We tell our racers to get themselves prepared off season to perform in season, but the same is true for techs/equipment geeks/Parents/ATMs. I will talk about 1.) Getting Gear ordered, 2.) Getting gear (and tools) prepped, 3.) What gear you really want, 4.) Long Term planning. 5.) And the why...
First the why (#5): We live busy lives. Most of us have NO time to do a good job in the heat of season. This is work that needs to be done slowly, purposefully, carefully. In my case, I tuned 3 pairs of skis today while I thought about/composed this article. I have 4 more pairs to work on before I get to bed. Then tomorrow (and the next night), I am back on the hill again. Time? It is really precious, I could not do planning, purchasing and prepping while also maintaining gear- and coaching, not to mention working, parenting, cooking, driving...
outside of the hotbox- and inside:
#1: Ordering Gear (and tools): Many people don't like to think about skiing until after Summer- labor day at the earliest. Up to age 12 or so, you can get away with that, but once kid grow into Big Kid gear, you should start shopping in May or June (for great used skis/boots/bindings), and try to place orders for new FIS gear by late June at the latest. Does this seem crazy to you? Well, I know plenty of people who are sure this IS crazy, But you will get better prices, more selection, and overall higher quality if you START EARLY. DO IT!!
tool boxes #1 and 2 outside, and 1 drawer open:
#2:Prepping gear and tools: Boots should be fitted, stanced, and aligned before Summer camp, if at all possible. Skis should be prepped for Summer Camp, and again after. TOOLS: Wax, files, stones, and larger tools (irons, hotboxes, etc). should be purchased, prepped, organized, and setup for the year. IF you have a large volume of work to do and little time to do it, consider buying or making a hot box, and buying rotobrushes. Start working with your tools in July, and by the time December rolls around, you will be ready!
Bulk waxes under the hotbox- my double brush. For cleaning primarily in2 directions.
#3 Gear you REALLY want: A "ski glide" tool (also known as a Ray's Way Wax Wizard) is a HUGE time and money saver. A digital iron is a requirement, a Hotbox, is super handy, and rotobrushes. Those last 2 are not requirements- but they can save 10s of hours over the course of the season. A GREAT toolbox helps with organization, and base flattening tools can help keep your racers fast and learning faster!
Skis after a night in the hotbox. Note the "dry" spots... This tape has my personal code to help me keep track of work done. The translation to my son is "Dad loves you and is helping you ski fast!"
#4 Long Term Planning: Get to know the older racers and parents of racers. Much of their Prized Gear will soon be surplus and could be yours. Develop relationships with gear peddlers and techs. As soon as is practical, pick a ski brand to work with. Ask for and listen to the advice of the reps from the ski companies you like best. These people are smart, and they are at least as passionate about the sport as you are.