How to Safety Check Your Skis Before Skiing (Signs of Damage)
Even if you've been skiing for years now, you may have forgotten the importance of safety checking your skis. Those just getting into the sport with rental gear may be unaware that this is even a necessary step.
You should be doing safety checks on your skis each season, ideally, multiple times a season, to ensure that nothing is gauged, loose, or potentially dangerous and in need of repair. These visual inspections can be done by any skier, from a complete beginner to an experienced ski veteran.
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Why Should You Safety Check Your Skis?
For those avid skiers, a quick safety check should be done every time you ski. However, something is better than nothing, and if you only get around to it every once in a while, that's still more than some people. A general gear inspection should be done on skis, helmets, boards, poles, and boots.
Checking your skis and bindings before hitting the slopes can help you to have a more enjoyable ski experience. While this won't 100% guarantee that nothing breaks during your outdoor excursion, it allows you to keep an eye on any damage or potential areas of concern on your equipment.
Depending on what you find during your safety check, you may find that you're not confident to ski on your current equipment. You can take your skis in for a repair and rent a set during the interim so you can get back out on the mountain. Ideally, safety checks can be done at home before you even head out to the ski hill.
While you may not check your skis over every single time you strap your boots on, you should schedule these quick inspections periodically throughout the season. If you ski often, damage can occur at any point and you'll want to jump on it right away to avoid unrepairable skis.
Exactly How to Safety Check Skis
The quickest way to inspect your skis is with a visual check. People oftentimes inherently do this, whether they're purposefully doing a safety check or not.
Key Takeaway: You'll be able to notice any cracks or areas of damage within a few moments.
When you begin, check the base of your skis. This is the area where you'll likely see scratches and general damage from catching rocks under the snow. There are different levels of damage, which range from superficial scratches to the dreaded core shot which exposes the wooden core of the skis.
With minor scrapes and scratches, you can ignore them if they aren't overly deep or developing an overhang. However, when it comes to core shots — the unfortunate reality is that you may be in the market for a new set of skis. If left unattended, your board can begin to rot from the moisture.
After you've looked at the base, you'll want to examine the edges of the skis. Look for any cracks or burrs. While they may seem minor, you'll want to ensure that they don't wiggle around too much. If you lose an edge while skiing, the metal teeth that were holding it into the ski can fly off and cause potential havoc on the hill.
An important component of your safety inspection is to check the bindings. This is where your boot is attached to the ski, so it must be secure before you put your foot in. You won't want to experience a premature release while on the mountain.
Once you've checked over your skis and sought any repairs necessary, you can simply throw on a fresh layer of wax and get ready to head to the mountains.
Tip: Don't forget to remind your buddies to perform safety checks on their gear as well, as this increases the overall safety of the sport.
How Do You Know When It's Time to Replace Your Skis?
Once you've performed a safety check, you may be concerned about any damage you found. Oftentimes, scratches, nicks, and other external superficial damage are repairable. You can throw on some fresh wax every so often and be good to go for the rest of the season.
On average, skis should last for around 150 days. For many, this equates to multiple years on the same pair. If you ski for two weeks out of the year, you can expect to use your pair of skis for over a decade! Similarly, if you average a month of skiing throughout the winter — expect to replace your skis around the five-year mark.
Key Takeaway: If you've recently noticed that your skis feel different than they have in seasons past, this is an indication that they're perhaps reaching the end of their life.
If the base has worn thin, this can be difficult to repair and generally requires a replacement.
Large swaths of rock damage on your skis can be time-consuming to patch, and you may not get a quality ride anymore. At a certain point, worn-out skis are only holding you back. They can prevent you from improving your skill set, and you'll spend more time fighting to get them to ride smoothly.
While ski material is made to be durable, this doesn't mean that it'll last forever with consistent wear and tear. You may find that you wish to get a new set of skis as your skills improve, as beginner gear can often hold you back on your journey to advance to the next level.
Are Your Skis Safe?
Responsible skiers always perform a quick once-over of their gear before strapping their skis on and heading down the mountain. Safety checks don't have to be time-consuming, and they can be the difference between a broken ski on the ski lift or one that hits the repair shop just in time.
Skiing can be a dangerous sport and there's no reason to add undue hazard to the winter vacation by skiing on questionable equipment. If you're looking to gain a boost of confidence in your gear, a safety check can provide that and you'll know for a fact that you've done everything you could to keep yourself safe and secure.