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Help for an "advanced" beginner

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hello all!


I went skiing for the first time this past weekend and was blown away by how exciting it was. I wish I started sooner! I have been doing tons of research on this site and other places around the web and feel like I'm ready to ask for advice directly from the community. If my answer is not so unique and the topic has been covered before, if you could provide a link or general idea where to get this information I would greatly appreciate it!


I use to be a competitive figure skater many years ago growing up, and I think that has helped me improve a little more quickly than average. I went with a few friends to Tahoe last weekend and we ended spending our Sunday skiing at Kirkwood. One of my friends knew how to ski and he showed me how to clip in and how to use the chair lifts etc. The ski movements felt incredibly natural and I was skiing the black diamond slopes (they have a black diamond next to the slope name) in a few hours. By the end of the day all the black diamonds I was trying felt pretty easy and I wanted to try something harder but time ran out and I was tired anyway.


I was told by some of the workers at the base of the lift that having my own gear would greatly help performance. I hadn't attempted a slope that day where I felt I needed something better to hold my line but I remember seeing slopes with "two" black diamonds for their rating which means they are twice as hard as the single black diamond? I'm also not sure what to do with poles so I never used them but I'll save that for another thread.


This brings me to my ultimate question: what kind of skies would you more experienced folks recommend to a beginner who can ski the "single" black diamond runs without difficulty and wants to try the "double" black diamonds in the near future? I read the 5 key questions bit at the top of this subforum and my answers are as follows:


1) Where in the World are you skiing? - California, Sierra Nevadas. But want to goto Utah to ski in the future as well.


2) What kinds of terrain do you prefer? - Okay I had to research many of these terms, but basically I liked all the terrain Kirwood resort had (groomed runs?), and I especially liked the sections that had lots of powder. I also had alot of fun near the end of the day when the slopes were all chopped up by the skiers and it wasn't flat anymore and it made going down the blacks a better leg workout. The sections in the morning that were hard like ice were okay but I did not like how my skis were vibrating every time I went faster and making my body feel weird. I'm an avid winter backpacker and would like to ski in the backcountry now and then. I also have no interest in ski jumps etc like I see on tv for X games.


3) How many days a year do you ski? - I live in SoCal and I'm an hour away from the nearest ski resort according to google, 2 hours away from the next closest, and 4 hours away from the 3rd closest, so I figure I'll be skiing pretty often considering how much fun I had.


4) How advanced are you as a skier? - Please see what I wrote above.


5) What's your height and weight? - 5'9", 170 lbs.


I tried to make this post as concise as possible, any help is greatly appreciated! As a side note, I'm going to a custom a boot fitter for the boots, and I already have all the clothing and protection since I do winter backpacking. I got my winter mountaineering boots custom fitted and I assume ski boots are the same process.



post #2 of 13

1, i know it can be expensive but take some lessons preferably private lessons. skaters often pick up skiing very quickly as you have found out but it is worth you money having some lesson to make sure you technique is good form the start. this will help you a lot when skiing on steeper and uneven terrain. you will thank yourself in the long run for doing this.


2, you are correct custom fitted boots are are very important and you are right to go to a specialist for this. dont try and save money on boots they are going to be expensive but worth it.


3, i could write a list of skis for you but it would be a little pointless given your limited experience what i would suggest is go to a local retailer and get then to suggest a decent intermediate ski for you this will see you through your first season or so of skiing at which point you will have a much better of what type of skiing you like.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the honest feedback!


You are right, one of my concerns was picking up a bad habit that'd cause me to plateau later down the road. Been there done that in other sports, I definitely want to develop the good habits first. I also wanted to make sure the ski I chose did not "encourage" these potential bad habits.


Maybe I just need to get setup with a boot for now, and let a private instructor coach me a bit, and provide me a ski recommendation after an observation period?

post #4 of 13

that is very much up to you, as an instructor myself i can say that personally i dont have a huge experience with skiing intermediate level skis as i am usually on higher performance gear myself and dont often get the chance to test skis so what i have said above is fairly common advice.


post #5 of 13

I agree with the recommendation that you take some lessons. Of my first 50 days on skis, starting at age 35, I probably was in ski school 30. I understood early on that if I wanted to advance as quickly as possible, it was important to minimize taking on bad habits. I repeated that pattern with my never-ever 13 y/o grand-daughter last month who was skiing parallel by day 2, in boot top powder on day 3, and descending blacks with control and form by day 5. We did get to enjoy an hour at the end of each day and I was quite struck by how quickly she advanced. She also had had some experience on figure skates a couple of years back.


Anyway, I would go with the plan of getting fitted with some good boots for starters and wait until you get some more experience before springing for skis. There are  so many variables in modern skis that it would be impossible to match you up with a pair appropriate to where you are now as well as where you will be by the end of next season. If you rent, you will be able to take out a different pair each time you feel that you have advanced. There will be a natural progression to longer and more demanding skis (in terms of stiffness and flex pattern) as you move along. Particularly if you get to demo-quality skis before buying, most shops will apply up to several days' rental toward the eventual purchase.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks cosmoliu for sharing! At first I thought skis were skis but wow who knew there were so many variables! In figure skating it was a no-brainer to get the best custom skates you could afford as soon as possible. Looks like not so with skiing. I also did not know you could "demo" good skis. That sounds like an excellent idea! When I rented my skis I just asked for the cheapest package they had.

post #7 of 13

Important tip: you're going to want to stay away from those double black diamond runs for now.  They're not groomed and it's completely different, and it's fortunate you weren't able to go up 11 / Wagon Wheel when you were at Kirkwood because you would have been in over your head.


Anyway, like others have said, custom fit boots first from a real ski shop.  If they don't examine your foot, go somewhere else where they do.  As for skis, don't spend a whole lot at first, look for something used because chances are after another half season you're going to want something different as you progress.  It sounds like you'll progress quickly.


In general, I'd recommend searching this forum about all of the various questions you have, as I'm sure you have many and will have even more as you learn.  There are some really helpful threads (such as the beginner tips thread) where there's a wealth of information available.

post #8 of 13

Welcome to Epic!


...I use to be a competitive figure skater many years ago growing up, and I think that has helped me improve a little more quickly than average.


Yes.  Yes it did.  Suffice it to say most people aren't skiing black diamonds and thinking it's easy on their first day.  smile.gif


You might want to look for info in the "beginner" section of the forum for basic info on clothing, gear, travel, ticket deals, etc.  There are many many many many posts from people looking for ski buying advice in the gear discussion area, so maybe start with some searching.


Boots are actually the most important thing, since they determine overall responsiveness and comfort.  (This is probably not surprising to you coming from a competitive ice skating background.)  You really want to get boots fitted in person, not order something randomly off the Internet.  If you're up in Tahoe again there are a couple great local shops employing longtime Epic members -- Start Haus in Truckee (ask for Phil) and Bud Heishman's (sp?) shop in Reno (blanking on the actual store name, sorry Bud!).  They run some great sales in the spring and can get you set up with everything you'll need.

post #9 of 13

Get Boots and Buy a season pass NOW at your target resort cause lift tickets aint cheap but passes are !!!


If you are in So. cal look at Tony Crocker's statistics for each resort http://www.bestsnow.net/


+1 StartHaus in Tahoe for boots

+1 Bud At Snowwind in Reno for boots


Funny how the best are in Tahoe cool.gif


And Mammoth is open till the end of May if you are in So Cal

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Tahoe was incredible! Thanks all for boot shop recommendations, that was my next area of research.


I'm thinking I will get a season pass for Mountain High since it's so close, and just pay the lift ticket when I goto Mammoth and Big Bear. I'm also super excited Mammoth is still open!! Thanks for that tip, looks like I can start my lessons soon!


Thanks all for the tips, I'm pretty glad I joined these forums!

post #11 of 13

Hi Cat,

Really refreshing to see your enthusiasm. Reminds me of my first ski trip 25 yr ago when, out of the blue, my brother asked if I was interested in taking a long weekend to go up to Breckenridge (living in Kansas City at the time). The thought had never even remotely entered my mind that I might enjoy the sport. Up to that time I had assumed that I was a klutz, being the last one chosen for teams in high school phys. ed. After my first day on skis, I went right out that night and bought my first pair of boots. Good thing it was spring then as well, and I had some good deals to choose from. I've never looked back since. BTW, you may run in to the adage: You date skis, but you marry your boots. So, choose your boot fitter carefully smile.gif

post #12 of 13
Originally Posted by catinthehat85 View Post

Tahoe was incredible! Thanks all for boot shop recommendations, that was my next area of research.


I'm thinking I will get a season pass for Mountain High since it's so close, and just pay the lift ticket when I goto Mammoth and Big Bear. I'm also super excited Mammoth is still open!! Thanks for that tip, looks like I can start my lessons soon!


If you are thinking of Mammoth as well as getting back up to Tahoe next year, you should look in to the Mountain Collective pass: http://www.themountaincollective.com/?gclid=CNeTvoLc8bYCFQnhQgodGn8ATA

For the subscription price of $369, you get the first two days free at each of the participating ski areas. If you get back up to Tahoe, you can go to Squaw/Alpine Meadows. Then with two days at Mammoth, you're ahead even before getting to the half price days. There's at least one thread here on the pass.

post #13 of 13

Ar crystall mountain  you can Demo ski's , Write down what the conditions you skiied and the ski . Like a chooped Mashed potato snow ,Is different from a groomed run , New dry powder is different from wet powder , , Hardpack is different from a groomer or wet snow , Mainly just write what the ski was down , Then go home and look it up ,, I keep finding 15 to 16 meter radius skis are not what i like , I like around 18 meter radius , Like my MX 88s because ,  They run straight stable and fast , But I can throw them into a turn ,

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