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What makes a ski a good skidder?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I was just looking at Peter Keelty's reviews of next years skis. Among these, there were a few that he identified as good skidders, or "good for classic technique".

I'm curious about what exactly makes a ski a good skidder.

Some things are pretty obvious. For example, my 93mm waist Volkl Explosivs skid sideways very easily on hardpacked groomers. Its pretty obvious why. Tip them up a few degrees and the downhill edge is about an inch above the snow - no danger of getting locked into one track while they are nearly flat.

Try to tip them up even more and they torque back on your boot and leg, trying to get themselves flat on the snow again, so its harder with them to achieve the critical edge angle necessary to lock in a carve on hardpack, and so they keep skidding.

Skis like my Explosivs are soft and don't have a lot of initial camber, so their tips and tails aren't pressed into the snow very firmly, and hence, will probably skid easily.

For a given length and flex, skis with an extreme sidecut (eg, old SCX's) don't seem to skid sideways very well either (say, compared to old straight skis). The former seem to want to get into a "falling leaf" mode, where the tips and tails alternately release and grab, whereas this problem is almost nonexistent with most old, "straight" skis.

The real difficulty occurs when you try to identify a good skidder among a group of more normal skis, say all with sidecuts around 105-70-95, and when you feel them, they all seem to have similar flex, both longitudinally and torsionally.

Nevertheless, there is obviously considerable variation in 'skidability', and I'm curious what the main factors are. Is it just that hand flexing is too inaccurate, or is it something more subtle like the flex distribution along the length of the ski comes into play? Are other variables at work?


post #2 of 8
The skier.

Spank Me
post #3 of 8
The skier with dull edges.
post #4 of 8
A good skier can make any ski skid (funny, but many bad skiers manage that as well ), but there are structural difference that will help in that area.

For shaped skis, the Y format (or pintail) is the key. Nothing will release a tail from a carve faster than a relatively narrow construction. That is why straight skis skid so well - their waists and tails are relatively close in width.

Another attribute is the stiffness of the tail section of the ski. A relatively soft tail will release easier and, of course, be more forgiving of mistakes (such as going in the back seat).

You mentioned the overall width of the ski (i.e. fat skis are easier to skid because they are more difficult to put and keep on edge). While that makes sense, today's binding+lifters have all but eliminated that problem due to increased leverage.

For example I have the Rossi Viper 9.9 (184cm) skis and the Salomon AxeCleaver (152cm) skis. The AxeCleavers are 108-68-98, yet they carve like crazy while offering stability and versatility that few extreeme carvers do. That is because they are not too stiff and they have a Hangl plate that (combined with the bindings) give me almost 50mm lift. Of course, the short length helps too.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
TomB - You are absolutely right about the pintail shape helping with release.

Whereas most tip minus tail widths were around 10 mm last season (xcept for the Dynastars), it looks like this season, more mfgrs are introducing (or modifying) skis to have relatively narrow tails (ie a tip minus tail difference of 14 mm or more).

The width of the tail is clearly an important variable, but as I said, I noticed that among a group of skis with normal (say midfat) tail widths, some were stated to be good skiders and others not, so what's up in this case? Is it the degree of concentration of pressure under the foot, or something else?

With respect to leverage and lifters, you said, "...today's binding+lifters have all but eliminated that problem due to increased leverage....". For skis up to about 70mm waist, I agree, but I was thinking of real fats like the Volkl Explosivs that I mentioned that has a 93 mm waist. You would need a lifter about a foot thick to minimize the de-edging torque that baby generates on the groomed.


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[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited July 21, 2001).]</FONT>
post #6 of 8
P-man: No real info to support this, but I'd guess that the skis your're wondering about that are rated as easier skidders are a bit stiffer than the ones requiring more effort (I take the "effort" to be edge release movement, which actually might mean more relaxation).
post #7 of 8
Of course I assume we are talking about relative width of tip and tail. Because the greatest carving skis I have (running for ruler) - 44mm center, 85mm tip and tail.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Kneale -

I agree. I think flex is another very important factor. The best skidder I ever owned was a 205 Volkl Zebra. The next best was a 200 (or was it 205?) White Star. Both were incredibly stiff compared to today's skis. In more recent skis, my best skidder is my 198 Stockli Stormrider which is not as stiff as the old time boards, but close.

My theory is that sideslipping / skidding down the hill on stiff skis is kind of like using a trowel to spread spackling compound -the only thing that gives is the snow. If the ski is soft, once you are skidding and it starts flexing, you can wind up in some sort of complicated grab & release motion.

Now, I wonder if its the average flex (over the whole length of the ski) that's really important, or could it be just the tail flex is the important parameter? I daresay that when most people skid they are probably not forward.

If anyone has any recollection of the skidding behavior of skis with similar average flex and sidecut, but different rear flex, we could probably settle this.


Todd -

Good point - its almost certainly not the taper (ie, tip minus tail) that is important, but rather, either (a) the average sidecut, or (b) the rear sidecut (ie, tail minus waist).

For a fixed shovel and waist size, a smaller rear sidecut implies a larger taper and visa versa. Thus the pintail designs probably skid well simply because the rear sidecut is smaller than average.

(BTW - I'm obviously ignoring all factors of two in the above definitions).

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