve had a lower-body injury since the past ski season. 

Make sure to tighten the plates and screws on your snowboard bindings. Try on your boots, walk around to ensure there are no pinch points. You want your feet to feel comfortable before heading up the hill for your first day. 

Depending on how many ski days you average each winter will dictate how often you need to wax. Typically waxing your skis/snowboard at the beginning of the season and the end before storing them for the summer is enough. However, if you average more than 30 days a season, treat them to a regular wax. It will help prolong the life of your equipment and help pass all your friends on the flats!