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Slalom ski for intermediate skier

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I've been working hard on improving my skiing and feel it's time to switch out of my skis into something different and interesting that may help take me to the next level.

 

I ski primarily in Eastern Canada (Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Mount Tremblant, White Face). Typical conditions: groomed powder on a good day, hard pack and ice. 

 

Based on the EpicSki levels as described in another thread I'm a solid level 7:

http://www.epicski.com/t/66885/explanation-of-the-9-level-ski-ability-scale

 

I'm 5'10 and weigh 195 pounds.

 

I have a line on some 2012 Elan Waveflex SLX 165cm slalom skis. I'm thinking of picking them up.

 

I currently ski on Volkl S2's: http://www.skinet.com/ski/gear/volkl-unlimited-s2-2006

 

I can carve the Volkl's hard and progressively from tip to tail in most conditions. I get great float in the transition and they're fun - but I don't know what I don't know.

 

Dimensionally they're not hugely different from each other: Volkl's I have are 112/68/99mm, 163cm and turning radius of 14.4 whereas the Elan's: 116/66/104mm, 165 cm and 12.9 radius. Of course I expect the stiffness to be on a whole other level.

 

Would love to get your feedback on whether this is a move in the right direction.

 

My boots are Head S12's (link below). They seem to fit perfectly. Firm, snug fit: http://www.bootic.com/head/sporting-goods/winter-sports/skiing/ski-boots/downhill-ski-boots/head-s12-heatfit-iii

 

Looking forward to your input!

post #2 of 23

Hi Kid, welcome to Epic. I think you will really enjoy learning to / or improve your carving skills (on your stated snow conditions) with a non-fis / consumer slalom ski. The Elan Waveflex SLX 165cm is a great example. Other choices might include the Head iSl Rebel or Fischer SC. Most ski manufactures offer a similar model.  At your size I'd recommend either the 165cm or 170cm length.  At your height / weight and stated skill level your boots might be a little dated 06/07 and may be a little soft (83/93 flex) for you.

post #3 of 23

What JMD said.

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. Much appreciated.

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

Not to open up a big can of worms here (I spent some time searching the forums on the topic of boot flex - I witnessed the havoc that can ensue on this topic).

 

What flex rating should I be looking at for new boots? Mine do feel soft and I'm definitely using the flex in my current turns.

 

120 or 130 too much? I know there's no set standard and that the answer is mostly 'it depends' but I'm looking for guidance on where to start.

post #6 of 23

Agree with above posters about length and type of SL's. Flex ratings are fairly erratic brand to brand, but IMO for someone your size and level, a 120 would be the upper limit, and 110 will work for a few years. Meaning that you want something with enough stiffness to get your edges into the ice, and could ski a 140 if you wanted. But you need to be able to flex a cold boot without heroic effort, because that will throw off other mechanics. The trend I'm noticing is that as actual racers go into the stratosphere, eg, 140+, normal mortals seem to be going the other way, toward boots with a bit more flex. Modern technique is more about lateral pressure and stacking our bodies over the skis than about riding the front of the boot. 

 

One solution is to buy a boot with adjustable flex. Langes have bolts that can be removed or put back, Dalbellos have blocks to reduce boot spine flex, and different stiffness tongues, and so on. Liners themselves can add or subtract stiffness a bit. 

post #7 of 23

Shade taller, shade lighter.  The 165 length for an SL is perfect.

 

I ski Blue and can say that depending on the crowds, the SL can be perfect as the top end speed is lower and the fun factor via turn count is higher.   On the Less crowded days you may want to consider something like a GS cheater ski.  Slightly larger radius than your current skis, and in a longer length range 180+/-,  Higher speeds.  The GS cheaters can also be described as Glolam skis.

 

For me whenever I go I bring Nordica Doberman SLR's and Dynastar WC Speed Course and ski what seems to fit the crowds.

post #8 of 23

I'm a big fan of the Elan SLX in the 165 length and have had very good luck with it on tight steep GS courses.  It is a FUN ski for cruising the groomers.

 

A few years ago I was only racer on slalom skis (my first pair of SLXs) in my age group at the NASTAR Nationals and the tactic paid off big time.

 

 

 

 

Our shop has a new pair of the 2013 model on closeout.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

@oldschoolskier what do you think of the 2010 Dynastar Contact 4x4 in 178 for me to round out my quiver as the cheater GS ski?

 

I've got a line on some that are in decent shape. I'm thinking that the SLX and the 4x4's with a new set of boots should help take me to the next level.

post #10 of 23

Should be ok, based on the specs.  I've never skied it though.

 

Your choice on boot stiffness is about where I would suggest, I'm on Lange WC130's currently and these are to softest boot I've had in a long time and am very happy them.  The boot stiffness issue is a long standing debate that won't get you a definitive answer.  My nephew about 16 is now on Lange 120's and he is just tickled pink with the boot (and he is definintely a lot lighter than both of us and not any where near as powerful or aggressive skier as I am).

 

My suggest 110 to 120 should be good as you are moving up, to give you just enough flex to fine tune your ability yet drive the skis when you want. Getting the upper end stiffness unless you have solid ability, can greatly hinder your development as mentioned by BEYOND.

 

BTW the old boot was closer to a 160 when I weigh about 130lbs, but I was already very aggressive and powerful when I switched to these boots.  The 130's now are a very good balance and while I could a ski stiffer boot, the130's  I think it has actually helper further improved my skiing after oh so many years in a stiff boot.

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

@oldschoolskier amazing input - very helpful. Thank you.

post #12 of 23

A thought about the 4x4's: Excellent ski, no issues there, and it would fit nicely with your size. OTOH, given that you're not planning to race, it's a fairly big overlap with the SLX simply for hard surfaces. Have you thought about getting either the SLX or the 4x4, and then something a bit more oriented toward softer snow and/or bumps? A ski in the middle to high 80's, for instance, with a bit of early rise, would cover you for more kinds of terrain and conditions than two narrow carvers, one with a shorter radius than the other. You might check out skis like the Head REV85, Fischer Motive 86, Elan Amphibio 82 Ti, Atomic Crimson Ti, or Blizzard 8.5 Ti, for instance. They will handle big bumps with crud, which are part of "the next level," better than the 4x4's or SLX's, and will allow you to begin exploring variable snow in variable terrain, like trees, a little more gracefully, but they will have surprisingly good grip on hardpack. Not the same as a low 70's carver, but nice. My .02...

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

@beyond great insight. I didn't think they overlapped as much as you suggest and a priority of mine is to get better at bumps.

 

I'm picking up the SLX's tonight (stoked!). I think I'll just change one variable at a time. ie: ski the SLX till I'm familiar with them, then commit to new boots and then look for a versatile everyday ski or pursue a quiver strategy.

 

My gut feel is that the SLXs will help me uncover weaknesses in technique that may help me raise my game.

post #14 of 23

I weigh about 160 and have two pairs of boots.  One pair is 100 Flex and is way too soft.  The other pair is an antique pair of race boots with stiffness not rated, but appears to be off the top end of the scale and I love them (they are not warm though, so I am forced to use the 100 Flex boots on cold days).

 

I would suggest you get 120 or 130 Flex.

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks @Ghost. I'm thinking 120/130 as well depending on how they feel/fit. I'd rather buy slightly more aggressive and work my way into the gear. Seems to work for me in other activities - perhaps causes a bit more initial pain but at least in the back of my head I'm not blaming equipment for my own inadequacies. 

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by KidShaleen View Post
 

I've been working hard on improving my skiing and feel it's time to switch out of my skis into something different and interesting that may help take me to the next level.

 

I ski primarily in Eastern Canada (Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Mount Tremblant, White Face). Typical conditions: groomed powder on a good day, hard pack and ice. 

 

Based on the EpicSki levels as described in another thread I'm a solid level 7:

http://www.epicski.com/t/66885/explanation-of-the-9-level-ski-ability-scale

 

I'm 5'10 and weigh 195 pounds.

 

I have a line on some 2012 Elan Waveflex SLX 165cm slalom skis. I'm thinking of picking them up.

 

I currently ski on Volkl S2's: http://www.skinet.com/ski/gear/volkl-unlimited-s2-2006

 

My boots are Head S12's (link below). They seem to fit perfectly. Firm, snug fit: http://www.bootic.com/head/sporting-goods/winter-sports/skiing/ski-boots/downhill-ski-boots/head-s12-heatfit-iii

 

 

 

Would like to know what kind of skiing you do: just groomed or trees and bumps too? If that is the case, maybe you should look for something different than a sl ski... Also skiing tremblant or Whiteface all day on a sl ski: wouldn't it be better to go with an all mountain carver with a 15 to 18 m radius( and an sl ski :D) so you would be ok in all conditions? At tremblant, when it has snow and they didn't groomed too much, I prefer the later...

 

Or maybe a kind of detuned sl ski like the mx-78 or the tigershark 10 feet?

 

About the boots: I went from a 90 Hawk to a Lange 130 xt and WOW! what a nice improvment! It is more important to have the right boots than the right skis!

post #17 of 23

I've read a bit about the SLX and the one thing that keeps popping up is they're a good slalom ski, but they're also a pretty good ski in wider radius turns.  I think you'll be happy on them.

post #18 of 23
OP: you got almost 50 lbs on me. I use 120 plug boots that can go up to 140 and I love them. I was just talking to an accomplished racer acquaintance this morning. He's 180 lbs and swears by his 150 Fischers. Just something to think about. A lot of boots these days have adjustable flex by 10-20.

As far as skis, last spring I bought both WC FIS and non-FIS SLs from the same maker. I did that so that I can really see for myself. Non-FIS is more light, flexible and forgiving but the trade-off is edge-hold and power. They don't give as much confidence on sharp wide turns as the FIS counterpart. Again just something to think about.

If you're an ambitious skier and serious about doing thing right and improving fast, I recommend getting 130 boots and FIS SL skis. Don't sell yourself short and get something soft that you'll quickly outgrow. Those boots and skis are not nearly as bad as many people say, especially at 195lbs. OTOH, if you're a casual, recreational skier generally happy where you are and not interested in running gates, etc., you might be better off with a short cheater GS skis in 170 or 175 cm with 14-16m or so radius. SL skis with 11-13m radius are a lot of fun, but take efforts and focus to practice and appreciate them for what they can do.

My 2 cents.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by nochaser View Post
I recommend getting 130 boots and FIS SL skis. 

:eek IMO there's a line between gear that helps you grow and gear that will get you into bad habits because it demands more than you have to give at that point. FIS SL's are not just about whether OP can flex them (he can at 195), or their stability (they are), but about how they react (Right Now!) to every small movement if he's in a stiffer boot, and what they expect (Turn. Right Now. On a Higher Edge Angle. Repeat.) What can happen, even to folks who work hard, is that in order to stay up, they begin to take shortcuts, for instance serious A-framing for enough pressure on the outside ski or steering instead of engaging the tip early, or keeping a low edge and skidding a bit at tip and tail to get that 13 m radius up to the 20 m turn you want to make. 

 

The SLX is a great rec racer, will promote all the good habits without being overly punishing. Boot, closer call, but IMO it's not just about body weight, it's about what you do with the flex. Even some 110's have great side stiffness, which is the name of the game. If a boot's too stiff fore-aft, spending all that energy mashing the tongue or correcting for sitting back on the spine and accelerating directs us away from lateral extension. :dunno

post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

:eek IMO there's a line between gear that helps you grow and gear that will get you into bad habits because it demands more than you have to give at that point. FIS SL's are not just about whether OP can flex them (he can at 195), or their stability (they are), but about how they react (Right Now!) to every small movement if he's in a stiffer boot, and what they expect (Turn. Right Now. On a Higher Edge Angle. Repeat.) What can happen, even to folks who work hard, is that in order to stay up, they begin to take shortcuts, for instance serious A-framing for enough pressure on the outside ski or steering instead of engaging the tip early, or keeping a low edge and skidding a bit at tip and tail to get that 13 m radius up to the 20 m turn you want to make. 

 

The SLX is a great rec racer, will promote all the good habits without being overly punishing. Boot, closer call, but IMO it's not just about body weight, it's about what you do with the flex. Even some 110's have great side stiffness, which is the name of the game. If a boot's too stiff fore-aft, spending all that energy mashing the tongue or correcting for sitting back on the spine and accelerating directs us away from lateral extension. :dunno

 

 

good advice.  Interestingly enough a lot of racers have been moving to slightly softer boots.  I was on 150s for several years and thought they were great. (I am 168#) . Then a couple of seasons ago I moved to a 130.  Felt at first like I was going to hit my nose on my tips!!! BUT, my results started improving.....  This season my coach suggested i soften them off a bit.  I was sceptical so dug out my previous 130s to experiment on.  Whaddya know?  While i didn't notice any significant difference in fore/aft stiffness it was obvious in gates that I was getting my hips and CoM more quickly and effectively to the front of the ski and was able to get the pressure on earlier and to more effect in GS and in SL have a better feel for the front of the ski.  So, call me surprised but also converted! 

post #21 of 23
Interesting personal testimony there. Did you say you're 168 lbs?

#=lbs=pound..learn something new almost everyday
Edited by nochaser - 1/30/14 at 7:22am
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 

Just a quick update. Had the Elan's out yesterday for the first time. WOW! Love them. So much more responsive and confidence inspiring than my previous skis. It was a blast cranking them hard. The feeling of precision was eye-opening and addictive. I was concerned that they would be too much ski but they are perfect - in fact I would love to try a super aggressive slalom ski at some point to see what that feels like.

 

Now I'm starting to question my boots - I'm addicted to the precision feel of the skis and sense my boots may be letting me down in that department. Tough call though since my boots do fit nice and firm everywhere with little to no internal movement - It would be a shame to invest $500 to $600 in new boots and not notice a difference. Are the latest crop of boots that much better than my circa 2006 Head RS 12's?

post #23 of 23
WC slalom skis will be stiffer and heavier. They have better rebound, stability and edge hold, but less forgiving. If you're an athletic skier/carver, you may like them better...

Try the Head Raptor RS 130. They're great boots. They are precise and effortless. I know that by my own experience and from the testimonies from a few other owners in my program. Flex starts from 120 and go up to 130 and 140 by adding additional rivets. If 120 is too stiff for you, which I don't think will be, there is the RS 115 that's softer with two flex options, 105 and 115.
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