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A tale of an intermediate's challenge in switching from Volkl AC2 to Dynastar 8000

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm a 2nd year skier (level 7 PSIA) and I skied on Volkl AC2 (170cm) skis last season. A few weeks ago I found a killer deal on some Dynastar 8000 skis (172 cm) and I figured with all the good press around here that they'd be a good ski to help take me to that next level. Even though my AC2's would have probably sufficed for the entire season, I decided to get the 8000's since they were so cheap - even if I ended up just sitting on them for awhile and using the AC2's.

A week ago, I skied for the first time this season. I decided to stick with the AC2's for now to get back in the swing of things. I skied pretty well on the AC2's and by the end of the day I felt like I was skiing about as well as I was at the end of last season.

So yesterday, temptation got the best of me and I brought my new Dynastar 8000's to the resort instead of the AC2's. It was like learning to ski all over again!! I never thought the 2 skis would ski so differently. I expected subtle differences, but not to the extent that I experienced.

The 8000's were MUCH more difficult for me to get up on edge - I'm assuming due to the 80mm waist compared to the 72mm waist of the AC2's. I was skidding all of my turns as a result. Also, I noticed I was having a much harder time keeping the skis parallel in turns! I had NO confidence on these things at all at the beginning of the day. I even fell down twice on them, and I hadn't fallen since the middle of last season.

I decided to ski easy terrain for the rest of the day to try to learn how to ski on the 8000's. By the end of the day, I was skiing MUCH better but I had to make several adjustments in order to do so. Here's what I've noticed:

1. With my Volkls, I NEVER had to think about the tails of my skis. I'm guessing this is because the mounting point on the AC2's is slightly more rearward. With the 8000's, the mounting point is more forward, so there is more tail behind me now. This requires a LOT more thought while skiing. That being said, once I got the hang of it, I was easily able to transfer my weight back and forth to get the tips & tails to do what I wanted them to. I just never had to think/worry about where my tails were or think about shifting my weight from front to back during the turn before. The AC2's are almost on autopilot in comparison - where as the 8000's only did what I told them to do.

2. While I got slightly better at getting the skis on edge as the day went on, it's still much more difficult for me to carve my turns with the 8000's than it is with the AC2's. I definitely skidded my turns more with the 8000's overall. Hopefully this will improve with time.

3. Short turns with the 8000's were easier than I anticipated and they also seemed pretty forgiving (no noticeable difference between the AC2's in forgiveness). I wasn't able to test them on any soft snow, but I assume they'll be be better than the AC2's on powder days since they're wider.

Overall, I was a lot more comfortable on the 8000's by the end of the day, but it was like learning to ski all over again, requiring some very different techniques. I almost think that having to manually transfer my weight from tip to tail during the turn and having to consciously think about things a bit more will in turn make me a better skier with better technique overall. It's kind of akin to driving a manual transmission (Dynastar) vs. driving an automatic (Volkl). Like I said, maybe this is due more to the mounting point differences between the skis and having slightly more tail behind me on the Dynastars. Dunno.

Also, is it possible that one's muscles fatigue less with a more forward mounting position? The balls of my feet are centered perfectly over the center of the 8000's running surface. I even built a little balance board before mounting the bindings. While in my boots, I found the point on the balance board where flexing & de-flexing would tip the board in either direction with equal amounts of force (just like a Campbell Balancer does). I then marked the point on my boot that intersected the balance board's center line and lined up that mark on my boot with the center of the ski's running surface. Ironically, when I did this, the boot's center mark was exactly in line with the ski's mounting point mark! So, I used Dynastar's recommended mounting point. Anyway, my muscles are MUCH less sore today than they were after skiing on my AC2's last week. Of course, last week was my first time out this year, so it's not a fair comparison. But I'm just wondering if being more "forward" on the ski is generally less fatiguing?

Anyone else have similar experiences or thoughts on my experience? Recommendations are always welcome as well!!

post #2 of 11
Good insights in this post. I'm not aware of a better "intermediate" analysis of skis and mounting point. A more forward position gives you easier turn initiation, and seems to promote shorter radius turns and a sense of precision and control. Lighter skiers do better forward than aft, but being forward may require you to finish the turn by moving your weight back to neutral, or what feels like slightly back to keep the tails engaged through the turn. Rearward mounting seems to be more tolerant of skidded turns, softer conditions and longer radius turns.

116.79/110 vs 116-72-103 is not a huge difference, but its interesting both have 31 mm of taper in the tail, but the AC2 has a lot more difference between the tip and waist, so pulls you into turns easier. IMO, these skis are pretty close in what they are intended to do and would have probably pointed you to 8800 or the AC4 for a complementary ski. The good news is you clearly have a tendency to go overboard on gear, and will fit in great around here.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Just an FYI, the Dynastar 8000 has a "variable" width waist. They publish it as 79mm, but it's only 79mm in the longest 2 lengths. It's 80mm in the 172cm length (mine) and 81mm in the shortest length.

Also, I realize that the AC2 and Dynastar 8000 are fairly similar and if I was building a quiver, I would have opted for something a little different, but I bought the 8000 with the intention of eventually replacing the AC2, as it seems the 8000 is a little better for "advanced" skiers than the AC2 and it's wider waist should be a little better for Colorado conditions. I take a lot of lessons and figured I might be outgrowing the AC2 by the end of this season. Plus, my AC2's are in great shape, so I can hopefully sell them for a decent price.

Basically, I didn't want to go TOO wide, as I am still learning so I thought the 8000 would be a nice bump up to replace the AC2's.
post #4 of 11
the bump up to an 80mm waist should not be a big deal.

The biggest thing to remember is different manufacturers have different preferences. Rossi and Volkl (and a couple other companies) tend to design their gear more towards a European market with slightly more tail oriented mount points and more tail dominant turning skis.

Dynastars, however, especially with a slightly more tip oriented mount (farther forward), will require you to ski more forward and turn the ski from the tip (whereas Volkl's have always struck me as turning primarily from around the toe and back). I have a feeling that on the Volkl's you might have stood more "full-footed", or as I describe to students, able to feel their heel as well as the balls of the feet. On a ski like the Dynastar, you will probably want to ski more from the balls of the feet (basically if you are conscious that your heels are touching or have weight on them that you might be too far back, not saying to lift the heels, but if you are aware of them while you ski). This can also explain your difference in muscle fatigue. Skiing from your heels (or behind) will require your quads to work a LOT harder and hurt (think about how much people burn when they lean back in powder).
post #5 of 11
It has been said that the 8000 should be skied less than the ego would suggest. A 165 may have been a better fit for you.
post #6 of 11
The 8000's are one of the most easy to ski and forgiving skis on the market, at their level. Sounds like an operator problem to me.

Oh...and they tend to ski shorter than their advertised length, So a 172cm 8000 would ski similar to about a 168cm K2 in the same class.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys. I am not suggesting that the 8000's were DIFFICULT to ski - it just took a very different technique than I had been using for my AC2's. Like I said, this might be due more to the differences in mounting position than anything, but I definitely had to "work" the tail more and transfer my weight back during the turn - something I don't ever remember consciously having to do with the AC2's. It was literally like learning how to turn all over again.
post #8 of 11
I find the 8000's delightfully easy to ski and forgiving. Also really fun to carve, load up and pop into the next turn. Makes short turns and long equally well. forgiving in bumps too. I have more mileage than you, but this is a ski that one can grow into, as opposed to some that will just spank you. Stick with them, figure them out, and you'll be fine. Not a bad powder ride up to a foot or so. I prefer them to the 8800's in all but the heaviest crud and the deep pow. I have both skies.
post #9 of 11
Even while forgetting about the differences in dimensions, lengths, and mounting points, the differences between the Volkls and the Legend 8000 are like night and day. I have demo'd quite a few skis and my preferences defeinitely lean toward the German/Austrian vein in skis. I did not like the 8000 at all when I demo'd them and my experience pretty much duplicated yours. I don't believe the problem is that the 8000 is "too much ski" or "better than the Volkl". In short, you've become accustomed to the way a Volkl operates and the Legend isn't the same kind of ski. Please don't try to convince yourself that the problem is all you - you've made an important discovery - there are major differences between skis among different manufacturers. My advice (as always) is to try to demo skis before making purchase decisions.
post #10 of 11
It's not uncommon to have this experience with a new and different ski -- I know I could share similar stories. It sometimes takes me a few hours to really get the feel for a new ski and learn all their capabilities. This would be especially true when you're an intermediate and have not experienced the various different types of skis out there. You clearly put a lot of time into adapting to the new ski, and I appreciate the insights you wrote.

On paper, there are significant differences between the AC2 and the Legend 8000. For one, the waist width will make the 8000 slower edge to edge, and the sidecut will make them less carve happy. They will have a much larger radius than the AC2. All of these aspects can make the 8000 seem like much less of a carver, and in reality it is. There may be additional differences in the tip/tail and binding position. Coupled with your natural tendency to perhaps be in the backseat a little (predictable default for almost everyone) it may make you feel the tails on the 8000 more.

Now the thing is -- the 8000 should be skied differently than the AC2. If you are trying to get the 8000 to feel like your AC2, or have the same familiar behavior, then stop! That will be a problem you can never fix. These skis need to be skied differently. The good news is that this will expand your repertoire of skiing skills, and give you the benefit of having different skis/styles for different conditions.

For one thing, the 8000 is not a carving ski. It can be done, and I am sure somebody will write in that they can carve their 8000 just fine, but it's not a carving ski. There are *much* better carving skis out there, that will hook up at the slightest edge angle/pressure and rocket you through turns. I would classify the 8000 as a mid-fat powder ski -- not as fat as other powder skis (ie, 8800) but on the soft-snow end of the spectrum of mid-fats. In contrast, your AC2 is more of a cross between a mid-fat and carver and much better suited to hard snow. So the skis are on different ends of the mid-fat spectrum.

In my experience, the 8000 is happiest when skied with very slight edge angle. You almost want to feel like you're pressing on the flats of the skis rather than tipping them up on edge. Given the ski's waist width and longish radius, it will be tough to really edge them and the payoff won't be fantastic anyhow. So try for shallow, two-footed turns *down* the fall line rather than trying to carve and turn across the fall line. In short, take a powder stance and add some very slight edge to it. If this sounds like it would be impractical for hard/fast snow, it's because it is! This is a style for soft snow, where the 8000 will be in their element.

When skied like this, I think you will find the 8000 to be a wonderful ski. I demoed a pair last year and liked them a lot. But they were much more similar to my wide Volkl Karmas than my mid-fat Elan M666.

Good luck!
post #11 of 11
The 8000's tail is 23 mm wider than its waist Turn radius is about 20 m.
The AC2's tail is 31 mm wider than its waist. Turn radius is about 16 m.

The AC2s tail will dig in more and be easier to make short turns without slipping out the tail.
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