With your cardiovascular and core strength work-outs well under way, it's that time of year again to start thinking about the dreaded commute to the airport with all your luggage and equipment. Before it all gets packed away in the ski bags though, it's well worth a check over so as to not let you down when you're skiing and spoil your holiday.
There's nothing worse than finishing skiing for the day and then having to search around for a replacement part in the freezing cold, taking time out of your precious apres-ski. There's a few visual checks that can be easily done at home with enough time to rectify, if necessary, before leaving for your holiday.
Shell: Have a look all over the shell for cracks. A plastic boot shattering whilst skiing is not a good thing to happen, and can cause serious injury. Check the heel piece on the bottom. If this is very worn and it's possible to change it, do so.These are not only for walking in the streets, it helps the way the binding closes. If it's too worn, the binding may not click shut causing what's called 'pre-release'. If it's not changeable, maybe now's the time to think about buying new boots! Whilst walking, try not to scrape the heel, you'll just wear the boot out quicker.
Clips/Buckles: Are theses fatigued? Quite often the pin sheers meaning you can't close it and an ill-fitting boot means you can't transmit the movement of the foot onto the ski. These buckles are easily changed with rivets. Most ski shops should be able to source a replacement.
Are the edges nice and sharp? Most ski edges are sharpened to 90°. Rough edges and burrs can hinder the grip on the ice – meaning some slopes are not entirely pleasurable!
What about wax? Did you wax your skis after your last holiday? The plastic bases of the ski need to 'drink' wax to keep them healthy - and a well waxed ski slides a lot better than one that is dry.
It's better to store the skis over the summer with wax on. If you didn't do this, get them waxed at the same time as getting the edges sharpened.
Check the pole straps are still attached to the handle.
What about the basket at the bottom? Is one missing, or split slightly? A pole that disappears into the snow can injure you as it sticks in and pulls you back off your skis. Baskets are relatively easy to change, but there are different sizes, diameters of holes and systems of fitting them to the pole. If one of them is damaged, it's better to take the pole to a ski shop where they can check it out, remove the damaged one and find the correct sized replacement. Don't forget though, having different coloured baskets is not the end of the world, you won't notice it after a short while!
The lenses shouldn't be cracked. Today, at the Grands Montets in Chamonix, we saw people with misted up goggles. This wasn't helping the situation in the weather conditions we had up there. If the lenses are cracked, either replace the lense, or buy some new ones (double-lensed are best), it'll make your holiday much more pleasurable if you can see! Once you have bought them, don't touch the lense on the inside with your fingers, use a soft cloth to clean them instead.
These checks really shouldn't take long, but should give you a bit more peace of mind for attacking the slopes on the first day.
The weather is not playing ball as we write, but already the amount of snow is good for this time of the season. Even on the renowned rocky slopes of Chamonix, we weren't hitting too many rocks off-piste last Saturday.