It all started with a $20 tip from an American hotel guest and a request for his skis to be tuned. Then ski-valet, Yohann Sheetz, bought some wax, ‘borrowed’ an iron from housekeeping, and started Underground Tuning, a core, local shop and one of Whistler’s best-kept secrets.
“I’m not just tuning them,” Yohann says “I’m putting a better feeling into them.” And after working on more than 30,000 skis and snowboards in the past two decades, he should know. We asked Johann to help dispel some common tuning myths. —Sarah Woods
Myth 1: “I just bought a board, it’s already waxed.”
Truth: Factory wax is not good enough. A board with a factory wax will wear quickly while riding, causing friction burn and damage to the base material. A proper hand wax increases the life of your gear and makes your riding more enjoyable. According to Yohann and his team, the majority of people aren’t waxing enough. His rule of thumb: show your skis a little love by waxing every three to five rides.
Myth 2: “A little leftover wax after the scraping step is no big deal.”
Truth: Skipping the scraping step, or getting lazy with it, lessens the effectiveness of your wax. Think about using wax for hair removal. When peeled off, say your arm, the wax not only pulls the hair out, but it also exfoliates the skin, pulling oil and gunk right out of the pores. The same theory can be applied to your board—if you leave wax on your base, the snow will not only grab it, but it’ll also grab the wax in the pores of your board, undoing your wax job. Let’s be honest, no one likes a lazy wax (am I right, ladies?), so here’s the drill: wax, scrape, brush.
Myth 3: “I don’t need sharp edges; I hit rails in the park.”
Truth: You need edges, and a properly tuned edge will still let you hit rails. Properly tuned edges won’t catch when you’re doing park rails and are essential for control. They’ll help you get to the rail and safely stick the landing.
I’ve always relied on my dad to wax my skis, but Yohann says it’s time to put on my big girl ski pants and do it myself. And so should you. For more tips, check out Yohann’s waxing tutorial below or better yet, stop by for some pointers from the team at Underground Tuning in the Summit Lodge in Whistler.