Remember your sworn pledge when you first carted those brand-new Rossies out of the ski shop? Remember how you said you'd never let even one tiny little scratch mar the bottoms? Remember how you were going to wax and sharpen them every single weekend? Remember?
Now the season's just about over, and your not-so-new skis are suffering from the gravel, rocks and mud you endured all winter (not to mention the wickets, tickets and tubes of chapstick dropped by four months of skiers).
The best laid plans ofg waxers often wane, but there's still time to make good on those long-ago pledges by getting your skis in shape before you mothball them for the summer.
First thing to do: grab that beach towel from the spare closet (you'll be needing it in a few weeks anyway). Give the bindings, bottoms and edges a good once-over; dampen the towel if necessary to get at caked-on goo, but be sure to dry off any water remaining on the skis.
Now for the bad news:
Take a deep breath and check those bottoms for scratches. Oh yeah... this one's from that sneaky little rock on Cup Run. And look at that... who'd ever think you could get a gouge like that just skiing across the parking lot to your car?
If the damage is really heartbreaking, a good ski shop can do wonders. But if there are only a couple of scratches in the running base, you can probably handle the repairs yourself with just a P-Tex candle (same color as the ski base), a scraper and some fine sandpaper.
Hold the lit candle about 1/8" to 1/4" from the base, liberally dripping wax into gouges and scratches. Repeat if the dried patch shrinks below the surrounding base surface. When the wax cools, remove any excess with a scraper, then smooth the patch with fine sandpaper.
If you've really neglected th bottoms all season, it's time to haul out the tuning bar from your service kit. (If you don't already own one, you can buy a kit at any good ski shop.) By holding the tuning bar across the bottom of the ski, you'll be able to see any high or low spots. If you've had difficulty turning lately, the edges may be higher than the P-Tex running surface. If so, hold a lathe file almost squarely across the bottom of the ski, keeping thumb pressure directly over the edges (not outside the file or you'll dull the metal instead of sharpening it). Pull the file down the ski in foot-long, smooth strokes, lifting the file in between strokes. Keep checking with the tuning bar until the edges are level with the P-Tex for at least 1/2" in from each edge.
If the tuning bar shows bottoms higher than the edges, you may have noticed bad hold on hard snow or ice, and poor tracking in general. You can eliminate this with a spring steel scraper. Flex it slightly over high spots, then push gently to remove enough P-Tex to level off the bottom. Again, check your progress with the tuning bar every few strokes.
A few quick passes along the edges with a file (remembering to dull the firt 6" at the tip and the last 3" at the tail with a pocket stone) and you're ready for the final step: waxing.
A thick coat of red wax (the softest) is best for summer storage, although any color will do. Apply liberally be melting the wax against an iron (SWIX waxing, or non-steam clothes iron), letting it drip the length of the ski on both sides of the groove. Then spread the wax by running the iron down the skis with long overlapping strokes. Be sure to keep the iron moving or it mignt overheat the base and break the boning.
Don't scrape after applying the wax, as a good thick coat will keep the bases from drying out over the summer and will rust-proof the edges as well. Here are some other tips for summer ski storage:
Most bindings (except for the Marker M4 series) rely on coiled springs that should be back-tensioned over the summer. Loosen the tension all the way to the last notch, then forward a quarter turn.
Keep bindings in the position actually skied in; in other words, store them as if they were holding the boors in place.
Spray silicone on and around the bindings to protect them during the summer.
If you want to further restproof the edges, never apply vaseline, oil or silicone as they could seep into the base and prevent wax from being properly absorbed. Instead, rub paraffin or even a regular candle along the metal edges.
Ski ties should be placed around the tips and tails where skis normally touch -- anywhere else and you could ruing the camber.
The best way to actually store skis is to hang them, but in lieu of this, find a cool, dry wall to lean them on. Make sure skis aren't resting on a concrete floor; alkaloid will attack the metal, and nexty fall you'll find a pair of rusted tails.
If you use a ski bag or some other dust cover, make sure you leave it open so moisture isn't created inside.
Boots, whether plastic or leather, should be buckled to keep them in shape.
If you must store boots in a damp area, stuff them with newspaper, or charcoal briquets (wrapped in nylon stockings, please), to keep mildew from building up.
Last but not least, when next fall finally rolls around, be sure to have an experienced ski shop check and reset the bindings before you head for the hills.