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VT/NE skiers help ! Old school skier needs help

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi All,
I am ready to take the plunge and get back into skiing after more than 10 years away. I was a certified PSIA instructor, collegiate racer and also took a year off to live at a ski area in france for a year. Back injuries kept me off the slopes for a while, got married, had kids etc etc...the kids are 4 and 6 now and I want to get them into skiing.

My last skis were Dynamic VR27's, 204 for slalom and 210 for GS. I am 6' tall, 200 pounds. I have never skied on shaped skis. I expect 100% of my skiing to be in Vermont or Connecticut, so lots of ice, crud and funky artificial snow, I also expect that the majority of my skiing will be putt-putting along behind my kids on greens and if Im lucky, a blue or two...I believe I will have the opportunity to get a few runs in myself, where I hope to cruise and carve some turns with some speed, no bumps...

I am so far out of the loop in terms of gear, it seems as though ski shops employ people who want to sell you what they have in their inventory so I dont trust them, plus, I dont want to drop $600-$1000 on this experiment to get back into skiing...

I have no idea what the difference is between "frontside" skis and "backside" skis is,,I imagine that frontside skis would be on the groomed trails, and backside would be powder or off-piste skiing...I do know that I will not be skiing aggressively like i did in my racing days, so I think an "all mountain" ski would be best, but one geared towards ice and crappy snow

Im too cheap to demo skis, instead of paying the $40,$50, $60 or more to demo one single pair of skis, I figure why not put that same $50 towards a pair of 3 or 4 year old skis on ebay for $200...

Some of my research has turned up the Volkl AC3 as a possible candidate but i know there must be other brands out there,,,and then size is another issue that completely baffles me,,,in my day (skiing inthe 80's and 90's) you were a sissy if you skied on anything less than 200cm - wierd, i know, makes (some ) sense to go a bit shorter,,but at what price?,,,if you are cruising on ice, do you really get the stability you need on 170 or 177 or 183,,and whats with the 177 and 183 numbers anyway,,why did they change it from the nice round numbers that ended in 0's and 5's...So hopefully there is some other 40 year old advanced skier who is 6' 200lbs who skis in the northeast who has kept up with technology who can tell me #1 what size ski I should get, #2 make a recommendation of what ski was a good ski in 2004, 2005, or 2006 that i might be able to find on ebay, #3 explain the difference with all this frontside, backside, all mountain stuff I need to know so I can find a pair of beaters to ease my way back into the sport so I can enjoy skiing with my kids and not be bored skiing on foofy shaped weenie sized skis....thanks - RipVanWinkle
post #2 of 10
men's wc slalom skis are 165cm now, if that tells you anything.
post #3 of 10
1st: 204cm straight skis died off like dinosaurs for a reason. Your old gear will still 'work' (maybe not the bindings...) so if you don't want to be bored on 'foofy shaped weenie skis' and you're cheap, ski what you have. It's an option.

2nd: very few people ski race skis these days, they can be had CHEAP, look at a mid-180's GS ski, it will do things you never imagined posssible from your VR27's.

3rd: sizing. Yes sizes have changed. A lot. So have telephones, cars, computers... you get the point. As a general rule, the shorter the turn radius, the shorter the ski.

4th: Just go find a mid-180cm GS ski, manufacturer doesn't matter. Don't pay more than $200 (for the ski). Go ski. Make sure the kids get reasonably good equipment, as they ski more maybe you'll ski different places and want a different ski, but for now buy a cheap race ski (do NOT buy a SL ski!).
post #4 of 10
yeah, older gs skis are practically free on ebay since fis changed the legal radius.
post #5 of 10
Welcome back to skiing. I started sking in the 1960s so I understand your concern about today's shorter fat skis, but you will be amazed at how they perform. I regularly ski in Vermont with an annual trip to the Rockies. For grip on eastern ice, I would recommend a "carving ski" with a waist of around 65-70 mm or so. You will give up some float in powder, but that is not a major issue in the east. Skis from the years you mention would include the Fischer RX8 and Volkl 5 Star. I am sure others will chime in with other suggestions. I am older (62) and smaller (5'8" and 150 lbs and ski on a 165cm ski. With your weight, I would think something about 175cm would be about right. Good Luck.
post #6 of 10
Welcome back! To address a few of your issues:

At your weight and skill level (OK, so a little rusty, but it'll come back) a strong carver in the 70 mm waist range and mid to high 170's length, not too much sidecut, would be appropriate for all mountain back here. I skied the VR17 (more like it skied me), so I assume you like a beefy ski that grips like a pit bull. Some of last season's candidates you can still find new for fewer $: Stockli Cross Pro, Nordica Mach 3 Power or Top Fuel, Volkl Tigershark 12 Foot, Atomic Blackeye. The Volkl AC30 would work too but not so many around new and you might find them a touch soft. If you're looking for a used pair from 2-3 years ago, then the AC3, Nordica Top Fuel, Stockli XL's all fit the bill.

If you want something from last season or beyond more purely for hardpack groomers, obviously that opens up the 66-68 mm waist race carvers; many here really love the Fischers, I'd put in a vote for Head or Volkl.
post #7 of 10
First get good boots from a good bootfitter. Then get on the snow. For your first time out skiing with your kids do you think you need something beyond a rental. Once you have actually skied a few times and gotten a sense of what your real needs are, you may be able to better formulate the question. Skis have simultaneously become specialized and more versatile so you need to figure out what kind of skiing you will be doing.

That said, in response to JimH, you need to be careful about about recommending a carving ski. Some handle mixed conditions well, many don't. But at most large resorts on the east if you want to ski what they have to offer you need to think beyond groomed hardpack.
post #8 of 10
Invest 20 bucks to Peter Keelty's subscription reviews at realskiers (or it may be expertskier.com). The reviews go back a few years. Then buy what's on sale that matches what suits your needs. I suggest a radius between 13 and 18 m; 13 m would be better to learn how the new stuff works (more turns per dollar etcetera), 16 would be more suitable once you get that short turning novelty out of your system. You want a frontside carver for eastern conditions, with a waist between 66 and 70 mm. One step below race stock.Probably 165 cm for a 13-m ski or 177 or about that for an 18 m radius.

The entry level skis are still very unstable at speed, but the top-drawer skis are surprisingly stable at speed. A few years ago I did some demoing to find a new ski. I went from a 208 SG ski to a 165 SL sidecut ski. My 165 cm Fischer WC SC is stable enough for any speed you can get up to out east, but you have to keep them on edge, so instead of just pointing the skis at the bottom, you have to flip edges and have the skis do sidecut-radius turns under you while you go straight - the modern carving version of wheedl'n). If you don't keep the skis on edge, they will hunt for turns as the sidecut interacts with terrain. You don't have to arc every turn, and if you are making a turn that's bigger than the sidecut radius you won't be arcing it, but the ski will still allow you to turn without drama at any speed you can reach in the east, though perhaps with a bit more of a sensation of speed than you would get making the same turn on an old SG ski.

From my experience I would say look at Fischer WC SC (careful with the names not race sc), Atomic SX12 (or older SX11). I like these skis and like to ski fast. The WC SC would be more versatile for skiing with your kids, the SX11 more versatile for skiing a wider range of turns. Both are not really meant for off-piste. Because of your 200 lbs you will want to go a little stiffer than someone my weight who skis at the same speed as you (or the same stiffness as I like for high speeds). I think the compromise in going slow with the SC is better than the compromise with an RX8 at max speeds (and you will not be able to resist a little fast skiing now and then).
post #9 of 10
Hi, enjoy the new skis - they are a great invention.
I am your size - good skier - and used to ski the 203s old-school skis.
I have demoed alot of skis - and my personal preference for a good, all-round, carvable, all-mountain ski is the Volkl AC 40 (similar to the AC3, I believe). 125, 85, 112, I believe. It has width to handle powder, plow through crud - and a good side cut for carving. And remember, the AC 40, at least (and many models) are sold WITH bindings designed to fit the ski - so in comparing ski prices, you need to factor in whether you are getting additional bindings - or the bindings are wrapped into the price of the ski. The skis may not be as expensive as they seem, when you keep this in mind.

What's carving? - I recommend taking a lesson from a good instuctor who can help you learn how to take advantage of the carving stance and turn technique. As a good skier, you can pick up some new skis and ski on them just fine - but if you get some advice on how to "carve" properly, I think you will find that the new skis feel kinda like cheating, compared to the old ones.

Good luck
post #10 of 10
Some of last season's candidates you can still find new for fewer $: Stockli Cross Pro, Nordica Mach 3 Power or Top Fuel, Volkl Tigershark 12 Foot, Atomic Blackeye.

This was a good recommendation a few posts back. I'd add the Dynastar Contact 9 or 10 too for least coast conditions.

Volkl's are hyped pretty hard (think the skiing equivalent of Bose), so deals are fairly hard to find on Ac30 or 40. I think the Nordica's, Head's and Dynastar's are (at least) as good as the Volkl's anyway.

One thing to keep in mind is that the shaped skis aren't always tolerant of an older skiing style - all-mountain's (and your definition's about right) tend to deal better with it, although their ice capabilities may be a bit lower.

Try sierraskis.com and evogear.com for some excellent deals with no shipping charges and (in my experince with both) great customer service.
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