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New Ski Performance v Rentals

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This is my 2nd year and I have rented skis each time. Will it be quite noticeable (better) with a pair of new skis? I feel like rentals don't have much stability at high speed and the salespaerson at my local ski shop told me that he could sell me a pair of $300 skis that will perform better than any rental pair.

I like to ski in the Rockies but live in MI so I'd prefer skis meant for the Rockies. I was able to ski blue slopes in Vail including the back bowls with some confidence, but not too fast. I felt the skis were rather unstable so I took slower, wide turns.

I've read the books by Harold Harb and The All Mountain Skier by Elling. Both are great instructors but there were no hard rules guidelines for choosing skis in either books regarding height/weight/age like the rental places ask when I rented my skis.

I like groomed cruisers to ski with my wife, but I'd also like to try some powder and ungroomed areas. I'm not interested pipes, or steeps just yet, but would like to have control going faster. I was told to consider the following sets:

Nordica Hot Rod Afterburners
Elan Magfire 8 or 10
Fischer RX Cool Heat
Dynastar Contact 8 or 9 (These look a little narrower than the others)

The salesman also told me that boots would take at least 30 minutes to choose and that brand is not as important as fit/comfort. He gave me litterature about these skis and the product descriptions seem to match what I'd like to do.

Is it wise to ask for last seasons new models for a reduced price or is it simply worth it to but 07-08 model skis?
post #2 of 15
Your salesman is correct about the boots.

Go to realskiers.com and subscribe to their $20. membership. You will get reviews of skis from the past several years. The ratings match up pretty well with my experience. The last few years also contain a rating of what speeds the skis are best at.

Most rentals are crap, but you can also demonstrate some high-end rentals.

I haven't tried them, but from second-hand info I'm fairly sure the skis mentioned above should be reasonably stable at speed, with the exception of the 8s.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the information! Realskiers.com is quite helpful and I like that they include good ski reviews and PMTS information too. It was worth the $20.

post #4 of 15
Speaking as someone whose girlfriend just bought skis hoping that they'd be as good or better than rentals....

Rental skis and boots (assuming non-demo level) are designed to be usable by a wide range of skiers, with no adjustment for personal preferences. They are, by design, "plug and chug".

When you buy skis and boots (and ALWAYS buy boots before skis), they're intended for some level of personalization. It will be to your advantage to work with a skilled pro to get the boots right, and then to get the skis/bindings adjusted to be paired with the boots. That means that maybe they won't be perfect out of the box, but with some work and effort, you'll get something far better than any rental could ever hope to provide...

This is a lesson learned the hard way, meaning a few days of hearing "maybe I should give up and sell my gear" because the newly-purchased stuff didn't work as well as the rental stuff... It will, but we had to get it dialed in first. The dialing-in isn't painful, but you should be ready for it. Of course, when you've got it, it will be worth it... Just don't think that you can pick a boot and a ski and go, and have it be "perfect".

Most of all, get good help with the boots. The skis can take care of themselves if the boots are fitted properly...

Just my $.02...

post #5 of 15
I think your own boots are more important than the skis. at resorts like vail you can find ok rental skis but forget the boots.

the cost of custom orthotics or footbeds is well worth the extra price. it will help your skiing and make hyour boot and your feet more comfortable.
post #6 of 15
Rental skis are made to turn easy, last a long time, and offer performance up to a good intermediate. They are not intended for high speeds by virtue of the fact that they turn easily and so stability is compromised (plus they dont want you speeding anyway). You will probably not ski better on other skis (save for icy conditions), but if you have a specific need for speed, or park etc. then go for it....not to mention if you ski more than three times a year you will save money by just owning your own gear after just one season.
post #7 of 15
Speaking from personal experience, boots are the most critical piece of equipment and, to ensure that you get boots that are right for you, you need to find a good bootfitter. I didn't understand this as a beginner and got boots that were the cause of a lot of pain and sufferring! I got new boots this year from a master bootfitter and the difference is really dramatic!!!

I had rental skis for quite some time and was very happy when I bought my own (women's specific) but having tried some different skis along the way, for me, the difference between how important boots are in the level of impact on your skiing vs. the difference in different types of skis.........boots are everything!!!!!!
post #8 of 15
Buy boots first.
Buy just-right boots first.

The brand of the boots makes a huge difference, and no way can anyone find the right boots in a half hour. Different brands of boots and different models within a brand's line up are made for different foot shapes. A skilled boot salesman will know which models best fit your feet. Different brands of boots also have different shaft angles (forward tilt of the ankle) and different bootboard angles (heel higher than toe). The current thinking is that more upright boots allow most folks to ski better.

Buy boots at the upper end of the range suited for your skill level. They'll cost more, but you'll get a lot more. In this area, the best prices are at the September sales. If the boots don't give your feet a few hot spots, they're probably too wide. The shop should provide you lifetime modifications for those boots where they heat and press out any tight spots over the lumps & bumps we all have on our feet.

I strongly agree with the suggestion about the techsupportforskiers.com subscription web site. Peter Keelty has the best ski tests I've found. Plus, he gives personal answers to questions from subscribers. The ski magazines tend to never say a bad word about an advertiser. "Ski Canada" doesn't have the quality of ski tests they used to have, or at least not the same level of information.

With the skis, do not buy too much ski. More advanced skis require more skill and energy input into them to perform as they should. Longer skis within a model line also require more energy input into them by the skier to "come alive." I'm in agreement with the others...get just-right boots and rent mid-level performance skis. Cut a deal with an on-mountain rental shop so you can bring the skis back during the day and exchange for something else. You'll be amazed at the difference between skis that are all in the range of being suitable for you.
post #9 of 15
I wanted to buy my own skis about two years ago so I came online and did a bunch of research. Most people told me that getting the right pair of boots is much more important than getting a pair of skis. Since I have my own boots and not skis I ask for high performance skis when renting. Usually it will cost you a bit more than renting stock skis but you can get some higher quality skis. Obviously your own pair of skis is important but the boots should be priority number one.
post #10 of 15
i agree that boots are more important, but good skis can also make a huge difference as long as they are matched to your ability, the conditions you are skiing in, and your own preferences. try some demos to find out what you like. i've tried expensive demo skis that i liked less than the cheap rentals i had been using, but when i tried a pair of r8xs, my skiing improved instantly. likewise, i can't ski powder to save my life on the rentals or the rx8s, but my gotamas make it pretty easy.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input! I purchased skis and boots last week. We took well over an hour just to try different boots on. I ended up with Tecnica Diablo Flame Ultrafit boots. I also forked over some extra money for custom footbeds to correct my pronating arches/ankles. The shop has a year warranty on boot adjustment.

The skis are Nordica Hot Rod Nitrous skis. I chose them because I want to travel west and ski at Vail and perhaps Utah another time.

I took them out last week to a local Michigan hill for a test. The boots fit great! I skied for about 3 1/2 hours without any pain and felt well connected to my skis. When I used the rental boots at Vail my ankles were beginning to blister by the end of the first day. I bought doughnuts to get through the week - that helped for the time.

It felt quite different moving up from 160 cm skis to wider and longer 187 cm skis. I felt a little self conscious having the biggest skis on the hill, and I had to readjust a few things, and I'm aware that they're not meant to be used in the icy climate either. They like to go fast and require more input to turn but that's ok - I like to work a little and there's a lot more room turn where I'm going. I was also able to practice balancing on one ski to initiate turns on the gentle slopes. I could not do that before - most likely it was the boots? I can't wait to try them out in the steeper, more powdery terrain.

I hope to take them out one more time before we go, but it's raining tonight.
post #12 of 15

That's a long ski in 187cm. Are you a big guy?
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
6'2" 200 lbs.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

I was wrong with the length. They're 178 cm - that should make more sense for my build.

post #15 of 15
Boots are by far more important, but the salesman was wrong, Brands do matter depending on your foot shape. It comes down to comfort and fit, and an experienced bootfitter will be able to look at your feet and know which 1 or 2 brands will fit you best. So get a pro to fit your boots.
as for skis, I don't know about other resorts, but i have a bit to do with rentals here in Whistler, and we rent high performance this year model skis .
We give the option of trying a different ski each day at no extra charge, so for people who only ski a week or 2 a year. renting is by far the best option, you get new skis and get to try out different ones depending on the conditions
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