Originally Posted by rocdoc
Thank you everyone, this is a wealth of information and I really appreciate it.
Interesting point about shops pushing what they want to sell: it's tough for someone new to know when they get good advice or advice that comes with an ulterior motive. One of the first stores I went to with these questions was really REALLY pushing Salomon BBR 8.9s as the PERFECT ski for what I was looking for :) Maybe they really believed that, but honestly, is that what someone should be learning on, on Eastern groomers?!?
I ended up getting Head i.Peak 74s. They seem to allow some growth on them and I like them so far. I was concerned about the size, I went with 163 which by weight seems just fine (I'm light for my height, 5'10 150-155 lbs). They come to about my mouth at most, but reading what you guys are saying it sounds like they should be fine and I probably won't outgrow them too quickly.
But this is a good general discussion, I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering about this. Just as when I started out in photography, still my main hobby, I will probably end up with several different skis if I remain consistent, but when someone initially invests in equipment they want to try and get something versatile and that they can keep for a long time. On the other hand, to push the analogy further and going off KingGrump's comment about it being the arrow not the indian, I found that the better I got at photography, the less I cared about equipment. I get the feeling it's the same with skiing... I started out convinced that what limited my shots was the fact that I didn't have a bigger, better, shinier SLR, and now I make better photographs on my iPhone than I used to on 1.5k cameras :) Maybe I'll also end up skiing better on these than others do on 1.5k skis...
OK, rant over
Jan 24, 2012
First let me welcome you to the Barking Bears Forum. I hope you enjoy your stay here as well as being a long time participant.
Noting that you live in the Washington DC metro area, I would suggest that the ONLY ski shop to frequent is Ski Center located on Mass Ave close to the Maryland state line (address 4300 Fordham Road NW, Washington DC 20016, phone 202 966-4474). I've been a loyal customer for many years, and have benefited from the wide choice of great equipment available as well as the expert advice given non-partially by expert skiers i.e. skiers with 30+ years of skiing, racing, race coaching experience, who are full time sales persons during the winter months. They ski on their days off or after the local ski season is over and head up north or out west and even overseas to Europe, New Zealand, South American etc. Since none of them work on "commissions/bonus", they have no self interest to "push" any brand or type of ski. If you honestly discuss with them your skiing ability (as you have done here) and your future goals, they will come up with recommendations which will be more or less ideal for you, in terms of type of ski (SL, cheater GS or all mountain ski), length, width and stiffness. They will also take the time to explain the reason for their choices to you. Most sales associates have many years of retail experience with the Ski Center.
As you get to know and understand more about skiing, please NOTE that your MOST IMPORTANT piece of equipment, IS NOT YOUR SKIS, but YOUR BOOTS. This goes for type of boot i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced, racing but more importantly as to whether a particular boot (i.e. brand and model within brand) is a GOOD fit for YOUR FEET (NOTE, YOUR FEET not Bodie Miller's feet, for example). This is one ARROW where the Indian might not be able to shot as straight no matter how good he is, given a "crooked arrow". After understanding your skiing ability, where you like to ski, your goals as well as an initial inspection of your foot, a recommendation of several boots will be made for you to try. Once you have decided upon a particular boot, the hard part starts and the real "fitting" process begins. This involves fore aft balance, canting if you are knocked knee, stance based on your body type and a foot bed, also known as an orthotic. At this stage of the game, they may even recommend over the counter othotics such as Super Feet. However, as you advance in skill level and ability, you will probably be looking at custom orthotics, which involves a non-trivial fee (custom orthotics). Fitting, even with over the counter orthotics, involves several hours and might involve multiple visits for MORE fitting (punching out the plastic shell on pressure points etc). This is all included in the price of the boot and is part of the fitting process.
So, with all this said, I hope that you have not been scared you off with the mumbo jumbo above. Hope you go out skiing this weekend. The conditions should be great.
ps: They wouldn't mind you taking your skis to their shop for a second opinion, assuming they aren't busy (they can be quite busy). This is one method which they build customer good will and loyalty.