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What do I need to know about skis?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So I've been renting skis for about 7 weeks and now I'm starting to think about buying some of my own. However I am in a state of considerable ignorance about what I'm looking for. So the aim of this thread is for me to understand the vast range of skis available to me and get some sort of short list.

This is me:
On piste, happy on all blues, most reds, 170cm tall, 87kg. Don't go very fast.

This is my current state of knowledge about skis:
Shapes - more curvey skis are easier to carve with, but the curve of the ski forces the turn radius. Wider skis more suited to floating in powder.
Length - get the impression that shorter means easier to turn but less stable at speed.
Flex - once again I get the impression that more flexible means easier to turn but less stable at speed and more flappy.

Things about me I need to know:
Height
Weight
Ability
Prefferred speed
Preffered terrain
Preffered turning habits

So where am I right and where am I wrong and what should my shortlist be?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Ian many people will doubtless suggest a variety of skis, however the best thing you can do is test as many of the suggested ones as possible and see what works for you, I'd suggest you look at an intermediate ski with a small to medium radius sidecut, this will give you reasonable performance and ease of turning at the expense of straight line speed, unless you are planning to do a lot of off piste skiing look at piste skis only
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Most of what you say is true. I agree with:

"... more curvey skis are easier to carve with ... ";
"... Wider skis more suited to floating in powder. ... " (as well as wet slop - much more frequently encountered);
"... more flexible means easier to turn but less stable at speed and more flappy... ".

However, ask SSH if he thinks that in reference to his Atomic B5's, "... the curve of the ski forces the turn radius ... " OR "... that shorter means easier to turn but (significantly) less stable at speed ... ".

Whatever his answers are, I'll agree with them. wink

Tom / PM


PS - I don't have a B5, but I and Bob Peters (a buddy from EpicSki who lives in Jackson Hole) both have short Head IC200's (~ 122 / 66 / 106, fairly stiff ) which are, as best as I can tell, essentially a slightly harder snow version of the B5. You would be absolutely astonished how stable they are at speed and moderate crud, and how easily one can adjust the turn radius. Here's a link to one of Bob's more recent posts on this type of ski: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?p=284335#post284335 . I've been very happy teaching on my 170 cm IC-200's all this season, having moved down in length from the 184 cm Head xp-100, the pervious year's version of that ski that I taught on the previous season.

You should do a search on "B5" over on Epic to see how many excellent skiers / instructors are on 160 cm long B5's before you shy away from short skis. These are all incredibly versatile skis, and I doubt you would ever encounter their speed limit. Rumor has it that there will be a large number of copies of this type of ski appearing next winter, brought to market by other mfgrs.
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Hey, PM, funny seeing you here! wink

Ian, Tom knows of what he speaks. He can even give you the formula for the exact carving radius of a ski based on the angle the ski is making to the snow and it's sidecut radius (the published "turn radius"). If I remember correctly, it's something like cos(A)*R. Knowing you, I thought you'd appreciate that...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Ian Hopkinson wrote:
This is my current state of knowledge about skis:
Shapes - more curvey skis are easier to carve with, but the curve of the ski forces the turn radius. Wider skis more suited to floating in powder.
Length - get the impression that shorter means easier to turn but less stable at speed.
Flex - once again I get the impression that more flexible means easier to turn but less stable at speed and more flappy.


Hmmm....

shapes - more extreme sidecut means that the skis' designers have more work to do to handle the increased tortional forces at tip and tail. For example, I have heard that the Rossi designers had more problems with this when they effectively copied the Metron shape for the Zenith Z:9 next year. While width does mean float, it is also becoming clear that there are some advantages to wider skis with newer engineering. Tom/PM can likely explain better than I, but it seems that wider skis actually seek flat more rapidly and so can actually feel like they are going edge-to-edge much faster than one would expect. The b5s I ski are 76mm under foot compared to the 68mm for the RX8s. I do not notice a slower edge-to-edge on the b5s.

The general wisdom says that narrower skis are required to carve ice. The M:b5 belies this. It's just not true. I have said it before, and I'll say it again, I believe that the Atomic Metron:b5 is a harbinger of future ski design. If you can possibly get on a Metron, Ian, do it. For you, probably the M:10 would be best.

length - contrary to popular opinion there is no longer any way of telling anyone what length ski to use without knowing the exact ski that is under discussion. For example, I ski the b5 in 162 and the Fischer RX8 in 165. I could ski the Fischer up to 175, but there is no way on God's green earth that I could ski the b5 in the 172 and have nearly as much fun as I do on the 162, simply because it's a much beefier ski and I just don't weigh enough to decamber it (this is a guess--I haven't skied it). So, once you have a selection of skis, we can talk about specific length. In general, at 191lbs, you'll likely be in the 160-180cm range, depending on the ski.

flex - forget about it. This is one of a number of parameters that a designer will work with to get a ski to respond in certain ways to specific input. It's just not important any more, IMNSHO. What you want to focus on is the target skier for a given ski and then your (and, perhaps, others') experience on the ski.

Hope this helps!
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See - I told you I'd agree with him. Wink

Tom / PM

PS - Actually, I just noticed a slight difference in the way I'd phrase the comment about longitudinal flex. I'd say that it is incredibly important. However, since such subtle changes in flex can make such dramatic changes in performance, the average skier won't be able to discern these changes off the snow, so you are then left with what Steve said - ie, the purchaser has to rely on the recommendations of the mfgr, other's experience and demoing.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Excellent advice, chaps Very Happy

What you seem to be saying is that a lot of ski selection is down to indefinable personal preference and the 'experience grading' can't be tied down to a single parameter - so we have to rely on the manufacturers grading.

Have to go to work now - probably more questions later!

I've taken the liberty of quoting ssh from another thread regarding 'feel' just to keep everything together:

ssh wrote:

By "feel" I mean largely the amount of energy that the ski returns to you and the feel for the snow that it offers. The extremes of these, from my perspective, are:

energy: extremely energetic skis (usually a result of a stiff tail, but there can be other design parameters to accomplish it, certainly) tend to "rebound" at the end of the turn, especially. As a result, one can feel like the ski is tossing one around. An extreme lack of energy in a ski can make the ski feel "dead" under foot.

feel: skis with high "feel" transmit the snow's texture through the ski to the foot, allowing the skier full tactile experience and response. The downside is that the skis may seem to "throw one around" due to the feel.

Personally, I prefer high energy and reasonably high feel, and I find that the Fischers and Atomics that I've bought this year offer this. At the other end of the spectrum are skis like the Rossis that so many enjoy: they tend to offer less feel and less energy, but as a result tend to ski more smoothly for many.

The semi-colons separate the groupings (lower skill demands on the left):

Higher feel, high energy (Fischer highest): Fischer RX6, Elan S8; Fischer RX8, Elan S12

Higher feel, mid-energy: Atomic M:10; M:11
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Ian Hopkinson, one thing these excellent gentlemen haven't taught you is how to talk to shop clerks.

Do not tell them your height. (Is this any useful whatsoever except (maybe) in setting DIN? And if they can't tell. . .)
Do not tell them your ability. (This is your interpretation of what is occuring and is subject to their interpretation of your words. Even if YOU get your ability level right, they'll reinterpret that.)

Tell them certainly:
Quote:

Weight
Prefferred speed
Preffered terrain
Preffered turn shape
and maybe know for yourself:
Code:

How many days each season.
How much instruction every season.
How much improvement every season.


Don't ever, ever, ever, tell a shop clerk a sentence like 'I'm 175cm beginner-intermediate, on a bit of a budget'
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Physicsman wrote:
PS - Actually, I just noticed a slight difference in the way I'd phrase the comment about longitudinal flex. I'd say that it is incredibly important. However, since such subtle changes in flex can make such dramatic changes in performance, the average skier won't be able to discern these changes off the snow, so you are then left with what Steve said - ie, the purchaser has to rely on the recommendations of the mfgr, other's experience and demoing.
You knew that I'd say this, but, I agree. However, I do not believe that typical ski consumers can do anything with basic information about longitudinal flex. Also, in isolation, it isn't really possible to understand the implications of the specific flex characteristics (for example, a logitudinally stiff ski with weak tortional stiffness will ski very differently than a ski stiff in both dimensions). That was my intent: it's not important for a typical consumer to know, since it is only a single parameter in the context of a number of others (tortional stiffness, sidecut, footprint dimensions, and even balance on the ski).
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ian Hopkinson wrote:
Excellent advice, chaps Very Happy

What you seem to be saying is that a lot of ski selection is down to indefinable personal preference and the 'experience grading' can't be tied down to a single parameter - so we have to rely on the manufacturers grading.
The manufacturers grading gets you started, but I think that it's really more of a collaborative filter: what skis have you liked, what skis have you not liked? With that kind of information, plus where you are and where you're going from a perspective of skill, terrain, and conditions, you can get advice from instructors or gearheads (like yours truly) as to what other ones to try. There are some skis that I don't hesitate to recommend to virtually anyone, but there are some caveats to them.

Hope that clarifies...

Manufacturers, in my opinion, often mis-classify in the mid-range, recommending much less ski than most mid-level skiers can handle.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
If I see a bunch of skis like the Metron series (8 to 11) or the Volkl Superstars (4* to 6*) do the higher numbers normally imply a more "expert" ski? Does my slightly above average weight effectively push me up the ability scale slightly?

Am I right in thinking that ski manufacturers are obsessed with Flash websites and that the text contained therein is close to meaningless? wink
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Ian Hopkinson, yes and yes! I don't get the obsession with Flash, but there you have it...

In the Metron, try the 9, 10, and 11. In the Volkl, try the 5* and 6*. In the Fischer, try the RX6 and RX8.

ssh
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Arghh I new I forgot to say something previously, if you are trying skis out give some feedback to the shop, e.g if you find a ski to hard to turn or to easy tell them as they should then adjust what they are suggesting as test skis for you
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Ian Hopkinson, I've a pair of 168cm Volkl Supersport 5 Stars for sale if you're interested.

They'd be great for you now but with plenty of capacity left for improved ability.

I bought them in April 04 & I've done 4 weeks on them plus a few Castleford sessions. They're absolutely superb but I've just bought a pair of Metron B5's (the influence of ssh/epic reached across the pond & grabbed me) & I can't afford to keep them.

PM me if you're interested as they're at a bargain price & I could meet you at Castleford so you could test them.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Guys, guys, you are talking to Little Ian here - a whizz in the lab, but a baby on the piste. And you've all charged in with the Advanced Class.
So, Ian, forget all the above high falootin' stuff, and let me start you at the beginning.
1. Read the manual.
2. Make sure you have the skis the right way up.
3. Make sure you know which is the front and which is the back
4. Don't forget to turn them on.
5. Instal the software before you connect the hardware
6. You are advised to check your skis are not smarter than you are.
When you have done all this, please log on again for the next lesson.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Curse you, Jonpim, you've blown my carefully constructed cover Evil or Very Mad
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Jonpim, Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing snowHead
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Ian Hopkinson, I'd suggest you take spyderjon up on his offer!
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
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Jonpim, that No 6 link is actually pretty interesting. Any of our equipment gurus tried these clever clogs planks ???


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Sat 26-03-05 10:59; edited 1 time in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
kuwait_ian, yes and it does work, but it seems to work more noticeably the harder you ski, mine have the intelifibers but not the chip so they react more the harder you use them, I'm not sure what effect adding the chip has but I guess it gives better control, it's most noticeable effect is removing chatter (vibration) at speed on hardpacked snow and ice, so basically it keeps the edge in contact with the piste for more of the time
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D G Orf, do you notice it more at high edge angles or low?

There was a thread somewhere once about the ...hmmn... musicality of older Volkl skis. Well, I think I've recreated that tone vibration with my now-antique P30RSs but I can only do it when I engage the tip at a shallow angle, then try to deepen the arc at about the midpoint, a bit of the old J-turn you know.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
ssh wrote:

Manufacturers, in my opinion, often mis-classify in the mid-range, recommending much less ski than most mid-level skiers can handle.


D G Orf wrote:
however the best thing you can do is test as many of the suggested ones as possible and see what works for you, I'd suggest you look at an intermediate ski with a small to medium radius sidecut, this will give you reasonable performance and ease of turning


Ah, but how to find that happy one?

I propose to you wise ones that a really useful demo strategy is to demo in the worst conditions possible, ones that magnify errors and really humble one as a skier. So, say the terrain is refrozen slush, with the occasional bump or two. Skier X takes out for demo the highest-level ski he might wish to purchase, say an Omecarve 10 or Metron XI just to keep things in a pisty perspective. Well, then he finds himself(/herself) getting thrown about, unable to really enjoy the ski because the conditions are so bad. (Notice that he doesn't really have an impression of the ski at this point, merely that the conditions are bad). So he goes back to the demo shack and finds himself an Ome 9 or Metron IX.

I propose that, taking such variables as tune and fatigue out of the experiment, he will find his optimal ski by working _down_ from the top until he can actually enjoy himself. (/herself as applicable). Notice that I never ask this skier to formulate an opinon of the ski itself, merely the conditions as seen through the ski.

Whaddya think? Yes, all right, it requires very great patience and fortitude on the part of the skier, but they found snowHead didn't they?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Ian Hopkinson,

I think you will have to start making a list of the type of skis you want and you may as well start with SNR as they give a good description of the ski and its skier suitabilty. Cross ref that with Ellis B and the other foruns listed here, Epic etc, and then try to get them on snow. Some Magazines have end of season test weeks. Of course if you take advice from Brit sources you may be missing out on Elan, Blizzard and maybe Dynastar and others.

For the record, bone up on
Rossi B1, maybe B2 if you want forays off-piste.
Head *800, piste cruiser or the IC 140/160 ranges.
Dynastar 4800, good forgiving ski and capable off-piste.

Don't know about Atomic or Fisher specifically but they aren't making poor skis. Ditto K2.

The biggest favours you could do yourself is to demo a few skis so you get some sort of perspective as to what you like and what they can do, and to try them on snow, pref in the mountains. I am not sure how much use Snow domes are in this respect, better than nothing tho', I suppose!
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
kuwait_ian wrote:
Jonpim, that No 6 link is actually pretty interesting. Any of our equipment gurus tried these clever clogs planks ???
Couldn't stand the Heads that I tried. Just about the time the ski was "coming alive", the piezo would kick in and dampen it out, again. I ended up really disliking them!
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
ssh, which just goes to show that different people like different things Shocked wink

SSH and myself are both experienced skiers but obviously have a different skiing technique, I found that no matter how hard and fast I skied on the Heads they performed superbly, SSH found that for him the opposite was true, the moral of this tale is always take the time to check out skis yourself before you buy them Cool
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
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ssh, I've only just followed that link. As it happens, I've had business dealings with Mark Lundstrom, the co-founder of ACX that patented the technology and signed up K2 initially. Our dealings were after he left ACX and had nothing to do with ski equipment. He remained very enthusiastic about the technology, but it's not a speciality of mine, and I wasn't quite so obsessive about skiing in those days (2000, I think), so I just filed it away as an interesting curiosity. Did you ever try the K2s?

Anyway, FWIW, I judged Mr Lundstrom to be a sincere and clever guy.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
laundryman, any possibilty of an aftermarket add-on unit?
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
comprex, 'fraid not, Mark Lundstrom was in a totally different line of business (e- and especially m-commerce) by then, which is how come we had dealings. Discussion of the piezo-electric effect and skiing was by way of small talk after hours only!
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