Snowboards may seem like simple objects, but they are more complex than you think. A board needs to be in good shape to work properly. As a result, these pieces of equipment require regular maintenance. The purpose of a tuneup is to optimize your board's functionality and reverse the effects of wear and tear. When done properly, a tuneup can mean the difference between a rough day on the mountain or a memorable trip.
Sharpening is the first step in a snowboard tuneup. All snowboards have a stainless steel rim that runs around the edge. This is what allows a snowboarder to steer and stop her board. Dull edges are not just inconvenient, but dangerous as well. Hard snow -- or "hardpack" -- is very difficult to cut through without a sharp snowboard. If the edge cannot penetrate the snow, you lose control over your board. Cindy Kleh, author of "Snowboarding Skills: The Back to Basics Essentials for All Levels," recommends that you sharpen your board after five to 10 days of use, regardless of conditions.
You can take your board to get sharpened at a professional sporting goods store. Employees use a special machine with a spinning metal disc. Its rough surface and high speed effectively wears down the metal, sharpening it quickly. As of the time of publication, a full tuneup costs approximately $20, depending on the retailer. Kleh, however, states that you can do it yourself and save money at the same time. You will need a small, rectangular tool called a diamond stone that usually sells for less than $10. It is about the size of a large eraser, so you can bring it with you on the slope for a quick touch-up in between runs. Put your board right-side up on a flat surface. Using long, firm, smooth strokes, run the diamond along your board's edge at a 45-degree angle. Do this until the edge is sharp to the touch.
The other component in a tuneup is waxing. This is just as important as sharpening because it affects your overall performance in the snow. Wax acts as a smooth barrier between the snow and your board, reducing friction. In turn, you can maintain speed longer. This is useful if you run into long, flat areas on certain slopes.
Like sharpening, you can have a professional wax your board. Professionals will apply heated wax on the board's bottom and then let it to settle for several hours. This allows the wax to fill in any dents or scratches caused by snow and debris. Once the wax solidifies, the individual wipes down the board with a dry cloth to remove any excess. It is also possible to purchase small containers of wax to apply to your board much like roll-on deodorant, but this will not provide anywhere near the quality that a professional waxing provides. If you need a quick wax, a store-bought container is sufficient; a full tuneup is best done by professionals, however.
- "Snowboarding Skills: The Back to Basics Essentials for All Levels"; Cindy Kleh; 2002
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