Originally Posted by Ghost
Skiing on ice is a lot like driving on ice.
1) You need good grip. Sharp and acute edges are like good winter tires.
Okay, I'm going to come out and say something that no one ever says, because no one wants to hear it who doesn't already know it: In order to ski ice well, you have to learn to tune your own skis.
Everyone seems to agree that skis need to be sharp to ski on ice. I certainly do. But what does it really take for your skis to be sharp? It takes sharpening. Often. REALLY often. I live and ski in northern New England, as I have my whole adult life. For me, anyway, if conditions are hard - which is most of the time - I feel like I need to sharpen my edges every couple of ski days. At a minimum I need to touch them up with a diamond stone in a file guide. Sometimes I do it after each and every ski day, especially if my beer league race times were even lousier than usual and I feel like placing the blame on something other than my technique. I am not at all an expert tuner, but I do it just well enough to keep me solid on the ice. (I have a good shop do a base grind and reset the angles once a year, to erase my cumulative mistakes, remove the deep nicks that my work doesn't really touch, and generally get me back to a solid foundation.)
What does this sharpening frequency imply? It implies that you have to tune your own skis. Almost no one can afford the expense or hassle of having someone else tune his/her skis that often.
After talking with probably hundreds of skiers - friends and strangers - over the years about this topic, and observing their real-world behavior, I believe that extraordinarily few people actually do this. Yes, of course hard-core racer-from-birth types do it. I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to the 99.5% of recreational skiers out there, including very avid skiers who put in a lot of days. Even here in the ice East, most of these folks take their skis to a shop once, twice, at most three times a season for a tune. I know this because I talk to them and I check out their skis. Yikes, what a horror show. A few of them tune their own skis, but they are ineffectual or do it too infrequently or both. None of this cuts it. To ski ice well - at least if you're a normal human - you have to have really good edges. To have to have good edges, they have to be sharpened frequently, for the same reason a chef has to sharpen his/her knife frequently. As a practical matter, to get them sharpened that frequently, you have to invest the substantial time, energy, and money in doing it yourself.