Last Tracks

When the temperatures warm, join those in the know and head to the mountains with these spring-skiing tips

There’s no denying it: we’re heading into the final weeks of the ski season. Soon, all the good and bad ski days will fade into a hazy memory, as we break out the golf clubs and bid the slopes adieu. But first, we get to have a last hurrah with spring skiing—arguably the best skiing of the year. Here are a few tips for making the most out of the end of the season.

Take your time.
Typically, I’m among the folks who are in line for first tracks when the lifts open. My weekly ritual throughout the winter involves a 5 a.m. wake-up in southern Maine so I can be on my skis before many people have even left home. However, this strategy can falter at the end of the season. It often gets cold enough overnight that the slopes firm up or freeze solid, making for rough conditions early in the morning. Take the time for that extra cup of coffee while the sun softens things up.

Get a spring tune.
The wax and tune that makes you glide easily across midwinter snow can make you feel slow and sticky in warmer conditions. Just as you have to change your clothing and your stance when it gets warmer, changing up your gear can make a huge difference. Spring for a hot wax (or a rub-on wax, if you want to apply one midday) to keep your skis gliding smoothly, and add a stone grind to keep your edges holding on the occasional frozen patch.

It’s all about balance
East Coasters, used to skiing icy hard-pack, tend to charge forward with their weight on the tongues of their boots and tips of their skis. In slushy spring conditions, it’s not so much about leaning back as staying balanced. Keeping your weight over the center of your skis (and evenly on each foot) allows you to float on top of heavy corn snow rather than get bogged down. It’s not just good form—your knees and quads will thank you in the afternoon. Of course, the exception to the rule is those puddles that pop up late in the spring. If you see open water, lean back, cross your fingers, and pretend you’re on water skis.

Spring skiing is many things, but more than any other, it’s a reminder that the feeling is heavenly yet the season is fleeting. Get out there and ski it while you can.

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