Originally Posted by Magi
So lets try again:
- How do I tell the difference between "you don't have enough experience in that condition" and the less hyperbolic version of "you're tying to push a 68mm race carver through 18 inches of fresh powder".
- My default is to blame myself - and apply principles I already know, or ask an instructor what to change, so it works. Other than getting my boots tuned up - that's worked well.
- I don't know what I need a new ski for, other than lots of different sources suggesting that a wider ski will do good stuff for certain conditions.
- I have lots of fun skiing bumps (hard, soft, or slush) in my 8.0s - I'm don't know what a "better" bump ski would let me do.
- I don't think I need a new ski to drop Pallavinci, I just need to be better at flowing moguls on truly steep pitches for long periods. Skiing down it last time just looked like stopping every 6-10 bumps.
- Drunken Frenchman at MJ also didn't make me feel like my ski was holding me back.
- Am I skiing "around" my equipment? (Is that bad?)
- What would it feel like?
- The thing I have trouble in is chopped up snow, most recently experienced at Loveland up near chair 4/8 (not hard terrain) and at A-Basin's Zuma Bowl.
- Loveland was the day after a 17" dump on May 1st, A-Basin was day 2, 3, and 4 after that dump.
- I feel pushed around by the snow, and I don't feel like I can trust my ski's to power through things.
- It's a *really* rough ride, even if I can hold it most of the time.
- The above makes me think that more float (and possibly a stiffer ski) might be helpful.
- I've never really felt "3D" in snow.
Hi Magi. I'm glad that my post was useful. Looking at your response above and your other thread, I think that you are basically asking two related but different questions: (i) how do I improve my game in the terrain I typically ski and (ii) will new/different skis open up new terrain and conditions that I currently struggle with.
You already know the answer to the first question - mileage and coaching. But the second question is legit and the honest answer is "yes, although there are tradeoffs, a ski that is wider and more designed for soft snow will substantially improve your game off-piste, in variable conditions and in deeper tracked up snow like you describe above." And it will make it more fun, easier, etc. . . .
I like to think about skis more in terms of "ski days" than ski attributes. When I think about a ski that I want to buy, or which ski I am going to pull out of my garage in the morning, the questions I consider are: where am I going skiing (which mountain, terrain)? and what are the general conditions? Rather than think about it as "this ski is great for bumps, this ski is great for groomers, this ski is great for soft snow" I tend to think more along the lines of "I am going to be skiing at X mountain, conditions are likely to be Y, so the terrain I am likely to seek out is Z." It is a subtle difference, but the point that I am trying to make is that ultimately, you should think about every ski as a OSQ for the day that you are skiing it. You don't ski around with a caddy behind you and swapping skis in and out over the course of the day isn't practical at larger resorts. And even if the car is near the lifts, it drives your friends crazy (who are perfectly fine making it work with a quiver of one). Maybe this is different at small hills where you return to the base every run, but even out here at a place like Alpental, where the car can be pretty close in or easily accessible, at most, when you are skiing with friends you get one swap per day - at lunch, if it is convenient and doesn't waste anyone else's time, or early a.m. if you are near the base and you got it wrong. More than that and you are just being annoying.
The first half of your question is "have I outskied the 8.0s." Like Phil said near the top of the other thread, the answer is likely no - for the environment to which they are tuned. I haven't ridden it, but from what I gather, there is a top end to the performance band on that ski that you haven't yet surpassed (nor are likely to). There is a question on the table about ski length (158 for a height of 169cm), but 10 cms below the top of the head seems within reason for a front side, firm snow carver your second real season back on skis. But you already know the answer to this question - if you are bombing down a groomer do the skis feel stable at speed and planted through the full radius of the turn? If yes, the length is fine. So the Blizzis have their place - the go to ski for eastern conditions when there hasn't been any new snow and the secondary ski in the west when it is firm, hasn't snowed for weeks and you are likely to be spending all day on-piste, groomers and named bump runs (when reality of that day is more like 80-20, 90-10 than a more aspirational 50-50). If the length is right for firm snow, on-piste and firm bumps, the answer to your question isn't new gear.
Assuming that the 8.0s are appropriate in length, I translate your actionable gear question as: What should I add to the mix for powder days in the east and softer daily conditions in the west that could also perform well on a powder day?
Given what you have said about your skiing, the number of days that you planned for this season, and the geos in which you plan to ski, I think that you definitely should consider supplementing the Blizzis with a soft snow biased, all mountain ski. Although a softer ~88 like the Bushwacker is probably the perfect one ski quiver for you, because you already have a dedicated hard snow carver, I'd go wider and more soft snow biased for the second pair. So I think you have two practical decision points when you build your list out:
(i) Width - do you go ~98 or mid-100s; and
(ii) feel - do you go stiff, powerful, damp or light, crisp, snappy.
As for width, I think that you could go either way. It really depends on where you ski (do you want to get some eastern use out of the ski? are you spending more time in Summit County or Whistler?). Based on what you have said, I'd probably steer you to a ~98ish ski for now, just because I think that you'd get more practical use out of it - 80% of days out west, a few days out east (unless you ski mid-week in Northern Vermont). The right ~98 will make the 8.0s a specialty ski out west (that would be a goal of mine - but that is a preference based on the terrain that I like to ski). That said, I could see the Soul 7 in 173 working the same way for you. It carves very nicely for a wider ski and on packed snow it behaves more like a ~100 than a ~110. Bump the length up, however, and it might become a more narrowly aimed, "at least a couple of inches of loose stuff the ground" ski.
As for feel, that is something you need to decide, but given your weight and experience, I'd start at snappy, quick, light as the baseline assumption (not the opposite end of the spectrum, i.e., Bonafide/FX94/E98/Mantra). The truth is that it is a feel preference, not an indication of relative "expertness." If you only read EpicSki, TGR, Blistergear and the major magazines you'd think that the more "expert" the skier, the more burly the ski preference. But in the real world, that isn't exactly so. At least in my experience, looking at the guys I ski with regularly (most of whom are pretty good), the preference is closer to half and half - maybe tilted a bit more toward light, quick, snappy. Some of it relates to size, some of it relates to style. I do think that it is somewhat true that unless you are a bigger dude, there are some baseline qualifications required for getting the most out of some of the stiffer skis - only because it takes some level of power (which could be supplied by either beef or chops) to bend them and ride them confidently in tougher, tighter conditions. But a quick, crisp ski can get away from you if you don't know what you are doing also. It is just that the lighter skis are likely to be a bit more compliant and tolerant of vague input because they are easier to push or force into a recovery. But assuming it is a performance oriented ski, a high level skier will undoubtedly get more out of a quick/light ski than an intermediate, and many experts live for that "snap" and "pop" underfoot. Unfortunately, that get re-interpreted in places like Epic as "stiffness, burliness = expertness." But the truth is more nuanced.
So demos can help you sort out your preferences along the width/shape axis and the powerful/quick axis if you have time and you aren't in lust with any particular idea. As for recommendations, I still stand behind my list above - which are skis I have some demo experience with. If you are willing to just take a plunge, and if you are not going to be able to resist your lust for something "cool" and the sex factor of the major reviews, go ahead and buy the Soul 7 now, and guarantee that you get a pair. Lean on your shop guy for the length recommendation - he seems pretty solid and based on your boot credit experience, he deserves your business. If you are going with the 173 you'll probably be OK waiting until after xmas - but I wouldn't wait on the 180s (although I'd be shocked if Rossi weren't already pressing the 14/15s for mid-season release/re-order).
Or, if you are feeling more value oriented, and don't want to wait, go for that deal from EVO that I found on the Atomic Access (full disclosure: I have zero economic or 'bro interest here - it is just a great deal, imo). I honestly think that for your purposes, the Access is about perfect (in terms of flex, shape, compliance). A great all around ski for the front range, you'd love it if it is even remotely soft and in deeper conditions (like you described at Loveland) your game will improve more than you can imagine. It would also be a great every day ski at Whistler/BC (unless you want to cruise front side groomers at BC, but for that, you'd go with the 8.0). I recommended the Access to a friend of almost the exact same profile - coming back to the sport, good athlete, fit, smaller, strong guy and he loves it as an all around PNW daily driver. Anyway, the Access is cheap, risk is low and it will be way better on groomers than you think it will, especially if you just ignore the tip flap at speed (you shouldn't be looking at your skis anyway). And you have firm snow covered, so I would be biased the soft snow direction anyway. In powder the Access rides loose and slarvy, like a baby Bent Chetler. And best of all, although it is kind of unsexy, it isn't a Bilzzard/Nordica product, and perhaps it lacks the level of "refinement" necessary to justify a tariff double that of comparable skis, the Access is "EpicSki Approved!" - it made one of Phil's recent "steals and deals" lists.
That may be more than you were asking for, but I hope this helps break it down a bit and gives you a frame of reference to think about the questions. New gear isn't the answer to every question - but in this case, where you want to raise your game off-piste and in variable conditions, there are better equipment options than the 8.0.
Have fun this season.
Edited by LewyM - 11/17/13 at 11:20am