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Get Your Skis Ready for the Slopes

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By Indrek Kongats

With the fresh snow and dropping temperatures, it looks like ski season is here and the slopes at Kissing Bridge will be welcoming skiers from Buffalo to Springville. For up to the minute slope updates, visit the Kissing Bridge Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kissingbridge.

The exact and highly-anticipated opening date is not known, but the rumor has it that the snowguns started blasting last Sunday night.

If you have not already done so, it’s time to get out all of your ski clothing and equipment, making sure everything still fits, especially for the ever-growing kids, and checking that all of your families’ bindings function properly.

The biggest disappointment for many when they are about to hit the slopes is that the boots they just bought at the ski swap don’t fit into the bindings of their existing skis. Another huge disappointment is that their skis stick to the snow or that the skis are not holding an edge on icy slopes.

Visit your local ski shop to remedy these issues and have them do the following:  check that your bindings release properly; they may have to make a minor release setting adjustment based on your new age (every year we get older and those of us under 9 and over 50 need special release settings). If you purchased new boots, the sole length might be different and the bindings need to accommodate the new length, which also changes the binding release setting. In extreme cases, if the boot sole is drastically longer, your bindings need to be remounted.

The next thing that you want to have done is have your ski bases ground and edges sharpened.

Many people store their skis in a damp basement over summer and if your skis are not summerized properly with a heavy coat of paraffin wax, they will be rusty along the edges. The rust will pit the steel edges, dulling them to a point where you’ll think you are skiing on your grandfather’s old wooden ones. The base needs to be ground first, so that the base and the edges are one. By putting a true bar across the base, the ski technician can determine if your base is too high or if it is cupped or convex. Either way, the ski will not be riding flat on the snow and will create havoc in your turns.

When the edges are higher than the base, you’ll experience what is called riding the rails, much like being on a railway track, making it very tough to turn your skis. The base grind will also get rid of minor gouges and scratches caused from the last spring skiing trip that included riding over some bare ground and rocks. A good base machine also imparts a pattern on the bottom of your skis that not only makes them look new again, but allows them to hold wax better.

Your ski shop tech will also ask you about your skiing style, your aggressiveness and if you don’t know already, he will determine the best angle of edge to sharpen your edges at. Once sharpened, he’ll also deburr your skis’ edges, detune the tips and tails to insure that your skis never catch.

Most importantly, a good tuner can tell you if you are in the market for a new pair of skis. Most serious skiers will replace skis after a few seasons, not only to keep up with the latest trends, but because they have been tuned to the point that they can’t be tuned any more. A regular tuning once or twice a month is essential, and every tune takes off more and more material until you have sharpened your skis like your pencil, all the way to the eraser.

Waxing is the key to sliding effortlessly down the hill, and every outing requires a conversation as to the right wax for the day. Tuning shops will more than likely hot wax your skis with a universal temperature wax that most recreational skiers will be satisfied with.

The speed demons, on the other hand, will likely hot wax their own skis the night before based upon the weather forecast and snow conditions. When your skiing reaches that state, then you’ve mostly likely quit your day job, sold your home and bought a VW Transporter painted in rainbow colors and adorned with smiley faces.

Making friends with your ski techie is like going to your barber or hairdresser. Once they know something about you, you can just drop off your skis and tell them to give you the usual and be on your way. A good shop will be open late into the evening as it may have a hundred or more tunes requested for the first run of the morning— but beware, it drives the tuner bonkers when you don’t show up till after 10 a.m. to collect them. Be nice, be kind and your ski shop technician will look after you better than you could ever look after your skis yourself. Be sure to tip them, especially if they skied as advertised.

Local area shops around Kissing Bridge include Colden Ski and Board, Glenwood Depot and the Snowflake Ski Shop and TwoFourFive Board shop on-site at Kissing Bridge, with their headquarters located in Lockport.

One final tip for you: warm skis placed on cold snow will not slide regardless of the wax, so store your skis outside for an hour or so before you use them or else they will stick like glue.

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