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Ski Failure mechanisms?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,

Does anyone have any information, data or thoughts on how skis 'fail' with age?

I can appreciate that regular servicing will reduce the amount of edge material available to re-sharpen, to the point at which the edge would become too thin/weak to maintain its shape or be bonded to the ski. I can also see how impact damage from rocks and the like can damage edges, bases, and potentially the core of a ski if the impact was hard enough.

But how about through day-to-day 'normal' use? Do skis lose their stiffness over time? Or perhaps (like my knees) they get stiffer as they age?

Will a pair of skis flex differently after 5 weeks of use? After 10? 20? 50? Or will they effectively remain unchanged, until the day when out of the blue they suddenly explode or become damp spaghetti?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I don't have any data but I've often wondered about this. Actually not just ski's though but bindings too.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Without question they will age. But how quickly?
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The various structural layers in the skis will all suffer from slow degradation with use and flexing.

How long this takes will depend on what the materials are and how much each contributes to the structure of the ski.

Carbon fibre for example will not degrade as quickly as glass fibre. Currently the skis that hold up the best to many days on the hill are those that take a decent percentage of their strength and feel from a quality wood core.
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@UkuleleDave,

Different brands age differently i.e. cheaper skis will soften up quicker than those of higher quality

It's gradual, not an overnight effect
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@UkuleleDave, And I will suggest it's not just a passage of time thing. Many racers in the Inferno still competing on early '90s Salomon DH boards (well, early 90s graphics for sure).
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@UkuleleDave, If you're really interested, google "SKI and Finite Element" and prepare to get your geek on. Abaqus FTW.
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UkuleleDave wrote:

Will a pair of skis flex differently after 5 weeks of use? After 10? 20? 50? Or will they effectively remain unchanged, until the day when out of the blue they suddenly explode or become damp spaghetti?

In theory, it either doesn't change at all, which we know that's not the case. Skis do lose their flex by simply being used. Or, they degrade over time, in an accumulative way. In the latter case, that change starts happening pretty soon. But as long as the change is small enough, you won't notice it. In fact, you probably don't notice it for a very long time, until you start skiing on a pair of new skis and compare.

Most people I know give up their skis when the edges are gone. That seems to indicate they noticed the edge issue before they notice the flex issues.
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I would expect the glues that bond the different layers of the ski together to gradually break down during use.
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@UkuleleDave, My Rossignol Bandit B2, which had a metal and foam core lasted less than 4 weeks until they became really soft, you could hear what was left of the core inside if you shook them! Salomon pocket rockets my mate had were similar...with a foam core..........see a recurring theme.
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Yep. Foam cores degrade fast. My one and only foam core ski was an Atomic All Mountain something or other. Great for one season, and felt like a pair of damp sponges on my feet after that. My old Völkl P30s otoh are now 20 years old and still have great spring. Now only used for rock skiing of course but still usable.
Wood cores rule.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I have wood core skis that have lost their rebound, admin's Kneissl White Stars felt the same to me when I tried them.
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@UkuleleDave, ...I am afraid it seems to defy precise predictions, although follows certain norms.

firstly this:
https://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/88722-Does-ski-flex-stiffness-breakdown-with-age
which contains some useful stuff a little way in.

The mechanics are made a little complex by the very different types of structure, materials and design. And of course patterns of use. Have you seen a ski flex into a banana shape in a mogul field, tip and tail on different mounds, and the skier boinging on the ski in the middle? I bet that messes up the flex...

I have some really complex Rossignol 9S, which have loads of different layers at different sections of the ski. They flex in exactly the way they did on day one, which was some 10 years ago. And they weigh a ton. Designed by M. 'Lets-put-every-viable-material-in-it', Rossignol must have lost a fortune on every ski which they made.

Mechanisms - which you asked for on the OP - decay of materials, e.g. by evaporation of polymerisers or separation, passing the point of elastic deformation when brittling has occurred so the internal structure degenerates, and so on.

I have some ridiculous Salomon scrambler 400s, which were entirely sh+++ed when I got them, hacked to bits, cheap foam core and cap construction, these:
http://sportskissell.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/salomon-scrambler-400-used-shaped-ski.html
now with thousands of Km on the clock, delamination at the tail, edge curling off in one place, top sheets wrecked, second pair of bindings on them. Resigned to mud hopping when there is literally no snow between the melting patches.
The core: Isocell Complex Core- “Aeronautic technology, smooth, dampening Foam Complex: reactivity, rebound Core adapted to athletic skiers who look for sensations with control”
which should be utterly cra++ed out by now. And they have absolutely retained their camber and 'pop'. Freaks.

Meanwhile, other skis turn into boiled noodles after a few weeks, floppy and dead. They go in the skip after sulking in the back of the garage for a couple of seasons.

One pair I lament: some competition Dynaster SLs, which I had to chop in half to get in the recycling bin. They still had a highly resilient wood core which still had tremendous progressive flex even though the edges had been completed 'prep'd' away. It took real oomph to saw through the things, the surfaces stained with my tears.

So, more on mechanisms. If something is pushed past its point of elastic deformation, its flex will be compromised. If something work hardens (e.g. titanium) the ski will stiffen, not relax...
http://www.eisc.com/support/titanium.htm

Grief I could go on. And get nowhere fast, since the key concepts are 'elastic deformation; modulus; work hardening; decay; separation; fatigue (life)' and so on - all interacting with a load of other factors. The only way you can know whether a given ski will last is to ski on the damn thing, it turns out....IMHO
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Wood core stuff is pretty durable - may lose some pop compared to when new but you should be able to get 200+ days out of them. Chances are you'll wreck an edge or terminally core shot them before they are dead. I've skied a lot of end of life skis and none have felt as dead as a brand new pair of Elan Spectrums.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Thanks folks, especially @valais2 for the detailed response.

Sounds like the answer is 'it depends'.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I've got a pair of Volkl Explosiv's that are 24 years old and still going well. They are so dam strong its unreal, I put them in a metal security fence to home rocker them and it bent the fence before it bent the ski...
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@lordf, you whatttttt!?..

Home rockering.
That all sounded like 'home tattooing with a Stanley knife and a biro...'

So I googled and this is what I found

http://www.newschoolers.com/forum/thread/366282/Tutorial--Rockering-Skis

So I am going to shorten the top tube on my titanium Marin using a four pound lump hammer; a bend of a few cms should bring the length in.

And forget the Leki racing poles, just stuff my existing ones in the vice.

Home rockering .... are they serious about this? Or was it posted on April first....
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@valais2,

Far from a joke, its been a thing on TGR for a while which is where I read about it. I picked them up off eBay for £30 and they ski just like my pals Mantras which he paid a good chunk more for. I took my time and made a small rig to work out where I wanted to bend them. They have so much metal in them it was actually very easy to progressively bend them and add some tip rocker and rise on the tail. I use them in Scotland, there my favourite set out of my quiver, they crush the conditions in Scotland with ease. Volkl actually did this on the production Explosvi's a few years later (Wizard top sheets).

Rig to mark points for bending



Tips after



Tails after

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@lordf, ...strewth...very interesting. A whole new world of fettling. Very thoughtful rig setup for getting the adjustment symmetrical; an issue which I was wondering about. Nice work.
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I've helped my pal build his own skis from the ground up, this wasn't too bad to do. They don't make them like that any more though, I've skiied over stuff on these that would have blown chunks out of others I've owned. Only think I've had new that was as tough was a pair of dynastar legend pro 105s
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