Now that according to the calendar it is officially spring, we have to make sure our skis are ready for spring conditions.

The main difference is wax. If, like me, you keep your skis waxed with a good universal wax, they are set for warmer surfaces. Look for a wax with a temperature range from 20 to 50 degrees. If you’re not sure of your wax, check with the ski shop at the mountain. They should be applying a wax that is right for the day’s temperature.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

In the day’s that we rode mostly T-bars, we could count on our skis picking up oil and grease from the track. I can remember using gasoline to clean the skis, which was never a good idea, even if it resulted in getting rid of the buildup — which acted like a brake, making skiing nearly impossible.

I have to say, we should not have used any petroleum product on the base of the skis. It can deteriorate the base. Use a citrus-based cleaner before applying a fresh coat of wax.

My skis are hand-tuned every two or three days out, but it’s important that the edges be deburred, and any rust removed. I use a diamond stone, which unless you have really beat up your skis, is all that’s needed. Once you have a smooth, sharp edge, add wax good for a range of temperatures. I use a universal wax good up to 50 degrees and it works fine. If you find yourself at the mountain and in need of wax, check the ski shop. There are packets of rub-on paste waxes that you can add during the day. They work best when rubbed into a clean base, but will also work rubbed into an ironed in and scraped coat of universal wax.

We don’t see the buildup we used to on T-bar lift lines, but with exhaust from grooming machines, there can be some in the snow, which concentrates as the snow melts. Ski shops carry spray cans of base cleaner but it’s cheaper to visit the supermarket and pick up a spray bottle of citrus-based cleaner to keep in the car. I have one on the work bench where I tune my skis. Cleaning the bases is a regular part of tuning skis. And it’s critical in spring.

Make sure your skis will slide and I’ll see you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer and columnist who hails from Westbrook. He has been contributing to the Sun Journal for many years and is among the most respected ski writers in the Northeast. He also is a member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. Write to him at

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