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Ski Gear FAQ Revisited

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Steve (ssh) and I were thinking, that since we just reached 1000 hits on the Gear Advice FAQ that it might be time to think about adding information that is missing or revising information that is there. I was thinking of adding a section that explains how the skis from each manufacturer tend to ski overall. If we were to do this of course, we would need a lot of input, since I don't want to just post my opinions and ssh's opinions on each manufacturer, as I don't think that would be a fair representation of each. So, please give us your input. We will let the new thread run for a few weeks, and then we will add/change the sticky FAQ with another post or edit what is currently there.
Please, help us out. I will post my observations of each of the major brands in a few days, but please give me a head start and something to work from.
post #2 of 15
I think you and Steve are thinking too much. Trying to discribe the overall characteristic of a manufacture will by like trying to nail jello to a wall. If you need proof just look at the Marker thread, people cannot agree on something as simple as a binding. Any you want to do a whole ski company? LOL, good luck.
post #3 of 15
100% with Phil here, I expect you would never get the lid back on that can of worms.

I'd like to see you add the link to resolve binding indemnification questions for bears thinking of installing old school bindings.

Great sticky otherwise...I would just continue to edit for content and perhaps just a bit of "wordyness"....

my .02
post #4 of 15
What Helluva was thinking about is some of the general "Austrian ski v. French ski" stuff of the '80s. These skis tend to be lively, these more quiet, etc. The kind of thing that shows up in the general, "I'm thinking about skis and just don't know where to start" threads.

We're not intending to be the end-all. Just some broad brush stuff. Do you think this is a really useless approach? How do you tell someone who is looking at the broad set of possible skis how to narrow their choices? "Demo everything" isn't particularly practical.
post #5 of 15
You just can't go at a manufacturer with a "broad brush" anymore. Look at Dynastar. The Legend series sure doesn't feel or ride like anything that was typically a French ski before. The 8800 and Pro Rider are big burly skis on the order of many German "type" skis. Personally I don't think it would help "lost" consumers and would end up being more of a liability.
post #6 of 15
Originally Posted by Noodler
You just can't go at a manufacturer with a "broad brush" anymore. Look at Dynastar. The Legend series sure doesn't feel or ride like anything that was typically a French ski before. The 8800 and Pro Rider are big burly skis on the order of many German "type" skis. Personally I don't think it would help "lost" consumers and would end up being more of a liability.
I agree totally, it can create more questions than it will supply answers.
post #7 of 15
Peter Keelty produced several articles when writing a column for AMI on the Snow several seasons ago on "ski flavors" by manufacturer. If I recall correctly, he maintained that the different” flavors” are essentially the product of varying company design philosophies and material biases and tend to cut across performance qualities e.g., racing super-cross, all-mountain etc. While acknowledging that the difference in "flavors" has become less pronounced than before, he maintained that in a blind "taste" test Salomon could be distinguished from Rossi, Fischer from Atomic, Elan from Stockli and so forth. The articles made interesting reading. With the multiplicity of materials now being used by many manufacturers I'm suspect that the flavor approach would be more difficult. However, as a general matter it likely still has some relevence.
post #8 of 15

Nice idea but.....

It starts becoming very subjective and, while I fully respect your objectivity and that of many other contributors, for some others loyalty to brands gets a bit more like Nascar followers!

Still might be fun to sit back and watch the flame war.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
The point being, is that you can't possibly tell anyone that a 145lb male skier won't feel the difference between a high end Volkl and a high end Salomon. Every brand has charactersitics, whether most want to admit it or not. If you go through each band starting with their race skis, and then ski the rest of their line... guess what most of the rest of their line skis like (assuming the larger ski companies)? There are certainly characteristics that carry over from one season to the next, or someone like Phil may HATE his Metrons next year, or our good friend volantaddict may wake up skiing only volkls. I will try to find the thread that I did this in a few seasons ago. It was well received without a lot of objection. Instead of rewriting, I will copy it over...
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
By the way, the true purpose of the thread was to nail down changes to what is currently in the FAQ. The latter was only one idea for an addition.
Keep them coming.
thanks guys/girls.
post #11 of 15

originally posted by heluvaskier
The point being, is that you can't possibly tell anyone that a 145lb male skier won't feel the difference between a high end Volkl and a high end Salomon. Every brand has charactersitics, whether most want to admit it or not. If you go through each band starting with their race skis, and then ski the rest of their line...
Greg, I am in full agreement with you on that. What i was expressing (rather clumsily) was that subjectivity starts to have a much greater influence because different people ascribe different characteristics to the same ski - witness the regular "Salomon skis suck" threads or the diverging views on something like the pocket rocket. Diametrically opposed views of the characteristics can be equally valid depending on the experience, test conditions and preferences of the reviewer. I think that is where it becomes much more difficult to categorize.

Good idea though and good luck
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

What do you think?

See this thread:

French and American all mountain skis usually tend to perform like was described above. They are very damp and do not tend to be lively. They do however like to lock into a carve usually and will ski very well over many different conditions regardless of how the pilot drives them. An expert or a novice can ski their top end skis and see two very different ends of the ski's performance spectrum. A good example was the Salomon Xscream, and now the Crossmax 10. The same can go for the Dynastar Omeglass 64. I do have to mention that rossignol race skis are actually some of the softest in the business (their race stock skis that is). The 9X and 9S world cup skis are noodles. They are insanely damp and smooth over the snow, but tend to not track well when the snow/ruts get rough. Their retail skis are designed to be stiffer so that rough snow does not effect their performance like it does the stock skis. This however makes the ski lose the advantage that a very soft flex can offer in a race course (tighter turn radius with less sidecut - works great for new GS skis that have to have certain radius - 21m - can turn well below that with the right flex).

German skis... okay here goes... german skis are not friendly to ski on unless you are AGGRESSIVE. This means, strong, powerful, fast, etc. This is maintained for mostly only their top end skis, but it is the same across the spectrum. Volkl race skis are very stiff... as are their free ride skis. They are great for an aggressive skier, but anyone who isnt on top of their game should look elsewhere for recreational skis if they are considering skiing on top-of-the-line equipement. Mostly the difference you will notice here is the presence of large amounts of rebound, good edgehold, and punnishment for not skiing over the sweet spot. The french skis wont punnish you if youre not over the sweet spot, but they give up in the rebound department.

Austrian skis... Have a very snappy rebound to them. Very lively. Like to turn and once youre in the turn they dont let you out of it - especially Atomic. They tend to be stiff, but middle of the road - as in not as stiff as Volkl. They do like ice, but you have to be prepared to carve when they get to it. The race skis will require muscle typically, and dont like an apathetic pilot.

These can be further broken down by manufacturer as well... which if im bored after i start dinner i may post.


After Dinner

Okay, by manufacturer (I'll do the major ones):

Smooth, damp, responsive, requires to user to ski the high end models, but they still do most of the work for you. Not a lot of rebound. Decent edgehold, but solid enough for the average recreational skier (ie: racers need not apply). Retail race skis are slow, but the stock skis are extremely fast - especially GS skis.

Similar to Salomon, same characteristics with slightly more rebound to the ski. Like to ski very round smooth arcs. The retail race skis are not as fast as other companies skis, and cannot be pushed really hard.

The freeride skis are very smooth and like to arc. They tend to be very soft and responsive. The race skis and carver skis however are toward the stiffer end of retail model race skis. This makes them ideal for skiing crud and cut up snow. They will require a fairly aggressive pilot due to their stiff flex. The stock models are very soft and very fast, but awful when not in a course or on perfectly groomed snow (ice).

The skis arc very nicely (buttery smooth). The race skis do not like to let go of a turn however. Once they start to carve they will maintain a carve, thus skidding can be difficult. They usually are known for very good edgehold, but often need a strong heavy skier to realize their potential. Recently they have adopted softer flexing skis, but int he past they were known for very stiff race and freeride skis. Good luck getting race stock skis... if you get them... good luck turning them.

Great race line. Very stiff race skis. Retail models like to turn turn and turn. Stock models are very lively and give good feel for the snow you are traveling over. Not as damp as a french ski - or even an atomic for that matter. The freeride line isnt as popular in the US as other more prevelent companies.

I can only comment on nordica race skis. They are built like tanks, weigh about as much, and have the inertia of a tank. The good part is that they move more like a bullet train. They are smooth, and fast. They soften up after you ski them a few times... or you just stop getting beat up by them. They are very damp - even the slalom ski. Although it is damp it will offer great rebound if you give it the input.

Again - only race skis. Very lively. Least damp of any ski i have ever been on. You can feel every aspect of the terrain you are on. They also go like hell. They also have wonderful edgehold. A very strange feeling if you are used to skiing on a ski like Salomon that lets no vibrations to your foot. They are also surprisingly stiff, and really need to be skied hard - no relaxing.

See Atomic.

All race stock construction. Great skis. Powerful. No other company can compare tot he performance you can get out of these skis. Expect to pay for what you get though. If you cant get a race stock ski for a main stream company you can always order one from Stockli... since they only build race stock skis.

They are very stiff skis that need to be pushed, not merely relaxed on. They will give back, but you can easily push them beyond their boundaries unless youre riding a stock race ski. Their freeride skis are very good, but again, very stiff. The stiffness i have found is not always practical, especially if youre under 170lbs. They can be skied by lighter individuals, but dont expect to take it easy.

Very smooth, moderately stiff skis. They love to arc, especially the race skis. Very few recreational skiers will ever be able to out ski their recreational race skis. Forget out skiing the stock skis. The slalom skis have great rebound. The GS skis are very smooth and damp. Edgehold is never a problem, but staying focused on the edge can be a problem.

Head skis are VERY damp. They seem to stick to the snow. When i say stick to the snow they feel like they hug the snow terrain. they turn very easily. I only have experience with one race model, so i cant comment on the race skis a lot.

K2 seems to ski like french skis. They don't have amazing rebound, but they will perform at a high level. The race skis are easy, but slow. The company seems to market more toward recreation rather than race. The freeride/park skis are very good as well. Check out posts on here regarding the new powder skis. Usually you can't go wrong with a K2 for recreational skiing, but i fyou have higher end performance in mind, it is not the route to go.

Thats all for now, i know i left out Line, volant, and a few others, but i figure others can add those. I went through each of those very quickly, so i may have mis-spoke or been vague on a few, but they should convey a general idea of each brand. To get the best view of each brand, try them all. See what you like to ski on. My personal preferences are Salomon, Nordica, and Elan.



That is what I originally wrote last year. Let me know if there is any relavance, and if so, please note differing opinions and things that should be changed. As I stated, these are my reactions, but are also what I consider to be commonly held reactions to each brand, highliting characteristics, versus weaknesses and advantages.


post #13 of 15
By me: "Peter Keelty produced several articles when writing a column for AMI on the Snow several seasons ago on "ski flavors" by manufacturer...The articles made interesting reading..."
They are still in the AMI archives:
post #14 of 15
For what it's worth, I liked the manufacturer list. Gets people in a ballpark, at least, so someone isn't wasting time/money looking for a damp Fischer or a stiff Rossignol. These caveats: Impression should be based on both recreational and race for each brand, even if it means finding collaborators - otherwise you're comparing apples and oranges instead of different strains of apples - and it needs to be updated every year. Volkls the last few years have changed their overall "feel" a lot more than Dynastars, for instance.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Beyond: I agree - especially with Volkl, if you look at the rac models. Since 2000 they have gone from crazy stiff, to noodles (2003), and now back to crazy stiff. We could split each manufacturer by race and recreation I suppose. The goal of the list would be exactly as you said it, to keep someone from looking for a stiff Salomon, or a damp Fischer (I like that one, since fischers are known for their livliness). The purpose would be to allow a newbie to look at brands that suit their preferences versus looking at a brand because it is what U.P., Gonzo, or Phil are skiing on (no offense guys - I picked you because you all ski on a wide range of skis). If someone asks here at the forum what the best "all-mountain short turner" is (yes i used one of my own categories), they would be shot Volkl, Fischer, Head, Atomic, and Dynastar. The Volkl and the Head are at the top of the list in terms of required skill to pilot, but the user may not realize that they are among the most technically demonding, lively, and stiff skis out there. That person may know that they prefer a softer ski and not hear anything about Rossi or Dynastar. On the contrary the opposite can occurr as well. So, with that being said, please send me your reactions to particular brands. I am missing a few, so if you own them or have skied them post a few sentences or comments. If you don't want to post it publicly, PM me with it and I will compile it on my own until we are ready to add to the FAQ.
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