Originally Posted by Ghost
You don't need skinny skis to ski powder, but you don't need skill to ski powder on fat skis.
Like most of this thread, this is complete BS. Wider skis don't take an intermediate, add soft snow, and instantly create an expert skier in real big mountain terrain. You still have to be able to ski it.
Rather, modern ski technology is an amplifier. Just like your beloved race carvers amplify the groomer/firm snow experience if you already know how to carve, wider modern skis (be it ~88s, ~98s, ~110+, chose your tool of choice), amplify the off piste, powder experience and enable most skiers (intermediate to pro) to ski more aggressive terrain, more aggressive lines at more aggressive speeds, if you already know how to ski big mountain terrain. If that isn't for you, if you like doing hop turns down the mountain, or if you are as strong a skier as the Mahre brothers, nobody is forcing you to try it. But in the real world, like today at Crystal in a foot+ of powder, if you want to start at the top of the Thrown and ski an aggressive, fast line top to bottom with style, you need both skills and fitness as an opener. Fat skis make it possible for more of us (and I think that is a good thing - as I am getting old and somewhat fat myself), but there is still a baseline competency requirement for entry. For certain terrain and certain conditions the baseline might be lower than 20 years ago thanks to modern equipment, but the top end potential is far higher for normal skiers as well. And what guys like Hoji do. . . that's unthinkable for most of us and even for the pros 25 years ago.
Here's the fallacy with the premise of the thread. . . what the Mahre brothers were doing in that clip, or what the guys in Blizzard of Ahhs were doing in the late 80s, that was awesome. The skiing totally stands up today. And that is why it is so cool and we are all so impressed, even now. But I remember those days, I remember skiing on Atomic Arcs, KVCs and Rossi 4SKs and I am willing to bet that very few of the people posting on this board were skiing straight skinny skis through powder like that 30 years ago. I certainly was not. On this board, maybe just the OP who is a pro. That's the point. Those guys were superheros of their time. But now, any number of us can shred powder like that, it is totally normal. . . thanks to modern equipment. Someone could post a video of Stenmark racing and make exactly the same point about modern race carvers - and it would be equally off-base.
Think about Blizzard. Basically that was all shot inbounds at places, on terrain, many of us ski today (i.e., Squaw, Telluride). And those guys are shredding it in a way that looks really modern. And that was epic back then. But fast forward to 2013. Aside from the huge airs and some of the super gnarly sequences in Cham, most of the terrain in that film could be skied by most of the better skiers posting here in a somewhat proximate style. . . and that is thanks to modern equipment - modern shapes and modern construction (which it seems like everyone buys into around here) and yes, modern widths. And I don't know for sure, but I am willing to bet that when Mike Hattrup hits up the Alpental backcountry these days, he isn't riding a pair of KVC Comps, nor is he likely to be riding a pair of Amp Bolts. He could, but why would he?
Maybe it is a geographical thing (I suppose that I might have a different perspective if I lived in CO where it doesn't snow anymore , or if the height of my skiing experience was perfecting tip initiation on icy 400 vert hills ), but in general, I don't really understand the retro-grouch martyrdom that pops up around here on a semi-monthly basis - and it strains credibility when folks make unqualified assertions that wider skis "aren't necessary." Of course, they aren't "necessary" . . . any more than a modern race carver is "necessary" when you have a pair of Red Sleds in your garage). But it entirely misses the point to suggest that wider skis (and by the way - who decides where the excess width begins. . . is it above 70? 80? 90? 110?) are for the unskilled, the lazy, diminish the experience or the like. Maybe that is true for some in their limited experience, but in general, that just doesn't comport with the actual experience of real skiers, in real powder conditions, at real mountains. It is equally as ludicrous as when folks (more often in other online communities) suggest that you can "rail groomers" on a pair of Hellbents as well as you can on a pair of Head Titans. That is BS as well. I like to go by my real experience. . . I know that while I drop deeper into the snow, turn-over-turn, on my Bonafides @98 (like last Sunday in about a foot at Alpental), I certainly experience face shots on my Chetlers @123 underfoot on deep days. I also know that I can ski my Chetlers perfectly well on groomers (and they are actually kind of fun in soft bumps), but that my Bonafides are better on firm snow, very good in my opinion - but a pair of Nordica Fire Arrow ETDs, are better yet if it is firm.
Of course you don't need a wider ski to ski powder. Any more than someone whose most narrow ski ski is ~98 needs a pair of GS race carvers to ski Sun Valley. But it is generally true that for most skiers, certain equipment is more optimized for specific environments and makes those environments more fun.
Here's a reality check. This notion of sticking to sub 80 carvers as all-mountain tools is a narrowly held, but loud minority perspective on this board, not widely shared by those at the top of the sport. I had the opportunity to ski with Glen Plake a couple of years ago as part of his down home tour (a very cool experience - what a great guy). 6-8" of fresh, kicked around, somewhat heavy snow at Hyak. Plake had a van full of Elans, and guess what, just like the rest of us, both he and his wife were skiing on modern skis, appropriate for the day, appropriate for the terrain (head height, about 100 underfoot - maybe a 999 or something like that). Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing retro. No 220 downhill boards. And he still kills it - way better than anyone else out there.
Modern equipment is an amplifier, not a crutch.