Spring is here whether you like it or not. Sure, there is plenty of skiing to be done in many parts of the country, but the 2008-2009 racing season is over, and it is time to take care of cleaning up and putting away. After a long and often exhausting winter of travel and racing, it is easy to throw the skis in the storage closet and start working on your bike. The winter quickly becomes “out of sight, out of mind.” And while this time of year is important for recharging batteries, both physical and mental, before closing the book on last season, there are a number of tasks to perform – do them now, and come next November, you will glad you did.
1. Clean and storage wax your skis. Obviously this will wait if you are still skiing, but the sooner the better for race skis that won’t see snow again until December. Everyone knows they should do this, but who hasn’t let it slide on occasion. Hot scrape the glide areas of all your skis and apply storage wax. You will sleep easier at night knowing your skis are well cared for.
2. Clean your wax box. This is easier to avoid than the skis. The last thing I want to do is dig through tubes of half used klister and gummy scrapers. But getting things in order now means you will be ready to go next winter. Pay extra attention to the klister. Clean tubes with either very hot water or wax remover. Be sure all caps are on tightly – as the temperatures rise, klister will flow, and a loose cap can mean a box saturated with KR70. Also check for punctures in tubes, and take a little time to salvage partially used tubes by running them under hot water and squeezing the remaining klister to the top and rolling the bottom up.
3. Take notes, get it done. During the course of the season, you probably learned new things about your skis – a certain pair performs exceptionally well in certain conditions or struggles in another. Make a note of this information. You may think you can keep it all in your head, but 6 months down the road, it will all be a distant memory. Also note which skis you need to have stone ground. It is a great time to get your skis ground – many shops offer spring price discounts, and if you are going to do it eventually, you may as well have the newly ground skis spend the summer absorbingwax.
The same goes for technique revelations and adjustments, or waxing experience. In the moment it is easy to think you will retain all of this information, but taking 10 minutes now to record it will ensure that it is available if the mind lets you down next winter.
4. Evaluate equipment. In a similar vein, make a list of equipment that you either need or would like to have for the following winter. Maybe you need to replace a strap on a pole, need a new long underwear top, or wish you had an insulated drink belt. It is a great time to shop as many ski stores have end of winter sales. And if you can’t get it now, be sure to add it to your list, so you can prepare next fall.
Wax is the most important item to evaluate. Right now, you have a good sense of what you used over the course of the season. Go through your kick and glide boxes and make a list of what you need to replenish your supply. Don’t show up at the first classic race of the season and realize you are out of purple klister. Same goes for other waxing supplies – wax remover, scrapers, etc.
5. Other things to double check.
– Ski bags – They take a beating during the winter, especially if you fly. Mend now.
– Bindings – Check that all bindings are functioning properly. When bindings wear out, they won’t hold the boot properly. Attach your boot and look for play when you twist it side to side. Be sure bindings are dry and consider oiling to prevent rusting of metal parts.
– Wax room. Clean it. Well.
– Drink belt – If you have a drink belt that only gets use in the winter, clean it well to make sure any residue from energy drinks is completely gone. Then fill with with cold water for summer storage.
– Ski box – Check that all parts are still working, hinges are tightly attached, and note any excessively rusted areas. Get replacement parts and perform repairs now.
Keeping a small notebook with your equipment/waxing supplies is a good habit to get into. You can jot down any information you pick up over the course of the season, and then consolidate and clarify in the spring.
If you feel like these tasks are a chore, you are right, but if you take care of them now, you will happy you did come November. Caring for your equipment properly will extend its life and maintain performance. Making notes of what you learned this year will allow you to grow as a skier and an athlete. Do your chores, and then go out and enjoy the lengthening days and warm weather.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.