Going to be skiing in icy conditions in a few days time, and I'll be renting skis. How can I tell in the rental shop if the ski edges are sharp enough?
How can I tell if the edges are sharp?
Get a high end rental such as a performance package or demo skis. They'll have less use and should be maintained better due to higher performance expectations due to their higher rental cost.
Two ways to check edges for their condition are to drag your finger nail over the edge. If it shaves off the surface of your fingernail evenly and smoothly, it is sharp. If you drag the end of your fingernail along the edge, it should feel smooth without nicks that grab your fingernail. Try these two test on a new pair of skis in a shop. That will give you a baseline for what to expect.
A visual inspection will also help you. You want to see a square edge without any nicks or scratches. Again, look at a new ski to see what to expect.
Have a fun trip!
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Thanks for the tips. The place I'll be renting looks after their kit pretty well, but I just want to be sure. Also, given a full-on day's skiing on ice (or at least hard, icy snow) every day, how long is it likely to be until they're needing another sharpening?
A diamond stone touch up after a day's skiing will generally sustain a suitably sharp edge. I'd ask the shop if they'll touch them up for you after each day. If not, use a stone and a guide to touch up the side edges. Don't worry about the base edge unless you have hit something and dinged it badly. If you don't have a guide, you can free hand it. One way to make sure you match the edge's bevel is to use a black marker along the entire edge. As you stone the edge, you should see the color removed evenly.