Updated: Oct 1, 2020
The days are getting shorter, mornings colder, and snow is starting to fall on the higher mountains of the US. In just a few weeks we should be back to everyone’s favorite activities: skiing and snowboarding! Preseason prep starts NOW, and we've compiled a quick list to make sure you’re dialed on your first day like it’s mid-February.
Quick note: many ski and snowboard shops were put in a difficult situation with this year’s pandemic, and many are still having major sales to get rid of last season’s merchandise. Support local stores and find great deals this Fall.
1. Check the condition of your skis/board. Of course I’m the gear nerd and this is first on my list, but you need to stay ahead of the game for your gear to perform well. Everyone should take a good look at their skis and boards. Are the edges burred (nicked) and rusted? Gouges in the bases? Looking dry and waxless? Don't wait to get your slidey-sticks to your local shop for their tuning and waxing recommendations.
Left: The scratches are concerning, but the oxidation near the edges shows that this ski needs wax, pronto!. Right: This one might take some extra work.
Skiers, it’s a good idea to have your bindings tested before the season to ensure they’re releasing properly. Once a year is typically sufficient. Snowboarders, check that all of your screws/bolts are tight, including on each strap, highback, and the ones mounting the bindings to the board.
2. Make sure your clothes don’t have too many holes. Try things on before heading to the slopes. We often decide that a tiny hole in a sock or glove isn’t the biggest deal late in the season, but start the new year off right. Make sure you have your base layers (a few sets if you’re out there a lot, nobody likes the smelly person on the chair), jacket and pants, gloves or mittens, goggles and helmet. For our complete packing checklist see here.
3. Get your boots dialed BEFORE you hit the slopes. If you had some discomfort last season, it probably won’t magically improve over the summer. It’s a good idea to see your local boot fitter (new protocols are being developed to make this as safe as possible) now. Your feet may change shapes in the warmer months so try them on over the next few weeks. Slight discomfort the first time you put them on is nothing to worry about, but if something feels really awkward, make an appointment with your shop.
4. Are your kids ready to brave the cold and snow? The struggle of getting a group of children to a ski hill is real. Missing gloves, mismatched boots, and all sorts of chaos! Now is the time to call local shops and see who’s offering a seasonal lease program. Usually, for the price of 3-4 days of rentals, you can have your kids outfitted in great skis and boots, often with the option to upsize if needed. Some programs even offer completely free rentals for children 4 years and under. See our complete guide to renting skis here.
When it comes to clothing, check everyone’s sizes now, see which hand-me-downs will work, and label EVERYTHING. Next, make a list of what you need to fill in the gaps, and check with your local shop to see if they have any of last year’s gear on sale. Now if only someone invented an easy way to get them from the car to the chairlift…
5. Helmets are cool, when they’re functioning. Did you take a few falls last season? Maybe you were a bit careless throwing your helmet into your car or overhead bin? Helmets are designed for a single impact before they lose functionality. Check for any visible dents on the outer shell which would mean the inner foam has been compressed and compromised. Next, look inside and gently flex the helmet. Do any cracks appear? In either case, it’s time to replace your helmet. It’s best practice to replace your helmet periodically, as smaller impacts from storing, lift bars, and minor falls will eventually compromise the integrity of your brain-bucket.
6. Secure Your Passes. If you’re planning on skiing more than three days this season, it’s very likely that a season pass will be the way to go! The major passes have released information on how they are adjusting for Covid-19 including priority reservations and insurance programs should resorts need to shut at any point. For the latest details, see our season pass blog. Not sure which pass is right for you? We have some helpful hints in our Pass Guide.
7. Find the Closest Ski Movie Premier. Companies like Matchstick Productions, Teton Gravity Research and Warren Miller Entertainment usually put out annual films, many of which are being shown in outdoor settings this season. This is my absolute favorite way to get stoked to ski again!
8. Snow Dance. Once you have everything needed on your end, we all just need the flakes to fly. The more people that do a snow dance the better season we’ll have! It’s science.
Anything we forgot? We’d love to hear your favorite preparation or piece of gear to bring to the mountain! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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