Slopeside with Nick Borelli: Ski Tuning - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Slopeside with Nick Borelli: Ski Tuning

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In recent weeks, a lot of skiers and riders have been carving their first turns of the season. And with that, some are discovering that their equipment could use sharper edges and a good coat of wax.

Skiers and riders know the importance of having sharp edges. "A sharp edge will enable you to initiate and carve that turn a lot easier than a dull ski," said David Cone, with Ski & Snowboard Express of Richmond.

And while winter enthusiasts wish everyday could include powder conditions, the reality is that hard pack and some slick spots do exist, especially with our lack of natural snowfall so far this season. Those type of conditions can leave your skis or boards dull.

"The icier the conditions, the more often you need to have it tuned. As an average though, usually 10 or 15 skiing hours, which correlates to 4-5 full skiing days," Cone said.

Ski & Snowboard Express has been keeping skis and boards tuned for 24 years. While some hand-tuning is still employed on occasion, technological advances have made for more precise tuning, and sharper edges. Today's tuning is a multi-faceted process using several machines. The first is a stone and belt machine.

As the skis or board pass through the machine, the belt acts to clean the base, or underside, of the ski or snowboard. The stone part of the tuning then begins. You can see the five diamonds here. What they are doing is going over the stone and cutting a pattern into the stone, and that pattern that is put on the stone is put on your skis," Cone said.

The pattern allows any water from melting snow to glide away and makes for a smooth ride down the slopes. The tuning technician then brings the ski to a side edge machine, where any rust or burrs are removed.

It's now time to use the ceramic disk edger. As the equipment passes through the machine, ceramic wheels sharpen the base edge on the underside of the ski, followed by the side edge. A fresh coat of wax is then applied to the base of the ski using an iron.

For the tune to be complete, any extra wax needs to be scraped off. "I'm brushing out any excess wax that's in the structure -- just want the base wax in the base, not laying on the base," Cone said.

Now the skis or board are sharp, smooth & ready to hit the slopes. But there are also steps that can be taken at home to keep your equipment in top shape in between tunes. For this, you'll need a diamond stone. "So if you've been out for a day & want to maintain that edge and have a couple burrs on the base edge you just want to carefully run the diamond stone over the base edge," Cone said.

The diamond stone should then be placed into a file guide which you can use on the side edges of your skis or board. It's also recommended that you apply a fresh coat of wax after every full day on the slopes. A softer wax should be applied for use in milder temperatures, while a harder wax should be used in colder, mid-winter temperatures.

Even though the tuning process seems very involved, experts like Cone say it's worth the effort and added expense. "By spending a little bit on tuning you'll extend the life of your equipment and protect your investment," he said.

It could also help you navigate any icy conditions.

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