Seems nobody really likes advice, no matter how good.

The good advice in this instance is take care of your ski boots, just as you take care of your skis.

Both need regular tune-ups, although the definition of "regular" is different. Skis and snowboards need attention more frequently, in the form of base prep and edge sharpening.

One ski patroller of my acquaintance would run a sharpening stone down his edges after each run, which may have said more about the firmness of [R216R, Loon Mountain's] trail surfaces in those days than about his desire for sharp edges.

That's at one end of the spectrum. In the middle are most of us, content with a ski tune-up a few times a season. At the other is a friend I ski with often, who leaves her skis unwaxed and unsharpened from one season to the next.

Boots are actually in that range as far as needing attention.

Dry them out after each use, don't buckle them too tightly, and once in awhile look at the screws that hold them together.

I did that with my Strolz boots from time to time over the last 13 years they have accompanied me on ski outings, and felt quite virtuous.

Last season I noticed a screw was loose, and a spring had sprung, and kept meaning to drop by Strand's Ski Shop, oldest ski shop in New England and, perhaps, the United States.

Never got around to it. (It turned out to be something akin to the proverbial rhyme, "For Want of a Nail," which costs a king his kingdom, although that might be overstating events here.)

Then a couple of weeks ago while snapping the top buckle shut, the spring sliced open the palm of my hand.

"Hmmm," I thought, "should've had that fixed."

"Hey," Leif Mikkelsen said at Strand's the next day, "you should've had that fixed. Sliced just like a scalpel, didn't it?'

He spent a half-hour tightening screws, oiling the adjustment controls, and replacing the rubber heel counters - for the third or fourth time.

A crack had started in each of the boots, on the plastic counter that holds the buckles, but Leif said they were cosmetic, not structural, and burned a hole at the end of each crack to keep it from spreading farther.

Cost: $5 for the heel counters.

An aside: Carolyn Stimpson who operates [R488R, Wachusett Mountain Ski Area] in Princeton, and who has direct responsibility for Mountainside Ski & Sports, the ski shop, always shakes her head at the condition of my boots.

"You need new boots," she tells me regularly. A boot guy in her shop looks at my boots and says, "They're fine."

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