Perhaps the two most important things you can do are to select the proper size initially, and keep your ski tuned so it can perform as intended.
There are subtleties to sizing, but here’s the fundamental rule: If you’re an expert, look for a length that’s about forehead-high; if you’re a novice or an intermediate, go neck/chin-high.
With that in mind, there’s room to make adjustments for personal preference. Obviously, slalom skis should be sized short, and if you favor a quick-turning slalom style in your freeskiing, you’ll enjoy a short ski. If you love long turns and want to be confident at higher speeds, a longer ski will more stable. If you ski Eastern pucker brush, go short. Well spaced Western spruces? Go long.
And once you’ve skied more than a few days—or hit a few rocks—it’s time to consider a tune.
A clean, unburred edge is a joy to ski, not to mention absolutely essential if you’re hoping to make clean carves. Good tuning makes any ski perform better, but it’s especially important on today’s fatter skis. While it’s amazing how nimble and grippy they can be, their relative lack of quickness and edge-grip becomes starkly apparent as your edges dull.
Run a finger down your edges often. When they start to feel rough, it’s tune time. Oh, and we’re sick of hearing that tune doesn’t matter on soft Western snow. It’s a myth.