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Race Skis - Passing of An Era?? - Page 4

post #91 of 101
I saw a pair of reps samples at a swap meet for $399 with bindings, if they were 175cm I would have bought them!
post #92 of 101
Originally Posted by Atomicman View Post
Read this! http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=72940

there is no way that you can get Stockli WC Laser Sl's with Comp 1400 bindings mounted on a Marker World Cup piston plate for anywhere near $500.00.

If he can, I really need him to buy my skiis from now on!
post #93 of 101
Originally Posted by Atomicman View Post
I hope you didn't get ripped off and pay more the $200 bucks for them
...with plates and bindings and a tune and hot wax.
post #94 of 101
Just happened to see this thread. I'm going to bring it back a bit on topic, but first I have a bit of an interest in the "market for used race skis" topic. I sold a perfect pair of SG skis to the young man who bought AM's Stockli's. Face to face. Really nice guy who was delighted with the Stockli's. He wanted a Stockli {and would love to find some GS's}, and looking at the overall price of a new pair {ski, plate, binding, set-up} was really pleased. He had to be for us to have a long conversation about them. I think that if you have really mint skis, fairly current, with almost no use, you might get lucky with just the right buyer.

At the same time, IROS and I have joked about how we can't seem to give away race product. I sold four pairs of mint tech skis, with plates and bindings, that were last tuned by the factory techs at Nationals and Mammoth, for $300 each. They were all new last March. It's not easy to sell them.

Back on topic. Today's true FIS race skis are pretty much a one trick pony. A men's GS ski, skied at the Nor-Am, or D1 NCAA level and higher isn't such a versatile ski. A few years ago, I was really delighted if a single pair of my son's then 188 GS skis came out of a season ready for me to take over. I have a pair of Fischer's {the real deal Renn stock} from 5 years ago that I like to ski on the right day. But today's skis are 192-196 cm {regardless of what the topsheet says} and they keep getting better at making one type of "turn" at incredible edge angle, and speeds that are about what SG was 5 years ago. I think it was at the UUtah carnival this year where they had a radar gun working during the GS, and guys were timing at 50-55mph. The skis are serious planks. There's no fun in my skiing them, even on wide open buffed cruisers that are empty.

SL skis are similar,though they can be a bit user friendly. They still are designed to do one thing, and like the GS skis to often do it on water injected, rock hard "snow." It can be fun to make a ton of turns on a SL ski, but the turns that most of us make are nothing like the way they are turned in a course by a high level racer. I don't like turning that much, as in turn to turn to turn.

There are variations of a real race ski that some of us love. The race construction, non-FIS "cheater" GS skis, like Bob P's are one. Yes, I'd like a pair, too, and will probably move in that direction. My variation, which I have loved, is a fatter GS ski with a race construction and a big radius like the Stockli Stormrider XL. I have them in a 184 and a 194. I love it, but it's become a dynosaur. But the true race ski....I dunno....I hate bumps at my age unless they are big, spaced apart and soft. I get to real powder about once a light-year. I have powder skis, no bump skis. But 85% of the time, I like the Stormriders.

The other factor is that IMO most companies are entirely screwed up in terms of how they distribute race product. You have race reps, and retail reps. In some companies they work together, in others they compete. Some companies have shops set up as "race centers" and they sell just race product, while there's another shop 5 miles away that sells the non-race product. They're both resticted. Race reps normally sell a lot of junior product through various variations of the junior club "rep day". The kids and parents confer with coaches and reps and order skis at USSA racer pricing. In some parts of the country, all of the product is shipped to a local shop {which one depends on the company}, and that shop will generally make a few bucks mounting bindings, setting up the bases etc. A lot of companies pay a very small cut on each pair of race skis to a shop in their area on every race ski sold, regardless of where they are shipped.

At the ski academy, PG program and college level, the racers are dealing for the most part one on one with the race reps, and the skis are shipped where the athlete wants them to go. Almost always directly to the ski academy at that level. Often they come pre-drilled for the bindings.

There can be real turf issues in this distribution model, and battles among reps with the company and their shops based on who own what territory and what customers. Really stupid.

There are some shops who have done a really nice job carving out a business that is almost exclusively race oriented, or perhaps race and high-end big mountain or competitive free-ride. In the East, PJ Dewey's Race Stock Sports is all race. In Bob P's neck of the woods The Edge has a great relationship with the JH ski club. Pretty amazing to see all of the junior skis being workied on at this time of year. But there aren't many of those shops.

The other deal with the race centers and race shops is that they sell most of their product at the same prices as you would pay through any other channel as a USSA racer. The margin for the ski companies, I have to assume is not as great on a top end GS ski that's being sold for $600, as it is on a fat powder board. The race shops earn their money to a large degree on tech work with boots and skis....the back room stuff. At least today, the race rep doesn't seem to be competing with the race center shops. When they first opened a few years ago, they were.

So with fewer retailers in the game, most of the product being sold via the rep channel that doesn't support most retailers, etc., you simply see less in the rack. Add to that the fact that there are better free skiing alternatives for 99% of the skiers out there and it makes sense that we don't see as much out there. It's also interesting to see what the older racers free ski on. If they are training, it's obviously their race skis. But as an example if the FIS crowd is in Jackson for the Wild West series, which is at Snow King, and they grab a day to free ski at the Village, you're going to see a lot of fat big mountain skis. My son swaps those 195 GS's for a pair of 188's that are 120+ under the waist. Go to Chile in late August, early September and every racer has fat skis in their bag.

I do think a lot of ski innovation has come from the race room. What I'm probably more in tune with is the innovation to support the top racers, particularly the men. It's well known that Bode is very picky about his equipment needs. Those who know Bode speak to the fact that he's incredibly smart and in tune to his needs. He's made a lot of changes over the years. As a kid, he was supported very well by K2, and it was Bode, not some tech, whi decided to give those K2fours a ride at the 1995 Nationals....where his 3rd place in the SL put him on the USST.

At the time K2's race skis weren't that great, and he moved to Fischer. If you recall, he had great success on their SL ski, in particular. But, he wasn't their top dog, and they weren't dropping everything to work on his stuff. Hence the move to the biggest manufacturer in the business, Rossi. As I understand it, he was reasonably pleased all along with the GS skis, never really thought his speed skis were the best, and began his odyssey of finding the right SL ski. He was coming on as a speed skier at that point. Then on to Atomic, because he hated the Rossi boot and they wanted him in it {he was in a Dobie}, and wanted the speed ski program that had been Eberharter's.

And now to Head, where it's all working, because they are turning themselves inside out to make it happen. I guess that last year they "pressed" {lingo for built} about 3 dozen different GS designs for him, and get this..close to 100 different SL designs. Some of these were really different. I heard stories of GS skis that were essentially two pairs laminated together....double thickness. All sorts of different sidecuts. The works.

I guess that he would often meet with his tech, and the Head guys between his morning and afternoon fall training sessions. They watch him ski in the afternoon {probably taping it}, then talk some more. Robi, his tech would drive with them to the factory, they would press 3-4 variations that night, Robi would prep them, and have them ready to test at 7AM the next morning. When I heard that I was in the "I'm calling BS on that" mode, as I thought skis would have to cure for some time. Evidently not, if your factory is set up to make it happen. All chemicals and technology, all doable. I guess when we read that Robi was "really burned out after the season" we can understand why.

So, Bode may be the extreme, but I would assume that there are another half-dozen guys who are equally in tune with this stuff, and working with their companies. When guys at that level switch companies, it not all about the money. More often than not the "deals" are the same. It's about suppport and the perception that the company will work like dogs to build the best stuff for that athlete. For Bode, it's been about trying to built a ski that feels to him like the Fischers that he loved, taking into account todays course sets, and his very different physiology. He's about 35 lbs heavier, stronger than ever, etc. From what I gather, he's so in tune with this that he can describe exact differences in what he feels in these designs, and make design suggestions. He's not shy with his opinions....about anything.

I think it's easy to see, with this type of "program" how it could be such a pain in the neck for the USST.

I'm pretty sure that ALL of the race innovation comes form the top guys, and flows downhill from there. Next year's widely sold race skis are a variation of the best of this year, built to work for the masses...skiers who just don't ski like WC skier.

And, for we Bode fans, word has it that he LOVES his complete ski set-up. Could be very fun to watch. Maybe we'll see some SL results!

Got a little long winded and carried away.
post #95 of 101
Thanks for a great and extremely interesting post!
post #96 of 101
Originally Posted by Atomicman View Post
Thanks for a great and extremely interesting post!
+1. I would point out that the racing ski era will continue as long as folks are running gates I would like to see more interest from the US fans. We have one of the best skiers in the world. I'd like to see that rolled on to the next generations of WC racers. Ski racing and bumps are this old guy's favorite winter Olympic sports for viewing. I hope the US remains competitive in these for generations.
post #97 of 101
My thanks as well, muleski. That was outstanding.

Also, I appreciate you bringing up The Edge Sports here in Jackson. While they don't carry my favorite brand, it's a really excellent ski shop. They do a tremendous job and don't make a huge amount of money doing it. They do it for the love of ski racing and to help kids. It's a great story.
post #98 of 101
Originally Posted by kiwiski View Post
Racers and race skis helped develop the modern construction methods in the 70s and 80s, but in the 90s and beyond racing has been totally irrelevant to the progression of skiing as a sport, if anything it has been an anchor holding back the progression of modern shapes.

While there have been many skilled racers throughout the years they haven't done much at all to help improve equipment for everyday skiers. I believe the single biggest contribution made to ski design by a skier was Shane McConkey having the vision to come up with the Spatula. The revolutionary ideas encompassed in those skis did more to blow open ideas of ski design than anything in the history of skiing.
Blasphemy !!!

Oh & by the way, Saucer Boy comes from a family of very good racers.

post #99 of 101
Bob P,

No Head at The Edge? Oops. I'm very impressed with the JH Ski Club, and happened to be in JH about this time last fall. Wandered into The Edge while they were going a mile a minute mounting and tuning 140 cm skis.......with a ton of care. Got into a conversation, and my friend, who's the JHSC FIS coach, later explained that they had a great relationship with the shop. Sadly, not always the norm.

You live in a very special place....but you don't need me to tell you that!

Thanks for the comments on the long winded post. Why use one word when four will do?
post #100 of 101
So what % of skiing by all skiers on the planet all year is done in fresh deep back country powder? What % of skiing by all skiers on the planet is done on groomed hardpack? Granted there probably are more people seeking the POW than actually running gates, but racing ski and the technology is better suited for skiing groomed pack than POW skis are.

So which discipline would you say has the biggest impact on the development of the largest number of ski product SKUs?

Whiteroom said people don't buy skis for the conditions they actually ski, they buy them for the conditions they would like to ski. That is probably why POW skis are outselling racing and carving skis curently.
post #101 of 101
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post
Not to be argumentative, but which hardpack skis have you owned in the last two or three seasons? I'm asking because I've skied the AC50, and while it's a very nice ski for a wide range of conditions, I just don't think it holds a candle to a whole host of what I would call REAL hardpack skis.

In certain conditions, yes.

On hardpack? Not for me.
To some degree I agree, but there are NO Conditions where I would not prefer to be on Stiff Bro's or Legend Pro's. I am not giving anything away to anyone on planks like these. And when the going gets a bit rough and the gromers get chewed up? I am way ahead of the game
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