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Help please with a choice of ski for a beginner [in UK, over 50, has boots and helmet]

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I have had an all day session on an indoor snow slope (UK) and a day at Mutters in Austria (artificial snow; hardly any real stuff right now except on the advanced slopes).


I can zigzag using snow-plough and obviously want to progress to proper parallel skiing, so I want to do more trips to Austria and Switzerland, or even parts of Germany (a friend lives near Winterberg). Green or blue slopes.


Having spoken to loads of people and read up as much as I can, a few things seem apparent:


1) You have to get your own boots and a helmet. Boots are really important (I have Solomon Xpro 100 26.5 and had them fitted) and the rental helmets just smell way too badly :D


2) To progress to parallel skiing one needs something wider than a 10m wide slope - one needs a decent large area of snow.


3) If travelling by airline, most people rent skis because the airlines charge a lot for carrying them (up to £70) and sometimes don't load them if there is no room left.


4) There is a huge amount of used skis on Ebay but it's obvious that most of them are from ski-slope rental outfits who are selling (say) €300 skis for €250 and with two years' wear on them... hardly worth it. Very few people are selling good stuff privately. Some Polish outfits are selling new skis at amazing prices, say 50% off.


When I rented I was given 1.56m skis, usually Head; no idea which ones. I am 1.75m, 78kg.


There are two reasons I am looking to buy skis:


1) I live in the southern UK countryside and next to our house is a big field, which if it gets heavily snowed up (rare, but has happened 2x in last 5 years; about 30cm) would be really nice to mess about on. I guess this would be called off-piste...


2) I fly a light aircraft which works great for short-notice trips UK to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (2-4hrs). And it can take skis; up to 1.8m go in there OK. Has to be short-notice because it is very weather-sensitive.


So I have been looking at skis which would be OK for a beginner and still be OK once I get into doing it properly, and won't be completely useless on the local field.


Certain types which appear a lot on Ebay (mostly new) and which seem suitable in reviews are


1. Atomic NOMAD SMOKE + bindings XTO 10 2015
2. Skis Fischer Progressor 800 Black Rocker + bindings RS10 Powerrail

 

and I can get these new (bindings not attached so that's another £40 in a local ski shop) for under €200, in 1.56 length, from Poland on Ebay.

 

3. A local ski shop has some discounted skis in stock. The used Solomon one in this image

http://www.zen74158.zen.co.uk/pics/20151222_172105.jpg

for £120 is the only one of interest. It is a wooden ski which the man says is quite stiff and was originally £600. If that is true I cannot believe it is going to be a ski suitable for a beginner because surely nobody would pay that.

 

I would really appreciate views on the three skis mentioned above, or maybe suggestions for others. I would prefer to not go above €200 unless there is a good reason. BTW I am in my 50s (but fit, doing mountain biking, walking up hills, gym, swimming) so will never go "completely crazy" on snow :)

 

Many thanks in advance.

post #2 of 27

Welcome to Epic.

You have received the boots and helmet advice - excellent.

 

I do not think you are wrong to want to own your own skis.

 

I do have to caution you about expectations with regards to your first reason.     Unless that big field has a quite sizeable knoll or rise to it,  downhill skis like you are looking to buy (and downhill boots) are going to be limited in what they can do.    Limited in the sense of, sure you can pole yourself along, and you can herringbone up little swales and maybe, if you pack the snow down yourself a fair bit, you can teach yourself to skate on the flats.         

 

This can be pretty fun; if I didn't have actual nordic ski gear I'd probably do it myself.   But it won't do much to advance your learning, and the skis will never have enough speed to really show you what they're all about.


For the second, the Nomad is an pretty good ski for what you want; IMO the Fischer is better, with better edge feel;  the Salomon is quite dated compared to either of the two.    You are right that it isn't exactly beginner oriented - the Head C140 to its left is a far better learners' ski - and skiers for whom it is appropriate will want newer, more capable designs than that.   

 

You may be aware this is a primarily North American forum - for this reason I hesitate to make recommendations as you may not be able to find them and pricing can be quite distorted.   (As witness the asking price for those Salomons :eek )  

You may not be aware, but on this forum we do not believe there is any such thing as "completely crazy" on snow.
 

post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

Many thanks for the feedback.

 

Do you think that #2 ski will be usable on unprepared snow, say 10" thick?

post #4 of 27

The Fischers look like your best bet, unless they are not too short.  How long are they?

Skiing deep cut up snow on them can be a little tricky, but skiing fresh deep snow you should learn with a few days practice.  They are not easy to use for deep snow, but you can do it.


Edited by Ghost - 12/24/15 at 1:53am
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

They would be 156cm.

post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterh337 View Post
 

They would be 156cm.

Too short, you need 165 cm in that ski.

How long are the Atomics?

post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

I can go for whichever is best, but the length I was always given when renting was 156, and I guess they have a reason for doing that, seeing a beginner, etc.

post #8 of 27

Well, yes, beginners find shorter lengths easier to control with beginner instincts*,  but I also think it it has to do with being on an indoor slope - you can't possibly get up to enough speed to get uncontrollably wobbly, and you will never need true grip on ice.

As we're pondering a purchase to last you into your intermediate stage, where you will be using trained skills to control ski attitude and direction,  where you very well might need to make a turn on hard snow, and where you certainly will be able to consistently get to speeds impossible indoors,   the longer length makes sense.

 

 

 

 

*beginners tend to want to yaw the 'airplane' instead of banking, adding power and waiting for it- adding power here being metaphorically analogous to letting gravity do its job. 


Edited by cantunamunch - 12/23/15 at 10:03am
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 

I have been doing more reading and spoke to a few more people.

 

One opinion is that some higher-up skis are actually better for beginners than the "cheap" ones you get as a beginner at rental places. One suggested is ROSSIGNOL SOUL 7. I can see some ex test ones on Ebay

www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ROSSIGNOL-SOUL-7-2015-TEST-/400939014543

There is something on them here

http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/snowboard-reviews/2014-2015-blister-best-of-awards/4

and they really like them.

post #10 of 27

I certainly wouldn't recommend a ski that's 106mm underfoot for a beginner.  You should be looking for something not more than 80mm.

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

I think what that article was getting at is that on powder snow the Rossignol Soul 7 is fine for a beginner.

 

I am now looking at the Rossignol Experience 80 which is 80mm in the middle.

http://www.skis.com/Rossignol-Experience-80-Skis-with-Xelium-110-Bindings/390986P,default,pd.html

 

These come up on Ebay here, new, fittings supplied but not attached, for about USD 450.

 

Here in Europe, most slopes I have seen are what I think you Americans call "corduroy". Certainly the artificial snow ones are; they make the snow in big heaps and then a machine spreads it out into a run, about 15m wide. This is quite hard icy snow and there is only about 0.5" of powder on top.

 

Real snow is much nicer and even as a beginner this is really obvious. I think those slopes are made smoother.

post #12 of 27

For cordury (groomed runs) your best ski to learn on is one similar to your initial selections,  i.e. under 75 m wide, with a 12 to 15 m side cut turn radius, little or no rocker and a length of 165 cm.  I suggest you invest 20 USD in realskiers.com and make a short list; then see if any of the skis on your short list are on sale.

post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

Reading lots of reviews, it seems that the Rossignol Experience 80 is basically the same thing as the Fischer Progressor 800, but is a better quality product and costs more.

 

For almost any non-specialised ski one can find a website which says it's good for beginner to intermediate, and another website which says it is good for advanced skiers only.

 

And if I go into a shop around here, they don't have much stock (because most people go into a shop to see what the stuff feels like and then buy it on the internet - there are massive discounts available e.g. 50%) so they try to do a sales pitch for whatever they have in stock.

 

Frustrating :)

 

I also want a ski which will function on unprepared snow to some extent i.e. not sink in.

post #14 of 27

Progressor 800 is 74 mm at the waist.  Experience 80 is 80 mm at the waist (if it follows the same naming convention of all other Rossi Experience skis).

Under 75 mm is a better ski for hard snow and is a better ski for groomed runs.  An 80 mm ski would be better in the an area where even the groomed runs have often have about 6 inches of fresh snow on top of the corduroy.

post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 

Would you not say that any of these skis will "work", however. especially if you are going fairly slowly?

 

I am now homing in on this Salomon one: http://www.craigdon-edinburgh.com/snowsports-c7/salomon-e-x-drive-8-0-bt-e-lithuim-10-skis-p15507

post #16 of 27

You can ski just about anything, but from that site, these would be better (assuming you can get the 163 cm length)

http://www.craigdon-edinburgh.com/snowsports-c7/skis-c131/mens-c132/head-peak-72-pr-skis-pr-11-bindings-p6113

post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterh337 View Post

Would you not say that any of these skis will "work", however. especially if you are going fairly slowly?

I am now homing in on this Salomon one: http://www.craigdon-edinburgh.com/snowsports-c7/salomon-e-x-drive-8-0-bt-e-lithuim-10-skis-p15507
The Salomon X-drive skis are pretty serious skis, not designed for beginners.
post #18 of 27

Also consider that the so-called expert skis are designed to work at higher speeds.  At lower speeds they will be more difficult to bend into a good turn, as you won't have as much momentum to help you.  It will shorten the learning curve if you start of with a ski that is flexible enough not to hinder you from bending them, yet still stiff enough to still respond strongly to good technique.  That is why I seldom recommend "beginner" skis, and why beginners should avoid both beginner skis and expert skis unless they insist on skiing fast (when the way ahead is clear from traffic- follow the code:rules:), and realize they are paying a price for this privilege.

post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 

I bought the Salomon X-Drive ones. Got to make a decision sometime :)

 

Many thanks for your input, everyone!

post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 

"That is why I seldom recommend "beginner" skis, and why beginners should avoid both beginner skis and expert skis"

 

I can understand that, and the same reasoning applies to almost everything else in life (i.e. never buy the bottom end model of anything because it will be junk quality, or you will outgrow it very fast, or both) but how does one make a choice based on that in the ski business? Parameters like flexibility are not published. For any given ski you can find ratings anywhere from "beginner" to "advanced" according to which website you look at, or according to what unsold stock a shop (which you visit) is trying to sell you. I watched loads of youtube video reviews too and they all say every ski is great (no exceptions).

 

Sometimes a site reads as fairly well written and thus to me - an engineer - credible. For example the Blister Gear Review mentioned above looks well written - way better than most web reviews which are often banal, bordering on illiterate. But then they recommend the Rossignol Soul 7 as a great beginner ski. Nobody else agrees with that, though I guess they are right for powder snow several inches thick. It's also expensive but that is besides the point; good *quality* stuff is never cheap, and Rossignol skis are clearly all pricey compared to say Atomic, Head, or Salomon (or maybe Rossignol don't allow online discounting *skis* as much; I have a Rossignol backpack which is really well made and was cheaper than most similar ones).

 

Quality is also obviously important on the bindings. If they don't work you might break your legs :) I mountain bike quite a lot (off road :)) and for example Specialised SPD fittings were rubbish compared to Shimano. And those Specialised fittings came on a $2000 bike! Obviously I don't know how to relate this to skis but it's very obvious that bindings come in different qualities and prices and there has to be a reason for that.

 

So in the end I went for something of about the right size (163cm) and minimum width (8cm) and whose price would make it unlikely to be for "experts" because an expert is going to be spending more money :)

post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 

An example of almost totally opposite reviews:

 

http://www.snowberry-valdisere.com/salomon-xdrive-8.0bt.html

"Recommended for:
approx 12 plus weeks' experience on snow up to ski instructor level.

The best of the best of the new models for the 2016 season from our choice of major ski manufacturers, with options for out and out racers, piste racecarve skis, more versatile all-mountain models for a bit of piste and a bit of off-piste and freestyle skis for park, pipe and backcountry.

Whether you consider yourself an expert or think you're not quite there yet but want the skis to give you that final push, these are the skis for you."

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CO0oRClqZM

"The Salomon X-Drive 8.0 makes a great ski for the beginner to mellow intermediate, or the skier that has been renting skis for a while, and is ready to invest in their own set of skis to stop waiting in rental shop lines. The X-Drive 8.0 has the perfect mix of stability and forgiveness by having a composite core that is lightweight and easy to control, and a single Titanium laminate will provide you with stability as you improve your skills, and venture into steeper, more difficult terrain that you have never skied before. Salomon's X-Chassis Construction increases the torsional strength of the ski, and the amount of control you have at faster speeds by having a woven Carbon/Polyamide diagonal structure over the middle of the ski that will increase your stability and edge hold. Salomon's RKS (Rocker Stabilizer) has a composite reinforcement on the contact zones that will give you smoother turn initiation. The 8.0 has a Semi-Sandwich Construction that gives you both a Monocoque Cap in the tips and tails for easy maneuvering, and a vertical sidewall underfoot that delivers edge hold. The All Terrain Rocker 2.0 will allow you to improve quickly by initiating turns easier, and allows the ski to exit them effortlessly. If you are looking for a ski that has great technology for the beginner to learn quickly with, or the intermediate to improve, the Salomon X-Drive 8.0 will make a fine selection."

post #22 of 27

Not too bad a choice. You could have done far worse.

 

The ski, on paper appears to be geared to the correct ability level to learn with; it has enough beef/grip to let you grow quite a bit, but is still not unforgiving.   Ski Canada ( http://skicanadamag.com/ski-test/ski-canada-test-2015-expert-all-mountain#Salomon )calls it an "expert cruiser", and as such the ski should be skied a little longer for your weight, BUT as you are a beginner, choosing the shorter length (for that ski) the radius and flexibility should be about right for learning (more turns per run and easier to bend into a turn).  The little bit of rocker that it has will be fine in the snow, but may lesson sensations/feedback at turn initiation that would be more helpful learning to carve with traditional camber on hard pack, but once you get them tipped over it's all good.  Just be sure to tip those skis and show the bases to the ski while your turning.  3/8" narrower would have been more fun linking multiple tight turns together as you tip from one edge to the other with less effort, but not that big a deal.   You should be good for a year or two.

post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 

I read that Ski Canada review too beforehand, but when you get to e.g.

 

"Jill Sagan remarked, “Tickle me Elmo! This is fun. It’s like a springboard in the bumps, exciting but forgiving.” Comfortable on edge and fantastically smooth when transitioning through a turn, it delivered a broad spectrum of versatility for the strong advanced/expert skier."

 

what is one supposed to read from that? [my bold]

 

It's another example of conflicting reviews. I think there is a classic marketing problem of  there being WAY too many skis on the market. I spoke to a UK ski shop owner recently (he's been in the business 35 years) and he said he did a survey and found 2200 different skis on the market. That included the different sizes, so maybe 500 different models. He used this as an illustration of how hard it is to run a ski shop today, when you are competing with internet "box shifters" who can list hundreds of skis on a website and order and ship them back to back. Or with shops located near ski resorts (captive market) who also sell online. He has stopped doing kneeboards because almost everybody buys them online. Anyway, with say 500 models, it's no wonder the reviewers have to invent nonsense - because so many will be so similar, but the manufacturers are paying (most of) the reviewers to say something positive.

 

Anyway I am glad you (Ghost) think they will do. I am stuck with them for a bit anyway :)

post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterh337 View Post
 

I read that Ski Canada review too beforehand, but when you get to e.g.

 

"Jill Sagan remarked, “Tickle me Elmo! This is fun. It’s like a springboard in the bumps, exciting but forgiving.” Comfortable on edge and fantastically smooth when transitioning through a turn, it delivered a broad spectrum of versatility for the strong advanced/expert skier."

 

what is one supposed to read from that? [my bold]

 

It's another example of conflicting reviews. I think there is a classic marketing problem of  there being WAY too many skis on the market. I spoke to a UK ski shop owner recently (he's been in the business 35 years) and he said he did a survey and found 2200 different skis on the market. That included the different sizes, so maybe 500 different models. He used this as an illustration of how hard it is to run a ski shop today, when you are competing with internet "box shifters" who can list hundreds of skis on a website and order and ship them back to back. Or with shops located near ski resorts (captive market) who also sell online. He has stopped doing kneeboards because almost everybody buys them online. Anyway, with say 500 models, it's no wonder the reviewers have to invent nonsense - because so many will be so similar, but the manufacturers are paying (most of) the reviewers to say something positive.

 

Anyway I am glad you (Ghost) think they will do. I am stuck with them for a bit anyway :)

 

Have you read the Realskiers review?  It is a little bit better, at least the member's section review I read.

 

Anyway, with much experience reading reviews what I can read from that is that if you are not a strong advanced/expert skier you will find the ski less versatile, and might find it ok on the front side, but struggle with it in deep soft snow, especially say in tight trees in said snow.  Also note the category (cruiser) implies it is not designed for great high performance tight turns; still, you can press it into service making linked tight turns or mogul skiing and it won't be a total dog if you have some skills.

 

There is also marketing going on: "grade inflation" flattering going on in the interest of general ski promotion - calling the customer a strong advanced/expert (i.e. a range from strong advanced to expert) makes the true intermediate feel good about their skiing, and prevents the self-percieved expert from discounting the ski.

 

Also just since we are talking about "expert" skis and less than expert skiers... 

http://www.epicski.com/t/65117/intermediate-skiers-who-prefer-expert-skis

Merry Chrismas, and happy skiing.

post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 

I looked up "mogul skiing" and would like to know how anybody short of an expert is going to be doing that - or skiing between trees :)

 

I looked up the Realskiers review - thanks for that too.

 

Happy Xmas :)

post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterh337 View Post

I looked up "mogul skiing" and would like to know how anybody short of an expert is going to be doing that - or skiing between trees smile.gif

I looked up the Realskiers review - thanks for that too.

Happy Xmas smile.gif
The word expert carries a very contextual significance. On this forum we don't really use it and the only undisputed ones are at least two grades beyond being able to link turns in trees and bumps.

What I am really saying is don't sell yourself short. You could be skiing that long before you are ready to call yourself expert.
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 

This is just an update, and a Thank You all for your input.

 

After my indoor session in Nov 15 I have done four "real" ski trips.

 

The first (Dec 15, Mutters, Austria) was bad because there was almost no snow, but I got 2hrs with a great instructor on a narrow artificial-snow slope.

The next (Feb 16, Filzmoos, Austria) was good; I had 2x2hrs with an instructor and did well on a nice wide kids slope.

The next (Mar 16, Grand Bornand, France) was great; no instruction but there were long easy runs so one could progress without spending a load of time on the lift. Here is a video from there
https://vimeo.com/159066379

The next (Mar 16), Schmitten, Austria) was not good because all the slopes turned out to have parts which were a lot steeper than I was willing to risk especially given the hard icy snow.

 

The last two trips I did in my little plane: http://www.peter2000.co.uk/aviation/ski2/index.html

Some nice photos there of snowy mountains :)

 

The skis are fine as far as I can tell. I can just about parallel ski. One more trip is planned for next week if the weather is good; there should be just enough snow at the French location, and they have nice long runs. I think that is the sort of skiing I actually like; not going down 30-45 degree slopes which the Austrian "blue" runs all seem to have (according to instructors there). In France the lowest classification is "green" and none of those have really steep bits.

 

I think the American classification is different, according to Wiki.

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