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Mid-atlantic and south ski recommendation

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for some advice on all mountain skis for the West Virgina/North Carolina area. I'm an intermediate skier (approx level 6, 6 feet tall, 170lbs) and am looking for something to use in the crud that is southeastern skiing. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
post #2 of 6
I am about 5'11" and 180lbs and ski an Atomic R9 in 170cm with Marker Piston 1200 bindings and I absolutely love them for Eastern skiing. I was at Snowshoe this weekend for their demo days and of all the skis I tried, I liked mine the best (a comforting feeling). I skiied on groomed, ice, slush, bumps, crud, and POWDER and I felt that the R9 handled all very well. The piston binding eliminated any chatter and let the R9 hold to ice very well. That's my $0.02, I hope it is a help to you.
post #3 of 6
You asked about all mountain skis "for use in the crud that is SE skiing". Unfortunately, there are lots of types of "crud" around here.

Other geographic areas also get variable conditions, but we certainly get our fair share of them. You might have perfect groomers one day, then it rains. While raining, the conditions might still be quite good until night fall when the temps drop below freezing and the hill turns either to a tilted ice skating rink or a maze of ruts and coral reef. Another day, you might be skiing in a 6-12 inches of sopping wet, slurpy like new snow more typical of lower altitudes at Whistler. Last spring at Whitetail, I have postholed to a depth of 18" into snow that was rotted (ie, slurpy like) and melting fast.

Because of this variability, IMHO, the real dilema facing skiers around here is that the type of skis that are optimal when its groomed are nothing like the best skis for rock hard ice, which are nothing like the skis that are optimal when its deep slop. At least there is one set of conditions that we don't have to worry about: Cold dry powder.

IMHO, most modern groomer skis can be skied well on ice and icy crud if they are sharp and the pilot has the skills. I assume you probably already have a pair of skis like this, so I'm not going to try to deal with this category. Instead I'll focus on skis for soft crud.

There is nothing special about our soft crud, so skis that would be good for soft crud anywhere in the world would be fine to use around here. For example, about the only differences between crud here and in the PNW is that our runs are much more narrow and shorter, so we need to err on the side of shorter turning radius boards, while in the PNW, they regularly get deeper wet snow dumps, so they can make use of powder ski like widths in their crud.

IMHO, how wide to go is mostly determined by your weight. See this table to get an idea: Equivalent Float Chart . At 170 lbs, something in the high 70's (mm) or low 80's wide underfoot would probably work just fine for you.

OTOH, how stiff to go is determined both by your weight and speed/ability. Go stiffer if you like to make long radius arcs through pushpiles of wet spring slop at Mach 7. Go softer if you like to always feel totally in control through lots of turns around the pushpiles. Don't go too soft for your weight (even if you are very timid) or your skis will be too twitchy in irregular crud. As an intermediate, to give you a reference, skis like the g4/ax4 (82 mm underfoot) will definitely be too stiff for you. 10ex/Rex's (83 mm) are a bit softer, but probably still too stiff unless you are really agressive. I won't try to make any specific recommendations, but take a look at old gear discussions here as well as all the 75-85 mm models listed on Peter Keelty's site, www.ts2003.com . These days, there are lots of skis with moderate flex in this width range.

With respect to length, aim for something around 170-175 cm if you are considering a 75-80 mm wide ski. You can go as short as 165-170 cm if you go fatter, say, above 80 mm wide. Don't go under 165 on any ski for crud - you lose too much fore aft stability, and the ski just doesn't lay on enough snow at one time to do a good job averaging out the irregularities. Personally, if I were you, I would aim for a moderate flexing 170 that was around 80-85 mm wide. If you go fatter, the ride on soft crud will be smoother, but it will start to feel noticeably "fat" - high swing weight for pivoted turns, slower to edge, etc. If these things don't bother you in a crud-specific ski, IMHO, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with going up as high as 90 mm wide, but you will lose groomer performance.


Tom / PM
post #4 of 6
At your size and level, I would look into an all mountain ski like the K2 5500 in a 174. The dimensions are 107/68/97 and is especially made for intermediates that ski primarily groomers and are starting to venture into the off-piste areas (50%groomed, 50% off-piste). It would be a versatile ski for carving the groomed, skiing bumps, and plowing through crud that is piled at the side of the trails. The only concern would be its hard conditions performance. I suspect its frozen granular performance would be slightly better than the Axis X which is now the next level up the performance ladder. K2 no longer makes the regular Axis and is focusing on the 5500 for intermediates. The 5500 has won numerous awards and is widely known as a great bargain for improving and adventurous intermediates.

I am 6’ 175 and ski the slightly wider and stiffer Axis X in a 181 (107/70/97). I find it a perfect all-mountain ski for not only the West but also the South. It plows though crud, handles 8 inches of fresh with ease (deeper is work), carves moderately high speed arcs confidently, and is a decent bump ski. It is not great in truly hard conditions that are often found in the South but with good technique it’s acceptable.

I regularly ski in NC and find a mid-fat all mountain ski to be a very good choice for the conditions we find there. I also have a pair of Volant Chubbs which are 180s with 120/90/110 dimensions. I took them to Sugar last season for a test run. They work fine but are overkill for skiing resorts that are 100% groomed. Kind of like buying a Hummer and never taking it off the pavement.

I am looking for a shorty slalom as a back-up to the Axis X when conditions are frozen over. I have read many reports that say recreational slaloms like the Atomic 9.12 and Fischer WC SC are very good all-mountain skis that bite into ice yet are versatile enough to ski crud, bumps and even powder. Many suggest going to the bigger 170cm lengths for all mountain use. I would think a carving ski like the K2 Axis XR and Atomic C9 would be similar. A sport cross ski that has dimensions similar to an all mountain mid-fat like the Atomic SX:9 or the Dynastar Skicross 9 would be even more versatile (75% groomed, 25% 0ff-piste) than a carver and would also be an excellent choice for you.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
I appreciate everyone's recommendations and will start looking for a good deal.
post #6 of 6
Originally posted by boredtoo:
I appreciate everyone's recommendations and will start looking for a good deal.
You can combine both RG's and PM's advice by getting a slightly-on-the-soft side carver. Can't speak to the C9 per se, but the old 9.18 is -superb- around here, and the 8.18 would give you more tail compliance for the springy slush. There's plenty of deals to be had!
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