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Skis for beginner [over 40, Tahoe]

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I'm an older (40s), very athletic beginner (only skied a few times) planning on taking up skiing seriously this winter with an eye towards moving in to the back country as quickly as reasonable.  I'll be in Tahoe and should be able to get out 40-50+ days.  Height/Weight: 5'7"/145lbs.

 

Should I go ahead and buy skis/bindings or just rent in the beginning?  If rent, for how long before buying makes sense?  I may also be able to get a full season rental for $250 or so.  The equation would seem to be rental cost versus purchase cost versus how quickly I'm likely to outgrow my first pair of skis/bindings.

 

Any useful advice is very welcome! 

post #2 of 28
How exciting! That's great that you are taking up the sport as an adult! I stated a few years ago (at 21) and this was my plan: I went with the season lease (rental) of skis. Here's why:in that one season, I started with 145cm skis, Wai short for any sort of speed/stability but great for learning to turn. By February, I walked into the shop and exchanged the 145s for 155s. By April, when all the end of season sales start, I invested in a pair of intermediate level boots ( looking back, I should have spent way more time being really fit for boots by seeing a bootfitter, not a shop that was just trying to unload the last of its stock... but they worked, after some adjustments, for the first couple years). In the last few days of the season, I demoed skis. With a season of skiing 2-3x a week (one of those days in a season long lesson program) under my belt I had a much better idea of what I wanted in skis and jumped over all the beginner and lower intermediate skis to a pair of intermediate/advanced skis (in 163cm) And then over the summer I watched for deals and then bought them.

I hope this helps. I always found it surprising that more people don't take advantage of season leases. In your first year of skiing you should progress rapidly, to me, it seems silly to buy beginner skis and boots that you will outgrow in ability so quickly.
post #3 of 28
I'll step in and be the first to say that your first gear purchase should be boots, bought from and with adjustments made by boot fitter (ie. not a salesman). Skis are more attractive and cool-looking than boots, but without a pair of well fitted boots, your intentions won't be efficiently transmitted to your skis. Just as bad, ill fitting boots make for painful cold feet.
post #4 of 28

What litterbug said.  Buy boots, rent skis.

The boots matter more than the skis.  Boots are performance instruments.  They do something.  They translate your movements to the skis.  If they don't fit well, they'll do a bad job of that.  Think of poorly fitting boots as a loose steering wheel.  

 

Read this:

http://www.epicski.com/a/boot-fitting-which-boot-will-work-for-me

before even thinking of buying boots.  

If you have the time, read in the "ask the boot guys" forum for a while before buying, too.

 

What you'll learn in that forum is that most people buying boots for the first time spend all that $$ on boots that don't fit,

and eventually have to give in and buy another pair that does fit.  There goes more $$$$ after a season or two of wondering why you can't advance, while blaming the skis.  Don't be that person.

 

Since you are a beginner, your gut will deceive you when you try to determine which boots fit well.

So you need a good bootfitter.  Find the best bootfitter in your area and go work with that person to get what you need.  

Then do a seasonal rental of skis and poles.  Maybe you can even do that with the option of switching to new skis mid-season.

 

Best of luck on your new skiing life!

post #5 of 28

I also started skiing at 45 (so 10 years now) and in the beginning, I did purchase some boots off the self, for a few hundred dollars and found after the first 2 seasons they were a bit big and very soft (no wonder they were so comfortable). Year 3 I got well fit boots which did help, so if you can afford it, drop the $500-$600 on some well fit boots to start with, knowing that in 2-3 seasons you may want a stiffer boot.

 

As far as skis went, I purchased demos and used skis the first 2-3 years, as I could try a bunch of skis and resell them for less than the cost of demoing.  But if you have the ability to demo skis cheaply ($250 sounds like a deal), that is a good plan, find what you like, buy them used and change them out in a season or two when your looking at something else.  In the first 5 or so years, I went through a bunch of skis as I progressed. Over the last few years I have slowed down a bit, but the gear whore in me runs strong.

 

Welcome to Epic Ski.

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the great replies. I should have mentioned that I already have boots (professionally fit).

 

It sounds like getting the season rentals is the way to go (especially if they'll let me exchange during the season if I feel like I'm outgrowing my initial skis).  I can then look to purchase during the offseason sales for next year.

 

P.S. I've participated at a high level in a number of athletic endeavours, so I'm not so worried about what is "sexy".  I'm much more interested in what is optimal for maximizing my progress (and enjoyment) in skiing.

post #7 of 28

Paging @Philpug for suggestions.

post #8 of 28

1) Great boots.

2) Work one variable at a time.

 

The ski you want to start on is not the ski you're going to want to own in a year.  If you can find a great season long rental program - you can step into ski's that are "too short" to buy, but may be just right for starting out, then step up 5-10cm as you gain skill and comfort to longer/stiffer skis.  More importantly - you can ski on the same ski's every day until you make a decision to change them (and you aren't out much $$$).

 

You can also get a firsthand feel for a) how often you go out and b) what conditions are like when you do that.  Both of those things will dial in what you should buy.

post #9 of 28
What skis would be available for the season rental? With your athletic ability and the number of days you plan to ski you're not going to be a beginner for long, so make sure that there's a strong intermediate ski available in the package.
post #10 of 28

I will throw it out there that after about 20 or so days, you should be well into the intermediate range and overpowering the skis offered in the season's lease.  

 

Then you can consider buying a pair of skis (perhaps used or new old stock)  (as renting the higher end skis for the remaining 30days of the season won't be financially feasible).  

 

This is of course dependent on your ability to improve by reviewing skills and drills, or perhaps through lessons.  There's plenty of articles and youtube since lessons are expensive.

 

The goal though is to have fun, and it's not that the lease skis are inherently bad; but the advanced bought skis will have higher limits and allow you to more fun once you have the skills to use them properly.

post #11 of 28
A pair of 2013/14 Volkl Mantras would be a great beginner ski. As a bonus you should be able to find them on sale this off season. Or if you want something a little easier going a pair of KÄSTLE MX88's (although be sure to get the 188cm's they're really the only version worth getting).

But yeah I'm of the opinion that if you're going to put in 50~ days in Tahoe you're gonna outgrow your season rental. I'd pick an intermediate-advanced all-mountain ski with as wide of a performance range and as compliant as possible. Something you'll grow into but not out of in one season. Perhaps something like the NRGY 90 or 100? This is also assuming a one-ski quiver here.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemon Zest View Post

A pair of 2013/14 Volkl Mantras would be a great beginner ski. As a bonus you should be able to find them on sale this off season. Or if you want something a little easier going a pair of KÄSTLE MX88's (although be sure to get the 188cm's they're really the only version worth getting).

OP: I assume he's trying to be clever. There are some great intermediate to advanced level skis in the middle 80's to middle 90's out there that will grow with you but not be unmanageable now. Mantras and MX88's are honestly not among them. I own the 2013 Mantra, have owned the MX88's; my wife still skis them. Recent cambered Mantras are the stiffest 98 mm ski widely available, I'd guess. Folks here who sell and review skis for a living would agree; do a search. Mantras are a nice ski in the hands of an advanced to expert skier who likes to charge difficult snow. They will be planky, numb, hard to handle, and plain terrifying in tight places like trees or stiff bumps if you're a light weight beginner. And MX88's are most decidedly not a beginner's ski, either. A touch more forgiving and a lot more versatile, but still want a skilled pilot to get anything out of them, and are ferociously expensive for a ski that will be underutilized. And the 188 length is just silly for someone your size, even if they were an expert. Look at models in the middle 170's. 

 

Suggest checking out the Members Gear Review Forum or the Gear Reviews on the home page. You can do a search by ski name, or by titles of threads or by name of poster (suggest Phil, Dawgcatching, for instance). We have some respected members about your size who can help, too. Also, Real Skiers is a great site for good reviews of skis and boots for skiers who are unfamiliar with the sport. Ski Canada also has reliable reviews IME. Good luck! 

post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Paging @Philpug for suggestions.

 

Not sure if guy or girl...if girl, lets get @Trekchick in the conversation. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemon Zest View Post

But yeah I'm of the opinion that if you're going to put in 50~ days in Tahoe you're gonna outgrow your season rental. I'd pick an intermediate-advanced all-mountain ski with as wide of a performance range and as compliant as possible. Something you'll grow into but not out of in one season. Perhaps something like the NRGY 90 or 100? This is also assuming a one-ski quiver here.

Yes, she will out grow the season rentals pretty quick, she will be a beginner only once and with good coaching will be skiing most so the terrain by the end of the season. 

 

 Get a ski thats compliant and can grow with you for a bit. If looking new, Head Rev85  (Black Pearls for the lady)  would be at the top of my list, I wouldn't suggest anything luck over 90mm as a first ski, the width can create some bad habits. 

 

Oh and welcome to Tahoe. 

post #14 of 28
At 40 days a season no rentals make any sense. You are athletic and will be skiing a lot. Buy decent skis (year old demos or something on sale) beat the hell out of them and in the end of the year you will be an awesome skier and have a pair of rock skis for next year.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 

FYI: male (though I did used to be a professional ballet dancer).

 

I noticed the review of the Head Rev85 and it seemed like it would be a good match.  Is it worth going ahead and finding a pair now or should I wait until a week or two in to the season?  Any others I should consider?  I'm not at all adverse to buying year old demos or the like as I'm sure the first pair will be pretty beat up by season's end...not sure where one finds such things.  What;'s a reasonable price range for a ski that will get me through this first (hopefully long and intense!) season?

post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 

I'm assuming I should be looking at something around 170cm?  Knowing nothing about buying demo skis is this a good deal?

 

Also, I do have a very experienced friend who can check out any equipment I buy, so I'm not completely alone in this.

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by onnel View Post
 

FYI: male (though I did used to be a professional ballet dancer).

 

I noticed the review of the Head Rev85 and it seemed like it would be a good match.  Is it worth going ahead and finding a pair now or should I wait until a week or two in to the season?  Any others I should consider?  I'm not at all adverse to buying year old demos or the like as I'm sure the first pair will be pretty beat up by season's end...not sure where one finds such things.  What;'s a reasonable price range for a ski that will get me through this first (hopefully long and intense!) season?

Your ski instructor will be in instructor heaven when you take lessons.  Dancers know where their limbs are and how to move them independently.  They are known for being able to do whatever body movements they are asked to do as they learn to ski, as opposed to the general public.  You'll learn very fast.  

 

Get a good instructor and you'll find yourself moving steeply up the learning curve.

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

 

Get a good instructor and you'll find yourself moving steeply up the learning curve.

And then there is the lesson component.  At Mammoth they have season long lessons, twice a week for $499??  If you can ski a bunch, I would really recommend signing up for a similar package and by seasons end you will be pretty good.

post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by onnel View Post

I'm assuming I should be looking at something around 170cm?  Knowing nothing about buying demo skis is this a good deal?

Also, I do have a very experienced friend who can check out any equipment I buy, so I'm not completely alone in this.
That is a good start but a bit on the high end for a demo..unless they are in meticulous condition. What is good is that the binding system on these is the same as the retail version so you are not getting your typical heavy demo binding.
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 

Rev 85 in 170 aren't an easy ski to find used!  The best I could do was:

 

http://www.powder7.com/Head-Rev-85-Pro-PR-Skis-170cm-Used-2014/for-sale

(listed as an 8/10, 23 demo days - $499 + shipping)

 

or I can get the 2013 version new without bindings for $290 and then get bindings separately

http://www.snowdealsnow.com/servlet/the-28277/New-Head-Rev-85/Detail

 

If there's no substantive difference between the '13 and 14', then the new '13 with new bindings will probably end up costing the same as the demo pair.

 

Are either of these deals worth going for, or should I just be patient and keep an eye out?  Alternatively, is there another ski I should be considering?

 

Thanks for all the great and varied advice so far.  I'm definitely looking forward to starting my ski adventure and hopefully see some of you on the slopes around Tahoe!

post #21 of 28

No diffs between 2013 and 2014. $290 is a great price. And you can find good bindings for $150 or less, incidentally, not $200. Here, for instance: http://www.coloradoskishop.com/Head-Mojo-12-Wide-88-Ski-Bindings-p/bmj12.htm?gclid=CLe__ODr_cACFWho7AodllEANg&Click=30416&utm_source=googlebase&utm_medium=shoppingengine Or here: http://www.evo.com/outlet/alpine-ski-bindings/look-px-12-wide-100mm-brakes.aspx#image=58962.Image.1.jpg&utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&utm_campaign=58962

 

Figure $40 for mounting, and you're home for < $400. Heads usually need base and edge tunes out of the box; have the edges set to 1/2, bases made flat, you're ready for the slopes! 

post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 

Brilliant.  Is there any reason not to go with the Looks you listed?  If I do, should I assume the 90 would be the right pairing with an 85 ski?

 

Also, I assume any binding will fit any DIN soled boot (obviously, this assumes they are correctly mounted for the boot)?  

post #23 of 28

A bit late to the party -- so if you've already gotten the Rev 85's, no problem -- you have plenty of skis in your future, and you can use these five pieces of advice going forward:  

 

1) As a beginner, your focus should be on learning the underlying turn mechanics, which is what provides you with the foundation you need when you ultimately venture off-piste.  And to make learning those as easy as possible, I'd suggest a ski that's narrower than the Rev 85 (ideally something closer to 70 mm) and has more sidecut (14 meters radius or less, ideally around 12 meters).  This makes it easier to tip the ski on edge and feel the ski making the turn.   Therefore I would suggest starting out on a soft slalom-type ski, something like either of these discontinued models:  Head X-Shape STX or Fischer RC4 Superrace SC (http://www.amazon.com/Fischer-Superrace-Powerrail-Skis-Bindings/dp/B00EPJ0AJI).  Don't be scared off by the Fischer's name -- it's really a learner's ski.  In the Fischer, I'm not sure what length you'd want -- probably either the 160 or 165 (one skis these sorts of skis on the shorter side -- perhaps Philplug could advise you).  I also think you'd like the Head Mya 7, which I own, but that's nearly impossible to find (yes it's sold as a women's ski, but it's a very solid ski that's ideal for lighter men).

 

2)  Keep in mind that tune is critical. Should you decide to rent "performance" (as opposed to "demo" -- see below) skis, note that many of those are lousy, partly because they are typically badly tuned (demos can also be poorly tuned, it's just not as endemic).  The tune (which means getting the bases flat, and putting a proper bevel on the edges) is critical to ski performance. If a ski is badly tuned, it can be unskiable.

 

3) I'm assuming from your post that you plan to ski 40-45 days not just this year, but for the foreseeable future.  That means you are going to progress rapidly, and are going to be back on these boards soon asking for advice on what to get next :).   The problem with getting guidance from us is that personal reactions to individual ski models can be quite variable, and figuring out what works for you is hit-or-miss without demoing (either from free industry demo days, usually held at the beginning of the season), or from renting so called "demo" skis ("performance" is the term used for the upper-end of run-of-the mill fleet rentals; "demo" is the term used for the kind of better-quality skis you might be interested in buying, such as those listed in this thread).  So if you think you are going to want to buy new boards for the 2015-16 season, then take some time towards the end of this coming season (after you've had as many days as possible under your feet) to demo as many different skis as possible. [Other than free demo days, the best way to demo is to find a shop right on the mountain -- that way you can swap out several pairs in one day -- and I've never found a shop that charges extra for this.] This serves two purposes: it gives you a baseline of what you'll like and not like; and, critically, it tells you what length you should buy in a particular model (when you demo, you can try models in diff. lengths).  [Note that sometimes a ski won't work for you just because you happen to be "between sizes."]  Indeed, one way to buy cheap skis at the end of a season is to demo some models and buy the demo pair you like the best (assuming the demo is in good condition and doesn't have too many days on it -- some shops track their demo rentals with a computer, and can thus tell you how many days it's been skied on).

 

4) You're almost exactly my size (I'm 5'7", 150#).  That means your reactions to skis will tend to be very different from those of the typical guy on here, who is heavier and and taller than we are (and it's mostly about weight, though height matters as well).  For instance, the Blizzard Bonafide, Volkl Mantra, and Kastle MX88 get positive reactions from heavier skiers, but I find them too stiff at my weight.  Yes, a heavier skier will tend to be on a longer ski, but often going down a size isn't enough to change the ski's inherent stiffness characteristics. And sometimes going down too much in size to compensate for a ski's stiffness will make the ski too unstable for you.  Thus you end up with a ski that doesn't bend well in the conditions for which it's designed, and that isn't solid underfoot -- the worst of all possible worlds. Consequently you should really focus on reviews from someone close to your size.  And if someone recommends a certain ski, always ask them their height and weight, and what size ski they were on.  Among the industry ski reviewers on Epic, I believe the fellow closest to our size is dawgcatching (5'9", 155#), but he's still bigger and heavier.  Another well-known industry person that reviews skis and is close to our size is Harald Harb (145#) (but note that he is considered very controversial on this site -- I'm reluctant to even mention his name here!). Feel free to read my reviews, though I warn you my reactions are personal to me (and I've been skiing for many decades, so my needs are different from yours), and thus should only be used as one piece of information (http://www.epicski.com/t/119277/ex-racer-demos-modern-skis-titan-rev85-rtm84-kendo-proph98-finds-himself-delighted-and-confused/180#post_1732539).  Another forum member that reviews skis and is on the smaller side is qcanoe (5'7", 135#).

 

5) Binding delta -- the difference in stand height at the heel minus that at the toe -- determines how far forward the bindings tilt you.  These range from ~1 mm (Atomics) to ~6-7 mm (some Looks).  This can have a significant effect on performance.  A ski that is perfectly good for you can feel lousy if your delta is off.  You will want to find your optimum delta (given your current boot).  Generally short guys like us (who tend to have a lower ratio of femur:tibia length) tend to need more upright boots, less ramp angle on the bootboard, and a flatter delta (take a look at the series of three pics mid-way down this thread:  https://www.j2ski.com/ski-chat-forum/posts/list/12025.page).

 

Hope this helps!


Edited by chemist - 10/6/14 at 5:36pm
post #24 of 28

Lessons, EPic-talk and the occasional DVD, but the MAs here are terrific to read what other eyes see...


Edited by HaveSkisWillClimb - 3/14/15 at 6:41pm
post #25 of 28
I'm pretty much in the same boat, except a few seasons in....DEMO, DEMO, DEMO... And do a lot of web research. Case in point, I was sure I couldn't go wrong on Dynastar Chams regardless of the conditions... I'm only going to own one set, but the difference between these and Line Supernaturals was amazing. I don't think I would have noticed the differences, though, last year. Only when I really started to understand "feel" could I get the subtle differences which informs a buying decision.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by onnel View Post
 

Brilliant.  Is there any reason not to go with the Looks you listed?  If I do, should I assume the 90 would be the right pairing with an 85 ski?

 

Also, I assume any binding will fit any DIN soled boot (obviously, this assumes they are correctly mounted for the boot)?  


With the bump of this thread, I am interested to hear how your season went.  

post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 

Sadly, my snow was just as poor as everyone else's this year, but I've had a wonderful time.  I started with a professional boot fitting and I could not be more pleased with how they served me.  I never had the slightest discomfort, while still feeling like they delivered excellent feeling.  Well worth the money spent.I still haven't ever been on anything else, so it's hard for me to compare the performance of my Rev Pro 85, but I found them enjoyable in most terrain.  The few times I got to ski powder deeper than 6" or so, I definitely found myself wishing for a bit more flotation, but it was certainly serviceable.

 

I ended up skiing a week in Tahoe, a week in Utah (Alta and Snowbird are awesome!) as well as a few more days in Tahoe scattered about.  We'll also be heading out for some backcountry (my first time!) this Wednesday (assuming the two storms moving through dump at least the expected amount).  Iy's less than I'd hoped to ski my first year, but not terrible given how poor the season was.  I think my total right now is at twenty-two days.  In that time, I went from the never-ever class to skiing anything on the mountain that doesn't involve cliffs.  I took quite a few lessons, generally spreading them t by three to four days so I would have time to practice what I had learned.  I also spent a lot of time on the bumps, which is definitely my favorite kind of skiing.

 

So the season is winding down and the gear is getting packed away, but I've already got my Tahoe Local pass for next year and will definitely be back at it refining my technique and having fun.  I'll also demo some new skis and get in to the backcountry a bunch more.  I'm looking forward to it all!

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by onnel View Post
 

Sadly, my snow was just as poor as everyone else's this year, but I've had a wonderful time.  I started with a professional boot fitting and I could not be more pleased with how they served me.  I never had the slightest discomfort, while still feeling like they delivered excellent feeling.  Well worth the money spent.I still haven't ever been on anything else, so it's hard for me to compare the performance of my Rev Pro 85, but I found them enjoyable in most terrain.  The few times I got to ski powder deeper than 6" or so, I definitely found myself wishing for a bit more flotation, but it was certainly serviceable.

 

I ended up skiing a week in Tahoe, a week in Utah (Alta and Snowbird are awesome!) as well as a few more days in Tahoe scattered about.  We'll also be heading out for some backcountry (my first time!) this Wednesday (assuming the two storms moving through dump at least the expected amount).  Iy's less than I'd hoped to ski my first year, but not terrible given how poor the season was.  I think my total right now is at twenty-two days.  In that time, I went from the never-ever class to skiing anything on the mountain that doesn't involve cliffs.  I took quite a few lessons, generally spreading them t by three to four days so I would have time to practice what I had learned.  I also spent a lot of time on the bumps, which is definitely my favorite kind of skiing.

 

So the season is winding down and the gear is getting packed away, but I've already got my Tahoe Local pass for next year and will definitely be back at it refining my technique and having fun.  I'll also demo some new skis and get in to the backcountry a bunch more.  I'm looking forward to it all!

The Rev Pro 85 is a good ski and I'm glad you got your boots dialed. 

If you want to talk about other ski demo possibilities shoot me a pm when you're headed this way and I'll be glad to meet up with you for some suggestions.  I work at True North at Northstar on weekends and am usually around to help set up demo lists for guests. 

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