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Question about buying skis...

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm looking to purchase a good pair of skis as I continue to progress from advanced beginner on into intermediate skiing (although I still have to go pretty slow on the intermediate runs and occasionally crash). I ski in pretty much all conditions except ice, from powder to hard pack, but I'm not looking to do any acrobatics or anything so just a pair of standard all mountain skis is what I'm looking for.

Any help you guys can provide me would be fantastic!

First, some info about myself: I'm 5'10" tall and weigh 135 lbs. I don't know whether it really matters or not, but I'm looking to gain another 15-20 lbs in the next few years.

I've seen that some people determine the length of a person's skis by their height, and others do it by their weight. One website that I saw, backcountry.com, said that because I'm 135 lbs, I should have 150 cm skis. Another site, Spadout.com, said that height was important and after using their formula I determined that I needed skis around 165 cm.

That's a pretty wide difference between the two, in my opinion!

So, I ditched all of that and tried some different skis. I tried some 150 cm skis and I thought they were very easy to use and was very happy with them, but that was at Mt Lemmon in southern AZ and was not a really serious ski area in any way.

Most recently, I used 160 cm Rossignol Cut 10.4 (104/67/92) skis at Sunrise Ski Park in northern AZ. I was very pleased with them on beginner runs, but when I tried the intermediate runs I found them a bit difficult to turn.

What lengths and sidecut dimensions should I be looking for? Some skis I'm looking at right now are:

K2 Apache Sabre (153 cm and 160 cm lengths)
Rossignol Actys 100 (150 cm and 160 cm lengths)

I really like the Sabres and there's some great sales on them going on right now, but I was particularly worried about the width of them. How would this affect me, or as a beginner would I not really notice much of a difference?

post #2 of 9
I'm no expert, but the prevailing opinion on ski length seems to be to size it "mostly" to your weight, with some consideration of height if you're exceptionally tall or short. At 5'10", I think that weight is a much better indicator.

Either way, at the beginning/lower intermediate level, it probably has less to do with the ski length selection from a "will the ski handle you" perspective as from a "how long a ski can you comfortably ski" perspective. In other words, as a non-advanced skier, you probably are better off with the lower end of the range appropriate to your weight. Shorter skis are easier to manage, and will reduce the learning curve.

I'd suggest buying a pair of skis at a ski swap in the fall rather than buying them now through a retailer.

I bought my first pair at a swap before this past season, and spent less than $100 on skis with bindings. I actually got narrow-waisted skis (65 mm, maybe?) that were AWESOME for learning carving technique. Skiing here on the East Coast, they were exactly what I needed, and the few times I had legitimate powder days (including an 8" day at Vail), they didn't cause me any trouble. I probably could've gone a bit wider, but for me, they really helped me learn how to get my skis on edge.

If you stick mostly to the groomed trails, then narrower skis will be great for helping you start carving, and if you get a "moderately narrow" ski, you'd be fine. It's harder to learn carving on a wider ski, since it's more difficult to get from edge to edge.

Now, I feel like I may have outgrown the skis I bought last November. I'm ready for something stiffer and a tad wider so that I can play around in the trees and in a little deeper stuff. I may keep the current pair as rock skis, but I'm definitely glad I only spent $100 on skis that served me well for 13 days on the snow, and now I don't feel bad about ditching them. Even if I'd gotten a good deal on newer skis (retail), I'd have a little more guilt about moving on so soon, and I'd probably slow my own development. The ski that was very appropriate for where I was a year ago is not the ski that is appropriate for where I am now, and vice versa. I'm just happy to have improved enough that I outgrew them!

My next pair of skis? I got lucky and won a drawing, and I'm getting a new pair of Nordicas. I don't know which ones yet (the rep hasn't told me which are up for grabs), but I'm hoping for the Nitrous in a 178. Here's hoping!

Hopefully someone else can comment on those specific skis...

post #3 of 9
You didnt mention it....but be sure that you purchase your own boots first. Boots are much more important then skis....get them right...then spend what you have left on skis....second hand skis are a good suggestion, if you are on a budget.

But I think the best advice is to go to a good reputable ski shop....not the bagain discount stores. It may cost an extra $5 but it will be well worth it to get that expert advice.
post #4 of 9
Skidude72 has it right. Boots are the most important piece of equipment you can get.

As for skis, I'd recommend that you demo a bunch of different skis and see what fits your temperament and ability. Your opinions about skis will change as you get into the sport, improve, and play around with things.

As most skiers out there, I've acquired a quiver of skis over time. Some I've kept, others I've worn out or gotten rid of. I'm over six feet and I have owned skis from 120cm to 185cm in length. I still own a pair of 120s that I love to take out and rip on. (They are also my teaching skis for beginning lessons.) I spent a year on 120cm skis exclusively when I first got them, they were that much fun. I also have my "big boy" skis. A pair of 163cm Metrons that I love to carve and play on.

So, in the end, it's going to be what trips your trigger and what skis you like. Right now, I'd recommend that you stay a bit shorter. They are easier to turn and get use to. As you develop as a skier, then go with the length that you like.
post #5 of 9
Originally Posted by scootertig View Post
I'm no expert, but the prevailing opinion on ski length seems to be to size it "mostly" to your weight, with some consideration of height if you're exceptionally tall or short.
I'm sort of surprised about that claim. In all the ski stores that I've visited, I was asked about my height (I am fairly short, 5"7). Looking at ski catalogs (e.g., Elan) the recommendation is usually the classic -5..-15.

I'm heavier than normal but nobody asked me about that.
post #6 of 9
My humble opinion, as someone who went through the same phase this year:

First of all, don't go for the entry level skis no matter what. They usually go by the name "intermediate" but they really are for beginners. They may be easier to ski because they are softer, but you can see that every corner has been cut.

I bought (at a store recommendation) a pair of Elan Flow 6.2. Not the lowest, but definitely in there, and quickly outgrew them. I don't ski fast or carve right, but I could tell the quality limitations anytime the ride got bumpy or icy. In retrospect I should have gone with a magfire 8, the first of their normal skis.

Later on in the season, I demoed high-end stuff at Stowe. It was definitely stiffer, but the difference in shock absorption (the Rossi Z9 was amazing) made it a much better ride. So don't go too low end. It's better to buy something higher than what you need than something that'll restrict you.

Also, figure out where you will go skiing. There is an apparent bias in the US for all-mountain wide skis no matter people live, even though many people ski on-trail on East Coast ice. Thinner groomer skis make a difference. By the time you do go all mountain, you'd be using differnt skis.

Finally, and this is the most important thing: no matter how much people tell you boots are important, it's more important than you can imagine. I skied for several years on rentals 2 sizes above what I need. This year, I was shocked by boot prices and my feet were too small and uneven for most stock in most stores, I ended up with a pair of slightly bigger than I needed low-mid level salomons. Initially I felt great in them (heck, they were only one size too big), but as the season continued I started noticing the limitations. Not just the pains, but the lag that happens once you try to tip your legs to start a carve. You can't notice it unless you start carving (because for plowing it's not there), but boy, does it mess you up. Also, you don't want the mininal stiffness. It's more comfortable, but once you try to carve, too soft messes you up.

Also, if you hate the bumpiness of the ride, the boots have a lot to do with it. I feel that I am sometimes flying in my boots, and like my sole doesn't absorb anything. Higher end boots have better lining.

I am waiting for next season to raid all the stocks early to find a good fit no matter how much it costs. I learned my lesson
post #7 of 9
Most skis are sized by height, but you often can go up/down a size if you are heavy/light for your height, respectively.
post #8 of 9
I'm maybe just a step head of you on the skiing curve, so it's all fresh. my simple advice: buy good boots first, rent/demo skis until you figure out what's right for you.
post #9 of 9

Purchasing Ski Equipment

I will echo what everyone else is saying about boots being the single most important piece of equipment.

I started out w/boots that were too large and developed weird habits not to mention experienced major pain, cutting off my own circulation, etc.:

Also, I know it is hard as a beginner, but seek out advice from everyone you can......in your local area, on the web etc. re: finding a good bootfitter above all else and good sources for purchasing ski equipment. The sooner you're able to get really good boots that help rather than hinder you, the sooner you will be able to improve as a skier, enjoy the experience, etc. :
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