Spring is a magical time for skiers. Not only do we get longer days, warmer air, and softer snow, but weekends spent with friends enjoying fast, slushy laps always seem to take us back to spring break in college.
When we’re having so much fun, it’s easy to overlook the fact that our skis perform differently in these conditions. And, as such, they require different tuning and preparation.
During the regular season, temperatures are lower, and the snow tends to have a lower water content—especially here in Park City. These cold, dry conditions mean your skis don’t have to work as hard to repel water and keep you sliding. But when spring comes, temperatures rise along with the water content of the snow.
At this point, the snow is no longer in its original form of crystals or flakes, but has transformed into a saturated, grainy consistency typically referred to as “corn.” Unlike the abrasive, icy crust of the season’s colder days, spring corn offers a satisfying and forgiving feel, making it a uniquely enjoyable type of snow. But, because of its higher water content and temperature, your skis have to repel a lot of water when you’re skiing spring corn. And if you’re skis aren’t ready for those conditions, you’ll get a sluggish, sticky sensation as you try to make your way down hill.
Spring Ski Wax
One of the key aspects of a ski that performs well in the spring is wax. When correctly applied, wax repels water and ensures the proper glide of your skis. Early in the season, the difference wax makes can be marginal—especially when the conditions are cold and dry. But when spring has sprung, not having wax can ruin your day.
In late winter and early spring, when it’s still freezing at night and some of the day, a mid-cold-weather wax should suit your skis well. This wax has a harder, more durable consistency that performs well on snow that’s occasionally frozen and abrasive.
When it gets warmer, it’s good to consider a higher-temperature wax. Using a warm-weather-specific wax will make your bases very hydrophobic, meaning they will be able to glide better over soft, wet snow. As summer draws near, you may also consider a wax with a graphite additive. These waxes ensure that your skis continue to perform well in snow that is dirtier and has melted and refrozen many times over.
Spring Base Grinds
Another thing to consider in the spring is the bases of your skis. Along with wax, the condition of your bases can profoundly affect the performance of your skis—especially in slushy, spring conditions. The idea behind a springtime base grind is to create a shape that will move water away from the base and reduce suction in the process. By having a coarser, structured base, your skis will minimize points of friction. These tiny grooves or channels create air pockets between the base of the ski and the surface of the snow, reducing suction and drag.
Finally, it’s important to check your edges in the spring as well. Making sure that the edge bevel isn’t too dull or aggressive is key to your skiing performance. This becomes especially necessary if you’ve spent your season skiing over dense ice or exposed areas, as these can make it difficult for your edges to maintain shape.
When all these aspects come together, you’ll end up with a ski that’s well prepared to tackle warm, slushy spring snow. For more on spring tuning, be sure to check in with Rennstall at Snow Park, Deer Valley. They offer all the mentioned services and work with both alpine and Nordic skis. They also offer an overnight guarantee, so if you drop your skis off at any Jans location by 5 pm, they’ll always be ready the next morning at 8 am.
By Jeff Walker, Content Writer
This post was updated on March 27, 2023.