Start of the season

By Ray Grass Dec 14, 2009
Preparing for season that's already here

A little late, but . . . 

   I spent a little time in late November on a tiny island off the southern tip of India called Agatti. Sure not many have heard of the island. It’s one of 10 in a cluster of islands called Lakshadweep . . . Bathtub-warm water, sandy beaches, 80-degrees daytime and smaller than most ski resorts in Utah.  

    Funny, though, when you grow up with four seasons the idea of year-round summer isn’t all that appealing. I look forward to snow. And, sure enough, as if ordered, I came home to snow and lots of it. Up to four feet at some resorts over the weekend. Great Utah snow. 

    So now it’s time to get ready for skiing, which starts, for me, with a routine. The first step is checking the bindings and tuning up the skis. Funny how many people don’t do either. But, it all falls under the heading of common sense. 

      I want bindings to release on demand, not too soon or too late. A quick, simple and inexpensive test is reassuring. 

     Skis, now, are another matter. Bases and edges wear -- every so slightly. And, because of it skis simply don’t respond as well over time. Even I, a recreational skier, can tell. 

     At the beginning of every season I take my skis for a visit to a stone grinder at my shop of choice -- Canyon Sports. 

    It used to be I spent an evening at the workbench and filed and scraped the bases flat. Or, as flat as I could. Then I took the burrs off the edges and pulled out the old hot iron, dripped a little all-round wax and ironed the wax in. After scraping and buffing the skis were ready. 

    What I’ve since learned is that despite my endeavors there is a better way. The grinder leaves a pattern in the base. A perfectly flat base creates suction -- every so slightly -- generated by movement over the snow. The small lines left by the grinder break the suction and allow the ski to glide smoothly and unrestricted over the snow. 

     So much for shop talk. 

     I remember skiing with Dick Bass, owner of Snowbird, a man not known for equipment maintenance. He complained his skis seemed harder to turn. Junior Bounous, Snowbird ski school director at the time, suggested a tuneup. The skis were tuned over lunchtime. Bass said after that even he noticed a big difference. 

  Definitely something to consider.

   The rest of the routine is easy. I make sure there are no holes in the gloves or ski socks, zippers on the parka work and ski pant fit. Summers can be hard on one’s waistline. 

     Next I visit my local Costcos for hand and toe warmers. Oh how I wish these were available back when I first put on skis. 

     . . . and I’m ready to go skiing. 

    As far as this blog goes, I plan, over the next several months, to bring a personal touch and a little background having written about skiing in Utah for the last 30 years. 

    Time does go by when you’re having fun.     

    Looking forward to a great ski season.