How to prep your skis for winter - wax & sharpen
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Preparing my skis for winter has been a fall ritual of mine for years.  It passes the time
between the end the time when the leaves are all down and the snow flies.  There are
three groups of people; the people who don't prep their skis at all, people who pay a ski
shop to prep their skis and people prep their own skis.

It is a big mistake not to prep your skis every season.  New wax and shape edges will
bring back the performance your skis had when they were new.  Since they wear
gradually you forget how well they used to perform.  You will be surprised how well they
perform after a tune up.  So, whether you do it yourself or pay somebody, prep your skis.

There is no reason you can not prep your own skis.  You can get 95% of the performance
of a high class prep job by following these directions.  If you need or want that extra 95% it
is going to cost you...either to pay somebody or for higher caliber equipment.  I have been
doing it this way since I was a teenager racing on a team.

  • an old clothes iron (don't plan on ironing your clothes with this iron again). I bought
    my waxing iron at a tag sale for $1.
  • a piece of Plexiglas / lexan with a straight cut edge - I used sample material that is 4
    inches by 6 inches and 1/4 inch thick.  The plastic needs to be wider than your ski
    is wide.
  • edge sharpener - buy this at a ski shop.  Tell the ski shop what skis you will be
    sharpening so they can guide you to the correct edge sharpener.  Some skis have
    edges that are not 90°.  In that case you will need an edge sharpener that can
    adjust to the correct angle.  If you tell the person at the ski shop which skis you
    have they should be able to tell you what angle to use.  Buy a good edge
    sharpener, you will use this often and for many years, it is worth it.

Supplies: ski wax
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Sharpen your skis before you wax them.  The edge sharpener runs along the bottom surface of
the skis and my rub the wax off the skis a bit.  The file will have an arrow or something to indicate
which direction to use the file. On most sharpeners the file is remove and turned around to
sharpen the opposite ski edge.  Sharpen starting at the front of the ski and moving toward the
back.  The file will cut small shavings off the metal edge of the ski.  You don't need to do this lots
and lots of times.  It usually takes me 10-20 light passes on each side of the ski.  The a sharp
edge can shave your fingernail.  This who process takes 15 minutes for one pair of skis and 5
minutes for each additional pair of skis.  Put your sharpen in your ski bag so you can use it at the
hill.  Once you get used to always skiing with good edges you will never accept bad edges again.

Buy wax ski wax at your local ski shop or on line.  You can buy that is designed for wet snow, dry
snow or "all conditions" (kind of one size fits all).  If you are looking for that extra performance
use the wax designed for the conditions you will be skiing on.  "all condition" is a compromise that
will not be great on any snow, but is OK.  
The wax needs to be melted on to the bottom of the ski. This will be a messy job.  Layout
newspaper or something to catch the hot wax that may (will) drip on the floor.  Position the skis
bottom side up on sawhorses or a table.  

Use the iron to melt the wax on the bottom of the skis.  Drip the wax in a line down the center of
the ski.  It is easy to get carried away and drip too much wax.  This doesn't cause any problems,
but it wastes your wax.  After you have a nice trail of wax, use the iron like you would on a shirt to
iron the drops of wax and spread it over the entire bottom surface.  It is not important to have the
wax the same thickness.  Let the wax harden for a while, from 15 minutes to days.  It needs to be
completely cooled.  Then use the Plexiglas edge to scrape the wax off the bottom of the ski.  It will
look like your are scraping all the wax off the ski, you're not.  You are trying to get a very thin film
of wax on the bottom of the ski and you want that film to be very flat.  Flat = fast.  That's it your
done.  It is very simple and very effective.
Now a little word of warning.  If it has been along time since you skied on fresh wax your skiing
experience will be a little different.  You will slide in places where you didn't think there was a
hill, like the lift line.  (Everybody else standing straight up and not moving and you will be
leaning against your poles to keep from running over the person in front of you).  Also, you will
pick up speed quickly.  Nothing to be alarmed about, just be ready.  The big benefit comes in
the flats where you have to glide or if you have to skate a distance over flat ground.  Skating on
flat ground is where I usually figure out my wax is dead.
Check out my video on Youtube - it has accumulated an
incredible number of views over the years
.  Which position
does the first marble out of the gate finish? (on the last
(big) marble machine)
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