Skiers and snowboarders are rejoicing as the first major snowstorm of the season is rolling through the Northeast with a Thanksgiving feast.
If skiing is in your blood, at this time of year you can’t wait to get back on snow. With each passing day, the itch to step into a gravity stream begs ever more urgently to be scratched. On the motivation front, you’re more than ready to go.
But are you really ready to ski, like, tomorrow? When was the last time you put your boots on? Had your skis tuned? Or your bindings inspected?
If you’re anything like thousands of other skiing-addled Americans, you’re answer is likely to be some variation of “I don’t remember.” Consider this your call to action, courtesy of realskiers.
You could just take every piece of equipment you own to your favorite specialty shop and place yourself in their tender care. If you haven’t skied in several years, this is your wisest course of action. But if you’d rather drink hemlock than miss a season, you just need to reacquaint yourself with your gear.
To help our fellow skiers be ready for that first magical moment when you step back on snow, here’s a 10-point home check list so you don’t miss a minute of fun and frolic.
Put your boots on wearing an appropriate, thin sock. Is everything perfectly marvelous, or did you forget that your boots killed your feet last winter? If your boots need an upgrade, you need to tend to this issue first.
Pull your skis out and pull them apart. Give the bases a close inspection. The edges should be shiny and smooth, the base a lustrous black with visible structure. Chances are, your skis could use a little love.
Flip the skis over and inspect the bindings. If they’re over 10 years old, odds are they should be retired. Even if they look fine, the release values should be checked before every season.
What condition are your goggles in? All goggles suffer degradation over time. Once the lens is a patchwork of scratches, it’s toast.
Where are your poles? While it’s true poles don’t require regular maintenance, at the very least you have to find them. If they’re missing a basket or the strap is frayed down to the last thread, it’s time for new pokers.
Since you have to haul all your stuff around in something, it might as well be the greatest accessory since the goggle squeegee, a heated boot bag from Hot Gear. Like a custom insole, once you have one you wonder how you lived without it.
What about all the necessary contents of said bag? Do you have your helmet, heavy gloves for cold days and light gloves for warm, a windproof vest in case the weather changes, a gummy stone, squeegee and neck gaiter?
Don’t forget the high-SPF sunscreen. The sun at altitude will fry your skin like an egg. We suggest you also take lip balm and eye drops.
Finally, comes the moment of truth: do your ski pants still fit? Our bodies tend to evolve, an evolution that seems to gather steam over time. If zippers aren’t going to zip, it’s best to discover this while there’s still a decent assortment of sizes and styles from which to choose your next look.
Clip your toenails. In a perfectly sized boot, this will be an important consideration for your skiing comfort.If a runaway toenail doesn’t bump into the end of the inner boot, it might be a good idea to go back to step one and look into either retro-fitting your existing footwear or acquiring new boots.
Leave It To Experts
With a few tools and a little training, a lot of basic ski maintenance can be done at home. The indispensable tools the shop has that you don’t are a stone grinder that can cut a pattern into high-molecular-weight polyethylene and an edge-finishing machine that cuts more accurate angles and produces a glossier polish than homemade efforts can achieve. These are services worth paying for.
You’ll do your bindings a lot of good if you just manage to keep them clean, but what you can’t tell by wiping them down is if they still perform as they should. Every specialty shop has a torque-measuring device to verify the accurate function of the release system.
The most vital service that only a specialty ski shop can provide is an expert assessment of your boots and how well they suit you. (See points one and ten, above.) Your boots do more to define your competence and your comfort than anything else you use. Take the time to get your boots dialed in and the rest of your gear in order now so you’ll be ready to go when the first opportunity strikes.
Photo: Get that equipment out of the garage and into the shop for checking (RealSkiers.com)
Deer Valley Resort, for the second consecutive year, has been awarded United States' Best Ski Resort by the World Ski Awards. Following a year-long voting process from leading ski tourism professionals worldwide, as well hundreds of thousands of ski consumers from 127 countries. Deer Valley Resort won the distinction among a short list of USA finalists during the 2014 World Ski Awards the weekend of Nov. 21-23, 2014, in Kitzbühel, Austria.