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Which skis for me?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello folks.  I have been reading all sorts of forums and reviews and figured I would join and get some opinions on what would be a good ski for me to buy.


I'm 48 years old, 5' 9", 200 lbs..


I live in central NY.  I join a local club annually which skis Saturdays at one of the small "mountains" south of Syracuse.  When there are bumps to be found, that's where I spend most of my day.  Usually I have to resort to skiing under the chair lift or on the sides of the trails where the grooming machines don't go.  I'll ski the groomed trails for a break or when there's nothing else, or when I want some company, as most of the guys I ski with are older and spend their days flying down the groomers on slalom skis.  I only go to the terrain park to watch my 15-year old son hit some jumps.


We usually take a trip out west for a week or so.  The last few years we have been staying in Salt Lake City, skiing mainly Snowbird and Alta, sometimes with a side trip to Solitude.  I like challenging myself on some steeper terrain (and deeper snow) than what we have at home.  If you're familiar with Snowbird, I'll typically head back to Mineral Basin in the morning, and will often spend a whole afternoon on the Gad 2 chair, skiing Gadzooks (bumps) and STH (Steeper Than H***).  I used to go to Vermont occasionally, but since I've been to Colorado and Utah I haven't bothered.  :)


So, for the gear.  I didn't ski for about 15 years after college.  When I moved back to NY I decided to get back into it.  When I discovered that the Olin Mark IV's I still had from high school weren't going to cut it, I bought a pair of Atomic C9:18's, 160cm.  I don't even know how many years ago that was, but I figure I'm due for something new.


Given that I typically ski about 12-15 times a year, I really can't justify owning more than one pair of skis (other than maybe keeping the Atomics for days when the rocks are exposed here at home), and I wouldn't want to spend much more than $700 including bindings.  I'd like something that will help me improve in the bumps, but isn't totally useless on the groomers (east or west) and the powder (west obviously, since it doesn't happen here!).  If I had to sacrifice something it would be the powder.  Fat skis aren't helpful here at home and I could always rent something in Utah for a heavy powder day.


I would really like to try something before I buy, as I don't really know the technical details of what I'm looking for.  There's a demo day coming up here in a couple of weeks (assuming that we get some snow).  Fischer, Blizzard and Volkl will be there.  I have been looking at what they have have to offer and I've read all sorts of conflicting opinions about various skis. Do you think any of these would be a good fit?


Fischer Ranger 88 TI

Blizzard Bushwacker

Blizzard Latigo


Also, do you think I should go with a longer ski this time around?  Something around 170cm?


Thanks for any suggestions!!


post #2 of 10

My situation was very similar to yours - a long layoff from skiing and outdated gear - and like you, I get a chance to ski out west for a couple of weeks each year and make a few trips to a locally (in my case, the Poconos). I'm also fairly close to you in size (somewhat shorter and a few pounds lighter). I can tell you what I did when I got back into skiing about three years ago and you can take it FWIW. My first year back, I rented and tried a few new skis out. What I found out was that:1) I needed good boots and 2) mid-fat skis with camber, a bit of rocker and the right sidecut are incredibly versatile.


The next year, I started with boots. Spent quite a bit of time before settling on a pair of fairly stiff (130) but quite comfortable Waymakers. I returned to the shop at several points during the year to get things trimmed, canted and/or punched as needed. I now have a pair of of boots I can safely say are the the most comfortable and responsive I've ever had. So my advice would be to follow suit and concentrate on the boots first. By the way, the Waymakers were previous year leftovers that were very attractively priced


If you've gotten boots out of the way, as I mentioned above, mid-fats with camber and a bit of rocker (ans some metal) worked well for me both east and west. Demoing would be the way to go if you have the time and money but I didn't have enough of either and wound up buying skis based on reviews and advice and to a lesser extent, price. I was very pleased with my selection (LP90's in 179cm) but Line has discontinued that model (which was known when I purchased mine, so I got a great discount) and replaced it with the Supernatural, which is offered in a 92mm waist. Haven't skied it but if it skis at all like the Prophet, it will be a blast in everything but deep powder and glare ice and would be a great choice to fill a one-ski quiver. From what I've read, the Blizzard Brahama may also be a ski you may want to consider.


I'm lusting after a pair of Latigos, which at 77mm seem like a great ski for bumps and since they also have a bit of rocker, may be a perfect east-coast ski for looser stuff. I'm going to try and demo them and will look to see if I can pick up a leftover pair at the end of the season . . .which if you pick up on the theme above, is really the only way I can afford any new ski gear. The only drawback I see for you is that even with the rocker, they may not be the best one ski choice if your skiing is biased toward the Wasatch.


There are lots of folks on this board who are much more knowledgeable than I and I'm sure they will chime in with both wiser and better advice about skis. I'll stand by the recommendation to concentrate on boots first however.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

I have a boot that I'm happy with.  When I bought the Atomics I also bough a pair of Lange boots.  I don't remember the model, but they were not a good choice.  If you're old enough to remember the Steve Martin "Cruel Shoes" standup bit, I think I know what his character was feeling.  My foot is about a 9.5, but wide.  (My daughter says I have hobbit feet.)  I would have to unbuckle my boots halfway up the chair because my feet were in serious pain.  I took them back to a local guy who tried all sorts of things to make them more comfortable, none of which really worked.  After suffering through that for a couple of years I went shopping for new boots.  The guy at the shop shook his head when he looked at my feet and the boots I was using.  Anyways, I ended up with a Head Edge+ 11, which I have found to be really comfortable and they seem to be responsive enough for me.  There are adjustments that can be made on the boot, but not knowing much about them, I put everything in the middle position and go with it!

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Bump.  Let me ask more direct questions to see if it gets more responses.


What are opinions of the Blizzard Brahma vs. Blizzard Latigo in the bumps?  Does Fischer or Volkl make an all-mountain ski that would handle the bumps better than either of these?


Another question is length.  I'm currently on old 160's and I'm hesitant to go much longer.  My thinking is that longer skis would be harder for me to turn in the bumps, and I'm not real concerned about what I lose in speed on the flat stuff with a shorter ski.  I have read that with the rockered skis, I can and should go longer.  Again, I am 5' 9", around 200 lbs (plus or minus a few depending on how diligent I have been about getting on the treadmill at any given time).


PS: Major winter storm hitting my area right now.  A foot of snow south of Syracuse so far last I knew.  Now I just hope it stays cold and the snow sticks around!  (Non-skiers look at me like I'm crazy when I say that sort of thing.)

post #5 of 10

I would suggest the Fischer Motive 86 TI or Fischer Ranger 88 TI.


Have a look at this review:


And at your height/weight I woud definately go for 175-180 for length (these skis have some tip-rocker, and they are very manegeable, even if they didn't).

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

I had found a review including these Fischer models previously:



The reviewer makes the Ranger sound promising to me, but I'm a bit confused by what is stated about the Motive in the bumps. First:



"In the bumps, it was perhaps average, maybe a little below."


Then later:


"Who would buy this ski: those looking for a technical, versatile frontside ride that is quite good in bumps and has great lateral grip. "

post #7 of 10

sccarnic --  I'm the same height as you but 50 lbs lighter.  I own Bushwackers; they've been great (for me) in bumps and trees. I like them because I control them, not them me.  They're not perfect skis for everything -- no skis are.  For me, they are fine, but not ideal, for bombing down a groomed or semi-groomed slope once you come out of the trees -- for that the Brahma or its ilk are probably better.  


Length: my skis are 173.  You and I are the same height. I think you would find skis in the 168 - 173 range to be optimal.  There's a vocal "go long" group here on Epic,and they'll tell you that I'm off by 10 cm.  You can safely ignore them -- extra length is not your friend on bumps and in trees. 


Demo-ing is a good idea.  I demo'ed eight different skis last year, and had no idea ahead of time that I'd ultimately choose the Bushwacker.  


Keep us posted!  

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Grrrrr!  I just got word from someone at the mountain that the demo day has been cancelled.  She said that the companies told the reps not to do public demos.  I refuse to walk into a ski shop and spend hundreds of dollars for skis that I have never tried.  I have asked for contact info to see if I can find out why they made that decision.  I would think that there's enough of a market here to justify them putting on the demos.


I could wait until I go to Utah in February and try out some different skis there, but I really was hoping I could be on the new ones at that point, not still trying to figure out what they should be.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

I see that Bristol Mountain has a demo center with a reportedly decent inventory, so I could go there.  I haven't been there since I was in high school.  Of course their lift tickets cost about as much as I pay in Utah (!?!?!), plus an additional charge for the demo, and I've heard that their high-speed quad chair succeeds in getting too many people on the mountain at the same time.  Maybe I should take a day off and go on a weekday the week before the schools let out for Christmas break.  Surely there's a buy-one-get-one coupon somewhere for lift tickets.

post #10 of 10

I agree, demo-ing is essential to making an informed decision on what skis to buy.  Also, demo-ing skis is actually fun.  But all demo-ing isn't equal.  If you're at a resort with more than one ski store, I suggest visiting 2-3 stores and talking to the sales people before deciding who to go with (i.e., who to buy skis from).  


Criteria for choosing a ski store to demo with:


1.  Sales people who know really skis and skiing and want to take the time to "talk skis" with you.


2.  Store has deep and wide inventory of skis, including at least some that are on your preliminary list (of course, keep an open mind; if the store has knowledgeable sales people, they may suggest a ski that isn't on your list but which turns out to be great for you).


3.  Store allows you to swap through as many skis as you like each day without additional fee (sometimes you can tell after one run that a particular ski is not right for you).  


4.  Store credits some/all of your demo fees toward the purchase price of new skis (the place I bought my skis gave up to $200 in demo fees toward the purchase of skis from them).


5.  Store allows your demo credit to stay open until the end of the season -- if you decide in March you really liked ski #5 from the store you demo-ed with back in December, will the store still honor your demo credit? 


When demo-ing:


1.  If you've chosen a ski store with knowledgeable people, listen to their advice -- not slavishly, but with an open mind. 


2.  Try each ski in the same/similar variety of terrain: groomed, chop, bumps, etc.  Tune in to the differences, and your reaction to those differences.


3.  Make some notes on each ski as soon as you can after skiing it -- during your hot chocolate break, lunch, or that same day after skiing is over.


4.  Tune out everything you've read about various skis (including here on Epic) while demo-ing, to avoid a "Ouija Board" effect (the Bonafide is a great ski, but maybe it's not your great ski). 


5.  Wear goggles (including in the store) that filter out color and graphics.  :rolleyes  



Others may have additional thoughts to add....

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