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Help needed to pick skis for my son

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
He's 12 yo, 5-6, 150. Athletic with a powerful build -- linebacker type.

He's skied about 10 days per year the last 2 years, but has gotten stuck at the lower intermediate level. I want to find him skis he can use for (hopefully) 2 seasons, although I know that he might out-grow them in 1.

He's strictly skiing groomers right now, and I want to get him a ski that he'll be able to move up with -- easy turning, but stable. Hold on hard-pack/ice is relatively unimportant, as is performance in bumps.

post #2 of 20


150 pounds is pretty good size for a 12 year old. If that is indicative of his normal growth rate you are going to be challenged gear wise.

Though he may be big, he still will (probably), not have the motor skills to keep up with the muscle mass. This problem shows up all of the time in racers who start to outgrow their bodies.

I would look into a rental program for him at this point. Usually, a good shop will have a two tiered system. The lower end is the gear that got turned in, in "functional" condition or stuff from the rental fleet. The second tier will be new or newer good intermediate to high end gear. They will (check this), usually make adjustments at mid season if necessary. For a few bucks more, he is on good stuff and you don't have to worry about next year.

When you cost out the purchase of skis and boots and then having to have the bindings remounted the following year because he has outgrown the boots it gets $.

Buying used gear is also another option. Watch for the ski "swaps" and consignment sales in September.

Either way, don't stick him on skis that are too long, the weight/length formula doesn't apply to kids the way it does to adults and then shops usually put people on skis that are too long anyway.
post #3 of 20
Some shops around here also have boot deals similar to what Yuki was describing. A few tiers as well. You buy the first pair and keep swapping out as the foot grows---within your tier---but you buy just one new pair.
post #4 of 20
Boots is where you need to focus, with my son at that age, we replaced boots twice as often as skis. I agree on the skis, err of the short side. A ski that is just right for him next year, might be a bit short the following year. That is better than having a ski that is too big this year to be OK the following year.

When did he have his last growth spurt? When do you expect the next? Even though selection for gear is better earlier, try to put off the purchase as long as you can.
post #5 of 20
Most kids seem to like some thing the Salomon 1080, twin tip and flexable.

I can't believe I just recommended a Salomon ski. "Forgive me Volkl god".
post #6 of 20
I'd also throw in the PE in 169. Not too long, not too short, and even if he grows it should be enough ski to last a good little while (probably at least 2 seasons) and it won't break the bank (especially if you can find 04/05's - the black and gold ones). At your son's age, I would would figure a twin-tip will keep him happy, but all-mountain performance is what you want to get him (all without breaking the bank). Plus, the PE is considered one of the more stiff twins on the market (and unless your sons puts on major weight it should still be fine - I've skied the 169, mounted +3, at 250-260 lbs at 5'8" and very rarely run into a limitation with speed or edge hold).

Personally, I bought it as a toy, and was so impressed with it, the PE became my primary ski of choice for freeskiing and teaching. I've thrown it at everything, eastern ice/hardpack, BC powder, CO packed pow and powder, and everything from working with full on beginers to bump fiends to high edge/high speed adicts. The only limitation I found was on absolutely solid blue ice (but I hadn't been tuned in a while) at Cannon when everyone else, skiing racing and all mountain skis, was having trouble holding as well.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

What's a 'PE'

Sorry to display my ignorance.
post #8 of 20
Public Enemy
post #9 of 20
We tell all our kids to get well fitting boots that they can flex easily, and shape skis that reach between the chin and the nose.

post #10 of 20
Feed me info...!

Lots of factors go into this. You did not say how price sensitive you are? Everyone hopes to get a couple of years out of kid gear. We got lucky one year . Can you cycle through new boots (not just skis) if you need to? Used? Where is your kid skiing? What does he aspire to ski?

Or you can skip a bunch of our speculation and...

Given your login, I'd suggest you pay a visit to Gerk's Alpine Hut in Redmond (ask for Gerk or Vinny) or Sturtevant's in Bellevue (ask for Kevin for skis - or Kevin or Martin for boots). There may be an equivalent shop downtown? These guys can talk to your kid, scope out what they are really about and suggest appropriate gear. They are straight shooters & know their stuff. If you give them enough info (skill, aspirations, terrain, budget), you can put yourself in their hands and you'll be happy with the outcome.

Finally, even if you go used be sure to have a qualified shop (as in the two above or similar) mount/remount and check DINs. Sacrificing safety to save a few bucks is a bad idea...

Good and appropriate gear will make a huge difference in your kid's fun factor. Teens learn fast as heck. But they need gear that fits and works. Whenever I chaperone ski bus, I'm amazed at the difference decent gear makes. Obviously skill development matters, but it is so much easier on good gear -- especially with properly fit boots.
post #11 of 20
Because he is still growing, I would think you don't want to put a lot of money into equipment. There is really no way to avoid that with boots, but with skis there is: Buy a ski off of EBay that has a rental or demo binding on it. These bindings are made to slide to fit different sized boots. There are tons out there and I will let others give you suggestions. But he should not be on a stiff ski or too long of a ski.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

More info and responses

Hi all, and thanks for the messages.

The good news is that I think I have boots covered. I got him a pair of Atomic B9s (for $75 incl. shipping). His feet are about as big as mine, and haven't changed in over a year. I ski those boots and like 'em a lot -- they're reasonably easy to flex and fit our wide feet well. I think his feet have mostly stopped growing, but in the worst case, if he outgrows them, I've got a spare pair

I'd be happy to get him either new or used skis, and if I can get a season rental on a pair that will be good for him, that'd be OK as well. We season-rented the last 2 years, but I'm not satisfied that the equipment was right for him.

At the end of this season, he was skiing slowly on groomed easy intermediate slopes. We mostly ski at The Summit, Stevens Pass and Apex up in B.C.

More than anything else, I want a ski that will be easy for him to turn. If he spend half a season on them, skis out of them and needs something better, that's OK.

Specific responses:

Yuki -- I agree with everything you say. And if I can get a sense of what skis he should be in, a season rental program will be great. Problem is that right now, I don't know some specific skis to look for, and I really don't know what length would be 'too long'.

Phil P -- As I said above, his feet may be done. And he doesn't seem to really have 'growth spurts'. He's been steadily near the top of his age group in height, and always 95 percentile or above he weight. He's not fat, just long-waisted, with broad shoulders and hips. Just like his dad actually (I'm 6-2, 205)

Max -- I see a TenEighty and a Junior 1080. Are they the same except for length. I'm guessing I want to get him a ski in the 140 -- 160 range, and that appears to be about the break between Junior and Adult skis.

Manus -- From what I see of the PE, it seems like the ski he might like next year if he improves the way I hope this year. But for now, I think twin tips will just distract him from learning to ski.

Spendrift -- I live over in Kitsap -- those places are a bit of a haul. I've been meaning to go into Kitsap Sports -- their ski guys seem pretty knowledgeable. But I like to be a bit informed before I go talk to salesmen -- hence this thread BTW, I totally agree about good equipment. My first year skiing I had wooden skis with screw-on metal edges, cable bindings and lace-up leather boots. Second year, I got some Head 360s and step-in bindings -- big difference. I actually started to carve a few turns. Third year, added buckle boots (still leather, but much more lateral stability). Huge difference!

Again, thanks to all of you. Feel free to add any specific ski and length recommendations.
post #13 of 20
Yo Dad,

Twin tips might be the only thing between your son and a snowboard. I don't like to give advice, but you need to look at the big picture. If that kid picks up a snowboard it would be just like becoming a Mooney - remember them! Twin tips allow kids to stay away from that element.

PE 's are a fantastic ski as are Lines and others. Let him be a kid and and have some fun. You might be surprised by when he makes skiing 'his' sport. And by the end of the season maybe he'll have met some other kids who can help him improve as well.

Just a thought from another dad - a paranoid one!
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Paul: Thanks for the thoughts. But if he boards, I'll board Hate to brand myself, but I've done lots of X-country and plenty of back-country telemarking.

That said though, my goal is to get him a pair of skis that he'll easily learn to turn. He's athletic enough that as soon as he breaks through the wall, he'll be skiing circles around me.
post #15 of 20
IMO he should be on a junior ski for this year. He doesn't sound like that agressive skier that should be on a adult ski yet. You said "he was skiing slow on easy blues", I don't think he's ready for a stiffer ski yet.

150cm is a good choice. There are alot of good skis out there. Ski Magazine will have there "review" issue out in mid Aug you may want to wait or check out last years reviews in www.skimagazine.com or www.skipress.com. something like that.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Max -- you are correct. He's not skiing agressively at all. Thanks for the length advice.
post #17 of 20
The length suggestion is OK. I take issue with the junior suggestion. The reasons I say this are a) most junior skis are designed for lighter skiers; b) most are pretty narrow by today's standards - they won't play well if your son wants to start exploring off piste or ski different conditions; c) many are not optimized for carving.

Personally, I think the 1080 and PE are obvious good candidates. The softer 1080 (80 mm waist if I remember right) is a very versatile ski. One of my kids used it as an all around ski for a couple of years. He spent almost no time in the park, but the ski served him well on groomers and off piste (including cat skiing).

Another ski I'd suggest considering (although I know I'm in the minority on this) is last year's Salomon Scrambler 8 Pilot. It has the same basic profile as the Atomic Metron B5. And is torsionally rigid enough for someone in the 150-160+ range. Yet is is light and fairly soft. Lots of surface area for something that can be skied short. Super tight radius for carving. In summary, it'll turn like a slalom ski, but have enough float to let your kid explore the mountain. I suspect you can find it for cheap - even though it is the same as this coming year's model except for the graphics. Your kid could ski it in a 155, it'll ski easy, you kid will learn a ton, and he can take it almost anywhere on the mountain if he makes real progress this season. Lacks cachet though.
post #18 of 20
At twelve, one of my sons was about the same size as your son, and he enjoyed skiing the 1080 in a 161 for two seasons.

All my kids have benefited by spending time with a good boot fitter. I know you already bought boots for your son, but boot fit is so important that you might still want to consider visiting Sturtevants (see Kevin) or Gerk's Alpine Hut (see Gerk or Vinny) for boots. Even though your son has big feet, be prepared for his feet to grow even more. At twelve, we hoped our son's feet were done. So, we bought a pair of boots at the beginning of the season and then had to buy another pair mid season. Yikes! Luckily, we were able to trade in the boots when we bought the second pair.

The rental programs are a good option. Unfortunately, most of these programs seem to be for younger/smaller kids.

Luckily, somewhere around 16 or 17 they slow down or stop growing.
post #19 of 20
salomon 1080
post #20 of 20
public enemy is good too
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