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Just like everything else, skis are not immune to the wear and tear that comes with use over time. The side of the skis can chip, and the lamination on top of the skis can also chip off or bubble, exposing your skis to the risk more damage. So is there anything you can do?
Skis do chip over time, especially with frequent use. However, this does not mean that they need to be replaced, and there are measures you can take to both reduce the amount of chipping as well as to fix the chips. Epoxy and superglue can be effective at repairing chips on your skis.
Breathe a sigh of relief. There are ways to fix your skis that do not cost as much as replacing them and can be an effective way to prevent further damage. In addition, with some adjustments to your behavior and ski care, we’ll show you just how to make your skis last longer.
Why Do Your Skis Chip And What Can You Do?
Skis are not generally an impulse buy. Whether they’re your first or twentieth pair, you’re likely to have done some research, read reviews, tried them out, or at the very least you already have a fairly good idea of what you’re buying before you make the investment.
The process of buying skis is necessary because everyone has a unique style of skiing and needs skis that will work for them and their needs, skis aren’t that cheap (even cheap skis aren’t that cheap), and they also aren’t a piece of equipment that you replace every year. You want your skis to last, and for this, like anything else, you need to take good care of them.
While some of the factors that cause skis to chip are outside of our control, many are not. The three primary ways of skis chipping are caused
- The skis in the pair chipping away at each other
- From terrain parks (ramps, rails, etc)
- From skiing over rocks, exposed gravel, ice or otherwise hard ground.
I want to be clear that some chipping is completely normal. In fact, many skiers report that the top sheet can get damaged within a few hours of skiing. It’s a bit disheartening, but it’s just part of the fun.
Skis Too Close Together
If your style of skiing is with your skis very close together, then you are at higher risk of your skis clashing together and getting chipped. The motion of bumping together repeatedly causes friction, usually in the same spots on the skis, and will gradually cause the skis to chip away in those places.
This is a preventable problem–if you practice your technique you can lengthen the life of your ski.
Terrain Parks: Oh So Fun, and Oh So Hard On Your Skis
If you ski in terrain parks, there is a much higher likelihood of your skis chipping.
Your skis will be hitting and grinding against rails, tubes, and other playground toys, resulting in much faster wear and tear. If this is you, and you enjoy skiing like this, there’s little you can do to prevent needing to replace your skis more often. However, good and regular maintenance will still help to prolong the life of your skis.
Skiing on Hard Ground
Sometimes we don’t have a lot of control over this–the park where we ski might not have a lot of powder, or may not be maintained as much as we’d hope.
Rocks, pebbles, brush, and lastly…
Some parks are almost all ice at certain times of the year. You do have the option of not going skiing, but that’s not something we’ll consider right now.
What To Do When Your Skis Are Chipped
Regardless of how they got to be chipped, the fact is, they now are. And you need to do something about it before more damage happens.
You can always take it to a ski shop to get it repaired. But there are also ways of fixing it yourself.
Two of the best and most accessible options for doing it yourself include using glue like Superglue or using epoxy. Make sure the ski is dry, and then fill the chip with glue before flattening it out and leaving it to dry for at least a day. Superglue is a quick fix, but ideally, get something that contains glue and a hardener (like epoxy).
Sometimes fixing a chip is purely aesthetic. Other times, it can prevent moisture from getting into your skis and causing damage (depending on the material your skis are made from), or it can cause snags when you’re skiing, which has the potential for you to lose balance or fall, causing an accident.
Just like chips in your car windshield, it’s better to address chips sooner rather than later to prevent more damage.
How Do You Keep Your Skis In Good Condition?
So now that you know how to fix them, maybe it’s time to learn what you can do so that you don’t need to fix them in the first place! With some skiing styles and locations (terrain parks), it’s very difficult if not impossible to minimize the damage to your skis.
For everyone else, there’s hope! Here are some tips for preventing your skis from chipping:
- Adjust your technique so your skis don’t bump into each other. Though skiing with your skis close together is generally a sign of a more advanced skier, having them so close that they’re bumping into one another throughout the day is problematic for the life expectancy of your equipment! Try to make a minor adjustment to your stance and move your skis slightly further apart.
- Avoid releasing your bindings with your skis. Simply lifting a leg and using your skis is much easier than the alternatives: Trying to find the pressure point with your pole and then applying enough force with enough precision to the correct spot, or twisting your body awkwardly and bending all the way down to use a glove and bruise your hand in the process. But using your skis is not great for their wear and tear and increases the chance of a chip forming, particularly as you tend to use the same place on your skis, and you have to unbind multiple times a day!
- Be careful when sidestepping or stepping uphill. Often when we’re sidestepping up or down a hill, it’s hard work, and we get tired! Hopefully, we’re not doing this for extended periods, but it’s important to still try to keep a space or some distance between your skis and not to let them cross or touch. Preventing this friction can help to prevent them from chipping.
- This is less avoidable, but when in lift queues, avoid ski tramplers as much as possible! People behind or next to you in the crowd of queuers can ride over your skis, crossing them or knocking them side-on. This is usually an accident, but by raising the general awareness of when people do this, individuals become more careful. It is not just annoying but disrespectful to the property (equipment) of others when it’s done on purpose.
How Do You Know When It’s Time To Replace Your Skis?
How long your skis will last depends on a number of factors. Amongst others, these include:
- The terrain you ski on
- The maintenance you give them from day one
- Individual style of skiing
- Your weight
Your skis should only start to deteriorate after 100-125 days of skiing and last up to about 200 days. (newtoski) On average, this is eight years, but of course, it depends on how often your skis are used. If you ride terrain parks or if you are a bigger person, you can expect to replace your skis more often.
There are certain signs to look out for that will indicate that you’re ready for a new pair of skis. These include obvious damage (broken or deformed edges), a chipped, peeling, or delaminated top sheet, a thin or holey base (when the repair patch will no longer stick to it), and when the camber has flattened. (Wagner skis)
How Should I Store My Skis?
When you store your skis, the most important thing you can do is to make sure that they have been properly dried! Moisture can further erode chipped skis and cause delamination. They should not be in a place where they can be bumped or are scraping against items, though whether they are vertical or horizontal does not matter.
Keeping them in or on top of the car overnight is also not ideal – mostly because they are exposed to moisture and won’t have the opportunity to dry out properly. So as tempting as it may be, in the long run, it’s worth a quick dry and keeping them warm for the night!
Skis are just like anything else and need a little maintenance in order to prevent damage and make them last longer. When you see them chipping, it’s easy to just fix them yourself, but more important than doing this when you notice it is looking at what’s causing them to chip and what you can do about that. Don’t give up hope when they do start to chip – no matter what condition they’re in, a little TLC goes a long way!