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Fat Ski Sizing

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'm here to confuse half of you, and to say what the other half already know.

Alot of people seem super confused about fat ski lengths, which size to get sepcifically.

The trick here is say: How do I plan to use these skis?

If the answer is powder mainly, but crud too, and of course any groomer-ruined snow you encounter in the quest for powder and crud, THEN BUY THE BIGGER SIZE OUT OF THE TWO THAT WORKS FOR YOU. you'll appreciate this once you get used to the ski when you find yourself going way faster in deep snow than you ever thought possible. Length also helps the ski to remain more stable at high speeds in variable snow.

If you are buying this ski as an all day, everyday ski, or for more general use in general, then consider the shorter size.

Many of these fat skis actually ski better as you increase the length. The longer the ski is, the better it feels on the terrain and the more it goes through the snow at high speeds, a nice thing to have happening at superspeed.

Many of you are adding a fat ski to a "quiver" of skis. If you've got other skis to use on less exciting snow days, then don't compromise the performance of your powder ski so you can use it other times.

Here's my example: I skied a Salomon AK Rocket for a season. It was a 195 with a 86mm waist. Despite a completely backwards flex pattern (an early solution to keeping tips above deep pow, this flex pattern felt even wierder in non-powder conditions than the Gotama, if you can imagine that, but in a totally different way)which never felt quite right, this thing ripped. As many of you know, I'm little guy, 5'9" on a tall day, 150lbs. If I just put this ski on edge and let it go, it ate everything alive and was super stable. Then I got on a 180 Völkl Explosiv and the first time I skied in super deep conditions, I immediately wished I had sprung for the 190. Same feeling after skiing in super windblown, variable powder conditions. And the Explosiv is stable and I love it. It's still in my quiver. I bent the AK Rocket.

Again, maybe I'm just crazy.
post #2 of 24
I belive it. But you can probably actually ski. Most people can't.
post #3 of 24
I've got fat 188's that I love when the conditions are right. Most days its tight chutes and trees where the 180 v-Ex's are better, way faster to turn in tight spaces and only marginaly less stable than the bigger skis when pointed.
Only solution: you need at least 2 pairs of fat skis in the quiver.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffW
Only solution: you need at least 2 pairs of fat skis in the quiver.
much agreed!
post #5 of 24
Union - Until last year, I would have pretty much agreed with you. Now, I'm not so sure I can give the same level of unambiguous recommendation.

What changed my mind was trying my kid's 165 Explosiv (Wizard TT model). Until last year, I would have never believed anyone who tried to tell me that at 210 lbs I might enjoy a 165 fatty, as I have been skiing a 190 Explosiv for about 5 years now and singing its praises.

I'll immediately admit that I never tried the 165 in over 24" of new snow (I use another ski when it (rarely) gets that deep), but for going at slow to moderate speeds in boot-top conditions, in deeply rotted spring slurpee snow (ie, where you posthole in over a foot with each step when walking); in hard, deep, re-frozen spring ruts / coral reef, in the trees at East Coast resorts like SR, when teaching in mushy end-of-season conditions (ie, going relatively slow, doing accurate demos), etc., I prefer the 165 to my 190. OTOH, if I'm on some empty trail or wide open bowl where I can go faster, then I prefer my 190's in soft conditions.

For me, it comes down to how much maneuverability you want, which, to my way of thinking, is pretty much the same as what speed range do you want to cover with a given pr. of skis, and what's "fast" for one person in one locale may be "moderate" for another person.

I think this is definitely one of those "YMMV" situations and many people will be surprised by what they find if they demo skis outside of the length range they initially though would be appropriate.

There is a lot of dogma and opinion floating around about optimal length, but unless someone does back-to-back A-B comparisons for themselves between lengths, or between similar ski models, other factors vary between their "tests" and can seriously throw off their conclusions. In fact, I would guess that with the exception of guys like SSH and/or pros who own a bunch of sticks and can pick whichever one they want on a given day, very few length and ski recommendations on the internet come from people who have never done a back-to-back, successive run comparison of the different skis involved.

Tom / PM

PS - To calibrate my comments, in addition to my two lengths of Explosivs, I also own and use 180 Deep Powders, 188 G4's and 184 10ex's. I've owned & used my 190 Explosivs for about 5 years now. My hard snow skis are all shorter. And yes, my name is Tom, and I'm a gearhead.
post #6 of 24
I like to think I am a pretty aggresive skier and I got some weight to throw around 215LBS. By the way your height has zero to do with the lenght of a ski. A ski does nto know your height it only nows your weight by how you flex the ski while skiing.


In my travels and demos ( ihave been working at a shop in the winter for the alst 5 seasons) I have demoed a lot of skis. Bootom line is unless you are bombing the Mainline pocket at Squaw taking Corbett's in Jackson no need for anything over a 188cm. I even shy away form skis that long. I have found optimal ski length in all ski types for myself to be in the low to mid 180's
A lot of the newer stuff ie Gotama, PR, etc without getting pormodels or strict BIG mountain skis you won't find anything over low to mide 180's.

New technology allow even super short skis to be as versatile and capable as longer skis except at mach speeds.

Cheers!
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by SKEEMEISTER
... By the way your height has zero to do with the lenght of a ski. A ski does nto know your height it only nows your weight by how you flex the ski while skiing....
It doesn't know your height but it does know your center of gravity above your ski. Taking the extreme if 2' tall and 200lbs you could never go over the handle bars whereas is 7' tall and 200lbs ( with head filled with very dense material) on same lenght you might . I'm not saying its a major factor but it is a factor.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by the bag
It doesn't know your height but it does know your center of gravity above your ski. Taking the extreme if 2' tall and 200lbs you could never go over the handle bars whereas is 7' tall and 200lbs ( with head filled with very dense material) on same lenght you might . I'm not saying its a major factor but it is a factor.
Point taken. Then one might additionally say that it largely has to do with the position of your body while skiing. Even though one might be taller but has a more compact skiing style than someone who is shorter who might be more upright. Thus producing roughly the same center of gravity.

I think weight and skier type play the two biggest factors, and "center of gravity" plays a third factor.

Good point about the center of gravity never quite saw it in those terms.

Cheers!
post #9 of 24
It is certainly possible to do anything you want on a short ski in powder if you have the right abilities. That being said, I agree with Unionbowler, when it's deep go long. I may be hopelessly stuck in the past, but I think that short skis are just not as much fun in powder. They are certainly more manuverable, but growing up on long skis I am still hooked on the feel of a ski bowing in the snow. I think a you should have a powder ski that you can dive into the snow and that will come up turning (i.e. a long, damp, soft tipped ski). Everytime I ski a short fat ski in powder I feel like one of those water bugs that cruises on surface tension. It is very manuverable but has no idea how deep the water is.

If you want to go fast in powder and have a margin for error, I think that you need some length. I spent last weekend in SLC skiing some very deep snow and wishing the whole time that my AK Launchers were longer than 190s. I say dive for your powder turns. If it's deep you might as well use all of it.

Keep in mind that I still miss my 208 Volant GS skis in deep snow and crud, so I'm not a very good point of reference.
post #10 of 24
On the contrary a shorter ski of the same width should have less surface area resulting in yourself sinking deeper in the snow.

If i am on 180 Ak Launcher or 190 Ak Launcher in the same exact conditions I say I go deeper with the the 180 but maybe that is my complex with size not mattering. TEEHEEE

I think even with the small amount of posts on this topic I have decided different strokes for differnt folks. However, this dooes nto mean I will not continue to particpate.

Cheers!

Have fun skiing in the powpow
post #11 of 24
I am definately on the different strokes side of this. I prefer shorter for manueverability over longer for speed and stability. I am a big guy at 6', 220lbs and have skied plenty of long boards in my day. I reveived a free pair of 170's last seaon and thought - no way will these work for me. Turns out I like 'em fine. Just bought some fat 175's for a western trip this season. Couple of years back I rented 183cm midfats for a week in Utah and that length was good for me too.
post #12 of 24
It is a good idea to own two pow skis, if possible. Of course, for the big open bowls, the ski of choice is the BIG DADDY (193). For chutes and knee deep trees, I like the Volkl G4/AX 4 (178). I am 6', 185lbs. Not to change the subject, but for everything else...Volkl Supersport 6* or Atomic R:11.
post #13 of 24
Throwing my $0.02 as a tall, skinny guy (6'1", 160lb, LONG legs):

1) Personally, I don't think you can discount the higher center of gravity as a minor factor. For me, it's huge. When I'm hauling through crud and variable conditions and hit an ice chunk or heavy pocket, I'm pretty much guarenteed to go over the bars on any ski I've tried 180 or below. On my 190s, I can almost always recover in the same situation. If it's taller (or going faster), you need a wider base to maintain the same stability. If you're skiing in homogenous terrain (pow, groomers, etc), stability is not as important.

2) Stability, in my opinion, is what I just described: the ability to to maintain equilibrium when a force (ice chunk, etc) hits away from your center of gravity and threatens to overturn you. For the most part, only geometry (and quick reflexes/balance) is going to save you here. Being able to blast through powder, on a groomer, or in consistent terrain is another kind of stability but that's related largely to material qualities (dampness, stiffness, etc) of the ski, not just it's geometry.

3) There is an inherent tradeoff between maneuverability and geometric stability, as mentioned previously.

4) I think your weight is most important in determining the stiffness of the ski but not so much its length. As a tall, relatively light person, I've found long skis with medium flex to be my favorite ride. Too stiff and I can't flex 'em. Too short and I get ejected at speed through through crud and junk more often.

Of course, riding style, personal prefs, ability, and terrain can outweigh all this theorizing so the only way to know is to try a lot of different skis. All these factors aside, however, I feel a lot comes down to body geometry, not just mass.
post #14 of 24
Problem with a 2 fat ski quiver is, you're obsessing.

Reality= a good set of mid-fats (75-80mm underfoot) will get you thru every single situation you'll encounter on 99% of hills, 95% of days.

The other times might require a fattie.

As far as length goes, get something within 10cm. +/- of the height of your forehead and call it a day.

Pretty insightful, huh?
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by xdog1
Problem with a 2 fat ski quiver is, you're obsessing.

Reality= a good set of mid-fats (75-80mm underfoot) will get you thru every single situation you'll encounter on 99% of hills, 95% of days.

The other times might require a fattie.

As far as length goes, get something within 10cm. +/- of the height of your forehead and call it a day.

Pretty insightful, huh?
Dude, you're no fun. What you say may be right for NY man made, but not for Utah fluff. Sure, you may be able to ski "the greatest snow on earth with mid-fats; but, the more the merrier!
post #16 of 24
The two fat quiver is fine. But three is better

Tabla Rasa for the wide open bowls.

Spatulas for the trees

Stockli Scot Schmidt for the groomers.

All in 186cm.

Obsessed, who's obsessed?
post #17 of 24
Great thread.

Height may matter.

I would conjecture as you lay an arc and engage G forces, your height becomes the radius in cone or circle with the ski being the perimeter or circumference. The radius (you) will directly be proportional to the torque you generate on a ski. Physics man, what say you?

(I hear you out there. No, I don't smoke weed.)



OK, I'm out the door in 10 minutes, north on I 395, west on I 80 to Squaw!
post #18 of 24
I sometime wish for the days when skiing three feet of powder on 203's with a waist width less than your bindings were back. Always seemed like more fun. Of course, so did a lot of other things 15 years ago.

That said, I just purchased a pair of B3's at 185. I'm 5'9" when I can stand upright and vary around 185lbs. What wide powder skis do for me is give my thighs a few more hours of "i got a few more runs left" in them. That's the only difference. They haven't made me a better powder skier. I did just as well on the long and narrow boards.

I think I've always ben a good skier in general because of my low center of gravity. At 5'9", I probably ski at 4'11" because of my style. Another reason that I was good at Hockey and hard to knock of the puck. The only problem I have in powder is getting lazy and sitting back too far which takes the control out of the tips. For this reason alone, I like a longer board in Powder.

The longer board gives you more chance to recover from the backseat. You get out of whack on short boards and it's over.
post #19 of 24
[quote=SKEEMEISTER]On the contrary a shorter ski of the same width should have less surface area resulting in yourself sinking deeper in the snow.

That is true, but because the front of the ski is short you cannot really lean forward or the tips will dive. Although some will disagree, I think this results in skiing more towards the back of the ski in powder on a short ski. With a longer ski that has soft tips you can press the front of the ski down into the snow and the tips will hook up causing the front of the ski to decamber, making the tips rise. This gives you a more forgiving ski (good for tall guys) and allows you to contol your speed by simply leaning forward, hence sking more in the fall line. The reverse camber of Spatulas and Gotamas are attempts to recapture this effect in a shorter powder ski.

The real benefit of a long ski in powder is the ability to dive the skis tip first into the snow with much less likelihood of a bad result, which makes powder skiing more three-dimensional. Short fat skis are certainly quicker and more mauverable in powder from side to side (and easier on the knees), but I believe that they limit the possibilities for diving the front of your skis into the snow and exploring the third dimesion of powder. On a short ski you tend to get more of a watersking feel instead of a porpoise feel of diving and surfacing.

Some days it's fun to go short and hot-rod around in the powder, but don't overlook the pleasures of a longer ski in the deep stuff. You may find yourself getting a lot more face shots.
post #20 of 24
Hey Mudfoot - Good post. We are much more in agreement than I thought when we first began discussing fats a couple of threads ago. I think the differences between us in viewpoint come from slightly different emphases about what's important to us, what we like to feel in different situations (ie, water skiing vs 3D), tightness of the terrain we usually play in, speed (ie, lower level students vs buddies skiing at a similar level), etc.

That's why this topic always deserves "YMMV" and "try b4 you buy" comments.

Good turns this season, bud.

Tom / PM
post #21 of 24
Good points all.

Why limit oneself to one type of turn (3-D or surface)?

The best part of properly sized fat skis is that you can do both.

At low speeds, porpoise away to you hearts content.

Put the pedal to the floor and you will achieve planing speed and be carving the pow!
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot
It is certainly possible to do anything you want on a short ski in powder if you have the right abilities. That being said, I agree with Unionbowler, when it's deep go long. I may be hopelessly stuck in the past, but I think that short skis are just not as much fun in powder. They are certainly more manuverable, but growing up on long skis I am still hooked on the feel of a ski bowing in the snow. I think a you should have a powder ski that you can dive into the snow and that will come up turning (i.e. a long, damp, soft tipped ski). Everytime I ski a short fat ski in powder I feel like one of those water bugs that cruises on surface tension. It is very manuverable but has no idea how deep the water is.

If you want to go fast in powder and have a margin for error, I think that you need some length. I spent last weekend in SLC skiing some very deep snow and wishing the whole time that my AK Launchers were longer than 190s. I say dive for your powder turns. If it's deep you might as well use all of it.

Keep in mind that I still miss my 208 Volant GS skis in deep snow and crud, so I'm not a very good point of reference.
I agree with you - longer when it's two-to-three-plus feet (twin-tips have a lot of wasted length - the only exception is the Big Daddy), fatter, and reasonably stiff. Sometimes, I noticed my skis have a reverse camber in the steep-and-deep, but somehow that works - just like a water slalom ski. I tend to go slower in the trees - but that's just me.

My powder skis for years were 207cm Rossi 3G's, and before that I had a pair of 215 Atomic GS skis - but a friend of mine wanted them more than me...
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_eleven
The two fat quiver is fine. But three is better

Tabla Rasa for the wide open bowls.

Spatulas for the trees

Stockli Scot Schmidt for the groomers.

All in 186cm.

Obsessed, who's obsessed?
Talking about a fat ski quiver makes me want to buy more Fatboy (Slim) skis. How does the Tabla Rasa (it should be called the Tabla Rasta) ski? Duh - what was I thinking? That must be sweet. You ski Spats in the trees?

Although the Powder Plus and the Axiom were pretty decent sticks...

You can never have enough skis.
post #24 of 24
Truth be told, the Tabla's have not arrived, but I picked the stiffer flex for all out speed in the pow. Tabla Rasta is indeed a better name.

Spatulas are the best tree ski ever. And it is not just my opinion. One can scrub speed by sliding sideways (butter) and it is unnecessary to make rhythmic turns of the same radius through the trees. If you really crank it, you can actually make a "J" shaped turn.

Most of the weight is underfoot because of the reverse sidecut, so they have a very low swing weight & are amazingly quick.

Spatulas are selling for around $350 on eBay, which is an amazing price for such a fabulous ski. Try them once on a pow day, and you will want a pair.

They are just so darn fun!
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