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At what point does flexibility compromise edge grip and overall performance? Or, using flexibility to its best advantage...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Common wisdom dictates that more flexible skis do not hold their edges as well as stiffer ones. But skis need a certain level of flexibility to bend into a tight arc. 

 

When is the added turn radius variability of a more flexible ski outweighed by the ski's resulting inability to hold the edge? I know it depends on the weight and strength of the skier...but what is the physics behind this? Why would a more flexible ski, bent into a tighter radius, not hold the edge for a more powerful skier?

 

What can a relatively heavy, powerful skier do to get the most out of a more flexible ski?

 

I apologize if these question seems elementary. I have skied on very stiff skis for many years, but have been considering experimenting with some softer designs as I demo this season. I'd just like to have some idea of of how I should expect to handle them for the best outcome, having come from a background of almost exclusively stiff skis.

 

 


Edited by LiveJazz - 11/29/11 at 12:54pm
post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post

Common wisdom dictates that more flexible skis do not hold their edges as well as stiffer ones. But skis need a certain level of flexibility to bend into a tight arc. 

 

When is the added turn radius variability of a more flexible ski outweighed by the ski's resulting inability to hold the edge?

 

 



When the /torsional/ flexibility is too low.

 

Torsional flexibility too low - unable to hold edge.   

 

Longitudinal flexibility too low - unable to spread weight of skier over enough snow, ski is /slow/ and flappy.

 

If you talk about apples and oranges as  just "fruit", you'll never know what to peel and what to spit out.

post #3 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post

 

What what can a relatively heavy, powerful skier do to get the most out of a more flexible ski?

 



Ski really smooth and precise. If you are rolling the ski onto it's edges early in the (high 'C' portion) turn and applying pressure smoothly and evenly, then you can be totally fine with a soft ski even if you are big and strong. If you are big and strong and use that strength to muscle the ski around then it just won't work.

 

Ski style matters.

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiveJazz View Post

Common wisdom dictates that more flexible skis do not hold their edges as well as stiffer ones. 


1) There is no answer to your question, no "point," but 2) common wisdom can be misleading. Depends on your mission, the speeds you ski, and so on. If you can't bend a ski using a combination of speed and mass, doesn't matter how much potential it has, you'll either skid or ride the existing radius. I see a bunch of that, even from skiers who think they're good. Some brands of rec racing skis are softer flexing than others, have never heard complaints about their hold, at least for purposes that 99.8% on this forum are likely to have. Typically, you ski a softer ski with a lighter touch, more attention to feedback from the edges, more real finish to the arc, making use of the flex to achieve an efficient shape.

 

IMO softer flex rewards precision more than stiffer flex, but is more work to ski well fast. Am reminded of 1) WC skiers hitting serious speeds coming off the training area on SL skis, obviously "too soft" (and too short, so danger of overpressuring the tips) for the speeds, and 2) the US Team's drills carving at very low speeds. Also probably soft rewards lateral moves more than tip pressure. YMMV because obviously what's stiff for me at 165 and subsonic speeds may be a noodle for you. And ^^^^ is right that too soft (relative to your mission) can produce a very eventful ride. Which takes us back to the SL competitors. If you're good enough, eventful is fine.

 

Coupla years back, SJ argued that the key to ski performance was a balance of longitudinal versus lateral flex. Seemed reasonable. Today we're seeing a lot of skis with far more lateral stiffness than longitudinal. Not sure what that means. Also, early rise changes all this, allows a stiffer ski because it's pre-flexed. Even some race skis have early rise now, again not hearing complaints about grip...

 


Edited by beyond - 11/29/11 at 12:29pm
post #5 of 10

I have found some softer skis actually have better edge grip than their stiffer flexing counterparts.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

I have found some softer skis actually have better edge grip than their stiffer flexing counterparts.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post


1) There is no answer to your question, no "point," but 2) common wisdom can be misleading. Depends on your mission, the speeds you ski, and so on. If you can't bend a ski using a combination of speed and mass, doesn't matter how much potential it has, you'll either skid or ride the existing radius. I see a bunch of that, even from skiers who think they're good. Some brands of rec racing skis are softer flexing than others, have never heard complaints about their hold, at least for purposes that 99.8% on this forum are likely to have. Typically, you ski a softer ski with a lighter touch, more attention to feedback from the edges, more real finish to the arc, making use of the flex to achieve an efficient shape.

 

IMO softer flex rewards precision more than stiffer flex, but is more work to ski well fast. Am reminded of 1) WC skiers hitting serious speeds coming off the training area on SL skis, obviously "too soft" (and too short, so danger of overpressuring the tips) for the speeds, and 2) the US Team's drills carving at very low speeds. Also probably soft rewards lateral moves more than tip pressure. YMMV because obviously what's stiff for me at 165 and subsonic speeds may be a noodle for you. And ^^^^ is right that too soft (relative to your mission) can produce a very eventful ride. Which takes us back to the SL competitors. If you're good enough, eventful is fine.

 

Coupla years back, SJ argued that the key to ski performance was a balance of longitudinal versus lateral flex. Seemed reasonable. Today we're seeing a lot of skis with far more lateral stiffness than longitudinal. Not sure what that means. Also, early rise changes all this, allows a stiffer ski because it's pre-flexed. Even some race skis have early rise now, again not hearing complaints about grip...

 


See, this is exactly why I want to try some softer skis...I'd like them to bend into nice tight arcs and hopefully be more "playful" than a stiffer ski, requiring less aggression. I think I can make my current bulldozers bend fairly well, but sometimes they can feel leaden on a more relaxed day with family and such.

 

But, I didn't want to pursue these bendy, playful qualities at the expense of the ski being able to hold a turn. I really am curious to try it and see what happens. I'll have to be very conscious of where I'm placing my weight on the ski and how I'm transitioning my turns. 

 

Also, beyond, regarding your comment about flex, from reading up on the topic, it looks like I'd want to seek a ski with longitudinal flexibility, but decent torsional rigidity...this combo would appear to allow the bendy flavor I want, while retaining more edging ability. 

 

Thanks for your insight, all.

 

 

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

2) the US Team's drills carving at very low speeds.

 

What would one do differently to carve effectively at very low speeds? This is a skill I've been looking to improve, and one of the main reasons I'd like to try something softer.

post #8 of 10

My impression having tried it both with and without instructors is that your mechanics and COM have to be nearly perfect, since you can't rely on momentum, and if you cheat, say by banking, you'll be over on your ass.  IMO this is why a lot of very mediocre skiers bomb. It covers up a multitude of sins. (Including masking no control of speed. Recall back when you were first on good skis with stiff tails, gradually picking up speed each turn?)

 

Obviously, part of it is looking at your tracks carefully. I also find video helps a lot. But I think you should ask over on the instruction forum about the details.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

^ Thank you, I will do that.

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post



When the /torsional/ flexibility is too low.

 

Torsional flexibility too low - unable to hold edge.   

 

Longitudinal flexibility too low - unable to spread weight of skier over enough snow, ski is /slow/ and flappy.

 

If you talk about apples and oranges as  just "fruit", you'll never know what to peel and what to spit out.

This seems right to me, and if you were a perfect skier skiing on a nice smooth and hard groomed run that would be all there was to it.  Ski well, have a torsionally stiff but longitudinally soft ski.

 

However it gets complicated when you throw in some imperfections or some soft snow.  If you hit a bump or kink in the vertical profile as you are in a turn a soft ski can suddenly "fold up" on you.  That is why it is a big mistake to take a soft flexing ski (like my P50 F1s) and treat it like a super-g ski.  The soft ski will follow it's tip right into a tight arc that cannot be maintained, where as a ski with some beef will break out of that decreasing radius turn before it has reached the point of disaster.

 

There is no panacea; serious speed requires serious skis, slow tight turns need an easy flexing ski.
 

 

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