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Question about On Piste/Off Piste Categorization

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I've heard people saying that they like off piste skiing but all they ski are ungroomed variable terrains in the ski resort. I thought on piste mean inbound marked runs (so that would include bumps, glades, and any other runs in the resort that are not groomed)? Or does on piste mean strictly inbound groomers?
post #2 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaserPower View Post

I've heard people saying that they like off piste skiing but all they ski are ungroomed variable terrains in the ski resort. I thought on piste mean inbound marked runs (so that would include bumps, glades, and any other runs in the resort that are not groomed)? Or does on piste mean strictly inbound groomers?

 

 

depend on your region

 

 

in america ON piste IMO is groomers....

 

off piste is not groomers

 

backcountry is ANYTHING outside of the resort boundaries . 

post #3 of 24
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Sorry Sib didn't want to open any can of worms...what confuses me is that some ski manufacturers will list their skis' on piste/off piste capabilities, and generally narrower skis will have good on piste capabilities and fatter ones will have good off piste capabilities. So in that sense, when they say off piste they actually mean powder. But off piste does not necessarily have a very deep soft powder all the time for the 100+ skis to be excelled in.
post #5 of 24
I'd consider the stiffness, width, turning radius, length, all on my own to determine where they'd excel. That 60/40 is mostly marketing. Add in your resorts' characteristics, such as runouts, snow consistency, number of deep days, how long before it's tracked out, etc. Yeah, everyone one likes to say they've got these big boards, but how many days is it the best tool?
post #6 of 24

In North America on piste means groomed runs. Off piste is everything else, whether inbounds (avalanche controlled) or out of bounds (not). As far as evaluating skis this definition is all you need to know. 

 

In Europe a piste is usually, but not always groomed, and is controlled for avalanches. I have skied marked pistes in Chamonix (marked by a series of wands on both sides of the piste) which had large bumps, while the off piste terrain just outside the wands had been much less skied. Anything outside the marked pistes in Europe should be considered potentially uncontrolled, although control to some degree does take place.Big Euro ski areas don't have marked boundaries, although they may have ropes separating the relatively safe, controlled areas, from the uncontrolled, often crevasse-riddled areas.  None of this is relevant to what a ski is good for.

post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaserPower View Post


Sorry Sib didn't want to open any can of worms...what confuses me is that some ski manufacturers will list their skis' on piste/off piste capabilities, and generally narrower skis will have good on piste capabilities and fatter ones will have good off piste capabilities. So in that sense, when they say off piste they actually mean powder. But off piste does not necessarily have a very deep soft powder all the time for the 100+ skis to be excelled in.

 

Don't worry about the previous threads.  We rehash this stuff all the time and I totally get the question you're trying to ask.

 

Piste/off-piste a very confusing thing and - like the whole carving versus non-carving versus sidecut-riding debate - people's definitions are hugely different.

 

You're totally right about how contradictory the manufacturer classifications can be and how mucked-up the result becomes when people start buying skis for various purposes.  This has long been a pet peeve of mine.  I ski pretty much every day of the season here at Jackson Hole.  That means I'm lucky enough to ski a lot of soft-snow and powder days.  Also, probably AT LEAST 75% of my time is spent off-piste in the sense that I'm not on groomed runs.

 

Given that as a basis, I would still argue that roughly half of my skiing time (or days or vertical feet or however you would classify it) is spent on snow that is relatively hard.  It's snow that has been skied enough that there's a relatively solid base and the skis don't penetrate very far into the snow surface.  Another way to think of it that I've seen several people suggest on Epic is the idea of two-dimensional snow versus three-dimensional snow.  With two-dimension, you ski on top of the snow surface, with three-dimensional you're mostly skiing in the snow.

 

Just as my own personal preference, I really prefer a narrower, quicker, carving-type ski for two-dimensional snow.  So to me, your statement that when the manufacturers say "off-piste" they actually mean powder is exactly correct.

 

Bottom line is that I don't pay any attention whatsoever to what the manufacturers say is the piste/off-piste intent of a ski because piste and off-piste are meaningless terms when figuring out which ski to use for the conditions I'm going to be skiing.

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Yep. My daily is a 84 mm. And I haven't found the 84 to be inadequate for off piste (non groomers) yet unless the resort gets a big dump, which is usually rather rare . That's why I am wondering since many people recommend a 98 to be daily driver if the person is off piste biased.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaserPower View Post

Yep. My daily is a 84 mm. And I haven't found the 84 to be inadequate for off piste (non groomers) yet unless the resort gets a big dump, which is usually rather rare . That's why I am wondering since many people recommend a 98 to be daily driver if the person is off piste biased.

 

Personal preference.  My daily driver is a 98 because I like the extra width better in crud which we get a lot of (well, most years) in the PNW.  No one says you have to feel the same way though, ski what you like and enjoy.

post #10 of 24
I have 78, 88, and 98. 88 is for those days I don't know what is coming. 98 I really do not like for groomer days. Too much work.
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I have 78, 88, and 98. 88 is for those days I don't know what is coming. 98 I really do not like for groomer days. Too much work.

Lol I agree with you on the 98s. But again when the powder is a few feet deep, 98s are not exactly surfy either...
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaobrien6 View Post

Personal preference.  My daily driver is a 98 because I like the extra width better in crud which we get a lot of (well, most years) in the PNW.  No one says you have to feel the same way though, ski what you like and enjoy.

Yeah just wondering what's the hype of the magic 98 is about. I ski in the Canadian Rockies.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaserPower View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

I have 78, 88, and 98. 88 is for those days I don't know what is coming. 98 I really do not like for groomer days. Too much work.

Lol I agree with you on the 98s. But again when the powder is a few feet deep, 98s are not exactly surfy either...

We have more supportive snow here. I've never been in Utah-type pow here. Shin deep, maybe knee deep, that's about it. And it's hard to get to the chair without spending time on groomers. Doesn't mean there aren't people with really fat skis on their feet, but IMO it just reduces the number of days you'll like them.
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaserPower View Post

Yeah just wondering what's the hype of the magic 98 is about. I ski in the Canadian Rockies.

How much do you weigh? Rockies...continental snowpack lower moisture content. Light skier, 80 something would rock for many. Ski style counts as well.
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

How much do you weigh? Rockies...continental snowpack lower moisture content. Light skier, 80 something would rock for many. Ski style counts as well.

200 lb...
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaserPower View Post


200 lb...

 

Getting 200 lbs+ is where I would look at bit to the fatter end of each category of ski.

 

One point that is worth making here- a fatter ski does not just help with powder. I distinctly prefer a fatter ski going off piste in anything but really hard bumped out stuff where there is no loose snow to throw around. The reason is that having a bigger stick in variable condition snow can be valuable is the stability it conveys. Its a lot easier to catch that edge that is really going to screw you up on skinnier skis skiing manked up, packed out, ungroomed stuff. Larger skis can give you a bigger base to help balance, and edges that don't grab until you get the ski rolled over- ie when you actually want to apply them.  I really only grab my 70mm skis when I basically know I'm going to either be skiing 100% groomers or rock hard moguls where I absolutely need the edge grip.  If its a day with stale snow where I think I might ski anywhere, I am skiing my fatter skis. Hell, my favorite skis are my 118 waist sticks, so if I don't know what the days calls for, I go with them. But, I'm blessed with a place that gets quite a lot of snow and not many people to track it, and my off-piste experience is typically softer (and in some cases flatter, where the float is really needed) than most.

 

Regarding off piste- I have always understood Off Piste to mean skiing terrain that is left in a natural state, which generally means bowl and tree skiing. If somebody cut down all the trees to make a clearly defined run, that's on-piste. If its not groomed, its an ungroomed run, leaving groomed as the clear definition we can all agree on. 

post #17 of 24
I'm close to anachronism on the piste definition. A slope that is groomable, but rarely groomed, is piste. And definitely a place they cut through the trees to make a trail is piste. Which of course starts to bring up thinning... If it's just thinning, I'd still call it off piste until they could run a snowcat through it.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
 

 

 

Just as my own personal preference, I really prefer a narrower, quicker, carving-type ski for two-dimensional snow.  So to me, your statement that when the manufacturers say "off-piste" they actually mean powder is exactly correct.

 

 

Might be a little more accurate to say that an off-piste ski is designed to handle powder, cement, wind slab, avalanche base, crud, slush, etc. (But not moguls, which could be considered off piste but favor a much different ski than the other off piste conditions.) 

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post
 

Might be a little more accurate to say that an off-piste ski is designed to handle powder, cement, wind slab, avalanche base, crud, slush, etc. (But not moguls, which could be considered off piste but favor a much different ski than the other off piste conditions.)

 

I tend to prefer my wider sticks in moguls too, but the moguls I typically see are the "soft bumps" variety.

post #20 of 24

As a speaker of both French and English, my interpretation of "Off Piste" has always been "Off the trail".  Whether that trail is groomed or not, if it's marked on the trail map and inbounds at a resort, it's not off-piste in my book.

 

As to the designation of a ski being X% off-piste Y% on piste,  the ski can't read a map and doesn't know if it is on piste or off piste, it only know what the snow is like.  So if you are skiing on a trail where the snow is just like it is in the woods where it has never been groomed or packed down by another skier, then it's "off piste" skiing as far as the ski knows.  If it's packed down by tonnes of skiers even though it is officially "off-piste", then it is on piste as far as the ski knows.  If you step off your ski and you feet sink down so the snow is higher than your knees call it off-piste as far as the ski knows.

post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

One point that is worth making here- a fatter ski does not just help with powder. I distinctly prefer a fatter ski going off piste in anything but really hard bumped out stuff where there is no loose snow to throw around. The reason is that having a bigger stick in variable condition snow can be valuable is the stability it conveys. Its a lot easier to catch that edge that is really going to screw you up on skinnier skis skiing manked up, packed out, ungroomed stuff. Larger skis can give you a bigger base to help balance, and edges that don't grab until you get the ski rolled over- ie when you actually want to apply them.  I really only grab my 70mm skis when I basically know I'm going to either be skiing 100% groomers or rock hard moguls where I absolutely need the edge grip.  If its a day with stale snow where I think I might ski anywhere, I am skiing my fatter skis. Hell, my favorite skis are my 118 waist sticks, so if I don't know what the days calls for, I go with them. But, I'm blessed with a place that gets quite a lot of snow and not many people to track it, and my off-piste experience is typically softer (and in some cases flatter, where the float is really needed) than most.

 

Not meaning to make trouble, but I can't help noticing that this is a point on which you totally agree with Josh. :duck: 

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cometjo View Post
 

 

Not meaning to make trouble, but I can't help noticing that this is a point on which you totally agree with Josh. :duck:

You know that old saying about the broken clock that reads correct twice a day?

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post
 

You know that old saying about the broken clock that reads correct twice a day?


Or there's the one about the old dog...I guess I should have listened to the one about what to do if you can't say anything nice, though I meant it as friendly teasing.

post #24 of 24

The good thing about off-piste skiing is at some point it becomes unmanageable for most, putting in your time pays off.

Like today. A foot or so of soft sun baked snow and some rocker-ed 105mm skis. It's yours if ya ain't scared. No one else seemed to want it.

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