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Is there hierarchy of quality of ski manufacturers?

 Poster: A snowHead
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valais2 wrote:
@mountainaddict, ...ANSWER...both.

Skis have to include country of manufacture. Some state:

Made in Austria (probably Atomic then)
Made in Slovenia (probably Elan then)
Made in France (probably Rossignol then)
Made in China (no one knows)

Made in Spain (probably Rossignol)

About 5-6 years ago most of the Wedze range matched the lower end Rossi range in size and profile, maybe not in construction
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Steilhang wrote:
[Titanal]...it's a slightly misleading name. But notwithstanding the misleading aspect, it sounds like it's the dog's dangleys... right?
I never understood why they used that name, but snowboarders at least who use "metal" boards are generally very aware of what the board's made of. You pay at least double what glass boards cost, so people tend to know why. With metal snowboards at least, the key thing is how you composite the Titanal with rubber etc to deliver the overall damping effect. It's key for snowboards, at speed, as you've only got the one edge. The downside is that the damping makes the boards less responsive than glass boards. A lot of people muck around trying to find the balance between vibration control and responsiveness. All race snowboards have been metal for years now.

Aye, people with the choice seem to like Stöckli skis for piste use. They seem well constructed.

On the OP, there are of course both sintered and extruded bases.

In my view none of this is important. I've not used "off brand" boards, but any mainstream brand at least is way more durable than I need for general mountain use. To me, it's all about the board design, not the durability of it. I've a garage full of old snowboards all of which are in excellent condition: they don't wear out, I just end up getting bored with them.
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jedster wrote:


I think it is mainly materials - full wood core and titanal plus the construction method. Basically their skis are made like other brands' real race skis. I suspect they are no more durable than other race skis just race skis are more durable than recreational ones.


Almost entirely this. Very traditional, money no object(ish) approach to manufacture. I suspect the delta to a real FIS ski is still there in terms of quality but almost certainly you can get the same bang for fractions of the bucks by seeking out used race stock from other brands.

Doesn't surprise me that they are a go to ski for the Swiss and for those who are are the deluxe end of the consumer market (though there seem to be a stream of contenders for picking American pockets there).
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This is turning into a seriously awesome thread. Thank you very much for the effort and detailed contributions.
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valais2 wrote:


And finally, from ‘AL - the Journal of Aluminium’ (trade journal):


I bet that's a 'rivetting' read! Laughing
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Klamm Franzer wrote:


Never, ever, buy Salomon skis. Ever.



You can't leave a statement like that hanging in the air without qualification.... I'm intrigued now. I've never owned Salomon skis or boards, but my bindings are Salomon Wardens (actually they are Atomic branded but I presume are the exact same thing) so I'm curious to know if they're a second rate producer, and why.
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greengriff wrote:
Klamm Franzer wrote:


Never, ever, buy Salomon skis. Ever.



You can't leave a statement like that hanging in the air without qualification.... I'm intrigued now. I've never owned Salomon skis or boards, but my bindings are Salomon Wardens (actually they are Atomic branded but I presume are the exact same thing) so I'm curious to know if they're a second rate producer, and why.


I wasn’t a fan of Salomon skis back in the day but Salomon MTN Explore 95 and QST series are very highly rated. And the Shift is a ground breaking binding innovation and their new MTN boots look pretty impressive.
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Skiing is ‘seasonally’ and annually innovative, just like mountain-biking, and Salomon has been through the same cycles of high quality and rock-bottom oddness as almost all other manufacturers - just like others, they also have had issues of changes of ownership, cost reduction and adverse competition. They contributed the fabulous Ten-Eighty (which transformed skiing globally), the X-Wave series of boots (which encouraged others to make wider-last boots), the X-Scream series (rental stalwarts) and then...they lost it with the BBR and eccentric lasting and a lack of attention to what the small independents were doing and how the larger rock-solid producers were performing. They have been back in the game recently with high quality clothing, innovative product and good quality control - and excellent media presence and sponsorship of great athletes like Cody Townsend. They gambled on a growth in touring...hey...good call. But it’s not just them who have occasionally taken the rocky path at times. Dynastar? They blew the lead they had with radical carvers. Zag? No world domination for them. AK? Below the radar.

Stockli are like Coatina. Very Swiss. Who? Well....anyone in CH would know Caotina. Brilliant chocolate drink. Small, high tech, well invested factory. Small dedicated workforce. They sell in Switzerland. investment capitalists said ‘look..your product is world-leading....you could borrow stacks of cash and then market right around the world, and grow hugely’. ‘But we would have large debt’. ‘Yes, but the growth would pay that off’, ‘over time...’, ‘yes...but that would then mean eventually you would be highly profitable...’; ‘we are highly profitable now’... ‘yes...but you could achieve the same level of profit and be a global company...’. ‘Er....no thanks...would you like a cup of chocolate before you leave?...’
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
jedster wrote:


I think it is mainly materials - full wood core and titanal plus the construction method. Basically their skis are made like other brands' real race skis. I suspect they are no more durable than other race skis just race skis are more durable than recreational ones.


Almost entirely this. Very traditional, money no object(ish) approach to manufacture. I suspect the delta to a real FIS ski is still there in terms of quality but almost certainly you can get the same bang for fractions of the bucks by seeking out used race stock from other brands.

Doesn't surprise me that they are a go to ski for the Swiss and for those who are are the deluxe end of the consumer market (though there seem to be a stream of contenders for picking American pockets there).


I would say only Swiss older generation. They are extremely uncool and have nothing in the playful/park/big mountain or touring space that Faction and Movement, for example, fill.
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Fascinating thread snowHead

2 years ago I tested several pairs of skis with a view to buying some new planks. The aim was to upgrade my piste skis for something a little bolder/more challenging for those days suitable for some faster, big turn carving.

Old skis: Kneissl Black Star MC 172.
Skied about 12-15 weeks, no base grinds, just regular servicing.
Apart from the odd small knick on the top sheet, they still look in pretty good condition and I still enjoy skiing them. No noticeable degradation in terms of performance.

The two choices I narrowed down to:
Salomon iRace 176 & Atomic Redster G9 177
Opted for the Atomics - they just felt more stable in the turn and in a straight line. But it was quite marginal. I may have been a bit influenced by noticing a few local race club skiers also skiing on them!

I’ve probably skied them for 8 weeks or so. Slightly surprised that the front top sheet, close to the edges, perhaps 20/25cm from the front of the skis, are showing definite wear and tear with several knicks (a bit like thin slices) peeling away.

Thoughts?
The skis are 68cm waist, so are ‘turny’ and, as a consequence, one can generate some decent (for me Laughing ) edge angles.

As an addendum, when I was testing, the local ski tech offered a pair of Stöckli skis to try…FIS rated, could have been mid 180’s (can’t quite recall). I declined. He just chuckled Laughing
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Cacciatore wrote:


I’ve probably skied them for 8 weeks or so. Slightly surprised that the front top sheet, close to the edges, perhaps 20/25cm from the front of the skis, are showing definite wear and tear with several knicks (a bit like thin slices) peeling away.

Thoughts?


Does top sheet style influence ski performance? I know next to nothing about skis, but in snowboards there are two main types of construction. A thick 'cap' which goes all the way to the metal edges, and a much thinner top in a 'sandwich' where you can see the edges of the mid layers. 'Cap' snowboards tended to be damper and 'deader' under your feet (in my experience - this might not be a universal truth) but more resistant to superficial damage. Maybe this is the case with skis too - i.e. the maker chooses to sacrifice some durability with a performance goal in mind?
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Quote:


I would say only Swiss older generation. They are extremely uncool and have nothing in the playful/park/big mountain or touring space that Faction and Movement, for example, fill.


Absolutely. Obviously more for Der Pistencarven market and the racing stripe jackets than the kidz. I mean I know they do the Stormrider skus but they are still for traditionalists with a fear of " wide skis are bad for my knees".
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greengriff wrote:

Does top sheet style influence ski performance?


Unquestionably!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@Cacciatore, re small nicks, it really is quite surprising how we must cross skis a lot more than we think, or clink them together...it sounds from where they are that they are just ‘contact nicks’ - and Atomic skis I am familiar with have a quite soft gel coat which does tend to get ‘sliced’ - probably better that than brittle top coat which breaks off with impacts, which is apparent on some skis.
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BobinCH wrote:
greengriff wrote:

Does top sheet style influence ski performance?


Unquestionably!


Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
greengriff wrote:
Does top sheet style influence ski performance? I know next to nothing about skis, but in snowboards there are two main types of construction. A thick 'cap' which goes all the way to the metal edges, and a much thinner top in a 'sandwich' where you can see the edges of the mid layers. 'Cap' snowboards tended to be damper and 'deader' under your feet (in my experience - this might not be a universal truth) but more resistant to superficial damage. Maybe this is the case with skis too - i.e. the maker chooses to sacrifice some durability with a performance goal in mind?
Obviously not. No top sheet is going to be 100% resilient against for example someone riding over it.

For skiers it's probably mostly that they're banging the skis against each other whilst skiing. Plus if you ever put your skis in a basket on a bus (or helicopter...) then they're going to get wear and tear there. Rude people in lift lines will help that process along.

My personal feeling is that the cap thing is more cosmetics than anything else: race snowboards have trad sidewalls.

BobinCH wrote:
They are extremely uncool
It's a good point: any ski will work, but many people would not ride specific brands because the marketing is not aimed at them. And one factory likely produces output for multiple brands, using essentially the same quality materials and processes. There's another dimension to that too, where powerful brands like Burton produce a range of output quality to satisfy different marketing niches within their customer base.

Overall, I don't think people buy skis/ boards based on durability. I've never "worn out" anything, it's not the key issue. What is key for me is "how does this ride?". When I was a kid it would have been "is this cool", although that's still an issue as I'd not be seen dead on a Decathlon board, for example, even if it was as good as a Burton board
wink
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It wasn’t always so. Stockli were one of the early pioneers in the Freeride market making fabulous skis for top pros Dominique Perret and Scott Schmidt. I had a pair of Stockli Asteroids in the early 2000’s which were awesome (and lasted about 10 years!). They even made park skis. I guess conservative thinking took over the ski lineup. Shame really…

https://freeskier.com/stories/stockli-ski-review
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@BobinCH,

I wonder if it's a function of their manufacturing methods - not well suited to building playful skis but quite good for chargers!
My 2004 stormriders still get a few outings a year and still ski well in a "cheater GS with a bit more width" way
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Quote:
Never read reviews.
Never even consider All Mountain skis.
Never, ever, buy Salomon skis. Ever.

Er...Why's that then?


I loved my 1990s Salomon skis. And Mrs MA loved her 2000s ones...
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So where do the yank upstarts Head feature in this list? Madeye-Smiley
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jedster wrote:
@BobinCH,

I wonder if it's a function of their manufacturing methods - not well suited to building playful skis but quite good for chargers!
My 2004 stormriders still get a few outings a year and still ski well in a "cheater GS with a bit more width" way


I was standing in the queue for Mont Gelé and there’s this old wizened guy without a helmet with these 2m something old Stockli skis towering above him, standing with a young 20 something on some Stormrider 105’s. So I ask the old guy, Jeez that’s a serious pair of skis you’ve got there, and the young guy pipes up with “he made them”. It was Dominique Perret and his son!
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BobinCH wrote:
jedster wrote:
@BobinCH,

I wonder if it's a function of their manufacturing methods - not well suited to building playful skis but quite good for chargers!
My 2004 stormriders still get a few outings a year and still ski well in a "cheater GS with a bit more width" way


I was standing in the queue for Mont Gelé and there’s this old wizened guy without a helmet with these 2m something old Stockli skis towering above him, standing with a young 20 something on some Stormrider 105’s. So I ask the old guy, Jeez that’s a serious pair of skis you’ve got there, and the young guy pipes up with “he made them”. It was Dominique Perret and his son!


Haha nice!

UANN has actually skied on the DP Pros. I think he described them as frightening. Given he's been know to roll around on SG skis I find that a little worrying.
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Quote:

The two choices I narrowed down to:
Salomon iRace 176 & Atomic Redster G9 177


Perhaps interesting to know they are both part of the same company - Amer Sports which also own armarda skis (and non ski brands such as arctrtyx, peak performance, and suunto). Makes you wonder how much difference you are really getting, most are probably made in the same factory using the same technology and materials.
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I love my Rossi Bandits…….I know there are totally out of date and if I tried newer technology I would probably love something else more. But I trust ‘Fred & Ginger’ to get me down the slope in all kinds of conditions. We have been through a lot together Very Happy
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@BobinCH, that is a lovely story.
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Wondering if Titanal was a genius marketing amalgamation of sporty young men’s main pursuits.
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I suspect there are factories all over and with big companies producing where they can cost effectively; my Nordica Dobermanns (Italian company) have 'Made in Austria' stamped on them. Rossignol race skis are apparently produced in Saint Jean De Moirans and some Rossignol skis are made in Spain and I think they might have a factory on Morocco. I guess it's doen to design and quality control how well-made skis are. A quick google shows that Rossignol also uses Fischer's production site in Ukraine.
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I've had luck with most things regardless of specific place of manufacture. I did blow the edge spectacularly of a made in Spain Rossi snowboard once but that was due to a choice of pillow line that was a little too granitey. And snapped a Morrow board from back in the day on a groomer but fat lad, foam core and cap construction. Saying this means my skis will spontaneously fold next outing when I am "just skiing along" so anti-jinx.
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valais2 wrote:
@Cacciatore, re small nicks, it really is quite surprising how we must cross skis a lot more than we think, or clink them together...it sounds from where they are that they are just ‘contact nicks’ - and Atomic skis I am familiar with have a quite soft gel coat which does tend to get ‘sliced’ - probably better that than brittle top coat which breaks off with impacts, which is apparent on some skis.


Probably explains it! I try to avoid crossing skis….I’ve an old pair of Rossi Hero Masters (probably now at the end of their natural life) and spectacularly crossed them once. A proper trebuchet moment - with one ski pinging off, arrow like, a good 10 metres away from the piste side, into some woods. Fortunately, a mate of mine was on hand to recover them, whilst I extracted snow from places snow shouldn’t get to Laughing . I was proper grumpy…but probably not as much had I waded through the snow to retrieve said ski Laughing Laughing
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greengriff wrote:
BobinCH wrote:
greengriff wrote:

Does top sheet style influence ski performance?


Unquestionably!


Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing


Laughing Laughing
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valais2 wrote:
The chemical composition of Titanal® in weight percent breaks down to approximately 88.5% aluminum, 1.7% copper, 2.5% magnesium, 7% zinc, and 0.1% zirconium.
So why are my edges rusty as F**K? Puzzled Laughing
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@shep, Your ski edges will be steel not aluminium.
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rjs wrote:
@shep, Your ski edges will be steel not aluminium.
Ah, that would explain it. I seem to have missed the point of the Titanal discussion... Embarassed Toofy Grin
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My take on the question from skiing about 70-80 days a year for the last six years in all conditions & having owned plenty of Skis...

Kästle & Stöckli are clearly better constructed & more durable than other brands but also around twice as expensive.

After these two brands all others make skis at virtually all price & quality points so it becomes difficult to generalise..

But I'd rank
Nordica & Völkl & perhaps Blizzard & Elan ahead of the rest...

Followed (generally) by Head, Fischer, & Atomic ..

Then ..everything else..
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I've found some brands like Scott (made in China) make skis which are virtually disposable after a while..(eg compare the (lack of) durability of the Scott Punisher 95 with the (made in the EU) Nordica Enforcer 100 (my two pairs have taken a pounding and are still going strong)...but then again the Nordicas were twice the price new...
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..and going down a width..my Kästle Fx 85 & Mx 83 are both still going strong after lots of abuse, while my equivalent K2 Amp Rictors (made in China again & much cheaper) became noodly after about 30days usage spread over 2 seasons & were long ago binned...not scientific but I do think you get what you pay for...whether the Kästle bzw Stöckli premium is worth it to the average skier using them for 15 days a year, is a different question..
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Bergsteiger278 wrote:
...whether the Kästle bzw Stöckli premium is worth it to the average skier using them for 15 days a year, is a different question..


That's a great question. I wonder if those considerations cross the mind of the manufacturers? Even a poorly built ski could last for years at 15 days year. Also I wonder if Kastle/Stockli owners keep their skis long enough to make sense financially, or like the rest of us do they see an ad for a new model, go 'ooh shiny' and fork over another £1000, when there's still a ton of fun left in their old skis.
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Bergsteiger278 wrote:
But I'd rank
Nordica & Völkl & perhaps Blizzard & Elan ahead of the rest...

As far as I know, both Nordica and Blizzard come out of the same factory in Mittersill Austria, so there will be some similarities.
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@greengriff, ..as usual this is a far more complex area than it first seems.

Factors:

1
Profits in ski manufacturers very much driven by the rental market in piste and all mountain skis. Rental skis get hammered. As a renter you want your ski stock to be 100% dependable - litigation, hassle, waste all avoided. So quality does matter there. A careful balancing of quality and cost. And people want ‘branded’ skis - clients have very fixed ideas ‘I like Atomic’ ‘I like Salomon’ so they will do a big bulk order but also have some variety in the mix (for fussy beggars). They will keep skis for 1-3 seasons, and they will get trashed. But they want no failures. They want the skis to give back every penny/cent and then make money, and then possibly be good for resale if they just look too old or are cosmetically trashed.

2
Obviously there are niche, high quality producers who do a great job outside of the rental market - I won’t name them but you know who they are, and they produce quality kit which performs brilliantly, and if they have produced a great ski (which also tends to be a long lasting ski) then they will get customer loyalty. Customers also know that such skis have good resale value, which is an important factor, so that fuels both quality and upgrading by clients.

3
People who buy skis are small in number compared to the rental market - they are important for the manufacturers, but the rental market dominates.

4
Interestingly, Kastle quite evident in rental market in some places - France weirdly - and so there is a clear market for upmarket, very high quality skis. The boring and entirely consistent aesthetics of Kastle may be in play here, you don’t know if you have rented a brand new ski or a five year old ski….which is great for the rental folk - and good for you if the ski is in great shape because of its quality values.

PS - in the 90s, big failure in a large manufacturers skis - serious delamination. There were rumours of bonfires in skips behind rental shops, and the manufacturer calling in the indemnity clause for rental use and no liability after 6 months of rental use….


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Fri 4-02-22 10:48; edited 1 time in total
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Very good points! Shops would quickly get to know - and avoid - flaky gear. I wonder if there any common brands that you don't see for rental because they are just not durable? I don't rent so I have no idea.
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