A lot of sports involve equipment or gear of some sort. Most of us who participate in such sports on a recreational basis often times do not pay a lot of attention to the gear we use, and if we do it is more for aesthetic purposes than for performance reasons.
Given we all have limited time and resources we have to pick and choose our areas of focus. If you participate in an equipment laden sport and want to perform at high levels then you need to pay more attention to your equipment, even if you are not going to advance to a professional or top level amateur leagues.
Sporting equipment (equipment for any endeavor) is designed for a particular task. For example, the modern alpine ski is designed to allow a skier to get down the hill in a speedy and safe fashion. That may be what a non-skier thinks and they are not too far off. Those of us who ski, though, understand there are skis for varying level of skill, varying terrain, varying snow conditions, and varying ski disciplines. The optimum ski for going down a ski run at 70 mph with long turns is different than what one needs for skiing down a run with 18″ of fresh and dry powder snow. Even if you have a particular ski for a particular purpose, there are a lot of tradeoffs and things you can do to the ski to make it more suited for your and your purposes.
All endeavors with tools or equipment needs, face similar quandaries. I suppose for most people for the sports they participate in a couple of times a year such knowledge is not pressing, but for those looking for constant improvement and challenge the knowledge of the equipment becomes more vital. Not just the philosophies behind the various design options, but also in the maintenance of the equipment.
This is one big reason I am taking on ski tuning. I want to become more familiar with my equipment, I want to get close to it, I want it do something to it and see what happens. I want to experiment! It is too late for me to become a world cup skier or even a top notch amateur skier but I have lots of room to improve and want to do so. I suppose I could take my skis in to a shop (as I have done in the past) but then I do not learn and next season when I need to shave two tenths of a second from a race I will have the skills and knowledge to tune my equipment to do just that.
Race car drivers may not be responsible for tuning and tweaking their cars, but they had better understand how tweaking their cars can change the car’s behavior and this is what I hope to accomplish by tuning and taking better care of my skis.