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Are my skis too short?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm just getting back into skiing after about ten years more or less away from the sport. (i.e. 1 or 2 times per winter)  Back in the curtain rod days I used to ski Rossi 207s, then when the shaped skis started coming along I bought a pair of 193 K2 Merlin IVs.  Everyone told me to go shorter but I figured hey I'm 6'2", 210 lbs and a type III skier so I don't want to go too short.  I bought the 193s and I've been fighting with them ever since - they're just really hard to handle, especially in the trees & bumps.  Now that I've started skiing again more regularly, It's time for some new boards.  I had my eye on the K2 Apache Recons, but then I stumbled across a screaming deal on some brand new K2 Apache Xs.  I know they're a couple of years old but they came brand new with bindings (still in the box!) for less than just the bindings would cost me at my local ski shop.  The thing is - they're 174s.  These will be the first "real" shaped skis I've ever had and I know they're supposed to be shorter but is that too short?  Should I flip them to someone else and get 181s instead?  maybe I'm still living in the past but they just look so tiny....



post #2 of 9

It depends on how aggressively you like to ski, what types of snow conditions you typically encounter, and how much you favor groomed runs vs. off-piste terrain.  Given your substantial height (6'2"), body weight (210 pounds) and skill level (Type III), you need sufficient ski under you to hold an edge when carving on firm snow and provide good flotation in soft snow (powder, skied-up crud, trees, etc.).  I am a tad smaller than you (6' and 190 pounds) and an expert skier.  I have been on a 184cm Volkl Mantra the past three seasons, which works superbly for me as an all-mountain, high-performance in northern New England (where I live but rarely ski) and in the Rockies (where I do most of my skiing).  


Given your background with longer skis, I think you will want at least 180 to 185cm under you.  If I were to replace my Mantras today, I might get the next size up (191cm).  Many of these new designs (like the Mantra) ski a bit shorter than they measure, due to a round, turned-up tail. Unless you are skiing a lot of tight bumps or prefer to go slow (due to age, avoiding risk of injury, etc.), buying a shorter ski than 180-185cm will probably lead to frustration for you.  Just make sure to purchase a substantial ski -- one that is able to handle your size, strength and skill.


One last thought: more and more of the new skis include a rockered tip or full rocker (tip as well as tail, with a flat section under foot).  That makes the ski a little friendlier in soft snow, powder and skied-up crud.  It also causes the ski to feel shorter than it measures physically, so you can go a bit longer in a rockered ski than you would in a traditionally cambered ski.  I have been reading about Volkl's 2012 season launch and the initial equipment testing and reviews that are going on now for the ski magazines next fall.  Rockered designs appear to be providing the next wave in design breakthroughs, and ski engineers are quickly figuring out how best to tailor this new feature to various conditions and types of skiing.  For example, my Mantras will now have a moderate rocker in the front section of the ski (forward of the binding toepiece) and a softer tail.  But in reading the reviews and watching a few posted video interviews, it is clear that the rockered designs are perceived to ski a little "shorter" too, which makes sense intuitively.  So, you can comfortably move up to the next length.   

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks Kent.


I haven't been able to find much info on the K2 Apache X, but what I have read indicates that it is an advanced/expert level ski:


181 was the longest size they made it, and 174 is the next step down.  It is not a twin tip and is not rockered, so I would expect that the 174 will ski like........well, a 174.  In the days of straight skis I would have never dreamed of going that short but I am told that shaped skis are a whole different ball game.  I picked these up because they were a "deal I couldn't refuse", but maybe I am better off reselling them and getting 181s next year.


My ability level has fallen off a bit from where it was ten years ago - I don't hit the bumps as hard and I'm not dropping cliffs or taking big air much anymore.  I ski a pretty even mix of groomed & ungroomed runs, and I do enjoy a rip through the trees but have gotten away from that as the 193 Merlin IVs I've been skiing really struggled in the tight stuff.  I'm not sure if that was because they were too long or simply because it wasn't the right ski for me, but I found them very frustrating.

post #4 of 9

Welcome to EpicSki Parabellum! 


My suggestion would be to go out and ski them and see how they feel on the snow.  If you got them cheap you are not going to loose any money by skiing them even if you do decide to sell them afterwards.  They will still be worth something and you'll likely recoup your money even if you do ski them.


I'd also strongly consider taking a few lessons to smooth your transition to the newer style carving skis.


Lastly, you should make sure you have boots that fit!  Boots are much more important than skis and they need to fit well for you to have a good time on the hill.




P.S.  I wouldn't recommend a  185cm ski as Kent did, high 170's or maybe 180 would be ok if the 174 do seem too short.  You'll improve more quickly on a bit shorter ski to start with.

post #5 of 9

Since they were "cheap," just ski them for a couple of seasons to truly get back into skiing and learn how to use shaped skis to your advantage.  Demo some longer and even shorter skis sometimes just to get a feel for different lengths and types of skis; fatter, rocker, early rise.  But, as MikeC pointed out, boots are much more important than skis.  Go to the "Ask the Boot Guys" forum and read the wikis about fitting and check to see if there is a boot fitter near you.  Then go get boots from a fitter.  You will be really glad you did.  Your problems with the K2 Merlins may have been caused by boots that were too big.

post #6 of 9

You can certainly give the 175cm Apache X's a whirl without too much fuss (unless you need to remount bindings, etc., just to try them out).  Skiing them for a day will not reduce their resale value much, if at all.  Their 175cm length might be plenty for you at this point.  I just prefer to have a little more ski under me and I find my 184cm Mantras to be a delight.  Some guys my size are skiing Mantras in the next shorter length (177cm) and seem happy as clams, which is great.  But I would not want less edge under me, and I note occasionally people are selling close-to-new Mantras on eBay because they want the next size up for better floatation, etc.  All of which indicates that how you plan to use the K2s will determine the optimal length for you.  A 175cm is definitely going to be more nimble for you in bumps, trees and tight turns, with the inevitable tradeoff of a bit less edge-grip on hard snow, less stability at high speeds, and less buoyancy in fresh or ungroomed snow.


A big influence on new ski designs is their width.  Offhand, I am not sure how narrow or wide the waist is in K2's Apache X.  Lots of skis are getting much wider now, which gives them much better flotation for their length, yet they still have deep enough sidecuts for responsive turning and carving performance.  My concern for you is that if the Apache X is fairly narrow-waisted and you are a strong skier packing 210 pounds, those 175's might sink like a stone in softer conditions.  In that case, you are going to end up sticking to groomers, because your skis are simply unable to perform in satisfactory ways when you encounter powder and skied-up crud or you want to venture into the trees to find fresh snow.  Either that, or you will need to ski VERY fast in ungroomed snow in order for your narrow-waisted skis to generate enough flotation to perform.  


This was what I noticed when I transitioned from my relatively stiff, narrow-waisted, 190cm Volkl GS skis — which I loved — to the much wider, 184cm Mantras.  Instinctively I found myself drawn to ungroomed snow, because those conditions are the "sweet spot" for Mantras.  And I did not need to ski them nearly as fast or unweight as dramatically to get them on top of soft snow for turning.  Given your skill level and experience, my guess is you will find yourself gravitating to situations where your skis perform their best.  I ski differently on my Mantras because of where they are the most fun to ski. 


Hope something in the assorted feedback you are getting helps.  The main thing is that you get back out on the hill, enjoy yourself and build some fond memories sharing the companionship of other skiers!  Equipment can enhance this, but is only a means to greater ends. 

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

I went to the local shop earlier this year and bought new boots.  This shop (Alpenland, if anyone is in or around Lethbridge, Ab) has an excellent reputation and arguably some of the best boot fitters in the province.  Picked up a pair of Salomon Impact 8 CS boots, and the fit is excellent.  Definitely agree that boots are the most important piece of equipment.  I was coming from a pair of (don't laugh) Salomon SX92 Equipes, and the change was night & day.  Still had trouble with those Merlins though.


I guess I'll give these 174s a shot and see how I like them; it's true I can always sell them off afterwards if I don't like them and probably get close to what I paid for them.  It's crazy how much the equipment has changed in 10 years, it makes me feel like a noob.


The Apache X is a 109-68-99.  Skinnier by some of today's standards, but at least 10mm wider than my old Merlins.

post #8 of 9

at 6'2" and 210, I think 174 will be too short. a Recon in 184 sounds like a better match.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Went skiing yesterday; first day on the 174 Apache Xs.  Wow, what a difference.  I was worried they would be too short and they felt kind of squirrely for the first couple of runs but once I got centred on them they just ripped.  I realized that I've picked up a couple bad habits skiing on those long Merlins - when you're fighting your skis your technique suffers as you compensate and I figured that out in a big hurry yesterday.  By mid morning I was working on correcting those habits and was skiing better than I have in years.  The snow was variable all day - about 6" of heavy fresh in the morning, softened to spring corn in the afternoon, and froze into chopped up crud when the temperature dropped at about 3 pm.  Everywhere we went, these skis didn't falter.


By way of comparison, the friend I went with is a similar height and skier type to me, but about 20 lbs lighter.  He rented a pair of 180 Salomon X-Wing Tornados and found them to be a handful.  He traded them in for 168s just before lunch and was amazed at the difference.  It's hard to let go of old ways of thinking sometimes, and it still seems weird to be on such tiny skis but the proof is in the practice and man are they fun to ski! 


Thanks everyone for your comments!

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