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How has ski technology improved the ability of skiers?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Is it true that the new skis of today can make the average skier out there look like a pro ? Back in the day we skied any and all mountain conditions on our 200cm skis with ease. We didn't need to use smaller skis to ski powder snow or bumps...we just skied...period.

I'd truly like to know how today's technology has improved the ability of skiers compared to when we ha longer skis for going faster and shorter for going slower ??
post #2 of 17

Mod note: the above post was moved from a different thread

post #3 of 17

i don't think it has improved the ability, it's given them access to intermediate skills and intermediately ability a lot easier so it allows people to have a lot more fun quicker.  It's like having an automatic transmission for a car.  

A newly minted intermediate skier that can confidently rip up all the blues and steep (groomed) black diamond with modern tip and "carve" skis.  But stick them off-piste or on a chopped up crudy powder day and then the lack of the pivot turn techniques begin to show up quickly.

 

 In comparison the "old school" skier with the same snow time would have learned the pivot turn first, and would never have learned the modern carved turn until much much later, so while looking uglier in all conditions, and would have "survived" better on all conditions.

 

I think folks say the learning curve for snowboarding is similar, so it follows that the modern ski learning curve has also changes as the modern ski shape borrowed from the snowboarding revolution.

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleep Robber View Post

Is it true that the new skis of today can make the average skier out there look like a pro ? 

No. Not even yesterday's pro.

 

 

Quote:
I'd truly like to know how today's technology has improved the ability of skiers compared to when we ha longer skis for going faster and shorter for going slower ??

We can still use one ski to ski all conditions. That hasn't changed. But the tradition of using longer skis for the faster events has evolved into using specialized skis designed for special conditions or uses. Just as the longer skis were better for the speed events, the special skis are just best for their intended uses. So we have twin tipped skis for people who want to ski backwards a lot. They are awful for having someone follow you because they put up a huge rooster tail of snow behind them. And an every day all mountain ski can go backwards just fine. But that extra turn up in the tail of a twin tip will give you a little extra safety margin when landing that big jump switch at 30 MPH.

 

There's a lot of technology out there that's relevant to this question. One could make a case that even little advances in ptex and wax technology have made a difference. But let's focus on shape ski and rocker technology to start with.

 

Before shaped skis, one needed to make a 45M+ radius turn in order to carve. For the average skier, there simply wasn't room on the trails they skied on to make those kinds of turns safely. Sure, we had some great skiers making skidded turns in challenging terrain and conditions, but it was relatively lonely out there compared to today. Shape skis made it easier to learn to turn because they make skis easier to turn. Because of that we started to see skiers ability levels grow faster and we started to see more people on advanced runs and in the trees and in the powder. I watched my dad add 10 years to his skiing career because of shaped skis.

 

There are some who claim that rocker technology combined with fat skis has ruined the backcountry because now any yahoo that can twist his feet can comfortably ski in deep pow without having to learn all of the nuances that all of us old fogies did when we had to ski in the snow vs on it. But we've got kids who couldn't carve a turn if their life depended on it stomping impressive lines on film that look like crap only to the folks who study technique. There's an equally valid argument that rocker technology has been as strong as boon to making skis easier to turn as shape skis have been.

 

I've got a 3 year old pair of 130cm rental skis that have shape and rocker technology that can outski any top end ski from 20 years ago except in a downhill course. Yes they get squirrelly at 50+MPH, but if went 50MPH all day I'd get my pass pulled. Yes they sink like a rock in over a foot of pow, but so did my old straight skis. I use them for teaching beginners because it's the same kind of ski they should be learning on. I don't use them for teaching advanced skiers because they typically are not on 9m radius skis. The reason the ATM method failed to revolutionize ski teaching was that the short skis they relied upon had to use so much glue to stay together that they were stiff as a board. We couldn't get true shaped skis until years later after glue technology had improved (and the snowboarders gave us a nudge). It was not possible to build my rental skis 20 years ago.

 

So today's technology does not make the average skier look like a pro. But the technology does flatten the learning curve.

post #5 of 17

I agree with Ray.  Skiers' performance has improved due to the skis & boots even if there is no improvement in the skiers' ability.  Skiers with mediocre ability can ski powder & crud, usually decently, sometimes poorly, on today's equipment.  But...I was watching a heli ski promo video at a booth at Whistler, and the skiing customers they showed should get refunds on those "powder skis" they bought.  Those skis didn't know how to ski deep powder at all!  Sit way back & twist your lower body really hard wasn't the best plan....  Skiing on hard pack can be better if suitable equipment is used--remind me, how much rocker works best on steep ice?

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Just blows my mind with all the talk and the way people are taught how to ski in "today's" world as to 20 or 30 years ago.

TheRusty....question for ya,

I consider myself an advaced/expert skier (on old boards 200cm or longer)...I have never skied on modern gear......I'm 5'8" tall and weigh 200lbs....I like longer skis.....give me your ideal brand of ski as well as length and width for an All Mountain Ski....as I only want to buy one set for the entire mountain(s)
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleep Robber View Post

Just blows my mind with all the talk and the way people are taught how to ski in "today's" world as to 20 or 30 years ago.

TheRusty....question for ya,

I consider myself an advaced/expert skier (on old boards 200cm or longer)...I have never skied on modern gear......I'm 5'8" tall and weigh 200lbs....I like longer skis.....give me your ideal brand of ski as well as length and width for an All Mountain Ski....as I only want to buy one set for the entire mountain(s)

 

184 Head Monster 88. Kastle MX88 (the 188 will ski very long for you, but would be a great wide open spaces cruiser ski) . A little more forgiving, Stoekli Storm Rider 88. 

 

No, I'm not Rusty, but I do demo a bunch of gear, am an L3 instructor, etc... 

post #8 of 17
@mtcyclist? @Philpug? @Start Haus? @dawgcatching?

Looks like Vancouver.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleep Robber View Post

Just blows my mind with all the talk and the way people are taught how to ski in "today's" world as to 20 or 30 years ago.

TheRusty....question for ya,

I consider myself an advaced/expert skier (on old boards 200cm or longer)...I have never skied on modern gear......I'm 5'8" tall and weigh 200lbs....I like longer skis.....give me your ideal brand of ski as well as length and width for an All Mountain Ski....as I only want to buy one set for the entire mountain(s)

Thanks for the ask. I'm an instruction guy not a gear guy. Listen to the other guys here who know better than I. As shaped skis came on the scene, I cried every time I went down in length from 204cm. I just hated doing it, but it was the right decision every time. At least I got to go back up in length a little with rocker tech. The length thing is all in my head. I cured that when I went out for a few runs with a 130cm ski on one foot and a 179cm on the other. These days I can proudly go out on my 130cm skis and joke about leaving them in the dryer too long.  My "powder" ski is an Atomic all mountain ski which is probably narrower than what most people use for a slalom (or seems that way on a powder day :) ) I think it's a 184cm with an 84mm width. My experience demoing skis is that they are usually all good, but one model stands out just a little every season and that distinction has rotated among the big boys.

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

 

184 Head Monster 88. Kastle MX88 (the 188 will ski very long for you, but would be a great wide open spaces cruiser ski) . A little more forgiving, Stoekli Storm Rider 88. 

 

No, I'm not Rusty, but I do demo a bunch of gear, am an L3 instructor, etc... 

 

I would add the Blizzard Brahma to the list

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

 

I would add the Blizzard Brahma to the list


Lot's of skis one can add. I was picking a handful that are all relatively 'traditional' in the current market for the OP.

post #12 of 17

Ability? No. Performance? Yes. Pretty simple really. 

(Reminds me of when sticky soles came into climbing--I went up a full decimal instantly.)

post #13 of 17

This is a misconception,

[quote]

Before shaped skis, one needed to make a 45M+ radius turn in order to carve. For the average skier, there simply wasn't room on the trails they skied on to make those kinds of turns safely. Sure, we had some great skiers making skidded turns in challenging terrain and conditions, but it was relatively lonely out there compared to today. Shape skis made it easier to learn to turn because they make skis easier to turn. Because of that we started to see skiers ability levels grow faster and we started to see more people on advanced runs and in the trees and in the powder. I watched my dad add 10 years to his skiing career because of shaped skis.

[end]

 

Skis flex (reverse camber) when weighted/ pressured/engaged.  The side cut has little to do with arc and turn radius.  Side cut does influence the "power steering" feel of turn initiation.

 

I ski a pair of K2 710s one day of every season just to remind myself of this fact.

 

Don't stick your head so far into the tech and hype that you loose sight of reality!

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cgrandy View Post

The side cut has little to do with arc and turn radius.
That is just plain wrong.
post #15 of 17

W/ NFL playoffs coming up it begs to pose the question as to whether any gear improvements can potentially improve ability? Do better sneakers improve your ability to run? I had to stop jogging/running bec my knees were giving out. I switched to Hoka One One's and now I can jog again w/o issue. W/ skiing, most of my weight is distributed in my midsection and thighs similar to many female recreational skiers. It's hard for me to lean far enough fwd to pressure my shovels at speed. It always has been. W/ the advent of rocker skis I could then use my strength to my advantage as the aggressive fwd lean became more optional. This is one reason why so many women have easily taken to rockered skis. So many I've spoken w/ and taught are amazed at how much it has improved their ability as the ski now plays to their strength. Rather than having to lean fwd and weight the shovels, now they can simply pivot their hips and achieve their desired result more easily. Is that an improvement in ability? ............ I really don't know.......... it does increase the time my GF now stays on the slopes so I'd call it a Win! :)............ and that's not even considering the ability to practice carving at slower speeds........... it's just all easier now and the ski actually no longer has a built in advantage to a particular body type or knee orientation. We simply have more options now to accommodate our physical differences.

post #16 of 17

I think that the new ski technology has made the sport easier and more enjoyable for the vast majority of skiers.  They are more comfortable and more confident and ski in more control than before.  They are excited to ski more and skiers who might have dropped out of the sport have stayed with it.  I'm talking about the effect of side cut and tip and tail rocker and the improvements in materials and adhesives plus better edge and base finishing.  100+ mm skis have helped skiers with lower skill levels take on more challenging terrain and snow conditions and helped better skiers ski terrain and snow that would have been all but impossible on skis of yore.  The 80 -- 90 mm group of skis with bigger side cuts and some sort of rockering  deliver the most benefit to the most skiers.  I'm not a fan of 100+ mm skis for not very good skiers particularly ones who are not kids.  They don't have the skills to effectively put the skis on edge and the net result is a wild, skidded ride.  I know that they are following the herd, but there's more fun to be had on skis that encourage and enable you to get them up on edge.  Kids can do whatever they want, and most will get better the more they ride.

From a purely technical standpoint,  I wouldn't say that skiers have universally upped their skiing skills and technique.  However, they are now able to enjoy the sport more without having to spend long hours developing their basic skills. 

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleep Robber View Post

Is it true that the new skis of today can make the average skier out there look like a pro ? Back in the day we skied any and all mountain conditions on our 200cm skis with ease. We didn't need to use smaller skis to ski powder snow or bumps...we just skied...period.

I'd truly like to know how today's technology has improved the ability of skiers compared to when we ha longer skis for going faster and shorter for going slower ??


Nope, won't make someone a pro but definitely makes it easier for an "average skier" who is a terminal intermediate to have a lot more fun with less effort.

 

I learned on straight skis over my head in middle school long ago in the northeast.  Only skied two seasons so never quite became a parallel skier, but was having fun on some steeper terrain at a reasonable speed while stemming.  Skied maybe 3-4 days a season every 2-3 years as a working adult.  Had my own gear and stuck to groomers, mostly on ski vacations out west.  Fast forward to 2000 when I had a chance for a free demo at Heavenly taking out a pair of "shaped skis."  On my first run, I found that making parallel turns was super easy.  Helped by the fact that my natural stance was about shoulder width.

 

It's been interesting watching a few schoolmates adjust their technique in recent years.  They were advanced/expert skiers by high school.  I started skiing with them out west in 2008 when our school started an alumni event in April at Alta.  They started skiing more after that too.  Bought new boots and skis within the last five years.  Took a while, but I talked them into taking a semi-private lesson with me from very experienced L3 instructors (JH, Alta).  Made an obvious difference but they still revert to old ways at times. ;) 

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