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ski categories

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm not the best at communicating, so sometimes I may get bad advice, or I may just misinterpret it. I have been told that an atomic supercross ski, designed I suppose for supercross racing, whatever that is might fit my bill. It would be helpful for me, and others I'm sure, to know what the design criteria are for various skis. I am familiar with standard three categories of skis. Which I will start off with. It has been a long time since I was into this, and I really wasn't too big a slalom fan, so please correct me if I get it wrong.

Slalom Racing Skis - designed for slalom races you see on TV. They are best at making short turns at speeds between 25 and 35 mph on hard, steep snow and ice. Not too good in soft snow or slower speeds.

Giant Slalom Skis - The same, only with larger radius turns and speeds 30 to 45 mph?

Downhill Racing skis - smooth, hard icy race courses with no abrupt bumps (maybe some jumps over rises, but no volkswagen-profile bumps) Speeds of 80 to 100 mph, turns are very large radius (>25m?)

Super Giant Slalom - a downhill race with a few twisty (GS type turns) bits thrown in. - speeds from 45 to 75 mph?

Now could someone please correct the above, and tell me what supercross skis are designed for (turn radius, speed, etc)?

Also feel free to categorize All-mountain, Carving HP, Carving Sport, All-mountain Expert, All-mountain cruizing, and anything else you might know.
post #2 of 5
Most of the skiercross skis seem to fall into the carving, performance genre. With the tip in the 100mm or so realm, waist around 66mm and tail a paltry 95 or so most skiercross skis will initiate turns easily and release from the turn fairly easily as well. If I have any advice, it is to demo and then demo again. Do not trust the printed words of the ski rags or the spoken words of a shop salesperson, what is good for me is not so for you and vice versa. Have fun, buying skis is one of lifes rewards.
post #3 of 5
An SX ski will perform like a soft GS ski. Designed for big GS type arcs, they'll be a whole lot easier to initiate a turn on than a GS ski but with comparable turn shape. This of course means that some performance is lost on ice, but they'll still grip ice better than an intermediate ski. They're designed for higher level intermediates and experts looking for a race performance ski that wont punish them all day long.

All Mountain: 68-75 mm waist. Will do everything pretty well, wont do anything truly great. Salomon X-Screams, Rossignol Bandit

Carving HP: SX type skis. 65-68 mm waist, great for hardpack and behaves fairly well on ice. Atomic SX:11, Volkl Supersport

Carving Sport: 65-70 mm waist. Intermediate Cruising skis. Fairly soft flex, designed for bigger turns and tolerant of open parallel (skidded turns) type skiing.

All-Mountain Expert: 68-75 mm. Higher performance all-mountain skis, handle hardpack better than pow, but wont leave you stranded in a few inches of fresh. Does it all, but doesn't do it great.
post #4 of 5
I usually categorize skis in a few different groups, based on trends that i see in the industry.

I'll start at the race equipment and move down the list, but please note that in each division of skis there are levels of performance based on skill level of the particular model.

Race Stock Skis: DH, SuperG, GS, SL... all designed for their respective disciplines. Very fast, usually do not double as a ski that can go other places on the mountain other than a race course unless they are driven by and extremely skilled or sadistic pilot.

Retail Race Skis: Usually have extremely high performance, close to the FIS level stock skis but they are usually more fun. Often they arent FIS legal. In this group you see tight turning GS skis (Fischer RC4 RC) and short slalom skis with huge tips and tails. They still perform at a high level, but are more designed for the recreational user.

Powder Skis: (85mm waist and up)This category can be divided into the stiff powder skis that are built like race stock skis, and then into skis like the Rossi Scratch and Pocket Rocket, which are much softer in flex. Essentially they are for powder, and not much else. They can be skied on groomed snow and in crud, but are at home in bottomless powder.

Free Ride: These skis usually have a waist between 70mm and 85mm. They are your midfats - a category that has grown in size in recent years. The narrower midfats are good eastern all mountain skis, and the wider ones are better for western conditions. Usually they are mediocre at just about everything, but due to todays high performing skis they are able to deliver what most recreational skiers are looking for. Ski examples are the Rossi B1 and B2, Salomon Xtrahot, and Stockli Stormrider XL.

All Mountain Slalom: These skis are a new breed of skis in recent years - ever since the advent of the Volkl 5 star. Several Companies have rallied to provide their own 65 - 70mm waisted ski that has a 14m or less turning radius. These skis are simply fun to ski on. They will rip short to medium radius turns on groomed and still give you enough width to venture off the groomed snow into trees and such. Examples of these are the Volkl 6 star, Fischer RX8, Salomon Crossmax, and Elan S12.
EDIT: Usually you would ski this ski just slightly longer than you would ski a race slalom ski. So Women/lighter men would ski about a 160ish length, and heavier men would go to a 165 - 170. The longer lengths are only useful if youre looking for a longer turning ski. Due to the stiffness of these skis, i think you will lose versatility by going too long.

Skier Cross: Due to the SkierX fad ravaging the industry companies are scrambling to produce these kinds of skis to sell to consumers... in reality skier cross events are skied on race stock GS skis that have been rebadged to look like their retail counterparts... but thats another story. They are usually a wider GS shape that has a slightly narrower turning radius. Skis like this are obviously the Atomic supercross series, Volkl Superspeed, Fischer RX9, and Dynastar skicross. They usually have a waist of about 65 - 68mm.

Carve: This category does still exist to some degree. Most companies will have a 'carve' type ski series that doesnt fall into any of the above mentioned categories. Sometimes they are very high level skis, and other times they are beginner to intermediate skis. It really depends on the company.

Park/Freestyle: Twin Tips... some of these can go into the powder category as well, but they are softer flexing center mounted twin tip skis. Usually best in soft snow or a terrain park. They do double as great all mountain skis - especially out west. The ever fading mogul ski can be bunched into this specialty category as well.

Womens: This is a slowly advancing category in the industry. Most companies tout the 20% softer and lighter thing with their womens skis. Many are very good, high performing skis. Others are not. I have heard Elan, K2, and Dynastar make great womens skis. They are typically designed so that they have a forward mounting position, and a flex pattern that lends itself to a female build. They are not however, designed for lighter males, due to how they are designed to flex. It is possible for a male skier to use them, but i would not recommend it unless they had a very serious back seat skiing problem.

I think thats all... if i missed one let me know.


post #5 of 5
A nice categorization/summary, Greg!
In the german-speaking part of the Alps and sorrounding lands there usually are a bit different categories but it´s just labels influenced by the greater importance of on-piste skiing.
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