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keeping vertical balance on choppy/bumpy terrain with Sickles

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I need help with a question about equipment and proper technique.

This winter I skied in the SLC resorts (mostly Solitude and Snowbird, inbounds) with brand new  Rossignol Sickles (182cm). They were pretty awesome on groomers and in soft smooth snow off-piste. I was very eager to learn to ski powder after several winter vacations in UT with poor snow.

We got several days of fresh, so my excitement level was through the roof. Things were looking good, but once the snow became choppy (deep & soft chop) and even a bit bumpy I had to work hard to keep vertical balance (in the fore-aft plane) while holding edges flat, or carving, or slarving. They bounced me a lot and I never experienced this before, with the same boots (Full Tilt Classic - flex 60 out of 100), and with other skis that I owned before, like '13 Bibby Pros, Rossignol S3, and B2, going back in time. The skis had initially fresh wax and the tips and tails were detuned. The Griphon bindings are mounted on the recommended line.

I am 42 y.o.,  140 lbs, and 5'10" tall. I consider myself an advanced skier, able to go on UT black diamond slopes with decent confidence. I prefer to ski off piste.

Since I only ski 10 days per year, my progress towards perfection is painfully slow. I am a rather skinny guy who spends his work day on a computer, so my conditioning is so-so, but I exercise several times a week and at 4PM on the slope I want more.

So the question for the forum is this: is the balancing (bouncing) problem from the skis, wax, boots (a bit soft),  a combination? or it's my technique?

Did anyone experience similar issues ? I understand that without a video of me skiing one can't comment objectively on the technique.

The Sickles are twintips, have no camber under foot, and just a small rocker of ~3-8mm at the tips and tails. The waist is 110mm and the shape has no tip/tail taper. Its radius is about 21m. When on edge, the full ski length cuts through the snow. Their weight is about 2-2.1 kg per ski. The ski flex is about medium and I remember the Bibby Pros were stiffer.

Thanks !

post #2 of 18
No question you have soft skis and boots, but you still should be able to not get caught forward.

When you feel that youre thrown forward, bend your knees and maintain tension in your abs to keep a straight upper body.
post #3 of 18
Use your knees to your skis to maintain lateral balance. Let your legs act like shock absorbs. Keep your upper body quiet.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

these are good pointers and I am aware of them. On a much softer ski, S3, I did not have the same problems in similar settings. My stance is centered,  of front loading when possible. 

post #5 of 18
Do you flex in transition and have vertical separation in your turns? With a soft ski it absorbs. A stiffer ski you need to absorb and cut through the terrain with the edges. A skier should be adaptive to his equipment and conditions. Practice.
post #6 of 18
I think this is a common issue that's easy to discuss and talk about, but harder to cure. I've dealt with the same issues as a progressing skier and several things helped me but it's been mostly about being patient with my turns, reducing pivoting in 3 dimensional snow, allow my skis to remain in the fall line longer to maintain speed, maintaing tension in my core, and absorbing the veried terrain with my legs. I think the latter has been most difficult and takes a lot of time in varied conditions.

As a side note, I don't think being able to ski a black run in good snow means that you or I are advanced skiers. I can ski pretty much anything on hero snow. I think it's the ability to ski a steep slope in varied or bumped conditions that seperates an intermediate like me from an advanced skier.
post #7 of 18

I like to revisit this video when people area asking the question you're asking.

 

 

post #8 of 18

IMHO, it's an issue of two things:  the tail following the tip (steered turns) and suspension.  If your normal turn shape is not a steered turn from a centered position, you are going to have a bad day as the density of crud increases and the catching of the deflected ski increases.  You need to work on round turns that are progressive.  The second part, suspension, comes from being able to be soft in the legs.  It is suspension from the core that allows the feet and legs to move freely beneath a stable upper body.  This provides the suspension to absorb and extend through the chop.

 

Softer skis will have more deflection.  I personally like my stiff skis in virtually all conditions.  I ski a 83 underfoot with two sheets of metal in it until the new snow gets deeper than 6-8" and then I use a 98 under foot, also with 2 sheets of metal.  I'm not a fan of fun shape skis, but that's me.  A stiffer ski blows up the crud piles.

 

Mike

post #9 of 18
I think it is also important to recognize that some skis require more attention to being driven (or not driven at all) from the center and maintaining fore/aft balance generally. I don't know much about the Sickles, but below are some excerpts from the Blister review on the Rocker2 108 that might be helpful in your analysis:
Quote:
As I mentioned, the Rocker2 108 has a fairly significant amount of tip taper and a recommended mounting position that is only -3cm from center. This leads to a sensation that you are (1) riding a shorter ski than you actually are and (2) placed really far forward on the effective edge / sidecut.

What this translates to, on- or off-piste, is some insecurity when you start cookin’ down the mountain, especially when the snow is firm or punchy. I’m not necessarily calling these characteristics a bad thing, but maybe a trade off for the easy-to-ski nature, and smeary, soft snow characteristics. As always, it depends on what you’re looking for.

And from a second reviewer:
Quote:
I’ve found that the Rocker2 108 responds best to a balanced, light, and more centered position

Just as Jason [the initial reviewer quoted above] “had a difficult time fully trusting the skis as I moved quickly from turn to turn” in “steep, choppy, and exposed terrain,” the only times I felt uncomfortable on the 108 was when the chop and my speed made it hard to stay balanced and centered on the ski. (Obviously that’s going to be more difficult the deeper and/or firmer the chop is.) If this was the case, and I began to pressure the cuffs of my boots more to gain some control of the ski, tilting it more on edge, the softer shovels did get flexed and kicked around to an unsettling degree, and I had to dump some speed.

And this from a female reviewer on the Sickle, 5'2" 120 lbs skiing a 174cm:
Quote:
As the snow became choppy, the Sickle continued to accommodate the changing snow conditions. Because the Sickle has no camber underfoot and instead a slight, continuous rocker, the ski forms a subtle “banana” shape: from the center of the ski, the tips and tails slowly extend up. This makes it incredibly easy to pivot the ski using a neutral, balanced stance, giving way to effortless smeared turns on top of the chop, and providing an almost floating sensation across the snow.

Here's the tip and tail profiles. This certainly lends credence to the idea of staying more on the snow than in the snow, or at least that's going to be the more grin inducing approach, and surfing chop from a neutral stance is very different than busting it driving from the tips.





Having cut and pasted all of this, your boots seem awfully soft and it seems unlikely you'll be able to diagnose what is going on here until you have boot flex that is more aligned to the terrain and conditions you are skiing. Chop will expose boot issues in a hurry and that's probably the primary issue.
post #10 of 18

I guess I'm the unofficial Sickle fanboy here... so here are my thoughts.    

 

I'm thinking the 181 is too big for you at 140 lbs.  It's quite likely the skis are taking you for a ride instead of the other way around.  See the 2012-2013 Rossi sizing chart below.

 

Rossi recommended 170lbs as the minimum weight for the 181 Sickle.   I think they put a lot of thought into that chart, as I demoed a bunch of those skis and it was always spot on.   Were you on the 178 S3?  On the chart, it goes down to 150lbs since it is a much softer ski with more extreme rocker.   I could see how it would be easy to think you should be on the 181 Sickle if you were on the 178 S3, but they are very different skis.  I skied the 186 S3 a bunch, and it had a MUCH lower top end than the 181 Sickle in all conditions.

 

The Sickle is not a soft ski like the S3, rather its flex is best described the the Blister review for the prior year's Sickle:

 

Quote:
 

The Sickle’s flex pattern was also spot-on, with a relatively soft shovel on both the front and the back of the ski that progresses quickly to a medium/stiff flex for the middle half of the ski. The soft shovels enhance the ski’s soft snow proficiencies, while its versatility can be attributed to the beefier middle section.

The Rossignol Sickle’s full wood core and basalt reinforcement construction contributed to the ski’s damp yet playful feel. I had no trouble plowing through day old, deep chop and crud anywhere on the mountain, but the ski was also playful enough to nose or tail press terrain features and sky off anything.

http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/review-2011-2012-rossignol-sickle-2010-2011-rossignol-s6-186cm/2

 

I'm 5'11" 185lbs (plus another 5+ lbs for full avy gear) and here's a video of me on my 181 Sickles skiing soft chop and bumps:

 

 

It's really hard for me to imagine a ski I'd enjoy more in those conditions (except a narrower ski for the bumps, of course).   I even bought a backup pair of Sickles because I love them so much.  

 

The 171 Sickle is on STP for about $275 with a 45% off coupon if you want to give that a try.  Or, maybe just go back to one of your previous skis if you really liked them.   Ski days are too precious to try to make a ski work for you that isn't right.


Edited by tball - 4/2/15 at 10:14am
post #11 of 18

Nice video! Someone who knows how to pop a sickle for sure ...

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
@tball, thanks for the sizing guide. I would have loved it last year. I pondered days over blistergear reviews that tout the Sickles as the second coming. My Bibbys were 184, 1-200g heavier and stiffer, so 181 seemed reasonable vs. the 171 model, although the Bibby has a 150cm running length and much bigger rockers + taper. The shorter model may lose some of the dampness and stability at speed. Well, I bought without demoing
The video is awesome. Those moguls have no chance. Great technique and you make it look easy. Where was everyone else ?? Thanks for sharing.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

@NayBreak, I noticed, too,  that driving the tips works only on groomers with these skis. Otherwise they seem to  catch the tips (is catch the right term ?).

@rod9301, It's also clear the boots are too flexy. They could have become so just gradually, over 2-3 years, since I did not notice a sharp decline. Thankfully, Full Tilt sells #8 and #10 tongues. 

 

In summary, here is what it seems to be the lesson learned from  the generous posts on this page. It is a combination of technique and equipment; Improve  core conditioning and leg (+hip) muscle strength; don't drive tips in chop; don't run skis flat, let tails follow the tips (thanks, Bob's video), make rounder+faster turns; absorb  shocks better (i.e. loosen up knees) while keeping the core tight and facing the line;

Equipment: a bit stiffer/heavier/longer skis than manufacturer recommended; soft boots; no tip taper (?).

I am inclined to  give the Sickles another year, with stiffer boot tongues; more conditioning for next winter. 

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by john0 View Post
 
@tball, thanks for the sizing guide. I would have loved it last year. I pondered days over blistergear reviews that tout the Sickles as the second coming. My Bibbys were 184, 1-200g heavier and stiffer, so 181 seemed reasonable vs. the 171 model, although the Bibby has a 150cm running length and much bigger rockers + taper. The shorter model may lose some of the dampness and stability at speed. Well, I bought without demoing
The video is awesome. Those moguls have no chance. Great technique and you make it look easy. Where was everyone else ?? Thanks for sharing.

 

I don't know the Bibbys, but it seems odd you liked them in 184 but not the 181 Sickle.  Do you recall what length S3 you skied?

 

If you are going to try them another year, maybe play with the mount point.   Mine are mounted at -2 per the pics and discussion in this thread where you can see they have a lot of tail relative to the tip on the zero line:

http://www.epicski.com/t/122346/powder-crud-ski-recommendations-on-a-budget/30#post_1642588

 

Glad you like the video, and thanks for the compliments (I say knowing you can't really tell how I'm skiing from a helmet cam :)).  A typical weekday at Copper really is that uncrowded, at least off the groomers.  Also, the third run is Tucker Mountain which only a handful of folks skied that day because the snowcat doesn't run on weekdays, so it was an hour hike.

post #15 of 18
i think that's a good point on mount position. If the ski is giving you a 0 and -2 mount line options, the -2 should be the "all mountain" mount where 0 would be what is essentially a park mount. And that's odd for a ski that wide.

My former daily driver was a Salomon Rocker2 92 and it had the same 0 and -2 options, with zero being a dead center mount, so think park tricks (mine were set up at -2). If the Sickle is dead center at 0, I'd sure want it back just a bit. I think most wider skis have ditched this idea of multiple mount lines so the ski design can be dialed in from one position, and you pretty much have to ski more center mounted skis long or they are just too short out front. Also, my impression is that -3cm from center seems to be where many of the later models of this type of ski have landed.
Edited by NayBreak - 4/3/15 at 8:41am
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post
 

 

I don't know the Bibbys, but it seems odd you liked them in 184 but not the 181 Sickle.  Do you recall what length S3 you skied?

 

If you are going to try them another year, maybe play with the mount point.   Mine are mounted at -2 per the pics and discussion in this thread where you can see they have a lot of tail relative to the tip on the zero line:

http://www.epicski.com/t/122346/powder-crud-ski-recommendations-on-a-budget/30#post_1642588

 

Glad you like the video, and thanks for the compliments (I say knowing you can't really tell how I'm skiing from a helmet cam :)).  A typical weekday at Copper really is that uncrowded, at least off the groomers.  Also, the third run is Tucker Mountain which only a handful of folks skied that day because the snowcat doesn't run on weekdays, so it was an hour hike.

The Bibbys have a shorter running edge,at ~150cm and tapered tips, with a waits 6mm wider. They were slower edge-to-edge, heavier, but absolutely glorious in crud, including on crappy frozen  deep chop. I suppose the gradual flex with the taper and higher splay made them so stable. I had to return them.

The S3s are 177cm -- loved them in soft snow, but very limiting in chop and dangerous on hardpack due to floppiness. 

tball, the shadow betrays your skills. 

Thanks for the comment on the mount position. I will move them back 2 cm.

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

 

Glad you like the video, and thanks for the compliments (I say knowing you can't really tell how I'm skiing from a helmet cam :)).  A typical weekday at Copper really is that uncrowded, at least off the groomers.  Also, the third run is Tucker Mountain which only a handful of folks skied that day because the snowcat doesn't run on weekdays, so it was an hour hike.

 

The good time you are having is very palpable in that video. In the general scheme of things, I am often more impressed by that than technique. At the very least it is clear that you are a capable and competent skier.

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich666 View Post
 

The good time you are having is very palpable in that video.

 

Thanks!   Having a good time is what skiing is really about for me, so much more than technique.  :D

 

Here's a new video of me on my Sickles from Friday to inject a dose of humility about my skiing into this thread.  :)  I'm skiing pow-on-crust and eat it when I stuff my tips into a rock hard bump I thought was a soft pile of snow.   I go from having a good time to skiing tentatively in that instant.  

 

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by john0 View Post
 

Thanks for the comment on the mount position. I will move them back 2 cm.

 

I'd also consider just selling them and buying the shorter Sickles.  If you re-drill them they will be harder to sell if you still don't like them.   The shorter Sickles are far more available, and you can probably find a deal.  STP had the 171 Sickle for $275 with 45% off very recently, but they are sold out now.   They've been sold out of the longer ones for months.   If I were 140lbs I'd pick up the older 174 version:

 

http://www.the-house.com/8974rosic12zz-rossignol-skis.html

 

That way I wouldn't have to look at the butt-ugly top sheet of the recent version, and I'd feel better about them being a little longer at 174 vs. 171, even though they are supposed to be the same except for blunted tips and tails.

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