Alpine skiing will leave wear and tear on your skis, almost as a direct consequence of the nature of the sport. Regular use over different courses, snow types, and quite simply, over time — will leave your Alpine skis damaged performance-wise, if not to the point of limited usability.
But how long should regular Alpine skis last? This article will break down the average duration of Alpine skis, including their construction, frequency of use, ski care, and improvements in ski technology. For the moment, let’s assume you don’t buy the cheapest and not the most expensive pair of skis. In this way, we can detail how long the average, moderately-priced pair of Alpine skis will last.
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The Average Duration of Alpine Skis
Alpine skis, like other skis, are subject to a performance and usage lifespan. On average, skiers will replace their skis about every 8 years. That said, peak ski performance will lessen after 100 to 125 full days of use. That is a little more than 20 full days of use every five years.
But what if I ski less than 20 days a year?
If 20 full days of Alpine skiing sounds like more than you are used to, or if you only ski a few times a year — you should get about 80 to 100 days of skiing before you see a drop in overall performance. This means you should be able to preserve your skis for much longer than five, or even eight, years.
What to Look For
How do you tell when your Alpine skis are “worn out”? Keep these two things in mind: 1) how much performance has been lost since you first started using your skis, and 2) how much of an improvement in performance a new pair of skis will give you. With this, you can determine if you just need some repairs done or make a completely new purchase.
The durability in an Alpine Ski Construction
Alpine skis are made of several different materials arranged in different layers. Here’s what to look for when gauging ski damage:
Bases are the bottoms of the skis that come in contact with the snow. They are usually made of UHMW (Ultra-high molecular weight) polyethylene and can be either Sintered (more porous, faster, and durable, but more expensive to maintain) or Extruded (less porous, slower, but less expensive to maintain).
Look for scratches, tears, warps, or core shots (gouges where the core is exposed) in the base of the ski. If there is only slight damage, you might want to consider a professional tuning or stone-grinding of your skis.
If the base damage is is severe, you might want to consider new skis. But overall, make sure to keep your ski bases cleaned, waxed, and relatively damage-free.
Alpine ski edges are usually made of metal (most notably steel) and can wear down over time. If you are seeing cracks in your edges or your edges dulling, consider getting your skis tuned or purchasing new skis entirely.
Alpine skis usually consist of a wood or composite material (such as fiberglass) core that is reinforced by fiberglass, metal, or carbon outer layer. The core should only be visible when holes (known as core shots) occur in the base. If your skis have so much damage that the core is visible, consider replacing your skis.
The top sheet is the top of the ski, where graphics are placed under, or in, molded plastic, nylon, wood, or composite material. Small blemishes in the top sheet can be fixed, but substantial cracks and damage in the top sheet may indicate a need to buy new skis.
Skis come in a variety of construction forms, notably Sidewall (also known as laminate or sandwich), Torsion Box, or Cap constructions. Each form is slightly different, but the main takeaway here is to look out for the interior damage caused by warping, cracking, or holes from multiple mounts.
Frequency of Use
As stated before, the average skier will replace their skis every eight years or so — but more intense or frequent skiing may call for shorter (around five years) replacement periods. If you are an infrequent skier, you may be able to replace your skis every ten years or so.
Improvements in Ski Technology
Modern Alpine skis have had a major innovation at least once every 25 years. These days, technologies and fashions seem to change even faster; the average ski design is re-worked about once every five years. Keep this in mind if you want your ski performance to stay up-to-date.
Caring for Your Alpine Skis making them last longer
Different parts of your Alpine skis need to be repaired regularly. Ski boots, bases, and edges are all examples of this, and care for them is described here.
Caring for Your Ski Boots
Did you know that your ski boots can be used for as long as 200 ski days? That is the case when enough due attention is given to the shell, interior, and soles.
How Often Should I Wax My Skis?
You should really wax your skis at least once a year, at the end of the ski season. Waxing can be done to accommodate different snow types and different types of wax can be used.
Sharpen Your Ski Edges
Normal use of Alpine skis will cause their edges to dull, or even rust. This can cause skidding and a general loss of control when traveling downhill. Sharpen your skis regularly to avoid this.
Alpine skis should last a good five years or so under normal use; though many skiers replace their skis around every eight years. If you are an infrequent skier, your skis may last around ten years, or after about 100-125 full days of use. Though top ski performance will decline after 80 full days of skiing, observant care and regular maintenance will keep your Alpine skis in great shape for longer periods.
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