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Swallowing my anti-Midwest pride and returning to the sport. Crush my gear assumptions, please.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

First post, so apologies for SO MANY WORDS. I moved to the upper Midwest about 10 years ago and dropped the sport cold. No weather pun intended. Prior to that, however, I was a New Englandah with parents who were ski patrollers, so I was on the hill more weekends than not, well into my 20s. I did not compete in HS or college (I was a 5-9, 125lb distance runner... gross right?) but my family did, and we were very aggressive, sunrise to sundown, all ice all the time, chowdah-heads.

 

This winter, in my annual seasonal mood crisis, I realized my 6 year old daughter would give skiing a shot, so we went to some local Wisconsin bumps and she was an instant natural. I was also surprised how much I loved getting back out there. Like a LOT. Like, close the office door so my boss didn't see how many trail maps I was looking at. Etc.

 

To the point - we made four Midwest trips in Michigan and Wisconsin this year and we're all in for 2016-17. I'm a competitive cyclist now so my fun budget goes to that, but I want to invest in my own ski equipment because there are great deals right now, and the rental stuff was giving me hives. I also have an ultra narrow foot, so the rental boots were like a salty ocean for me. However, I won't ask for boot opinions because I quickly see how that goes around here - I'll work with my local shop. (Tecnica Mach 1 120 LV please :-)

 

Me: 5-10, 155, late 30s,  comfortable on the whole mountain but have only skied East Coast (22 years) and Midwest (1 year). I'm light, but my lower body is relatively strong thanks to 13+ years of bike racing. My upper body is a joke and has several titanium pieces (thanks bikes!).   

 

It feels like the entire off-piste/freeski movement happened in the Northeast during my holdout and I'm very interested in getting on board. I hike often in the summer and earning turns seems like an attractive proposition. I was quickly back on the Midwest-version of black/double black (I cringe writing that) and I generally make longer GS turns, but have been working on my short game to make the silly-short runs around here last longer.

 

My plan is one holiday week in New England (Probably Stowe and Sunday River) with family, one late winter trip to Breckenridge/Vail next winter with Colorado locals, and some additional trips to Boyne, Crystal and Granite, etc, around here. I figure my ski should be more East-coast-centric. The Midwest conditions are 'whatever' but seem close to what I grew up on out East. When I go to Colorado I'll take my skis with me, but if there's 160 inches of fresh powder, I'll just demo something. My uncertainty is that I just can't quite visualize how the East Coast areas I want to return to might have changed, especially the off piste stuff, and which skis will give me the most options. I'm probably more rusty than I think I am, but I know I'll want to be aggressive going forward.

From research, reviews and reading posts on here, this is where I'm at on skis:

 

1. Blizzard Brahma, 180

2. Solomon X-Drive 8.8 176

3. Volkl Kendo 177cm

 

I rented both 166 and 176 this year and was more comfortable on the latter, but they were obviously very entry level.

 

Bindings I have no idea - The marker griffon seems ubiquitous, but I was looking at the Tyrolia Adrenaline 16, with the heel-lift feature for trekking uphill and that seems to provide some options. Very open to suggestions. Again, at 155 pounds, I won't need aggressive din.

 

Boots - Yeah, I know. But once I have fit dialed in, if you have opinions about weather walk features/tech compatibility would benefit someone like me, let me know. I assume at my weight, I might be staying away from 130 flex... but TBD.

 

 

TL;DR - Thanks all. Appreciate the help in advance - it's tough being a Maineah in Exile.

post #2 of 17
Welcome to EpicSki. You got to get your mind right boss. Glad you are swallowing your pride and starting to have fun on skis again. Many here in the mid-Atlantic who transplanted from snowier climes have similar hang-ups. With respect to mtns, you gotta ski what you gotta ski. If budget or family constraints allow few or no trips to big, optimal ski destinations, then ski the heck out of the lesser hills nearby. A lot of fun and skill can be derived from regular visits to small hills. And when you again have access to big hills the fact that you retained your skills will come in real handy, especially when your kids get to the point of skiing you into the ground. Enlisting your kids to qualify your ski trips as "quality family time" is a whole other tutorial in a successful middle-age skiing strategy. I'll let others advise on equipment, but sounds like a modern all-mtn ski in the 85ish cm range would fit your new interests and Blizzard does seem to have the magic touch these days.
post #3 of 17
Welcome. If I were you, I'd PM Dawgcatching. He is a near twin of you, both in terms of physique n competitive bicycling. Also owns a ski n bike store in Bend, Oregon. He can give you great advice. My only add would be that having lived in Michigan for a while, now NE, cannot really see the point of AT bindings. Which are for skinning, y'know. Using light skis that are not ideal for Midwestern hills. I'd stay focused on a good pair of midfats, no wider than say 85 mm, with Alpine bindings, and some boots that fit, with a flex in the 110-120 range.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

I'd stay focused on a good pair of midfats, no wider than say 85 mm, with Alpine bindings, and some boots that fit, with a flex in the 110-120 range.

 This is almost exactly what I would recommend.

post #5 of 17
Where exactly in the MW?

Many good shops in Chicago have closed. You can buy most equipment online, but you need to get your boots in person.
post #6 of 17

Welcome to EpicSki.

I learned to ski at one of those 150 ft bumps just outside Milwaukee, Olympia Village. I believe it's closed now. My kids learned to ski at Crystal Ridge on the south side of Milwaukee, maybe 150 ft on a good day. It doesn't matter it's all good. 40 years later my wife and I are both instructors at Afton Alps.

For Wisconsin and Mighigan skiing a ski in the 70's is a good choice, something like a Head Rally or Magnum. You'll be skiing hard pack most of the time. The only real off piste in the mid-west is Mt. Bohemia so buy skis for where your going to ski 90% of the time.

Shops I know covering south eastern Wisconsin are Les Moise in Mequon or Viking in Chicago. Otherwise it's Pierce or Hi-Tempo in the twin cities.

Enjoy taking your daughter on weekend trips to all those area's in WI and MI so 30 years from now you can think back on how much fun it was not how much vertical there was.

post #7 of 17
Quote:
It feels like the entire off-piste/freeski movement happened in the Northeast during my holdout and I'm very interested in getting on board. I hike often in the summer and earning turns seems like an attractive proposition. I was quickly back on the Midwest-version of black/double black (I cringe writing that) and I generally make longer GS turns, but have been working on my short game to make the silly-short runs around here last longer.

 

 

Some more experienced people can chime in as to why this is a bad idea, (like what Beyond already said about the wisdom of having an AT setup) but, if it was me I would at least consider AT boots. The compatibility issue gets just a bit complex, which may limit where you rent skis from and your binding choices depending on the soles your boots have. That said, there are AT bindings that accept alpine boots and AT boots that will fit into any alpine binding BUT a pure alpine boot will never have a true hiking mode for up-hilling. There are stiff AT boots that are regarded well as all-around in-bounds and BC (they are of course heavier than the Randonee comp stuff, which is quite light but gives up much more downhill performance than the current stock of "free ride" AT boots). 

 

There are also (some) alpine style (fixed heel) bindings such as the Salomon Warden that will accept many, or most, AT boots. This reduces the compromises of riding your AT bindings at the resort. Also the newer generations of heavier burlier track bindings such as the Guardian you mentioned (Marker Tour F10/F12 or Duke/Baron; Fritschi Freeride Pro) are also thought of as skiing very well in bounds. IF you want to use a 9523 AT sole in a Guardian, make sure it is a later model, the first ones are only compatible with Alpine and WTR (proprietary) soles. More WTR compatible bindings are coming but who knows if it will last.

 

The key in my mind would be to see if there is a boot that fits you right that is compatible with AT and TLT bindings. This will let you use a frame/track binding like the guardian or Freerides but will also let you use a tech binding (Dynafit) for serious weight savings and different options. Then, as long as you fit your inbounds skis with a compatible binding, maybe even something with a fixed heel, you're golden. 

 

Another downside is that system bindings might have an increasing presence on some high end carving skis and will probably only be compatible with an alpine sole. 

 

I post all of this with no actual personal experience. Why not? Because my boots (which I do love) don't have a walk mode silly! So join me in that or not, whatever you like, but think outside the box for a moment anyway. 

post #8 of 17

If you don't have much vert either ski SLs or hit the terrain park..  This is why we spent so much time building jumps and getting chased by ski patrol when I was a kid growing up skiing at Buck Hill.  Eventually, they added a freestyle team for all us trouble makers to keep us over on the end away from the general public and race team hahahaha..

 

Ya, SL loops and tricks if you're willing to go rogue.  I messed around trying to ski switch a lot when teaching my kids on the easy greens past couple seasons.  I agree that anything under 400 feet of vert gets boring after a couple hours but I'd still take one of those little bumps if I could have one 10 minutes from home with night skiing.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post
 And when you again have access to big hills the fact that you retained your skills will come in real handy, especially when your kids get to the point of skiing you into the ground. Enlisting your kids to qualify your ski trips as "quality family time" is a whole other tutorial in a successful middle-age skiing strategy. I'll let others advise on equipment, but sounds like a modern all-mtn ski in the 85ish cm range would fit your new interests and Blizzard does seem to have the magic touch these days.


78 to 86 is really where it's at for the midwest.  We don't get epic powder seasons very often and most of the time a short radius cheater GS ski or a quick turning 80 underfoot carver is about perfect.

post #10 of 17

If I could only have one pair of skis for the rest of my life they would be my 2014 vintage Kastle FX 94's.

Slalom skis are great for the Midwest...more turns=more fun!

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to follow-up to this thread with a thank you to everyone who responded and some results. I picked up some twice-used, never molded Dalbello Lupo 110s last Spring when they were too narrow for a friend and he made me an impossible offer. I'll do the boot spirit journey with my shop if these don't work, but it wouldn't have made sense not to try them.

 

As far as lumber, I worked with Viking here in Chicago and followed some of the sage advice above. I ended up with the Kastle MX83 173 for an off-season song (half MSRP), which will be overkill-slash-serviceable here in the Midwest and I'll be very excited to take East with me. I was sold on them after reading Dawgcatching's amazing reviews and before I even realized he was recommended in this thread as having a similar build to me. I know the new MX84 is out this season but I'm more than happy to take the deal on the 83 and run.  Still need to grab some bindings but then I'll be ready to match up against my daughter, who got Volkl Steps for her birthday. Oy vey.  


Give me maybe 4 more weeks of summer, but then I want the Snow. All of it.

 

post #12 of 17
Yep. Done with summer. Can we have winter, please!?
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abol98 View Post
 

Just wanted to follow-up to this thread with a thank you to everyone who responded and some results. I picked up some twice-used, never molded Dalbello Lupo 110s last Spring when they were too narrow for a friend and he made me an impossible offer. I'll do the boot spirit journey with my shop if these don't work, but it wouldn't have made sense not to try them.

 

As far as lumber, I worked with Viking here in Chicago and followed some of the sage advice above. I ended up with the Kastle MX83 173 for an off-season song (half MSRP), which will be overkill-slash-serviceable here in the Midwest and I'll be very excited to take East with me. I was sold on them after reading Dawgcatching's amazing reviews and before I even realized he was recommended in this thread as having a similar build to me. I know the new MX84 is out this season but I'm more than happy to take the deal on the 83 and run.  Still need to grab some bindings but then I'll be ready to match up against my daughter, who got Volkl Steps for her birthday. Oy vey.  


Give me maybe 4 more weeks of summer, but then I want the Snow. All of it.

 

 

It's funny I just read your OP but didn't read the date, having a narrow foot myself and going through a very long process finding the right boot I was going to suggest dalbello boots. In fact I have the Lupo's as well and love them, just be ready for an adjustment in your skiing stance as they have a very upright stance. You can adjust that somewhat but if you've been out of the game for awhile and are used to forward lean boots it's going to take some getting used to. For bindings, highly recommend the Tyrolia Attack for your setup. It has rapidly become my favorite alpine binding.

post #14 of 17
 
Originally Posted by btbamView Post
For bindings, highly recommend the Tyrolia Attack for your setup. It has rapidly become my favorite alpine binding.
Couldn't agree more.  Mounted a pair Attack 13s on my Kastle FX-94s last season.  Much nicer than previous Marker bindings of various sorts..
 
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by btbam View Post
 

 

It's funny I just read your OP but didn't read the date, having a narrow foot myself and going through a very long process finding the right boot I was going to suggest dalbello boots. In fact I have the Lupo's as well and love them, just be ready for an adjustment in your skiing stance as they have a very upright stance. You can adjust that somewhat but if you've been out of the game for awhile and are used to forward lean boots it's going to take some getting used to. For bindings, highly recommend the Tyrolia Attack for your setup. It has rapidly become my favorite alpine binding.

 

 

Yeah, the Dalbello foot feels great around my narrow foot. My calf is low-volume also but my high ankle area is cartoon small, so I'm pretty close to maxing out retention devices on the cuff. I can wrap the powerstrap past the velcro section. Maybe I'll play with adding some foam in that area or a chubby intuition liner or, l suppose, sell one of the children and get new boots.


Attack 13 is what I was looking at for a binding - always skied on Solly or Tyrolia bindings. I only need 8 Din, but the 13 felt like it might survive getting run over a few times by my kids. The white/black Attack also just looks like it belongs on this ski and I certainly prefer the low-profile designs. The only other contender I was entertaining was the Look SPX or NX 12.

 

Actually, I'm going to get something with a Din of 18, because if these skis ever pop off in new snow, I'll never find them. ;) 

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abol98 View Post
 

 

 

... Maybe I'll play with adding some foam in that area or a chubby intuition liner or, l suppose, sell one of the children and get new boots.

 

So you're interested in getting intuition liners, mentioned an interest in touring gear, will be spending a lot of time in moderate midwestern terrain, have a strong alpine background and quads of steel from bike racing, and might sell one of the children but that would leave another one to ski with ... TIME FOR TELEMARK!

 

Not the direction you're going and not the question you asked, but if you get bored skiing kid speeds on moderate terrain you really might want to check it out.

post #17 of 17
Quote:

Originally Posted by Abol98 View Post

 

. The white/black Attack also just looks like it belongs on this ski ..................

 

Actually when you see Kastle skis sold new with bindings they use the same binding (i.e. Attack 13) re-branded as a Kastle binding. 

Thus.... you and Kastle are on the same page :D

(And of course you can purchase the Kastle version of the Attack 13 bindings separately  - assuming you're willing to pay the appropriate markup for their label on the binding).

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