There is a right way and a wrong way to store cross country skis for the season and since I want to know the right way, I asked Peter Hale of Madshus Skis.
Hale is the Technical Service and Race Manager for Madshus in the U.S. and if anyone knows how to care for skis, it is this man. He has had a hand in some of the biggest ski races in the world and face it, when a guy talks about waxing skis for the World Cup or Olympics, you listen to his advice. And the advice he gave me is down to earth and makes a lot of sense.
“If you took all the information and all the instructions you hear and if you owned all the equipment (some recommend) you would end up putting out three times the cost of the touring skis,” Hale told me from Seattle this week. “A really good pair of skis, something you think you are going to win the World Cup with that is one thing, but taking care of a good pair of touring skis, you want to be able to do something simple.”
The first step Hale said is to clean the base of the skis to remove all of the grit and grime that could have accumulated this past ski season.
“I would first use a plastic scraper (intended for skis) and gently scrape the base of the ski,” Hale said. “You may not think there is much there but you are picking up gummy resins from the trees, wax from other skiers, all kind of junk, so you want to gently remove this build up. Then take your brush and give them a good brushing.”
Once you have scraped the old wax off, Hale said it is time to put some new wax on to clean them further. Crayon some soft wax, yellow or red, onto the waxable areas of the ski (tails and tips only for waxless skis) and then using the iron, melt a bit in a line down the length of the ski, again only in the waxable areas.
“Then run the iron over the wax, take that scraper while the wax is warm and scrape it off to get the dirt,” Hale said. “Once you do this and the base is clean, then get a new layer on the base and you are done.”
And one other piece of advice he offered is when using an iron, do not over heat the base of the ski.
“People want to heat if up and make the wax run like water, but that does not happen,” Hale said. “Your iron needs to ride on a layer of wax, so too much heat or ironing them too long can damage your skis,”
So in short, follow directions on the wax and iron and take it easy.
But as I said, Hale is also the type who understands that not everyone has a wax iron or brushes or even scrapers, so his suggestion here is simplicity itself.
“So ok, if you don’t own all that stuff, you can use a base cleaner or even dish detergent,” Hale said. “Just clean them up with soap and water and if you want, do the tops too and buff them so they look all shiny. Just get them clean.”
As far as putting a layer of wax on the skis, for those without an iron, Hale said that a liquid, wipe on wax will work fine.
“With any of the wipe on waxes, make sure you shake the container really well,” Hale said. “There is a solvent base and a wax and when it dries what you are seeing is the solvent evaporating off. When it’s dry, just buff them up and you can put them away.”
One thing Hale said that makes a lot of sense and something I am careful about is not storing the skis in an area where it will get overly warm or extremely dirty. I did this once and the amount of dirt that collected on the ski during the summer was incredible.
“See what happens is that the wax on the ski will soften up,” Hale said. “So someone puts the skis in a garage or a barn or something and with the wax soft it just grabs all the dust and dirt floating around.”
So it seems that storing the skis in the basement or some other, more moderate environment is the way to go. Not only will this keep those skis clean all summer but you will reap the benefits of proper care and storage in the fall.
If you have used an iron to put a layer of wax on, all you have to do is scrape the excess off and you are ready to ski and if you used wipe on wax, you reapply it, clean up the base and you are ready to go, Hale added.
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