By Dan Balkin
HoliMont SnowSports School
We also know him as Hans Solo. A movie star so cool that he could stand up to the forces of evil both in the heavens (Star Wars), and here on Mother Earth as a swashbuckling archeologist. As Indiana Jones, he packed lightly – ever so lightly – before he hopped onto Pan-Am prop planes and flew around the world in search of archeological adventures. You remember the scene: Jones cavalierly tosses a few items of rumpled clothing in a battered suitcase, and then for good measure he adds his trusty bullwhip and revolver. Indy, after all, frequented corners of this world where one must take a few precautions.
These ruminations got me thinking. What would Indiana Jones do if he were packing for an extended ski trip? Why not? One thing we know for sure, his coolness factor would be knocked down a few pegs if he overpacked – that is something Indy would never do. To be sure, Indy’s ski attire would be basic, minimalistic, and functional. But what would he bring along to attend to his skis?
What? Attend to his skis? Yes. In our Southern Tier, it is hardly a stretch to assume that a square-jawed American who could save Western Civilization by keeping the Ark of the Covenant out of the hands of the bad guys would also be a serious skier. And serious skiers like Indy don’t leave home without a little something to take care of their skis.
That little something is called a Gummi Stone. It can be placed in a ski jacket pocket without even feeling it – kind of like your wallet after it has been depleted of money by your offspring. But before I describe what it does, let me tell you a true story about attending to skis that happened here at HoliMont. Did you ever have your skis sharpened and they felt as if they were unskiable? Let me explain “unskiable.” Two decades ago, a young ski instructor on our staff decided he was going to augment his meager college student income by tuning skis on Saturday night. Being young, charismatic, and handsome – he quickly lined up a clientele. One Sunday morning – after handing over a pair of freshly tuned skis to a client – he spotted her a few hours later in the woods at HoliMont. The woman was rubbing her ski edges against the bark of a tree. This may sound insane, but given the circumstances, her actions were actually quite rational. When this poor woman tried to ski down the slope, her ski edges “grabbed” onto the snow and felt quite uncontrollable. What was wrong with the skis? It’s called a “burr.” My young colleague knew how to sharpen skis, but not how to remove the burr that occurs when one files skis. A burr can’t be removed by tree bark – but it can be removed with a little something that even Indy would find quite packable.
This is where the “Gummi” stone comes into play. The name says it all. It is more like “gum” than stone – similar to the consistency of a very firm eraser – and not much bigger. If you ever have your skis sharpened and they feel grabby, the Gummi stone is a wonder weapon. Simply run the Gummi stone along the base edge of your ski – and you will remove the “burr” caused by filing that makes your skis so disagreeable (a “burr” is a microscopic lip of steel that sticks up above your ski edge after it has been filed – the burr must always be removed or your skis will feel as if they are being remotely controlled by a demented extra terrestrial). Naturally, I would like to fool you into believing I am omniscient about skiing – but I have screwed up while tuning my own skis and have used a Gummi stone to salvage my ski day. In short, whatever you do after sharpening your skis, always remove the “burr” on your ski edge by running the Gummi stone down your base edge before you go skiing.
A Gummi stone can be found in the pocket of many a ski professional. The beauty of a Gummi stone is that it is just firm enough to erase burrs or temporarily smooth an edge damaged by a rock – but soft enough to never do any real harm to your ski edges. Lets just say it brings out the inner Harrison Ford in all of us.