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Perception vs Reality: Skis

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
In line with the perception vs reality threads I have seen on the forum of late I would like to add another. I just completed a list of skis I wanted to demo this year. After sifting through all the reviews , specs, and manfucaturer descriptions of technologicial features etc I became overloaded and decided I was just going to ski anything I could demo.

Being into photography for many years and following the trends and forums it is obvious many get stuck into the 'gearhead' method of increasing one's end result - 'If I can just get that new model or lens my images will be much better' etc...A well known landscape photographer recently noticed this trend with digital imaging and made the statement that..."In reality most cameras are better than most photographers".

How much does another skiers opinion of the performance of a ski or the manufacturers marketing strategy or hype effect the end result of the skiers opinion of the model once they are on the snow?

Let me give an example:

Lets take the hypothetical situation where an RX6 was painted to look exactly like the RX8 with the markings and specs for the RX8 prinited on the ski. Similarly the RX8 was painted to look like the RX6. My question is if all skiers were given the opportunity to demo these how many skiers do you think would really notice something was not right?

Given that the dimensions of the RX6 and RX8 are a little different would most skiers recognize they are on a ski that doesn't match the specs printed on the topsheet?

How many would say they thought the RX8(really the RX6) was obviously a significant step up from the RX6?

How many would say the RX8 placebo was obviously the better performer because they were told by other sources that the RX8 is an advanced ski and the RX6 is an intermediate ski?

In the end how many would say they thought the RX8 was a much better ski than the RX6 not because of what they felt on the snow but because what they were told about these models and they let that influence their opinion of the performance under them. How many opinions are pre formed and based on what is read rather than what is experienced firtshand by the skier?

In the end I am wondering are most skis better than most skiers?
post #2 of 29
I think that a large % of the people that are targets for the RX8 would *definetly* notice the difference. Edge hold, rebound and stiffness differnces should be quite noticable. In this case the sidecut is close enough that it would probably be hard to tell the difference there, but otoh I just bought a pair of 16m sis and the difference between those and my 12m SLs is quite striking. I would say the same should be true between say the RX8 and RX9.

I think a better question would be if you took two similar sidecut and level skis from different manufacturers. I would say that very few skiers would be able to notice a difference, certainly not to the level of all of the purple prose lavished on different skis by the whor..I mean ski magazines. The exeption might be between very different feels, e.g. I am pretty sure I could tell a Head from a Salomon.
post #3 of 29

Happy Thanksgiving

Xman,

What I did last year was to demo everything I could and I used the demo days to zero in on what I liked. My personal preferance for typical Ohio conditions is for med - short radious (sp?) carving skis. i.e. anything in the 11-14m range with a narrow waist. Right now my short list consists of Head i.SL Chip 165sm and Head i.SuperShape 170. Other skis on the list were Fischer WorldCupSC, Elan SLX Fusion Pro and Fischer RX6 skis. I am on a Head XRC 800 now in a 177 and it's a good ski, but 4-5 turn runs get boring and I like making shortcarved turns. Besides, on a 300 ft vertical 1/4 mile run ya' gotta' make a lot of turns to get a little workout.

One ski I did not like when I demoed it in Ohio was the Metron. However, when I got a chance to demo them at Steamboat, I thought they were great. If I lived in CO, I'd be skiing on that ski. The XRC800s skied well out there too.

I think rather than making a camera comparison, I think skiing technology is more like golf technology. I am a 4 handicap, so I can play a little. However, there is no way I could hit Tiger's driver and get anything out of it. I am pretty sure I would hit it low, right and about 30 yards shorter than the driver I had fitted for my swing. Like golf, getting fitted for the right skiing equipment can make a big difference. aAso like golf, it is possible to get skis that do not match your ability. However, with all the information out there, once you zero in on what you like and want, you should be able to make a good choice that you will be pleased with.

BTW, There is a rumor that MRM may open Saturday. Keeping my fingers crossed.
post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
I think that a large % of the people that are targets for the RX8 would *definetly* notice the difference. Edge hold, rebound and stiffness differnces should be quite noticable. In this case the sidecut is close enough that it would probably be hard to tell the difference there, but otoh I just bought a pair of 16m sis and the difference between those and my 12m SLs is quite striking. I would say the same should be true between say the RX8 and RX9.

I think a better question would be if you took two similar sidecut and level skis from different manufacturers. I would say that very few skiers would be able to notice a difference, certainly not to the level of all of the purple prose lavished on different skis by the whor..I mean ski magazines. The exeption might be between very different feels, e.g. I am pretty sure I could tell a Head from a Salomon.
I understand what you are saying but really what I am asking is:

How do you or anyone else know the RX8 has better edgehold than the RX6 if you never tried both skis? Isn't the answer really because you are basing the opinion on what another reviewer or manufacturer stated? The assumption is made it does have better edgehold and it is stiffer because one ski is dubbed 'intermediate' and the other 'advanced'.

As another example the only difference between the RX4 and RX6 is the RX6 has 'frequency tuning' and different graphics. Other than that the skis are identical in every other regards but graphics. I remeber hearing a while back a post where a skier was saying the RX6 was 10 times as stiff etc..

Look at the techsupportforskiers reviews of the RX line of skis over the past 3 years. The RX4-RX9 models are identical for the past 3 years without any changes whatsoever accept cosmetic upgrades yet many of the review numbers changed from being quite average in 03 to very high numbers in this years review. One year it perofrms well on ice the next year it doesn't etc...it's the same ski. It either performs well on ice or it doesn;t The Skiing mag review of the RX8 last year said it was a superb bump ski. This year it says poor in bumps. hee hee..

It seems as the popularity of the skis increased so did the review numbers. I am not saying it was marketing influence but perhaps the testers final summary perhaps was influenced by the fact that many others were raving about a particular model and they let this influence their judgement thinking maybe anything negative was the tune or the conditions etc..

In the end nobody really knows how a ski will behave for themselves until they try it for themselves and their opinion is just based on another's review or an assumption.
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SrMike
Xman,


BTW, There is a rumor that MRM may open Saturday. Keeping my fingers crossed.
I was excited too until I looked at the weather forecast for the NE next week. Highs in the mid to upper 60's.
post #6 of 29
I agree with you skierX... with so many different models of ski out there, there are bound to be some overlap in the actual performances and measurements of these skis. Can anyone really tell the visual difference between 123mm at the tip and 125mm? I don't think so- 2 mm is way too small for the average person to tell. As for the edgehold and everything else, I think a lot of people can't tell the difference there, either. They go by what they were told about the ski, and what they think they should be feeling. Good point here.
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Dunn
I agree with you skierX... with so many different models of ski out there, there are bound to be some overlap in the actual performances and measurements of these skis. Can anyone really tell the visual difference between 123mm at the tip and 125mm? I don't think so- 2 mm is way too small for the average person to tell. As for the edgehold and everything else, I think a lot of people can't tell the difference there, either. They go by what they were told about the ski, and what they think they should be feeling. Good point here.
I would bet that if a top notch ski instructor of Bode Miller status were to take a skier and hand him a set of new skis and say 'these skis are the best thing to hit the market in years..' when actually the skis were a low end model a alot of skiers would come back saying 'youre right..phenomenol edgehold, performance etc'..The placebo effect.

They would then tell their fellow skiers who would tell others..soon the ski would be the 'must have' model.

Also if they really thought the skis performed poorly they wouldn't want to go up to the instructor afterwards and say 'these skis suck, you don't know what you are talking about' so many would probably say 'awesome ride' .

I think maybe part of the reason that high-end(i.e. expensive) skis rarely get knocked around in reviews or forums is perhaps because many are reluctant to knock the ski because they might be afraid of losing image or being accused of lacking skill or experience.
post #8 of 29
Personally, I doubt I would be able to tell the difference. I'm horrible at differentiating between skis within a particular class. Generally my view of a ski falls into one of two categories: "I like it" or "I don't like it".

Now, that's not to say I can't tell some basic characteristics about a ski that I'll like. I like one set of really stiff skis about 70mm underfoot for fast groomer runs. Right now that's a pair of Crossmax 10's. I like some old Volant's I have for crud (they plow through anything!). For general, every day skiing, all conditions, all mountain, lots of deep snow, I think I'll be on Salomon Guns this year. Those skis are all vastly different from each other though. You'd have to be an idiot to not be able to tell the difference.

I do think gear reviews should be more honest though.

Something like, "it has a torsionally weak box construction and a sidecut that makes edge-to-edge transitions about as enjoyable as sliding down the hill on two-by-fours. The PowerSucking technology makes for craptacular performance when combined with the new 50DegreesOfFlex boots. For radical carving turns and all piste conditions, these babies are about as unimpressive as they come. We had 5 world class skiers demo them. Two chucked the skis in the woods and walked down the hill, two threw them through the shop window, and one is still recovering in the hospital."
post #9 of 29
For many years skis in SKI and SKIING were tested with the graphics covered and code numbers on the white tape covering it for that reason. All of the external changes to skis made that a bit impossible.

I will say that I have gone to ski on skis and expected them to perform a certain way only to find that they didn't. For example, the first Head Chip ski I tried in '03 I expected to be my favorite of the day. I didn't like them at all. That has happened multiple times in the years that I have done extensive demos, including my first trade demo experience at Squaw in the late '80s.

So, in short, I don't think it's likely that the high-level skiers are going to be taken in. The Eliminators I was on the past two days, for example, are clearly not the same ski as a Top Fuel, even though they are very nice skis.
post #10 of 29
SkierXMan,

I don't know how you ski, but you sound like an intermediate skier who has not developed the feel for skiing yet. It takes a lot of experience to get there and most people never get there.

But make no mistake, experts can tell when a ski is torsionally stiff, or when the tip is too soft or when they have poor edge hold (due to construction, not tune). Most of us advanced skiers can instantly tell when the tune is off or when the base bevel is too aggressive for the type of skiing we want to do. Similarily, we can feel the rebound or dampness in a ski.

Having said that, the RX6 and RX8 are very similar skis and different skiers could easily jump to different conclusions. However, I have to believe that they offer enough differences so that the same skier will be able to see that they are on a different ski. But don't be surprised if that skier prefers the RX6.

There is one major variant that many people forget about. Weight of the skier/tester. Nothing changes the ski characteristics like the weight of the rider. I instantly ignore any reviews by people that are heavy (say 190lbs or more). I tend to pay attention to women's reviews far more than male reviews.

Eventually you will reach a level where you will be able to tell when a ski is too much for you, or when it is too damp or the tail is too stiff in bumps. Then it won't matter what Bode Miller or others might say about a ski, because you simply won't feel at your best on it.
post #11 of 29
At Boston Mills we have many top notch instructors who ski at a high level on any terrain. It is a pleasure to watch them skiing. They ALWAYS look great. What I am getting at is that most don't use their own skis to teach, they get a pair off the rack at the rental department, They ski those rentals between lessons and you cannot tell if they are on them or their own high performance expert skis, they make any ski they are on perform. And that isn't all that hard.

....Ott
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
For many years skis in SKI and SKIING were tested with the graphics covered and code numbers on the white tape covering it for that reason. All of the external changes to skis made that a bit impossible.

I will say that I have gone to ski on skis and expected them to perform a certain way only to find that they didn't. For example, the first Head Chip ski I tried in '03 I expected to be my favorite of the day. I didn't like them at all. That has happened multiple times in the years that I have done extensive demos, including my first trade demo experience at Squaw in the late '80s.

So, in short, I don't think it's likely that the high-level skiers are going to be taken in. The Eliminators I was on the past two days, for example, are clearly not the same ski as a Top Fuel, even though they are very nice skis.
I understand. I think a lot of the intermediates such as myself can get caught up into buying skis to 'grow into' and am not quite sure if that is a good idea from a perspective of being conducive to learning. I believe it might make it even harder to learn if I am on something that is too stiff. I am going to stick with my RX4 and Stretracer 8's. Not the highest performing skis but I don't think I need a ski that can carve and hold an edge at 40mph. I will just be kidding myself by going for something more upscale and will probably not even come close to utilizing the performance available. I was thinking about moving up to the RX6. My ski instructor from last year told me it's not worth the cash because the only difference is the RX6 has frequency tuning and it is debateable whether that will really increase the effectiveness other than making the ride smoother. There is no difference in other criteria. Other than that I will probably get an all-mountain ski sometime this year.

btw..I respect the review opinions of many here such as yourself, BobPeters, DawgCatchin and others who have the experience and knowledge.
post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl
At Boston Mills we have many top notch instructors who ski at a high level on any terrain. It is a pleasure to watch them skiing. They ALWAYS look great. What I am getting at is that most don't use their own skis to teach, they get a pair off the rack at the rental department, They ski those rentals between lessons and you cannot tell if they are on them or their own high performance expert skis, they make any ski they are on perform. And that isn't all that hard.

....Ott
Hey Ott...If you are at Boston Mills this year let me know. I go there a lot. It would be nice to meet up with someone from the forum that is around here and maybe take a couple runs.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkierXMan
I understand. I think a lot of the intermediates such as myself can get caught up into buying skis to 'grow into' and am not quite sure if that is a good idea from a perspective of being conducive to learning. I believe it might make it even harder to learn if I am on something that is too stiff. I am going to stick with my RX4 and Stretracer 8's. Not the highest performing skis but I don't think I need a ski that can carve and hold an edge at 40mph. I will just be kidding myself by going for something more upscale and will probably not even come close to utilizing the performance available. I was thinking about moving up to the RX6. My ski instructor from last year told me it's not worth the cash because the only difference is the RX6 has frequency tuning and it is debateable whether that will really increase the effectiveness. There is no difference in other criteria. Other than that I will probably get an all-mountain ski sometime this year.
That makes sense to me. But, that wasn't what I got from your initial message. I do think that you could tell the difference, too (skiing them back-to-back), but your conclusions about the differences may be different than mine. See madbee's recent demo comments for an example.
post #15 of 29
I too have RX4's. At the very end of last year I demoed the RX6's and RX8's out of curiosity rather than because I want to get new skiis. I definately noticed the jump from teh 4 to the 6, but the jump fom the 6 to the 8 was less noticeable. I am no instructor, some days I can't even call myself an accomplished skier, but you can notice a difference. I feel there is a greater jump from the 4 to 6 than from 6 to 8. Perhaps Fischer should rename the RX6 to RX7 to closer approximate the differences for nominclatures sake.

This year I will move up, so therefore, I'll will re-demo both the 6 and 8 as well as Atomic SX10. Not to buy the "best" ski out there but to decide which one feels best.

I agree, the "best" ski as describes here an in magazxines may not be as good as it is advertised and "lesser" products may actually be superior. I'm sure profit margins play into this as well. Why do you think certain shops push one ski over another, or shop A pushes Atomic and shop B pushes Volkl....because they are in bed with this particular manufacturer and therefore push that product.

For better or worse, I like you, am an intermediate and use these reviews as a starting point. Beyond that I try and try until I find what I want.

-Scott

PS - try the RX 6's you'll see they perform diff than your RX 4's...it was very noticeable to me
post #16 of 29
I use to be able to tell the difference far better between skis than I can now. As I became far better at using the design of a ski the differences became less noticeable. I can tell the difference in stiffness or the differences in length and width but I cannot tell much difference between brands that are competing head to head with one another.

I usually do not prefer the top end ski or the top end boot. The pair of skis that I most prefer right now are so butter soft that they have virtually no rebound.

I am currently considering a pair of high end slalom skis that do have a lot of rebound and that is my only concern with them. I don't know if I wana work that hard. I weight about 215.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomB
SkierXMan,

I don't know how you ski, but you sound like an intermediate skier who has not developed the feel for skiing yet. It takes a lot of experience to get there and most people never get there.
ah.... so to answer his question the AVERAGE skier (& the vast majority) would NOT be able to tell the difference!
post #18 of 29
I got into doing demos last year and found I could tell a lot of difference between similar types of skis. One evening I demoed the Nordica SpeedMachine 16, Speedmachine 14 and the Head XRC800. At the time, the XRC800 skied the best for me and I bought it. As I worked on learning shaped ski technique, I found the I really liked the way the short radius, narrow waisted craving skis worked on the midwest hard pack. I found I liked making trenches without having to ski mach snell to do it. When I was demoing all kinds of skis back to back, I also found I could tell the differences between sidecuts. I also noticed the wider waisted skis were not as quick edge to edge for me.

Might I suggest finding someone, not afiliated with a shop, to ski with on a regular basis, who is knowledgeable about equipment. So far the local shops are batting 0 on ski recomendations for me. YMMV.
post #19 of 29
disski,

I guess you are right, for the vast majority it is difficult to tell the difference.
post #20 of 29
At least the marketing is still quite allright in the ski business. Taking aside the 15m radius GS11 Bode Miller Editions claiming that it is the ski of Bode and Hermann.

In snowboarding you see companies pushing freestyle stuff that would never be used in any discipline by any pro boarder cause it is way to soft to stomp a 25m Air on it. Actually nearly no boarder realises that the pros use gear that is way stiffer (for boots and bindings) than anything available on the mainstream market. The will tell you soft is good for freestyle even if the range of application doesn't go further than doing some mini table-tops (like up to 10m) and rails. There is actually no company at all that sells its BX softboot-lineup anywhere (not even on pro-form) (Virus and Kessler are the only exception with providing upon request the real soft-BX boards but that would still leave you without proper boots and bindings. (there are only 2 bindings made for BX anyway. All the rest of the WC not using these two bindings (Head and Proflex - but both not available to the masses) needs to completly overwork the bindings to get enough stability and canting (a word only raceboarders know about, but used in any discipline by the pros). For shoes the outerboots may be usefull but they will not tell you that you need foamed-inners because their liners are way to soft.

On the other hand are some raceboards out of the few shops that carry them (Virus, Kessler, Oxess, Tomahawk) the actual real deal that the WC'uppers use too. NO DIFFERENCE at ALL. Everyone can order a custom made board for himself for under 1000€. Some years ago a german raceboarder even won a medal at the Worldchampionships on a F2 raceboard he had bought in a shop and that masses of people were using because he didn't have acces to the race department lineup of F2.

So be happy that in skiing even the top line is maybe 2-3 years behind but better than the 5 year old real deal, while I can't see any real improvements in snowboarding softboot boards over the last 5-6 years. (except again those ordered by the custom manufactureurs - but they have a market share of maybe 1 promille).

Most softboot snowboarders can't tell the difference anyway and fall for the marketing activities. Therefore for 95% of them perception is their limited reality of owning the best and most advanced board.

Edit: Oh just forgot. One of the best raceboarders during the last years once confessed last year that he would love to be less known so he could switch to a Kessler raceboard (which is available to everyone) instead of using his one. So actually a recreatinal racer could have bought a board which is better than that of a top 5 ranked raceboarder in the worldcup.
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by TomB
disski,

I guess you are right, for the vast majority it is difficult to tell the difference.
This is why I don't understand why some people change gear so much.

Seriously, Ask this question about boots. : How different are all of the variations of Salomon/Langes/Atomics.
post #22 of 29
I agree with the realskiers recommendation that ski shape and length are much more important than brand.

I think skiers can pretty easily discern the difference between shapes. An 80mm all mountain with a 20m radius does not ski like a 65mm SL ski with a 12m radius.

As a skier becomes more advanced they can start to differentiate the effects of a stiffer ski, because it takes a more advanced skier to make that stiffness useful.

I think it becomes a task for the skiers with the best refined skills to differentiate between brands for well made skis.
post #23 of 29
you use to poles to ski not your skis
post #24 of 29
>>>Hey Ott...If you are at Boston Mills this year let me know. I go there a lot.<<<

We are skiing BM several times a week during the season but being retired we ski during the week and during the day, going home before the busses with the kids arrive. If you are ever there during those times just ask some instructors at or near the ski school desk if they have seen Ott Gangl, the guy with the pointy leather hat.

Pierre may even be there if he gets time off from his new job.

...Ott
post #25 of 29
We have had similar discussions to this in recent history (okay about a year ago, which is recent in epic-years). So we have a few questions on hand:
Can the average skier determine:
1) The difference between a mid performance and a high performance ski within the same line of skis from the same manufacturer.
2) The difference between skis from different manufacturers that have the same level of performance.
3) That a ski they were given that is claimed to be a high end ski is really a low end ski (assuming a remasked low end ski to give the illusion of a high end ski).

The answer is probably not. Most average skiers ski on equipment that is way above their ability level, and wouldnt notice if you switched their RX8's or AllStars with an RX4 or a 3-Star (assuming they still make a 3 star). The ski magazine reviews put tons of wonderful, meaningless descriptors into the heads of average skiers, and when you ask them how their skis react on snow they will spit out the Ski Magazine review of their favorite board verbatim. They have no clue what they are talking about though. The Ski Magazine (and any other similar) reviews are useless, read them for the pictures.

Now, can the high level skier tell all of those same things? Sure can. I can easily determine whether a ski is a high end ski or not, and I can also notice huge differences between brands. Even with skiing race stock skis it is pretty easy to determine which ski is the better performer for your type of skiing. It is also pretty easy to notice the differences between brands at this level - which is probably where it is most evident. If you ski an Elan S12 and a Fischer RX8 back to back and cannot tell the difference you shouldn't be skiing either ski... get an RX4 or less.

Especially when carving on hard snow you can find the differences between skis in terms of stiffness, flex pattern, and tosional stiffness, as well as rebound, and dampness. Edgehold and speed limit are in direct relation to those attributes that each ski will have. Things like shape, length, and radius combined with the above factors make it pretty easy to determine the difference between skis. Assuming you are testing race stock slalom skis (my favortie to ski on) you will notice your differences in flex, rebound, quickness, edgehold, and livliness. It is then up to the skier to determine what ski fits best based on personal preferences.

Later

GREG
post #26 of 29

Are sensitive skiers weaker?

Some skiers are sensitve to small changes, and others just... aren't. I grew up with some very good skiers. Some (like me) are full-on gear geeks. Others don't care much about gear, but tear up the hill anyway. I can tell mid-run if my skis have developed a burr on the edge (and I carry a stone just in case). Some of my friends though, part of the edge could be GONE (torn out) and you could barely tell by watching them ski.

This intimidates me. I think they must be the stronger skiers.

On the other hand, I can already see the gear-geek influence in my son, and he hasn't turned 8 yet. He skis SO much better when I have turned his skis properly. The result is that his skis are almost always tuned daily.
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese
This is why I don't understand why some people change gear so much.

Seriously, Ask this question about boots. : How different are all of the variations of Salomon/Langes/Atomics.
No kidding! Boots are much harder to evaluate, especially if they have a variable flex system.
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by extremecarver View Post

Edit: Oh just forgot. One of the best raceboarders during the last years once confessed last year that he would love to be less known so he could switch to a Kessler raceboard (which is available to everyone) instead of using his one. So actually a recreatinal racer could have bought a board which is better than that of a top 5 ranked raceboarder in the worldcup.

 

Who was that? What was he riding? SG? Black Pearl? Oxess? I'm really curious...

post #29 of 29
Dave,

The post you bumped is seven years old.
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