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Trying out these new-fangled boards

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Greetings all! I am returning to skiing after about a 30-35 yr haitus. I am 6' tall and weigh about 240lb. I have never been much of an aggressive skiier but considered myself fairly adequate way back when even if I could not keep my laced up leather clad ankles touching at all times while bouncing over the dirt and ice bumps like my heros could. I did qualify in my only race but my varnished wood planks just could not generate the speed to place with the newer laminated skis that the hotshots with the big bucks could afford.

A few weeks ago a co-worker gave me a free ticket so I decided it was time to get back into it. My co-worker had me follow him to his favorite shop to get outfitted where a salesman held a pair of bollicks up to my nose and told me they were the perfect skis for me then he asked me my shoe size and within minutes I was in business. I walked out of the store with a used pair of 164cm(?) K2 Escape 3500 and a new pair of boots that fit great for the first three times I used them. Judicious application of mini-cell padding from my kayak kit got my boots back to the point I can use them but I am wondering if the skis have the torsional rigidity to give me the full carving experience I have been reading about and they also feel too short.

My first half dozen times were on packed powder and seemed to go fairly well even though I never could let them go because I felt like I was overpowering the ski every time I tried to set an edge on anything that did not have an inch or two of loose stuff covering it. My problems did not really surface until we had a nasty thaw/freeze session that left the slope with large sheets of frozen hardpack. Trying to turn was more a matter of setting the skis then waiting until I found some loose crud to bounce off of. Since all the loose crud was on the edge of the slope I was just kind of bouncing side to side down the hill and even when I tried to traverse across the slope I found myself sliding down the hill faster than I was skiing across it. A couple ill fated attempts to slow down or stop I finally gave up and since I had the trail to myself with nobody to run into I decided to get into the narrow band of crud on the edge and just ride it out.

That seemed to be going fairly well. I was keeping my knees forward, my butt bouncing, and felt pretty dialled in doing a little swivelling. I was accelerating a couple notches above my comfort level but I could see all the way down and no snow-plowers to crash into so I took comfort in a clear path and plenty of time to slow down on the gentler terrain. Then a new problem cropped up. My skis suddenly acted like they were allergic to granular. Each ski had a mind of its own and it seemed no matter how I weighted them I could not get them to agree on a direction to go. Finally one of them hit a snow flake or something and careemed uphill leaving me with no choice but to try to follow it finding me doing a high speed backward snow-plow but still accelerating and the brakes not working at all. Then I remembered another old trick and went back to basics doing a rag doll imitatation back flipping until I finally came to a stop with my equipment resembling remnants of a garage sale on the hill above me.

The trip left me a bit disconcerted. I am all for embracing new technology but I cannot help wondering if it is me or the ski. I have never encountered that out of control feeling and cannot figure out what I could have done different. I suppose if I had health insurance I might have tried some more experimenting but as it is I decided to stick to the blues the next trip which sucked so bad dodging bodies I just bagged it and decided to work up another plan of attack before I return. So here I am, trying to come up with a plan for next weekend and looking for ideas.
post #2 of 5
I don't know about your skill level, but the equipment is sub-par. Those skis are not designed for speed at all. Consider yourself lucky to be still with us.

You need to get fitted into a proper boot. Check out the list of boot fitters here.

Kudos to you for not giving up. Way to get back up on that horse!

BTW, Even with modern skis that can handle speed (as opposed to that 3500 escape), you have to give them direction and either be turning left or right; they don't like to go absolutely straight.

$20 dollars spent on a subscription to Realskiers reviews is money well spent.
post #3 of 5

Big guy on some little skis...

Hope ou get the "Tommy Boy" reference.

In any case, yeesh those sound a little short and flimsy for a larger than average dude.

Couple things. Believe in the shape. It works. Slow down and find a mild pitch. Open your stance and get the "feel" of the new skis. You dont really "turn" these things, you "roll" 'em. Think about a basketball between your knees.

Make sure you are SHARP. Get up EARLY and ride first chair. The shmoes do not generally get out till 10:00.

As Ghost says, shapes do not like to go straight. They like to turn and turn and turn and turn. I have no idea of what your side cut is but I suspect fairly pronounced.

Demo something with some more beef like a 177 Vok Race Tiger or Fischer RC4. Length could be even longer for a large powerful guy.

Finally, 35 years off... if you are skiing like Warren Miller, the physics aint gonna work. Take a lesson.
post #4 of 5
Dear Mr alaska from NH,

Welcome back to skiing and welcome to Epic!

I wrote an article in the premium section just for folks like you (alas it's for supporters only - hint hint).

Don't worry about the ski length, just get over it. I've been bouncing down in length for the last 15 years from 202 to 168cm. Every step down has always felt too short at first. I've also been growing in the weight dept. I'm up to 230ish this season (yikes), yet I also have a pair of 120cm teaching skis that can handle the load just fine. After you figure out how to make the skis work, you'll get over how short they are.

Over the last 30 years there have been some fantastic gains in materials science technology, particularly the glue used in making skis. We've now got stuff that makes skis torsionally stiff without screwing up longtiduinal flexibility.

Some say that the finest skiers grow up in the East because that's where the most challenging "snow" can be found. Did you know that dentists are major investors in Eastern ski resorts? Rumor has it that the tooth rattling "snow" was their idea. But the stuff is actually skiable. The first thing to check is whether your edges are up to the task. Without fingernail shavably sharp edges, anyone is going to have a tough time on the "lawd pawda". The second thing to work on is your technique. "Butt bouncing" and "feet swivelling" -> overpowering the skis. With todays skis it's all about tipping the skis on edge more to let them turn you instead of turning the feet to force the skis to turn. If you're the type that with no patience for lessons, then find a beginner slope and experiment with turning ONLY be rolling the boots onto an edge. Once you can do one turn uphill to a stop leaving pencil thin tracks, try starting the next turn a couple of seconds before you come to an uphill stop. Once you can do that leaving a pencil thin track for both turns (i.e. your ski tracks look like railroad tracks), you'll have figured out the technique adjustment for modern skiing. Of course, trying to do this on "shiny" snow can be more difficult. If you've reached the point where time is more valuable than pride or money, a pro can take you through this process faster.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys.

The more I learn about this sport the more I don't know! Things sure have got more complicated with equipment since wood skis, leather boots, and cable bindings. The East Coast stuff is new to me. My early days were in the hills in Alaska where the adults would take turns towing everyone back up the hill hanging from a long knotted rope dragging begind a jeep except on weekends where there was a rope tow they would fire up after all us kids sidestepped the main face of the hill to groom it. What a workout that was! Our resort was Alyeska but it was a long drive and reserved for special occasions. By the time I had moved up to plastic boots and step in bindings I no longer had time to keep up with the sport.

Yesterday there was a shop setting people up with demos. I was late getting to the slope and they were getting ready to pack it up so I only had time to try one pair. I asked for something on the stiff side and they set me up with a pair of Rossignol oversize Zenith. Once I got the skis up to speed it was quite a revelation. They never slipped out from under me and, although it was pretty easy to push them into a skid, all I really had to do was tip the skis to turn them. My comfort level went up a level or two and suddenly skiing was suddenly fun again!

After returning the demos I put my own skis back on and tried to go down the same trail. With the Rossignols I felt like I had been skiing on perfect conditions; with my own skis the slope was full of bare patches that I had to fight for control and ride the brakes all the way. I tried to recapture the feeling of turning without skidding but it was impossible unless I was creeping along a gentle dusted slope.

When I returned the Rossignols I found out even the demos carry a price tag around $800 which is way too steep for my already stressed out recreational budget. I need to take the K2s back to the shop I bought them and see if they will credit me back the purchase price toward a more appropriate ski. If not I need to keep my eyes open for a closeout or used bargain. New boots will have to wait until next year but I have padded and trimmed to the point these boots are now snug without any hot, cold, numb, or sore spots.
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