Originally Posted by Metaphor_
For the past few years, I've been riding skis 65-78mm underfoot as daily drivers at Whistler-Blackcomb. I see hardly anyone out there on gear under 80mm underfoot. I couldn't even demo a sub-80mm ski at the WB flagship shops. And for the life of me I can't understand why.
Hear me out:
The majority of days at WB involve no new snow. (There are more no-snow days that snow days.)
Due to frequent freeze-thaw cycles, groomers are often quite firm.
With thousands of skiers every day, off piste is generally chopped up - even within a few hours of a powder day opening.
Nearly every off-piste run involves some kind of piste traverse.
So why don't we see more skiers on good carving skis? We do get lots of groomer days, AND if you're at least intermediate or better, you can take a carving ski off-piste and have a great day. Moreover, groomers are a great way to warm up and cool down, and I'd like to think most skiers spend at least a run getting warmed up (unless it's a powder day--in which case all bets are off!). I also believe a skinnier ski is more helpful for skier development--and that skiers will improve faster on skis with a shorter radius and better edge grip.
I have yet to ski a fat ski, in contrast, with decent edge to edge performance, good edge grip, or a fun short turning radius. (Relatively speaking. Some are worse than others.)
So why the lack of sub-80mm skis on the mountain?
here in California, there still seem to be plenty of skiers on older 'shapers'. Many whom seem to be more than competent in the skills dept. But I think the perceived ratio is probably determined by the 'replacement' cycle. The further we get fromn 'shaper' days, the fewer you will see.
As for the 'newer' stuff - most western shops will handle a few models in the 70's, but the current bell curve of demand puts the vast majority of purchases for better skis into the 85+ to 110 range. And that's what a shop will put into demo, hoping to sell where they have invested most of their season's purchasing of stock.
you really can't expect any different.
The reason you see no need to go wider, might be the same reason I see no need to go with 'early rise' or such. But we're outliers on the wave of skiing.
Width does add some support on short skis (anything under 190-200cm) and that's a good reason, for me, to have a 178cm carver which is 82 wide.
There are people whom I ski with occassionally, who have 70 width skis in 170's, and when we hit some tracked or crud off the groomers, they bog down dramatically and can't get out of their own way. Meanwhile I can just blow by, using less energy and feeling more in control.
Carving nice turns on a groomers are fine for me, for the first 2 runs in the AM, but after that it's much more interesting to do sorties in the inbounds, but off-piste areas, looking for the good (or sometimes 'decent') stuff. Here at Mammoth I'm rarely disappointed.
But then I'm not handicapped to 'one ski' - last early season at Mammoth was more 'Eastern' than I remember since my re-entry, and for that the old 2000 190 cm Mod X Pro were the perfect tool.
Chopped up off piste is the fodder of the long, solid 90ish cruiser! So if the groomers are jammed with skiers, not being one of the 'bowling pins' and going a little off piste is a welcome relief, even if conditions are not '1st tracks' optimal. Sounds more like you expect off-piste to be a fairy tale, not the reality of 'this is what youz gotz, take it or leave it'.
What I gotta ask you is - WHY are you stuck with a 1 ski quiver of a narrow (maybe, short, under 180 cm) blade. On a Mtn like W-C. Even if you don't choose/affort to buy a 'new' ski, there are so many good skis, in excellent condition, of 3-4 yr old vintage on the market, that if you laid off starbucks for 2 months, they'd be paid for...
n'est-ce pas ?
EDIT: Given how many nice 'carvers' I've found in the mid-80's, going forward I wouldn;t even consider anything under 84 for our Western hills... and 88-90 might actually be the lower limit.
If you have a 'Jones' for carvin, If you haven't tried them yet, the 2-3 year old Nordicas in the mid 80's are carvin machinas. Find the right flex/model and go carve up some turkey...
Edited by moreoutdoor - 2/12/13 at 4:52pm