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Feeling The Snow

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Most of my skis have always had a decent amount of snow feel.

When I go over a ridge or soft pile of snow my Atomics and some past skis translate the snow changes to my feet.

Recently I demoed the Head XRC 1200 and I loved the ski.

The thing I noticed about them was I had very little snow feel. They were smooth and carved like a mutha but I didn't get deflected or knocked around by minor terrain changes even at decent speeds. I nailed a big pile of snow and didn't even feel it.

Also some tuned down race slalom skis had this same solid feeling.

Is snow feel something that is usually company specific or more ski type specific?

I had never skied on a race ski or one with sandwich construction so I wasn't sure if that was a contribting factor.
post #2 of 25
Thread Starter 
Somebody hook a brotha up with some info.

I am really interested in this.
post #3 of 25
Scalce,

Usually, things like “snow feel” and other aspects of performance that are difficult to quantify will vary from ski to ski, within brands and within ski types. As a general rule, stiffer skis will translate more force from bumps and other irregularities in the snow or terrain back to the skier. That said, there are all sorts of things that ski companies do to alter this, such as adding vibration and dampening plates, etc. So I guess the answer is “it depends.” All slalom skis do not have the same “feel,” and various Head models will be different too.

I realize that this answer is not very helpful, but that is probably why you’re not getting much response on the thread.

Also didn’t you just post a review of various skis at the demo days? How did the skis you tried there compare?
post #4 of 25
You're definitely onto something here, and for my money I think it's brand specific. I like to feel the snow and get plenty of feedback from the ski. I think that's why I tend to really like both Dynastar and Fischer skis and tend to not enjoy many K2 and Volkl skis that I've tried. They tend to be much damper, and at least to me, that translates to less feel on the snow.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input.

The reason I am asking this question is my wife and I have been on Atomics for a few years. She skis on R:10s and I have had R:11s and recently the M:XI's.

We both loved our skis until we demoed last Thursday.

My wife and I both seem to like the same type of skis.

The funny thing is that the skis we agreed upon had very little snow feel or deflection from terrain changes. The Head XRC 1200 and the Elans were the funnest skis I have ever been on. They also plowed through anything. We did not take any of these skis in the bumps because of the conditions that day.

Yesterday she was ready to toss her R:10s because she doesn't love them anymore.

Since I really liked the XRCs I can't wait to try the new Monsters which are supposed to be great. I always avoided the Head skis because of their weight but this year they seemed to lighten alot of the models.
post #6 of 25
Scalce,

If you’ve tried ‘em and like ‘em, go for it. I would trust your own opinion more than anything you read on this board.
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
I just figured since I seem to like a certain ski if I could find some common trait so I could limit my demoing to skis with the same feel.

I want to maximize my demo time.
post #8 of 25
I hear ya. In my own experience, something as subtle as snow feel is difficult to predict. One example that sticks out in my mind is from the demo days at Stowe this December. My everyday ski is a production Atomic SL:11. I tried a bunch of skis at the demo, but the pair that make the best example are the Volkl P60 SC (the slalom ski) and 6 Star, which I skied on back to back runs. I may be the only person on this forum who didn’t like the 6Star, which I thought was too damp, and didn’t provide enough feed back. Essentially, I didn’t think that it had as much “feel” for the terrain as I would like. (Also, I didn’t think that it gave back enough energy relative to the energy I put into it, but that discussion will have to be another thread.) That said, I thought that the P60 is a great ski, and had a lot of feel for the snow (and energy). To me, the P60 seemed very similar to my SL:11.

Now one caveat, it also seems that this idea of ski “feel” is very personal. My roommate and I have pretty much the same ability level (we battle back and forth on the coin-op race course), but he is about 60 pounds lighter than me. While I thought that the SL:11s and the P60s were pretty much the same, he thinks that the Volkls are great, and the SL:11s are just good.

So if you are looking for an across the board generalization, I would say that stiffer skis (meaning skis that are oriented more towards the racing and high performance carving side) generally will have more “feel” than less stiff skis. (Certainly, you will know when you hit a bump on stiff skis, because you can get launched!) However, I’m not sure if you can take the generalization far enough to really be useful in selecting demos, because for slalom race skis, one brand might have better feel than another, while for all mountain skis, the other brand might have better feel. It’s tough to say, because different manufacturers have different ideas of how they want their particular ski to perform in a given segment.

Maybe if enough people chip in on the review board with comparisons, we could narrow this down a little better.
post #9 of 25
I have always thought that "feel" was related to the way the ski tip flexes. Some skis have a "hinge" where the flex changes rather abruptly from soft to stiff, which gives them more of an "on" or "off" feel. I think a medium stiffer ski with a progressive even flex (like most Atomics) allows you the best feel of what is going on with the snow.
post #10 of 25
Mudfoot,

Generally, I think you are right. But there are other factors affecting feel, including the most obvious one, the plate. The plates affect the dampening and the flex/rebound pattern, which can cloud the general rule of stiffer/progressive flex patterns having better “feel.”

That’s it for know. I actually do have some work that needs to be done.
post #11 of 25
While I suppose it depends on what you're used to skiing most of the time, Head skis (and especially the race and sandwhich construction ones like the 1100SW/1200) tend to be quite damp, which I think can lessen the "snow feel," since you don't get smaller vibrations from little changes in the surface.
post #12 of 25
The more need for immediate feedback.....(that is useful in the condition or course/line being skied)...... the more 'feel' a ski needs. This 'feel' relates mainly to the damping of a ski. The more damping the less feedback.....the less damping the more feedback.
Think of it in terms of shock absorption...or in a ski case it is closer to vibrational absorption.
With this in mind a slalom ski will tend to have more 'feel' than a Giant slalom and so forth.
This will follow suit within each manufacturer......Yet, between manufacturers this may vary greatly.

Damping is achieved by the types of materials that are chosen.....and how those materials are constructed.

Not sure if I brought clarity or confusion....
post #13 of 25
Although it seems counter-intuitive, but I have found that the more damp the ski is, the better feel I get from it. I have always liked extremely damp skis, like the old Volants or the Atomic Red (dead) Sleds. If a review says that the ski is "lively," I don't want anything to do with it. I like a ski that lays there on the snow until I tell it to do something, not one that is pushing back at me. My favorite skis I envision as rubber snakes. I realize that this puts me in the minority.

I believe the quieter and smoother the ski is, the more you can feel what is going on with the snow. A ski that is not damp gives you too much feedback to discern what is the snow, and what is the ski jumping around.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
I also think a lively ski that gives too much feedback can be a negative aspect to someone breaking into the level 8 range.

When some people ski on a nasty, steep, icey, slope they do not relax enough because they feel every little snow change and it may freak them out and get defensive. I would guess this would not be as big an issue with a damp ski which may allow them to guide the ski without feeling like it is getting thrown around.

I guess there are so many aspects of a skis feel that this is hard to determine.

I would also think someone's athletic ability, boot, boot fit, and footbed can have an impact on snow feel as well.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalce
I would also think someone's athletic ability, boot, boot fit, and footbed can have an impact on snow feel as well.
Excellent points
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalce
I also think a lively ski that gives too much feedback can be a negative aspect to someone breaking into the level 8 range.

When some people ski on a nasty, steep, icey, slope they do not relax enough because they feel every little snow change and it may freak them out and get defensive. I would guess this would not be as big an issue with a damp ski which may allow them to guide the ski without feeling like it is getting thrown around.

I guess there are so many aspects of a skis feel that this is hard to determine.
Your last statement quoted above is definitely true. The rest, however, is subject to personal taste, IMO. I like a ski that allows feedback in the conditions you describe because it allows me to feel the snow and react accordingly, if need be. To not have that ability would hold me back.

I think it's a mistake for some to assume that because a ski is lively and therefore not damp, that it's not stable in certain conditions. The same could be said for someone who assumes that dampness and stability go hand in hand. One doesn't lead to, or prevent the other from existing. My RX 8's are very lively, provide great feedback, and are rock solid in terms of stability in rough conditions. The same goes for my Ski Cross 10's but to a greater extent. Neither of these skis are very damp at all.

I'm not debating your points at all, as they're valid based on your perspective and experience. I'm just pointing out that it's a matter of just that: perspective.
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach13
I'm not debating your points at all, as they're valid based on your perspective and experience. I'm just pointing out that it's a matter of just that: perspective.
NP

I wasn't stating a generalization. I should have been more clear on that it is subjective.

But I wonder how many people out there are on a ski for a long while and never get the chance to be on that one ski that is just made for them.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
But I wonder how many people out there are on a ski for a long while and never get the chance to be on that one ski that is just made for them.
A lot
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalce
But I wonder how many people out there are on a ski for a long while and never get the chance to be on that one ski that is just made for them.
My guess is a lot as people to tend to buy what someone else recommends without differenciating what their own preferences are.

I demo a lot of skis and enjoy comparing how they feel and ski. I'm always careful when someone asks me for a recommendation to find out what types of skis they've liked in the past, and then based on that and my demo experiences, I can at least give an educated opinion.

You've hit exactly on why people should demo for themselves, before they buy. I've only ever bought one ski that I haven't skied first, and as it turns out it's the only one I've had that I didn't truely love to ski. Never again.
post #20 of 25
I see a correlation between the stiffness of the ski and the type of snow you're trying to feel.

A big, burly ski will plow thru crud and soft snow with no feel but toss you when it hits something harder.

A ski with a soft front end will allow you to feel the piles of crud, but will flex more and not toss you when you hit something a little harder, so more feel for soft snow and less feel for harder snow.

I think my preference would depend on the conditions of the day. For crud days, a stiff crud buster. For mogul days, a softer ski.
post #21 of 25
I've come to the conclusion that more than half my times out skiing at my local area after the first several hours I will be skiing on rock hard boiler plate snow. My experience with the Atomic SL 11 I skied for a couple weekends confirmed a super stiff ski almost allows for these conditions to be enjoyable. I think I would get a lot more utility out of a stiffer ski and compromise on "feel". I maybe guilty here of assuming stiff skis represent less snow feel than skis having more longitudal flex characteristics.

Its intoxicating to hold on the ice with a stiff ski and not washout. Maybe my ice technique lacks as well but I do better on a stiffer ski on rock hard snow.
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalce
NP

I wasn't stating a generalization. I should have been more clear on that it is subjective.

But I wonder how many people out there are on a ski for a long while and never get the chance to be on that one ski that is just made for them.
Couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why there are so many gear whores on this site. I’ll ski the same mountain three straight days and use a different ski each day. The feel of the trails change according to the skis I’m wearing. I can use my SL9’s the first day and love the feeling of very quick edge to edge turns with enough pop in the tails that I catch air on transition. The next day I’ll use my Head im75’s, which are the dampest ski that I have ever been on. I complain that they are too slow but a friend tells me that he can’t keep up with me that day. I am skiing much faster on these skis but can’t really tell because they are so smooth. They bust through anything and have no speed limit, it’s my damp GS ski with incredible edge hold. I’ll ski my Volkl 5 stars on Sunday and feel a combination of the sl9’s and the im75’s. A lot of pop and very stable yet not as smooth as the im75’s. I would say that for me, the 5 stars require the most effort.
post #23 of 25
See my review from a couple weeks ago comparing the Atomic GS11M consumer model 186 wiht Volkl P50 race stock 188. The Atomics felt more damp but had less snow feel than my Volkl P50s. I missed the feedback.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach13
You're definitely onto something here, and for my money I think it's brand specific. I like to feel the snow and get plenty of feedback from the ski. I think that's why I tend to really like both Dynastar and Fischer skis and tend to not enjoy many K2 and Volkl skis that I've tried. They tend to be much damper, and at least to me, that translates to less feel on the snow.
agreed. the thing that makes the Elan M666 so sweet is that its round flex is much like a Volkl Motion equipped ski, but its snow feel is well beyond a Volkl's snow feel. it's damp like the Volkl but somehow manages to transmit more info on the ski/snow interface. I don't know how, I just know that this is what I experienced.
post #25 of 25
Keep in mind that race skis are not designed to be skied on snow. They are designed to be skied on darned near ice. That's where the difference between "civilian" or off the rack, race type skis becomes apparent. On the hard stuff the "damp" ski may start to break up and chatter.

It's great to see more manufacturers coming back to sandwich construction, a few years ago you had one choice (Stockli), unless you could get your hands on race stock stuff.
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