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Race length/radius: seeking recommendation

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am a Masters' racer with quite a bit of racing experience but I'm still stuck in the old-school ways of equipment management. It's becoming clear to me that nowadays the most important thing is the ski's turning radius, and that in fact there is no longer much relationship between my height and the optimal length of my ski.

I want to get a new quiver, I need new GS and SL skis. I'm looking primarily at Fischer and Head right now. I am 5 foot, 4.5 inches tall (163.83cm) and I weigh between 115lbs and 120lbs (it fluctuates). My coach tells me I pressurize very well but I have my suspicions that my size/weight is holding me back on stiffer skis.

So my question is: does race ski length matter? What length GS and SL skis should I be looking to get here, or can the question not be answered without going out and skiing the various lengths? The published radius of the Head I.GS is, I believe, 25m but the Fischer website just lists "FIS Legal".

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 21
typically SL skis should be around chin height, and
GS skis around head height. Now these are guidelines and everybody is a little different.
I would recommend demoing or borrow skis in different lengths, and see what you like.
Good luck
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by katabch View Post
typically SL skis should be around chin height, and
GS skis around head height. Now these are guidelines and everybody is a little different.
I would recommend demoing or borrow skis in different lengths, and see what you like.
Good luck
This, as far as I can tell, is old-school thinking. It's basically how I sized out my last pair of GS skis, I put myself on 163s. When I told this to my coach he told me I was nuts, that nobody (even shorties like me) should be skiing GS on 163s; he said only the radius matters and so there's no reason I shouldn't be up on a 175 or bigger.

Thoughts?
post #4 of 21
I can only comment on what I use.
I am 5'11" 200 lbs,
SL 166 Fischer World Cup
GS 183 Fischer World Cup
I know guys i race Masters with that are shorter than me and on longer skis than me, and vice versa, Taller and bigger than me on Shorter skis.
It's all what works for you.
Where you racing masters? NEw England here.
post #5 of 21
You are racing MASTERS and not FIS, so I guess that there's little insentitive for you to pick the minimum lengths required for your category: 165 and 185. Also, for this season and maybe next one, many of the gs skis will only indicate 21m> because that is what the FIS asks from race stock boards to comply to. This doesn't mean that men or even women legal USSA don't have radiuses bigger than this. In fact, many 185> will have a 25> radius and 180> gs boards normally have around 24> meters in radius.

In slalom, radius is not monitored, so you are free to go with as much or as little sidecut as you wish. Many companies used to have a really turny SL before (the old Fischer RC4 had something like 10m in a 166), but nowadays, 11-13m for a men ski is the norm since it can be skiied in a wide variety of courses and setup.

With that said, length DOES matter in terms of ski construction: all of the 165 skis are beefier and geard towards heavier, more powerful racers and will be harder to flex than their shorter counterparts. A good example was the 2V from a few years back who had a completly different core wheter it was a women ski or a men ski in the race stock declination (foam vs wood core, while are their citizen skis were foam). Since you may be powerful, but are still a long shot from being heavy (almost no one on the WC or FIS circuit is lighter than 160-170lbs on the men side and these are the skis that are designed for them) my advice would be to go with a women ski or a midsize ski: some companies still offer a 160* race stock, but it isn't as common as before. In GS, I've always favored going a little longer since you can feather the turns more and you have more room to implement tactical and line changes: the longer the ski, the faster it'll go. This is why some skiers like Blardone, who are small guys, will use the Z-turn or the feather turn on 188+ GS instead of simply opting for the 185.

What I'd recommend for you would be a 155 in something that isn't noodely but still softish (Fischer comes to mind, since they are in the middle of the pack in terms of flex) and a 178-182 (but not men's length) in something like a Rossi or a Salomon (maybe even a Fischer or an Elan, I've heard good things about the green sled). GS is always trickier to choose since many coaches have a different approach towards course setting and pitch also dictates in large part what can by done by who one a longer ski. Good racers will be able to manage efficiently a long ski on a slow course, good skiers will have difficulty finding the speed required to drive the ski and make it work to it's potential. Unless you fall into the good racers category, small hill GS'ses will be better skied on something moderatly short.

And it is true, 163 for anyone who is older than 12 is nuts in GS. 168 is the absolute minimum that I would put the girlyish girl who has ever girlied in a modern GS course on a steep pitch. You need some length to power through the ruts and something that will always want turn because of sidecut can be pretty scary when going fast and pushing the limit.


Remember, radius is important, but flex is also an integral part of the radius equation since a ski that you can flex will turn a lot tighter (and will ski faster) than a stiffer ski in the same radius. Longitudinal stiffness is something many racers want to have in their board since it adds stability, but longer lengths that are softer (thus companies who employ constructions who still manage to be torsionally stiff while being noodly are GOOD) will be as stable while being faster and more manageable, at least in my experience.

* I think 160 might be too long for you, sticking to 155 in slalom would be best.

PS: If you HAVE to comply, please to be choosing skis from the softest flexing company available or to be choosing non race stock boards that still comply with FIS radius rules (these still exist in GS?).
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Wow that's a lot of good info, thanks BillyRay! I don't care about compliance, I'm not going to be racing FIS, as you said. Your recommendation for slalom sounds pretty much in line with what I was thinking:

- 155cm in something relatively soft for slalom (right now I'm on a 155cm Volkl which is entirely too stiff... it's World Cup Stock and way outta my league). I'll have to do some research as to what manufacturers meet this description.

- 178-182cm for GS, again in something relatively soft. However you say "not mens length". What does that mean? I've never heard of a womens' race ski.

Thanks!




Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyRay View Post
You are racing MASTERS and not FIS, so I guess that there's little insentitive for you to pick the minimum lengths required for your category: 165 and 185. Also, for this season and maybe next one, many of the gs skis will only indicate 21m> because that is what the FIS asks from race stock boards to comply to. This doesn't mean that men or even women legal USSA don't have radiuses bigger than this. In fact, many 185> will have a 25> radius and 180> gs boards normally have around 24> meters in radius.

In slalom, radius is not monitored, so you are free to go with as much or as little sidecut as you wish. Many companies used to have a really turny SL before (the old Fischer RC4 had something like 10m in a 166), but nowadays, 11-13m for a men ski is the norm since it can be skiied in a wide variety of courses and setup.

With that said, length DOES matter in terms of ski construction: all of the 165 skis are beefier and geard towards heavier, more powerful racers and will be harder to flex than their shorter counterparts. A good example was the 2V from a few years back who had a completly different core wheter it was a women ski or a men ski in the race stock declination (foam vs wood core, while are their citizen skis were foam). Since you may be powerful, but are still a long shot from being heavy (almost no one on the WC or FIS circuit is lighter than 160-170lbs on the men side and these are the skis that are designed for them) my advice would be to go with a women ski or a midsize ski: some companies still offer a 160* race stock, but it isn't as common as before. In GS, I've always favored going a little longer since you can feather the turns more and you have more room to implement tactical and line changes: the longer the ski, the faster it'll go. This is why some skiers like Blardone, who are small guys, will use the Z-turn or the feather turn on 188+ GS instead of simply opting for the 185.

What I'd recommend for you would be a 155 in something that isn't noodely but still softish (Fischer comes to mind, since they are in the middle of the pack in terms of flex) and a 178-182 (but not men's length) in something like a Rossi or a Salomon (maybe even a Fischer or an Elan, I've heard good things about the green sled). GS is always trickier to choose since many coaches have a different approach towards course setting and pitch also dictates in large part what can by done by who one a longer ski. Good racers will be able to manage efficiently a long ski on a slow course, good skiers will have difficulty finding the speed required to drive the ski and make it work to it's potential. Unless you fall into the good racers category, small hill GS'ses will be better skied on something moderatly short.

And it is true, 163 for anyone who is older than 12 is nuts in GS. 168 is the absolute minimum that I would put the girlyish girl who has ever girlied in a modern GS course on a steep pitch. You need some length to power through the ruts and something that will always want turn because of sidecut can be pretty scary when going fast and pushing the limit.


Remember, radius is important, but flex is also an integral part of the radius equation since a ski that you can flex will turn a lot tighter (and will ski faster) than a stiffer ski in the same radius. Longitudinal stiffness is something many racers want to have in their board since it adds stability, but longer lengths that are softer (thus companies who employ constructions who still manage to be torsionally stiff while being noodly are GOOD) will be as stable while being faster and more manageable, at least in my experience.

* I think 160 might be too long for you, sticking to 155 in slalom would be best.

PS: If you HAVE to comply, please to be choosing skis from the softest flexing company available or to be choosing non race stock boards that still comply with FIS radius rules (these still exist in GS?).
post #7 of 21
In addition to length requirement slalom ski can be no narrower at the waist then 60mm.

also there is no reason for this genteleman to get a Race Stock ski. Most retail skis are much softer flexing.

Fischer is hardly known for flexible skis, on the contrary! But all companies have skis with different Flex properties. Fischer's race stock skis are ridiculously stiff.

He should look at a Gs ski with a "cheater sidecut" something like an Atomic SX11 Supercross in a 170cm for GS (about a 16M radius).

If you could find an Atomic ski called the GSX it would be perfect. it was constructed just like the SX11 but looked just like a GS11 and came in a 170cm. It was made for for j3 racers that did not have to conform to FIS rules.

Length, Flex and sidecut are all very important. but how they are combined is the ulltimate test.

Any "women's race ski" is going to be a race stock ski and conform to FIS. 178-182 is still too long for you. My master's GS ski is a 180 with and 18M radius and I am going to go shorter and I weigh 188 and am 6"0 tall.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
In addition to length requirement slalom ski can be no narrower at the waist then 60mm.

also there is no reason for this genteleman to get a Race Stock ski. Most retail skis are much softer flexing.

Fischer is hardly known for flexible skis, on the contrary! But all companies have skis with different Flex properties. Fischer's race stock skis are ridiculously stiff.

He should look at a Gs ski with a "cheater sidecut" something like an Atomic SX11 Supercross in a 170cm for GS (about a 16M radius).

If you could find an Atomic ski called the GSX it would be perfect. it was constructed just like the SX11 but looked just like a GS11 and came in a 170cm. It was made for for j3 racers that did not have to conform to FIS rules.

Length, Flex and sidecut are all very important. but how they are combined is the ulltimate test.

Any "women's race ski" is going to be a race stock ski and conform to FIS. 178-182 is still too long for you. My master's GS ski is a 180 with and 18M radius and I am going to go shorter and I weigh 188 and am 6"0 tall.
Anybody worth his salt can manage a 155 Fischer SL: true it is "stiff", but it is way softer that its men counterpart and probably a lot easier to ski than the softer men offerings due to shorter length, more sidecut and probably softer plate and construction. This, to me, settles the SL question since I haven't been happy (as in, I'll seriously consider racing on this) with any retail offering in a race course, so I won't recommend them. For fun, yes retail is good, but for serious racing, no.

The need for race stock, in GS, to me, is evident, since I'll be racing this year on a competitive circuit on slopes and setups that demands it. I don't know how the MASTERS are at this gentleman's mountain, but the GS we had last year at my mountain was held on a FIS homologated run that was the theatre for numerous FIS races through the years and even a National Champ if memory serves. If you're looking at cheater GS courses that are held on a slow run (more of a glalom), a true race stock ski will be too much of a hassle as I have pointed. But, at least in my very humble opinion, recommending something 170cm in length, to anyone who needs to tackle GS speeds and forces, is not something that I would do. Especially not a ski that was designed with j3's in mind, who very often do not have the strength, or even abilities, that grown men have at the same height and weight. But at the same time, it is true that retail Skiercross offerings are sometimes the way to go, since they tend to have more sidecut, come in a more manageable length and still be competitive. Let us agree to disagree

But in the end, it all comes down to three thing: preferences, ability and needs with needs being the most important of all. The comments and the questions asked led me to believe that the MASTERS he was participating to were true GS and SL. Nothing wrong with coming from a small mountain and choosing your equipment accordingly.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi Billy. I'm racing Intermountain Masters (Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana); our courses are of pretty average difficulty. They're definitely not "glaloms".

You make a strong case for a 155cm Fischer SL; by "womens' ski" I assume you refer to the fact that it's only FIS-legal for women. I'm also talking to my coach and the Fischer reps about it. However I'd like to find out if there's a 155cm SL ski out there that's perhaps more reliably soft.

GS is obviously a bit more complicated and it appears that it's your opinion that if I was expecting to race slower courses, a skiercross ski would work well because of the shorter lengths available with the deep sidecuts. But since I'm going to be racing real GS, it appears you're recommending longer boards, perhaps between 173cm and 178cm.

However it's unclear whether you feel, for GS or SL, that I should be looking to stay away from race stock and, instead, go for the softer retail models.

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyRay View Post
Anybody worth his salt can manage a 155 Fischer SL: true it is "stiff", but it is way softer that its men counterpart and probably a lot easier to ski than the softer men offerings due to shorter length, more sidecut and probably softer plate and construction. This, to me, settles the SL question since I haven't been happy (as in, I'll seriously consider racing on this) with any retail offering in a race course, so I won't recommend them. For fun, yes retail is good, but for serious racing, no.

The need for race stock, in GS, to me, is evident, since I'll be racing this year on a competitive circuit on slopes and setups that demands it. I don't know how the MASTERS are at this gentleman's mountain, but the GS we had last year at my mountain was held on a FIS homologated run that was the theatre for numerous FIS races through the years and even a National Champ if memory serves. If you're looking at cheater GS courses that are held on a slow run (more of a glalom), a true race stock ski will be too much of a hassle as I have pointed. But, at least in my very humble opinion, recommending something 170cm in length, to anyone who needs to tackle GS speeds and forces, is not something that I would do. Especially not a ski that was designed with j3's in mind, who very often do not have the strength, or even abilities, that grown men have at the same height and weight. But at the same time, it is true that retail Skiercross offerings are sometimes the way to go, since they tend to have more sidecut, come in a more manageable length and still be competitive. Let us agree to disagree

But in the end, it all comes down to three thing: preferences, ability and needs with needs being the most important of all. The comments and the questions asked led me to believe that the MASTERS he was participating to were true GS and SL. Nothing wrong with coming from a small mountain and choosing your equipment accordingly.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjtuna View Post
Hi Billy. I'm racing Intermountain Masters (Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana); our courses are of pretty average difficulty. They're definitely not "glaloms".

But since I'm going to be racing real GS, it appears you're recommending longer boards, perhaps between 173cm and 178cm.


Thanks!
He said 178-182cm. Speeds in masters Gs rarely if ever get over 40 MPH.

The skis I recommeded the Atomic GSx or SX11 supercross are the same construction as a retail GS11.

The SX11 super cross is a very very fast very stable ski.

As far as length goes, i could keep up with my FIS level, Junior Olympics level J1 on very hard snow. We were not on a race course, but I was on my 162 B5 metron and he was on his 186cm World Cup race Stock Gs11. And trust me those kids kick the bejeebers out of most if not all masters racers.

At your weight, you need to be able to bend and control the ski. The longer lengths are definetly stiffer and the women's race Stock ski, although shorter, must meet the FIS sidecut regs in GS. Most are in the 181 to 183 range

And even though they are women's skis, most of those gals on the WC could absolutely kick our asses strength wise as well as race wise.

A 170 -175 at your height & weight is plenty of ski, if it is the right ski.

A torsionally stiff, longitudianlly softer 155cm slalom would be ideal!
post #11 of 21
Well, from what I've heard, Blizzard are plenty soft, and from what I've experienced, Rossis are soft (Salomon are to, but to a lesser extent). A Rossi in 155 should be easy enough to bend for you. Now, try to demo it beforehand since I HATE this ski with a passion and I hesitate to say go for it. Some people like its feel, I don't. It feels slippery and smooth, while being lively wich to me, is horrible: I like a ski that grips hard and needs to be muscled around. Some people are able to make it work with their style I guess.

And as far as "needing" race stock versus retail, talk to your coach: since we haven't seen you ski, we can only offer guidelines. Race stock skis don't ski better, they ski diffenrently than retail since they are designed for a different use. Retails are made to be as fast as possible while being user friendly and versatile while race stock, in general, tend only to be preoccupied with going as fast as possible and complying to a set of rules (this doesn't mean that they don't pander to different styles or athletes: some race stock are more forgiving than others, but none are as forgiving as the most punishing retail ski, at least in my experience).
post #12 of 21
bjt:

Another brand to consider for your slalom ski might be Dynastar. Their consumer-market "race" skis tend to be a bit more manageable than the typical Austrian construction. I think the 06/07 slalom race ski is called the Speed Omeglass Comp. It comes in a 155 (and 165), and the 155 is what I think would be the length you would want.

Also, your weight is so light that I think a 170 to 175cm GS ski would be plenty. You really do need to be able to bend the ski to get any benefit from it. The shortest length the Head i.GS comes in is a 173, which should be plenty of ski for you given your weight. That's a really great ski (disclaimer; I'm a Head rep). Very smooth and stable but I think you could bend it. It *does* have a turn radius in the low 20's, and Atomicman's suggestion of a "cross" type ski with a radius in the high teens is a good one to consider. I guess it really depends on the type of courses and speeds you'll be running.

Good luck with the selection.
post #13 of 21
Thanks for the supportive comments Bob. As you know I am skiing in the 06 Rd96 boot and was lucky enough to get a pir of '07 166 RD i.SL at the very end of last year. I had a chance to ski on them once at Whistler in May and absolutely loved the ski!!!
post #14 of 21

There's another option...

...which is this year's Atomic LT12PB and ST12PB...in appropriate lengths and flexes for women racers...

http://www.atomicsnow.com/atomic.php?id=25&s=4
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomicman View Post
Thanks for the supportive comments Bob. As you know I am skiing in the 06 Rd96 boot and was lucky enough to get a pir of '07 166 RD i.SL at the very end of last year. I had a chance to ski on them once at Whistler in May and absolutely loved the ski!!!
I also have (and love) a pair of 166 i.SL's. Mine aren't this coming year's model, however.

I didn't recommend the Head slalom ski because "everybody" tells me they're pretty stiff and I think bjtuna needs something on the softer side of the spectrum.

Having said that, I don't think my i.SL's ski "stiff" at all. Maybe that's because I outweigh bjtuna by 80#, but they seem very turnable to me. I really don't feel they have to be "driven" all the time. I've even seen a couple of reviews here at Epic that say they're a little soft.

C'est la vie.
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
I also have (and love) a pair of 166 i.SL's. Mine aren't this coming year's model, however.

I didn't recommend the Head slalom ski because "everybody" tells me they're pretty stiff and I think bjtuna needs something on the softer side of the spectrum.

Having said that, I don't think my i.SL's ski "stiff" at all. Maybe that's because I outweigh bjtuna by 80#, but they seem very turnable to me. I really don't feel they have to be "driven" all the time. I've even seen a couple of reviews here at Epic that say they're a little soft.

C'est la vie.
i WASN'T SAYING BJTUNA SHOULD SKI ON THEM, JUST COMMENTING ON HOW MUCH I LIKE THE HEAD GEAR.

: But can't change my name from Atomicman to Headman for obvious reasons!!!!
post #17 of 21
Btjuna, the Head RD GS is a very good ski, I also recommend it along with Atomicman and Bob. I haven't skied it in 173, but if it skis like the 180, you shouldn't be disappointed. As far as length goes, 173 should also be goodish for you, but try demoing the longer length too if you can. (I know I'm going against the grain here in saying that longer is good, but I have yet to be on anything shorter than *178 in GS and I'm only a little bit heavier than our friend here).

*And this is on Fischers and yes, I regret not buying the 183 wich feels a tonload more stable while still being manageable and lively (I have demoed the longer model after my purchase, silly me). Before, I had the 185 Lab, wich was a fine ski and I didn't feel that it was that difficult to turn or bend.

But as Bob said, C'est la vie!
post #18 of 21
Just to chime in, and agree with some of the other advice (realizing that this is just opinion from a random person who only knows so much):

- The 155 cm slalom ski makes sense, I think. As noted, it's intended to be a "woman's ski," so it's designed for people about your weight. Whether you want race stock or retail is an open question in my mind. A fair number of full size masters (who, especially as you get into Class 5 and up, can be pretty "full") use 155 cm (women's) race stock skis. They're not soft. Though, of course, brands may vary.

- For GS, everyone but the very top / very strong guys seems to be going for "cheater" skis. This is in the PNSA, for what that's worth. I don't know if our GS courses are so wimpy that they warrant derision. To the extent I've noticed, people in your size range are going under 180 in length, though still in the mid- to upper- 170s (173 to 178 seems to be the range you see, which is also what people are mentioning here for the most part). As noted, the exact length may not be a big issue (I mean, 178 is only 5 cm shorter than 183, after all), but the construction gets a little softer. My reaction is that race stock GS boards don't make a ton of sense (none of them are cheaters, of course, for one thing). The Atomic models mentioned above (SX11 or similar) sound like a good choice. Another one I've seen on some feet is the Fischer RC variant (instead of GS).
post #19 of 21
Sorry I can't help you with the radius question. I would just try to figure out what the largest radius turn I would be making on the course and get that. As to stiffness, I've heard that Salomon and Rossis are a little softer and Atomics are stiffer, but I bow to my betters in this matter. I can tell you however that an SX11 is perfecty happy at GS racing speeds, even a short one.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hey guys -

Based in no small part on your advice and on that of my coach and the Head rep, I believe I will be going with the Head I.GS race stock 175cm and the Head I.SL race stock in 155cm, both with the softer plates.

Thanks!

-Brian
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bjtuna View Post
Hey guys -

Based in no small part on your advice and on that of my coach and the Head rep, I believe I will be going with the Head I.GS race stock 175cm and the Head I.SL race stock in 155cm, both with the softer plates.

Thanks!

-Brian
Hey Brian,

when you say the softer plates, which plate on the i.sl?
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