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Latest Issues - Ski Previews & Buyer's Guides - Page 2

post #31 of 45
I really don't think an average skier could give much meaningful input. You don’t really find out the differences in skis until you really push them close to the limits.

Of all the skis I demoed last year almost all of them would work fine for skiing at moderate speeds on groomed snow and some moderate crud skiing, but when I really got on the ski, skied it fast and really pressured it I could feel a lot of difference.

I'll the opinion of an expert world class skier who really pushes the ski and can tell the different nuances and handling when skiing hard like a good ski was meant to ski.
post #32 of 45
Originally posted by milesb:
oboe, SKIING tried that a few years ago. What they found was that those "average" skiers were not really using the skis properly! In one instance, an intermediate declared a GS race ski as his favorite, because it skidded best. As opposed to some easy turning skis that he said were too "noodly", because they would flutter and chatter when skidded. Obviously, the manufacturers were not pleased. Although it wasn't of much value in ski selection, I would say it was one of their finest pieces of journalism! It almost opened a real pandora's box on the value of demoing skis before they stopped testing that way.
heh! excellent point, Miles.

all the crap about turning radius, damping modulus, etc. is fun for engineers and folks like Physics Man, but for people like me who care more about how it FEELS and PERFORMS, they mean nothing.

I have long been championing the point that "noodly" is a bad statement about a ski, mainly because it means the skier is not doing what the ski wants.

This means also that my guru's point -- you must have a conversation with the ski FIRST, and then listen to what it tells you -- reveals MUCH more about the ski than whether it will do what the hacker expects it to do.

In our nation of hyperConsumerism, people want a ski to "make them an expert."

The ski won't do that.

It will do a lot for you if you first listen to it, but if you insist on playing by YOUR rules, the ski will rebel.
post #33 of 45
I didn't realise people across the pond also had problems getting ski's. Here I can demo virtually any Atomic or Fischer race ski but ski's above 80mm waist are rarely available. Volkl and Salomon are available but not in the same numbers. Probably because the main emphasis on skiing here (Austria) is on racing - many trying to be the next Herminator. I think the mountains have bigger vertical drops but the snow (and especially powder) reliability is lower. For powder it gets better the further west you go (Innsbruck area, St Anton, Lech etc). Of course go to France and the Rossi's, Salomons, Dynastars etc are more prominent.

post #34 of 45
Originally posted by kiwiski:
[QB]But then most skiers couldn't tell much difference between the skis even if they did demo them.
Have to disagree with that statement. Draw an analogy with wine. Most people know there is a difference in two different wines when they taste them, they just don't know how to quantify whether it is raspberry or tobacco on the palate (or some other pretentious mumbo-jumbo).

With skis, I believe that to quite a low level of ability people would be aware that one ski behaves differently from another, they just do not know why or what.

With ski reviews, the magazines should be identifying the characteristics of each ski as relevant to the ability and terrain the skis are aimed at.

Unfortunately they usually seem to be trying their hardest purely to placate the manufacturer. If you relied purely on a broad cross-section of magazine reviews, you would be in a world where there doesn't seem to be a bad ski.
post #35 of 45
Listen, Physics Man, you're not SUPPOSED to be oboeing [heh] over ANYthing - that's what they pay ME the big bucks to do!

You take your ski expert. You give him some skis to test - here, this one over here, made for "intermediates". Mr. Expert really wrings it out, pushes it to the limits and so knows where those limits are [not that the intermediate EVER will even WANT to be at those limits]. Mr. E says, "Hey, what a great tool for the intermediate who's learning to carve! Great intermediate ski!" yada yada.

You take several months, take folks found skiing, have them ski through such maneuvers as will assist in confirming that they truy are intermediate skiers. Each one gets to take maybe four test runs on the same skis, in a length appropriate for their respective weight etc., and you ask for their general and specific feed-back. Turns out that twenty intermediate skiers say the ski sucks - they hate it! They say, "It's hard to turn - made me feel that I might ski into another skier because I couldn't trun them well enough." OK, say, out of the twenty, fifteen say that. Maybe not to you, but to me, that's useful information which you didn't get from the expert.

Ya, I remember those ski mag tests that used a handful of "average" skiers at the same tests as the experts. That was hilarious, because no one was actually HEARING them. For example, the whole lot of them LOVED the Salomon E3, an expert mogul ski, in the shorter length. WHY?! DUH! Because it freakin' was easier to make shorter turns on it! Was anybody listening? Noooooooo. The intermediate customers LIKED a certain characteristic. Intermediate customers BUY SKIS. Helloooo?! Anybody home?!
post #36 of 45
Actually, oboe, the ski manufacturers DID get the message. Shortly after that, the "pintail" design, where the back of the ski had alot less sidecut than the front, became very popular in all-mmtn skis. Because it allows the skier to easily skid the tail into a stable slide, while still retaining the ease of turn initiation that a substantial front sidecut gives you.
post #37 of 45
>... all the crap about turning radius, damping modulus, etc. is fun for engineers and folks like Physics Man, but for people like me who care more about how it FEELS and PERFORMS, they mean nothing ...

Gonz - We are a lot more alike than you may think: I don't deny that thinking about these things really is a lot of fun for me. I like knowing how things work and designing new things. It's something I have done since I was a kid, and its what I do for a living.

However, an equally important reason for my fascination with the techno side of skis (and skiing) is that it really allows me to make a much more educated guess at how a given ski might feel and perform (exactly your goals) without actually taking every ski I'm interested in out for a spin. For me, knowing about the technical end of things provides me with one more input (along with recommendations, reviews, etc.) in getting the demo list down to a manageable size. I'm not always right, but usually I'm usually not too surprised when I get the ski out on the snow. It's like a big game of reverse engineering for me.

Unfortunately, the main problem with my techno-augmented approach is that nobody ever publishes the most critical parameters of the ski (eg, weight, swing weight, torsional stiffness, and the fore, center and aft longitudinal flexes). So, except for the rare occasions when I get motivated to take a bunch of skis into my lab and do honest-to-goodness measurements on them, I'm reduced to going into stores and fondling the merchandise like everyone else. The difference is that I'm trying to get an idea of some very specific mechanical parameters of the ski when I'm doing the fondling.

For example, I'll not only get an impression of a ski's weight by picking it up, but I'll also hold it at the center and swing it back and forth to get a feeling of whether it has a low, medium or high polar moment. I'll not only flex it the usual way, but I'll turn it upside down and flex it again. I'll find a small step or rail and flex only the center section, flex it in torsion, bang it with my fist while supporting it in various positions along its length, listen to and watch the vibrations, etc., etc. Add in a little mumbo-jumbo and I could probably charge admission [img]smile.gif[/img] .

Fortunately, after many years of doing pretty much the same routine over and over, I usually can make a pretty good guess about how a ski will feel and perform, especially if is not radically away from mainstream designs that I am familiar with.

I suspect there are quite a few skiers with less of a physics background, but a lot more on-snow experience than me who can get an equally good feeling for a ski by going through the same sort of routine. The only difference between us is that they will not usually be able to put the reasons behind their predictions in words.

My real ya-ya's come when I finally get some skis out on the snow and find out what they are really like, see how close my guestimates have come, savor the differences between the various designs, and try to prevent myself from Oboe'ing over each new XX that comes along (poke ) .


Tom / PM

PS to Oboe - Don't you give me any grief about proper grammar and punctuation like you did that guy in the other thread. I'm looking for the verb "to Oboe" in my copy of Strunk and White right now to see whether the apostrophe is needed. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

[ September 20, 2002, 12:30 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #38 of 45
Physics Man, I fear that your remarks above are mis-applying my own remarks. The point I was making is that intermediate skiers enjoyed the ski that was easier for them to turn. That does NOT mean that the expert mogul ski was "right" for them, or that they should just continue skidding turns. The point was that they want to buy skis that are easier to turn - and those CAN be CARVING skis. So, yes, "Give 'em what they want" - but do it RIGHT. In this case, using "average skiers" to test "expert skis" didn't make much sense.

The Rossignol T-Power series has skis suitable for every ability from racer to plain vanilla intermediate. Frankly, my short [160 cm] T-Powers saved my interest in skiing - I was ready to quit out of frusration. Once my confidence - and PLEASURE - had been properly adjusted, I continued to ski, and now prefer my 170 cm mid-fat Rossi Bandit XX's.

The main point of my "rant" was this: Don't assume that intermediate skiers will buy what you want them to buy; and don't assume that they will be better served by a ski tested in their behalves by an "expert" and adjudged "good for intermediates". After the experts do their work, products need thorough review by the intermediates to whom they'll be sold. And intermediates would love to know what others of their ability level think about the ski. THAT will sell the right skis to the right customers, and give some valuable feed-back to the manufacturers and retailers.

I intend to continue my focus on skis for average skiers, of which I am one. The difference between me and the others of the "Mediocre Masses" is that I get the opportunity to search for and thoroughly trial a large number of skis. At the on snow trade show this coming February, I'll be looking for skis suitable for average skiers - and after I've identifed a model that fits that requirement, I won't stop testing it. I'll continue throughout the season to ski it, in varying conditions, in varying lengths. That's a good start - and what's needed next is to get as many other "average skiers" on these skis as feasible and get their feedback. While there's no magic method, I feel that reports based upon that kind of process reveal more, and are more useful, to average skiers and the manufacturers and retailers who would sell to them.

[ September 21, 2002, 08:41 AM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #39 of 45
Originally posted by Matter:
... I think the reason we're seeing this is because the high end "power skis" are becoming more and more forgiving. You and your XX's are the perfect example of this. The XX was the best all-around do everything ski I tried last year. It was also one of the most forgiving. In fact, the K2 Axis XP is the only other ski this year I'd rank next to it. Both the XX and XP are pretty forgiving skis. If you ski in the west and are advanced and above, I dont know why you'd want a Bandit X or Axis X. If you live in the east, why not go for the Axis XR or Rossi Viper carvers. I think this is the magazine test's reasoning as well.
I am not sure I agree with this. I cannot imagine the Axis XP or XR as forgiving. The Axis XP, and even the Bandit XX are far from forgiving in longer lengths. The Axis XR is clearly a beefier ski than last year's Mach S. I am convinced that most skiers could not take advantage of the full potential of these skis - especially in the wrong length.

Clearly magazines oversell skis. Just look at the multitude of mediocre skiers with new equipment. Many have high-end boots and skis, well above their capabilities.
post #40 of 45
TomB, I am a truly mediocre skier living and skiing primarily in Vermont. In 177 cm, the Rossi Bandit XX was just more ski than I cared to handle. However, I own it in 170 cm - and it's not only good for everything, it's really not that hard to ski. Once I figured out the ski's personality - a stiffer shovel and a less stiff tail - it has been forgiving to me. Although it punishes back seat driving, it rewards everything else, and in fact has conditioned me to stay out of the back seat!

But "length" is the key.

[ September 21, 2002, 10:33 AM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #41 of 45
The people on this forum are a dedicated bunch and have used all the arguments about demos and ski magazine testing over and over again. Now imagine your job is to stand under a tent and hand out skis to the general public. Most consumers never and I mean never pick up a ski magazine let alone read a ski test. So they show up to a tent and ask for demo and that they used to race or are experts or only ski powder(when less than 10% of the days in the region have "powder"). An appropriate ski is chosen and sent out, an hour later(if you are lucky) the ski come back and you get "this is the greatest ski ever" or "I don't know it didn't have a lot of pop" and the routine starts again. This lasts for the whole day or weekend and then you see the same person the following weekend at another area. Because skis are an emotional purchase, people rely on feelings to decide and sometimes the decision process takes so long that the skis they tried first and loved have sold out by the time they make their choice, and it starts all over again next year. I actually had two instances last year where the spouse said "honey you are taking longer to decide on skis than it took to buy our new Mercedes and it cost 80,000$" and "dammit we bought our house after a 15 minute walk through, I'm hungry lets go eat you can demo after lunch".
If you are honest to the sales guy on the floor or the guy in the tent they can probably pick the 1 or 2 skis in their line up that are going to work for you, and if you don't like that choice then they can probably provide an alternative from another manufacturer based on your feedback. I know from testing with World Cup athletes that even their opinions can be flawed because I've seen skis taken out of plastic, mounted and put on snow and the athlete never even noticed the difference between that and there regularily prepped skis.
When I first started demoing there was always guy who wanted "something super fast and stable at high speeds, and works great in the bumps" at that time those two criteria cancelled each other out-stability=metal=bent skis. So please narrow your choices down first(nothing wrong with brand loyalty) and then demo constructively and then buy the skis, next years models will be available in December.
Questions? respond to personal message as these posts take up way to much space.
post #42 of 45
Originally posted by gonzostrike:
... This means also that my guru's point -- you must have a conversation with the ski FIRST, and then listen to what it tells you -- reveals MUCH more about the ski than whether it will do what the hacker expects it to do. ... It will do a lot for you if you first listen to it, but if you insist on playing by YOUR rules, the ski will rebel.
I've been thinking about this comment since you first posted it. Initially, I was very attracted to it, but upon more reflection, I think there needs to be some caveats placed on it.

If you are clicked into a set of boards heading down a mountain, then I agree totally with it. One would be an utter fool not to pay attention to what your skis are trying to tell you. This advice is also an important part of *my* longtime schtick that you can improve your skiing tremendously by using a lot of different skis (particularly, in conditions they were not designed for) and really paying attention to what each one wants to make it work.

OTOH, I don't think this maxim is terribly applicable to the process of judging a particular ski and selecting skis out of a group for purchase. This is because there are times when I simply can't do what the ski is telling me it would prefer to do.

Here's a concrete example: Even expert skiers will intentionally use skidding techniques (eg, constantly scrubbing off speed in an endless parallel skid on a busy catwalk, etc.) most commonly employed by low level skiers. If I am considering two hypercarvers or two fatties, and both perform well in what they are supposed to do, but the tip on one flaps around on the catwalk on the way home like the proverbial "noodle", I'd be equally foolish if I didn't give the nod to the ski that was better behaved in a wide variety of situations.

Put differently, I'm saying that there are valid reasons why occasionally I'm going to have to force every ski that I'm using into doing something it doesn't really "want to do" (ie, excel at), and I'm a lot happier on skis that don't force their "will" (ie, narrow performance envelope) on me. Thus, I *am* going to take points off for "noodly" behavior, but it won't be my only criterion for judging skis.

This brings me to Oboe's example and point about intermediate level testers preferring short, straight skis that were being marketed as expert mogul skis. Oboe is saying, "Let them have what they want" (ie, even if the end result is short highly skidded turns). In principle, I agree with this, except there is no true "informed consent" here. Most intermediate recreational skiers have no idea that if they buy such a ski, they are cutting themselves off from the more rapid progress towards carving they would likely make on a more appropriate (ie, shaped) ski. If they are 5-day-a-year intermediates with no aspirations to better skiing, I have no problems with recommending that they buy exactly what these intermediate testers favored.

OTOH, I think that the best policy is full disclosure. Tell them in the reviews about the limitations of the sticks their intermediate bretheren favored, AND tell them that they will probably make better progress on other sticks, even though these were not the first choice of their peers in the test group. Each individual can then best decide for themself which route they want to take.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM

[ September 21, 2002, 02:15 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #43 of 45
Where would last year's K2 Axis X Pro be located (in either mag) and how would it stack up to the 2002/2003 skis?
post #44 of 45
I am surprised to see taht nobody has mentioned Ski Canada. I find their ski reviews to be one of the most comprehensive and unbiased around. They follow a strict criteria and have some of the best coaches and instructors from across the country volunteer to do the testing at Big White each spring. On a different note, has anyone gotten their hands on Rossi's RPMs? I am curious about them after reading the reviews but am a bit confused because in one review they are classified as "all mountain" and in another; "race". Cheers!
post #45 of 45
Oboe - Thanks for the clarification. I think we are pretty much on exactly the same page.

Tom / PM
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