Is your body already in "perfect shape" for the slopes after practicing the fitness exercises? What about your equipment? Is the coating of the skis drying out slowly and one or the other scratch from last winter still immortalised in it? The edges are dull and it has to be said: an all-round spa treatment for the skis is due! Ski service professional Marcel Hagleitner tells us how to get your skis fit for the slopes with a a few tools and a little special touch.
A fantastic winter day! It is freezing cold and I am right in the middle of the black Zwölfer-Nord-descent. I love this slope, but unfortunately, I neglected my equipment this winter and brought the skis directly from the cellar to the piste. The slightly rusty track and the restrained gliding of the blunt surface was already noticeable at the entrance to the steep slope. The blunt edges are unpleasant and my skis simply can’t get a grip on the slope. Off to the service – and this time someone will tell me what I need to watch out for in terms of good ski service.
I meet Marcel Hagleitner in his shop in the pedestrian zone in Saalbach. With a grin, he looks at the rusty edges of my ski and says, "These skis really need a bit of attention. A good edge is crucial for the handling. But the wax is also important, otherwise your coating will dry out." The 26-year-old managing director clamps the first ski on his workbench and then explains the necessary tools that you need at home for waxing the skis and sharpening the edges. “Everything you need, you'll find in well-stocked sports shops. Here, we have a file with a bracket and a clamp for sharpening the edges. You can also use the same file – wrapped with some tape or paper – as an edge file. Then there is a special tool – the sidewall plane – with which surplus material is scraped off. And here's the abrasive rubber to break the edges."
Marcel concentrates on removing the sidewalls. Then he attaches the file to the bracket with the clamp and pulls it over the edge of the ski five to six times. "You have to repeat this several times until the desired sharpness is reached. It is important that you reduce the ridge a little with the abrasive rubber, this gives you more control over the ski. In the front and rear area, the edge is broken with the rubber to make the ski much easier to turn. We're ready to wax, put the iron on!" Marcel's waxing tool is specially designed for this purpose, but he says, "Anyone who has a disused iron at home can of course use it. Only mama's expensive steam iron should not be used to wax with – that will cause trouble!" Carefully, he wipes a cloth over the coating and explains: "Before waxing, all metal shavings from sanding must be removed, otherwise they will later end up back on the ski surface. Then I brush the coating to open the pores. When the iron has reached a temperature of 100-115°C, it’s time for action!"
It’s time to iron
Marcel holds the wax to the hot iron and drips the wax on the coating surface. He quickly works his way over the whole ski and puts the wax piece aside. "Now, we iron!" he announces, laughing. You can see how my dry, thirsty coating absorbs the wax. Marcel puts a hand on the bottom of the ski while ironing and explains, "The underside of the ski is slightly warm – not hot. That's ideal. Since your coating was relatively dirty, I will remove the wax we just applied immediately. This process removes the dirt and we then apply wax again." Marcel skilfully removes the wax using a piece of plexiglass and quickly drips the next layer onto the ski. "Now this ski has to cool down for about an hour before we plane it. In the meantime, I'll work on the second ski."
The workshop is filled with the scent of wax and Marcel tells us, "In the past, I used to race in the National Cup and later competed in skiercross. A perfect ski service was of course crucial for racing. Today, I am state ski instructor and ski guide and whenever I have time off work in the shop, I hit the powder slopes in the home of lässig. Even if we have the most modern machines for ski service – I service my racing skis by hand. I do it with dedication, even if it takes around two hours." The machine service, however, is done quickly and delivers an excellent result. So if you don’t like to work in the basement with a file and an iron, you simply take your skis to one of the sports shops in the Skicircus when you start your holiday. "The machine service takes about 20 minutes. Our rental skis are also fully serviced and waxed when they’re rented out. But if you want to learn all about the secret of edge sharpening, feel free to contact us. I organise service workshop for groups." My skis have cooled down and the excess wax has been removed. Marcel brushes the surface one last time and my skis are ready. "Really sharp!" I exclaim, as I check the edge with the thumbnail and am really looking forward to the next descent on the Zwölfer-Nord!