I'm not sure if this question belongs in the gear section -- maybe not -- but I thought I'd start here. Sorry in advance - this is a bit of a long post.
The general topic is BBR ski length & stability -- and possibly a bad habit this ski has fostered in my skiing style. I'm seeking thoughts & advice from those of you who are much more experienced & knowledgeable than me - especially those of you with quivers that contain skis of varying ski lengths and types.
- Height 5'9.5" barefoot (I used to be 5'10", but I've started the inevitable shrink we all experience as we age)
- 185 lbs.
- 56 years old, not an athlete, and leg strength has never been my strong suit (skinny legs without a lot of muscle mass compared to stronger guys).
- Probably a level 7/8 skier.
- In the past 5 years I've gone from skiing just 5 days/year to skiing 80 days/year -- so I've become more comfortable last year & this year in conditions that I never thought I would tackle when I was only skiing 5 days/year.
When I wasn't skiing much, I was on K2 Apache Recons in 168cm. As my skill increased, I picked up more skis for different conditions: S3s in 178 and S7s in 178. With these additions to my quiver, I became comfortable in easier bowls and tree runs as long as the terrain wasn't too steep (I still have a fear of losing control & gaining far too much speed & eating it).
Back to the BBRs -- I demo'd them when Salomon had a tent on-site at Canyons Resort and liked them a lot.
At the end of last season (end of 2012) I bought a pair - new, unmounted - from a guy on Craigslist for a sweet deal (he needed to raise cash quickly). These BBRs are 186cm -- possibly too long for me (5'9.5"), but as my skill and confidence were in an upward arc, I bought them. The shovel up front has quite a bit of rocker so the actual running length on-piste is shorter than a traditional 186cm ski.
This winter I started on them & thought "uh-oh" -- I really should have bought the 176s.
After 15 or so days on them I got used to them -- and wow! I REALLY LIKE these skis. They've become my daily driver for most everything except tree runs. The mass of the shovel at the front makes me fearful of not being able to swing them around quickly enough for tree runs. This may be more in my head than the ski -- I will do those runs with my S3s or S7s, just not with the BBRs. On days with substantial new snow, I prefer the S3s. On big powder days, I bring out the S7s and head for the bowls.
I find these BBRs incredibly stable and confidence-inspiring on boilerplate days on-piste. Now that it is springtime, the BBRs just sing in the mashed potatoes and slush. That big shovel just eats them for breakfast.
The relatively long tail - not rockered - is part of the thing I've come to love about these skis. Because of the rocker up front and no rocker in the rear, the tail visually seems disproportionately long. That is, with a traditional ski that has the same running length of the 186 BBRs, that traditional ski might be a 176cm or so -- and visually I would expect the binding to be a bit farther to the rear.
So this tail is something I've come to love - and maybe it is a bad habit. On really hard packed days, the longer tail seems to give me more stability and more grip on steep groomers where other skiers might fall because they can't get a good grip. On days with some soft snow over ice, the shovel handles the soft snow, and if the snow has been scraped clear of snow & is now just ice, the tail really bites. If I'm skiing fast on a steeper black run, I feel comfortable & stable up to about 45 mph or so (as reported by Ski Tracks smart phone app), and at my age that is as fast as I ever want to go (I'd rather keep it to 30).
So... now I've come to realize i'm relying on the tail quite a bit. In fact, I've noticed I tend to finish my turns on groomers using the tail -- which means maybe I'm a bit in the back seat. Hmmm...
So then I tried out Kastle MX83s in 173cm. My initial impression was "where's the tail?"
SOooo... I'm wondering if my impressions about the BBR are really more about overall length of the ski -- or maybe overall length of the tail -- or maybe relative length of the tail -- or maybe it is a feature of the BBR -- or something else.
I'm assuming that coming to rely too much on the tail is not a good idea -- is that correct?
Does using this length ski for a daily driver foster bad habits? I'm having fun, after all, but my objective is to improve to level 9/10. I'm wondering if, given my objective, I ought to trade the 186 BBRs for 176cm even though I'm having fun on the 186s and they inspire confidence but are fostering bad habits.
Thanks for bearing with me to the end here. Any thoughts would be appreciated