Steamboat Springs As Jason Thorpe descended down Mount Werner on Monday, at the end of a powder day, he and his snowboard got a taste of reality.
After spending the day on the colder upper-mountain runs, covered with powder, covering hard packed snow, he cruised through the trees on upper Valley View, slid down Slitz and onto Vogue toward home and that's when it happened.
"S-l-l-l-ushy!" he yelled out.
The "carvey" sensation of soft and wet snow took hold of his not-yet-spring-tuned board and Thorpe slowed down.
"It wasn't bad there," he said at the end of the run. "Once you slow down and carve around on it, it kind of feels like powder. Emphasize the 'kind of.'"
That's spring skiing. With a taste of it in early March, the inevitable foreshadowing of the end of the season, April 15, is upon riders, skiers and pinheads.
For many locals, what really is the most common association for spring skiing besides the abundant amount of sun, sunscreen, the lighter layer of clothing or the novel option of wearing shorts is the snow.
"I call it poor man's powder," said Wen Park, local ski-tuning guru at SportStalker. "If we're not getting the snow, than give me the slush."
This is the chance to hit those normally icy bumps, for skiers and riders, Park said.
Mike Andrews, snowboard tuner at Powder Tools, agreed. However, he emphasized that it's also a good time to work on your turns on the flats, too.
"Groomers," he said. "That's usually where I'm headed. If you want to go anywhere else, you're going to work for your turns."
Another popular aspect of spring skiing is going out first thing on the groomed corduroy and skiing the "corn" snow that hadn't quite frozen, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Cathy Wiedemer said.
"It's an incredible feeling skiing on about a half-inch of 'corn' snow that's on top of the firmer groomed conditions," she said.
No matter what your taste in spring skiing is, there is one common element that everyone on the mountain must adhere to: the good tune.
Both Andrews and Park agree, first and foremost is a good stone grind.
"A stone grind will do wonderful for a board," Andrews said.
"It's the best thing people can do," Park said.
A stone grind gives a board or skis structure, which are the rough pores you see on new gear.
The pores help hold the wax on the ski or board.
"When the snow is slushy, the wax is going to come off quickly," Park said.
Even with a good stone grind, the wax is going to come off.
"Whether it's $5 wax or $30, it's good for about a day," Park said.
The right kind of wax is important, too, he said.
"A fluorinated wax works awesome," Andrews said, or any kind of warm temperature wax, he added.
"An F-4 liquid paste wax works well, too. Apply that every day," Park said.
Silicon wax also is a good choice, he said.
As far as home remedies, rubbing Ivory soap on your skis or board throughout the day actually works, Park said.
"That stuff works like magic," he said. "No bubbles included."