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What difference does ski length really make?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
OK, for a lot of us, demoing skis is not an easy matter - expensive, lack of choices, availability, etc. At the same time, it seems that a lot of manufacturers (Volkl, Atomic come to mind) are cutting back on the number of different lengths in which they make their skis. With the 'new' shaped ski, everyone seems to agree that getting the right length is critical to your enjoyment of the ski. Baring those cases like the Rossi Bandit a few years ago where the 191 & above length ski actually had an extra sheet of metal in it and thus skied very differently than the shorter Bandits, at what point, in your mind, does a change of length really change the way the ski feels and, well, skis? To use my own personal experience, I'll grant that the 178cm Volkl G4 skis quite differently than the 188cm G4. But what about only a 7cm difference like a 184 TenEX vs a 191 TenEX? Or a 5 - 6cm difference? I've demo'd an Intuitiv 74 in a 182cm length and loved it. Would a 188cm be radically different?

I remember when the industry standard seemed to be a 5cm or less jump from one size to the next. I understand the economics of not wanting to manufacture so many different ski lengths, but it does make it that much harder on the buying public to find that "right" ski. Anyway just wondering what other Bear's have had in experiences trying various lengths of the same ski model w/o trying to get into another debate about shorter being better.

post #2 of 31

From my perspective skis design, hiow it is built, length and side cut have a direct potential effect on the "possible" turn arc that a ski can make.

Of course skier ability, technique, weight, pressure, ski slope angle, snow and temperatures are all factors effecting turn shape, and the true "possible" turn arc is probably never acheived, and if it is, no one knows for sure how to measure or observe it.

How a ski is built will effect torsional rigidity and flex characteristics, so 5 cm. can make a big differece not only between manufacters , but within a specific line of skis.

Tag, you already know what the bottom line mantra is: "Try'em before you buy'em!"
post #3 of 31
I personally think that most experienced and inexperienced skiers would immediately notice a 10 cm length change, whereas a 5 cm length change is probably getting down in the noise for most people. Good, experienced skiers may be quite sensitive, particular in their preferences, and not like a non-optimal length, but they will be able to adapt to it with much less difficulty than less experienced people.

As was hinted at by Wink, a frustrating aspect to the length decision is that the optimal length changes because of daily (maybe hourly) changes in snow conditions, who you are skiing with, where you are skiing, etc. You may wish you had skis 10 cm shorter when you are making slow demo turns with the kids, and 10 cm longer when you are ripping a big powder filled bowl with your buds.

There is no way around this except to consider all these different uses of the skis as you are demoing and trying to decide on a pair (or three). [img]smile.gif[/img]

I think that most active skiers eventually wind up with more than one pair (different lengths, different widths, different flex) to cover the spectrum of uses.

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 13, 2002 08:44 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #4 of 31
My first shaped skis were 191cm. The correct length (I thought.) I soon discovered WAY too long for the way I like to ski. Next came 180cm. Perfect right? For a while, yes. My 180's will soon be on the auction block. I'm downsizing again, 170 this time. I like immediate positive hook-up when I change edges. Shorter skis make this happen much better. I also noticed I don't have near as big inside tip lead on shorter skis. For the way I like to ski, they just work better.
I agree with PhysicsMan though, big mountain, big turn fast skiing, longer works better.
If you like to turn and carve a lot, when in doubt, take the shorter choice. My .02
post #5 of 31
I agree with Arby. I went from 195 straights to my first pair of shapes in 180 a couple of years ago. My next pair of skis will definitely be no longer than 170.

By the way, it seems that maybe not all manufacturers measure length the same way. I have a friend who has a pair of 193cm Elan MBX26's that appear to be longer than his older pair of Head GS skis that are supposed to be 200cm.
post #6 of 31
Arby is right that there is another factor going on with respect to length selection for long-time high level skiers, namely, taking years to convince yourself of the fact that 160-170 might really be the optimal length for much of your skiing.

Much to my own astonishment, I now probably log more hours on my shortest ski (a 173) than on any of my other, longer skis. Part of it is honestly buying for your own "everyday" skiing versus buying for much more interesting but less frequent situations / conditions (eg, pow, ripping when there are no crowds around, etc.).

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 13, 2002 09:47 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
post #7 of 31
Yep Physicsman - there are two standards for measurement. Cord Length: the actual distance between the tip of the ski and the tail. Or Running Length: the flat part of the ski that will touching the snow when on packed snow.
post #8 of 31
I think Todd meant to direct his comment to Tominator. Tom / Tominator / Todd ...whatever.

> ...a pair of 193cm Elan MBX26's that
> appear to be longer than his older pair of
> Head GS skis that are supposed to be 200cm.

Tom / PM
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by wink:
From my perspective skis design, hiow it is built, length and side cut have a direct potential effect on the "possible" turn arc that a ski can make.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No disagreement there. I can rip better short fall line turns on my old 201cm Dynastar X9's than I can with a pair of 184cm TenEX's. Length certainly plays a role in determining a ski's performance, but, to me, construction and sidecut are much more critical than length in determining how a ski will perform.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>How a ski is built will effect torsional rigidity and flex characteristics, so 5 cm. can make a big differece not only between manufacters , but within a specific line of skis.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Again, Wink, I agree that construction is key, but disagree that the 5cm will make much if any impact. I've skied the 184cm TENEX and the 188cm G4 and would say that the differences in how those skis respond is almost entirely about their differences in their respective construction and not about the 4cm difference in height.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Tag, you already know what the bottom line mantra is: "Try'em before you buy'em!"<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Yep, I sure do, and I agree. The problem for me and I'd speculate for a lot of skiers out there, it's just not always feasible. W/O trying to sound to cocky here, I know that I could handle a 191cm TENEX, but that doesn't mean I would really enjoy it. But when I've demo'd the ski, I've only had one choice - the 184cm. So, I can't even try the 191 to see if it might be a better ski for me. Likewise with the Intuitiv 74. I really liked that ski and would love to add it to my quiver as my regular all-mountain ski. Demo'd it in a 182cm, but again that was the only size available to try. Followed a link in another thread on ski length to an old Dynastar size chart that said I should ski the old 4X4 Powertrac model in a 191cm length. Would the 188 I-74 be a better fit than the 182? Maybe Physicsman has it right and it's more a matter of convincing us long-time skiers that, in some cases, shorter skis are the optimal skis. Maybe the real question here is if you can't try a ski in various lengths, how do you know what is the optimal length?
post #10 of 31
Oops - your right Physics . . . thats what I get for talking on the phone, listening to music, reading and typing all at once! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #11 of 31
Tag, IMO if the difference is 7cm (the 184/191 conundrum that Volkl always has), you cannot go wrong either way. It's just not that much difference.

In general, if you like making shorter turns, go shorter, longer turns, go longer.

In both cases, you'll spend half the time thinking "I should have gone longer" or "I should have gone shorter" . But the skis will be fine either way.
post #12 of 31
There are two questions here: (a) The difference length makes in one single model of ski, and (b) length in general. Speaking to the first, my recent experiences have been mixed:

I owned and loved the K2 Mod 7/8 [today's Axis, no X] in 174. On advice of some folks, I sold them and bought the exact same ski in 167. I also love that. I have found no situation in which I am handicapped by the shorter length, but they are somewhat more maneuverable, enough to make a difference in some situations. For reference, I am 5'8" tall and weigh 145 pounds.

I demoed the Salomon Pilot in 170 and in 160, on the same day over the same terrain. LOVED the 170 from the get-go and never had any difficulty with them. HATED the 160 and got into trouble with them on several occasions - and the shorter length gave me no advantage over he 170, which aleady was maneuverable enough. The 160 ws more demanding, the 170 was more forgiving. However, I also own and ski the Rossi T-Power in 160 and never have the uneasy feeling or problems that came along with the 160 Crossmax Pilot 10.

I originally had trialed the Dynastar Intuitiv 71 [new for next season] in 175, on hard snow, and really liked it. More than one respected ski writer advised that I'd be better off on the 167. I was unable to line up a back to back trial, so I trialed the 167 on its own, the same day I demoed the two lengths of Crossmax Pilot 10's. Although I expected the 167 Intuitiv to be more maneuverable than the 175 - which is good - I also was concerned about its stability, particularly at speed. I wrung it out as much as I could and skied as fast as I ever have to test it's reaction. It was GREAT at speed - GREAT!! I need no longer length in that ski and would opt for the 167.

So differences in ski length CAN make a difference, more in some cases, less in others. I hope this is responsive to the orignal question you posted, Tag.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 13, 2002 01:11 PM: Message edited 2 times, by oboe ]</font>
post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 
Oboe, yes, it does. In some ways, it confirms what Terrapin and others posted above - that a big jump in size, like going from a 160 to a 170 can and often does make a big difference to how you feel on a ski. Would also agree with Terrapin's comment that if you can't demo, it doesn't matter what length you choose, you will always wish you had opted for the other length.

This is the first time in all my skiing years that I've actually had two pairs of skis in my 'quiver'. Just purchased a pair of P40 Platinum's (188cm) to go along with my G31's (193's - if I remember correctly). Am now looking to replace the G31's with something that is just a little more powder oriented and the Intuitiv 74 fits the bill - about as wide as a mid-fat can be without becoming a powder board. Went back and forth about getting the G31 in a 188 vs the 193. The 193 is a great ski, but the more I've skied it, the more I wish I'd opted to go shorter with it.
post #14 of 31
I guess you hit it, Tag: A jump of 10 cm is a biggy, an jump of 5 cm is a matter of personl preference, and a jump of 7 cm is neither fish nor foul - I mean FOWL!! One the one hand, it's nice to have the smaller increments. On the other hand, given the option, the smaller increments would cause us to take a year and a Wednesday to decide what length to buy!
post #15 of 31
Short skis = short .... (fill in as desired)

I moved recently from a 184 (Rossi Bandit XX) mounted regularly to a 185 mounted slightly forward (twin-tip, Salomon Pocket Rocket). I didn't notice the difference at all until I skied hard moguls. There was too much tail and which was only about 2-3cm difference between the two skis.

I've always skied fast and hard and can tell you I'd rather deal with the extra length in easier conditions than not have the stability when needed.
post #16 of 31
Thread Starter 
Hey Oboe, is the Intuitiv 71 replacing the 69 or the 74 for next year or is it an additional offering? Does it have the autodrive plate and construction like the other Intuitiv skis?
post #17 of 31
VTskibum: A too short ski can get one into trouble, as I have posted with regard to my experiences with the 160 Crossmax Pilot 10 versus the 170 Crossmax Pilot 10. I did not demo the 180 in that model. A ski too long in the trees can be a killer, and a ski too short in deep stuff or roaring at warp speed can be dangerous. If the difference is SLIGHT, however, then I agree that a LITTLE too long would be preferable, to me, versus a LITTLE too short. However, if Pierre, eh! were posting in this thread, he's have something else to say about it, and is reported to do VERRRY WELL with skis shorter than you'd expect.

Tag: The Dynastar Intuitiv 71 replaces nothing - it's a new offering. It's a more versatile choice than either the 74 or the 69c, a top choice for a go everywhere, do everything ski. The 74 and the 69c are still on the menu.
post #18 of 31
Length matters. I am very touchy about this. Two centimeters too short and I notice.

My skis *must* be 185 cm. No more, no less (no sidecut either). I don't care what they are constructed of or how much they cost. I don't care how old or how new. I want this exact length and am very adament about it.

My sincere apologies to all the ski shop personnel who went digging in their backrooms, basements, and attics for me. I didn't catch what you were muttering, but thanks for looking!
post #19 of 31
WhosThatGirl: My skis *must* be 185 cm. No more, no less (no sidecut either). I don't care what they are constructed of or how much they cost. I don't care how old or how new. I want this exact length and am very adament about it.

Wow, I cannot believe you feel that way. You are missing soooooo much. Each ski has a "personality" of its own. Changes in length, sidecut, construction give each ski a "personality". Discovering that "personality" can be fun even if you decide that it is not the "personality" you want to have a relationship with. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Even more strange is that you insist on a certain length and no sidecut, yet you don't care about construction or about how much life is left in the ski. Don't you care about the rebound, dampness, liveliness, torsional rigidity, ability to carve, stability, etc. I know from past posts that you ski in the old style (legs together, skidded turns) and that is OK if you enjoy it. But even old style skiers care about most of the characteristics I mentioned above. I must say I am puzzled. Especially since my greatest pleasure, when on vacation, is to take a couple of days to rent skis and demo as many as possible. When going out West, I don't even bring my own skis.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 14, 2002 01:29 PM: Message edited 1 time, by TomB ]</font>
post #20 of 31
Perhaps you can find some 1970's or older skis with "no sidecut", but otherwise they have all had some sidecut for a long time, and by the late 80's and early 90's that sidecut was getting quite deep . . . though clearly not "deep" by todays standards.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 14, 2002 03:05 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd M. ]</font>
post #21 of 31
Well, my beloved Fritzmeier Supercup 560's were circa 1978. [img]smile.gif[/img]

TomB - I do care about all those ski characteristics but since I insist on a straight ski above all else, what I want in terms of construction, torsion, camber, etc., doesn't matter. There is no market.

Now, back to Tag's thread...
post #22 of 31
And again, why are you talking about buying new skis at all then? You will not find any straight skis made in the last 25 years, though you will find some straightER skis from only 5-7 years ago.
post #23 of 31
Hmmm - looked back at old posts, and this thread. I think we are being trolled! :
post #24 of 31
A couple of years ago, I moved to a tropical island and stupidly sold them. I was due for a new pair anyway, and figured I'd just buy new when I could ski again. When I moved back to the mainland, the entire ski marked had upheaved.

I found some skis, though. So I'm good.
post #25 of 31
"Upheaved"? Well I suppose so, like the car market upheaved when fuel injection was introduced. The music market upheaved when CD's were introduced. Like the airplane market upheaved when the jet was introduced. And so on. :
post #26 of 31
Tag , on the 10ex thing I find the 191's wanting a little more room in tight spots than the 184's , I tend to GS most everything I can anyway so I never noticed a real problem. The 191's also have a plankier feeling on groomed more like a GS feel where the 184's seem to let you carve a bit easier, personally it's not that big a difference for me.
post #27 of 31
Todd - Give it up! We've been through this before, and she's just not gonna budge!

Reminds me of a story ...

I went skiing with my son and a neighbor and her son. She's apparently skied for almost as long as I have. She was a competent skier, but had 10-year old equipment and 20-year old technique. OK, I'll admit I was trying to show off, pushing hard in my newly developed ultra modern style. Couldn't get even a hint of a complement out of her! Then, as we were going up the lift, we watched a guy with his feet and knees locked together and his weight back hopping and scarving medium radius turns punctuated by wrist-flicking pole plants. She exclaimed, "What a beautiful skier!" Go figure!

My current thinking is that my next pair of skis will be recreational super-slaloms in a stable all-mountain length of 170cm.
post #28 of 31

I know a guy who has an old 67' Peugeot for sale. If you are that kinda retro-gal you can skip turning the key and go back to hand cranking!

BTW, I too was one of the holdouts like yourself ....... But gettin "Religion" wasn't as bad as I thought.
post #29 of 31
Each to their own I say.

It used to be skis had to be long and thin, but since some people discovered that length isn't everything, now we have other factors to consider.

You see, it's not just length. Width, shape, surface area, and stiffness (longitudinal, lateral, and torsional) also matter.

But most importantly, you're equipment needs to function properly, with you in control, then whatever sort of skis you have, you'll get plenty of pleasure out of them until they wear out, or you upgrade to better ones.

post #30 of 31
Naaaah, I'm more of a Porsche girl. Even worse than selling my skis, I sold my red '75 Porsche 911S. What a car!

Now, I honestly don't want to take up anymore of Tag's thread. I will also keep my ski opinions to myself (well, I'll try haaaard [img]smile.gif[/img]).

Tag, shaped ski length correlates to weight nowadays. Just don't go too long. My husband is skiing on a pair of Rossi Vipers that were given to him but they are too long and are a hindrance.
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