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Gender-specific skis?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Are women-specific skis just a marketing tool or will your average chick notice a difference?  I'm zaftig (a womanly shape, for lack of a better term in English, so if woman-specific design makes a difference to your recreational woman with ambitions to ski 60/40 on/off piste to start with, it would make a difference to me.  


I'm an intermediate skier, fairly aggressive, on groomers for now but learning parallelism quickly.  I have strong ambitions to ski the whole mountain, especially all that powder that still intimidates me.  I know I won't find a ski that's perfect for all conditions and terrain, but I need something that will allow me to expand my skills and identify what more specific needs I will have next year.


I tried Volkl Kenjas when I was still thrashing, and they required a little more agression than I could maintain at the time; I should demo them again now that I'm more confident.  Rossi S80s were great groomer skis, and S90s were more stable in storms with crud, chop and 10-foot visibility, and still pretty good on groomers. I haven't tried non-woman-specific skis or other brands yet.


Any guidance would be helpful.  Demos are expensive, so the more I can narrow it down, the better.  Oh, and the S90s are on clearance for $279 at REI right now, but I'm trying not to be influenced too much by the price.

post #2 of 24

Rossignol made their top of the line B series (B-Squad) ski in a women's version. I believe that it was the same as the shortest men's length at the time, a 166, and softer than the longer models starting at 176. Salomon makes their popular Shogun in a women's version which is called the Geisha and is the same ski with a different top sheet graphic design. Those are the only two I have experience with. K2 has a slew of women's models that I believe are gender specific in more than graphics. The S90 would be a great ski, IMO, if you are able to buy the right length, and if you are definitely happy with a conventional ski. A central characteristic of the S90 is that it is a very damp ski, which I find great in powder and crud. The Geisha is far more lively and active. I am only commenting on the skis that are the same as the men's version that I have skied. There are women posting here that will know how they work for a woman, and how the gender specific skis work.

post #3 of 24

The majority of Womens Specific skis today are actually more than a pink topsheet and a sheet of metal pulled out of a unisex ski. But like unisex skis there are a wide range of different skis suitable to different skiers.  What would be most helpful would be if you could tell us more about yourself. Where you ski? More about your build. How you like to ski - finesse or power? What do you currently ski and what you like or don't like about it. You say you want to ski the whole mountain, and there are skis that can do that, but generally they will be better in some areas and worse in others, so what things are most important to you in skiing? Lastly I believe that it is probably possible to find a demo day at which for the cost of a lift ticket you can try out many many skis at no additional cost to find out what you like. You might be surprised!

post #4 of 24

As mentioned above, specifics would be really helpful, especially your height/weight (you don't have to be real specific with the weight, but close-ish would be nice).


You'll find most womens skis have a lighter, softer core and many have less metal and/or a forward mounting point. Nowadays, the higher end womens skis are the real deal, not just dumbed-down, shorter mens skis.


At 190+, most of my skis are unisex/mens although the following womens skis have been added to my quiver and are now my go-to sticks: Volkl Aura (94 waist), Volkl Kiku (105 waist, pre-rocker), and Hart Lady Twin (86 waist - it replaced my unisex Volkl Karma). All are more than enough for my weight and aggressive racer-based style.


The ones getting raves on www.theSkiDiva.com are the Aura, the Kenja, the K2 Lotta Luv, the Rossi S7/110W and the....oh crap....brain fart. Anyway, just head over there and check it out.

post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 

Specifics are always good.  51 years old, 5'3", 155.  Anything else that would help? 


I'll check out theskidiva.com.  With a shopping list in hand I'll be able to demo some variety to come down to a ski that feels good and might get me somewhere.  Oh, right, downhill.

post #6 of 24

Try Dynastar Exclusive series, my wife (5'4'' 140lbs) likes the Idyll, Eden was a bit more demanding and heavy. She loves her new Idyll for being light weight and damp.



post #7 of 24

My wife (5'4" and 125 lbs), who I would describe as a strong skier, has gone through several generations of the Dynastar Exclusive Powders (which seems to have become the Eden). She would agree: A) that a woman specific ski is not just a gimmick, and B) that the Dynastars, in particular, are worthwhile. From my point of view, the most important difference seems to be that she can bend women specific skis, which has not always been true of unisex skis we have bought her in the past.

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

OK, even more (maybe too much) info:

I’m an advancing (rather than advanced) intermediate on pretty much all blues.  My skiing has been improving just from reading the ski instruction forum, and I expect that to continue, especially if I can find a decent instructor. 


I really like to be graceful but after I do that for a while I usually get a wild hair and go charging all over the place.  Sarah Vaughn, then R.L. Burnside, with a little Leo Kottke in between. 

The reality is that until I feel solid on my skis I'm likely to be mostly on groomed runs, through steep blues, in all their buttery/powdery/icy/corny/whatevery glory.  I think soon I'll be able to ski steeper/harder terrain, but Alta doesn’t groom blacks; I guess I could check out Snowbird (they apparently hang their grooming machines from the top of the mountain or something).  I love weather, too, so add sugar-coated whiteouts, which often means losing track of the run altogether, though I guess that’s another story.  I like to dip my toes into the bits beside the runs (sidecountry?) just to keep myself humble.  

Let me guess--does this mean I need a livelier ski?  Not a particularly wide one, and definitely not a pure or even mostly powder ski?  If so, that would explain why I liked the S80s more than the S90s, right?  I know for sure that the Kenjas wanted to be skied more aggressively than either one and I got a little thrill when I could get it together, which I can do better now.  So I should try the Kenjas, the Shogun/Geishas, and what else?  Am I close?

post #9 of 24

VG, the Kiku (white with lt blue and tan top sheet)  is the Gotama.  Some Dynastars are just top sheets, some are completely different skis. A friend skied for them and skied the Exclusive Pro Rider, same ski re-graphic-ed.

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

Many thinks, volklgirl, I'm already perusing the gear reviews and am getting lots of ideas.  First of all, I'm going to re-demo the Kenjas now that I have the right boots.  And then try some others.  The key is getting a ski I'm going to grow into but not so tough that I really can't ski them.

post #11 of 24



You might try the K2 Lotta Luv as well. My wife (5'6", 140#) is on her second generation of these skis after owning several Volkls.

She loved her first Lotta Luvs (2008/2009 traditionally cambered), but really loves her 2010/2011 early rise Lotta Luvs.

Let me also add that she is a big believer in woman-specific ski design - her first Volkls were a bit stiff.

post #12 of 24



my take on the "W" gear thing, as a 20 year shop manager, and a guy.   I still carry a lot of "W" stuff, but base my buying on the boots shape and flex, and not just a the genitals of the buyer.

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 

Oh, but w-specific boots have fuzzy fleece in the cuffs.  The guy at the rental shop is jealous.


At least my boots have zero cute graphics.  I don't much care about the skis; I just want the ones that'll be great for me.  I'm not particularly light or fragile, so some men's skis might be better.  I'll demo at Alf's on Friday, which does the unlimited demo thang, and will be sure to point that out to them.

post #14 of 24

I don't know - I mean, I can see your point about boots (I don't wear women's specific boots - I wear junior race boots) but good luck finding me unisex skis to match my 5'1" 96 lb. stats.  I'm strong for my size and athletic, but I can definitely see the advantage of women's specific skis considering I'm very short and very light.  I read through your thread not long ago and it seems that GENERALLY - for a large segment of the female population - they will do fine on unisex skis, as has been the case pre-advent of women's skis, but there will always be people that don't fall in that range for whom women's gear proves very helpful and a welcome addition to the skiing world.  Additionally, a lot of the technological improvements have changed the game quite a bit - like others have said, women's gear isn't just men's gear toned down and with pink flowers slapped on, at least not anymore. 

Originally Posted by mntlion View Post



my take on the "W" gear thing, as a 20 year shop manager, and a guy.   I still carry a lot of "W" stuff, but base my buying on the boots shape and flex, and not just a the genitals of the buyer.

post #15 of 24

Litterbug, I would definitely redemo the Kenja and see if you like them more now.  I think we're in similar places as far as ski level goes, and I really liked the Kenjas (clearly, since I bought them :) ) but you're right, they require you to be more aggressive on them to really get them to work.


I haven't tried this ski, but what about the Rossi S86W?  Similar stats in terms of width underfoot, but perhaps a different feel.  Hard for me to say as I haven't demoed the S86 - just the S80W, but I found the S80 to be a pretty forgiving, less aggressive ski - not sure if that will hold true for the S86 but possibly worth a shot. 


In that range, I would also try the Salomon Lady.  I was recommended that ski to try, but couldn't find a demo.  It's 85 underfoot?  Aspen Ski & Board has been putting up the Ladys on eBay lately (new demos with demo bindings) and some have gone for ridiculously low prices.  It's supposed to be a very lively, softer ski, I think - good for lightweights or those who aren't super aggressive.  


And of course, the K2 Lottas are worth a try too - I wish I had tried them out but I'm not big on K2 graphics.... (yeah, yeah - it's my ONE concession to vanity ok - I have neon orange boots for heaven's sake :P ).  

post #16 of 24
Originally Posted by BrownEyedGirl View Post

And of course, the K2 Lottas are worth a try too - I wish I had tried them out but I'm not big on K2 graphics.... (yeah, yeah - it's my ONE concession to vanity ok - I have neon orange boots for heaven's sake :P ).  


Heh. My only "vanity" if you want to call it that is I refuse to buy any gear that is pink. If I found the perfect boot and it was pink I guess I'd have to suck it up, but in skis, poles, softgoods you won't find  any pink on this girl.

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 

Oh my bloody goodness--I just went to the DPH's website and their demos are on sale--of course you buy them and wait until April 18th to get them-- but they're all $399 including demo bindings & tuning!  The Kenjas  Rossi 86 (not sure if these are the 86W), Solomon Geisha!  And by the way, the price also includes shipping to the lower 48 states.  Here's the page:




I'm guessing demo bindings will be heavier than regular ones because someone told me rental bindings are heavier because they have to be more adjustable.  Am I right?  But even if I needed new bindings, that's an INSANE price!

post #18 of 24

Litterbug - be sure to call and make sure they have the size you want for whatever ski, and also ask about what condition they're in and how many days they've been in use.  Sometimes it's worth it to buy a demo - like in my case at my local ski shop, the Heads I was considering before the Kenjas would've only had half a dozen days on them before I bought them - and sometimes the demos have been out dozens of times and it might be worth it just to pay an extra couple hundred bucks and get new ones at the end of the season.  So definitely call and ask.  The nice thing about demo bindings is that your friends can try your skis out if they want, and when you decide (or if you decide) to resell it'll be easy to find a buyer in terms of adjusting bindings/not needing to adjust.  I personally would just keep the demo bindings on there instead of putting new ones on (the money you put into buying new bindings you might as well put towards just getting new skis plus I wouldn't want to redrill if at all possible).  


Persee - I'm not a pink girl myself :) Blue is my color - alas my boots are orange, my skis are white and purple, and my poles are purple and black.  At least my new ski pants will be blue, as are my goggles!  I have a friend obsessed with pink though and not into gear at all - if there was a pink ski in her size she would've bought it, regardless of whether it was K2, Volkl, powder, carver, whatever! 

post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 

B.E.G., once I got over my excitement that occurred to me--I'd be buying them now but not getting them until April 18, so noone knows how much they'll be skied when I get them.  I'll talk ask about it at the shop tomorrow, but I'm ready to walk away from the deal unless I know I'd be getting a ski in great condition.  Does that sound right?  Would the tuning take care of any wear and tear, or would fixing stuff shorten the life of the skis?


I don't mind a few scratches or dings on the topsheet, but I'd hate to get messed-up skis in April and feel like I ripped myself off.

post #20 of 24

Litterbug, that was my concern too (that there's still two months left and who knows how many more times the skis will go out?).  You definitely want to get a ski in great condition!  Scratches on the top sheet are just cosmetic but there shouldn't be deep gouges, especially running across the ski, on the bases.  As long as the dings on the skis aren't major a full tune and base grind should take care of it, but remember that when the shop grinds the base they do take a little bit of it off and that will shorten the life span of the ski a tiny bit (especially if that isn't the first base grind for these skis).  There's a good discussion on waxing/tuning/base grinding and such on SkiDiva going on right now I think.  


I think I read that skis typically have about 100 days as their shelf-life - maybe more if they're exceptionally well-taken care of or haven't really been exposed to rocks/bits of tree/things that will gouge the base - so it is important to get a sense of how often the demos have been skied.  If they've been really popular and skied 20-30 times or if they're just totally trashed then I don't know - I think I'd rather pay the end of the season prices on a new one, you know?  (I can see certain skis being demoed a lot by the way - think Aura or Lotta Luvs).  

post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 

Yeah, exactly.  I get the feeling this particular shop takes good care of the skis, and Alta is the home of ski sluts of both genders, although most of them are like me--hoping to get a deal on great skis that haven't already had their bases ground, etc.


One factor is that given our weather patterns, we might not have much rock skiing this year, and from the word on the street, the 2011-2012 skis are coming out, which might take some of the sloppier traffic off the 2010-2011 models. 


Obviously it's mid-day and I haven't left yet; I'm hammered from lack of sleep this last week, so I may ski tomorrow's storm.  Storm or flat light could be a great way to demo, as about 2/3 of my ski days have been like that.  However, the NWS has done an unusually terrible job predicting how this system is acting.  Last night they said today and tomorrow would be sunny but now it's 80% cloud cover, and supposed to dump tomorrow and Sunday.  That means smaller crowds because the holiday tourists hate storms, and 6-8 inches of soft snow over a firm base always feels sweet!

post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 

And you have a point about waiting for end-of-season pricing; if I'm not even getting the skis until April, it's possible that it's just as smart to watch for those less-advertised clearance sales.  We'll see how impulsive I feel, assuming the shop convinces me the demos are extremely unlikely to be too funky.

post #23 of 24

Litterbug, what skis are you thinking of demoing?  Let us know how it goes!  

post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

Well, I did ski Friday PM and demoed the Kenjas again in howling winds on scoured-and-floured runs (scoured by wind or covered by smooth floury wind deposits).  This time they gave me no back-talk.  My balance is much better now and the Kenjas pointed out to me how much easier it is to turn if I'm on both skis with the same part of my feet (toes, balls, front of the heel pad) at the same time, so they gave me no sass the rest of the day.  I'll post more about the Kenjas later.


Anyhow, I talked with the guys about the demo sale, and it all comes down to the obvious: there's no way of knowing how much or how hard they'll be skied by February 18th; but the bases will be repaired and the skies otherwise fully tuned; and if they're too beat up for you, they'll refund the $400.  My take is that it's a helluva deal either way if there's a pair of this year's skis you really want to add to next-year's quiver, complete with bindings and completely tuned by a very competent shop (the Kenjas' edges were sharp as little knives), and aren't worried by a season's worth of cosmetic scratches.


I know that end of season and pre-season sales are good if you can find the ski and size you want, and hunting online might net a similar price if you're clever and persistent.  This is just a way of getting something you want to add to next year's quiver without wondering if the right one will be available later.


But I haven't demoed enough to know which ones I want for the next 2 1/2 months, to say nothing of next season, so I'm holding off for now.

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