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Length Difference - From Carving to Powder skis?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I just returned from the local ski shop, where a young staffer (great skier) informed me he just purchased the Volkl Gotama in 190, and ordered the Volkl AC4 in 170. In a carving ski, he said he'd head down to 165 cm.

I thought: "Holy Schneiky, that's 25 cm between carving and powder." :

Do such vast size differential's make sense?

I've found myself going the opposite direction, reducing my powder ski from 183 cm to 173 cm (Sugar Daddy), while increasing my carving ski size from 172 to 177.

I find too much length a burden to throw around in deep snow (especially among trees), but enjoy Mach Schnell speeds on hardpack.

Are your pow skis much longer than your hard-snow rippers?
post #2 of 21
I follow the longer ski for deeper snow model myself. My SD's are 183 (I'm toying with the thought of a 193 while they are still making them) OTH, my favored length in the mid fats and carvers tends to run from 172 - 178 (ish). Naturally, this depends to some extent on the ski model.

I find I can stay in the middle of say a 175 not matter how fast I ski on the groomers. If I'm not getting knocked around by rough snow, a shorter ski feels good.

If I'm getting knocked around on a 175............I slow down..........:

SJ
post #3 of 21
I actually have 6-stars at 168, Mantras at 184 and Salomon AK Rocket Lab Swallowtails at 195. If I was doing the AC4, I would probably look at a 177. Other skis in the quiver (older) are 186 Dynastar 4X4 PowerTrac and 195 Olin Selkirk. So, I guess I'm not too far off from the advice of your shop tech. Short can be a load of fun and will hold up to speed under the right conditions and with the right intent.
post #4 of 21
168 6 Stars to 193 Sanouks. At one time, it was 200 AK Rockets.


With bigger powder skis, you might try a powder ski that is a little softer. I find the big ski with more float and soft flex is easier to turn at lower speeds.

IMO: The Sanouk's tail really pays off at low speeds. I assume that lesser resistance do to the swallow tail allows the tail of the ski to swing through the snow easier. Therefore, it takes less force on the tip to result in a direction change.
post #5 of 21

Width more important than Length in Powder?

My skis run from a 193 cm GS race stock slalom to a 165 cm FIS legal recreational slalom. The longer length really helps in a high speed carver at my size (I'm 6'3" and 225lbs.), and the slalom skis are wicked good for carving short turns or on narrow runs. My powder and all mountain boards are somewhere inbetween.

As opposed to older powder skis (215cm long board softies) where length really mattered, I am finding that the key determinant to float for me these days is the width underfoot. I have a lot of fun dinking around in trees and chutes in powder on a 169 that is 89mm underfoot, a ski that many powderhounds might find too short. At the same time, I am increasingly finding that I am unhappy in powder on anything which is less than 80mm under foot. Most of my powder skis are above 90mm under foot and 175 to 180 cm's in length. This seems to work well for me in even 18 inches plus. And I find that the slightly shorter powder boards are a little turnier if I have to go to the bumps or groomers in the afternoon. For example, I have a pair of 175 cm Volant Machete FB's that will rip in anything, I can ski these at 30 mph plus in 12 inches of powder with no problem. And I find that these are short enough that I can squeeze them through the bumps in the afternoon if I have to.

Unless you were buying a dedicated powder ski for big turns on wide open slopes (ie. you live in Sandy and ski fresh 25 plus days a year above the tree line) I don't think you need to go really long in a powder ski to have it work for you.
post #6 of 21
I definitely downsize for a hard-snow ski or upsize for a deep snow board. As others have mentioned, if you don't have some length underneath you in rough conditions (especially choppy crud) you can find yourself in a very unstable position. Another thing to keep in mind: the carver will many times have more surface area (more shape, a larger tip and tail) and therefore can be skied shorter. This is the primary reason you would see myself on a 170cm AC4 but a 178cm 8800: the AC4 skis a bit longer, due to the bigger tip and tail. Downside is a little loss in rough-snow stability for the shorter ski. When buying a technical hard-snow ski, the main thing I am looking for is precision and energy (think Porsche), which comes in a smaller, livelier package. When buying a deep snow ski, the main thing I am looking for is stability and smoothness (think Land Cruiser) which comes in bigger, more stable package. If you were to compare these two autos, they would have very similiar wheelbases, which is similiar to how we look at ski length and suitability for various conditions. The shortest skis I have owned were 155cm SLX's, and they were incredible on hard snow. The 165's are almost as good, though, I also ski a 160cm SX Pro hard-snow carver from time to time.

FWIW, here are some lengths I ski in various models at 5 foot 9, 150lbs:

Elan Speedwave 14 168cm
Elan SLX 155/165cm
Elan GSX 182cm
Elan 999 181cm
Elan 666 176cm
Elan 777 176cm
Volkl AC4 170cm
Nordica Jet Fuel 170cm
Head iM88 175cm
Head iM82 172cm
Head Mojo 90 176cm
Head 1200 SW 170cm
Fischer RX8 165cm
Fischer Worldcup SC 165cm
Dynastar Legend 8000 178cm

As you can see, I tend to go under 170cm for carvers, 170-178 for all-mountain skis (depending on flex and turn radius), and then a bit longer for anything I would ski in really deep snow (180cm plus).
post #7 of 21
Seems I follow the trend.

165 carvers, 178 for off the beaten track.
post #8 of 21
Shortest: 165 Elan SLX Fusion Pro
Longest: 186 Dynastar Big Trouble

Its not really that outlandish when you consider the FIS regulations for SL and GS skis are 20cm apart, with many women skiing 180s and many men going into the 190s.

I think its tough for some people to wrap their heads around the different lengths for different purposes concept if they are a product of straight skis, when you would ski the same size for SL, GS, and pow. Its the reason people think that skiing a 165 pocket rocket is a good idea.
post #9 of 21
My powder ski is a 194cm Dynastar Legend Pro, my hardpack skis are the Fischer WC RCs in a 185/Nordica Doberman WC GS in a 191. I ski the longer powder board becuase I primarily ski above treeline and I'm a speed freak...so a longer, heavier board is much more stable. If is skied trees often or preferred lower speeds, there is no way I would be on a 194.
post #10 of 21
Personally, I can't really see any reason to have vastly different length skis. I don't really have a carving specific ski, and I prefer the stability of longer skis for powder and cruising. Short carvers can be fun for hotrodding around, but they are generally too skiderish at speed for my tastes unless I am on groomed runs. You don't need short skis to turn on groomed snow, and they are less stable in ungroomed, so I could never see the need for them. Maybe I'm just old school and love the feel of a long ski bending under me.

My mogual specific ski is a little shorter simply because snowboarders and people with tiny skis are cutting the bumps pretty tight these days.

In my mind, short carvers are for people who want to make as many turns as possible, but there are others who tend to only turn when they have to and they usually go as long as possible. Different strokes (and maybe more of an east/west terrain difference) for different skiers.
post #11 of 21

Calling Physicsman

I think Physicsman did a chart at one point in time that outlined how shorter skis offer more float as the waist increases, and what should roughly be equivalents at different weight/height and ski waist, but I can't find it. In any event, the general idea with a fatter ski is that you get more float without having to go as long, this is why we have all been going fatter over the last few years. But in my book, anything that is over 100mm underfoot is per definition not going to give you quick transitions on the groomers. So there is always a compromise inherent in the choice of any ski for particular conditions. In any event, you need to demo and see what works for you given the ski and where you want to ski it.

As regards the other posts on this thread regarding shorter skis I am noticing a trend towards short to medium radius turns in the skis cited, ie nothing over 17m sidecut. If your focus inbounds is short turns then 165-175 cm in a 11-15m sidecut makes sense. If you want to go faster, as jay_p noted, you should be on something longer. GS, Super G and Downhill skis are still all pretty long. So again, it depends on what works for you given the ski and where you want to ski it.
post #12 of 21

Calling Physicsman

I think Physicsman did a chart at one point in time that outlined how shorter skis offer more float as the waist increases, and what should roughly be equivalents at different weight/height and ski waist. but I can't find it. In any event, the general idea with a fatter ski is that you get more float without having to go as long, this is why we have all been going fatter over the last few years. But in my book, anything that is over 100mm underfoot is per definition not going to give you quick transitions on the groomers. In any event, I think you need to demo and see what works for you given the ski and where you want to ski it.

As regards the other posts on this thread regarding shorter skis I am noticing a trend towards short to medium radius turns in the skis cited, ie nothing over 17m sidecut. If your focus inbounds is short turns then 165-175 cm in a 11-15m sidecut makes sense. If you want to go faster, as jay_p noted, you should be on something longer. GS, Super G and Downhill skis are still all pretty long. So again, it depends on what works for you given the ski and where you want to ski it.
post #13 of 21
I only own 2 skis cause im poor

but powder will be on my 189 squads and hard pack on my 183 STL's so 6cm of difference
post #14 of 21
To the extent that length factors into the ski's surface area, it is important for float. And to the extent that length factors into the ski's active edge length, it affects control and stability.

Basically, you are putting a fixed force on the ski (your weight and any loading from the motion of skiing). Spreading it over a larger area makes the ski float better in powder. Force per unit area matters for float. Spreading the force over a longer edge gives you more control. Force per unit length matters for edging.

The in between aspect is the ski's shape and structural makeup, which can alter the effective behavior of the ski's length and area. And that's where the design gets interesting. It's the reason short rigid skis often ski longer than they appear (which allows us to ski shorter and enjoy more maneuverability).
post #15 of 21
I know this is obvious, but it depends on the width underfoot, as viking stated. All other things equal, the longer ski will give you more surface area and therefore better float. However, surface area can also be gained with width. Keep in mind that many of the great powder stashes are found in the glades, where quick turning shorter skis offer advantage. My powder skis are 175cm with 82mm underfoot. I wanted a 180, but I could only get them in 175 or 185...I opted for the shorter ones and haven't regretted it. My carvers are 170/68.
post #16 of 21
Have to come down on the side of longer fats. 25 cm difference between my training carvers and my pow skis. Obviously the pow skis feel slower edge to edge. But I don't ask for slalom turns from them; I want as much float and smoothness as they can muster.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
It seems that much depends upon the terrain you frequent.

Where I live, the shots are short and trees are numerous. Long, boaty pow sticks don't help much. There's just not enough acreage to chew-up (inbounds, at least), and maneuverability trumps speed.

If I lived in Utah or Tahoe, I'd go 10 cm longer on my powder skis, no problem. There, you have access to the big bowls, and wide open terrain. Speed and stability rule the day.
post #18 of 21
^^^You live in bellingham, you ski at baker I presume? and you say you dont have access to big bowls and wide open terrain???? what counts as wide open for you?
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilT View Post
^^^You live in bellingham, you ski at baker I presume? and you say you dont have access to big bowls and wide open terrain???? what counts as wide open for you?
I've skied Baker plenty - it's an hour from my house. I know the hill reasonably well. If you ski inbounds - inbounds - the shots are short and terrain is limited.

If you're a trekker, there's limitless options out there. Go for it. It's all yours!

Last year 4 people died skiing around Baker - a lot for small hill. I'm not BC-trained and I don't accept the risks.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato View Post
I've skied Baker plenty - it's an hour from my house. I know the hill reasonably well. If you ski inbounds - inbounds - the shots are short and terrain is limited.

If you're a trekker, there's limitless options out there. Go for it. It's all yours!

Last year 4 people died skiing around Baker - a lot for small hill. I'm not BC-trained and I don't accept the risks.
ya I guess alot of the runs I was thinking of were in the backcountry. Baker has some of the best back country around. The risks are exaggerated and overpublished in my opinion but definently stay safe while skiing
post #21 of 21
Length used to be needed for float in powder. With wider skis it's not needed as much. Width is the new length.

Length makes a difference in stability, but not as much as it used to; a high-end ski designed to be stiff and stable in 165 is stable enough for anything you ought to be doing on a typical hill. Extra length in a noodle will just make it that much more unmanageable at speed.

It has now come down to turn radius. Turn radius usually varies with length, but not always. Probably the comment about going down to 165 in a carving ski relates to him wanting to make a lot of short turns with his carving ski. Personally, I like carving long turns too. The last time I saw deep powder I was on SGs. I don't know if I would like to make small turns in the deep; I've never done it. I imagine I would still want to be going fairly fast making sweeping turns down a wide-open mountain, but I have an open mind.
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