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Ski 'Feel'

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Not having enough experience to really understand the 'feel' of different skis around the spectrum I am curious as to how different manufacturers have a different feel to their skis.

For example I often here there is a different feel between Austrian and French skis etc.

What actually is this referring to? How a ski handles in turning or how stable it is? Can anyone give some specific examples?

I am particularly interested in skiers opinions of Head models vs other models.
post #2 of 16
SkierXMan, Heluvaskier started a thread on this topic when we thought about adding it to the FAQ. As you'll see, there wasn't a broad agreement that a generic version of this is possible.

However, in general, there are skis that feel "lively" and those that feel "damp" (and a broad spectrum of them from liveliest to dampest). In most cases, skis using wood cores tend to be on the lively end, while skis using foam tend to be damp. Again, tho, this isn't universal.

In general, Heads have been reported to be lively. My limited experience on them (one of the CHip models) was decidedly dampened, however. It felt to me that the moment the ski should have come alive, it died into a damp log. I didn't like them at all.

I tend to prefer lively skis. I like a lot of snow feel. It's like a preference for sport suspension over touring in an automobile.

Hope this helps...
post #3 of 16
You used to be able to tell a ski by the country of origion let alone by manufacturer. Not even if different lines of a manufacturer will you get a different feel.
post #4 of 16

general answer

I still think that, in general, the "french" skis tend to be more subtle and balanced and able to be skied from the ball of the foot. Austrian skis (volkl, head, fishcer, atomic) are more demanding of input, like to be levered or skied from the cuff.

However, one of the other comments about this distinction blurring even within a manufactuers offerings is true also.

Interesting, I do believe that Dynastars and Rossignols frequently have the bindings mounted more forward than the others (look at the boot mid-point marks on the skis sometime for equal length skis).

Th
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by gandalf
I still think that, in general, the "french" skis tend to be more subtle and balanced and able to be skied from the ball of the foot. Austrian skis (volkl, head, fishcer, atomic) are more demanding of input, like to be levered or skied from the cuff.

However, one of the other comments about this distinction blurring even within a manufactuers offerings is true also.

Interesting, I do believe that Dynastars and Rossignols frequently have the bindings mounted more forward than the others (look at the boot mid-point marks on the skis sometime for equal length skis).

Th
Very true the french skis are much more subtle and sensative- better for lighter skiers. The austrian skis are much burlier and require more input. As far as feel i look for the "resonance" of the ski- Volkl have a very high resonance where a ski like Atomic have a low resonance. The binding interface also can have a huge effect. Below list goes from "most feel" (1) to least "feel" (3)

1. Rossignol, Salomon, Dynastar, Elan

2. Stockli, VIST, Volkl, K2

3. Atomic, Fischer, Blizzard, Head

Of course this is general- there are always exceptions.
post #6 of 16
vail99, there's proof that we're all different!

I put Elan, Fischer, Atomic in a "lively" group, Head, K2, Nordica, and Dynastar in the next tier, and Rossi and Salomon in the "damp" group. Funny, eh? But, it depends on the ski, too. The Doberman... Wow!
post #7 of 16
I agree with ssh that Rossi's don't have great "feel," and would tend to place Fischers, Elans, and Volkls fairly high on feel. But what's interesting here IMO is that "feel" seems really to be two cross cutting axes: First is dampness/liveliness, about how vibrations do or don't travel down the ski. Second is sensitivity to horizontal deflection, how irregularities and texture of the snow is felt or not felt through the center of the ski. Is it supple or a plow?

So I can imagine a graph, high school geometry style, shaped like a "+" with the vertical axis being dampness (top is more damp, bottom more lively) and the horizontal being sensitivity to snow surface. (left side is more sensitive, right less.) I'd place Elans over in the upper left quadrant - damp but sensitive, as Dawgcatcher argues elsewhere. Fischers would be lower left quadrant - very lively and very sensitive. Rossis and Salomons would be in upper right quadrant - damp and not very sensitive. Some people would call that "smooth." Heads I would put in lower right - lively but insensitive. And so on. Some, like Atomics and Dynastars, are probably closer to the middle than others like Rossis and Fischers. Haven't skied Nordicas, so can't say where to put them. Ideas?

I'd also guess that physical variables like wood versus foam, or carbon version fiberglass have major impacts on these axes. (In tennis racquets, for instance, Kevlar is known to absorb vibrations but produce a numb feel, while fiberglass is soft and full of feel, and metal - Head used LM first in its racquets - tends to be smooth but whippy.) Basic weight will affect this cuz more mass means more inertia when ski encounters an irregularity, eg, more "smoothness."

Obviously stiffness gradients, torsion resistence counts. A soft shovel will allow vibration to begin, but a stiff midsection may erase it, like Volkls. And as Gandalf notes, the binding location may influence how much of this we feel though our boots. I would guess my Legends would feel a lot less lively if the binding were a couple of cm back because the waves of vibration that any shovel makes during a turn will have that much further to travel through wood and metal.

My axes may not be the right ones, and maybe we need more than two. But what if feel ain't a thing to define, but a place to visualize?
post #8 of 16
beyond, this is a great concept! I can see doing this with a ski test...

Here's the question that begs in my mind: are there other possible axes we could use? How many are there?
post #9 of 16
Good comments- I think perhaps I shoud have used the word "suppleness" instead of "feel" to me the group one skis tend to contour to the hill more, arc into turns easier, and offer a more supple or sensitve feel. The group 3 skis are much harsher, direct and less forgiving. Perhaps this is why the French skis have so much success with woman world cup skiers and the Austrian skis have success with the larger men.

Nordicas (ex: Kastle) were based on the Austrian model. The dobermans are very burly skis!

This is why the major ski tests are such a joke- they do not look at the intrinsic qualities of the ski or the reasons why the designers developeed that type of ski. Skiing magazine focuses on just a bunch of so-called expert skiers with no knowledge of ski design to write some snappy comments regarding the ski. I would love to see dampning tests. resonance tests, torsion and flex tests etc. So skis can actually be compared based on specific design criteria. We all know an Atomic will ski different than a Salomon- the question is why? and how do we quantify that? I proposed this to Skiing and Ski years ago and the publisher looked at me like I was from another planet. Needless to say he is no longer there- but the new team still "don't get it" or care not too.
post #10 of 16
Some people like a ski with snap and others perfer a more sensuous slower response. Some people like to energetically slash and spank the mountain, others try to slowly make love to it. Some like a ski that throws you into the next turn with energy, others like one that lays there until you tell it what to do.

You need to find a ski that fits your style, ability, and most importantly your ski personality. That's why there tends to be a lot of brand loyalty. Once you find a ski with just the right feel for you you'll do anything to get it again.
post #11 of 16
You also need to be aware of the 3 basic kinds of construction, and can see definite trends in ski feel based on that - sandwich, torsion box, and structural cap.

Best feeling ski I've ever been on was the stockli stormrider from '01-'02, the orange/black version. They have a plastic composite (ISO) core in a Ti sandwich construction....very "alive" feelling, but damp.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail99
...This is why the major ski tests are such a joke- they do not look at the intrinsic qualities of the ski or the reasons why the designers developeed that type of ski. Skiing magazine focuses on just a bunch of so-called expert skiers with no knowledge of ski design to write some snappy comments regarding the ski. I would love to see dampning tests. resonance tests, torsion and flex tests etc. So skis can actually be compared based on specific design criteria. We all know an Atomic will ski different than a Salomon- the question is why? and how do we quantify that? I proposed this to Skiing and Ski years ago and the publisher looked at me like I was from another planet. Needless to say he is no longer there- but the new team still "don't get it" or care not too.
I agree with what you said except that I suspect a lot of the "experts" do know something about ski design. Anyway, I think Bud Heishman and ssh are working on a project something along the lines you suggest.
post #13 of 16
ssh posted my thoughts on this topic. Ski feel is very important to note. Ski design is also important to consider, but one important thing to remember is that a sandwich ski from Stockli wont feel like a sandwich ski from Elan, and neither will feel like a sandwich ski from Head... even though contruction can play a role in feel, it usually lends itself to a particular company and what they feel are the more important design characteristics of their skis. I have always thought about tackling the design topic, but it varies so much that it is hard to apply any qualitative factors to any one ski design type... other than the design itself (which should be quantitative... but still tells you little about how the ski actually performs without considering flex, internals, and dimensions).

Later

GREG
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
next question for the experts;

Whats the difference between a cap construction and torsion box?
post #15 of 16
With cap the primary load bearing structure is the actual cap. It has been touted by companies like Salomon that they could fill the core of their skis with air and it would not matter (whether this is true or not is another story). Torsion box construction is similar to sandwich, but the core is "wrapped" with material, and in the end resembles a cap... however it is not a true layered design like sandwich construction.
Later
GREG
post #16 of 16
Several years ago when Peter Keelty was writing a column for On the Snow he did several articles on ski brand "flavors" or brand feel. The articles can still be read online.
http://dyn.onthesnow.com/news/techtalk/2002-12-06.html
http://dyn.onthesnow.com/news/techtalk/2002-12-13.html
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