Tune In

Wax On, Wax Off

Leif Sunde demonstrates his craft during one of his Golden-based shop’s popular learn-to-tune workshops, where skiers and snowboarders learn the basics of cleaning, edge filing and waxing. / Photo courtesy Denver sports lab.

Pay attention to these three mistakes you are making when it comes to ski-and-snowboard care.

Rachel Sunde admits she rarely used to tune her snowboard. “The closest thing to maintenance was an annual free tune I got at a gear shop if I was lucky,” she says.

That changed when she met her future husband, professional ski technician Leif Sunde, who was horrified that she didn’t tune her gear after every use. Leif started maintaining her equipment, which now included skis, and soon, Rachel decided she wanted to learn how to do it herself. After her first self-tune, she was converted.

“Learning how to properly maintain my equipment completely changed my relationship with my skis,” Rachel says. “I understood the effect of snow temperature on wax, or how my edge might have caused me to catch during a turn. Begrudgingly, I realized the more you work on your skis, the more you get to know them and the less likely they’ll cause problems on the mountain.”

When Leif launched his own tune and boot shop, Denver Sports Lab, in 2014, education was a focal point of the business. He and co-owner Sam Petty aim to offer World Cup- and Olympic-level service to everyone and their equipment, but they also want their customers to understand the difference such care makes.

Rachel wanted to give women a chance to learn tuning basics, too, without the typical ski shop mansplaining. So she launched Ladies at the Lab, teaching women at-home gear tuning and maintenance, all in a relaxed atmosphere over a drink and snacks. The sessions were so popular that men wanted in, and the Lab soon offered co-ed workshops.

Check out the two-hour workshops, which run every few weeks during ski season, at under “Learn to Tune,” and learn from these common gear-maintenance mistakes, courtesy of The Sundes.

1. You only tune your skis or snowboard once a season.

Infrequent tuners—you know who you are—often bring in their gear only when the damage has been done. Taking care of your gear in small ways on a regular basis helps it last longer and perform better. At a minimum, you should wipe moisture off after every use to prevent rust, and inspect the edges and base for damage. Even better, learn how to file and sharpen your edges, and get regular waxes. “You don’t wait for your car to break down before you get an oil change,” says Leif. “When you’re maintaining your skis well at home, it makes it easier for us to give you that perfect tune at the shop.”

2. You never check your edges

Run your finger lightly along the ski or board edge, looking for spots where it catches (i.e. ruins your turn). These can easily be worked out with a file and correct technique, preventing further damage and preserving your all-important edges.

3. You put your skis or snowboard in the garage and forget about them until the next winter.

The base of a ski or board is porous. Wax, besides helping you glide, soaks in and creates a denser base. This in turn protects your skis, making it less likely you’ll suffer a core shot. Getting a heavy-duty base wax at the end of the season allows all that wax to soak in over the summer, so that your skis are ready to go come winter, as opposed to being dry and brittle on your first day.

—Melanie Wong

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