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Why are skis so heavy?

post #1 of 134
Thread Starter 

I demoed a bunch of skis today. They were all really heavy. Is there any good reason for this? I love my lightweight Goodes.

Eric

post #2 of 134

Were they all Volkls or something else with a lot of metal in them?  Clearly all skis aren't heavy and weights vary quite a bit, from 6-7ish pounds per pair up to 11-12 lbs.

 

Why are you demoing skis if you love your Goodes so much?

post #3 of 134

   


Edited by comprex - 4/19/11 at 4:53pm
post #4 of 134

Hi Eleeski--when they're built of wood, steel, fiberglass, and what-have-you, with bindings and perhaps riser plates mounted on top, skis are going to have some weight. There is still quite a range, though, with your Goode carbon fiber skis surely on the lighter end of the spectrum. If you have not skied a full-on race ski with a heavy plate and heavy-duty binding, you probably haven't ever really skied a heavy ski.

 

Frankly, there are advantages to heavier skis, much of the time (at least when you're not carrying them on your shoulder). Once they're on your feet, you don't usually have to lift them anyway--they're supported by the snow. Lightweight skis are certainly easier to pivot and throw around--which may be why many skiers describe them as feeling "quicker." But if you are trying to keep your skis on track, going the direction they're pointed, with minimal twisting and hucking around, heavier skis can feel much more stable. They don't get tossed and bounced around in crud and uneven snow as much. They carry their momentum through the transition of turns more easily. There is a "smoothness" that you rarely find with lightweight skis.

 

I'm not a fan of lightweight skis, generally. Surely, they are a nice compromise if you're carrying them or traveling uphill. Alpine Touring skis are typically light, but it is really a compromise once you get them to the top and point 'em downhill. My preference does me no favors, of course, when I'm schlepping several pairs of them through an airport in a ski bag. But I'll do it anyway!

 

Best regards,

Bob Barnes

post #5 of 134

I agree with Bob...performance orientated skis tend to be heavier, the benefits far far far outweight the negatives.

 

Generally if you are concerned about a skis weight, you are doing it wrong.  Notable exception of course being if you tour a lot.

post #6 of 134
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the thoughtful replies.

My Goodes are several years old so material weight is not the limiting factor in ski construction. If weight truly is an advantage, wouldn't a light ski with ballast in the optimal spots be superior to a randomly heavy ski? Where would you weight a ski for the best stability?

On hard snow days I go out on my Volkl Race Tiger slalom cut skis. Very heavy but quite lively so I can get lots of air. Maybe I wouldn't get through the gates as fast but I'd sure prefer them lighter in the bumps and in the air.

I am a mediocre skier on the groomers and gates - slow and a bit too skiddy - even on my heavy Volkls. But I rock in the bumps. Despite my advanced age I can stay in the zipper line of the freestyle team at Squaw. I enjoy easy air tricks, eagles, daffys and helicopters. These are so much easier on light skis! I also prefer light skis in powder - when needed I can correct the ski position easily.

I don't ski super fast. I slow down even more in crud. These are the times I think a heavy ski might help me. But I probably spend more time carrying my skis than skiing when I need heavier skis. And it would be easier to carry a couple hunks of lead for those times.

RE my demo day: The snow was sticky spring snow. The bumps were big and soft. The groomers were unskiably sticky. Steep was fun. I liked the Fisher Wadas best but they were heavy. Volkl Mantras were OK too. K2 Richters (awful) and K2 Backstash (sweet but tiring) really worked my knees - especially riding the lift up. I'd probably buy the Backstashes if they were lighter. I didn't get to try the new Goodes.

Eric

post #7 of 134

     


Edited by comprex - 4/19/11 at 4:53pm
post #8 of 134

While everything else noted probably covers the most important parts, demo bindings can also outweigh lightweight alpine bindings by a good bit.  So if the bindings on your Goodes are on the lighter end of the spectrum, that may exacerbate the difference you feel.

post #9 of 134
Thread Starter 

Comprex, my Goodes have outlived their new Salomon bindings. Weight in construction materials is not needed to assure durability. I've had much heavier skis break or soften up prematurely. With $80 lift tickets, replacing skis every couple of years is reasonable. The Goodes - still rocking bumps after 4 years until the binding broke - gave excellent life for me. A ski does not have to be heavy to be durable and give good performance.

Which of the weight added skis was truly spectacular?

Marcus, I think all the skis had reasonably light Marker bindings. Swing weight felt significant when throwing helicopters. And my knees are sore from the chairlift rides with the heavy skis trying to rip my legs off.

In the old days I had Hexcels and K2 Threes which were great and light. Weren't the old Durafibers top race skis and quite light?

A while back, tennis racket manufacturers seemed to be in a race to lighten rackets.Then carbon got scarce and expensive. Tennis rackets suddenly needed to be heavier. Now there is a mix of racket weights and no consensus on what is the optimal weight. I wonder if the weight of products offered to us isn't marketing driven - not performance driven.

I do not ski for Goode so I don't have an inside track on his new stuff. I do waterski at a reasonably high level and know Dave Goode personally. His lightweight waterskis dominate the slalom tournaments. Most competing manufacturers top end offerings evolved to become similar in weight and are catching up to the success of the Goode waterskis. In waterskiing, weight is critical and Goode skis demonstrated that clearly.

PVC foam cores, carbon fibers, boron fibers and advanced resins make lightweight skis a straightforward engineering exercise. Will light skis someday be a common option? My aging knees hope so!

Eric

post #10 of 134

I think you misunderstood.

 

Weight per se is not the advantage.  The weight comes from the need of performance skis to resist "twist"...or put another way, performance skis are torsionally stiffer then recreational skis.  The best material for creating torsionally stiff skis is still metal.  But metal is also heavy.  Wood core is also preferable to foam as the skis "life" lasts longer...ie the "snap" is preserved better with wood.  And wood, again, is heavier then foam.

 

Further if you add bindings with metal housings etc...more weight, add dampners (rubber/metal) more weight.

 

Hence heavy skis tend to feel stable, (damp with great edge hold)...but that is attributed the things that make them heavy...not so much the weight itself.  Or put another way, the weight is a function of the materials used to create the performance ski.

 

If you think creating skis with superior torsional rigidity, and damp feel, with preserved "snap" AND light is a "straightforward engineering exercies"...go for it.  If you pull off making that ski, you will make a fortune.  However I assure you, it is not that easy, ski companies spend mega bucks working with composite materails, and combining them, layering them etc all trying to find the magic combination.....until they do thou, performance skiers will be willing to carry a little extra weight in the skis in order to gain the benefits that metal, construction techniques etc bring.


Edited by Skidude72 - 4/17/11 at 11:57pm
post #11 of 134
Thread Starter 

I design, engineer and build my own high performance waterskis. Weight is a critical factor in waterski design. It takes exotic materials like carbon and boron and clever assembly techniques to meet the structural needs within the weight confines. Obviously other factors matter as well - the lightest ski is not necessarily the best. But for two identical skis, the lighter one usually scores higher in competition.

 

Torsional rigidity is a design exercise. Flex is a variable that can be specified. Many material choices can meet these parameters. The materials have different weights - and costs.

 

Durability does matter. But I'm willing to have a ski wear out if the performance is great until it wears out. And I'm not 100% convinced that foam fails faster than wood. (I've seen urethane foam fail with time but not PVC foam).

 

 

Goodes are very light, lively and durable. I have two year's versions of Volkl Race Tigers. The new ones are quite a bit heavier than the older ones - interesting. There are many other reasonably light skis from the past that worked well. Yet all the popular high end performance skis I demoed yesterday were exceptionally heavy. It was hard on my body and hard to work in the bumps. It seemed to me like NO consideration to reducing weight factored in the design of these skis. My aging body which still longs to attack the bumps like a kid is bummed by this philosophy. Maybe they need to market a geriatric ski option which weighs less.

 

Eric

post #12 of 134

Then go out and design your own high performance snow skis.  The world is waiting.  You may just be the greatest ski designer of all time...sure odds are you are just another internet hack with just enough knowledge to critise, but not enough to actually improve the status quo...but then again, you could be the one who does in fact pull it all together. 

post #13 of 134
Thread Starter 

Will I really make a fortune if I make a light performance ski? Isn't there some saying about how to make a small fortune in skiing - start with a large one?

 

Besides, Goode already made a reasonable ski. Well he does have a pretty nice Cessna jet. Maybe I should think about it.

 

My waterskis have won National championships, a senior world medal and gotten me an Open rating at 55 years old - so I am capable of successful engineering. My snow ski hack factor is high - that's why I'm asking about the relevance of weight. And looking for other light offerings.

 

Plus it keeps me entertained during my insomnia...

 

Eric

post #14 of 134

The requirements for a ski to be stable at speed while traveling over a rough hard surface is a little different from those of a water ski.  If you are skiing slowly, you can cut back a bit, but not if you are going to be skiing fast.  If you ski by moving the ski around, you will want less mass.  If you ski by tipping the ski and making fore-aft pressure adjustments and other small movements to control the skis attitude and let the large forces induced by the interacting of the ski with the snow/ice move the ski and you around, the skis weight does not matter so much.  Trick skis and mogul skis can be lighter, because they don't need to be so stiff and stable.  Modern skis are a lot lighter than their counterparts from a few decades ago, and the SL skis are a lot more stable too.

 

post #15 of 134

There were trends that probably started back with Olin and the "Honeycomb" of the early 1970's.

 

In the 1980's things went to light and cheap with caps and trick composites.

 

My first impression of Stockli, which with the exception of some race stock stuff, as the last of the straight sidewall skis was heavy.  You could feel the difference easily.  The bounce and chatter of the lightweight skis especially with SL and short lengths totally sold me.  In order to get stability I had to be on a 195 to have any kind of speed.  Most people who would feel the Stockli would take a pass on them due to weight, never trying the ski.

 

A bit of metal, hardwood core and such with good damping were critical ice; on snow almost anything seemed to ski well but ice brought out the best in straight sidewall and I think the trend is back to straight sidewalls isn't it?

 

 

post #16 of 134
Thread Starter 

Ski Magazine covers used to be symmetric tight figure eights. Now the cover shots are straightlined cliffs. Styles have changed. Maybe I'm too old school with my slow turny approach. And I have the luxury of not having to go out in the ice.

 

My favorite demos of the day were the Fisher Wateas - the ski with the most sidecut. Hmmm, am I going against the trend?

 

They did have some Hart bump skis that I really wanted to try. But I spent too many hours on the heavy skis. My knees ordered me to quit a bit early so I had to pass. Now I'm bummed that I missed them.

 

When the Gaffneys, Plakes and Moseleys age and maybe slow down, will we see some lighter offerings? 

 

Eric

post #17 of 134


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Modern skis are a lot lighter than their counterparts from a few decades ago, and the SL skis are a lot more stable too.

 


^^^^ What he said. First, is eleeski sure that his new Racetigers themselves are actually heavier? Seem to me that all skis have gotten lighter, both from materials (carbon, titanal), and from design parameters (shorter, more sidecut) compared to say 20 years ago. Could be wrong, since Racetigers are meant to carve, not float. But it's not like Goode is bucking a trend, more like representing one end of it.

 

Second, eleeski seems to be erecting a straw man, maybe because of the water ski model, about materials weight. I think what he's referring to is how some materials do a better or worse job of producing a damper feel that's subjectively "heavy." Kastles, for instance, are a sort of middleweight ski. But they ski heavier on firm snow because of that layer of rubber (and the cutouts that reduce oscillation). But where I lose him is the carbon thing. All the carbon-bearing skis I've tried/owned (including DPS 120 Lotus, Blizzard Cronus and One, Fischer Watea 94, Lhasa Pows) have a "lively" feel that can range from soft snow appropriate to way overly-reactive. None shine on ice or hardpack, where traditional "heavy" skis such as Stocklis and Heads do. This is why, as Comprex notes, we've seen bubble tips on Dynastars, weighted Goodes, and so on. Slow down those oscillations. May be very different in the water; when I've waterskied, I seem to recall that the ski is very stiff, especially as it clips me in the head. Suspect you use the water, not the ski, to dampen things out. May be wrong. And yeah, I know that powder snow can be modeled as a fluid, but pack sure ain't, and from what I hear pow is actually a suspension of particles that requires supercomputers to model. 

 

As far as tennis, don't think eleeski's assumptions are correct. Racquets have gotten a bit heavier in the past decade because better players demand mass to permit decent returns against balls arriving at 80-100 mph after one bounce. If you're playing with a light racquet, you have to develop very high accelerations very rapidly to create adequate force. Moreover, you'll need a very rigid frame to transmit more of that force back to the ball. Ultimately, your shoulder and elbow pays the price. This is well established in sports medicine. Only if you have nearly perfect, pro-level mechanics, can you get away with a racquet flex above say 65, and notice that pros play with the heaviest racquets of all; typically leaded out to 13-15 oz. Also do not understand what eleeski means about carbon becoming rare and expensive; all modern racquets I know of are made entirely or predominately of graphite, with maybe a few small bits of metal or Kevlar, maybe a small percentage of fiberglass. Most are made in China. No one above the level of my 8 year old has played with a super lightweight racquet since the early 90's. Suggest eleeski try Tennis Warehouse, check out the technology sections by brand, then perhaps the University link where they discuss the physics of tennis, injuries. Interesting stuff since many of the same companies make skis, and generally try out the technology on racquets first. 

 

Far as I know, Skidude72 is correct about flex (function of cross-sectional area and material) because that'll be an important determinant of how much force it takes to change the arc of the bent ski. Don't agree, though, about weight per se not being relevant. A bent ski following a particular vertical and horizontal trajectory - forget about changing the arc - will resist getting moved onto a new trajectory according to its mass. (Imagine a ski that is 100% rigid, and put it on its edge. Not unlike many intermediates riding the sidecut of an overly stiff ski. You can still knock it around, you just can't change its turn radius, tip to tail. How much it gets pushed around by clumps of snow will be a function of its weight and speed, no?) Length also seems relevant here, since it determines the amount of tip pressure you can produce from a given change in your COM. Which is why downhill skis are so long and heavy. 

 

Now in powder, or bumps if you're doing retraction/absorption, then obviously weight matters. In the former case, you'll sink deeper at the same speed, so more resistance with less upforce. Which you may or may not want. In the latter, your ankle and hip flexors, which are not very powerful to begin with, are gonna be dealing with those extra oz, magnified by the series of linked arms. Personally, I like a heavier damper ski purely on groomers, a lighter, moderately lively ski purely in soft snow. 

 

 

 

post #18 of 134

I'm one generation before the Gaffneys and Plake, you could say aging, definitely, but ski the Legend Pro Rider  and Stockli Stormrider as my daily drivers, so not moving in the direction of a lighter ski. Popular heavy skis (Mantra, Legend Pro, Elan 1010, Mothership, Stockli Stormrider, and others) abound, out west anyhow.  (We're not talking time trial bicycles here), it's a gravity sport (quote Fisher Rep, and Fisher not making a lot of light skis). Old School does not really mean slow or small. Squaw, with McKinney, Bushman, and friends, brought in an era of big skis and fast skiing, which went against the trend of the time.

 

As it is not necessary to lift the skis to turn them in this era, so light weight has little to offer (yes, touring, but hiking up hill is a separate sport, IMO), beside chatter, vibration, and deflection.

 

Short little turns do have a downside; they ruin the snow faster, and aesthetically have no speed to go with huge open bowls and fast chutes, so don't harmonize well with the overall shape of the mountain in some places. We find that skiers out from Colorado often have a different style, so turn shape is to an extent regional.

post #19 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

I'm one generation before the Gaffneys and Plake, you could say aging, definitely, but ski the Legend Pro Rider as my daily driver, so not moving in the direction of a lighter ski. Popular heavy skis (Mantra, Legend Pro, Elan 1010, Mothership, and others) abound, out west anyhow.  (We're not talking time trial bicycles here), it's a gravity sport (quote Fisher Rep, and Fisher not making a lot of light skis). Old School does not really mean slow or small. Squaw, with McKinney, Bushman, and friends, brought in an era of big skis and fast skiing, which went against the trend of the time.

 

As it is not necessary to lift the skis to turn them in this era, so light weight has little to offer (yes, touring, but hiking up hill is a separate sport, IMO), beside chatter, vibration, and deflection.

 

Short little turns do have a downside; they ruin the snow faster, and aesthetically have no speed to go with huge open bowls and fast chutes, so don't harmonize well with the overall shape of the mountain in some places. We find that skiers out from Colorado often have a different style, so turn shape is to an extent regional.


Strongly agree about heavier skis out west, short little skis making tiny little bumps, would add that sidecut has a lot to do with this. But Mantras are, surprisingly, one of the lightest skis of that width made. 1930 g at 177, better surface area to weight ratio than Watea 94 or 101. Which is why some many folks still use them for AT...

 

post #20 of 134

Personally, I think this is a demo bindings issue.  I have Outlaws and Recons, you'd think the Outlaws, being wider and of the same basic construction, would be heavier.  However, the Recons are NOTICEABLY heavier.  Why?  Because I have Marker Piston Control bindings on them.  The Outlaws have much lighter Marker-somethings on them.  Huge difference in the weight of the two bindings.  The only way to tell if it's the SKIS being heavier is to pick up your old Goode skis without bindings attached and compare them to naked skis or to have the same pair of bindings on each ski.

 

If you put the foot rest down on the chair ride, you won't even notice weight differences while you go down the hill, because when you're going down, most of the weight is YOU.  Everything else is just a few ounces.  If you're 170 pounds and the binding difference is 1/2 pound, the percentage differential is minimal. 

post #21 of 134

I agree, skis should all be as light as possible, from a comfort and safety stand point.    The more weight you have at the extremity the higher the moment of inertia when things go wrong and the higher the risk of injury (your feet will want to keep going in the same direction even if your body is now in another).   I am not at all sold on race skis needing to be heavy, they are heavy as a result of function, but I think that any activity that requires rapid change of direction greatly benefits from a lighter weight....this is the rule in all forms of racing....save for Bonneville Speed record racing where you don't change directions and the weight helps you from taking flight at 200+ mph.  

 

 I am wondering since I dont recall coming across this in the rule book, are FIS skis homologated?   Do the pros need to ski on skis made of the same materials and basic construction as what is sold to public?   I know they they cant have externally powered gadgets, hence the KERS system being okay since its self contained even if it is electronic, but what if say a manufacturer wanted to make race skis out of balsa, carbon fiber, magnesium, and titanium at a cost of $20k a pair....obviously no significant money in sales for a large manufacturer so they would not bother to offer to public.
 

post #22 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

Then go out and design your own high performance snow skis.  The world is waiting.  You may just be the greatest ski designer of all time...sure odds are you are just another internet hack with just enough knowledge to critise, but not enough to actually improve the status quo...but then again, you could be the one who does in fact pull it all together. 


Nope, if this is the same eleeski I know from the waterski community he's not just another armchair internet hack.  I've never had the chance to try a eleeski waterski original and by the looks of em I'm not sure I would be brave enough.   biggrin.gif  

 

   

 

post #23 of 134

RR, I'm not sure good freeskiing involves any quick direction change, not of the mass of the skier. that would look and feel jerky. the changes of direction flow in a way that is continuous in some respect, the G's ebbing and flowing with pressure modulation,  though I can't fathom the physics at the moment.

post #24 of 134

just wondering-what skis did he demo and what are their weights?  seems like skis will range in weight anywhere from around 6-11 pounds give or take. 

 

anybody got a sortable list of skis and their weights?  might reveal something with regards to intended audience and application.  i mean freestyle and mogul skis are made to be light so you can catch some air and turn them quickly.  sounds like the OP has the perfect pair of skis for him right now. 

 

i looked at the Goode website and they have some nice looking skis.  I was trying to understand their use of carbon in their skis and why I had not heard about other manufacturers using it-other than cost.

 

Is light weight a good trait to have?  I would think properly weighted might be better.  i mean a too light weight ski would probably chatter and it;s shovel get easily deflected by crud. 

 

we all searching for the "holy grail" of skis as evident by all the "what ski should I buy threads"-that do everything skis that excels in all conditions and cheap too.  unfortunately some traits seem to be mutually exclusive of others and compromises will have to be made.

 

post #25 of 134

Demo bindings are always a bit heavier than the non demo version too.

post #26 of 134
Thread Starter 

Rod, you're welcome to come ski with me and give the Leeski a try. Too bad if you like it because I don't sell them...

 

The old Race Tigers are definitely lighter. Bindings are only part of it. I do enjoy the new Race Tigers on firm snow. They are very lively and a bit shorter to counteract the weight. So I can play on them effectively until the snow softens.

 

Carbon prices did spike a while ago but they have stabilized. Graphite is carbon - marketing semantics. I am a tennis hack so the light weight helps me get close to the ball. Power on the return is beyond me. It was the 90s where rackets got light. Head still makes an ultralight racket (for hacks like me). I am the best tennis player in sandals!

 

At Big Bear where it is all steep groomed I am OK on the heavy skis. They help me keep my racing buddies in sight. Plus they have footrests on most of the chairs. But at Squaw (no footrests), I need to turn more and control my speed just to stay in control. Squaw has awesome powder and bumps - why would I ski groomers there? I guess I'm guilty of ruining the mountain with those tight little ski turns. At least it keeps the snowboards off West Face.

 

The consensus seems to be that it is a style thing driving the weight of the skis - not really a performance thing. Sad for me since I ain't go no style. Despite that, "I'm the best skier on the mountain!"

 

Eric

post #27 of 134

Just a contribution to the "is lighter better" theory.

 

Road-racing bicycles are very light-weight (there's actually a minimum weight on them dictated by the UCI), although I believe a lot of this is marketing-driven ("you need the lightest bike around to fly up the hills !"...  But shaving a pound off a 150 pound rider + bike combination doesn't have much effect).  At any rate...  What's interesting is that time-trial and track bikes -- where flat-out speed is all that matters -- are much heavier.  i.e., track bikes, which lack gears and brakes, could easily be made under 10 pounds, but they often weigh in around 20.  Why?  Momentum.  Once you get those things up to speed, they don't lose it very quickly.

 

The bikes used to set the world hour record (how far can you go in one hour in a velodrome) have used very heavy wheels.  A pain to accelerate, but once you've got them up to speed -- they just go and go and go and go.  You can back it off from time-to-time and not lose a whole lot.

 

I am a terrible ski racer, but I'd think the last thing you want is a light-weight ski that gets bounced around  and loses momentum.  You don't want to lose any more speed than you have to...  keep everything you got.

 

Light-weight does not necessarily mean "faster" in racing.

post #28 of 134

I guess the OP hasn't picked up a pair of Volkl Kendo's with Salomon Ti bindings. They are the lightest pair of skis in my collection, thou the Salomon Gun's are close.

 

 

post #29 of 134

Skimmed this, but old 1st gen Racetigers are in fact lighter than the newer models due to the springs and metal Volkl put in the newer stuff.

If you want a super light ski check out the Watea 78 w/ Marker Squire, probably the lightest combo I've ever played around with, but far from the best preforming set up

post #30 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by eleeski View Post

Rod, you're welcome to come ski with me and give the Leeski a try. Too bad if you like it because I don't sell them...

 

The old Race Tigers are definitely lighter. Bindings are only part of it. I do enjoy the new Race Tigers on firm snow. They are very lively and a bit shorter to counteract the weight. So I can play on them effectively until the snow softens.

 

Carbon prices did spike a while ago but they have stabilized. Graphite is carbon - marketing semantics. I am a tennis hack so the light weight helps me get close to the ball. Power on the return is beyond me. It was the 90s where rackets got light. Head still makes an ultralight racket (for hacks like me). I am the best tennis player in sandals!

 

At Big Bear where it is all steep groomed I am OK on the heavy skis. They help me keep my racing buddies in sight. Plus they have footrests on most of the chairs. But at Squaw (no footrests), I need to turn more and control my speed just to stay in control. Squaw has awesome powder and bumps - why would I ski groomers there? I guess I'm guilty of ruining the mountain with those tight little ski turns. At least it keeps the snowboards off West Face.

 

The consensus seems to be that it is a style thing driving the weight of the skis - not really a performance thing. Sad for me since I ain't go no style. Despite that, "I'm the best skier on the mountain!"

 

Eric


This is amusing.

 

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