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History lesson, please

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Allow myself to introduce, myself… (Sorry, Austin!)

First let me say I've been lurking on this board for a little over a week now, and you all seem like a great bunch! I never knew I would find a group of skiers like this!

A little about me:

I started skiing as soon as I could walk (at least that's what my parents told me!). I grew up in the Midwest, and have done all my skiing here. As a kid we would ski almost every other weekend, and lessons were very important to us. We took about 5-10 lessons a season. Due to economic circumstances I hadn't skied for the past 15 seasons until last Sunday. It was great to get back on the boards! Sort of like riding a bicycle, after a few runs I started to get the old form back. It's amazing, but I skied very well for my first time out in a long time.

Anyway, I was wondering if you could give me a brief history lesson, having been away from the sport for so long, I'm kinda out of the loop. When I last skied we were all on long, (fairly) straight skis, and I was wondering when the shaped ski hit the market and how it has changed skiing. Here at our local bump last week, I saw almost everyone on short shaped skis that are supposed to help the skier make better turns, but I saw very little evidence of that. : I saw maybe 2 or three skiers that looked like they knew what they were doing.

I'm still on the straights for now (1994 Dynastars- basically brand new- they had only been skied 4 times), but I know how to turn them, I'm picking up an older pair (2001) of Vokls this weekend and hope to get out on them next weekend. What will be the biggest difference in moving to a shorter shaped ski?

post #2 of 15
Welcome to this site! You'll love it around here...
post #3 of 15
BTW... once you go "shaped" you'll never "bend" back!
post #4 of 15
When you're doing it right on the shorter shaped skis, it will look pretty different from when you're doing it right on straight skis.. so your opinion of who was doing it right may be a little out of date
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
I guess I didn't phrase it correctly about the other skiers, and again- let me emphasize- this is at our local "bump" and what I saw is probably not indicative of most skiers at the "higher-end" areas, but to me it did not seem the skiers were any better (i.e. executing turns, skiing in control, "carving" turns) than they were when I stopped skiing 15 years ago... It could be the area tends not to attract the more skilled skier (no challenge, short runs, etc.), or just that the skilled skiers were not out that day? I don't know.

I did notice though, that the skilled skiers did seem to be quicker in their turns and looking good.

How much easier is it to turn the shaped skis? Is it like comparing a station wagon to a Porche?
post #6 of 15
Welcome back to skiing Kzoo, I would think that you maynot be seeing the best skiers on shaped skis at your local hill. I know that here i do see a lot of very bad skiers skiing on very good skis. As they say it is the skier not the skis. Your question might be better ask over in the Instructors foum. We have some of the best Instructors in the Nation that post here. they can be very helpful in getting you started right on shaped skis. Again welcome to epic and back into skiing.
post #7 of 15
I think shaped skis first hit in 1996. That's when I first demoed some Elan SCX's at Killington. When they first came out people were pretty skeptical and blew them off as just the latest fad. (At the time, several fads had just hit, including the "cap" skis.)

Regarding the differences.. wow.. it's been so long since I've skied a straight ski I'm not sure I can even remember. For one, I think shaped skis seem more stable under foot. Also, (and I'm not an instructor, so someone will probably tell me why I'm wrong), but once you apply a little pressure to front of your boot the ski should naturally start to turn. By the way, when I worked in a rental shop I used to tell people shaped skis encouraged good habits and discouraged bad ones. That implied if they didn't like shaped skis they probably had a lot of bad habits
post #8 of 15
You will find that shaped skis manipulated appropriately let you turn with less expenditure of energy and less stress on your anatomy, Kazoo1. If you make turns on your older skis with the focus on turning the tails, you will need to make some adjustments to get into turning the tips of shaped skis.
post #9 of 15
Hi Kzoo1, welcome. The biggest difference you will first encounter is the need NOT to unweight the skis, or very little. Is it Timber Ridge or Bittersweet where you ski, or are those areas still open?

And sometime I will tell you of a ski trip from hell, always 100 miles from Kalamazoo.

post #10 of 15
I kind of some it up like on the older straight skis, the skier turned the ski (at least pointed them left or right). On new skis, the ski turns the skier, or at least the skiers that know how to use them.
post #11 of 15
Hi Kzoo1; I just went through the same transition myself, over the last season or so. I had (and still have) some pretty strong impressions of the straight/shaped differences, so I wrote about them in a previous thread. In the interest of saving you some time, I've just copied it below:

__________________________________________________ _____________
Hello. Allow me to introduce myself: I am Unfrozen Caveman Skier.

As a former (never-was) racer in the late '80's/early '90's, I had a stable of skis set aside. I liked one pair of slalom skis so much, I had multiple sets still in the wrapper, waiting to be mounted for when I blew up each successive pair.

Cut to ten years later. I am a walking (or is it schussing) anachronism. Busy college years and even busier self-employment years combined to create a very infrequent ski schedule, married with almost total destitution--the perfect storm of technological stagnation. I continued to use various pairs of my old sticks, since they were still "new" old stock, all the while observing the shaped ski revolution happening all around me.

Finally, total destruction of all the old skis, as well as the advent of eBay sniping, allowed me to step out of time into the new millenium, starting last year. Shaped skis finally graced these uncomprehending feet, and let me tell you, as a good skier who used to make the occasional carved turn the old way, there's a BIG, BIG difference.

As an Unfrozen Caveman Skier suddenly thrust into the cruel world of curvy modernity, I have been forced to integrate the following major changes into my technique :

*apologies to all the instructors on this forum with their well-oiled teaching vocabularies; I'm not an instructor and I don't know how to properly express myself using your cryptic alien terminology.

Used to be, after floating through the first half of the turn, we would very consciously and heavily apply all the pressure on the downhill foot onto the front of the ski only, then the middle, and finish the turn with progressive pressure toward the tail of the ski, giving us an energetic "pop" out of our turns. Well. That's all gone now, thank you very much. Once you tip them up, today's skis just automatically hold what seems to be a pretty static--and powerful--edge. HEY, what gives?! Nobody today seems to know how long it took me to learn that other thing. Buncha jerks...

Gosh, that sounds awfully ski-instructory. Sorry; won't happen again. Anyway, I went to great trouble to keep my upper body diligently facing upright and down the hill no matter what my lower half (different from my better half) was doing down there. Sometimes, it seemed I'd be cranked in half in short-radius turns, waiting for my torso to unwind and add more of that elusive "pop" to the next arc. Worked beautifully, once I nailed it. I've tried that with the new skis; earth to old guy: they're not having it.

Now, you just kinda...ride them around...like driving a car. What? Your skis are headed that way? Better get your shoulders more or less lined up that direction too, bub, and hang on for the ride. It seems like a much more passive relationship with the ski, but I've learned it works better. IS it better? Dunno. In a related vein: Angulation. Much reduced. Nuff said.

This one's been done to death, and I heard a lot about it even before I made the switch, so I thought I was ready. But twenty-plus years of muscle memory doesn't give up without a fight, and it took me most of last season to convince myself that ALL of my turns are now powder turns. This was a shocking one; as a racer, I would come down so hard on my downhill leg... Trying that with the new boards never helped the carve, but it did lead to a lot of near-high-siding and crossed tips before I learned to lay off, and use more of a 60-40 split. My hunch is that I'll evolve back toward knowing when and how to properly apply max pressure to a single ski, but for a recent arrival to your crazy future-world, this remains an impenetrable mystery.

Overall: Perhaps this last season was so puzzling, and such a struggle, that it miscolors my perceptions of the new technology. But for now, I don't see shaped ski technique as an unreservedly positive change for expert skiers (as opposed to progressing intermediates or advanced riders, where the ease of use of the new technology, I believe, clearly pays off).

At least one negative seems to be that with the new skis, I feel so much more locked into my turns. THEY determine the radius, and I just sit back and let them take me around it. It's very glidey and pleasant--a nice flowing sensation, but as I said: noticeably more passive.

It's early yet, but I'm not seeing any new worlds opening up to me on the slopes. Everything's simpler, and that's cool. It's certainly a more efficient set of movements, and so I likely won't be as tired at the end of the day. I also don't doubt that I can hold an edge on ice better--but as an off-piste skier out west, I don't have to worry about that so much.

In the end, like TOLOCOman said, the biggest change may be that you have to stomp the 30-footer, and straightline it out. You also have to do a grab in the middle somewhere, and maybe a rotation. So with all that, one thing that I am happy about these days, is that I can finally afford health insurance.

post #12 of 15
Thanks for the post Shawn! I was begining to think I was the only person on earth not imeadiately loving the shaped skis. Currently, Im in my first season with shaped skis and still very tempted to go back to my old straight sticks.

Maybe its becuase Im a big guy, and never had a problem bending my straight skis into a carve, and I so loved getting "popped" out of the turns. These shaped skis seem to be sooo much more technically demanding.

Yet all I hear from my friends are "dont you just love these new skis!! Aren't they so much easier!!" blah blah blah.. yeah right.

oh well, I feel better now
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies!

Ott- yes,it isTimber Ridge that I refer to as our "local bump". I would like to hear of your "Ski trip from hell", was it Cabrefae?

Shawn- Thanks for the description- I am excited about trying these "new fangled" skis. I'll be sure to post my experiences.
post #14 of 15
Warning: long story.

It was December 1957. Living in Akron, Ohio, to ski it was either Laurel Mountain and Seven Springs in Pennsylvania or Caberfae or Boyne Mountain in Michigan. Laurel and Seven Springs were our usual haunts but this early in the season they were poor on snow so three couples decided to go to Boyne, Caberfae had only T-bars, Boyne had chairs and as it was before any Interstate roads it was described to us as a 10-12 hour trip through all the little burgs.

At four A.M. we were off heading toward Toledo where we ate breakfast about eight in the morning and then headed for Boyne on the old Rt. 27. We were still somewhere in Ohio when we saw the sign 100 MILES TO KALAMAZOO, a place we didn’t want to go. In the back seat were Fritz and Franz and Rosie, my sister-in-law between them, in front with me driving was my wife Ann and Franz’s wife, another Rosie, my wife’s cousin.

The second time we encountered the 100 miles to Kalamazoo sings somewhere on Rt .27, we decided to go and have lunch. Since Everett Kirtchner wanted too much money for anything in his lodge and we heard that the drinks at the Snowflake lounge were outrageously high, we made reservation at a motel along the RR tracks, Wildflower or some such, and we brought a couple of bottles of whiskey and wine along.

Franz a great skier from Austria had just immigrated to the US and was used to having his schnapps before lunch so the guys had a swig out of the bottle and the girls had a swig of wine, the bottles were closed and put on the shelf behind the back seat of the huge 1956 Chevy and in we went.

Now starts the hellish part. When we came back from lunch and opened the car door we were thrown back by the smell of whiskey. What had happened was that the whiskey cap was screwed onto the wine bottle and vise versa and most of the whiskey had drained into the back seat upholstery. The temperature was in the teens and the roads were snow covered. I was driving as the only licensed driver and after a few minutes got woozy just from the smell so we put all our ski parkas and hats on and drove with the windows down and there was that sign again: 100 miles to Kalamazoo!

We were freezing and despite putting a blanket and some towels over the seat, leaning back would squeeze out some booze. But eventually we made it to our motel in Boyne, checked in and turned the windows halfway down hopefully to get rid of that smell.

Next morning we saw it had snowed during the night and the inside of the car had blown snow all over the seats, we bushed off what we could and than the car wouldn’t even budge, it was frozen in but didn’t smell all that bad. We called a garage and they towed the car and put it inside to thaw open. We got a ride with some other skier staying at the motel and had a good time skiing. The car was sitting outside the garage with new antifreeze in it and the windows closed. Getting in the d rivers seat it cracked like cardboard from where the thawed snow on the seats had refrozen and it still smelled awful. We bought a five-pound box of baking soda and dusted the car seat to get the smell out but ended up still practically getting drunk from it on the way home.

And then we kept passing those signs again: 100 miles to Kalamazoo, it sounded like a song title.

A few other things happened on the way home, like black ice, a spill of orange juice which was wiped off with a rag and when the windshield fogged up to where it was hard for me to see out, that rag was used to wipe the condensation off only now to have a smear of frozen orange juice on the windshield.

All in all, a ski trip from hell. Never again will I go on a long trip where I am the only licensed driver.

post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
You will find that shaped skis manipulated appropriately let you turn with less expenditure of energy and less stress on your anatomy, Kazoo1. If you make turns on your older skis with the focus on turning the tails, you will need to make some adjustments to get into turning the tips of shaped skis.
Big toe-little toe.
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