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Buyings Skis for the 1st time in 25 Years - Help

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hi. At the age of 16 I saved up one years worth of pay from my minimum wage job and bought a pair of 195cm Rossignol 4S skis, Marker M48 "racing" bindings, and some Solomon SX91 Equipe boots.  I've been riding only them ever since.  No matter the conditions or terrain I've forced these skis to do my bidding.  For my 40th birthday, my wife says she wants to get me some of these new-fangled skis that aren't as straight as a line (since I'm now 40 I figured I need to use "new-fangled" more).  So much has changed since I last bought skis that I'm lost.  I'm a cheap SOB and will probably ski whatever I get for the next 25 years.  About me and how I ski:


Height:  5'9"

Weight: 155-160lbs

Years Skiing: 37

Ski Region:  Rocky Mountains

What I Terrain I like To Ski (in order):  Bumps (pretty tight), Trees/Back-Country, Groomed-steep.

How Often: 5-20 times per year depending on $ and snow.


I tend to spend about 75% or more of my day skiing bump runs.  I'd like to spend more time in the trees but find that my current skis aren't that great at making quick turns in deeper, crusted snow.  I'm hoping for some advice.  Thanks.

post #2 of 10

 Hi and welcome, first off I'd rent shaped skis and get a couple of lessons to dial in your technique, it won't be the same. As an experienced skier you'll probably make an easy transition if you pay attention. Then I'd try and demo if I could, to see what I enjoyed before making a decision.

 I'm sure a few others will give you some ideas about what skis to put on your demo list. Initially tho, I would go with at least one lesson on shaped skis.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response.  I have a couple of questions.  I probably won't be able to afford both new boots and skis/bindings this year.  Would I be able to still use my old boots with modern packages?  As far as length goes, I'm used to a long ski for my height, it seems that the way to go with shaped skis is shorter.  For a 5'9" man who skis mainly bumps and trees, what's a good length to look for?  I'll have to check out our demo options.  The cheapie in me is screaming about dropping $45 to test-drive skis knowing that whatever I buy I'll probably be buying online as the mountain shop will most likely be price prohibitive.  I'm also worried that my options will be limited here in Northern Arizona (Snowbowl).  I've been told for years that when I get shaped skis I'll be kicking myself for all the years I've missed. 

post #4 of 10

If you are still skiing SX91 Equipe boots (had a pair back in the day) and are skiing 10+ days per year those boots are long over due for replacement.  If you can only do one, I would suggest getting the best pair of modern boots you can afford at a shop with a decent boot fitter.  Then as mentioned, demo this season and take a lesson or two.  Try different types of skis till you find what you like.  There is a world of new equipment out there just waiting for you.  Your current equipment is now at least 5 generations old.  And yes, you will kick yourself in the ass for not doing this sooner. 


Have fun and good luck.


Rick G

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice but, although the boots are trashed, they're not nearly as bad as the skis.  The metal edge is starting to part from the ski.  The boots are beat up but are still comfy and warm.  Also, I'm having a hard time seeing how boot technology could advance nearly as much as skis have.  If I get out 10 more times this year, @ $45 per demo that's $450 I could have used torward new skis.  Plus, and I believe this is stil true, boots cost as much if not more than a pair of skis with bindings.  Doing demos + new boots = over budget for the year.  I might be able to put down $700-$800 on skis/bindings.  I'm cool with last few year's models, used, etc.  I'd probably be blown away with whatever I try. 

post #6 of 10

 I'd probably be blown away with whatever I try. 


Yup, you will, but you won't know until you try.  and it's better to try stuff with a demo than to plunk down big money sight unseen.  


I went to a good boot-fitter on a day they had a big sale, and then used the boots when I went to demo lots of skis on-mountain.  The mountain I went to (Loveland, CO) offered a package where you could swap out as many of last-year's models as you liked all day long.  the guy behind the counter was really helpful, which has been my experience all-around for this sort of thing.

Edited by river-z - 12/18/12 at 7:02pm
post #7 of 10

See if you can find a place that will let you deduct your demo fees from the cost of new skis, when you decide on which ones you want.

post #8 of 10

I'll try to give you a couple of thoughts to consider, because it sounds like you're going to make a move without a lot of testing: 


First of all, boots do work better today, and give a generally more upright stance which among other things keeps your quads from getting tired. Modern boots provide more energy transfer into the ski - fore/aft and torsionally, and this helps you make better use of your modern skis. Fit is key, as there are a lot of models that work best for different foot shapes - so I would not buy boots that you haven't been able to try on. Today everyone starts with a shell fit to get the size/length right, and you can search that here on this site, but effectively your bare foot in the bare shell with your toes brushing the front should not allow more than 2 fingers of free space behind your heel. A bootfitter is invaluable in helping you find the model boot for your foot/calf shape. Maybe this comes next year when you can better afford it, but keep in mind that fit is a lot more important than price - in other words, boots that don't fit well aren't worth paying one penny for and will never be a "good deal".


Let's talk skis, since that's what it sounds like you're going to buy now. If you're still skiing with your skis very close together you will not want too radical a sidecut ski as this will not work well with your stance, which you will probably be slowly widening over time but don't cripple yourself up front with a radical sidecut (small radius) as you'll be tripping over your inside edges. Something along the lines of a 17 - 20 meter radius sidecut would be as tight as you would want for a couple years. This is still a very tight sidecut compared to what you're on now, but will be manageable.


You said you like moguls and spend the bulk of your time there so make sure you consider skis that are pretty soft lengthwise. A reasonable length will probably end up somewhere between 170 and 180cm. The sort of radius I suggested above in this length that's reasonably soft lengthwise with a 1 degree bottom edge bevel and a 2 degree side edge bevel (no such thing as flat filing shaped skis) will work well for moguls. Todays skis get stiffer torsionally as you move up through the product line to the skis geared more to advanced and expert skiers - which are fine for you considering you are very experienced. 


Skis have also been growing wider underfoot over the years and will look starkly different from your pencil thin skis. On the one hand you shouldn't make too radical a change at once so I would tend to suggest a relatively narrow ~78mm underfoot, but on the other your region really encourages you to consider a wider ski for its soft snow conditions and while a ~78mm wide ski will be a dramatic positive shift from what you're used to, an ~84mm wide ski today will do as much, hold on hardpack about as well, and be even more fun in new snow and for the tree skiing you sometimes do. Only a few years ago a "mid-fat" ski was ~75mm wide, but that has grown to even ~90mm wide today. These will all be a huge improvement over what you have now, and the "best" will vary subjectively for the specific snow/terrain conditions at hand.


Hope these thoughts help! 

post #9 of 10
Originally Posted by ryeandi View Post

The boots are beat up but are still comfy and warm.  


Your boots are too big.  They were probably too big to begin with but after this much time and skiing the liners are completely packed out which makes them even bigger.  I understand your dilemma about the skis loosing an edge but with boots that are too big you will have trouble communicating with a new shaped ski.  Just something to think about.

post #10 of 10
Look around... a lot of places will let you rent gear for the whole season. Some of them will let you swap it out during the lease too. That's what I'd do if I had to do it all over again.

I came back a couple of years ago after a 20+ year layoff at the age of 47, so I know where you are coming from.

The cool thing about the new equipment these days is that it changes so fast, you can buy something so much better than what you were used to you can't believe it, and that was the best thing ever invented when new. But because it's last season's or the season's before it's now "obsolete" and dirt cheap.
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