<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by nakona:
...I'm a fairly new skier but from what I've seen and learned I have developed a theory. When skis were straight and of relatively simple construction the length was the only thing that really differentiated skis... <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Just a bit of history from my personal grey matter archives ...
FWIW, while it may not seem so to the younger folks, even as far back as the late '70's, people certainly knew much more about ski design than just length. In fact, among top end skis, length was essentially NOT a variable, for the simple reason that everyone skied on skis in a narrow length range (ie, 203 - 210) for psychlogical reasons.
OTOH, the designers played with (and hyped) different sidecut curves (but always within the constraint of small total sidecut).
Longitudinal and torsional flex was a big deal to people, and quantitative numbers for these were even reported in the "gear test" articles of the consumer ski mags of that era.
Within the constraint that ultra stiff torsional rigidity could not be achieved on a longitudinal soft ski, even back as far as the late 70's they had considerable freedom in setting stiffness parameters.
For example, designers certainly "knew" that longitudinal stiffness was be useful for gripping on ice. To be precise, what they "really" knew was that a stiff ski would skid over ice in a more predictable way than a soft ski.
OTOH, since skidded turns were the norm for that period, some designers intentionally went in the opposite direction and built in substantial torsional softness to help the ski skid sideways over terrain irregularities.
The effects of different flex distributions were quite well understood by then. The successful flex patterns of that era were ones that you would still recognize today, eg, stiff tails, round flexing for soft snow, overall softer flex for moguls & tricks, etc. etc.
On the unsuccessful side of the ledger, they experimented with some wild designs like a very stiff forebody flex, and a forebody sidecut curve which had almost all of its flair at the very tip. Put it on edge, and the tip suddenly gripped way out at the end of this long lever arm. This was supposed to be for "quick turn initiation". Well, it was so quick/twitchy it was useless! (Note to the other retro-grouches - that was either a Kneissel or Kestle slalom design).
Altho I don't recall consumers and consumer mags discussing ski width very much, I think that most advanced skiers and ski designers knew perfectly well about the advantages of wider skis in soft snow. Unfortunately, they labored under a psychological barrier that seemed to keep almost all mainstream skis under about 70 mm at the waist.
Finally, around that time, they were also beginning to understand the importance of damping selected frequency bands in the ski's response curve, especially on ice. They did this by using "cracked" or segmented edges.
History lesson/rant over.
Tom / PM
<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 14, 2002 06:33 PM: Message edited 2 times, by PhysicsMan ]</font>