Frequent alpine skiers understand the importance of ski maintenance. In fact, skiers who go to the slopes every weekend throughout the winter often get their skis tuned every month. Tuning helps maintain the bases and edges of your skis, but, in some cases, a wax job, which is less expensive than a full tune, is all that skis really need. Ski wax is like the Tin Man's oil can. It enables fluidity of movement, which enhances optimum performance.
Ski wax protects the bases of your skis from the sharp, abrasive snow crystals, as well as the oxidation caused by the sun's ultraviolet rays. When temperatures drop below the freezing mark, the snow crystals become sharper, and, therefore, more abrasive. Waxing becomes particularly important in these conditions. Likewise, high altitude ski areas are sunnier. Just as you use sunscreen to protect your skin, waxing protects the bases of your skis.
If you ski in a variety of climates, you may need to use different types of ski wax. South American ski season, for example, takes place from June to September. By mid-September, temperatures begin to rise above freezing. If you visit during the ski season and have your skis waxed and tuned, and then you visit a cold, New England resort a few months later, you might find that your skis are not doing well in the cold temperatures. That is because ski wax is coded to enhance optimum performance in different temperatures. Red ski wax is used for temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 to 2 degrees Celsius). Blue ski wax is most suitable for temperatures between 15 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 to -4 degrees Celsius). If you ski in temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, use a teal ski wax.
Professional ski racers know that ski wax is crucial to racing speed, but adequate speed is also important to recreational skiers. Suppose, for example, a steep, downhill slope lies ahead of you. It is followed by an even steeper uphill slope. If you are interested in hiking up that hill, you only have one choice. Point your skis straight down the hill, and don't even think about turning. Hopefully, you pick up enough speed, and that speed creates enough momentum to carry you up the second hill. You assume the skier's "tuck position," and point your skis straight ahead, but they move at a snail's pace. This indicates that you need to wax your skis.
Article Written By Lisa Mercer
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.