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Fat skis in Maine?

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I was skiing Saddleback a couple weeks ago - my favorite local's haunt in my home state. Conditions were fairly typical, packed powder with ice patches where skied off. I was on my Elan Ripsticks (66mm waist), which I were perfect for the conditions. My other ride is a pair of Elan M666 (76mm) for crud and what I call "buffet" conditions (a little of this, a little of that). So in the lift line I am equipment gaping an I am surprised to see a fair number of folks on what I consider to be fat skis. I could not name any of them - but they looked to have waists at least 85-90 mm or more. I'll admit I do not keep up with such things. But for me, the M666's seem wide, but positively scrawney next to these "full bodied" boards. I always thought of these big boys 2000 miles to the west. So do these folks know something I don't about the fun of fatties on something on the opposite end of bottomless pow? If so, I want some. Or perhaps they were just making the ski fit the conditions. Have fat skis simply become more versatile - actually fun on hardpacked/ice/moguls as well as deep?
I am headed to Jay Peak next week and have the chance to check it out for myself. Knowing what quiver I have, what should I try? The math suggests that I should go from my 66mm and 76mm to a waist of 86mm - perhaps something like the Watea 84mm? And for you New Englanders using wide boards as your everyday, do share. Thanks. David
post #2 of 2
Good questions. I have gradually widened my quiver over the last 2-3 seasons. I do think wide skis can be more fun, and there are some wide skis that are stiff enough (torsionally) to ski well on groomers. The fun part seems to come from the fact that wider skis will run over anything -- crud, small bumps, spring snow, etc. This makes them a little more playful and forgiving.

For hard snow, I still prefer narrow skis (say 75mm waist or less, or 70mm for really hard snow and ice). You end up getting a better bite on the snow when the skis are narrower underfoot. And for spirited carving on groomers, narrower is better. Wide skis take more effort to get off their flats (90mm waist ski takes almost 50% more effort than a 65mm waist ski) and they take more angulation to get up on edge. This makes them slower edge to edge in general.

That said, once you get used to wide skis, the downsides kind of fade away. After you ski them for a few days, you might not even miss narrow skis. If you only skied wide skis, you may never even care how they compare to narrow skis. I have continually been impressed by how well my 85mm waist and 94mm waist skis rip on soft groomers -- I don't even see the need for anything narrower when the snow is good. It's only when I hit that eastern boilerplate that I prefer the narrow skis. That's what's nice about having a quiver I guess.

Edit for one other note: my current quiver is 69mm, 77mm, 85mm, 94mm. If I had to pick only one East coast ski, it would be the 77mm. If I had to drop one ski, it would be the 85mm. No reason not to jump right into the 90-95mm range if you want to add a fat ski to your current setup. Try the Fischer Watea 94 if you get a chance, they are really great skis. Volkl Mantras are also well regarded and a must try (I happen to like the Wateas better though).
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