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Atomic Access in 181cm or 191cm?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

OK .... so I've run across a great deal on the Atomic access. I think if this ski came in about a 184 - 186 length I'd be all over it. However, it only comes in 181 or 191. I'm thinking 191 is too long. I have another active thread going but wanted to ask a question specific enough that I felt a new one is necessary to get a few replies. Thread link at the bottom of this post for more background, but the gist is this:



For some background, I am a big, strong 50 year old male who use to ski quite a bit and had advanced-intermediate skill. I skied mostly groomers and some steeps and really liked to go fast with wide, GS-style turns. However, I haven't skied in some time since getting married and having a child. Well, the girl is now going on 11 and wants to take up skiing so I am now going to have to get back in the saddle.


I have a bad knee and two bad ankles. I am slowing down and I know I won't be lighting up anything or going super-fast or hitting icy moguls (I also have had a disc removed from neck) or doing any pipe work or jumping. I just want to cruise around, have some fun and not hurt myself. I also want to start to ski a bit of power, a bit of off-piste and learn to go through crud.


I will be skiing mostly on the wet side of the PNW (Snoqualmie area since it is easiest for the kid's lessons). We will also take a destination trip every year to the Northern Rockies for lighter powder and hopefully some sun. I need an easy ski that will get me all over the wet-snow mountains of home and the dry-snow mountains of Grand Targhee and Big Sky.


Which length would be best? I can't demo due to a knee injury and the sale is only this weekend, so I need to act fast. Thanks!




post #2 of 8
I read fro a previous thread that you are over 6 feet and weigh 225 pounds. The Access is a very soft ski. If you have the strength to leg press 500 pounds, you can ski the 191 easily.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Yes. Actually, a wee bit under 6' since having a disc removed from my neck. smile.gif



I'm 6'0, 225 lbs and leg press well over 500 lbs.

post #4 of 8

I'm 175, 5'9 and I skied 181 with no problem. I think 191 is fine for you.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

But will the 181 be OK, as well? I really don't want to go that long if I can help it. The temptation to go fast will be too great!

post #6 of 8
At your weight, you will find a 181 to be unstable. The ski is fairly soft. If you prefer a shorter length, you may want something considerably stiffer like a wider frontside ski.
post #7 of 8
Originally Posted by EmperorMA 

But will the 181 be OK, as well? I really don't want to go that long if I can help it. The temptation to go fast will be too great!

Although your weight and leg strength says 191 would be fine, and the Access skis somewhat short, I think that 181 would be OK also, especially considering where you are with your skiing and the primary purpose (chasing kids around Snoqualmie and Ski Acres).  You'll be giving up some stability and some float, but you say above that you are not looking for a ski to push (so I am not sure stability is that important - or more important than easy, mobility).  You just have to accept that trade.  And if you luck out in Targee, just rent something super fat and go for it.  But I keep going back to your self description and intended purpose and I just don't think that length is all that critical.


fwiw, I have a pretty clear picture of where you ski and what you are going to be doing (I've got my own kids in red parkas to chase around up there - I know the environment well), and I think sizing up to the 191 isn't the answer for an intermediate coming back to the sport, on the mend physically. If you said that you were hitting Chair 2 at Alpental bell to bell, or skiing Crystal on Chair 6 or Northway all day, at your weight and strength I'd say 191 for sure. But you didn't say that. Cruising around Snowqualmie/Ski Acres at moderate speed? Only 6 foot tall.  Not necessary to size up over 181.


For a data point, I am 5'11", 185# ("6 feet in the program").  I don't leg press anything close to 500#, but based on your self-description, I probably ski a lot harder and faster than you do.  I typically like pretty damp, metal laminate skis, but I really loved the Access and  I appreciated its strengths and I've recommended it to a number of friends who have solicited my opinion.  I think that it is a great ski (for our mountains and conditions, especially) and a killer deal (and at 50% off this weekend, a crazy no-risk deal).  It has great balance and it is more solid than you might expect.  That doesn't mean it is stiff or damp, it isn't.  But like the Soul Rider, it is surprisingly solid underfoot (maybe due to the "step down side wall" construction) for such a forgiving, playful ski.  The only issue is that it has a top end speed limit and a bit of tip flap at high speed - which isn't going to be an issue in this case.


For me (to the extent that is helpful), 181 is the right size in this ski.  I skied it last year in 181 at Crystal (a buddy was demo'ing it and and I swaped with him for a few runs) and I thought that it was a great ski for its purpose.  I could ski the 191, but why?  The Access is the wrong ski to upsize for more stability - that totally misses the point of the ski - and if the point is pure powder performance and float, there are better options as well.  Moreover, a season before, I rode the Access one day in the size too small (171) in about 12+ inches of heavy new snow at Alpental.  And guess what?  It was still awesome.  I knew that more length would have been even better, but even on the 171, I was floating down 'nash delighted.  I might have been 5# less fat that year.  I rode some other undersized (for me) skis that day and they didn't hold up like the Access - so I think that says something positive if you are between sizes (explanation: the true demo subject that day was a buddy who is way smaller and I was just riding one of the other pairs throughout the day for purpose of swapping out and doing compros without having to go all the way down to the car).  And quick reality check:  given your height being only 6' you really aren't sizing down at 181.  In your case, is just the weight/muscle thing combined with a lighter more forgivng ski - but if you aren't really using those muscles to drive the skis, then . . .


If you really think that you are too big a dude for the 181 Access, for where you ski and where you are in your ski career, rather than length up, I'd recommend buffing up the ski, picking up some metal and going with something like the Alibi in the 181 range, or maybe the Cham97 in 184 (I thought that was a pretty good suggestion, btw).


One final thought. . . and this is coming from a guy who personally favors pretty damp skis (i.e., Bonafide, Influence 105, Cochise, etc. . . ). . . I think that the notion (often assumed as a "truth" in places like this board), that average joe skiers, even over "2 bills" are going to "overpower" a well-made ski without metal, is really pretty bogus.  Maybe at the upper margin of weight and power, but generally, not so much.  Technique and power (and that is ski power, not gym power) are way more important elements in bending a ski than just being heavy or buff.  I totally appreciate why some guys like a metal laminate ski - I do - but it is a flavor choice that goes as much to snow feel and ski "personality" as to stability or edge hold through the turn.  Either a damp ski or a snappy ski can get it done.  Neither dampness nor metal construction is a necessity borne of mass or "expertness."  Terrain choice matters as well in determining the best tool for the job.  I personally have had tons of fun on skis like the Access, Soul Rider, Bacons and I've seen extremely strong skiers do the same.  Those skis all hold up fine to hard skiing.  It may not be the feel or the ride that I am looking for in the daily driver slot for my skiing, but the none of those skis "washed out" under my mass or perceived power.  Not if you ski them right, in the appropriate venue and performance band. 


It all comes down to choices and tradeoffs, but I am pretty sure that any of the skis you are looking at, in a 180something length, would hold up fine under you, chasing the kids down Golden Nugget.


Good luck, happy shopping this weekend and have fun.  Worst case, you are into a ski that you bought for 50% off MSRP - if it doesn't work or hold up, just flip the ski, keep the binding and accept the delta as a seasonal rental payment.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

I appreciate the detailed response, LewyM. However, someone bought the last pair of 181cm Atomic Acess skis the shop had. All they have left is 171 and 191.


Looks like I am  back at square one and will hopefully pick up the Atomic Theory or the Rossignol S3, either in 186cm. They have a couple of pairs of both so I'm hoping to luck out.

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