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women's specific v. men's skis

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
I have been trying to decide which direction to go for a new pair of "all mountain/freeride" type of ski. I had a list of skis to demo, and unfortunately, my chances for demoing any more of them has been cut to nil due to an injury.

In fact, this happened while demoing, but I'm not factoring that in, as I LIKED these skis a lot. They were Atomic R:11's in a 160. The next ski on my list was to be the Atomic R:10 puls TI (women's specific). Since I never got the chance to ski them, I was hoping someone here might know if the women's ski is a better ski for me, since I'm, well, a woman!

I'm 40, weigh about 130#, am a fairly aggressive skier, like off-piste and steep, but still love to carve a few groomers. Ski mostly out West, Utah, but occasionally make a trip over to Snowshoe, WV, and local hill in Indiana. I am loving the phenomenal edge-hold of the R:11, but maybe its too much ski for me? Is the R:10 going to hold as well with as much energy?

The other skis I wanted to try were the Volkl 5 star, Elan Fusion S12, and the Head Monster i.M70.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 33

I went to an Atomic Wings Clinic. (Women in new gear). I demoed the R10W and thought it was great. I skied on the groomers, on bumps and really loved it. The leader of the clinic is a ski instructor/supervisor from Beaver Creek and she said that she was skeptical of the "women's ski" but ended up liking the ski very much. I plan on buying the R10. At the clinic, the reps talked about how the bindings are a little more forward than the men's skis. I think the women specific gear makes sense.

post #3 of 33
My wife loves her R:10 W skis in a 160 and she is a strong skier. She is also bigger then you.

I used to ski the R:11 in a 160 and I am 180# and it was still hard to bend unless going fast.

My wife likes to ski steep stuff and rip on groomers. The 10s will also be better in the bumps and probably have less of a chance of bending.
post #4 of 33
I demoed the R:10 puls W and loved it too. It really ripped!
post #5 of 33

I know how you ski since we skied together at the Canyons. While you are indeed a very strong skier (and very aggressive, I might add), the R11 would be too much ski for you. Meaning that you are too light to have so much ski under you.

The R10 Puls Ti would be a better choice for you in my opinion. This ski will have absolutely no upper limit for your type of skiing.
post #6 of 33
I'm with the others, forget about the R11. I'd suggest you give the Fischer RX 6 a try as well.
post #7 of 33
I think womens skis have an early limit when the ability of the skier increases. Intermediate women skiers will enjoy what specific skis have to offer, helping them get forward and using a generally lighter weight to their advantage.

While you weight would be a problem in some of the "male" skis you mention, there are lots of alternatives and just as men have to pick skis according to their weight so do you - lighter men (like me) are not going to use a W specific model so there has to be alternatives.

Is there such a thing as a "Male" ski anymore?
post #8 of 33
Fischer Skis is will offer a new line of 4 (or 5) womens specific skis next season. Maybe Rusty Guy or other knowledgable Fischer persons who post here can elaborate further.
post #9 of 33
Indeed, Dynastar have enhanced their Exclusive range this year, even releasing the Legend in a womens specific model which is awesome. Infact the limited press release I recieved featured it ( http://www.ski-review.com/content/view/32/34/ ).
post #10 of 33
I don't want to appear misogynistic or politically incorrect, but I have to say that I think the idea of women's specific" skis is nothing more than a
marketing driven conceit which is meant to attract a certain group of skiers away from a whole group of other possibilities into the very limited world
of "women's skis". I would strongly urge any strong female skiers to consider all their aoptions. Tha's not to say that there are not good "women's skis", but let's be realistic about this. Given that skis do not have estrogen receptors and have no way to know if the rider has ovaries or not, the whole I dea is ludicrous. Perhaps the graphics are designed to be more "feminine", but I know a host of lady skiers who would be insulted by this. Obviously, the only thing the ski really knows is you weight, and for
the most part, women MAY be lighter and less agressive than men, but I know many women skiers who are harder charging than the "average" male skier. They clearly do not belong on most "female" skis. I know many light weight men who could do quite well with a "women's ski", but I assure you that their testosterone-driven ego would never allow this.
This all said. the bottom line is that a heavier, more agressive skier needs a stiffer, more "powerful" ski (whatever that means) and a lighter less agressive skier needs a softer ski that is easier to decamber. This is true regardless of the pilot's gender and all ski possibilities ashould be evauated in this context.
With reagrd to hips width, q-angle, genu-valgus, etc. This is all nonsense. The ski has no idea nor any significant structural differences to address these issues. As for binding placement (more forward for females--MAYBE), but there are several adjustable binding systems that
allow for this in a gender neutral manner.
So, if you want to gain no significant advantage, greatly limit your choices, perpetuate the myth that women do not ski as well as men and play into the hands of the Madison Ave. advertising machine then buy women's skis. Otherwise--keep your options open.

Disclaimer: this post is meant to offend no one other than perhaps the Industry Advertising Dept.s. It is not meant to insult or impune the
intelligence, integrity or buying decisions of anyone who may or may not read it. It represents my own opinion and any resemblance to real individuals living, dead or in between is purely coincidental.


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post #11 of 33
SheSkies, you never said how tall you are.

I have the R:10W and I love them. They are a very stiff ski but if you're a strong skier you'll have no problems arcing them. I am a little heavier than you and they never let me down, regardless of conditions. They power through everything I have thrown at them. The only thing I would caution is that if you ski in deep powder they will sink, unfortunately here in the east I don't have this problem, but you may out west.

Good luck!
post #12 of 33
RiDeC58 : Thanks, about time someone said it.

I agree, if you like a softer ski, good buy one, if you need a boot with a wider toe and narrow heel, great go fine one. WHO cards if it has a "W" on it.

Next thing you will have a ladies climbing rope, for smaller hands and lighter falls
post #13 of 33

Good post, but there is another view as well. Expert women don't want to chose a lower level ski simply because they don't have the weight and strength to handle the men's version of the ski.

They want their own expert ski (in a "softer" model). This takes nothing away from their skill and manufacturers know that there is a market for this.

I consider myself much stronger than the average woman (physically), but I am always looking for skis that expert women find manageable (since I am not an expert skier). This generally means that I cannot go for the top of the line skis which are targetted to very aggressive or very heavy men. I am cool with that. But some expert women may want their own "top-of-the-line" models rather than go a notch below in the men's line.

I think the marketing makes sense and is not meant to offend any women.
post #14 of 33
By Tom B:
This generally means that I cannot go for the top of the line skis which are targetted to very aggressive or very heavy men. I am cool with that. But some expert women may want their own "top-of-the-line" models rather than go a notch below in the men's line.

I think the marketing makes sense and is not meant to offend any women.
First, I have seen Tom B ski (at last years Epic Ski Academy). He is definitely a superior skier. (better than 97% on the hill though he would never admit it ).

Tom makes very good point. Perhaps, it might be better if a line of skis were marketed in an unisex manner as "lite" skis or something simular. I have a good friend (a guy) who is a good skier. At 155-160 lbs., he has no hesitation about skiing some "women" specific models. I can see however, that ego (or lack thereof) could prevent a lot of other men from doing the same.
At all events, a full performance range of skis for lighter skiers makes sense to me.
post #15 of 33
Lostboy: At all events, a full performance range of skis for lighter skiers makes sense to me.

That is probably the best approach Lostboy.

And thanks for the generous complement Lostboy. We missed you at this year's ESA!
post #16 of 33
I absolutely agree with Lostboy. Skis should be marketed not only as high performence vs intermed., but also along weight guidelines in a gender neutral fashion. This makes sense shouldbe embraceable by either sex.
post #17 of 33
Sorry, one other thought--Doesn't a consideration of weight come into play in designing a ski's length? So shouldn't a high performing ski in aa shorter length be appropriate proportionally for most lighter skiers as the longer would be for heavier skiers. If this is true then Our high performing ladies and lighter men should be able to use the same hiigh perform. ski in shorter length and less agrressive skiers could then move down the line. If this is not true then I think it should be taken into consideration by the manufactutreres. Any thoughts?
post #18 of 33
One thing to remember with women's skis is the binding placement. Women's skis have bindings mounted more forward compared to men's for a reason. Our center of gravity hangs behind the bindings over the back of the ski, where in men, it is over the center of the ski.

And many smaller women can benefit by actually moving up the bindings even more forward than the manufacturer recommendation. Due to my small size and weight, I moved my bindings up 2 cm and it made a huge difference. If you are going for men's or unisex skis keep binding placement in mind. Many demo bindings move forward and back, so you can play around with binding position when demoing.

[ March 29, 2004, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: marta ]
post #19 of 33
sheskis- I was in a similar quandary when I bought my R:ex's; I assumed that they would be "too much ski" for me because of my light weight. I had always skied softer skis in the past because of that. What I found, however, was that I really liked the R:ex as long as I got a short enough length (for me, 167, the shortest that they made). They are certainly more demanding, but I do not think that is such a bad thing if it forces one to improve. You are a strong skier, and I would not definitively rule out the R11 without a comparison to the others (difficult for you to do now, I know). You can always have a good shop adjust the mounting point.

I would also PM Weems and ask his advice- he may have a very good sense of what would work well for you. Good luck, and heal soon!
post #20 of 33
I was also told that some women's skis are stiffer in the tail to offset the backseat position.
post #21 of 33
I think that women's skis are not just a marketing gimmick.

It's true that all the things such as ski weight, mounting point, and flex can be achieved with a lower level unisex ski but you can't always find a small size.

Most women skis can be purchased in a 150 or 160 where it may be harder to find men or unisex skis in that length.

I did not find one shop in New England that had 03/04 Atomic R:11s in a 160 length. When I asked sales reps they would say that most men will not want a 160.

What about women who want a stiff ski but in a shorter length?

If more manufacturers would ship out shorter skis then there wouldn't be as much of a need for high end women models except for the graphics.

New models like the Atomic Metrons come in very short lengths so maybe this will not be as much of an issue in the coming years.
post #22 of 33
I agree it probably used to be a marketing gimmick way back when, but nowadays with new research and technologies, the skis are way different. Women's expert skis are now true expert skis. Not so true in the past. If we wanted an expert ski back then, we had to have a unisex ski, and then suffer with having the wrong setup. Had shops had the insight to put us on jr. race skis however, I think I would've been happier.

It's no wonder many women drop out of the sport or are stuck on the blues. It's our gear. I was stuck in the intermediate rut until I upgraded all my equipment to women's gear and now there's no holding me back! Why would I want a lower end ski just because I am a woman, when I could have all the excitement of a high tech ski built for my anatomy?

And yes, the flex points and stiffness have been moved around. Women's skis are not just smaller mens skis, just like women are not small men.
post #23 of 33
I said women skis are not a marketing gimmick.

I agree that their should be more high end women models.

I would not go so far as to say that the skis are way different.

Atomic is the only one I know that has the adjustable delta on the bindings which I am not sure anyone even uses and the varizone can be moved depending on the particular woman.

With alot of recreational skis becoming softer longitudinal and stiffer torsional you are going to see lighter men and even women on these high end skis.

Shorter, softer, and lighter skis do not just represent what a woman wants anymore. I would love a stable, short, light ski.
post #24 of 33
Oh Scalce - I was agreeing with you! [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]

I was noting that womens skis are way different than they used to be. And so much has improved in all skis, not just women's.

[ March 30, 2004, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: marta ]
post #25 of 33
Well then I agree to agree with you.

post #26 of 33
I also think women's skis have improved significantly in the last year or two. I was VERY skeptical about womens skis, having tried a few in the past - they used to be mushy beginner skis. I was skiing on 178 G4s and switched to some K2 Phat Luvs this winter - they're wonderful. Torsionally stiff, excellent dimensions for an everyday ski at Alta, turn easily, good grip... I have nothing bad to say about them. I bought them thinking I wanted a shorter ski only for trees and chutes and ended up with a ski I use almost every day (except when I'm telemarking or it's bottomless and I bring out the fat skis.)

I definitely never thought it in the past, but now I think women's skis are definitely worth looking into. Glad to see more manufacturers are getting into it.
post #27 of 33
If the Phat Luvs are not fat what do you consider fat?

What length do you have them in?

My wife has Atomic R:10s and loves them but I think she needs something similar but with better float.
post #28 of 33
altagirl - Funny how you don't see Phat Luvs as fat. Must be an east-west thing!
post #29 of 33
167 Phat Luvs are my everyday ski, 180 Big Stix 106 are my fat skis, and 179 Hippy Stinx are my new tele skis.
post #30 of 33
Originally posted by marta:
altagirl - Funny how you don't see Phat Luvs as fat. Must be an east-west thing!
I know. It's nice living here.
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