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How big a difference does it really make?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
First of, hello everyone this is my first time posting.

Some background about me. I learned to ski at a pretty young age in Salt Lake City, but have long sense moved away and rarely got the opportunity to ski while I was away. Now that I have recently finished college I have made it a priority to put in as many days as I can, and usually get back to SLC once or twice a year to put in a week of skiing. The rest of the time it appears I will be stuck on the hills in the midwest. I feel like I am a pretty strong intermediate, and with added on mountain time and a little more control in the bumps I could handle the easier black runs. My reference point being the Alta ski resort. I could comfortably handle every blue I skied, but I have never had mogul instruction and I think I am guilty of occasionaly overthinking my technique. I do feel like the majority of the time I am making more or less parallel carved turns. My aspirations are to become a competent all-mountain skier so I can enjoy 90-95% of the lift accessible terrain at these resorts.

My question then, is how big a difference would owning your own set of skies and boots likely make to a skier of my ability? Most of the equipment I use I think is poorly fitted to me since its mostly the mid-level junk from the local rental shop. I haven't gotten the opportunity to have a personalized rental experience so I have no reference point. I am willing to spend the money to purchase some decent gear, as I see it as a lifelong investment, but I am wondering if I have yet reached a level where having my own gear can really help.

For reference I am a little taller and skinny. 6'1" and about 155 pounds. If you have any gear recommendations (particularly bootwise) I would love to hear them, but I know that can be hard to make without knowing the actual skier.

Thanks in advance, and sorry about such a long post for such a short question.
post #2 of 29
If you buy one piece of equipment, buy boots which fit and are suited to your ability and physique. Skis can be rented anywhere, and make travel easier is you don't need to schlep 30 pounds of extra gear. If you need better SKIS you can rent high performance ones. Now, cost can be an issue. If you ski a lot, then after about 10 times, you could have paid off your own, especially now with autumn sales taking place. I won't make specific recommendations though.
post #3 of 29
onyxjl,

Welcome aboard. Hope you have fun with all the Bears.

Great questions. In a nutshell, owning your own equipment makes a world of difference. Rental gear is just that, rental gear. (As you aptly stated.) It is designed to be used by almost everyone. On the other hand your own gear is fit to you and that makes the big difference.

Yes, at your level your own equipment will make a difference. When you go out on the slope you will have a constant reference point. The equipment will not be changing everytime you take a lesson or try to practice. I don't know what other sports you particpate in, but imagine everytime you went out that the most critical parts of that sport changed. (Nomally not a good idea.)

Almost all instructors and skiiers will tell you that your boots are the most important purchase you will make. Don't skimp on the boots. They connect you to the ski. If they don't fit well, you won't ski at your best. Find a good bootfitter and take the time to get properly fitting boots. Check with your local skiiers/instructors and find out who they recommend. (Yes, the boots are suppose to feel that snug when you wear them.)

Also, consider getting good footbeds. You may not want or need high end footbeds to begin with, however, as your technique improves you may find that better footbeds improves your allignment and helps you ski better.

As far as skiis, find what you like and enjoy. It all depends on what feels good to you and what you want to do with them. I've got about five pair in my quiver. (120s for certain teaching appilcations, 175s for other teaching situations, and some new "play" skiis just for me. ) If you are like the others of us addicted to this "sport" skiis tend to just show up in the garage. (I think they multiply on their own.)

Again, welcome to the forum. I know you will get a bunch of other very smart people chiming in on this thread.
post #4 of 29
Agree with all that has been said so far. In order of priority: Boots, boots and boots! And most importantly, boots that are properly fit. I skied for years in ones that were not, and cannot imagine now how I did it. I think that your best option might be to visit one of the bootfitters recommended in the master bootfitters thread here http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=3986 on epicski (Steve Bagely at Snowbird comes to mind, since you said you will be coming to SLC, but there are numerous excellent ones out there) and let them make the suggestions as to what will work best for you, rather than start with firmly held conjecture. I would also suggest reading the article on bootfitting found here http://www.epicski.com/Content/SkiAn...otfitting1.htm to get some good background information about what goes into proper bootfitting.
There are often some great deals on skis here on epic as well, but clearly the feet come first.
post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl
My question then, is how big a difference would owning your own set of skies and boots likely make to a skier of my ability? .
100%
post #6 of 29
Owning your own boots is essential. Rental boots are purposely made for a sloppy fit in order to accommodate everyone with minimal pain and minimal attention from the shop personnel. Getting a boot that fits properly will greatly improve your control over your skis.

You can rent decent quality skis. Many ski areas have a 'sport' ski like the K2 4 R which are good skis. Even if you rent decent skis there are downsides. Many shops do not keep their rental skis tuned which effects their performance. There is also the problem that each shop had different models so you're always having to spend time adjusting to the rental skis.
post #7 of 29
Like every body else has already said. It makes a big difference. Properly fitted boots and footbeds should come first. As for ski's, if you only ski a few times a year, you might be better off renting them, that way you will always have the best most up to date skis. Generally speaking renting about 10 to 20 times costs the same as buying depending on the deals you can get. I suggest renting from a shop that will allow you to credit some of the rental fee towards a purchase. Also note that you can rent top end skis now a days, not just mushy noodles.
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses, they are encouraging.

Getting a nice custom fit pair of boots does seem to make a lot of obvious sense, and it will definitely be my first step in the process. Hopefully it isn't too difficult to find a shop in the Chicago area with a competent bootfitter.

My biggest frustration with the rental equipment I have used has been the condition that it is in. The edges always seem to be rather dull and the bases are nicked up and badly in need of wax. It is nice to know that my troubles with equipment aren't neccessairly tied to bad technique.

Maybe I have just been renting skies from the wrong places though. Are there any tips the forum has for determining whether a rental shop is likely to be better than another over the phone? I don't always have the chance to visit the place first hand before I get there unfortunately. You can ask them if they tune thier skies and keep them in good condition, but it's not like any one of them is ever going to tell you no.
post #9 of 29
A place that has a top quality demo fleet can GENERALLY be relied upon to keep that fleet in ship-shape. After all, they have a lot invested in those skis, and want to sell them for top dollar @ seasons end.

They also want you to love the ski and buy it, which you're not apt to do if they send it out with a crappy tune.

Capisce?
post #10 of 29
Like everybody else says, I say the boots come first.
As for skis, even though I own my own, sometimes it is nice to demo a pair or rent a pair once in a while if I'm going to be doing something crazy for the day.

For the most part, however, nothing makes up for owning your own skis, tuned to your style. But if $$ is tight, start with a good pair of boots first and hold off on the skis until funds become available.
post #11 of 29
Chicago does have a couple good ski shops... search around the web and find them (I don't remember their names - sorry). I agree with getting boots first. before I really got in to skiing I'd either rent or borrow boots, both of which usually had me in the lodge by noon unable to feel my (wide) feet and swearing when the feeling came back to them. So, again, boots first - focus on fit/comfort, and them look for deals on last year's skis... I picked up some Intuitiv 74s that I'm dying to try for not too much earlier this fall...
post #12 of 29
You may want tocheck out Goskand Sports in Chicago. The owner used to compete on the Europa Cup circuit. They carry a lot of different brands of boots and skis.

An advantage of buying boots near where you are planning to vacation is that you can bring them back to the shop right away to get further dialed in, if needed. The downside of a resort area shop can be that depending on when you are going to ski the shops may be very, very busy. Best is to phone ahead and make a bootfitting reservation well in advance if skiing during the holidays.

As far as brands and models go, they just about all can be made to fit if the length is right. However, depending on your foot characteristics some will be a better fit right out of the box and require less modification. A good bootfitter can advise you on models whose various characteristics are best suited to your feet and your skiing style and level.
post #13 of 29

Hi fellow midwest person

Not sure where your located but I was up at this store in Chicago a few days ago and it was a truely excellent shop with great bootfitters.

It's called snowcrest and it's south of chicago in one of the burbs.

http://www.snowcrst.com/

They could certainly take care of you.

As you see on their web site, they have an indoor ski deck where they can double check any boot alignment in the place it really counts, how you whole body hooks up with the boots in a real ski situation.

I'm from Lafayette, IN. Where in the midwest do you hail from?

I went through a 2 pairs of boots before I got it right and 4 different footbed types. I ended up going with a bootfitter that outfits the number 3 ranked WC skier in the world. He is a master, but expensive.

In my case, my alignment was quite off. If you're not naturally aligned (about 80% of us), then your skis will not be neutral in their tipping and create all maner of havok in your skiing. So, ditto the other posts, buy boots and footbeds first.

On the rental issue for skis. I have bought and now have 4 sets of skis (I've skied 75 days in 1.5 years). One of the hidden costs of buying your skis is they need waxed and tuned to perform correctly. A rental ski comes tuned and waxed each time you rent it. So you can't simply divide your ski days by the rent to determine when buying skis make sense.

When it comes time to buy the ski or skis, demoing them is a great way to go. Most shops rent at a higher rate their "good" skis and will apply that rental towards a purchase of a brand new model of the same ski if you like it.

If you ever ski race camps on Mt Hood, they have a unique situation. You can demo skis for free there, and ski a different ski every day. The little town of government camp has factory shops set up for all the racers working out on the hill. This is there way to stoke the comming years market.

The downside is that they don't have your vast selection of skis to try, but just race skis. Your not gonna see any all purpose all mountain skis at the Mt Hood shops in this wild summer free demo party.
post #14 of 29
You already get the idea about how important boots are , so I'm going to make a suggestion about skis. If you haven't owned skis recently, I think it's a good idea to demo this year. It's hard to select the ski that's just right for YOU based solely on advice from others. Talk about a personal preference!

As others have said, you can rent high-performance skis now, either through shops at the mountain, or shops near where you live. Tell them you want high-performance and ask for suggestions about which models to try. High-performance demos are always kept in good shape, so you should get a good idea of how they perform. It's a good idea to demo the same ski in different lengths, since it can make a difference in how it skis. Perhaps you could do this: For your trips to SLC, rent high-performance skis there, so you don't have to carry them with you. For the rest of the time, when you're skiing locally, rent demos from a local ski shop (I'd go to the shop where you buy your boots). Ask the shop if you can put the cost of demos towards the purchase price, most will let you do that because they want your business. Maybe you'll find the perfect ski and buy it mid-season. Maybe you'll find it on sale at the end of the season. Either way, you'll be much happier knowing that it's the ski you really want.

Thatsagirl
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for all the great responses! I live in the Naperville, IL area (chicago burb').

I checked out the SnowCrest web site, and I think that looks like a great idea. Having that ski deck right there can hopefully prevent needing to make multiple trips to dial everything in. There is another spot (Viking Snow Sports) which got a gold medal from SKI Magazine (for what its worth), so that is another option.

I noticed on the SnowCrest site they charge about $95 dollars for an alignment. I thought I heard foot beds run around $100 as well, and I should expect to spend $250 or so on a good pair of boots as well. Is $450 - 500 in the range of what I should realistically be preparing to spend on a good custom boot setup (with footbed and alignment)? My preference would be to do it right and pay a little more, rather than skimp and do it twice. Becuase I don't get to ski that much, I want the on snow time to be as rewarding as it can be...

One fear I have had about renting performace skies is that I am going to end up with a pair of expert skies. The advice I have always seen is that unless you are an expert, you aren't going to like expert skies. From the board's experience, do the top level performance skies from most rental spot really mean top level or is it just a quality of ski rating.

If there a shop around me that I can apply the demo cost to the purchase, and they have a decent selection, I think that might be the way I go for this season.
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl
Thanks again for all the great responses! I live in the Naperville, IL area (chicago burb').


I noticed on the SnowCrest site they charge about $95 dollars for an alignment. I thought I heard foot beds run around $100 as well, and I should expect to spend $250 or so on a good pair of boots as well. Is $450 - 500 in the range of what I should realistically be preparing to spend on a good custom boot setup (with footbed and alignment)? My preference would be to do it right and pay a little more, rather than skimp and do it twice. Becuase I don't get to ski that much, I want the on snow time to be as rewarding as it can be...

One fear I have had about renting performace skies is that I am going to end up with a pair of expert skies. The advice I have always seen is that unless you are an expert, you aren't going to like expert skies. If there a shop around me that I can apply the demo cost to the purchase, and they have a decent selection, I think that might be the way I go for this season.
I think your estimate for boots is pretty close. Perhaps a tad low on the $250 initial cost. I'd probably suggest holding off on all boot work until you actually ski the boot. Unless you have some super funky foot issues. I've been skiing my Salomon X-Waves for 4 seasons with no work done to them, cep't a $40 SOLE footbed. Break them in, learn what about them troubles you, then fix it end of season.

Re: Skis (not skies), It IS possible to buy "too much ski" as a novice. There are plenty of good choices though that will take you right through intermediacy, and into the advanced levels. One that comes to mind is the K2 5500. Plenty more by Solly, Fischer, etc.
post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xdog1
Re: Skis (not skies),
Heh, thanks for pointing that out. Make me feel a bit stupid that I never caught that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xdog1
It IS possible to buy "too much ski" as a novice. There are plenty of good choices though that will take you right through intermediacy, and into the advanced levels. One that comes to mind is the K2 5500. Plenty more by Solly, Fischer, etc.
That is what I have commonly heard, but never seen any advice as far as renting skis is concerned. I guess it doesn't really apply to demoing though as I can just specify what I want (such as the 5500). Never had a ton of trust for the recommendations of alot of rental places, but I should probably go to better places
post #18 of 29

for Gawd's sakes, go to a pro shop and buy some boots!!

Just cough up the bread for good boots and orthodics. Skis are NOT a life long investment.
They change and get better all the time. (so I tell my non-skiing wife) As for renting vs buying skis, it like you can drive down the hill in that 53 chevy bel-air with a straight 6 and a powerglide transmission and still get from point a to b., but it's a heck of a lot more fun in a new lexus or Porsch!!
Try on the boots, leave them on for at least 30 minutes, try on 2 more paiarsthat you can't afford and buy the best fittin one for your foot.Get the orthodics. Sure there expensive, but when your feet don't hurt and your finnally Karving like Arnold, you won't remmeber your sold your first born to get them! There is no excuse for sore feet, keep going back to the pro shop for adjustments, intil they feel like your nikes.
Pretty soon you will have 4 pr of skis like me and TAKE LESSONS!!!!
this is my 45thyear on the slopes and I still take lesoons as an insturctor and ex patroller. You can always get better.
post #19 of 29
I will take a different route....Bindings...invest on good bindings..or maybe poles.


Just kidding. Again, boots are the only way to go. As far as "rental skis", new (shaped) rental skis are better than any HP straight ski, especially if you are goin to Snowbird, ect. I will add my 2 cents on why you should buy in Snowbird, if you have fit issues, they will be right there to help you, even the best bootfitter in Chi-cah-goh, can't help you on the mountains in Utah. With boots, you might get an awesome fit in the shop, but the real fit shows up on the mountain. It might cost you a bit..even a hundred or two more to get it done on the mountain, just consider it as "enjoyment insurance"
post #20 of 29
Snowcrest (Tom or Mark) does a good job.
Another shop that may be closer is Vertical Drop in
St. Charles, though I have no experience with them.
post #21 of 29
High performance doesn't just apply to experts. It applies to intermediates too.

Oh, and I'm sure that bobboing wouldn't buy that Porsche without first taking it out for a good test drive or two or three. Same with skis...

Thatsagirl
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well, I wouldn't plan to fly all the way out to Utah without having skied my brand spanking new boots at least once. The midwest does have a few ski areas and although I wont be jumping off a cliff into face deep powder, I should be able to get an idea of fit corrections. That way I could hopefully have all the fit issues squared away and not have to take time away from the skiing I really want to be doing out west.

The SnowCrest place that was mentioned does have an indoor ski deck (I saw one of these at a show once. It essentially looked like an inclined carpeted treadmill) so hopefully that could help too. Anyone have any experience on these things?
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by John J
Snowcrest (Tom or Mark) does a good job.
Another shop that may be closer is Vertical Drop in
St. Charles, though I have no experience with them.

I can second the vertical drop note! I'm in Joliet a little south of you!
post #24 of 29
I will add something to the "get some good boots" advice. From your description of yourself, you are tall and lean. If you have a slender foot and ankle you will probably need to spend more on the boot and fitting, because the moderately priced boots tend to be looser fitting. Make sure whoever fits you also looks at "alignment", which is your position in the boot: is your knee lined up so the center of the kneejoint is just inside the center of the boot toe? Are you balanced fore/aft in the boot? (those of us with skinny legs tend to be too upright, while muscular types may be too far forward in the same boot."

If you get properly set up in boots it will transform you rexperience, and it sounds like you are spending a fair amount on these vacations, so don't cut corners on the boots or the fitting. Lange is a good place to start on your search if your foot is narrow and your ankle thin. good luck!! LewBob
post #25 of 29
Here is a link to a discussion of foam fitting, including experiences with Surefoot stores. http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...light=SUREFOOT Also a link to an article on Surefoot that explains their process and gives some pricing. http://www.feedthehabit.com/articles...ski_boots.html

Lew
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl
Thanks for the responses, they are encouraging.

Getting a nice custom fit pair of boots does seem to make a lot of obvious sense, and it will definitely be my first step in the process. Hopefully it isn't too difficult to find a shop in the Chicago area with a competent bootfitter.

My biggest frustration with the rental equipment I have used has been the condition that it is in. The edges always seem to be rather dull and the bases are nicked up and badly in need of wax. It is nice to know that my troubles with equipment aren't neccessairly tied to bad technique.

Maybe I have just been renting skies from the wrong places though. Are there any tips the forum has for determining whether a rental shop is likely to be better than another over the phone? I don't always have the chance to visit the place first hand before I get there unfortunately. You can ask them if they tune thier skies and keep them in good condition, but it's not like any one of them is ever going to tell you no.
Try King Keyser in Hinsdale and ask for Rick or Jim, the 2 owners. Oldest shop in Chicago (1952) and will work with you to get the right boot and fit for you.

If you are in the city try Viking and ask for Denny. In the Fox valley area try Vertical Drop and far north, Scandinavian.

Several good shops in the area to help you find the right boot and/or skis. As several people have already told you boots are the single most important item of your equipment. I can change skis every run and not miss a beat but I change boots after 3-4 years only. An occasional skier can get more seasons from boots...I ski about 40+ days per year.

Rental skis seem like a good idea but if you are a better skier it can be costly and ruin a good day of skiing. Even the best demo equipment can be out of tune and ski poorly. Normal rental equipment gets tuned seasonally or when they get really trashed so you can assume they are never in good shape except maybe for the first few rental days. In addition it can be expensive and in the end you have nothing. Better to put the money toward a good pair of boots and the appropriate bindings and skis. As you progress you will want to trade up to new skis anyway.

Good luck.
post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
Figured I would throw an update to this thread after all the help you guys gave me.

I took the plunge today and picked up a pair of my own ski boots as well as a custom formed footbed. I want to give a huge thanks to Peter and Rick over at the Vertical Drop in St. Charles, IL. A friend I had brought along with me really agreed that it was the best customer service we have had in a long time. These guys really knew their stuff, and were very patient in helping me select the right boot for me, not to mention just nice guys to talk with.

Ultimately I wound up going with the Dalbello Supersport ZX. I must have nearly the exact same feet as the fit model for Dalbello, becuase both this and the Avanti 11 fit my feet like they had been custom molded. We also looked at the X-Wave 9.0, and Nordica Beast 12, both of which I really liked but the Dalbello just fit like it belonged on my foot. The adjustable heel ramp on the ZX also helps to correct a fit issue I have, in that in some boots when I would flex forward my heel would lift up off the sole. I'd be interested to hear of any praise or things to watch out for in this boot from people that own it.

To anyone considering purchasing boots online, I join the crowd in STRONGLY cautioning you to avoid it. I am 100% confident I would have been in the wrong boot had I done this. I wound up in a boot that was a full size smaller than what I expected, and I really had no idea just how huge the fit difference was from boot to boot. The Technica Rival for instance had so much mid-foot volume I could rotate my foot inside the shell : .

Hopefully next in line will be the skis. That Fischer RX8 sure does look like a fun ski.

Once again though, if you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend heading over the Vertical Drop in St. Charles.
post #28 of 29
Good luck with your new gear. Sounds like you are turning a new page in your ski life. Go for it.
Not sure if others mentioned this, but there is a psychological hook when you buy rather than rent your ski eqmt. You are more predisposed to GO skiing when you own and the better your gear, the more commited/excited you are to use it. Having said that, for casual/newbie skiers who may only ski 5 days or less a season for the next 3 years, there is nothing wrong with buying used skis and boots at a swap or sale. I'm from the line of thought that when the budget is tight, more lift tickets on lesser gear is better than fewer lift tickets on hot sh-t gear.
post #29 of 29
Onyxjl, Thanks for filling us in on your experience. I have heard good things about the boots Dalbello is making these days. They should be great, and so much better than rental! LewBob
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