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The intermediate ski... Is it necessary?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

My friend and I have discussed this topic for a while. He was new to skiing, never skied before (early 20's). I was getting back into skiing after a 16 year hiatus having skied less than 30 times in my life.


He got the normal schpiel from the dealer saying that one should progress from beginner through intermediate and then on to more expert skis. 

 

He is decently athletic and progressed pretty quickly from slope rentals into his set of intermediate skis around the $600 range (he got them used so it was cheaper). 

 

Though they were somewhat stiffer than his beginner skis, they didn't seem much different, and he was having issues with chatter as he would push the skis harder. I jumped right from slope rentals straight into an "advanced" level ski, which are still my Monster iM78 and paid less than he did for his intermediates.
I had started back into skiing later than he did, but passed him up once I got to the advanced level of ski.

 

Long story short, he sold his intermediates and bought a pair of Elan Amphibio 12's and didn't look back. The better materials/technology, or perhaps just the titanal layers are what made the most difference and he has progressed far more on his advanced skis at a more rapid pace and has since passed me up since he skis more often.

 

So we both felt, with our limited experience over less than 2 seasons (10 outings), that there isn't much difference between a beginner and an intermediate ski, and once you are confident on rentals or equivalent one might as well jump straight to an advanced ski. His other siblings followed the same logic and most went from rentals to a ski with some form of titanal layer.

 

That said we are eastern hardpack skiers, where metal layers in the skis make a huge difference in grip with our regular icy conditions.

We are also not experts in skis or skiing, (though we can handle pretty much anything the east coast has).

 

Has this been anyone else's experience? Or is there a case for the intermediate level ski?

 

2 years ago I had to drop down to an intermediate level ski when I left mine at home, and immediately missed the edge grip I was used to. It made me wonder if I was relying too much on the ski rather than my technique.


Edited by Spring1898 - 6/12/16 at 4:25pm
post #2 of 29
Rentals are not all beginners skis. they rent the whole range of skis. if you remove that assumption then I think your case is moot.

but you are right that advanced skis don't necessarily mean it requires high skill. more and more an advanced ski are easy to ski and an intermediate can still ski them.

I think definitely there is some marketing up sell where they label allmtn skis advanced and expert not because they require that level of skill, but to make people feel better about their purchase and think they are better skiers and a bit of ego strokin. keep that in mind. if you were to strap on race skis that do require adv or expert skills you would get frustrated quite quickly.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 

Good point, I meant to say the slope rental shops, which generally seem only to rent one class of ski. Usually elan where I am

post #4 of 29

The other assumption that is on shaky ground is the idea that people progress from a beginner to intermediate to advanced skill set. The reality is that the vast bulk of skiers in the world are terminal intermediates. They have been intermediates for years, and they will never progress beyond that point. I'd say its well north of 80% of skiers, maybe up to 90% of skiers fit into this category. It's true that there are some types of advanced level skis that are more intermediate friendly than they once were. But there should still be a large segment of the industry for skis that are specifically geared for the skiing most people actually do. 

post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 

That is also a good point, but I think the main point being called into question is whether one needs to be an advanced level skier to use an advanced level ski (the very loose definition here being one with titanal or equivalent layers), and whether one needs to be an advanced level skier to encounter the limitations of the intermediate ski or experience the benefits of an advanced level ski.

 

The iM78's have 2 layers, I believe. They are about 7.5lbs apiece with bindings. 

My friend's amphibio 12's have only a single titanal layer, but are noticeably lighter, and not much heavier than some non-metal layer skis.

The difference in grip and performance from a single layer in our experience is substantial. This comparing a $600 and a $700 pair of intermediate skis with no layers to his amphibios. The 2nd layer primarily seems to add more stability at higher speed than the single layer provides.

Also, those in our group who bypassed the intermediate ski did not find the advanced skis particularly difficult to use.

 

Although, I wonder how the newer tech like graphene and other carbon fiber which is making its way into intermediate level skis will change the concept of an intermediate ski.

post #6 of 29

Advanced skis are much more forgiving than they used to be and many are suitable for experts and intermediates alike. Race and cheater race skis are still hard for non-advanced skiers to use. Also, stiffer skis will be difficult for intermediates in the bumps, powder, and crud. Ability level is also not the sole determinant of what level of ski to buy--heavier intermediates may do fine on stiff skis while a light weight expert may be happy on a softer ski. Finally, not all advanced skis have metal, especially in the powder category.

post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post
 

That is also a good point, but I think the main point being called into question is whether one needs to be an advanced level skier to use an advanced level ski (the very loose definition here being one with titanal or equivalent layers), and whether one needs to be an advanced level skier to encounter the limitations of the intermediate ski or experience the benefits of an advanced level ski.

 

The iM78's have 2 layers, I believe. They are about 7.5lbs apiece with bindings. 

My friend's amphibio 12's have only a single titanal layer, but are noticeably lighter, and not much heavier than some non-metal layer skis.

The difference in grip and performance from a single layer in our experience is substantial. This comparing a $600 and a $700 pair of intermediate skis with no layers to his amphibios. The 2nd layer primarily seems to add more stability at higher speed than the single layer provides.

Also, those in our group who bypassed the intermediate ski did not find the advanced skis particularly difficult to use.

 

Although, I wonder how the newer tech like graphene and other carbon fiber which is making its way into intermediate level skis will change the concept of an intermediate ski.

 

That's a very loose definition. There are some pretty serious skis out there with no metal in them whatsoever, and some fairly middle of the road skis that do have metal. 

 

Does one need to be an advanced level skier to use an advanced level ski? Depends on the ski, and the skier. Some skis are more forgiving by their nature, even when they are more geared toward advanced skiers. A long radius, big mountain ski can be piloted by an intermediate skier without too  much trouble. An FIS slalom ski will probably kill the same intermediate skier. Both may be geared toward advanced skiers, but their characteristics are different, making their applicability for intermediates different. 

 

The real difference when you go from beginner to intermediate to advanced type skis is the forgiveness of the ski and the performance of the ski. The size of the sweet spot is inversely proportional to its performance. A beginner ski is very forgiving, so it has a large sweet spot, at the cost of the overall performance of the ski being not great. An advanced ski has a small sweet spot, and requires much more accurate input to make it work correctly, but performs extremely well when piloted well. Intermediate skis split the difference between the two, having a middle of the road sweet spot while delivering middle of the road performance. 

 

Again, these differences manifest themselves across the spectrum of a similar type of ski. When you start talking about carving skis vs powder skis, all mountain skis vs park skis, it all breaks down. An advanced park ski is more forgiving than an intermediate carver. But the general idea holds true. 

post #8 of 29

I am probably one of those people that will never advance out of the intermediate category and I suspect the best I'll ever be is an advanced intermediate due to the amount of time I am able to ski.  I demo'd both the Rossi Sin 7 and Soul 7 this winter in Aspen and found both skis be great and I had no trouble with either skiing both groomed, and fresh powder. I'm sure there are some intermediate skis out there that would benefit me but I've never tried them and my experience has been going from renting entry level ski's demo's only now and I'll never go back.

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post
 

Hello all,

My friend and I have discussed this topic for a while. He was new to skiing, never skied before (early 20's). I was getting back into skiing after a 16 year hiatus having skied less than 30 times in my life.


He got the normal schpiel from the dealer saying that one should progress from beginner through intermediate and then on to more expert skis. 

 

He is decently athletic and progressed pretty quickly from slope rentals into his set of intermediate skis around the $600 range (he got them used so it was cheaper). 

 

Though they were somewhat stiffer than his beginner skis, they didn't seem much different, and he was having issues with chatter as he would push the skis harder. I jumped right from slope rentals straight into an "advanced" level ski, which are still my Monster iM78 and paid less than he did for his intermediates.
I had started back into skiing later than he did, but passed him up once I got to the advanced level of ski.

 

Long story short, he sold his intermediates and bought a pair of Elan Amphibio 12's and didn't look back. The better materials/technology, or perhaps just the titanal layers are what made the most difference and he has progressed far more on his advanced skis at a more rapid pace and has since passed me up since he skis more often.

 

So we both felt, with our limited experience over less than 2 seasons (10 outings), that there isn't much difference between a beginner and an intermediate ski, and once you are confident on rentals or equivalent one might as well jump straight to an advanced ski. His other siblings followed the same logic and most went from rentals to a ski with some form of titanal layer.

 

That said we are eastern hardpack skiers, where metal layers in the skis make a huge difference in grip with our regular icy conditions.

We are also not experts in skis or skiing, (though we can handle pretty much anything the east coast has).

 

Has this been anyone else's experience? Or is there a case for the intermediate level ski?

 

2 years ago I had to drop down to an intermediate level ski when I left mine at home, and immediately missed the edge grip I was used to. It made me wonder if I was relying too much on the ski rather than my technique.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post
 

That is also a good point, but I think the main point being called into question is whether one needs to be an advanced level skier to use an advanced level ski (the very loose definition here being one with titanal or equivalent layers), and whether one needs to be an advanced level skier to encounter the limitations of the intermediate ski or experience the benefits of an advanced level ski.

 

The iM78's have 2 layers, I believe. They are about 7.5lbs apiece with bindings. 

My friend's amphibio 12's have only a single titanal layer, but are noticeably lighter, and not much heavier than some non-metal layer skis.

The difference in grip and performance from a single layer in our experience is substantial. This comparing a $600 and a $700 pair of intermediate skis with no layers to his amphibios. The 2nd layer primarily seems to add more stability at higher speed than the single layer provides.

Also, those in our group who bypassed the intermediate ski did not find the advanced skis particularly difficult to use.

 

Although, I wonder how the newer tech like graphene and other carbon fiber which is making its way into intermediate level skis will change the concept of an intermediate ski.

Even if you look at the marketing description, there are very few that are only "intermediate."  Most, if not all, will be described as "beginner to intermediate" or "intermediate to advanced."

 

Have you done a demo day?  Meaning a free one where it's possible to get on 4-5 pairs of skis.

 

When you or your friend changed skis, were they the same length?  Typically people who buy beginner skis get them relatively short.  When they move to a ski designed for intermediates and up, often they get something longer.

post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 

Yes we both used the 170cm range of skis.

Have not done a demo day, they don't come up with great frequency and as I am 1.5 hours from a decent slope chances are they happen when I am not out skiing. 

 

I was also using 160cm beginner skis.

 

So far on the advanced side I have tried my Head Monsters, Amphibio 12, Blackeye Ti of the last 3 generations. So not a real wide test. Monster's have been my favorite so far.

 

I generally agree with how vague the marketing description is which is why I chose layering as a definition (of mainstream groomer skis, as mentioned western or powder, and slalom and racing are a different animal). Usually when I look through the ski lines offered by companies, that is how I see them set up. Beginner skis, intermediate with no layering (or carbon fiber now) and then those that have metal layering.

post #11 of 29

People have already called it above - no one really sells skis that are truly badged intermediatel - a better conceptual split is between "development" skis and "performance" skis where one can go depending on one's ego, skills and ambition.  So someone young and athletic with rapid skills development might be better served jumping onto a performance ski, someone older, more hesitant might find a broader performance spectrum  (easier turning, more forgiving) in a development ski.  Neither choice is wrong or unnecessary - people have always been caught out by jumping on performance skis before they had skills to match, equally some softer skis will hold aggressive skiers back. 

post #12 of 29

As already pointed out, most of the skiing public are intermediates and not so oddly most of the best selling skis appeal to a wide range of abilities. The intermediates go slower and ski on short skis and find them easy to turn, the advanced skier skis on the same ski on longer lengths for great stability at higher speeds. The longer ski might be too difficult for an intermediate to be comfortable turning, but not the advanced skier.

post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by drewder View Post

I am probably one of those people that will never advance out of the intermediate category and I suspect the best I'll ever be is an advanced intermediate due to the amount of time I am able to ski.  I demo'd both the Rossi Sin 7 and Soul 7 this winter in Aspen and found both skis be great and I had no trouble with either skiing both groomed, and fresh powder. I'm sure there are some intermediate skis out there that would benefit me but I've never tried them and my experience has been going from renting entry level ski's demo's only now and I'll never go back.

Honestly, those two are spot on for a forgiving ski that will accommodate light experts and pretty much any intermediate. They both can make very good touring skis as well.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post
 

As already pointed out, most of the skiing public are intermediates and not so oddly most of the best selling skis appeal to a wide range of abilities. The intermediates go slower and ski on short skis and find them easy to turn, the advanced skier skis on the same ski on longer lengths for great stability at higher speeds. The longer ski might be too difficult for an intermediate to be comfortable turning, but not the advanced skier.

I don't think it is as simple as that with the retail skis;  but as far as the rental fleet goes it might be.  

So even if the rental fleet only has 1 model of ski.  If you're the 1st time skiing, you get shorter ski, then as you get better and are "intermediate" you rent a longer ski.  So the Longer ski in the fleet works as the "intermediate".  Then after you're hooked on skiing you go out and buy an "advanced" labelled ski.   So for the OP, there is a progression people do with rentals and they aren't all just the same.

post #15 of 29
When I started skiing 7 years ago, the rental shops put me onto 180 cm skis, the longest they usually had, as I am 6'6" and 225 lb. Paradoxically, as I got better, one resort had an enlightened employee that went back into a different room and came out with a 177 cm or so Volkl (I think an AC model, does that sound right?). Best day of skiing I had to the point, which made me realize it was time to buy my own skis. That was 4 years ago and I skied an Experience 83 in 184 cm for several years. Last season I moved up to an advanced level 186 cm ski and loved it, but I'm not so sure I would have been able to handle it well back then. I've also moved up (and down) in boots from Lange RX 100 in 31.5 to RS 130 in 30.5. I think the time period required for true intermediate skis and boots is pretty short if you aspire to ski at higher levels. You quickly out grow them, but I think they are a necessary evil for the sake of learning. Fortunately, I was able to sell mine to fund the RS 130's. biggrin.gif
post #16 of 29


ski'd the Soul 7 on a powder day and then the Sin 7 for the rest of the trip.  I'd buy the Sin 7 if I could justify getting out to ski more.

post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post

The better materials/technology, or perhaps just the titanal layers are what made the most difference and he has progressed far more on his advanced skis at a more rapid pace and has since passed me up since he skis more often.

So we both felt, with our limited experience over less than 2 seasons (10 outings), that there isn't much difference between a beginner and an intermediate ski, and once you are confident on rentals or equivalent one might as well jump straight to an advanced ski. His other siblings followed the same logic and most went from rentals to a ski with some form of titanal layer.

That said we are eastern hardpack skiers, where metal layers in the skis make a huge difference in grip with our regular icy conditions.

Hmmm...what no one has mentioned is that the tune on rental fleet skis is usually not great. For a lot of beginning skiers it's pretty negligible, but once you become an advancing intermediate it makes a huge difference. Especially if you are talking about skiing on Eastern hard pack and ice, you really want edges nicely tuned and have a decent waxing. I'll bet many of those beginner and intermediate skis would feel very different to you when properly tuned.

Demo skis (sometimes termed "high performance" rentals) are usually tuned and waxed a bit better, but not always.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post


The iM78's have 2 layers, I believe. They are about 7.5lbs apiece with bindings. 
My friend's amphibio 12's have only a single titanal layer, but are noticeably lighter, and not much heavier than some non-metal layer skis.
The difference in grip and performance from a single layer in our experience is substantial. This comparing a $600 and a $700 pair of intermediate skis with no layers to his amphibios. The 2nd layer primarily seems to add more stability at higher speed than the single layer provides.
Also, those in our group who bypassed the intermediate ski did not find the advanced skis particularly difficult to use.

Although, I wonder how the newer tech like graphene and other carbon fiber which is making its way into intermediate level skis will change the concept of an intermediate ski.

The retail price of a ski is a moving target. A ski may have a listed price of $600 or $700, but chances are that's not what is typically paid for that ski. Often advanced/expert skis are listed at $1000 but sell at retail for $600 or $700 in prime selling season, less at the end of the season. "Intermediate" skis will be less.

Not an expert here, so take this a few dozen grains of salt. My understanding is that metal layers (usually Titanal, which is a fancy way of saying aluminum) improve dampness and torsional rigidity, but do not necessarily make for better edge grip than a comparably stiff non-metal ski. Carbon fiber is lighter and still maintains strength, stiffness and torsional rigidity, however some people like the feel of a heavier ski. I think it's a matter of personal preference, either for an intermediate or an advanced or expert skier. I tend to like lighter skis that also have decent dampening properties.

The best advice I can give is that whatever ski you find yourself on in the beginning, or coming back after a few years away, will be an experiment. It may be the "wrong" ski for you, and after a while you'll get other skis because you've learned more about yourself, what you like in a ski, and what you aspire to.
post #18 of 29

If money is not a major obstacle (which would be the case with an intermediate buying advanced),  it would make more sense to buy the best fitting  boots and advanced all mountain seasonal rentals.  My wife is advanced but not too aggressive and loves her light Black Pearl skis.

 

Take a demo on some ice or hard pack and lay into some hard turns.   If your legs are toast after a few runs you'll either love or hate it.

 

If you can't turn down a steep groomer without bailing sideways, you are probably better off with a more forgiving ski. 

 

The ski shop wanted to give my 9 year old the same generic seasonal rentals he had when he was 8.  After my prodding, they found some better and longer Rosis with good boots.  No problem on the steep groomers.  He needs some work on steep moguls and powder, so I might bump him up just a bit this year but not so much to tire his legs out.

 

I just get whatever $500 last year demos the shop has that gets decent reviews and ski them over rocks until something breaks.

post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 

Wow, I go away for 2 days and there is a lot of good info here.

 

Our suspicion has always been that it comes down to cost. I would guess that a majority of skiers are not educated on the concepts of ski construction. 
Because of their 'terminal intermediate' status (I do not yet consider myself advanced) or more casual approach to skiing would not be willing to spend upwards of $1000 on an advanced ski. $400-600 or so seems like a reasonable compromise?


We were not willing to pay up either, and so we go the used route which has continually paid off.

He paid $400 for a near new pair of Amphibios
I paid $225 shipped for my iM78's which were also near new.

 

Last season I bought 3 pairs of the last 3 generations of Atomic Blackeye Ti skis to try out (my friend and I always wanted to see what they were like), including a like new pair of 15/16. All for under $600. Took them all out on a ski trip and I sold the pair of 2013's to a different friend, and the 15's to someone on ebay.

 Between those two alone, I got my money back.

(Someone told me that they were good but kind of bland, and I now agree)

post #20 of 29
Those of us who've been skiing 40 years don't spend $1000 either. My last pair of new in plastic skis and bindings including mounting was under $500. Just picked up a pair of unmounted new skis for my daughter for $209. Buying skis from past seasons and watching sales is the trick. Make a shortlist then wait to pounce.
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post
 

(Someone told me that they were good but kind of bland, and I now agree)

 

Don't forget to demo some of the new Monsters next season, you'll like them.

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

Those of us who've been skiing 40 years don't spend $1000 either. My last pair of new in plastic skis and bindings including mounting was under $500. Just picked up a pair of unmounted new skis for my daughter for $209. Buying skis from past seasons and watching sales is the trick. Make a shortlist then wait to pounce.
You're exactly right. I have $450 in my new Rebel ispeed GS 180 ski. $550 in my new Rebel SL 170. And I bit the bullet for a new pair of Kastle mx88 for $750. Those skis will sell $ 1,000 at discount next season. I never would have been able to afford any of these skis at their regular selling price during the winter. All of these skis are somewhat changed for next year but not really that much of a difference. It has been a great summer for buying gear.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by XLTL View Post

When I started skiing 7 years ago, the rental shops put me onto 180 cm skis, the longest they usually had, as I am 6'6" and 225 lb. Paradoxically, as I got better, one resort had an enlightened employee that went back into a different room and came out with a 177 cm or so Volkl (I think an AC model, does that sound right?). Best day of skiing I had to the point, which made me realize it was time to buy my own skis. That was 4 years ago and I skied an Experience 83 in 184 cm for several years. Last season I moved up to an advanced level 186 cm ski and loved it, but I'm not so sure I would have been able to handle it well back then. I've also moved up (and down) in boots from Lange RX 100 in 31.5 to RS 130 in 30.5. I think the time period required for true intermediate skis and boots is pretty short if you aspire to ski at higher levels. You quickly out grow them, but I think they are a necessary evil for the sake of learning. Fortunately, I was able to sell mine to fund the RS 130's. biggrin.gif
It definitely can be shortened by having the right gear.
post #24 of 29
Thread Starter 
I really want to get my hands on the head prestige (former head chip) but it has predominantly been a European ski and very expensive.
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post

I really want to get my hands on the head prestige (former head chip) but it has predominantly been a European ski and very expensive.

There's a pair of head chip skis on eBay ship from Europe for about $425. And I saw a new pair for 1900. Wow
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring1898 View Post
 

Yes we both used the 170cm range of skis.

Have not done a demo day, they don't come up with great frequency and as I am 1.5 hours from a decent slope chances are they happen when I am not out skiing. 

 

I was also using 160cm beginner skis.

 

So far on the advanced side I have tried my Head Monsters, Amphibio 12, Blackeye Ti of the last 3 generations. So not a real wide test. Monster's have been my favorite so far.

 

I generally agree with how vague the marketing description is which is why I chose layering as a definition (of mainstream groomer skis, as mentioned western or powder, and slalom and racing are a different animal). Usually when I look through the ski lines offered by companies, that is how I see them set up. Beginner skis, intermediate with no layering (or carbon fiber now) and then those that have metal layering.

A demo day that allows people to check out multiple ski models usually only happens once a season, perhaps twice in snow country.  I drive 4 hours to my "home mountain."  So I make an effort in the fall to find out the dates for regional demo days in order to plan to make it to as many as I can.

 

For more thoughts about demo days:

http://www.epicski.com/t/142999/what-is-a-demo-day-for-skis-a-beginner-zone-thread

post #27 of 29
Well, we have one "free" demo day here, but the shop at the mountain has demos during the season, as many skis as you can swap in and out in a day, for $50. I'd do it more often if it didn't involve walking up and down stairs each time. There's always some excuse to NOT do it. 🤔
post #28 of 29
I think that a true advanced to expert level ski will not be enjoyable for a beginner, early intermediate. The key word is fun, whether it is playful kind of fun or hard charging fun is up to the individual. More than a particular label, matching a ski to your style and the conditions will be the most enjoyable.

A good skier will be able to make the most out of any ski. For a beginner, enjoying a day of skiing is more relevant than using advanced gear. But, I'd say that 90% of the people struggling on the mountain with gear are having boot issues, not ski issues.
post #29 of 29
... and to add, IMHO, there are some fantastic 'intermediate' skis out there that offer excellent performance at a great price point. As an example, I challenge anyone to take a Noridica Nrgy 80 out for a day and tell me they didn't have fun! Personally, I could easily teach and train on the Nrgy 80 if a point needed to be made about the versatility and 'range' this type of ski offers. Others? Dynastar Powertrack 84, Rossi Experience 84, Head Monster 83 for bigger guys, etc...
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