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Are you "Overworking" your skis?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
This came up on a thread with regards to ski selection and is a tough one to diagnose. Lots of advanced skiers who are training for professional exams worry about getting the "right" ski for their training and exams. Too stiff and they will be tough in the bumps and variables, too soft and they won't provide enough performance in shorts and longs on icy pistes.

But how do know if you are overworking your skis and need something stiffer? What are the clues and what does it feel like when you are overcooking a ski..

As it is raining out I put together a little video showing a heavy skier on a longitudinally medium stiffness ski and then on some stiffer ones. Discuss


Skis being overworked? from InsideOutSkiing
https://vimeo.com/285278040
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So the real world answer is - it doesn't matter at all. With all the variables in an average skiing day even if you seek out the very best manicured groomers then any ski will be suboptimal some of the time. It isn't a huge surprise that a GS ski can track and be powered more precisely through turns without giving up but then you (I'm assuming it is a self-portrait) have the skills to get that performance without being a passenger.

What kinda surprises me more is that trainers and examiners wouldn't have an experienced eye to distinguish between what is the skier and what is the ski. Would you really expect to get dinged for your left turn on the softer skis or would they recognise that the intent and the execution and the outcome were fine and you held it together when the outside ski gave up for a bit.

I think I posted in the past about having some edge grip problems on firm steep pistes in aggressive turns. In my case it was definitely a matter of gorilla tactics and solved by getting on edge earlier and more progressively, though of course the equipment (a 112mm freeride ski at the time) certainly hadn't helped.
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Just a guess, I would think the majority of skiers are not working their ski's hard enough
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Grandma Sunshine wrote:
Just a guess, I would think the majority of skiers are not working their ski's hard enough


This, for sure. And even if you think you're overworking them it's probably not the ski's capabilities that are the first point of call. I'm not sure it's even something that needs to be identified by an external party - if you are at the level where you are in danger of overworking a ski you should probably be able to self-diagnose and correct your approach until you get on a stiffer ski etc.


That said the whole obsession with what skis to use for which level of instructor courses always feels a bit strange to me - OK you might not want kids turning up for L1 snowploughs in a fridge on Pontoons but past that level shouldn't people have a good enough idea what workd for them and flatters them. I totally understand the get something that will help not hinder you but the idea that there is a perfect ski is an unrealistic goal.
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Quote:

if you are at the level where you are in danger of overworking a ski you should probably be able to self-diagnose and correct your approach until you get on a stiffer ski etc.


I disagree with this as those say at L2 working towards L3 may not have the understanding of biomechanics, how skiing works and what high performance skiing actually feels like, hence the thread... I would agree that trainers should make allowances for side cut and ski length when looking at the skier but alas that isn't always the case. Stiffness selection should be down to the individual and accentuate your strengths but not hinder you in your weakness but can be hard to get right... You may have to be a bit lighter on the boards on longs or risk over cooking em as per the first clip as a price to pay for skis that dont kill your knees in the bumps Toofy Grin
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Grandma Sunshine wrote:
Just a guess, I would think the majority of skiers are not working their ski's hard enough


Have you seen the size of the average skier? Very Happy I've certainly overworked some skis when I was 100kg+, and some of the fairly intermediate skis I was hammering are now entirely in sensible range for me at a much lower weight. Of course, a crap fat skier is not going to overwork a ski while they sideslip their way down a blue run, but a decent intermediate big guy could easily be way beyond what the ski is designed to cope with.

Most of the time I've ever really felt a ski struggle in the last 3 or 4 years has been when telling someone at a rental shop what my experience level is, and having them decide I must be making it up because 99% of their customers are complete beginners (or they don't actually have any good skis to hire) - my favourite chat was in Serbia the rental guy asked in Serbian "how good a skier is he?" and my Serbian girlfriend replied "the best" assuming my language skills wouldn't have kept up with this ego boost Very Happy Obviously not true, but in that resort that day I felt like a pro! I suspect a lot was lost in translation, and she actually meant "not a beginner" Smile He may also have asked "what skis shall I give him?" or "how good does he think he is in bed?" and I'd never have known.
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@Digger the dinosaur, being a lardass isn't quite overworking the ski (& I should know) - emphasis on work n all that..


If you really want to be scared though get on a stock rental ski at Hemel.
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Old Rossi Bandit B2s after a couple of years when the foam core degenerated. Do a fast tight turn on hardpack on those and they would chatter and break all over the place Laughing
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
So the real world answer is - it doesn't matter at all.


I beg to differ, it does matter for those taking or working towards technical ski qualifications, but also (having experienced this) an over skied ski feels lots less stable and unsafe compared to a rock solid stable one!
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@kitenski, well yes - obviously if you are focused on a tech assessment it might matter but hence why I said real world. But also back in the real world what happens if you are overskiing a ski - you wind it in a bit just like if you hit trickier conditions or tougher terrain. Only the very best skiers in the world ski full gas everywhere.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, but itsn't that the point? How do you know you are overskiing in order to wind it back a bit?? I certainly had no idea you could do such a thing until it was pointed out to me!!
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You can feel it surely?
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@under a new name, how does it feel to you?
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Scarpa wrote:
Old Rossi Bandit B2s after a couple of years when the foam core degenerated. Do a fast tight turn on hardpack on those and they would chatter and break all over the place Laughing
Exactly my experience with a pair of foam core Atomic 11.20 something or other 'All Mountain' bollox skis... Awesome for two seasons, then just pure shite. Like skiing on sponges.
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@skimottaret, hard to pin down. Experienced different symptoms.

Probably a feeling of the ski unexpectedly breaking away in a turn without excessive application of control.

I have also felt underpowered a few times, Atomic ARC slaloms (203) in 1990 (designed for Tomba allegedly) - more recently Nordica Doberman SG (210). Minds of their own.
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The most obvious feeling is when having tipped the ski on edge you get or keep forward on the skis and rather than rail round the outside ski seems to diverge off or judder around. But to really feel it try riding a snowboard that is too soft or short for your weight and put in a hard heelside turn. That will skip like crazy as the edge can't maintain enough rigidity for the forces going through it.

I've never really experienced the same feelings on a ski that weren't primarily down to pilot error which leads me to believe that overskiing a ski is not really a practical day to day problem and certainly not one that the majority of everday recreational skiers should worry about. nevertheless it is a valid concern for technicians and certainly racers. Have you noticed how people with a race background will tend to be on "chargeier" type skis in freeskiing. I think the concept of "charger" and "playful" comes into this which is why the best ski for straightlining an Alaskan chute rarely seems to the same as one for noodling through soft tree lines.

I would have thought that by the time an exam candidate is overskiing a fairly robust piste performancey or piste focused all mountain ski in piste turns then the pass on those isn't really the problem and they probably need to turn attention to what helps them most in variable or bumps, Or to put it another way if I turned up to an advanced lesson and the instructor showed up on FIS skis I'd be sceptical that we going to be covering the sort of terrain that I would like to (notwithstanding the fact that some talented individuals can geneuinely ski anywhere in anystyle on I beams). Thoughts welcome on that logic?
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@skimottaret, It's a really good question. After the last two separate weeks on my Black Pearls last season, I was feeling rather "meh" - whilst things were "OK", a lot of the joy had gone out of my skiing and I wasn't sure if it was them or me. Difficult to describe exactly, but perhaps a lack of a response from them, or confidence in them. I'd experienced a sudden crisis of confidence on the last day of the Gressoney week but had largely regained it by the end of the EOSB (thanks to Steve & Dave snowHead )

I started reading about alternative skis and Nordica Santa Ana 93 caught my eye. I tried them out at MK and with each successive run, the smile grew on my face as I felt able to be less tentative and ask something more and feel that I was standing on a solid platform in the turns which became enjoyable again.

I'm waiting to take delivery and hope I won't be disappointed.
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Been skiing the last few days at Hemel on quite firm snow so been thinking about this further. I recon when people feel they are "overworking" a ski it sounds to me that they may be skiing quick on skis that aren't stable enough and when the skis flap or chatter a touch it creates an "unstable" feel to the ski. The cause is similar in that the ski isn't stiff enough for what you are trying to do but different in that it isn't being over bent by the skier.

If a ski is breaking away on ice could be that it isn't stiff enough but I would think it more likely that not sharp enough or the skier isn't balanced on the edge.

The "meh" feeling with a lack of response could be too soft a ski for your weight and not getting any energy back from it.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 30-08-18 11:25; edited 1 time in total
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@skimottaret,
Quote:

when the skis flap or chatter a touch
This. I experienced it latterly on my last but one pair of Dynastars, which had seen me through a period of progression in my skiing but which were very light.
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My Black Pearls always tended to chatter a bit on hard pack but I understood this to be an unavoidable consequence of their particular design as an all mountain ski. They were particularly bad on early morning frozen corduroy - in every turn the fillings in my teeth were at risk from the strong vibration as I switched edges! Having said that, this aspect never really bothered me. I think that as @skimottaret has mentioned, it's more a case of not getting the energy back from them which I had used to enjoy a couple of years back. Replacing them is testing the hypothesis that changes in my skiing caused this. I don't know if that counts as overworking skis - I imagine that depends on conditions and expectations.
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skimottaret wrote:
I would think it more likely that not sharp enough

I tend to refresh the edges every night so I don't think that was the problem
Quote:
or the skier isn't balanced on the edge.

Far more likely! I was fascinated by the different ski responses on ice at the EOSB - it seemed the angles for grip were less than I thought were needed.
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Isn’t the obvious answer that it’s a damn fine excuse for a new set of skis?
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kitenski wrote:
Isn’t the obvious answer that it’s a damn fine excuse for a new set of skis?

One of many! Toofy Grin
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under a new name wrote:
@skimottaret,
I have also felt underpowered a few times, Atomic ARC slaloms (203) in 1990 (designed for Tomba allegedly) - more recently Nordica Doberman SG (210). Minds of their own.


That is an interesting feeling as well being on the other end of the spectrum. Trying to turn a VERY stiff ski and finding that nothing happens and you end up riding the side cut and going a million miles an hour and getting more and more on the inside. I bought a pair of numbered factory GS skis off a sponsored athlete and I couldn't even remotely bend em and got poo-poo scared. Sold em a day later Shocked
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@skimottaret, I know what you mean. I am nowhere near race level but have a pair of FIS GS skis I bought off a racer... they are amazing skis but Christ, the amount of work and effort you have to put in to really feel them bend and then they scare the shell out of you when they pop LOL.
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As I remember (and its been a while - I tend to ski pretty stiff skis) if you angulate so much that you overpower a ski then the turn gets initially very tight, surprisingly so, to the point you can feel you are going over and across the tips, and then the edge breaks away a bit underfoot - chattery. But there is also just a general imprecision isn't there? When you put a stiff ski down on a nicely angulated edge you feel locked on. If the skis is softer, it's all a bit more vague whether you have nailed it?
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For piste-focused days, free-skiing, training or teaching I used the Head Titan for a few years. It's a great ski and I was very happy on it. A couple of seasons ago we switched from Head to Dynastar and the replacement for my Titans was the Dynastar Speedzone 12. It was only when I switched to that ski and got used to it that I realised I was probably skiing at the limit of the Titans when I was skiing hard. The Dynastars felt more solid under my feet, I was able to push my limits and still feel like I was getting great control with enough confidence to push more. It's not easy for me to describe the the difference in feel, but it is definitely significant in some situations, typically skiing fast, long radius turns on piste. The rest of the time there was not a significant difference in how the different skis behaved in terms of my confidence to push for more performance.

So for me I only knew that I was reaching the performance limits of the ski (if that's what we mean by "over-working") when I switched to another ski in a similar category and could feel the difference.
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@rob@rar, good point, I think I noticied similiar, and in a message to Scott about overworking a few days ago I said

Quote:
I'm not sure I could tell if I was over skiing a ski. But the Volk feels more stable and "safe" if that makes sense??
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I've been told that my skis and boots are both too soft for me - 120 flex boots and Head i-Rallys. I also have a snowboard that I know is a size too small for me, and the feeling is very similar in both cases. I can carve and influence the arc of the turn using pressure, but because both ends of the skis are so soft, I feel like I've got a tiny, tiny margin for error when doing so.

When skiing or riding on something longer and stiffer, I feel that my balance and control of pressure doesn't have to be so utterly on point. I've got more margin to experiment - with the i-rallys and the too-short board I feel I can only vary very slightly from centred before the tip or tail starts to fold underneath me and I almost fall over the front or the back.
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@AdamNotts, are you very heavy or a particularly “strong” skier?

120 Heads are not stupid soft... most recreational skiers would find them fine...
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I'm not heavy, but I do go fast when I want to and they're a 3 buckle hybrid model which are now old, so they're probably not flexing like a 120 any more.
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This quite an interesting discussion but .....
It sounds like we are talking about the relative merits of paintings in an art galley.

I'm trying to get my head around the meaning of "over ski".

As I nearly always rent my skis these days I try to get "what I think" is going to be the best skis to suite me ...
And I'm just an old has been skier who's eaten too many pies over the years to able "to out ski" the skis.

But if the rental shop sets me up on something they think .... "that will do him!"
I'm soon back for a swap.

I don't really understand the word "pop" or "lively" that is bandied about by people testing skis.
But I know when I have a ski which just feels dull and I have to get that back to the shop asap.

I'm a bit of a tart with skis and because I'm probably paying top dollar for the rental I have no hesitation to just change the skis for the sake of it.

The skis I enjoyed riding most at the beginning of last season were Head Magnums, they just felt right and the colours matched my boots.

The skis I fell in love with at the end of the season were a pug ugly pair of Salomon X12...
They were so boring to look at that you could feel safe that nobody would steal them from outside the restaurant, but when I rode them, they made me feel like I was king of the mountain. I borrowed them from the Oxalys hire shop. I hope they still have them next year, but if not I'll just take their advice.

On the other hand I had an experience last season where the skis "over skied" me.
I was a bit gobby renting a pair of skis in a small Swiss hamlet, so they gave me a pair of Head "world cup rebels" that I could just not turn.
So I took them back and they gave me a pair of really crappy soulless boards that really spoilt my day.
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@DrLawn, If you don't understand the feeling of "pop" or "liveliness" in a ski you most likely aren't actively bending the skis when you are sliding down the hill. If you are a heavy guy on overly soft skis they will most likely feel "dull" or "soulless". This is because whilst they will get bent flat when you stand on them/squash em they don't have enough elasticity/stiffness to "boing" back into their unloaded cambered shape. They have been loaded to their max by your weight alone and have nothing left to "boing" you back. If you could bend a stiffer ski when skiing it and have it unload this is the pop or liveliness you haven't experienced yet. Most piste skis are shaped with a camber (reverse bow) and just by standing on them when on flat they will be loaded a bit. If you tip a skiff ski on its edge and are balanced correctly you can bend the ski further and make it turn a tighter radius. How much you can bend it is down to your skill level and power. Does that make more sense?

The skis you enjoy being on are probably just stiff enough for your skill level and weight.

The WC rebels are a significantly stiffer ski than the magnums. When you say you could just not turn em it was probably because you either are skidding, or, if the skis were actually carving and on their edges you weren't able to apply enough additional pressure to bend them. A ski on its edges simply won't turn any tighter than the sidecut radius unless it is pressured and bent. If you tip a pair of cambered piste skis onto their edges just a little they will make an arc of about the "sidecut" radius stamped on the skis. If you tip em further up to around 60deg edge angle they will have to bend so the edges maintain snow contact and will carve an arc of about half the radius of the sidecut radius.

As a non skiing example think of picking up an archers bow that is super soft, you can easily pull it back but when you let go the arrow won't go very far as there is no energy being released, there will be no "ping". Pick up a super stiff longbow and if you have the strength, skill and technique to pull it all the way back the arrow will release with loads of energy.
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