|Originally posted by AarHead:
...5'11" and 245 lbs. I ski at many different speeds. Historically, I am a very high speed skier...when I go for my level 3 PSIA-E skiing exam - probably in the 2004-05 season. The skis I'm looking to take to that exam are the Omeglass, 6 Star and these. ... skis at the heart of this discussion would be for the obvious case of a powder day. ... It is for the purposes of an exam situation where sidecut will help in the 1-foot skiing requirements that I am tending to the 7 24 Pro over the 7 24 AX4...One of the knocks I had on the G40/G41 was that it was a bit too stiff for low speed maneuverability. ...Otherwise it is beautiful. Has the AX4 been reworked so that it handles these conditions better? ... Do you feel the 7 24 AX4 would help me cover mistakes more effectively? To me the answer is that the G40/41 would help me cover mistakes in freshies but would expose my mistakes in eastern transitional snow and be rather inappropriate when the conditions turn to hard. ...
Ahh... Now I'm getting a *much* better picture of things.
I think you probably have already made a very important (but unspoken) assumption in your selection of candidate skis. Namely, it sounds to me like you are worrying that if its snowing like the dickens on your exam day, the examiners will still expect you to demo the same moves you would make on packed snow (eg, click off short R carves on your edges, etc.) or simply not permit true fatties, and this is the real concern that is driving you towards 80-ish mm skis with moderate sidecuts, and not allowing you to consider skis which are truly optimized for powder.
Although I'm certainly not an examiner, and haven't even taught in 25 years, my guess is that if there is a lot of snow on the ground and someone shows up with powder skis, reasonable examiners are not going to ask the candidate to demonstrate moves that are essentially impossible to do in that type of snow and on that type of equipment. My guess is that at worst, they will ask you to switch to "normal" skis (so as not put you in an unfair position relative to the other candidates), and at best, they may use the opportunity to demo your soft snow skills using the skis that are on your feet. Perhaps one of the examiners that's active on Epic can address this question.
The answer to this question is essential to determining your best ski selection strategy. If the examiners let you ski on real fatties on a snowy day and not expect the impossible on them (ie, carving on edges as if you were on a hypercarver on a hard surface) then I think your ski choice decision is clear: Get the best skis for the one situation you don't have already covered by other skis in your quiver, namely, a fatty for 8 or more inches of soft stuff (ie, both powder and deeply rotted spring slop).
At your weight, in my mind, there is absolutely no question about which skis I would recommend to you for deep soft snow -- 190 Explosivs (or something similar). The Explosivs turn on a dime and they float like crazy, even for big guys like us. If you haven't ever tried a pair, you really owe it to yourself to do so. You will be astonished at how good they are in any type of soft snow. Many of the guys I know that bought fats for powder are surprised when they realize they are getting *much* more use out of them to ski spring slop & other crud than to ski powder.
Another argument in favor of going to a 90+ mm ski centers around snow compaction. At your weight, if you don't want to sink into soft snow more than lighter guys, you need to keep the pounds per square inch with which you press down on the snow at the same value they have. This means that for your soft snow skis to sink in only as much as a 180 lb guy on 83 mm (underfoot) skis, your skis would have to be approximately (245/180)*83 = 113 mm underfoot. Thus, even 95 mm Explosives are not wide enough to get you the same benefit that a lighter guy gets by going from a 70 mm ski to a mid-80 mm ski. My strong recommendation is that if a fat ski is allowable / acceptable in an L3 exam on a soft snow day, you definitely shouldn't stop at the mid 80's.
On the other hand, if it turns out that your original assumption is really correct, and that you shouldn't be on true fatties during the exam for some reason, and you want something more stable than a narrow, deeply sidecut ski, then you are back to your original question about picking a appropriate mid-80's ski. However, I'm sure you are aware that even the most shapely of the 80 mm skis have sidecut radii up in the mid-20 meter range, and simply can't do the same things that can be done on a 12 or 14 meter radius stick. So, if you are on your new pair of 80-mm sticks and are told to lay down some really tight low speed carves, you are still going to have a hard time doing it. Heh, maybe its better if you *are* on obviously fat skis and clearly can't comply with that sort of request - just joking - grin.
BTW, with respect to specific skis, now that I know the reason behind your initial question, I agree completely with you that the g4 (and probably its successor) is way too stiff (even at your weight) to demo things like short-radius, low-speed carved maneuvers in front of examiners. Its definitely more of a freight train than a dancer.
Also, just for the record, I'm 5'11" and 210 (well, maybe up to 215 in the summer), and I usually ski with a pretty heavy pack, so I'm personally aware of ski selection issues for big skiers.
FYI, if I'm limited to selecting three skis that I already own to take on a trip and had to cover all bases, my quiver would be:
1) A 170 Atomic 9.16 (beveled to 0 & 3) for slower speed, precise carving on the hardest of snow and ice surfaces;
2) A 184 Head xp100/IC200 (123/68/106, 14 m radius - essentially a very long, wide, heavy slalom) for high-G carving at higher speeds (up to stupid-fast) on everything from normal eastern hardpack up to around 6" of new snow;
3) My 190 Volkl Explosivs (120/95/114, 30 m radius) for anything deeper than a half foot or so of new snow or rotted slop. The switchover point depends on the density and uniformity of the snow. If its thick and cut up, I might switch at 6". If its light and virgin, I wouldn't bother to switch until the hoards started seriously tracking it up and compacting it.
Notice that if I was limited to bringing just 3 skis, I would skip over the 80 mm range and bring neither my 10ex's or my g4's since there is more than enough overlap in the performance envelopes of my xp100's and Explosivs. Basically, at my weight, I stay on my shaped skis and penetrate all the way down to the packed base up until there is around a half to a foot of accumulation, and then switch to the Explosivs and switch skiing modes (ie, no more carving on edges) at that point.
I love my 10ex's and g4's, but tend to use them only when I have them available in the roof-top box and snow is coming down, but but I know it probably won't get really deep. As the calculation above showed, lighter guys and gals can stay on these 80 mm skis in much deeper snow, and are more versatile for these folks. I tend to use my g4's for fast GS skiing, particularly on dust-on-crust and sloppy spring days.
Anyway, gotta run. Lets talk more later.
All the best,
Tom / PM
PS (in edit) - Fixed some grammatical errors, and will add that given Rusty's and Epic's comments later in this thread, its obvious that skiers at the level of you guys can ski on any pair of sticks in any conditions, but old farts like me need every crutch we can find. I did get a few, "God, you make it look effortless" comments last season when on my Explosivs in thick deep slop, and I know I sure wouldn't have gotten them without my 190 cm crutches. [ August 06, 2003, 09:09 AM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]