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Should I Upgrade?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am in my second season of skiing - I'm 36 male 5'9" 160lb. Spend most of my time on groomed blue/black but starting to venture off the groomed paths a bit. Early in my first season I wanted to get more consistent equipment quality without investing a ton of money right off. Bought Rossi Salto boots which were reasonably comfortable entry level boots. My skis are K2 Patriot G4s at 183cm. Got good deals for them both at a local shop.

I have been happy with my choice for the most part. I do notice that as I pick up speed on steeper terrain or cruddy conditions that I feel the boot support lacking at times. I also notice that the side cut of the skis are not as pronounced as most current models and wonder what kind of difference I would notice by moving to a more "radical" side cut ski.

So... should I resist the continual temptation to upgrade? I don't think I would be unhappy keeping the equipment I have. Or would the difference in performance be that pronounced with an upgrade in equipment? How so? If so, what equipment should I consider?

post #2 of 16
Keep the equipment. Spend the money on multi-day lessons instead. Maybe get some footbeds. Try the cut to fit ones first, they may be fine for you.
post #3 of 16

I'm with MilesB.

Your skiing will improve fast if you concentrate on technique. Skiing is a technical sport, much like swimming.

Technique or lack thereof makes all the difference. Focus on learning the primary movements of skiing along with balance. Concentrate on learning to balance on your skis.

You know me and what I believe in. Lito's site is great, so is Harb's.

Happy turns!

Edit: One thing. If you're not really happy with your boots, really happy being defined as comfy and warm, I'd make a change. As much as I believe in technique, if your feet are cold and hurting, you can't ski well.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 03, 2002 04:22 PM: Message edited 1 time, by SCSA ]</font>
post #4 of 16
What milesb said. If you still have money left over from the camp, make a trip out to Utah or Colorado, that will improve your skiing more than new pair of skis.
post #5 of 16
"If the boot don't fit, you ski like Sh%t" - or whatever that Johnny Chochran guy said. Yes, boots that are perfect are the beginning. Then learning the technique means something. Then some more experience. THEN you'll be able better to appreciate new skis.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input. My boots are comfortable and warm, but I was just concerned that entry level boots may not be as responsive. Speaking of Harb -- HH's book stresses how inadequate equipment can keep even beginners with good instruction from progressing. My own gut feeling was not to spend more money on equipment but it is good to hear that you all think so as well.

I do always find that multi-day trips of skiing helps me improve, but taking lessons every day doesn't give me enough time to practice and incorporate lesson material. So I end up taking a lesson every 3-5 skiing days.

Do you really think that a trip to Colorado/Utah would help improvement more than a local trip to Sugarloaf/Sunday River here in Maine? I doubt it, even in a relatively lean snow year like this one. Snow is snow, right?

Thanks again for the input!
post #7 of 16

One thing I would try ..... tighten up your boots by wearing a bit heavier sock. Many choose their first boot based on "comfort" vs performance. I am not familiar with the Salto but at 160 pounds I doubt if you are overpowering the boots. If the "tighter" boot" gives you more control, it may be time to do some very careful boot shopping. Often the heavier sock will cause some pain but remember, you are trying to isolate a control issue. Bring your normal socks and switch back after answering the question.

Demos some skis with more sidecut. Make a few calls to some of your local areas and find out when the demo truck will be there. For free ..... you will be able to test varied sizes and lengths of ski ...... my bet will be that you end up with a 170ish ski.

Heck, if you get lucky and hit the last demo day they will be getting rid of the goodies for cheaps!
post #8 of 16
There are "Gold Medal Demo" shops that let you demo top skis that Ski Magazine has chosen as Gold Medal skis. Also, many if not most ski shops let you [for a price, of course] demo skis. Sometimes, if you demo skis from them and then BUY skis from them, they will give you a deal. Better ask first. But one of the most interesting experiences that you can have will be trying out different skis - different models, different lengths. It's a great education, and it's FUN!!!
post #9 of 16
First things first. Get your boots sorted out. It there is even a tiny bit of heel lift or lateral movement of you foot inside your boot while you ski, then your not going to progress quickly at all. You'll absolutely get better performance out of a boot with a custom foot-bed, skip the skinny off the shelf variety and get at least a set of DFP's or Conformables. Do this with the most experiences boot-fitter you can find.

The day you tried on your new boots in the store, hopefully the salesperson took the liner out and had you insert your bare foot into the shell. Then he/she asked you to touch the from of the boot with your big toe. Then to flex your knee. They then measured the space between your heel and the shell. Ideally in a well fit boot you want about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch back there.

The deal is that the padding in the liner compresses around your foot as you ski (you mnight have heard the term 'memory foam'). As this material compresses you get extra volume in the boot. This translates to the movement I was talking about earlier. You move your knee and ankle, in effect 'instructing the ski' by tipping it up on edge or steering. If your foot moves, some of that instruction is lost and your ski doesnt react as you intended. It's a little slower and your skiing experience is diminished.

The good news is that the new footbed can be molded and shaped in a way to absorb some of that excess volume. You reaslly don't want to do that with a sock as the sock material will compress during the day.

I wear a 9.5 street shoe and I buy a size 8 ski boot. The first three days are hell. I get in a few hours around the house, then a half day on the hill and switch back to my old boots. Do that for a few days and at the end I have a perfectly packed out boot. the foam is as packed as it can get and it won't deviate for a few years (I replace boots about every 5 years it seems, not sure I could handle the first three days any more often, it really does suck). After that, wearing the thinnest sock I can find (Wigwam Ultimax has been my pick the last two seasons) I get the foot beds done.

By the way, an 8 shell serves both the 8 and the 8.5 sizes. A 9 shell serves both the 9 & 6.5 sizes. I want a super close fit so I'm dropping to the next lower shell size. I choose the thicker liner as it will take and hold it's shape the best.

I am admitedly very, very picky about my gear. I'm also an ex-patroller from a mid-western urban ski area where on a weekend you could pull a 14 hour ski shift. Ski boot's for 14 hours is something everyone should try at least once...

My rule of thumb! A good boot and a good tune can make a mediocre ski, ski like a dream. A bad tune and or bad fitting boot can make a great ski feel like crap!

Oh by the way - do the Western trip! Salt Lake is easy from Boston and Solitude and Brighton are great areas. They don't get the reputation of the other front range areas, Alta and Snowbird, but they also get way, way less traffic and hey - you went to ski, not stand in line, eh! My wife and I had a great experience with the Brighton ski school. Took a gal (Jenni-fur) out for a private in the morning and kept her all day. That foot bed and maybe a power strap will set you back $100 (don't buy the cork ones yet!) The private lesson will set you back $100 to $140 depending on the are and how well you tip ... do tip these folks don't make all that much money for the most part...although it is a whole lot more than the patroller's make! That trip plus the $250 will do more for your skiing than anything else you can do right now. By the way, Salt Lake has historically been a cheap rental car market. We generally rent a car and stay at a Hampton Inn in Sandy or Murray which is south western Salt Lake as I recall. It's been a couple of years since we have been there. SLC can be a real good low dough trip. Cheaper than summit county and in general less skier traffic.

If you have a decent shell fit then it will improve you boot's performance and you'll have more fun. While you're out west, scope the used stores for some new higher performance boots. If you follow my thoughts above and have a buddy and a 3/4 inch dowel, you can probable score a boot to carry you a little farther for very low dough. While you're at the area or have the opportunity to visit a ski shop, you might get someone to look at the shape of your foot and make some suggestions about the boot manufacture'r they recommend. In general for a narrow shapeless foot, Raichle and Lange. For a widish foot overall Technica, a wideish fore foot Salomon. Nordica seems to be a pretty average volume overall. I'm no boot fitter though and someone who does this a lot will be very helpful. Good knowledge to have if you'll be trolling through the used gear places...
post #10 of 16
If you're the person headed to summit county, The Racers Edge at Breckenridge has served me well in the past. Give 'em a shot with the fitting.

GART in downtown Denver used to have a pretty complete used section. Maybe one of the locals can chime in wth used shop sugg's.

Best! Mal
post #11 of 16
gForce, I know it's easier to blame equipment, but your description of your problem sounds to me like you need to improve your technique.

The Patriot is a fine ski, plenty of performance there for an Advanced (Level 7) skier.

Don't know about the Salto boots, but if they fit well, I doubt they are the problem.

Speaking of Harb -- HH's book stresses how inadequate equipment can keep even beginners with good instruction from progressing.

An important thing to remember about Harald the Heralded -- he is in the business of selling his service. The statement on equipment is partly correct, and partly an enticement to seek his assistance. Don't use his statement as an absolute truth. Whether your equipment truly is holding you back is a very subjective thing, and a qualified top-level instructor can tell you quickly whether those Salto boots are inadequate. Harb has some nice ideas, but he's not just a casual observer. He's a salesman.

I agree with milesb -- spend some $$ on lessons, preferably private ones with a known quality instructor. Ask for the Ski School director, or check the list of teaching pros here on this website.

Do you really think that a trip to Colorado/Utah would help improvement more than a local trip to Sugarloaf/Sunday River here in Maine?

I don't think it will improve your technique, but it sure will improve your fun! Snow in the West is much softer and what you are used to calling "hardpack," the Western skier usually calls "ice." The Rockies rarely see the type of ice seen on the East Coast. Because of the increase in snow quality, you might find that you work out your problem in the West, only to find you need more work on the hard Eastern snow. I would suggest a local lesson. Look up Todd Murchison in the list of ski pros here. He's in Vermont, and is a very fine instructor. That's an easy drive from Down East, but it might be wicked from Caribou or thereabouts.

Good luck! With some work you'll learn how to handle the terrain that's been giving you grief.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 04, 2002 08:40 AM: Message edited 1 time, by gonzostrike ]</font>
post #12 of 16
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gonzostrike:
Do you really think that a trip to Colorado/Utah would help improvement more than a local trip to Sugarloaf/Sunday River here in Maine?

I don't think it will improve your technique, but it sure will improve your fun!

Apart from improving fun factor it will make your skiing more versatile. It is also my opinion (hate to start old debate East vs. West) that trails are more difficult out West, so get to push yourself a little bit more. You will also get to ski softer snow conditions, which to me is way more fun than working on carving ice.

Also you get to experience different environment - there is nothing like openning a trail map and only seeing lifts mapped on it and occasional difficulty sign to indicate steepness. You get to the top of the tram at Snowbird and there are hundreds of ways to get to the bottom. You can ski it all day long and not go down the same way twice. It also comes with a bonus, which is if you screw up you can end up where you should not be, so you have to pay attention. But that freedom if you will is what make it worth while for me to get out there.
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hmmm... I guess it does sound like I am blaming my equipment. I realize that instruction is a key part of my continued progress and I do take lessons routinely (as I said above). There are some hobbies that seem to be magnets for what I call "gear queers" -- like photography, cycling, and, yes, skiing. My goal is to resist the tempatation for more unneccessary stuff, but was trying to get a feel for what kind of response I would get from members of this forum.

I am planning a trip to Summit County later this month so maybe I'll give a first-hand East vs West report when I get back. I mostly ski at Sugarloaf here in Maine which from what I can tell holds its own in terms of variety and difficulty of terrain. I am looking forward to experiencing the difference in snow quality, though it seems that snow quantity is lacking in Summit County this year. Hopefully this will change before I get out there. In terms of its impact on skills, I would think that skiing more challenging conditions would help develop skills. We'll see...
post #14 of 16

absolutely correct about Gear Whoring. I am guilty of the same thing regarding skiing and mtb riding.

my rule of thumb is simple - do the "I want" versus "I need" analysis.

since we are a capitalistic, material-driven society, advertisers and mfrs have created the term "upgrade" to make you believe that what you own at present somehow is deficient - the "down" that is opposite the "up" in "upgrade." this theory helps sell more products.

in my 2 biggest hobbies, skiing & cycling, I see too many people using products well ahead of their abilities. usually it's based upon a combination of ego and "upgrade-itis." now, some will argue that if a product makes you happier, and adds to your enjoyment, that's the way to go. I suppose it comes down to money and where you ought to spend it. as long as you are honest with yourself in the "wants vs needs" analysis, you will have few post-purchase regrets.
post #15 of 16
Alright, gonzo has coaxed it out of me. I guess that's why he's a lawyer.


I'm a gear whore too.

Gonzo, do we need to start some sort of support group?

I just saw a peak of next years Head intelligence skis - I have to have them.
post #16 of 16
gForce, sounds like you have good equipment and your experience may be similar to mine...

I'm 35, 5'11", 210 lbs, very athletic (ex bike racer) and in my second year of skiing. I bought demo 178cm Volkl G-20 all mtn skis and Salomon X-Wave 9.0 boots to learn on at the beginning of last year, skied about 60-70 days, mostly at Butternut Basin in MA and other NE areas, then "upgraded" to 186cm Salomon Super Mountains after we moved back to Seattle and skied on them maybe 5-6 times at the end of last season. I felt like I'd outgrown the Volkls and was held back by them. I demoed a few skis and felt that some of my skill deficiencies were related to the G20s'. I've been skiing on the Super Mountains maybe 12 times this year, I feel I've really progressed a lot in my skiing, and a few weeks ago I went back to the Volkl G20's just out of curiosity sake. Guess what. They ski great - I really like them. It was completely the skier, not the ski. I don't like them at high speeds and they aren't super quick edge to edge, but otherwise they're just fine. I've skied them for the last few weeks and have really enjoyed them. With new snow in the Cascades I'm going back to the Super Mountains, but it was a really enlightening experience and great affirmation that my skiing has really improved this second season.

Forget to add about boots. I had my boots worked on by Gregg Hoffman at Green Mt Orthotic Labs at Stratton midway thru my first ski season last year. Big difference. Had a little more work done this year by Brett Amsbury @ World Cup Skier in Bellevue WA, as my feet became more sensitive and I could feel some lateral movement in my ankle and a little bit of heel lift. Also made a big difference in bumps and rough snow conditions like crud.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 04, 2002 04:19 PM: Message edited 1 time, by darrellcraig ]</font>
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