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GS Race Ski - Maker Characteristics

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I'm in the market for buying GS skis. My problem is that I haven't bought race skis since 2005. Back then I can remember each maker had their own characteristics for a ski. Today, each of the makers are a little bit different in how they approach making skis faster, smoother, and flex properties. I've tested a few ski makers but I've got races during the next major demo day near me. Of course, I won't make my full buying decision based on these but it will help me parse through what skis I might choose to demo if I get a chance.

 

I'm looking for anything from anecdotal to the scientific. Master to full FIS, a couple year old model to brand new. Just any bit of information. 

post #2 of 17
post #3 of 17

It would help us if you could tell a little about your sex, size, experience, where you ski, what you plan to use them for, what qualities in a ski matter to you. For instance, using these for fast rec skiing is one thing, using them for NASTAR, another, and it is a lot different than Masters, with club level falling somewhere in between, depending on the club or league. And if you're using them in Japan, probably different system yet.

 

As a gross overgeneralization, IMO Head, Stockli and Fischer make the beefiest adult FIS consumer available race skis (meaning they're not built to something like your specs). Then Blizzard/Nordica and Atomic. Then Rossignol/Dynamic and Volkl. Not sure where to put Elan, haven't heard much about them in a while. But this rank is very dependent on what level of ski; Volkl GS's made for a 16 year old are flexy compared to say, a Head. The same ski made for adults, not so much difference. And the recreational racing versions, which work better for NASTAR or its equivalent, and most beer league, all bets off, somewhat different ranking. 

post #4 of 17

If you need FIS spec skis it's a little different from 2005 in the sidecut dept. 35meters now for men 30 for women.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the links Thion.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

It would help us if you could tell a little about your sex, size, experience, where you ski, what you plan to use them for, what qualities in a ski matter to you. For instance, using these for fast rec skiing is one thing, using them for NASTAR, another, and it is a lot different than Masters, with club level falling somewhere in between, depending on the club or league. And if you're using them in Japan, probably different system yet.

 

As a gross overgeneralization, IMO Head, Stockli and Fischer make the beefiest adult FIS consumer available race skis (meaning they're not built to something like your specs). Then Blizzard/Nordica and Atomic. Then Rossignol/Dynamic and Volkl. Not sure where to put Elan, haven't heard much about them in a while. But this rank is very dependent on what level of ski; Volkl GS's made for a 16 year old are flexy compared to say, a Head. The same ski made for adults, not so much difference. And the recreational racing versions, which work better for NASTAR or its equivalent, and most beer league, all bets off, somewhat different ranking. 

 

I'm a 25 year old man, 170cm tall 170 lbs, and just over 10 years racing (couldn't race in college). 

I will be skiing in Japan in Tohoku (similar to East Coast USA) and will be used for racing almost exclusively.

What matters to me in a ski is flex. A ski that can be soft on the flats and be stiff at speed.

 

Unlucky for me, my category in racing requires 35m sidecut. I've been building up to that this season in training. Started on SL to get back in the groove, bumped up to 23m, got my confidence in skiing back, moved to 27m with more success than 23m, and now I look to the 35m.

 

To be honest, those gross over generalisations are sort of what I was looking for. I have an idea about each company but those are based on 10 year old anecdotes. 

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snuckerpooks View Post
 

Thanks for the links Thion.

 

 

I'm a 25 year old man, 170cm tall 170 lbs, and just over 10 years racing (couldn't race in college). 

I will be skiing in Japan in Tohoku (similar to East Coast USA) and will be used for racing almost exclusively.

What matters to me in a ski is flex. A ski that can be soft on the flats and be stiff at speed.

 

Unlucky for me, my category in racing requires 35m sidecut. I've been building up to that this season in training. Started on SL to get back in the groove, bumped up to 23m, got my confidence in skiing back, moved to 27m with more success than 23m, and now I look to the 35m.

 

To be honest, those gross over generalisations are sort of what I was looking for. I have an idea about each company but those are based on 10 year old anecdotes. 

OK, this sounds like an odd kind of racing; is it FIS sanctioned? Because FIS doesn't require that radius for Masters, only for true FIS circuits above U18. :dunno  One comment on bolded: Doesn't exist, a violation of the laws of physics. But modern GS skis are pretty good at running flat between gates if you're good enough - and early enough - to pull off that style. Works for Ted Shred. 

 

Beyond that, suggest PM to Scots Skier. He knows a lot more about the new 35m skis than most here. My hunch is that Rossignol/Dynastar or Atomic would be the call. 

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

OK, this sounds like an odd kind of racing; is it FIS sanctioned? Because FIS doesn't require that radius for Masters, only for true FIS circuits above U18. :dunno  One comment on bolded: Doesn't exist, a violation of the laws of physics. But modern GS skis are pretty good at running flat between gates if you're good enough - and early enough - to pull off that style. Works for Ted Shred. 

 

Beyond that, suggest PM to Scots Skier. He knows a lot more about the new 35m skis than most here. My hunch is that Rossignol/Dynastar or Atomic would be the call. 

 

It isn't FIS sanctioned but the prefectural competitions adhere to the FIS rules. Japan operates that way. For local competitions, Masters skis are okay. But, almost all of my competition in category was on 35m at local races.

 

What I look for may be impossible, but looking at what each manufacturer is boasting, HEAD is trying to achieve that (KERS and Intelligence). It looks like Rossignol is trying to reduce swing weight and torsional flex (cascade tip and prop tech). Volkl, Blizzard, Atomic seem to have their sights on reducing vibration and stopping donkey kicks (External reinforcement and UVO).

 

The top 3 I have been looking at are Rossignol, HEAD, and Atomic. Why?

 

Rossignol : Lately I have been scrubbing into the turns, the cascade tip should make that easier to begin the arc into the turn. Most of my training is done on Masters courses, not looser 35m courses.

HEAD : What I want out of a ski, HEAD seems to be aiming for.

Atomic : They felt softer (10 years ago) with a strong edge at the top of the turn (friends anecdote from this year). It might be easier to handle because I am nowhere near being a WC athlete.

 

I was hoping maybe some anecdotal comments would help shed some light on whether my presumptions of choices would be helpful.

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

It would help us if you could tell a little about your sex, size, experience, where you ski, what you plan to use them for, what qualities in a ski matter to you. For instance, using these for fast rec skiing is one thing, using them for NASTAR, another, and it is a lot different than Masters, with club level falling somewhere in between, depending on the club or league. And if you're using them in Japan, probably different system yet.

 

As a gross overgeneralization, IMO Head, Stockli and Fischer make the beefiest adult FIS consumer available race skis (meaning they're not built to something like your specs). Then Blizzard/Nordica and Atomic. Then Rossignol/Dynamic and Volkl. Not sure where to put Elan, haven't heard much about them in a while. But this rank is very dependent on what level of ski; Volkl GS's made for a 16 year old are flexy compared to say, a Head. The same ski made for adults, not so much difference. And the recreational racing versions, which work better for NASTAR or its equivalent, and most beer league, all bets off, somewhat different ranking. 


Beyond,  if we look at the FIS spec skis now (at least the 183/188-30 Womens skis) this previous generation meme is no longer really applicable.  What i have found having been on 6+ major brands is that there is very little between them now in terms of stiffness as a brand identity.   The R&D guys seem to have all homed in on pretty much the same sweet spot.  Where the differences are now is more in terms of the finer points of the characteristics.  things like how they feel on turn--n, do they snap into it or is it a more progressive feel etc.   In fact i will go out on a limb and say I would pretty happily race on GS skis from Blizzard, Volkl, Head, Fischer, Atomic, Stockli without any concern and I am confident my times would be in a pretty tight grouping.  While there are a couple with feel that I personally prefer (and remember that I am buying them myself, without any manufacturer special deal so as always I give an objective view) if a brand wanted to offer me an all in deal, I would not have any concerns that i would be putting myself at a disadvantage or giving up some time on the clock.

 

Interestingly enough, I am also sensing a similar convergence in the FIS 165 slaloms.  In the past I always found the Volkl for example to be a bit soft and plankish.  However, last weekend I was able to spend some time in gates withe the 2015 Head and Volkl, as well as my current choice Nordica/Blizzard.  Head has definitely made a big move forward with this year's slalom ski.  Previously it was (IMHO) a little way behind the top 3 (Blizz/Nordi, Atomic and Rossi/Dynastar) but now it is right up there with them.  (My opinion may have been colored a bit of course because the course I was training on with our U16/U18s was pretty slick and, even on a 10.5m set I was making a decent fist of it while they were sliding all over the place :) ) .  An even bigger surprise to me was that the Volkl was also very good, really good hook up and a solid feel.  Definitely not the Volkl of old.  So as with the GS ski I would happily compete on any of these if the deal was available  (Hint, hint, if anyone is listening out there  !!   :beercheer: )

 

So, again for the top 6 brands, all now much more similar than distinctively different.     One point to note on the head slalom.  I tried it initially a few weeks ago with the binding set at the midpoint.  I jumped into them at the top of the course, took one run on them and realized it was too far back on the ski for me and i was having to really work to get them though the course   (maybe i should have taken a free run first to see what they were like rather than jumping straight into gates :D),

 

So, i remounted them 3/4 inch forward before I tried them last weekend and made a huge difference for me in how they worked.  

 

But anyway, the takeaway for the OP.  When it comes to FIS spec skis, we need to rethink our previous assumptions!

post #9 of 17

Scots, the OP really does need a 35m ski. The Japanese are sticklers for this stuff. It doesn't matter what we think of it for better or ill, but it is what it is. :)

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post
 

Scots, the OP really does need a 35m ski. The Japanese are sticklers for this stuff. It doesn't matter what we think of it for better or ill, but it is what it is. :)

yes, saw that after i posted marko.!  Most of my experience is with the women's versions but, based on feedback from some of our U18 athletes, the trend may be similar with the 35m skis in that the differences are much less than they were 10 years ago.  Only hearsay though since at my advancing years :) I am not ready to invest in some that i know i am not going to race on!. For the purposes of research though, i need to wrangle some before the end of the season and give them a go.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snuckerpooks View Post
 

 

It isn't FIS sanctioned but the prefectural competitions adhere to the FIS rules. Japan operates that way. For local competitions, Masters skis are okay. But, almost all of my competition in category was on 35m at local races.

 

What I look for may be impossible, but looking at what each manufacturer is boasting, HEAD is trying to achieve that (KERS and Intelligence). It looks like Rossignol is trying to reduce swing weight and torsional flex (cascade tip and prop tech). Volkl, Blizzard, Atomic seem to have their sights on reducing vibration and stopping donkey kicks (External reinforcement and UVO).

 

The top 3 I have been looking at are Rossignol, HEAD, and Atomic. Why?

 

Rossignol : Lately I have been scrubbing into the turns, the cascade tip should make that easier to begin the arc into the turn. Most of my training is done on Masters courses, not looser 35m courses.

HEAD : What I want out of a ski, HEAD seems to be aiming for.

Atomic : They felt softer (10 years ago) with a strong edge at the top of the turn (friends anecdote from this year). It might be easier to handle because I am nowhere near being a WC athlete.

 

I was hoping maybe some anecdotal comments would help shed some light on whether my presumptions of choices would be helpful.

 Snuckerpoops

 

the "cascade tip" on the Rossi is not really unique.  If you look closely at them you will see that  most of the current FIS GS skis have an element of early rise in the tip to help turn in.  (it has also been on some speed skis for a few years)

 

On the atomic, they have changed the plate design this year from the one piece double deck to where it is amore like a conventional plate with double deck sections (unconnected) front and rear.  (My suspicion is that they are only still there for marking purposes to preserve the "double deck" branding) .  The changes in the plate were made to improve the turn-in and have reportedly worked (although Hirscher is still using the marker plate!).  There are some further changes on the 2016 ski I have seen.  On the 188 FIS Atomic, one of the differences i observed on the snow was that they tend to snap into the new turn more than others. I personally preferred the smoother progression form others but if I was on the 35m i might want to consider this again as I would want all the help I could get!

 

Head certainly have the GS ski well dialed in.  Funnily enough they ski nowhere near as superstiff as you may think!  I know a top-level FIS athlete on them that has gone back to the 2014 GS ski rather then the 2015 as he found it better.  I also know another NCAA athlete on Volk who has done the same thing.  Probably coincidence but all reference points as, certainly on the Volkl, there were some small changes made this year.  Try the Volkl though, it is one of my favorites in the 188

 

I am a Blizzard fan and know it works well in 188, I have no data on the 195/35 though.  There seems to be some variances between the Nordica and the Blizzard at this level, even though they come out of the same race room.  The nordics seems to be a bit heavier and takes n more work.

 

Hope this helps

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post

 

the "cascade tip" on the Rossi is not really unique.  If you look closely at them you will see that  most of the current FIS GS skis have an element of early rise in the tip to help turn in.  (it has also been on some speed skis for a few years)

 

On the 188 FIS Atomic, one of the differences i observed on the snow was that they tend to snap into the new turn more than others. I personally preferred the smoother progression form others but if I was on the 35m i might want to consider this again as I would want all the help I could get!

 

Head certainly have the GS ski well dialed in.  Funnily enough they ski nowhere near as superstiff as you may think!  I know a top-level FIS athlete on them that has gone back to the 2014 GS ski rather then the 2015 as he found it better.  

 

I also know another NCAA athlete on Volk who has done the same thing.  Probably coincidence but all reference points as, certainly on the Volkl, there were some small changes made this year.  Try the Volkl though, it is one of my favorites in the 188

 

I am a Blizzard fan and know it works well in 188, I have no data on the 195/35 though.  There seems to be some variances between the Nordica and the Blizzard at this level, even though they come out of the same race room.  The nordics seems to be a bit heavier and takes n more work.

 

This is very helpful! Just the type of stuff I was looking for!

 

It is pretty interesting that as a whole, there isn't as distinct a difference between each brand as there used to be. Now it's all the finer things. I would have never guessed that.

 

Also, thanks for your input on the 165 SL's too, I'm also in the market for those! I'll be sure to write some memos in my notebook.

 

Here is how I felt reading these posts:

 

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snuckerpooks View Post
 

 

This is very helpful! Just the type of stuff I was looking for!

 

It is pretty interesting that as a whole, there isn't as distinct a difference between each brand as there used to be. Now it's all the finer things. I would have never guessed that.

 

Also, thanks for your input on the 165 SL's too, I'm also in the market for those! I'll be sure to write some memos in my notebook.

 

 

 

 

Yeah, some of it may be because they are all getting relatively similar feedback from athletes and converging in the same things.  Other interesting thing is that there is also a lot more research/testing being done to better align/optimize the boot/plate combo. Expect to see more emphasis on this in the near future.  Just another variable to keep us mortals wondering!!!!   

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post

 

 

I am a Blizzard fan and know it works well in 188, I have no data on the 195/35 though.  

 

I think we touched upon this in another thread.

Would it be fair to say that the 195/35 is more common for racing than the 190/35? As a way to get better flex in the same radius?

 

Reading some 2016 ski previews(reviews?) from Japanese authors bloggers and the like, they are all testing on 195's. 

post #14 of 17


yes, look at the 195.  Most feedback I have heard has been that the 190s tend to be less manageable.  It is as if they have just kept the same construction in a smaller mould, resulting in a stiffer ski

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post
 


yes, look at the 195.  Most feedback I have heard has been that the 190s tend to be less manageable.  It is as if they have just kept the same construction in a smaller mould, resulting in a stiffer ski

 

Sounds reasonable for the makers. I will focus my attention on the 195's when testing.

 

Thanks for all the advice! You've really been a great help to me and a lot of other forum goers.

post #16 of 17
I've heard the same thing about tbe shorter men's gs skis. They really have focused on the 195's and the shorter ones are boards.
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotsSkier View Post
the "cascade tip" on the Rossi is not really unique.  If you look closely at them you will see that  most of the current FIS GS skis have an element of early rise in the tip to help turn in.  

I so rarely get a chance to disagree with you, it's like visiting the North Pole Dec 24th. ;)

 

The cascade tip is not anything to do with early rise. It's a succession ("cascade") of layers, overlapped in such a way they thin toward the end. Thus lower mass and inertia, for vibration control. Early rise is something else, they call it "Power Turn Rocker." Cascade technology predates early rise. Other than that, agree totally about most modern GS's having some early rise. Out. 

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