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Question about real differences among intermediate ski

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Here's a not-too-heretical (I hope) question for gearheads and non-gearheads alike: I'm an intermediate skiier with ambitions to get better, or at least good enough to ski anywhere on-piste. I've read lots of reviews and posts about various intermediate groomer skis - the K2 5.5, Head 160 - every manufacturer seems to have a similar, no doubt good, ski. Given my experience and ambitions, could I really tell the difference between such skis?

Same question goes for mid-range boots.

Help would be appreciated, cause I'm beginning to drive myself crazy doing all this off-mountain research.
post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor
Here's a not-too-heretical (I hope) question for gearheads and non-gearheads alike: I'm an intermediate skiier with ambitions to get better, or at least good enough to ski anywhere on-piste. I've read lots of reviews and posts about various intermediate groomer skis - the K2 5.5, Head 160 - every manufacturer seems to have a similar, no doubt good, ski. Given my experience and ambitions, could I really tell the difference between such skis?

Same question goes for mid-range boots.

Help would be appreciated, cause I'm beginning to drive myself crazy doing all this off-mountain research.
Important facts we need: Where are you located? East, West, Europe, and where exactly? How much to you weigh; how do you like to ski (aggressive, cruising, etc); how important is comfort for you? Any foot shape issues?

I'm in a similar position as you in terms of skills. I ski in New England/upstate NY and comfort, ease of use, and stability are what matter most to me. I use Lexus/Cadillac-like Salomon Ellipse 9.0's. They're comfortable and quite stiff, lots of rear-cuff support (I have long calves), but not for the most aggressive of aggressive skiers. I'm glad I invested in good boots. My skis are 2003-04 Atomic C-9's and I just don't think there's a better set of stix for an improving intermediate in the East. They're terribly versatile.
post #3 of 21
Sailor, since Im skiing on Head and partisipate in promoting their skiis I would very much recomend the 160 or better jet the 180. In a ski test for a mag two years ago the 180 won the shootout. The turn radius for carving is arroung 14m for a 170cm long ski so its possible to carve on intermediate slopes without going too fast.
I really liked the Fisher RX6 as well.
Atomic skiis are also very nice and if you want to start with SL carving I think you should take a 160cm Atomic SL9. For bigger radius carving and cruising the SX11 is a wet dream come true. If you like skidding and carving you shuld go for a 170cm long r=14-18 fearly soft all mountain ski. All Atomics have a very special way of initiating the turn. Its very easy to start turning. And the grip is also unmached for regular skiis.

BTW, here is a good site for checking out older skiis as well http://www.skimagazin.de/
Its in german but just take PRODUKTTEST and use your imagination.

In this test the Atomic M9 won:
http://www.austria-skitest.com/skite...Allround04.htm
post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies. I'm 5-9, 175 lbs, like cruising (so far), ski in NY-NE. I have wide, relatively flat feet, with a touch of plantar fasciities (sp?). The mystery remains: How different are these skis?
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor
Thanks for the replies. I'm 5-9, 175 lbs, like cruising (so far), ski in NY-NE. I have wide, relatively flat feet, with a touch of plantar fasciities (sp?). The mystery remains: How different are these skis?
The skis you mention above both seem like great choices for you. As everyone will say here, demo if possible. Boots, I feel, take much more expertise than I have to make suggestions on. Technica Rival X10 or Salomon XWave 8.0's might possibly suit?

Will you notice differences between skis? It's a valid question, as intermediate-advanced carver reviews often rely on similar reviewer cliches: "smooth," "forgiving," "stable," etc. I use them myself! I have no doubt, however, that you'll notice many differences in overall feel and versatility among the various great aspiring carvers. Just in the two you mention -- both excellent skis -- I think you'll find the K2 more lively and "springy," the Head more sure-footed on harder/icier snow, among other things. HTH
post #6 of 21
Sailor-I too am 5'9" and weigh 175#. I ski the same places as you do. I was also in the same position as you were last year. I bought Fischer Rx6's. On my short list were the C9's, ic160's, and 4 stars. I bought the Rx6's and really like them. I do admit though, that any one of these skis is probably more than I/you need and any one would be fine. I got a really awesome deal on the Fishcers wth integrated bindings.

As for boots, go and try on boots. Go with the one that fits and feels best, regardless of brand.

-Scott
post #7 of 21
I'm a mediocre intermediate and have started demoing some new skis. So far only the Elan S8 and Fischer RX6. I liked both but could definately feel differences. To me, the Elan felt smoother and seemed to plow through cruddy snow a little better. Not sure how to say it but I seemed to feel every nuance of the snow more with the RX6. Using a car analogy the S8 felt more like a luxury sedan while the RX6 felt more like a sports car. My guess is that you'd probably be happy with either the K2 or the Head (or several other skis) but I definately think you could tell a difference if you demoed each.
post #8 of 21
like others, I was deciding last year between the RX6 and iC160. I went with the Heads for the same reason that Scott went with the Fischers: I got a great deal on them. (unfortunately, I couldn't demo either of them -- I'm lucky I ended up happy with my purchase.)

I'm at similar level as you and I love my skis, and I'm sure I'd love the RX6, too (or the Atomic C9 that I did demo, for that matter). I don't have enough experience with different skis to really answer your question, but my intuition is that you probably will be able to tell less of a difference right now as you will later on when you get better, use proper technique, etc. (for example, do you keep your weight forward, are you carving or skidding, etc.)

with boots, it's a different ballgame: fit, fit, fit.
post #9 of 21
Get yourself to a good bootfitter. Flat feet are a real issue in comfort/performance. My guess is you may need alignment work as well. Definitely a good footbed and properly fitting shell is where you need to start.
post #10 of 21

Sailor

Do yourself a favor and check out the Atomic Metron IX (9). For NE USA conditions, you can't go wrong!
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Great advice. Thanks very much. Narrowing down really helps.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
By the way, speaking of bootfitting, footbeds, etc., anyone have an opinion on US Orthotics in New York City?
post #13 of 21

flat feet problem

My feet have no arch at all -- as flat as they come. Meanwhile, I always had thought my feet were wider than normal and my solution to everything was to get wider shoes/boots. Two years ago, when I got fitted for a new pair of ski boots, I was surprisingly told that my feet are really normal width. It was the collapsed arches that made the instep seemingly extra wide. To alleviate the arch problem, I was suggested to try out the off-the-self cheaper version of SuperFeet (about $30). Once supported properly, the instep is now normal width. In fact, I was fitted for (and later bought) the Rossi Free X, one of the low-mid-wide boots. Luckily for me, that was all my feet needed. Be warned that initially it will take some getting used to with the arch support (=pain), especially during the half hour of skiing.
post #14 of 21

There are differences you will notice

[quote=Sailor]I'm an intermediate skiier with ambitions to get better.... Given my experience and ambitions, could I really tell the difference between (different) skis (I'm interested in)?

The simple answer is: YES. You really WILL be able to tell the differences between a number of different skis....BUT the only way to do it is to spend at least half a day DEMOing several different candidates.

Demoing can be quite eye-opening. Regardless of anything you read on this board or elsewhere, there is a fascinating and simple truth about skiing - we're all slightly different from one another - and one person's 'ideal' or 'perfect' ski may not be the ideal or perfect ski for the next person.

And, even though you may be an aspiring and evolving intermediate, if you spend time skiing different skis, you WILL notice differences. It helps to be skiing in good conditions; if it's freezing cold and there's an ice storm and you can't see anything then it may be harder to distinguish subtle differences between the way one ski handles for you and another. But - if you spend the time doing it ... I think you will be surprised. Try to be open-minded as you are demo-ing.

In my own demo experience, at different times - and different skiing abilities - I've had remarkable experiences ... where I spent the day skiing a bunch of different skis which were *supposed* to be good or great (according to experts) but which didn't work well with my (at the time) skiing style or abilities - and then, suddenly, you demo that one RIGHT pair of skis (right model, right length, right tune - a lot of things have to 'come together' unfortunately) - and all of a sudden you are blown away by how great that particular ski is skiing for you. You get elated, you get feelings of euphoria and power - like you can do anything - like the skis are magic - and, believe me, those are discoveries you can only make by actually SKIING different skis.

Good luck.
Miguel
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor
could I really tell the difference between such skis?
Sometimes not only there is a notible diff between two diff models, the same exact ski can give a totally diff feel after a tune, especially on a higher end ski. That had happened to my B1 recently.
post #16 of 21
Demo, demo, demo! You need to find a ski that fits your skiing personality, and your weight and ability. After sking over 40 years I have gotten pretty good at doing this for myself from reading multiple reviews of the same ski, but as an intermedite it is not likely that you have a sufficent knowledge base to make much sense out of the incredible amount of industry info and hype without trying the skis.

"Intermediate" skis have a softer flex and have tips that are torisonally softer, which makes them easy to initiate a turn on packed snow, and more forgiviing. The problem is that when you take a ski like that into crud or deeper snow, the soft tip is easily deflected making it squirrely. The soft flex makes it chatter and refuse to hold an edge on hard snow or going fast. Bottom line is that intermediate skis are designed to ski slow on packed runs.

If you want to advance to skiing faster and in more varied snow conditions you need a little stiffer ski (flex and torsionally), but such a ski will not be quite as easy to turn when going slow. When demoing more advanced skis you will notice that they seem a little sluggish until you get them up to a certain speed, and then they "turn on" once you are putting enough energy into them. Some of these skis will return that energy ("snap"), and others will absorb it ("dampening"). You need to find a ski that reacts in a way that suits your skills and style of skiing. So demo, demo, demo.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor
Thanks for the replies. I'm 5-9, 175 lbs, like cruising (so far), ski in NY-NE. I have wide, relatively flat feet, with a touch of plantar fasciities (sp?). The mystery remains: How different are these skis?
Can you get ou to a demo day? take a look at March 4 at Elk Mountain. you need to ski a few different manufacturers and models to see what you like, Each manufacturer is goin got ski differently like Atomic to Head to Volkl to K2. Unless you have to buy one or the other ski, I would definitely go for the 160 over the 5.5. Head makes great skis and the 160 is a great easy carving, fairly forgiving ski that has a pretty good learning-growth curve.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot
If you want to advance to skiing faster and in more varied snow conditions you need a little stiffer ski (flex and torsionally), but such a ski will not be quite as easy to turn when going slow. When demoing more advanced skis you will notice that they seem a little sluggish until you get them up to a certain speed, and then they "turn on" once you are putting enough energy into them.
This is something I have found quite noticeable on the 04' Atomic C:9s. At slower speeds they just feel like plain old sticks, but the moment you get them into the fall line they come alive and gain a personality. So far I have skied them mostly on midwest hardpack, but I did ski a few days in 6" - 8" of new snow and had no problems what so ever on them.

So far I have yet to experience any problems with chatter, even on the iciest runs.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
This has been really really helpful. Thanks, all, for clear thinking in a confusing market.

Think I'll go for the Heatomik2 iC9-60 5.5. What think?
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomic_918
Do yourself a favor and check out the Atomic Metron IX (9). For NE USA conditions, you can't go wrong!
Unless of course, you like to ski fast, and also want to ski for more than two hours.

Outside of that caveat, you'd be right.
post #21 of 21
sailor-
One thing to remember is factor in where you will be skiing. That is why my short list had the Volkl's, Fischers, and Heads. All of these skis are known to be great performers in hard-packed, icy, over-skied (basically crappy) conditions.

I ski Windham, Hunter, Belleayre (my favorate), Butternut, Catamount, and Thunder Ridge (its close to home). Occasionally I will go to Mt. Snow or Killington or Stratton.

But where I ski (and you too) are the most commonly used trails that are hard packed and often icy with tons of ruts and crowds.

So my advice is when you read other peoples suggestions, including mine, make sure that their reasons are pertainant to where and how YOU ski. Also, The NE and NY mounains are very different. People who ski where you ski should give you more accurate advise as to what characteristics in a ski you should look for.

I agree, demo skis is best, but I found it confusing, because I demo'd skis under different conditions and at different mountains. Contrary to most, I did not like the Atomics. I felt they wer less "spots car like". I demo's both Heads and Atomics back-to-back one day. Two weeks later I demo's the Rx6's and Volkls. I would have bought any of the three, I chose the Fischers because of the price. I was hesitant about the Atomics....but that is ME. I know I would have been happy with the Heads or Volkls, I am not sure about the Atomics.

If you cant demo and you really need to purchase (Princeton is having a big sale this weekend at the Meadowlands) I would go with the Heads of Fischers.

Good Luck,
Scott
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