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Best Ski For California Snow?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Greetings everyone,


I live in California where the snow sucks and gets slushy halfway through the day (sometimes earlier). I really love carving on groomers, and have a tried and true pair of Atomic Beta Carv 9.18xs that I use for quicker skiing, or just really methodical carving on those lucky days here where it stays cold and dry through the day and the groomers hold up. But when it gets slushy, the thin waist of those Atomics gets hopelessly bogged down. They're like a pair of sports cars that were only meant for smooth pavement. I was hoping somebody could suggest an SUV of skis for me, something that would be a great all mountain ski that can tear through crud and help me ride over it. I figure I can use the Atomics in the morning and switch to the other skis in the afternoon. I don't do too much park stuff, but i do off piste so I am open to twin tips. Someone suggested Armada ARV to me, but I haven't heard too much about them (I'm sure you can tell I haven't bought skis in a while). Things are confusing nowadays, especially with all the heavy marketing online and fake-o reviews. Anyway, any help would be massively appreciated.






post #2 of 4

The number of skis that could fit your needs is nothing short of enormous. The good news is that there are at least 15-20 different skis that are well suited to your needs. The bad news is that are at least 15-20 different skis that are well suited to your needs (hence harder to decide)


Basics..........waist width.


What you have is about 64-66mm wide at the waist and proportionally skinny at tip and tail. That was standard for the time but obsolete now even for groomers. A great groomer ski these days would be 72-78mm wide or so and better at hard snow than what you have. An "all mountain" ski could be anything from 80 to 100mm wide or even more more depending upon your wants and needs.


Basics.........conditions bias.


There are skis available in literally any width from 80 to about 95 or so that are hard snow biased, some are soft snow biased, and some in between or (mixed snow biased). This is not about width as much as it is about stiffness (esp torsional) and dampening.. A hard snow biased ski will have great grip, dampening, and stability on hard packed surfaces whether on the trail or off. The payback for that is that the stiff flex will make the ski less forgiving and maneuverable in softer and or deeper/mixed snow. Naturally, the soft snow biased ski will be easy and fun in soft snow, bumps, and powder, but less grippy when it is very hard and usually less stable is soft but rough snow. Of course the mixed snow biased ski is the middle ground ......good at booth, great at neither.




Rocker is a fairly recent development that applies some reverse camber to some (occasionally all) portion of the ski. This shape technology allows a ski to feel shorter and more nimble when on a hard surface but still feels like it's normal length when submerged in deep snow. In shallow or mixed up conditions you get a bit of the shorter more nimble feel and a bit of the normal feel as well. This is a neat technology for mixed or deep conditions but it is not worth agonizing over how much of this you will get. Most skis in the width range you are going to look at will have some rocker and in general, the skis makers have blended it pretty well into their designs.


So.......a good place to start the discussion for a ski for you is in the 85-90mm range. Within this range you can get skis with any conditions bias you want. You may end up choosing an even wider ski ski say in the 90-100mm range. Most skis in that width category are more biased toward the mixed or soft conditions but even within this group there are stiffer and softer ones to choose from. Above 100mm, you will generally get more and more bias toward softer conditions and since you didn't state powder performance as a top priority, you probably don't need to worry about these. As I mentioned above there are literally dozens of great choices and trying to debate the merits of all of them would result in an endless tail chasing session. Instead....here are three good choices in the 85-90mm width range to think about.


Fischer Watea 88: Strong soft snow bais with a light, nimble feel off trail and moderate grip and stability on trail.

Rossi Experience 88: Mixed snow bias, good soft snow performance with good enough grip and stability for western hardpack.

Atomic Crimson Ti: Mixed snow>hard snow bias. Stiffer and more stable than the Rossi but not so stiff as to kickyerbutt in bumps.


There are variations on the theme for each of these and you may elect to go wider than these, but this is a good place to start.




post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 



Thank you for the amazing post and guidance. I checked my skis out and the waist is 62mm... very thin, and I know it has its downsides, but I still feel like the skis can shred in the right condition, plus they have a great pair of Look bindings that accentuate their quick nearly subconscious turning ability. In the right conditions its a great feeling, and I would feel bad giving those skis up or ripping the Looks off of them. I dunno, is that foolish of me? I've really bonded with these things.  


Anyway, its really nice to have narrowed down the waist for the skis I really need to 85-90mm, that narrows it down a lot for me, and I started researching the Rossignol 88s because they seemed to offer the best hard/soft compromise for my skiing habits and intended goal... they look really nice and they seem to have a nice side cut for carving. The Rossi website claims them do exactley what I need. Seems impossible I could have my cake and eat it too like that. High speed, stable carving, crud busting, light and airy off piste? In one ski? That would be incredible. I'm going to keep researching, and will take any suggestions, but its really nice to have a solid waist measurement to go off of.





Edit: Just looked at a Skisdotcom review on YouTube of the Rossignol 88 Experience and the guy gave it a 6 out of 5 stars, lol. Said it was a great supple ride, with a lot of springiness in turns, a good "out west" ski. Looks like this is exactly what I was looking for. I'll check it competitors, but they really seemed to like the Rossi.

post #4 of 4

OK Ethan. Now that you basically got all the info you were asking for (and more) from SJ. My suggestion would be to go visit his shop. He was too modest to come right out and ask, so I'll tell you to do it. Jim, and the rest of the crew at StartHaus, know their stuff when it comes to skis for Sierra conditions. Don't buy your skis on skisdotcom, go get a good deal on an awesome pair of boards from the place that gave you great advice and will give you great service when it comes to boots and bindings too.


I'm glad Jim came and gave that advice. I was just going to weigh in with something snippy and sarcastic. Although I am a big fan of supporting the local companies like PM Gear, Praxis and Moment (all made in the Sierra), but those guys probably don't make skis narrow enough to satisfy you.

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