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Humble request for advice for my first real pair of skis

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I regret that my first post on this awesome forum is a request for help, but trust me - you don't want my advice about skiing!  At least not yet.  I'm hoping that with the help of this community I'll grow and be able to give back over the years to come, though.

 

I want to buy my first set of skis. I have spent several hours every day for the past couple of weeks going over buying guides and forum posts and it seems to me that there are so many variations in skier ability, size, style, and aspirations, that every time I think I've got it figured out, I read another post that changes my mind.  So, I apologize for not being able to better use the great information folks have already shared. It seems like more information has been helpful for recommendations, so I have posted a lot.

 

The abridged edition: I am 40 years old, 6' 5-1/2", 200 lb., with an athletic but not muscular build, who is probably an advanced-intermediate.

 

The backstory: I grew up nordic skiing in Minnesota. In the past 15 years (before this year) I skied 4 times, once in Minnesota on a somewhat-vertical hockey rink called "Mount Kato," and three times in Oregon.  After moving to Colorado, we decided to get into skiing as a family, and I have skied 4 times this year on a season-rental pair of skis. I don't know the style, but they are Rossignols, with a length of 165, which seems really short for the recommendations I've been reading. 

 

Like I said, I'm probably an advanced intermediate, but probably not a real well-rounded one.  I feel fine with the steepness of black diamonds, but have only skied them at Eldora and Breckenridge, which may not be as challenging as black diamonds elsewhere. I feel really comfortable and not very challenged on blues, usually, so I try to figure out how to make quicker turns and emulate the better-looking skiers who seem to ski with their skis closer together then me. Also, I like to noodle through the trees on blues, but do best if I'm following established tracks (maybe because I such dinky skis, every time I go off into softer stuff I almost flip over the front of the skis). I also try to get air on blues, but usually at pretty low speeds, and usually with results that my wife thinks are funny (and are frequently painful!). My strengths might be balance, relative level of fitness, and sense for snow, mostly from other sports. 

 

I am pretty sure I lack technique.  What I would really like to do is get a pair of all-mountain skis that can help me develop my technique.  On moguls on blue and not-so-steep black diamonds, I wipe out pretty much all the time, and struggle to link turns and turn quickly enough to get through more than one or two bumps fluidly. I haven't gotten up the courage to try moguls on steeper blacks, and I haven't tried off-piste runs, though I'd like to learn to do both.  I'd like to develop tighter, faster turns, so I've been leaning toward carving skis, but my size and the idea of being able to try some powder has me wondering about midfats, too.

 

I'm planning on going window shopping through the end of this season, then buying in October.


Thanks in advance for any of your insight on skis, bindings and boots!

 

Cheers,

 

Mike

post #2 of 17

Buy now, you'll get a better deal.  Thoughts off the top of my head are:  Rossi Avenger 82, Kastle FX84/94, Line P90, Blizzard 8.7, Dynastar Sultan 94, Fischer Watea 84, or if you want to wait until next year- Kastle BMX88 might be a good choice.

Those are all advanced skis, but you really don't want to buy an "intermediate" ski and then have to buy a new one again in a season or two.  

post #3 of 17

x2 on the avenger... 

 

intermediate skis are a stop-gap and you'll be replacing them in short order if you want to improve your skiing... invest in a ski that is currently better than you are... work up to it...

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks RaceDude!  These skis look like big steps up from the intermediate skis I was looking at in responses to other posts.  The other skis seem to vary just a little bit in reviews regarding their suitability to bumps vs. off-piste stuff.  The reviews also talk about several of the skis being stiff, but that "damper" skis might not be great for bigger skiers.  Would I be considered a bigger skier?  I mean, compared to a 5'5" 140 pound woman, of course, but I'm basically tall and thin.

 

Several reviewers talked about tip stiffness (as in the Dynastar Sultan 94) being a problem on bumps.  I liked the sound of tips that would deflect a bit from obstacles I might not set up to avoid accurately. My question here would be whether softer tips allow for better turning skill development because you succeed more often or whether firm tips force you to develop those skills or else bite the dust. Given that both you and apexanimal suggested the Avengers, I'd say that my biggest question about those skis is that they got really exciting reviews, but the "tail stiffness" comment emerged several times.  I do find that I ski better if I get up over the skis and try to drive a little aggressively, but my basketball/distance-running dinged up knees sometimes holler if I do this too long.  So, would getting skis with a softer tail reward my plaintive knees or teach me bad habits?

 

In case other folks considering their first set of "expert" skis are looking here, I'll give a slight rundown of the skis RaceDude suggested.

 

I didn't know what to make of reviews of the Wattea 84s.  Some said they were responsive, some said a little slow; some said they chattered, others said stable. Some said the soft tip meant that setting up turns took longer than other skis; other people said it responded in an instant.  The good reviews were ecstatic, the bad ones were unimpressed. Seems like people generally loved it or just thought meh.

 

Reviews made the Blizzard Magnum 8.7s sound like a dream...likes big turns with a big sweet spot, maneuverable but loves speed.  It was compared to race skis and folks said it would reward aggressive skiers who like to ride on the edges.  Edge control and "pop" were really standouts for these skis. They sound awesome and a little scary to me, with my still-developing technique.

 

If the Line P90s are the same as the Line Prophet 90s, then they are some of the prettiest skis I've ever seen, with a neat series of Chinese silk-screen paintings emerging over natural wood veneer on the tops (every year seems to have a slightly different variation on this theme, though, so I might be describing the 2010s).  They were thought to be really versatile, but their durability was questioned and at least one person said they weren't that great on bumps. Everyone who tried them out East seemed to love them. Really leaning toward these skis (I'm lucky to get 6 days in this year, so durability not the looming concern).

 

The Kastle 94s got pretty bad reviews, from what I could see. The 84s did better, Seemed to be positioned as a backcountry ski, with virtues being that it was light, and definitely better on powder than on anything hard or bumpy.  Pretty pricey from what I could see.

 

Dynastar Sultan 94s got reviews somewhat similar to the Blizzard 8.7s - great skis for Big mountain expert skiers.  Seem to demand the ability to command the skis or be taken for a ride. But not in the sense of the speed associated with the Blizzards. More than one person said they were not a fast ski, but were also not real stable at high speeds. They sounded great for aggressive, off piste skiing, but maybe a year or two beyond where I'm at.

 

And that brings us to the Rossi Avenger 82 carbon.  Their reviews were a bit all over the place, like the Wattea's.  The Avenger 82 Ti's got much better reviews in several cases.  Seemed geared toward powder skiers, with some issues perhaps on edge grip (which the Ti's were given better marks for).  Might be like the Kastle 84s...somewhat light, better off the groomers and in the less trammeled powder.

 

Anyway, I hope no one gets bugged by my ski review roundup.  I will be sure to post my reactions to whatever I get (I'm leaning toward the P90s or maybe Avenger 82 Ti).

 

Thanks again!!

 

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks apexanimal!  I had a couple of questions in the post to RaceDude's reply if you're inclined to enlighten me.

 

Cheers!

post #6 of 17

Get a subscription to expertskier.com   Look for icons that include black AND blue skier icons, turn radius somewhere in the middle of the range, speed that covers slow and fast speeds.  Make a list.  Buy the one that's on sale.

 

At 200 lbs, skiing mostly on marked runs, you will need metal in the ski.  Get Avenger ti over Avenger Carbon.  I would say also that if you are sticking to groomed runs, you would be better off on the narrower side of the range.  You will have plenty of time later to pick up a second pair of skis for off-piste skiing.

post #7 of 17


ahh, wisdom... I admit I didn't read all the posts but did anyone bring up getting proper fitting boots? If you are going to commit to this sickness, you need to start off on the right foot so to speak.

 

the sponsors here, Start Haus, Dawgcatching, Skiershop among others all have great EPIC member deals going right now. 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Get a subscription to expertskier.com   Look for icons that include black AND blue skier icons, turn radius somewhere in the middle of the range, speed that covers slow and fast speeds.  Make a list.  Buy the one that's on sale.

 

At 200 lbs, skiing mostly on marked runs, you will need metal in the ski.  Get Avenger ti over Avenger Carbon.  I would say also that if you are sticking to groomed runs, you would be better off on the narrower side of the range.  You will have plenty of time later to pick up a second pair of skis for off-piste skiing.



 

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post


ahh, wisdom... I admit I didn't read all the posts but did anyone bring up getting proper fitting boots? If you are going to commit to this sickness, you need to start off on the right foot so to speak.

+1  Boots are WAY more important than skis.  With boots that fit my feet I can ski with pretty must any ski(I even took a couple of runs on my old too long Volkl P30 Racecarvers last Friday) and be able to control the ski and have a good time.  If my boots don't fit correctly, I will be miserable and no ski can compensate for ill-fitting boots.  Go to the "Ask the Boot Guys" forum and read the wikis there about fitting and terminology and check the list of fitters to see who is near you.  When you have boots that really fit your feet you can demo different skis and then get a much better idea of what you like instead of what someone else likes.  Or, buy properly fitting boots and then go visit Icelantic in Denver for some really great skis - I loves my Shamans.yahoo.gif
 

 

post #9 of 17

For an advanced/expert skier with your height and weight, you would want a ski at least 180 cm. I am 6'1" and 220 lbs, and I ski 189's that have never felt big, but they still dwarf 98% of the skis on the rack at the local mountain.

 

Problem is, this is not you- you aren't an expert, yet. For a beginner using rental equipment, 165 cm is reasonable.

 

So, the question becomes what size to look at. For a developing skier, moving right up to boards 1 1/2 foot longer than you are used to can cause trouble, but the flipside is, if you spend $$$ on skis in a shorter length, you will likely outgrow them as you get better.

 

I would probably look at a budget ski in the upper 170 cm (177, 178, etc.) range, with the understanding that you will probably drop it for something bigger as you progress.

 

And just so we are clear, the first purchase you make should be boots. There are more talk about what skis to buy on here than boots because people have unique feet, and the best boot is the one that fits, thus, boots are not a commodity that we can freely recommend.

 

Right now, spend your money at a good bootfitter. Do not try this on your own at a sports authority, Dicks, or the like- You will not choose the correct boots on your own, and if you are like most of us, you will choose boots 1, 2, 3 sizes too big. Many of us have made this mistake, even those of use that should know better.

 

I was an expert skier as a teen that blew my knee up and stopped skiing for 4 years, when I came back, I was trying to get new beginner equipment (I couldn't ski anything but groomers because of the knee), and so I tried to fit my WIDE feet into the on-sale boot, and ended up going 3 sizes up from where I should have been to fit the width. I didn't think it would be a problem because of the level of skiing I was capable of at the time, but it caused MASSIVE pain and cramping on the mountain.

 

If you are in Colorado, a good balance of competitive price and good staff that can fit you is Colorado Ski and Golf. They are good fitters, and once they sell you a boot, they will do any amount of work for free (punching out the shell, grinding, foot bed adjustment, etc, to make it work. I've had TONS of work done on my boots there over many seasons, and they have always done it with no questions asked.

post #10 of 17

Yeah boots should be the first investment, then skis.  Once you get a good pair of boots I'd go with the Avenger 82Ti skis.  After that, in a season or 2, get a wider powder ski.

post #11 of 17

A suggestion:  Everyone is right about boots being the most important.  After that you might consider buying an end of season demo skis.  Typically a ski binding with a $1000-1200 MSRP will go for $400 as a demo sale at the end of the year.   I like this approach because it allows you to cycle through a few skis in the next 2 years.  Typically junk skis are not demoed.  A  good, if scratched up demo ski will be better than a shiny middle of the road ski. 

 

Shorter skis are a good way to learn / develop skills.  Not too short, but you can trade up to longer skis in year 2 or 3.  Buying a season end demo, then selling it and upgrading a year later will cost you about the same a seasonal rentals....  maybe a bit more...   

 

If you buy boots you like, and have them fitted by a good person (probably $150-200 extra with a foot bed) you will make huge progress.  Even if you rent skis again next year.  

 

Good luck...

 

 

post #12 of 17

 + 1 to anachronism's post: any decent skis because it is an intermediate level ski.  And good boots, fitted by a shop.

Intermediates: not too great a sidecut, (not too curvy) a ski from any brand or model line.


Edited by davluri - 3/15/11 at 4:49pm
post #13 of 17

I don't know if they will be doing it next season, but I recall seeing Breezes (I think in Idaho Springs and maybe other locations in the Front Range) have a $175 demo pass for the season last year- all the demos you wanted, but you could only keep a max of 3 days each...didn't work for me living in Summit, but seemed pretty good if you were driving I-70.

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by steve06877 View Post

A suggestion:  Everyone is right about boots being the most important.  After that you might consider buying an end of season demo skis.  Typically a ski binding with a $1000-1200 MSRP will go for $400 as a demo sale at the end of the year.   I like this approach because it allows you to cycle through a few skis in the next 2 years.  Typically junk skis are not demoed.  A  good, if scratched up demo ski will be better than a shiny middle of the road ski. 

 


 


This is good advice.  Colorado Ski and Golf is actually owned by Vail, and they (along with Mountain Sports Outlet, another company in the same group) sell all of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck Etc., rental demos, along with rentskis.com and MANY other places' retired demo skis.

 

They are usually 2-3 model years old, and the bases are generally in good condition with the topsheets anywhere from very clean to moderately scratched but not delaminated.  They have a lot of K2's.

 

You can find some exceptional deals here, and they will haggle down significantly off the stickered price as it is used gear.

 

Two years ago I bought a 2007 (2 years old at the time) set of K2 Apache Recons with demo Salomon Z12TI demo bindings for $225, a new set of the identical ski was $750ish with bindings. Sticker on the skis was $250.

 

This year, I bought my sister a pair of 2007 K2 Phat Luvs, a pretty kickass girls powder ski, with Tyrolia something or other Din 10 binders. Stickered $230, which I thought was an amazing price, but I got them to drop it to $185, and the skis look all but new- topsheet looks GREAT.

 

This is a great way to pick up skis.

 

 

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you to you all!

 

This is an amazing and generous donation of expertise.  I should say I'm a psychologist and it seems like every other time someone finds that out I end up in an hour-long "conversation" about what to do about troublesome kids or spider phobia.  So I'm usually reluctant to ask other experts to give me their thoughts for free.  I'm deeply appreciative.

 

I'm also a professor, so I have a deep, unbearable urge to summarize!

 

Please correct me if I'm way off here.

 

#1. Boots, fitted by a certified fitter. These make all the difference, probably in ways I don't understand right now skiing in too-short skis at low to moderate speeds on groomers and mild bumps and trees.

 

#2. At my size and skill level right now, I may need metal in whatever skis I get, but the exact ski may not matter as much as I thought. Several people said to concentrate more on carvers for a year or two and intermediate level skis (or the Avenger 83 Ti, which I think are a little more advanced than intermediate), then I can get wider skis once I get good enough to go off piste. Several people also said to cycle through demo skis (not necessarily taking a big leap in length to 188 or so) every year or two until my skill level is commensurate with using a wider and longer, expert ski

 

#3. Lots of great buying advice. Colorado Ski & Golf came out as a winner for expert help and good prices, particularly on retiring demos. The consensus seemed to me to be to buy now for better deals than the "sniagrab" sales that happen in Fall. MEfree30 mentioned that there might be vendors who do demo mix'n'match rentals for a season on the Front Range if I don't buy now. A couple people mentioned demoing at resorts.

 

#4. By virtue of their relative absence in this thread, I take it that I am not good enough to be putting the kinds of demands on my skis where bindings make a lot of difference. It seems to me that I should be ok with whatever bindings come with the skis I get (especially if I go with retiring demos).

 

#5. fashionable headgear!   (just kidding)  I'm just assuming you all would advise someone with a head perched atop what is basically a 6 foot golf club to wear a helmet (which I do). I had some friends come out and visit who hadn't skied in 8 years or so and they were all stunned that I would wear a helmet.  Until they saw the slopes.  What a huge cultural shift toward helmets.

 

#6. This wasn't really a consensus item. But someone sent me a message encouraging me to get a private lesson and work those techniques until I plateau. Then get another lesson.  Repeat as often as needed to be able to use the whole mountain.

 

Thanks!

post #16 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by basketballskier View Post
#1. Boots, fitted by a certified fitter. These make all the difference, probably in ways I don't understand right now skiing in too-short skis at low to moderate speeds on groomers and mild bumps and trees.

 

Actually, in my experience they make a huge, very noticeable difference in comfort and control in almost all situations.  You can get by in rental boots if you're not doing anything crazy, but it's much less pleasant.

 

Quote:
#2. At my size and skill level right now, I may need metal in whatever skis I get, but the exact ski may not matter as much as I thought. Several people said to concentrate more on carvers for a year or two and intermediate level skis (or the Avenger 83 Ti, which I think are a little more advanced than intermediate), then I can get wider skis once I get good enough to go off piste. Several people also said to cycle through demo skis (not necessarily taking a big leap in length to 188 or so) every year or two until my skill level is commensurate with using a wider and longer, expert ski

 

I'd basically agree with all that.  At your size it would be difficult to get too much ski unless you were buying expert/racing skis.  Buying used skis is MUCH more cost-effective.  Spend the money on boots.

 

Quote:
#3. Lots of great buying advice. Colorado Ski & Golf came out as a winner for expert help and good prices, particularly on retiring demos. The consensus seemed to me to be to buy now for better deals than the "sniagrab" sales that happen in Fall. MEfree30 mentioned that there might be vendors who do demo mix'n'match rentals for a season on the Front Range if I don't buy now. A couple people mentioned demoing at resorts.

 

Don't live in your area, so no comment other than that I agree the end of the season is usually the best pricing.  Ski swaps/sales in the fall can be hit or miss.  Shops definitely want to clear out overstock and old demos right now.  If you don't know what you want, demoing a few skis (after you get boots!) is the best approach, but costs a bit more.  If you buy from the shop where you demo, they'll usually deduct the demo fees from the purchase price.

 

Quote:
#4. By virtue of their relative absence in this thread, I take it that I am not good enough to be putting the kinds of demands on my skis where bindings make a lot of difference. It seems to me that I should be ok with whatever bindings come with the skis I get (especially if I go with retiring demos).

I wouldn't worry about bindings yet.  The only real problem with rental bindings is that they're heavy, and that is only an issue (for the most part) if you're hauling your skis uphill to go into the backcountry.  In general they're quite solidly made, and you can adjust them to fit your boots without needing to redrill the skis, which is actually a plus when buying or selling used gear.

 

Quote:
#6. This wasn't really a consensus item. But someone sent me a message encouraging me to get a private lesson and work those techniques until I plateau. Then get another lesson.  Repeat as often as needed to be able to use the whole mountain.

 

I'm a big fan of lessons.  But I'm biased...  rolleyes.gif

 

What I recommend for people who want to get better and will be skiing regularly at one place is to look into any kind of multi-week group lesson program being offered.  They're almost always a steal in terms of $/hour of instruction, you usually get the same instructor (and group) every time, and they're usually some of the more senior people on the instruction staff.  The continuity from a program like that is a HUGE plus IMO.

 

Multi-day clinics (including Epicski Academy events) can also be fantastic, but that's usually a bigger time and money commitment.

 

If you're just gonna take a lesson here and there, then the advice you got is good.  You need some time to absorb new information and integrate it into your skiing.  Private lessons get you more focused attention/advice than a group lesson.  Of course, at intermediate and above levels, 'group' lessons are still often pretty small and can be a *lot* cheaper sometimes...

post #17 of 17


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99 View Post

I'm a big fan of lessons.  But I'm biased...  rolleyes.gif

 

What I recommend for people who want to get better and will be skiing regularly at one place is to look into any kind of multi-week group lesson program being offered.  They're almost always a steal in terms of $/hour of instruction, you usually get the same instructor (and group) every time, and they're usually some of the more senior people on the instruction staff.  The continuity from a program like that is a HUGE plus IMO.

 

Multi-day clinics (including Epicski Academy events) can also be fantastic, but that's usually a bigger time and money commitment.

 

If you're just gonna take a lesson here and there, then the advice you got is good.  You need some time to absorb new information and integrate it into your skiing.  Private lessons get you more focused attention/advice than a group lesson.  Of course, at intermediate and above levels, 'group' lessons are still often pretty small and can be a *lot* cheaper sometimes...


I'd recommend the Keystone (or possibly Breck) unlimited adult group lessons that I have done the last two years- not sure what the deal will be next year, but it was available Thur-Sunday (with busy times blacked out) for $249 or $269 this year.  At the advanced level, I never had a group bigger than 6 people and usually much smaller early in the season.

 

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