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Beginner skis

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Reading the GLM vs. PMTS thread gave me a question. What length skis does a beginner ski on nowadays? WHat length should they be on? Do PSIA and Harb differ on this?

As far as I know, beginners do still ski on shorter skis than their intermediate or advanced brethren. Is this just a holdover from GLM days?
post #2 of 11
i'm 6'1, 190, and was put on 174's my first day (lesson) four years ago, for whatever that's worth.
post #3 of 11
Epic, it is a question of do they rent or do they own. A renter can start on shorter skis, more conducive to quick learning and rent longer skis as they inprove.

The pifall here is that they like the shorties so much that they become reluctant to go to longer skis.

If a new skier goes to the shop to spend a half-a-thousand bucks, for the most part those are the skis they own for a long time and are the learning skis, thus buying a ski length that will be unsatisfactory in a year or two is forgone at the expense of slower progress in the beginning on longer skis, to "grow into" as they say.

The pitfall there is that they struggle with the longer skis so much in the beginning that they are forced to use crutch movements, which then become bad habits and skiers possibly never do "grow into" them.

post #4 of 11
another question: would not ski stiffness (or lack thereof) be as important as getting the right length?
post #5 of 11
Ryan, length, stiffness, etc. all are factors.

I venture to say that the majority of skiers are on the wrong skis for their skill level. That is not to say they can't adapt to them, and if the skis are of higher performance, they won't eventually be right for them, that goes for cars and other tools also.

Hoping to exactly match one's ski prowess to skis is the realm of expert skiers who know what they are looking for, and more inportantly, know when they have found it [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #6 of 11
Here is a line of skis from Dynastar that are built for recreational skiers from beginners to experts. Note the shape, width, and length of the beginner model.
post #7 of 11
Here is a line of skis from Dynastar that are built for recreational skiers from beginners to experts. Note the shape, width, and length of the beginner model. http://usa.dynastar.com/2001/Dynastar/my_dynastar.cfm
post #8 of 11
I take it you mean the Agyl line. not a lot of info on the Dynastar USA site.
Try http://www.club-dynastar.com/products/listeproducts2.asp?serie=Agyleserie&id_srarticle=1 02&rnk=13&qry=agyl%3f
post #9 of 11
In the "Three Steps To Success" clinic two years ago, which introduced a PSIA-RM version of direct to parallel, we used 120 cm skis that came out of Copper's rental shop. The exercises we worked on would definitely be easier for first timers on these short skis. Of course, being instructors, we took them to the top of the mountain and tried to ski them the way we would our own skis. You really gotta be centered to carry any kind of speed on them.

I don't know how many rental shops are stocked with skis this short for adult beginners. My experience has been that they usually come to the first lesson on something in the 160 range with fairly deep side cut if they are on rentals and longer, older and straighter if they own them. The people on the real shorties often start out making more or less parallel turns while the folks on the longer boards seem to automatically use a wedge.

post #10 of 11

I like to see a new skier with skis that are three inches below their chin.

I'm 5' 10" tall and ski 90% of the time on a 160 cm ski. That length comes to my nose.
post #11 of 11
What length skis for beginners? There are two schools of thought on this question, and both work. One is that beginners should start on "normal" skis that are a bit shorter than their eventual full-length skis, just to make them more manageable and less awkward to start out on. Typically, that would mean soft, forgiving 140-170 cm skis for most adults. This is what most ski schools have been doing for many years, since the original PSIA American Teaching Method adopted a "modified graduated length method." It retained most of the advantages of the extremely short skis of "GLM," but started with skis long enough to actually behave like, well, like skis!

Recently, a new breed of extemely short (110-135cm) learning skis has come around, largely due (some may disagree) to the efforts of Bill Irwin of Elan skis. These little skis have real sidecut and they perform incredibly well, even for experts. World Cuppers even train on them for special purposes. But they're designed to help beginners quickly discover the performance of "real skis."

And they work great, IN THE HANDS OF A COMPETENT INSTRUCTOR. They carve like Zorro, and work great for so-called "direct parallel" progressions. But they also fit perfectly into traditional approaches--you can wedge with them, skid them, brake with them, and carve. 5 or 6 years ago, when these skis first came out, I took a bunch of instructors out for two days to see how they worked. First, we just played, at our own level, to see what they were capable of, and what, if any, were their limitations. Skeptical at first, we were all quickly amazed at how much fun these skis were, and at what we could do on them! High speed, moguls, ice, extreme carves, you name it, we tried it, and we were smiling!

Then we explored the teaching/learning capabilities. We tried direct parallel, or perhaps I should say, "direct-carve," approaches. With their tight little sidecuts, these skis respond dramatically to edging movements--a little tipping makes a carved track with a very tight radius. Even beginners, at low speeds, could discover "carving" very quickly--something that used to come only after years of experience and training, with higher speeds and a lot of skill and athleticism.

And we explored "traditional" progressions, too, with wedges, both gliding and braking, and gently steered, brushed turns. The little skis worked great here too! More than great, in fact. They made everything easier, while nearly eliminating the crossed tips and common tendency to try to muscle the skis around with the upper body.

I'm a big fan of these little learning skis. Students learning on them usually find that the awkward, embarassing, or frightening early stages of learning to ski pass much more quickly, and the fun starts sooner. A good instructor has more options with them--the effects of edging in turns are so much more apparent that it makes sense to explore them. They do NOT require a "new" teaching method--but they make all good teaching more effective. Most students can experience success on them more quickly.

But most ski schools and rental shops still have a huge fleet of older, traditional lengths. Fortunately, a good instructor can teach good skiing on anything--even full-length skis. Skills can develop just as quickly on any equipment--it just takes a lot less of it to have fun on the new stuff!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
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