or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Is it worth it to buy skis as an advancing intermediate?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Is it worth it to buy skis as an advancing intermediate?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

 

I've been lurking here for a while and have learned a lot in a short amount of time, so thanks for that. I decided to come out of lurker hiding for some advice.

 

This is essentially my first season skiing. I'd been two days out of the previous three years, both times with rental boots that hurt my enormous calves a ton. But I liked it enough that I decided to invest some time and money into the sport and get serious this season, so I bought a great pair of boots and have gone out six days so far, with hopefully another 3-6 to come depending on how long the season lasts here in Northern CA and how often I can get up to Tahoe.

 

I'm fairly athletic and have gotten much better pretty quickly. I just took a 5-6 level lesson on Saturday and it helped a lot, learning to keep my weight forward, keep my hands out in front, keep shoulders and head pointed downhill, etc.; and I felt a lot more stable and in control.

 

I've been an avid cyclist for a long while now, and I know that I will want to ski aggressively (fast runs down steep terrain, tight turns through technical tree sections, etc.) once I have the skills to do so. I already go as fast as I can and remain in control.

 

I've spent a fair amount of money on demoing skis, so it'd be great to save some money for the future and buy some discounted skis in a month or so, but I don't want to buy intermediate skis and need to buy another pair in a year or so. Is it worth buying skis when I still have a large amount of learning ahead? Is there an advanced ski that I can grow into? To that end, what sorts of skis should I be trying out? Or should I just rent carvers until I hone my technique more and wait til the end of next season when I'm hopefully closer to expert level? I want to do whatever will reinforce proper technique.

 

Here's some information about me:

 

-I live in San Francisco and will almost entirely skiing in the Tahoe area. There's a good chance I'll be going once a season or so to Colorado and/or the Park City area in the future since work takes me there sometimes, but that's probably the extent of skiing outside of the area.

 

-I'm 5'10.5" and weight between 170-185, depending on how much I'm watching my eating and how much cycling training I'm doing over the winter. Most often I imagine I'll be in the 175-180 range, as I am now.

 

So far I've skied:

 

-some entry-level Atomic ski that was quite short, 155 maybe? That was on my first day out this winter, so I was just trying to remember how to get down the mountain and didn't notice too much about the skis.

 

-Atomic Smoke TIs, a little longer than that. I skied those for a long weekend and they felt pretty good, but I was pretty much just skidding around still at that point.

 

-Rossi S3s, probably too long for me, since they were 186. They were fun and forgiving, but I feel as if they were covering up my poor technique and maybe reinforcing bad habits. But I skied them because of how highly recommended for Tahoe they were at the Sports Basement.

 

-Head Big Easy-what I skied on Saturday, they were probably helpful for taking the lesson, but later on in the day I wiped out when I was going quite fast. Probably because of how flexy they are? They seemed to catch an edge unexpectedly at higher speeds.

 

I mostly rent from the Sports Basement since it's close to my house, and that's where my demo money was spent at, but there's another shop in the neighborhood, and I sometimes make it out to California Ski Co in Berkeley. So if there are specific skis I should try that aren't carried at SB, I could possibly track them down there.

 

Thanks for reading this epically long message, hope some of you can make some suggestions!

post #2 of 18

If you think you're well fit into the boots, then definitely, owning your own skis will help you improve quicker. Being familiar with your skis helps you concentrate on the things you wish and need to learn.

Constant demoing will hold you back a bit. More advanced skiers can adapt easily to the different skis and lengths, but for progressing skiers, consistency is important.

Others will disagree, but don;t be afraid of a little length. At your weight and having already tried some skies in the 180's; a ski in the 170 to 178 range (with appropriate flex) will prolly give the best allround performance. Choose from what you;ve already demo'd and select the one you feel most comfortable on. Comfort is ease, but it's also stability and predictability.

If you skied the Rossi S3 in 186 and found them 'fun' and 'forgiving', great. That's the idea - fun.

Preferrable is NOT a ski which is a challenge on average groomed runs. You'll want a ski which feels predictable on the blues so that when you do approach a more difficult run you have confidence in predicting what the ski will do on the more difficult pitch, and this adds confidence in your abilities. A lot of any skill is about confidence.

Learn to maintain your equipment

read a lot

don;t be afraid to do a little drilling on the things you learn

don;t be afraid to take a lesson when you're frustrated

we're stoked that you're stoked.

Welcome to Epic!

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your thoughts, MO. I am pretty obsessive when it comes to purchases, especially more expensive ones. I did a ton of research before buying my first serious road bike and it worked out, since I've never felt a need to upgrade my frame, even though I've had it for years now.

 

I have a feeling I'm going to want a stiffer ski than the S3. Maybe I'll take a pair out again and try them out with my improved form, but I saw that the other local shop has the blizzard bonafide, which maybe sounds more like what I'm looking for. I just don't want to get a ski that's above my head. With all the hype about the cochise, I had been looking into trying it out, but then I found a review that said it definitely wasn't for intermediate skiers...

post #4 of 18

When you have goals, are making rapid progress, and are committed to technique development, then yes, I would get my own skis.  Look at skis that are oriented to advanced users that have the forgiveness characteristics suitable for athletic intermediates.

 

I bought Kastle LX82's for exactly this reason...definitely a growth specialist for me with lots of refined top end coupled with a large sweet spot/forgiveness for mistake recovery.

post #5 of 18

understand,

when I first started skiing, I went thru 4 prs of skis the first season, not because they were no good, because I needed better.

But that was in the era of wood skis with screw-in edges and the beginnings of fibreglass and metal skis, front throw cable bindings and the beginnings of modern bindings

.

I wasn't suggesting the S3, and also not intending to knock it out of consideration.

I never give suggestions unless the question is for very specific characteristics, or I've had some significant ski time with the person.

sounds as though you do a lot of background before making this kind of decision. There's a lot of 'background' to get, here on epic.

Given End of Season & Pre-season are good times - there are some sharp buys out there, especially if Brand and model are flexible.

The only real recommendation I have is to get bindings which are adjustable for position on the ski...

Marker make some (not sure of model)

The ones I have and have worked out well under some hard skiing and are holding up well are Tyrolia/Head/Fischer/Kneissl/Elan  railflex.

They can be found here

http://www.levelninesports.com/Adjustable-Ski-Bindings

head/tyrolia RFD railflex - I have models from 11 to 14 top DIn settings - all good - most have different brake widths you can buy to match your skis

also here:http://www.untracked.com/

they had railflex models under both the Head and Tyrolia binding brand sections (same bindings...  Tyrolia/Head/Fischer/Kneissl/Elan and prolly some other ski brands - all the same systems, different cosmetics and maybe features)

 

post #6 of 18

If I were you, I'd start renting around some Demo skis, rather then just the "sports" or "performance" stuff to get a feel for the different skis, with the intention of purchasing something at end of season.   If you go to a location that will allow you to apply towards purchase even better. 

 

Exactly which resorts in tahoe are you going to?  PM me and I can give you pointers towards shops there that I think have reasonable prices same as down in Bay Area for far more selection.  

I would recommend renting up there, they have more rental volume up there, so can turnover and buy more new equipment each season.

 

I demoed some bushwackers last weekend. Since this season was slow, the demo skis from the shop I went to was basically the 1st those skis ever have gone out, the "inspected by #5" sticker was still on it.   My friend took out some volkl rtm84s, and those were also taken off the displaywall and first time out.  Can't ask anymore from a demo then that.

 

Along these lines, you can start thinking about figuring out what you want so you can buy the "used" demos once the shop thinks about clearing out inventory.  Just like computer parts or electronics, after 1year, the skis are going to be 25-50% off.

 

 

 


 

post #7 of 18
Allow me to offer a contrary opinion.

At the intermediate level, you really aren't equipped skill-wise or kinesthetic-refinement-wise to know This Ski from That Ski as long as you are using skis of similar length and type. For example, if you were to rent 170cm skis with 75mm-85mm waists from 4 different manufacturers, your skiing would not know the difference. Nearly any difference you may perceive will be more likely attributable to the randomness of your skiing technique -- its lack of refinement.

People in the business of selling ski gear will try to tell you differently, because it's in their monetary interest (fatten their wallets) to suggest that you buy skis, and to suggest that their version of (for example) a 170cm ski with 80mm waist is the VERY BEST IN ITS CLASS and therefore should be bought immediately lest your skiing implode!

What will help you improve at the intermediate level is NOT owning your own skis.

What will help you most is PRACTICE. And what helps most of all is practicing good moves, not just going out there and doing your habitual thing over and over again.

The money you'd spend on buying your own skis would be far better spent on lessons with decent ski instructors or coaches.

I would agree very firmly with the idea of buying your own boots, however. Boots actually fit directly onto your body and having ones that fit you very well (firm close fit with a flex that matches your weight, level of physical aggression, and tolerance for responsiveness) is far, far more important than owning your own skis.

I would spend skiing-related money in this order:

1) boots (which includes high-calibre bootfitting and possible custom footbed)

2) instruction/coaching (which includes extra time on the snow practicing what the instructor/coach has suggested)

3) skis

...and I would suggest that this order of priority applies to nearly every skier frequenting these forums and others around the internet. But it's easier to think you can buy a turn with a new pair of skis, and it feels oddly gratifying to own your own skis even when you haven't the vaguest clue how to get your money's worth out of them.

Most skiers I see on the hill are getting about 25% of the value they paid for their skis, because their skiing technique is so haphazard, rough, and random. They're not able to get much out of their skis because they insist on ignoring what the skis want them to provide by way of input.
Edited by GrizzledVeteran - 3/5/12 at 8:36pm
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yes, as I said, buying boots was the first thing I did. Honestly, the two times I skied as an adult with rental boots (prior to this season) I could barely complete a run before needing to sit down and take a break because my legs were destroying me. Epic amounts of pain, and I have a pretty high tolerance. I splurged on the bootfitting, boots and custom liners and the difference is immense...skiing all day is no problem now.

 

And like I said, I just took an intermediate lesson this weekend and will very possibly take another before the season is out, so priorities 1 and 2 were already placed in the order you advised.

 

That said, I do like going fast, which rules out basic rentals since they definitely don't feel stable at high speeds. So, I'm spending $30+ each time I go skiing, and I'm wondering if I should at least apply that demo money to skis at the end of the season and, if so, what sort of ski I should be trying out. I definitely have no illusions that buying a high end ski is going to make me be able to skip over experience and instruction...

 

MO, why do you recommend adjustable bindings?

post #9 of 18
As an intermediate myself and on my second season, I'll agree with the above post. Getting a lot of practice and coaching is much more important then owning a pair of skis. That said, I did end up buying myself skis (and more then one pair too) and reason was very simple - I'm going to ski this season alone at least 15 days and I felt that instead of throwing money out on rentals, I might as well purchase a good pair of skis for myself even if it will be a bit more expensive in a long run. Just keep in mind when buying skis (and this where I made mistake and now ended up with more skis then I really want to) - don't buy skis that are good for your level, buy something that you can ski as you get better. There are a lot of really good intermediate/advanced skis that are also fairly forgiving.
post #10 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JesseD View Post

 

MO, why do you recommend adjustable bindings?


adjustable bindings - the ones I;ve mentioned, are all win/win

they are the same price as bindings which place you in a fixed mount point.

they are as durable

they offer simple, easy position adjustment without remounting, which you can;t get from a fixed mount binding.

If the binding is mounted with boot mid-sole to ski mark, if you never touch the adjustment, you'll basically have used it in a fixed position.

The up side:

They can be easily adjusted to most any boot sole length, in minutes without remounting bindings - which down the road, a boot change could require. But this is not the most important thing.

 

They can be adjusted quickly in minutes, hillside, to optimize how a ski will ski for you.

AS you improve, you may find that varying your position will help you find a more optimum balance on the ski. Things like this are the realm of advanced skiing, but bindings last a long time and can usually be easily moved from one pr to the next.

Simplistically, you may find the skis you choose to be a little hard to initiate a turn - going a cm forward many improve that... or you may find that the skis are not quite as stable when you put some speed into them, going a cm back may improve that. A cm back on a boottop POW day may be just what you need.

All these adjustments have their consequences also, one cm forward might mean you'll have a bit harder time fully completing the turn; and the degree of completing the turn is the fine throttle control used by many advanced skiers.

so adjustments mean trade-offs, but sometimes the trade-off is an overall net plus for your skiing.

dont; like an adjustment, 2 minutes with a screwdriver and it's back where it was before.

 

adjustable bindings, no real downside, but lots more options, if you decide to use them. I'm all for no-cost, non-permanent options.

 

BTW: if You like a good technical read - Harald Harb: ANyone Can be an Expert Skier.  If you can grok his language, there's a lot in there. He's a little light on the upper body and separation; the info's in there, you just have to recognize it. There's a bunch other literature, but this one may be the most comprehensive of the newer stuff.

 

Edit: I should have also mentioned atomic bindings - they generally are adjustable. I'm not a big fan of them, but there are a lot of really good skiers on them also...

prolly some others not coming to mind...

post #11 of 18

Yes, it's worth buying your own pair of good skis.  Even if it didn't save you from having to ski on crap skis (and there are a lot of crap skis out there), the convenience alone is worth it.  Also a good ski that has some performance will reward good movements.  Don't ski fast on a ski that's not meant to handle a little bit of speed.

 

Get a $20. subscription to expertskiers.com.   They rate skis according to ability level, and speed range, as well as giving points for different performance categories.  So far their reviews seem fairly accurate when compared to my impressions of the same skis.   Choose a ski that has the black skier (expert) icon, and also at least has a blue skier icon on it, some skis are rated for the entire range from beginner (green) through expert. 

post #12 of 18

As a (perpetual) intermediate, this is great advice.  Your own skis will probably always will be better than rental stuff, especially with a full tune, which should last you awhile.  It takes one more variability out of the equation which is important as you are progressing.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Yes, it's worth buying your own pair of good skis.  Even if it didn't save you from having to ski on crap skis (and there are a lot of crap skis out there), the convenience alone is worth it.  Also a good ski that has some performance will reward good movements.  Don't ski fast on a ski that's not meant to handle a little bit of speed.

 

Get a $20. subscription to expertskiers.com.   They rate skis according to ability level, and speed range, as well as giving points for different performance categories.  So far their reviews seem fairly accurate when compared to my impressions of the same skis.   Choose a ski that has the black skier (expert) icon, and also at least has a blue skier icon on it, some skis are rated for the entire range from beginner (green) through expert. 



 

 

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by JesseD View Post

 

This is essentially my first season skiing. I'd been two days out of the previous three years, both times with rental boots that hurt my enormous calves a ton. But I liked it enough that I decided to invest some time and money into the sport and get serious this season, so I bought a great pair of boots and have gone out six days so far, with hopefully another 3-6 to come....

 

I'm fairly athletic and have gotten much better pretty quickly. I just took a 5-6 level lesson on Saturday and it helped a lot, learning to keep my weight forward, keep my hands out in front, keep shoulders and head pointed downhill, etc.; and I felt a lot more stable and in control.

 

I already go as fast as I can and remain in control.

 

....should I just rent carvers until I hone my technique more and wait til the end of next season when I'm hopefully closer to expert level? I want to do whatever will reinforce proper technique.

 


JessseD,

Sounds like you're totally hooked on skiing - welcome to the club!  You've already done the best thing you could have done for yourself - you read up about boots and went out and bought them from a bootfitter, and got footbeds and the whole nine yards done to them.  Let's assume that the boots are just right.  That matters so much; people waste years by doing that part wrong.

 

If I'm doing my math right from your post, it sounds like you've skied 8 days in the last three years and are hoping to get 3-6 days more this season.  You've also taken a lesson at level 5-6, love speed, and are hoping that by the end of next season you will be close to expert level... which prompts your question of which ski to buy that won't hold you back.  Owning skis will make the schlepping easier, save you $$ in the end, and will provide consistency in how the skis behave.  So getting skis is a good thing.

 

You also say you are an avid cycler, and athletic.  From how you describe your love of speed on snow, I suspect you feel a "natural" kinship with skiing, and are looking forward to quick advancement in your skills.  Your enthusiasm and determination will serve you well on your journey towards expert status.

 

 

 

My advice is two-part.


Buy used intermediate frontside or all mountain skis.  Don't bury too much $$ into a pair of skis. No matter how much advice you get here or in a shop, you just don't know yet what will work best for you.  Do NOT buy "surgical" carvers or race skis or any skis that assume advanced/expert skills; they will hold you back.  Skiers on those skis need to have very fine-tuned skills which will take some time to learn.  When you try skiing them the only thing that will work will be whipping them around fast and skidding downhill.  Don't go there! Get intermediate skis, but buy them cheap and used.  You will not regret it. Getting skis that aren't too advanced for you is like forking out the $$ for a bootfitter and good boots.  You'll be able to build your skills if you are skiing on a "forgiving" ski, even with your athleticism and drive. 

 

My second piece of advice:  buy more lessons with the money you save from getting used skis.  Self-taught "naturals" become terminal intermediates fast.  Put that on your refrigerator.  Splurge and get a private lesson from a Level III instructor with a strong reputation for teaching well, and do it now so you can take the instructor's advice out onto the snow.  Practice what you learn in the lesson, and practice it on green/blue terrain, rather than going at lightening speeds down steeps.  

 

Without lessons, and without the patience to practice (on easier terrain, at slower speeds) what the lessons deliver, you'll have grave difficulty reaching anything close to "expert" status by the end of next season, no matter how athletic you are or how much you read the technical forums.  It's not the skis, it's the driver.  And it's not the driver's natural talent, it's the driver's work ethic that determines the learning curve.   

 

Looking into the future, once you are used to turning your skis with tipping movements and guiding them around with muscle action, once you are solidly out of the back seat, once you can move your feet around under a stable torso, toodle around on one foot, ski backwards, do flat 360s, and so on, you can rent fat skis and go into more difficult terrain for a blast of adrenalin.  

 

The whole journey is a blast.  Best of luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #14 of 18

LiquidFeet speaks the truth, on both fronts.

 

If your travels take you to Alpine Meadows one of these weekends, shoot me a PM.  I've got a pair of well-used 176cm Fischer AMC79s that you may find enjoyable.  Feel free to borrow them for a day or two and see what you think.

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Yes, it's worth buying your own pair of good skis.  Even if it didn't save you from having to ski on crap skis (and there are a lot of crap skis out there), the convenience alone is worth it.  Also a good ski that has some performance will reward good movements.  Don't ski fast on a ski that's not meant to handle a little bit of speed.

 

Get a $20. subscription to expertskiers.com.   They rate skis according to ability level, and speed range, as well as giving points for different performance categories.  So far their reviews seem fairly accurate when compared to my impressions of the same skis.   Choose a ski that has the black skier (expert) icon, and also at least has a blue skier icon on it, some skis are rated for the entire range from beginner (green) through expert. 



If in doubt, don't cheap out by getting an intermediate ski. Spend a little a more and get and advanced ski that you can grow into.  I find that most skier at this level get skis that they quickly out ski and it ultimately hinders their progession. Try a few demos if at all possible and you'd be surprised that you will ski significantly better on better skis. The advice given by Ghost is very valid.

 

 

post #16 of 18

I'm a Tahoe skier and Bay Area road cyclist as well.  I like going fast and I've got about a hundred pounds on you which helps in the skiing fast department and the biking fast, at least once I'm going back downhill.  For years, I rented boots/skis and suffered as a long term intermediate.  It seemed like every day out was a new system to figure out.  By around noon I'd have a clue but I would be so tired that I'd hang it up by 3 or 3:30.  Rinse, repeat 10-15 days a season for a number of years.

 

In 2007 I got my own boots and skis.  I selected the Volkl Mantras after demoing them on a powder day at Northstar.  Having my own skis has made a huge difference in my skiing.  I *know* what my skis will do.  There is no question.  That fact alone is worth the price of admission.

 

I think you'd like the Mantra.  Try it in a 177 on a demo day and see if you don't buy a pair.

post #17 of 18

If you can get out the door for ~$600 bucks for skis + bindings (which you should, with sales), you'll pay off your skis in 20 days of use. And that's just the financial calculation. Having something you're familiar with is going to be a benefit. Not having to waste time renting and returning is going to be a benefit. Having a better quality ski than a typical rental is going to be a benefit. Having a ski with a consistent, accurate tune is going to be a benefit. 

 

If you're an athletic person who is committed to getting better, taking lessons, and seem to figure the sport out pretty naturally-- then get a ski that works for you now but will last. Most of the so-called "expert" skis are fine for a strong intermediate too, as long as it isn't too specific of a shape/style. That is, no need for a race stock ski, SL carver, or super-fat pow ski. Yet. 

 

It seems something in the 85-98mm width is a good choice if you think you'll continue learning on piste while also venturing off (you mentioned trees). I prefer the fatter side of that, but this is a near-religious, subjective thing. Your experience seems to suggest that the s3 was fun, but maybe a little too noodly? Something like a Bonafide/Kabuki would probably work, but there are lots of choices in that range, and tons of threads to peruse here in order to figure out what you want to try. Since you're able to demo/rent, try to find a list of 3 or so skis in that range that you think will fit your desires. Try to demo from a place that will count your demo costs towards buying. Then wait till the end of season sales and pick something up at half price. Start Haus and their friendly folks here have a good reputation; they helped me think about a purchase even though I'm in Europe and wouldn't be able to buy from them. If you nail down one ski that's great, you could also try two sizes to see what works best for you in a variety of situations. 

 

Then buy, and don't look back. And once you graduate to skiing as much powder as you can... keep your old skis for lower snow/piste days, and get dedicated pow ski. Cycling + Skiing and every season of the year is worth looking forward to! 

post #18 of 18

Yes, provided you already have well-fitting boots.

It's worth it just to not have to waste your skiing time in the rental shop line up.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Gear Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Is it worth it to buy skis as an advancing intermediate?