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Instructors view of ski equipment

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
When I first taught tennis, I always laughed to myself a little when a student would show up in $150 warmups, a $200 racquet and not be able to properly stroke the ball. All that great technology basically going to waste. This became so common that I stopped noticing.

Eventually, I had a chance to try out all the new racquets. I found the differences were so subtle, I had my doubts whether anyone but very advanced players could differentiate the racquets. And I found that above a certain level, they were all competent though some were a better fit for my style.

However, in terms of teaching, I hated when a beginner or intermediate went out and purchased a powerful racquet. They'd get decent results (hit the ball hard) without proper form. Eventually, I knew they'd plateau without proper form.

Are shaped skis analgous to these powerful racquets, allowing skiers immediate results without proper technique? For now I'm the student, looking to replace my 6 year old k2 vertical assaults. I tried my first pair of shaped skis (k2 mod x) over the weekend in abnormal eastern conditions (powder) and I skied very well with them. But, they are very expensive and, given my frugal nature :^), I'm wondering if I'll really be able to tell the difference between skis (specifically, a less expensive ski)?

jeff<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by frugal_skier (edited March 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 23

Shaped skis basically will feel more stable, giving you more confidence, and will hold an edge and carve at lower speeds. They won't do the work for you, but they will make it easier for you to get the proper feelings, which will result in making the right moves. They are also a bit more forgiving, and will work correctly even if your balance is off just a bit. Again, making it easier to learn and giving you confidence.

I agree with Gravity's conclusion: Buy them, but don't expect that they will do the work for you, or to get away with not learning proper technique.
post #3 of 23
I'm on my third different pair of shaped skis this year and am more and more amazed by the new technology. I have one piece of advice and one thought. I am 5'11", weigh 200 lbs and am using shorter and shorter skis. I'm down to 170's and think I could go a little shorter. I think a great many people try the new stuff and say what's the big deal at first. I am constantly "tweaking" my technique and suggest you will have a learning curve as well.

By all means enjoy the new technology. I also teach golf and liken it to "game improvement" irons. In the seventies no good players used Ping irons. (Ping pioneered cast irons" Metal woods took a long time to catch on as well.Eventually both became the standard or norm.

I do suggest you "demo" quite a few skis and find one you like, not a pair suggested by a friend or salesman.
post #4 of 23
I just love to hear present and [like my brother-in-law] former tennis instructors tell me that the differences in raquets are so subtle I'd never notice the difference. Hogwash. I play tennis even worse than I ski, but I do enjoy it as immensly. I have demoed a nummber of racquets just to see what they were like - I had no intention of actually buying one since the racquet I had was [in my opinion] great. I not only found that the new ultra light racquets were FAR easier for me to use properly, but my annual tennis elbow fiasco failed to materialize after I bought one and used it for a season. I benefited more from instruction. Not only that, but the various racquets I demoed were as different from each other as night is from day. A beginner? Well, sure, a beginner probably wouldn't know the difference, come ON. But anyone who has reached a 3.0 [a very mediocre player who is just barely an intermediate] can not only tell the difference but can USE the difference and will ENJOY one of the racquets more than the others. Same with skis, sort of. More so from older "straight" skis to today's shaped skis. It's like a mature male being able to tell the difference between women in bed - if you can't tell the difference, you're not doing it right. And what's with this "frugal" stuff?! With hard goods like tennis racquets and skis that a person like you keeps for a long time, the differences in price are not so significant over the lifetime of the product - especially when compared to the cost of tennis lessons or lift tickets.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by oboe (edited March 14, 2001).]</FONT>
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
I just love to hear present and [like my brother-in-law] former tennis instructors tell me that the differences in raquets are so subtle I'd never notice the difference.
not go too far afield, in some sense, the better you are, the more subtle the difference. If you're stroking the ball correctly and precisely, you feel less difference between racquets. I'd guess 4.0 would be the level where you start to apprectiate subtle differences. But hey, don't take my word for it. Just ask your brother-in-law :^)

I'd guess there is an analogy in skiing. A great skier who can get max performance out of any ski probably feels only subtle differences between skis. Dunno, since I'm not a great skier.

You make a good point about hard goods. Still, in absolute terms, the k2 mod x is $500. I suspect I can find a great ski at the end of the season for $300. I can spend the extra $200 on orthotics or lessons.

post #6 of 23
I liken it to golf, since I don't play tennis. As a 20 handicapper, I definitely benefit from an oversized, offset head, whereas Tiger could hit a ball where he wants it to go with any style club. However, a lot of PGA pros do use oversized heads, and some do not. I also have learned that there are some pieces of equipment that are NOT for people who are not very good. For example, I have learned to not buy balata balls. Sure, they feel smooth off the club, but for me to hit one straight with a wood is near to impossible. I also have a tendency to put smiley faces on them with my irons. That said, if you are to the point in your golf game, where you actually control the ball and hit it square, then there would be a definite advantage to a balata. I can use them with my 7-sand wedge, but not much else.
post #7 of 23
Gravity: GO for it, m' man!! I would be honored to be quoted by you, although you always wanna be careful with my quotes - they can piss some people off!

Frugal: I have long advocated that the magazines use average skiers for their tests of skis for intermediates. Instead, they use world class skiers. I have been told, right over the telephone, that they have indeed tried the "average skier" approach, and it didn't work - those folks were not able to sense and describe the significant behavioral differences between the various models, but just how it good felt to them or easy they were to turn. Instead, the world class testers are able to feel, understand and precisely describe the behavioral charactaristics off all of the skis, even the models targeted to intermediates. Spend your own money as you will, sir, that is your choice. Get as good a deal as you can - why not?? But if you plan to hold onto your equipment for a long time, the performance and feel of the skis, and of course their durability, will mean something to you IF YOU CARE. Now, if you just DON'T CARE . . . again, it's like different women. Seriously, for the most part, today's ski products are fantastic - well engineered, well thought out, and great performers. I feel very fortunate that even a geek like me can better learn and enjoy skiing on the newer equipment than on the old. Same goes for the tennis racquets - not only differences in performance, but differences in feel, ease of use, and comfort that are quite marked. Anyway, Frugal, let us just agree to disagree. I admit I am not known for frugality when it comes to sports equipment - it just gives me too much pleasure, as do the sports for which they are made.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 

this frugality thing has always been one of my faults. I spend too much time analyzing/researching purchases. If I took the same amount of time generating income as I did researching skis, I could afford to buy 2 more pairs of skis :^)

post #9 of 23
As a fellow cheapskate I understand about your Pain
Anyway here is something to think over if you liked the Modx take a good hard look at the Mod7/8. It's a an excellent ski with a vary wide range of abilities. You should be able to find them on sale for around $400.00 or less. Get the Foot beds! Foot Beds will be around $150.00 or more. Find some of last seasons bindings You should find a pair of Salomon 850's for around $100-$150.
Here is another way to look at ski gear.Lets say you get 150 days out of your skis and then it's time to replace them.If they cost lets say $700.00 with bindings, then you sell them at a ski swap for $150.00 you have $550.00 in the skis so over 150 days it cost you only $3.67 a day to ski on your own ski.

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49

<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Utah49 (edited March 15, 2001).]</FONT>
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

A man (or woman) after my own heart! The only problem with k2 mod x was that I skied them when we had "once in a blue moon" conditions here in NY with about 3 feet of fresh powder. I'd like to see how the skis perform on ice and eastern hardpack. I've posted a request for reccomendations in the ski gear forum. I'll add the 7/8s to my short list.

Boy, I'd love to get 150 days out of my skis. But at 10 days/year max, I'll probably be dead first! Well, we're thinking about a ski house next year so hopefully my days/year will rise.

post #11 of 23
Finally, a subject to which I can contribute. I may be the most beginning of beginner skiers, but I'm a pretty advanced tennis player and I don't really think the light/powerful racquets = shaped skis comparison holds true.

To give a brief background, there has been a tendency for tennis racquest manufacturers to push light (<10 ounces), wide beamed, head-heavy (even though the racquet is light, most of the weight is in the head) racquets on the general public. However, unlike skiing, almost none of the top pros have switched to those racquets. Most pros still play with heavy, thin beamed, head light or evenly balanced racquets. Contrast that to skiing, where I believe all the top skiers ski shaped skis and straight skis are no longer being manufactured.

I've read that good skiers will actually ski FASTER shaped skis, whereas top level tennis players will play much, much worse with these "game-improvement" racquets. I personally cannot even keep the ball in play with these racquets. I cannot use proper technique with them. I have to basically hold back and poke at the ball like a total dork for it to even have a prayer of landing in.

Plus, the light-weight/head-heavy balance tends to promote and exacerbate tennis elbow and general bad technique. The torsional inertia that results from the hammer-like balance coupled with the total lack of weight to deal with a ball traveling sometimes >100 mph are just recipes for disaster and over time will make your arm feel like the roof of your mouth after eating pork rinds. On the other had, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that shaped skis make skiing technique more pure, ie- less twisting/skidding, more pure carving. It actually makes it easier, less tiring to ski with the right technique.

It seems like the ski manufacturers actually care about performance with faster and more stable equipment coming out year after year. I'm not an expert, but for example, the K2 Merlins were better that the Fours and the Mod X is apparently much better than the Merlins. On the other hand, tennis equipment each year gets worse and worse, potentially more and more injurious. Many of the pros have to radically modify their racquets to be suitable or in the case of Pete Sampras, stick with a racquet that is almost 20 years old.

Again, I'm not a ski expert so any comments are welcome.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by ajax (edited March 19, 2001).]</FONT>
post #12 of 23
ajax, you're right: Really good tennis players don't use the super-lightweight, stiff racquets. Since I stink at tennis, this does not apply to me. The lighter weight racquet I now use is MUCH more fun, the tennnis elbow has gone bye bye, and I am able to get much more out of instruction. You know, I firmly believe as I complete my sixtieth year on this planet that my tennis will never reach the level of any competent professional [or even of a really terrific amateur]. Now, look at the older, retired pros - check out Rod Laver's racquet of today. Give us a break, man! Let us all enjoy tennis and skiing on the equipment we most enjoy and can handle best, considering our age and distinctly pedestrian abilities [mine, not Rod's].
post #13 of 23

Of course, by all means - have fun. My concern is potential injury. Using the new tennis technology can get you hurt.

Try this - hold a hammer by the handle and swing it around. Then imagine swinging it around hundreds of times. It'll kill your hand/wrist/elbow. Now turn it around and hold it by the metal head and swing it. It takes more effort, but it will do much less damage to your joints.

However, I have yet to see evidence that shaped skis, while improving performance will hurt you physically like these racquets do.
post #14 of 23
I know that theory about tennis racquets has many adherents, but some folks don't agree with it. Also, I have played for many years with a head neutral thirteen ounce racquet, and every year it was a matter of time before my elbow was hurting. For the two seasons I've used the new ten ounce somewhat head heavy racquet, I have had no tennis elbow or other injury. Tell you what: You keep your theory, and I'll keep mine. Fair enough? I don't mind in the least sharing my theory with Wilson, Head and the others. Besides, for me, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

P.S. edit: Actually, there is a theory held by some that the greater edge grip of shaped skis can lead to injuries in some skiers. Another theory is that longer skis are more likely to lead to ACL tearing than much shorter skis and skiboards.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by oboe (edited March 20, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by oboe (edited March 20, 2001).]</FONT>
post #15 of 23

Interesting theory about long skis and ACL injuries. I blew mine out on a pair of 150s with an 11m radius.
post #16 of 23

I guess it depends on the person and their respective technique. I'm glad that your racquet is working for you and you're having fun without injury.

I had the exact opposite experience with the Wilson Hyper Hammer. My arm felt like string cheese after one afternoon. My current racquet is a Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G which weighs in (with extra lead tape) at around 14ozs. No arm problems so far. (fingers crossed)
post #17 of 23
JohnH, Fascinating! Although the shorter ski theory is, in my view, still sound, I understand that the ACL may be blown even without wearing skis at all, and it just goes to show yuh. Notwithstanding, the records of injuries kept by the folks who research this stuff for a living show: Skiboarders have almost zilch ACL problems but have more broken legs [no release bindings]. Skiers with release bindings have drastically reduced broken legs but have an unfortunate number of ACL tears. The way ACL tears occur points the finger at the length of the ski behind the foot. But JEESH! Wouldn't you know some guy would come along with a real life experience that is the exception to the general rule! Could be the same with my tennis racquet, too. . . but I doubt it.
post #18 of 23

My reply was half toung-in-cheek. I certainly understand the physics of longer skis. And I'm probably the only person on record who blew out his ACL from a boot-out while carving on shorties. I just thought it was funny that you said that long skis were the problem. There's lots of causes for ACL tears. But you are right that long skis are *more* likely to be the cause of knee injury than short ones.

I will, however, strongly dispute your assertion that snowboarders don't blow ACLs. True, they don't blow them when making turns down the hill, but when I was nursing my knee after surgery, and hanging out at a large ACL web site, there were at least as many people who blew out ACLs boarding, as there were folks that did it skiing. Not only that, but snowboarding has a tendency to blow both at the same time (major *ouch*). They all do it when landing jumps with their legs straight, and hyper extend both knees to the point of blowing out their ACLs.

Oops... As Rosanne Rosannadanna would say... "nevermind". I thought you said snowboarders, but you said skiboarders. And I went and typed all this out.
post #19 of 23
Ajax, as a tennis player, I agree with your post regarding racquets vs. skis. I think a more accurate analogy is straight vs. shaped skis to wood vs. graphite (or whatever) racquets, or even standard size vs. oversize heads. Tennis has already undergone what skiing is going through right now. Prince changed the game for everyone, not just the recreational players.

I am not a fan of ultralight racquets at all, but I can see why they are popular for many people. I just think no young person should ever be allowed to use one! I very much agree that starting out with one (if you are a reasonably strong and healthy person) will lead to miserable technique. Now, going the other way (ie, already having the technique and just using a lighter racquet to make up for speed and youth, if necessary) makes sense.

Tennis elbow is different for everyone, but I have noticed that a lot of women I play with got it after switching to those really light Head titanium racquets. Some people string too tight, or don't use soft string. For me, any Wilson racquet at all gives me tennis elbow. Too darn stiff. But plenty of people use Wilson racquets and don't suffer. I am a Yonex devotee myself.
post #20 of 23

I have to agree with you on those Wilson and Head racquets - some of the most physically damaging equipment out there.

And your analogy of straight/shaped to wood/graphite is dead on. In general, I would say for tennis, larger heads, graphite material and softer strings have undeniably been steps in the right directions. Super stiff, head heavy, feather light, wide beamed racquets are just plain bad unless as you say, one already has the proper technique. Even then you cannot play with a heavy hitter or you will pay in doctor visits.

As for skiing, it seems like increased sidecut, softer flexing yet torsionally stiff skis along with overlap boots have been very beneficial breakthroughs. Flashing peizo light thingies - I guess the jury is still out.

That being said, I'm just dying to hit the slopes with my new gear - Nordica Grand Prix boots and my Merlin VIs (yes, complete with the cool flashing peizo light thingy).
post #21 of 23
ajax, from reading your other post, it appears that you are a beginner who has not yet skied. I will admit that if I, as a beginner, tried to learn on K2 Merlin VI skis, I'd probably have a very difficult time. The skis I know own and ski on - the Rossie T-Power Cobra X in 160 cm and the K2 Mod 7/8 in 174 cm - make my life a whole lot easier and they make skiing a whole lot more fun. After playing for years with a Dunlop Revelation 8.2 which is between 13 and 14 oz, I now play with greater pleasure, greater results, and a lot less pain and injury with a Head Ti4 CZ which weighs about 9 oz. I guess if you're strong enough to need more weight in a racquet and stiffness in a ski, you're an athlete several notches above me. This is neither a compliment to you nor any deprication of myself - just my inference of the way it is. Let us know how you proceed on the Merlin VI's. Also, on your new baby boy, CONGRATULATIONS!
post #22 of 23

Thanks a lot! We're having a lot of fun with him.

Like I said before, the most important thing is to have fun and stay injury free. If the Head Ti meets your needs then great! The proof is in the pudding.

I think my earlier rant had more to do with the decreasing variety in tennis equipment. It seems that every year the amount of racquets suitable to someone of my body/swing type decreases and I'm being forced to do more and more after market alterations.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by ajax (edited March 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #23 of 23

First, if you truly want to be frugal and smart you should be buying used skis/bindings. At this time of year you can truly get some amazing deals as people unload before next year. (Are you buying new cars?)
Second, one of the things to consider with the skis is the waist width. The modx is a midfat meaning it has a wider waist and is wider overall than a "regular" ski. If you are bowlegged than you do not want a wide waisted ski (in theory) because it takes longer to get on edge. You want more of a narrow waisted ski. If you are knockneed then the width would help.
Maybe someone else can tell us if this theory truly holds up. I'm assuming that Paul, in the now defunct "Proof.." post, was told by Harald to get the narrow waisted slalom skis and get rid of his xscreams (a mid fat) because he was bowlegged. The theory is that you want the equipment to be going in your favor, not exacerbating your natural body alignment(or misalignment).

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