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Austria, here I come!?!?! (powder days)

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm at a real loss of what to get for a powder/big mountain ski. I will never go in the park again, but I hope to do some backcountry stuff via heli. What are the best skis out there today for big mountain/powder skiing? Just something to have fun on; no cliffs/drops, an occasional jump into powder. And do these skis need plates?
post #2 of 15
When I go to AUstria I bring my Gotamas. I used to bring Gotamas and Karmas, but I never used the Karmas. I use small lates on both, but they are not mandatory.
post #3 of 15
A true big mountain ski (Rossi B-Squad, Head Supermojo, Dynastar Legend Pro XXL) is different from a powder ski (Volkl Gotama, Salomon Gun, Dynastar Big Trouble). Remember, the relly gnar stuff you see in movies is just as often bulletproof ice or refrozen crud as pow. The big mountain skis are going to be stiff and damp for cranking high speed long radius turns over varied conditions while the powder boards are going to be soft for floatation and maneuverability.

the Gotama does both relatively well in the longer lengths.
post #4 of 15
Have only gotten as close as Davos, from that experience and current climate conditions, would plan for lots of ice, bumps, and crust (Recall a Euro here once said it was like New England with the occasional chance for much bigger powder.)

Which for me means no Goat, but instead a high 80's to low 90's crud buster than can handle ice but still has some float: iM88, long Mantra, short Stockli DP or SS, the new Elan 888, the new Mystic Rider, perhaps a shorter Legend Pro. Seriously, go check snowfall records for your possible resorts, and find out how many real dumps they've had in the past few years. Old assumptions no longer hold...
post #5 of 15
Beyond hit the nail on the head.

Euro does not mean big snow nessacerily. Look at last years WC.

About 10 years ago I lived there for 3 years. One Year was epic, nipple deep about 5 times and knee to waist a lot more, the other two were still pretty good for a kid that grew up skiing on the Ice Coast.

The great thing was that 99% of the natives skied on piste all the time, so after a dump you could find the goods for days on end. Not like the mad dash in the western US. Mind you this was 10+ years ago and things may have changed.
post #6 of 15
I have had over 50 skis days in Europe and skied in Austria as recently as 2006. If I were you, I would not bring ANY powder ski on your trip. You WILL see lots of ice. I would want a ski with more race-like performance, something that can hold an edge, is quick edge-to-edge, etc. There is a reason all the europeans are on race skis when free skiing.

That said, european skiing is awesome. The terrain is -- generally -- much more challenging; both steep and hardpacked. You have to really get the ski on edge to prevent skidding, and the scenery can be sublime.

Another issue when considering a ski for europe: you will see lots of runouts. The Alps are sort of teared, so you will see sheer drops (steeper than virtually anywhere out West), followed by long flats, or even slight inclines. It's nice to have a ski that really glides well, that way you can bomb the steeps and have enough speed to make it across the flat sections -- otherwise you will end up poling, a lot. So, again, a race-like fits the bill.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Interesting. I never thought to check the actual snowfall records. ;-) I'm going to be by Vienna where it's mostly ski racing anyway, but I figured I'd find some nice days and could travel to Swiss, Italy or France. I've never really seen powder being from NY and not in a ski family.

I just wanted a pair for the days when there was a dump that I could do something other than running gates.
post #8 of 15
I think a legend pro in either a 186 or 194 depending on your size would be a good bet. Floats well enough on powder and holds well on ice
post #9 of 15
As partly in NA we had a low snow year in some regions, mainly the eastern Alps. In return the high western Alps got the usual amount of snow. Check on snow levels and weather forecast immediately before you go and then decide what to bring along.

Overall a ski in the category of Rossi B3s/Explosives/Mantras/Stormriders DP with a 90ish waist usually are the safest bids when intent is skiing pow but Gots (newer ones) fit the bill as well. The treeline in the Alps is considerably lower than in the Rockies so snow pack, general conditions and avy danger can vary significantly due to strong winds especially at higher elevations.

Also you might consider bringing skis either for hardpack or pow and rent on site if conditions change significantly.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'll be bringing my racing skis as well; I'll be there for 89 days (so I can get out of the EU before I overstay on the VWP). If I am not in Austria for the winter, I'll be in Italy (as long as they okay the visa -- the knee Pres. doesn't like non-Italians in his country) from Aug. 2008 to August 2009.

Can you ski in powder on skis that are in the 170s? My knee can't handle 180+ skis right now.
post #11 of 15
Take your slalom skis and rent something 175ish and soft if you get a dump that is powder-ski worthy.
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by Bohemian View Post
Can you ski in powder on skis that are in the 170s? My knee can't handle 180+ skis right now.
Sure, you can ski powder on your race skis if you want. People have been doing if forever. This whole "I can only ski condition x with ski type y" is getting way out of hand. If you can ski a race ski, you can ski it anywhere. Skis are tools, not crutches. Is it the best tool for the job? Depends on you.

This rant isn't directed at you personally Bohemian.

Now where did I put my long thongs. And get off my lawn.
post #13 of 15
Last year was the worst in history for eastern Austria, all 3-4 years before had however quite a lot of great freeride days. Vienna is quite far away from the mountains however.
You have the Semmering (Hirschenkogel) close-by around a 60minutes drive, I go there mainly for floodlight skiing (6 slopes are open at night) and the Hochkar at 2 Hours drive which boosts decent snowcover every year (but last - where good snowcover was only from January till 15. April - open till 22. April) from December to 31. April. True Freeriding in the very East means hiking (i.e. Schneeberg....), however there are world class freeride resorts at 4 hours drive (Krippenstein or Kanin/Bovec in Slovenia). As a trend however over the last 5-6 years snowcover in Eastern Austria was loads better than anywhere else in Europe. (i.e 2005/06 Hochkar had a 6-7m base at 1500m in mid February with around 15m accumulated snowfalls over the season and skiing was possible from mid November to End of May - though lifts were of course only open December to 1. May)

Last year snowcover was great in Western Switzerland, and Southern Austria (Heiligenblut, Nassfeld etc). If you don't mind a 5-6 hours drive and read the weather reports carefully you can go freeriding powder nearly every weekend from december to end of March.

While 05/06 I got in around 40 days freeriding and 20 days carving/racing 06/07 I only had 2 true days freeriding deep and dry powder and 50-60 days carving/racing.

Oh and forget Heliskiing in Austria - its basically forbidden everywhere. I can only think of Lech am Arlberg where its offered. There is lots of great lift-accesed freeriding possibilities though. France or Western Switzerland offers in general however more good freeriding stations. For a start look on Teetongravity for Engelberg, Krippenstein, La Grave, Chamonix, Kanin, Verbier, or Arlberg (tracked out after 2-3 days - heavily overstated for hardcore freeriding due to huge numbers of freeriders around) to see what to expect.

For carving Austria and Italy in general are the best spots for challenging slopes (Italy features best grooming worldwide).
post #14 of 15
186 Legend Pro. With your race background, these skis will be pure bliss for you.
post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by Bohemian View Post
I'll be bringing my racing skis as well; I'll be there for 89 days
My knee can't handle 180+ skis right now.
You intend skiing race skis but have your knee troubling you, that's sort of interesting.:

If you really stay that long sack up and bring two pairs - one for the hardpack days and a true pow board a la Gotama o.e. It's worth it especially if you hit resorts like the Arlberg.
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