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Long ski / short ski behavior

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Pros - I realize this question may as easily find a home in gear discussion, but wanted to see if I can get an answer from a technique-based group that wasn't focused as much on brand or type of equipment.

I read alot of debate on ski length, an obviously subjective area of choice. Can you guys give me an idea of how a skier would identify (during a demo ride for instance) when a ski is too long / too short? I have a selection of skis I want to demo and plan to demo each in a couple of lengths. I'm 6'2", 185 lbs, Level 7ish. I planned to demo in between 175cm and 185cm in something with around an 80mm to 90mm waist - not a twin tip.

Perhaps that isn't enough detail for a precise response, but I was hoping to at least have some guidance about what the right length "feels" like and how that translates into technique.
post #2 of 7
OKski, this is a very interesting question, and one for which you are likely to get a wide variety of answers. Keep in mind, also, that male WC racers will ski skis ranging from 165cm to over 200cm depending on their discipline.

The design of the ski contributes a lot to the answer, as well. Sidecut, especially.

Add to those items your preferred conditions and tactical choices, plus your skill level, and you see that you have a lot of dials to adjust.

In general, when I am testing skis, I try to find the top-end in terms of speed on harder snow. I also test the stability when running flat. Then, I'll play with the skis' ability to arc and create different arcs based on my input to the skis. I consider how well they hold at speed on harder snow. I look at how they feather next. How easily and progressively do they release their edge hold as I move from an arc to a feathered path?

If I can, I'll then try them in crud/chop to see how easily they are thrown around and how well they can arc in it. I'll take a run through moguls to see how they allow me to ski them.

In general, a ski that's too short and/or too flexible will begin to squirm at a lower speed. A ski that is too long and/or too stiff will be very difficult to arc into shorter radius turns and will likely dive in the softer snow.

All of that said, it's very subjective. And that's what's so fun about it!
post #3 of 7
The key is in Steve's penultimate paragraph. A ski that's starting to feel unstable as you approach your speed comfort limit probably is too short/flexible, and a ski that requires more effort than you normally exert to initiate turns well within your speed comfort zone probably is too long/stiff.
post #4 of 7
If you want to be able to better "feel" the effect of ski length for yourself, spend a couple runs riding a normal ski on one foot and a shortie (in your case 130 cm) on the other, then switch. Beware, the process of switching totally messes with the minds of about 50% of the experimenters. It's like all of a sudden you can't ski anymore. But a 2 minute timeout/mental reset fixes the problem. The other 50% have no problem with the short ski on either foot no matter which foot they start on. For a skilled skier this test is surprisingly easy to adjust to. The end result is that you will be much more sensitive to the pros and cons of short and long skis.
post #5 of 7
When trying different skis you should put each ski you test thru the same consistant performance tests that are relavent to what you want out of a ski.

You might want to try and get each ski into the shortest turns you consider important to you to see how maneuverable are they in tight quarters? If you are working harder than you want to, or they don't get around quick enought to control your speed, they might be too long. If a shorter length is still a lof of work, you may want something with more sidecut.

On the other end of the spectrum, how fast do you like to ski? If as you get them into 'your' upper speed zone they feel unstable, they may be too short.

You have to know your priority for what you what as a skiing tool and put each ski to 'your' test. Choose your compromises wisely, you will have to ski with them.
post #6 of 7
ARC, "On the other end of the spectrum, how fast do you like to ski? If as you get them into 'your' upper speed zone they feel unstable, they may be too short."

Good input here.

I think where you like to ski and how fast you ski are the biggest keys.

on piste, shorter is great, off piste, you need a little more ski. with longer skis, you tend to notice the snow consistency variations less, since the ski is in more snow. Imaging a snowblade in skied up pow, you go from all in pow to all in a track and have distinctive speed and feel change. fast/slow, total resistance to no resistance. then imagine a 200cm ski, you are in some pow, some tracks, some pow, it equalizes it out to stabilize the overall feel and feedback from the snow... (maybe i didn't explain that well. would one of you great writers take a shot at that idea for me if it's not working?)

Speed wize, I often go back to the physics of momentum. If I remember right, it's Mass times Velocity squared = momentum. That is what skis work, and obviously the velocity is the key component. A little 120lb. ripper skiing super fast all the time will want me ski then a bigger guy skiing slowly most of the time. Speed is the trumping factor.

I ski pretty well, but i really enjoy the sensations of skiing at moderate speeds. I think of it as my pinpoint, flow like maple syrup technique, instead of free flowing like water. Therefore, I tend to like a shorter ski then many i ski with. I ski my most of the time nordica jet fuel in a 170 and my pow skis 5 to 8 cm longer (i'm 6ft, 168lb).

hope something in there helps...

post #7 of 7

physics not quite right?

So, too late for an edit, but I think my physics may be a little off. Regardless, functionally, I still believe speed and terrain are the key factors in ski length.

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