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Rental equipment for novices....very worrying!

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi all,
Now back from a great week in Obergurgl, April 9th- 16th, considering the time of year the conditions were pretty good ( 50 cm overnight before we arrived snowHead and snowed for 3 days, then typical spring conditions)...anyway i digress, the main subject for my rant is the suitability of equipment that was rented out/sold to some obvious novices/ beginners.
I got chatting with a couple in the hotel bar and he said he'd not skied for 7-8 years and was a nervous intermediate, so on the advice of the Crystal Rep, he upgraded his ski package and was given.........a pair of Atomic SX;b5 's Puzzled , which he was struggling with.( no, really?).Similarly, we met up with a couple of guys( in another bar, strangely enough!) who were a) a complete beginner and b) someone with 2 weeks previous experience.Guess what?, the '2 weeker' was encouraged to spend more and 'try out' a pair of spanking new Atomic GS 11's Shocked !!, whilst his mate, on deciding to buy his own boots rather than rent, was last seen snow plowing down a gentle Blue Run in.............................Atomic 11 Race boots Shocked Shocked Shocked !!!!!....broken ankles anyone!
Is it me or is this a very worrying trend, at best people are not going to enjoy/learn very easily on high performance equipment, and at worst are going to get seriously injured. I kind of hoped this was a couple of isolated incidents, but i have to say that there were an AWFUL lot of Atomic GS 11'S seen on the slopes, on the feet of an mixed ability skiers Confused
Anyway, me and the missus had a great week, and once again my R11's rocked snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I wouldn't know anything about the models you mentioned, but we had a similar experience with Precision in VDI, where a beginner felt pressured into upgrading their skis to ones that were probably not "forgiving" enough for a beginner (can't remember what they were), and she wasn't happy to spend the extra money. The lemon-sucking faced girl on the till said "Well skiing's expensive." This was a few years ago now, so I don't think it's much of a new trend, as such.
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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?
You can see the (warped) motivation of the shops persuading people to go for something more expensive. But in the longer term they are not helping the industry as these beginners will have an awful time and be put off skiing for life.
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I totally agree with beanie1, there is the old addage "you can screw anyone once" but only once!!!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I have noticed, over several years, a similar problem with length of skis. Although skis are getting shorter, some people in rental shops seem not to have noticed. Last year an almost complete beginner (few dry ski slope lessons) in her 'fifties, petite, very nervous, who had asked for beginner skis, was struggling. Only half way through the day did I notice that her skis were up to her eyebrows - which I felt was too long for her. I've been ski-ing for 20 years and mine are only up to my nose! I took her back to the rental shop and we asked firmly for shorter skis - which she was much happier with. Maybe people think their customers will be offended if offered short skis. Her ski instructor appeared not to have noticed either - maybe they should be more ready to suggest a change.
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These stories don't sound very good for the people concerned and I agree it should not happen. The other side of the coin is that
'expert' skis are no longer only skiable by experts. Most skiers who have been skiing a fair bit can handle them now.
Depends what people want, an easy ride or a bit of a challenge. But for the type of skiers described above an easy and forgiving ski as possible is what is required.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Er... I'm not an expert on skis. So maybe that's helpful regarding this thread? But I don't understand what the fuss is about. From a skiing perspective, surely a novice or early intermediate getting reasonably good instruction isn't going to notice any real difference if you chuck them onto a higher spec ski? I know I didn't when I was learning.
And even this season I tried a different ski on my 4 holidays and the differences I notice even now don't really add up to much on piste, which is where a novice/intermediate is going to be.

An overly rigid boot is going to be problematic for a learner, but on the other hand it's as much up to customers to suss out their equipment as it is up to store sales people to have the knowledge to know what equipment's right for your skill level.

Also length isn't going to be very noticable for the same novice/intermediate as long as its within a cm or 2 of "pretty much right". Obviously a bit of fine-tuning in terms of length will help if they're really struggling.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
pam w, yes but even these days ski length is still a matter of choice, and relying too strictly on a norm to predict appropriate ski length isn't always helpful. I've been told the usual length these days is somewhere between eyebrow and nose. In your friend's case she was happier on a shorter ski - and I would agree that for learners a shorter ski is certainly worth trying. But personally I've struggled with skis that only came up to my nose - they were too slow! I normally I like my tips to reach closer to my eyebrows, but I know skiiers who will often adjust their ski length greatly depending on the kind of skiing they want to do, and the conditions.
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Manda,

I'm afraid I have to disagree with you. Even on piste I notice a considerable difference between, say, a GS ski and a softer ski. A beginner may not be aware of the differences but in my opinion it can make a huge difference to their skiing.
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beanie1, agreed the difference is noticable to you and me, but are you sure it's going to make a noticable difference for a beginner? I'm not disbelieving you outright, but you're gonna have to explain yourself!
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Yes, as I said above the beginner may not be aware of the difference, at least not until they switch to a softer ski. I think what they would notice is that it is easier to turn a softer ski. I have seen beginners / intermediates using inappropriate skis and have noticed a difference when they switch. Their comments have been that it feels easier to turn.
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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.
I have three pair of skis: Head World Cup Slalom, Rossi 9X (GS skis) and Salomon 1080. There is a huge difference between the race skis (Head and 9X) and the 1080s, which will be noticeable to any grade of skier.

The slalom and GS skis are difficult to control unless you ski them well - they move around under your foot a lot, the slalom skis have a tendancy to suddenly bite and through you off the back of the skis, the GS skis are heavy and difficult to turn. Of course, if you keep these skis in a good carved turn they offer amazing grip, stability at high speeds and a very responsive feel. Although I love skiing my slalom skis, I tend not to use them for days on end as it is just too tiring. You have to ski them hard all day long to get the best out of them, keeping them carving, otherwise they are very difficult to control.

The 1080s are very mild-mannered in comparision. They are happy to be skidded around all day, they are much softer, don't suddenly want to bite into the turn and therefore are happy for you to be off-centre. Overall they are much more forgiving of poor technique.

Giving a beginner or an early intermediate skier something like race slalom or GS skis will demand of them a much higher level of skill to get the best out of those skis. Without those higher level skills an inexperienced skier will struggle unnecessarily to control the skis. It's exactly the same as learning to drive: a learner driver doesn't have their lessons in a high performance sports car, they use an easy to control little run-about. Why should it be any different on skis?
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rob@rar.org.uk,

Well said Rob.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
beanie1, rob@rar.org.uk, I can only agree. I also mainly ski on Rossi 9X. Apart form the points you mention Rob, they (and similar skis) are also heavy. We all have to go uphill from time to time, and experienced skiers can usually skate, herring-bone, side-step, etc with practised ease. Novices probably have to get uphill more than most and find it incredibly hard work without the necessary techniques burned into muscle memory. Same goes for shouldering the skis, etc. Heavy skis will only add to the fatigue that a beginner will inevitably feel, and he/she will get nothing in return out of 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:
I don't know what sort of beginners Manda skis with, but the ones I ski with certainly notice how much easier and pleasanter life becomes when they get on significantly shorter skis. They are not likely to be concerned that they are "too slow" and, indeed, given the huge speeds skilled users can do even on blades (see the separate thread) neither would many of the rest of us. I feel happier going a lot faster on my new, shorter, skis than on my old ones, because I feel very much more in control of them. If short skis are good enough for international slalom skiers, they're good enough for me.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

It's exactly the same as learning to drive: a learner driver doesn't have their lessons in a high performance sports car, they use an easy to control little run-about. Why should it be any different on skis?
rob@rar.org.uk, er, [pendant alert] the reason you don't give a learner a sports car is cause they're too expensive to be banged up wink A learner driver won't notice much difference in handling between a Suzuki Alto, and say a Ferrari GT 360. However they (and me) will definitely notice the handling difference between a Suzuki Alto and a Formula 1 Ferrari.

Which is what I'm getting at.

Take a 1st weeker off a pair of nice soft Salomon Crossmaxes, slip them into a pair of Atomic GS:11s and it's not going to be fun. But putting a 1st weeker onto the SX:B5 skierx skis that excitableboy, mentioned? I dunno. To my mind it's not such an upgrade that the learner would find the SX:B5s any more difficult to control than the Crossmaxes.

pam w, sorry, of course if nose height works well for you then that's a good thing. It's just that the guide to correct ski length is just that - a guide. I only intended to highlight that there's no obligation to remain at nose-height, and that skiers often chose longer or shorter lengths to suit the performance they want from their skis.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Manda wrote:
A learner driver won't notice much difference in handling between a Suzuki Alto, and say a Ferrari GT 360.

Your kidding, right? Puzzled
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laundryman, you only wish. wink I grew up in NZ's petrolhead belt, having driven a very small number of performance cars and quite a few clunkers. Laughing As experienced drivers you and I would definately notice the difference, but I can't see that a learner driver would notice it to an extent that it would affect their driving.
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Manda,

Not so sure about skis these days but beginners always needed the softest, shortest and most forgiving skis in the rack. The tune wasn't really an issue.
They wouldn't know any diference between skis but someone...the hire shop...should put them on short and soft skis as they would be the most helpful
whilst the skier got used to having these planks underfoot.

Soft and short because the skier would not be able to overpower them anyway..unless a heavyweight... and they don't need long skis to get even more tangled up with.

A slight increase in lenght might help if they get on really quickly after 3-4 days.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Manda, as I've never driven a high performance sports car perhaps my analogy wasn't the best. However I stand by my point regarding skis: putting beginners and early intermediates on high performance skis will make it more difficult for them to progress as these skis require higher performance skills to get around the mountain. It's just not sensible.
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Quote:
but I can't see that a learner driver would notice it to an extent that it would affect their driving.

Until they accidentally engaged the "launch mode" gear configuration, and were a little heavy on the gas, on a greasy road? Come on, you're having us on! rolling eyes
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
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Hurray - we've got Manda's words of wisdom again - I might collect them all into a book. Do you think they'd fetch much on ebay? snowHead Laughing
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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!
I still don't understand why I should
Quote:

pendant alert

beware of errant light fittings Puzzled
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Alan Craggs, Laughing Laughing very good indeed - or maybe it's a warning about dodgy jewelry?
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Alan Craggs, Mark Hunter, snowHead sorry, am shite at spelling - Snowheads doesn't have spellcheck....

Cathy Coins, why thank you. Worth truckloads, once I sort out copyright wink

rob@rar.org.uk, yes, I get what you're saying, but you've only given an "it is because it is" explanation.

My point is this: so what if you've got a high performance ski with extra oompf. (I'm not talking about racing skis, just a more advanced on-piste ski like for example the Atomic SX;b5s excitableboy mentioned). A novice is going to be pootling around very carefully in some form of snowplough/christie on the easier runs. At that speed and with that technique they're a) not going to notice that the ski can carve at +100km, and b) not have the skill to achieve it. I take the point that a learner is going to find it easier to get a softer ski onto it's edge & thus to make carved turns. But despite a carved turn being the aim for a learner, for most people there's not much carving going on for first few weeks.

So there's some logic to saying it really doesn't matter that at this point that their ski is a higher spec.

Chelsea tractor drivers must use the same logic - I mean, it's not like they'll actually GET any high spec 4WD use out of the vehicle, but that doesn't mean their 4WD won't perform perfectly adequately, like every other car, as a people mover.

And if that's the case, then it would seem that the reason learners aren't put on a higher spec ski is because the higher specs are just going to be wasted. Which is an entirely different explanation altogether. wink
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Manda, does a Suzuki Alto have *any* handling to make a comparison with?
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
hyweljenkins, yep. Specially around corners. A bit like the old mini, but not quite as stable.
[gets suspicous] why, what are you saying about my first car??? Puzzled
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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
Manda wrote:
rob@rar.org.uk, yes, I get what you're saying, but you've only given an "it is because it is" explanation.


Actually Manada, that's not what I said. I described the behaviour of high performance skis compared to skis aimed at beginners and early intermediates. If you look at my first post I said high performance skis are difficult to control unless you use them well, are heavy, will move around underneath your foot and are difficult to turn. I said that by comparision my 1080s, which are much more forgiving skis, are happy to be skidded rather than carved, do not behave unpredictably when you get off-centre and are easier to turn.

I don't understand why is difficult to accept the point that high performance skis are more difficult to ski - it really isn't controversional, and in fact you acknowledge so yourself. I've never said that beginners couldn't ski high performance skis, I simply argued that they would struggle unnecessarily. Why make it more difficult than it already is?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
[quote="Manda"]
Quote:
A learner driver won't notice much difference in handling between a Suzuki Alto, and say a Ferrari GT 360
Laughing rolling eyes Another classic!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Actually, (just to be controversial Little Angel ) a learner could find that the Ferrari was easier to drive as it comes with F1 paddle shift gears. No difficult clutch control needed!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
maggi, you ought to advise David Coulthard, he can't seem to get away cleanly in any F1 Grand Prix.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

you ought to advise David Coulthard

Oooh, I would, given half a chance! Even better - Jensen button Blush
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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?
Manda, rob@rar.org.uk, interesting contributions. You might also wish to look at the What do I need to know about skis thread.

To sum my thoughts from there, IMHO the very concept of selecting gear by 'skill level' is fraught with peril. The customers err in evaluating themselves, the clerks err in interpreting that evaluation and then proceed to consult a possibly mis-marketed manufacturer's guide.

Other than the strategy I outlined in that thread "Pick the skis that behave best in the worst conditions" I suggest to you a guide- or instructor-assisted gear selection and re-evaluation on the second day of a week. Once again, independently of 'skill level'.



(Suzuki Alto, Ferrari 360 Pfffft. This is snowHead Put them in an Audi! )
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Do Feraris come with dual controls?
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What's important to a beginner is that they have skis that will help them to learn and improve their learning curve. I have discovered through the years that this is not necessarily the "cheapo" hire skis, which don't give anything back to the skier. Ideally they should have a proper carving ski, but at the most an intermediate model. the ski must be forgiving, but should turn well under very little pressure. Race skis and the like (I ski on fischer World Cup SCs) are great for a good skier, but as rob@rar.org.uk, says are heavy and can be hard to handle unless you can ski properly.

Of course for the rotational, skiddy, toilet position type skier it makes no difference at all!! However, correctly taught beginners will never fall into this category.

For length I find it makes a massive difference - shoulder height for beginners, and hardly ever more than eye height. My own are 10 cms smaller than me. My off piste skis are much longer, but are soft, easy turning and very light. WC slalom skiers (much faster than most of us, but the slowest discipline), mostly ski on around shoulder height skis.

I do find that most shops still try to give the beginners skis around head height - where have they been for the last 10 years????? Beginners need everything to help them - we want them to like ski-ing - we want them to have fun - we want them to want to come again - we want them to have a sense of achievement at the end of their week. Give them skis that are too long/difficult and none of these will happen.

rolling eyes
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easiski, comprex, as you are some of snowheads resident experts on this topic I was very pleased to see you'd contributed to this thread, and given us all a better steer on the considerations a skier should be taking into account when deciding whether a ski is appropriate for them.

From what I gather from reading both your posts: a) it's not necessarily true that the softer the ski the better it is for learners, and b) the range of skis which are appropriate for an individual might actually include higher spec skis than their skill level might otherwise lead one to believe.
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Manda wrote:
easiski, comprex, as you are some of snowheads resident experts on this topic I was very pleased to see you'd contributed to this thread, and given us all a better steer on the considerations a skier should be taking into account when deciding whether a ski is appropriate for them.

From what I gather from reading both your posts: a) it's not necessarily true that the softer the ski the better it is for learners, and b) the range of skis which are appropriate for an individual might actually include higher spec skis than their skill level might otherwise lead one to believe.


Assuming all skis are from the same era (ie up to date!), I would have thought that stiffness was the primary difference.
Take for example the Atomic SX range from 7 through 11, all are very similar in terms of shape, they are all very different in terms of the way they ski (I've skied/owned SX9s, SX10s, and SX11s). SX7s would be regarded a (low?) intermediate ski, they are softer than SX9s which are a high intermediate/advanced ski but much the same shape, SX10s are stiffer again - slightly more demanding but more rewarding in that they have much more energy than SX9s - something that a beginner wouldn't notice, what they would notice is they really need to be edging and carving more/going faster to make the ski work (something that a beginner would probably not be doing). SX11's have stiffer tails than SX10s that really fire you out of turns and can really get you in the back seat if you are not on top of them, they perform better at speed than SX10s but really take some work to control (not relaxing or confidence inspiring for a less than advanced skier)

As far as cars go I think it's a bit of a mixed bag snowHead I've had an old style supercar that would bite your ar$e if you were anything less than smooth and subtle - you've reached 60 before you've realised you're foot's slipped!! (not good for learners!), and a new performance beasty that has mega grip, super brakes, and all sorts of electronic gadgetry to save you from yourself (fairly easy to drive - slowly at least!) My beaten up Fiat was much harder to drive due to no power, no grip, and crap brakes requiring great powers of anticipation - probably a bit like straight wooden skis with no edges (though I've never skied on them so no idea!) wink snowHead
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stuarth, Spot on. Novice skiers need easy forgiving skis, but not necessarily skis that lack performance. This year I've been very impressed by the Volkl Energy 320, which I've seen work beautifully for all levels from begiinner to black run skiers on hardpack. 10x better than, say the horrible Dynastar Agyl.

Car-wise: I currently have an automatic (usually do as my back gets stroppy with too much clutch pushing these days), but have had a Scimitar GTE (1969) with 3/4 full race engine - what fun - but an absolute pig to drive! Best compromise - Chevvy Camaro RS 305 (5 litre) - lovely car ........... Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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