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Ski width and the never ending online debate.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

15 years ago ski selection was simple. Most men used 200cm long skis and the width of the ski was skinny, from 60 to 67mm for 99% of the skis sold. Women generally used a shorter versions of men's models. It took years to develop all the skills to ski a long, skinny ski.

 

Most skiers didn't ski very well, and the lack of innovation in ski gear was part of the problem.

 

Today, men can select a very short ski, about 160cm, or a very long ski, 190cm or longer. Women can select female specific models from 145cm to 180cm. Skis are made in skinny widths for racing or recreational skiing on hard snow.  Skis are also as sold in width dimensions that are as much as twice as wide as the skinnier skis. These models are intended for floating on very light and deep snow. Highly specialized skis are available for everything from racing to extreme backcountry skiing.

 

Between the skinniest ski models and the fattest ski models are a full range of skis. Just about every variation of width, length, side-cut and camber is  now available. Manufacturers continue to update products and are producing hundreds of models.

 

It now takes less time to develop all the core skiing skills, however, most skiers still didn't ski very well, even with all the advancements in skis and other gear. A lack of instruction is part of the problem today.

 

While it becomes obvious that many skiers are making ski choices based on meaningless trends and bad advice, we need to recognize that a broad range of skis is a positive step for the industry. A wide range of products does make it possible to find the "right tool for the job".

 

Also, a wide choice of gear combined with good basic instruction allows many skiers to progress quickly. This can only be good for the industry. Skiers that trust their gear and their training will stick with the sport. Frustrated skiers will not.

 

Are their any simple answers to the never ending ski debate? No.

 

However, skiers are now able to make ski gear decisions based on a deep range of information, The range of products and the range of opinions about the products are good for the skier willing to do a little research before they buy.

 

Cheers,

 

Michael

 

post #2 of 20

 So far. I need to read it a couple of times more to...

Well , I still see people on skinnier, pre-1993 (more or less the year when shapes started to grow) skis...

They still ski and enjoy their time on the hill as much as I do on my "new" mid-fat...

Surely the spectrum of dimensions makes for a lot of versatilty, skiers can select whatever suits them best, provided they are well-informed, well-directed or willing to explore (and pay the "price" for it).

I was skiing today and noticed skiers on skis with...but I don't want to hijack this thread from you, Michael. I guess I'll have to open a new one...

post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post

 

 So far. I need to read it a couple of times more to...

Well , I still see people on skinnier, pre-1993 (more or less the year when shapes started to grow) skis...

They still ski and enjoy their time on the hill as much as I do on my "new" mid-fat...

Surely the spectrum of dimensions makes for a lot of versatilty, skiers can select whatever suits them best, provided they are well-informed, well-directed or willing to explore (and pay the "price" for it).

I was skiing today and noticed skiers on skis with...but I don't want to hijack this thread from you, Michael. I guess I'll have to open a new one...


 It's a bit of a ramble.. I'm trying to make the point that innovation in ski gear is progress, even if the wrong skis are ending up on skiers who should just take a lesson .

 

Part of the problem is the cost of instruction, it might be cheaper to "buy a turn" by getting the newest gear, when learning-to-turn at the ski school can cost $ hundreds.

 

Michael


Edited by WILDCAT - 3/9/2009 at 01:57 am
post #4 of 20

We don't need any more progress on ski gear.

What we need is progress on decreasing the price charged for lessons by ski schools and increasing the pay payed to skiing instructors, so that more people can benefit from taking lessons.

post #5 of 20

I do think we need more progress on ski gear. When the manufacturers got lazy and didn't push the designs (late 80's) the sport almost died.  Fortunately, somebody made a snowboard and the shape changed skiing.  Skis began to progess, skiers began to progress faster.

 

Now as for the price of ski school, if the instructors don't learn new techniques then changing the prices won't do too much.  Too many intructors are unwilling to ski on anything with a radius greater than around 14 meters.  The few that do, props to them.  Ski technology is changing for the better, instructors need to change with the times.  As for their pay.  I know several who make good incomes from teaching.  They still complain they don't but they do.  I know there are instructors all over the country getting paid horribly and it should be more balanced but, then again...ski patrol doesn't get paid as well as an intructor, and they save lives

post #6 of 20

Not all changes are good changes for the customer. (kindda like wanting to put front wheel drive on all cars)

I think the ski manufactures are trying a few new things with shape ,length and construction techniques. It will all get sorted out in the end or maybe not, untill then we will just keep buying what they are trying.

post #7 of 20

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post

 

I do think we need more progress on ski gear. When the manufacturers got lazy and didn't push the designs (late 80's) the sport almost died.  Fortunately, somebody made a snowboard and the shape changed skiing.  Skis began to progess, skiers began to progress faster.

 

Now as for the price of ski school, if the instructors don't learn new techniques then changing the prices won't do too much.  Too many intructors are unwilling to ski on anything with a radius greater than around 14 meters.  The few that do, props to them.  Ski technology is changing for the better, instructors need to change with the times.  As for their pay.  I know several who make good incomes from teaching.  They still complain they don't but they do.  I know there are instructors all over the country getting paid horribly and it should be more balanced but, then again...ski patrol doesn't get paid as well as an intructor, and they save lives

 

thank you.

 

the SL skis everywhere crowd hopefully will start to lose respect and clients with people who actually know the new equipment and use it.

 

Its cool though, the more people read these forums and see who is actually up to date on ski design. the more the dinosaurs go extinict.

 

In fact thinkiing of it your way its almost in my benefit to stop making fun of them and let them die.

post #8 of 20


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post

 

 

Are their any simple answers to the never ending ski debate? No.

 

.


 Perhaps the real issue is that most people who ski, just enjoy skiing. They don't care about perfect technique and so what. If I were required to ski "just right" I might just quit.  I simply enjoy sking for the sport, the ambience and being with friends. If my technique is less than perfect, well sorry. And yes I do take lessons, but really all I want is to enjoy myself and keep up with my friends

post #9 of 20

I never knew anyone while I was ski teaching who made a good living from it or even much of a living. I did know quite a few people who had large enough outside incomes, trust funds, secondary or primary employment, retirement pay or whatever that they were living well and doing what they loved to do. Perhaps there actually are people in the cushier western resorts making it but pay, or lack of it, does have a lot to do with the quality of ski instruction or lack thereof available to the public.

 

I loved to teach and I know that good teaching can really accelerate a skier's learning but much of the pleasure of skiing is the personal joy of being in control of the experience and it is no wonder that most people prefer self discovery to being taught. I'm sure the variety of new equipment available facilitates this.

post #10 of 20

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post

 

I do think we need more progress on ski gear. When the manufacturers got lazy and didn't push the designs (late 80's) the sport almost died.  Fortunately, somebody made a snowboard and the shape changed skiing.  Skis began to progess, skiers began to progress faster.

 

Now as for the price of ski school, if the instructors don't learn new techniques then changing the prices won't do too much.  Too many intructors are unwilling to ski on anything with a radius greater than around 14 meters.  The few that do, props to them.  Ski technology is changing for the better, instructors need to change with the times.  As for their pay.  I know several who make good incomes from teaching.  They still complain they don't but they do.  I know there are instructors all over the country getting paid horribly and it should be more balanced but, then again...ski patrol doesn't get paid as well as an intructor, and they save lives

Many instructors ski on short skis when teaching, as they have to ski slow speeds and demonstrate drills with the clients.  It wouldn't make much sense to teach a snowplow on a pair of Legend Pro's.  See what they ski on their day off: it usually isn't a slalom ski, not around here.  And, not all instructors are that skilled, but it probably has something to do with the pay scale. There is not really different techniques for different turn radiuses, at least not that I am aware of. I don't really know anyone who can run a slalom course who can't handle big turn bowl skiing.  Good skiing is good skiing.  

 

Have skiers progressed?  I don't see people skiing any better than they used to.  Kind of like getting power steering on a car: may make it easier to drive, but doesn't make you a better driver.  Gear has progressed, I would say that the mass of skiers haven't, but the top end definitely has.  Which is OK: as long as people are having a good time, it is all that matters, whether they are skiing well or mediocre.   

post #11 of 20

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

 

 ... I don't really know anyone who can run a slalom course who can't handle big turn bowl skiing.  Good skiing is good skiing.  

 

... Gear has progressed, I would say that the mass of skiers haven't, but the top end definitely has.  Which is OK: as long as people are having a good time, it is all that matters, whether they are skiing well or mediocre.   

 

cheers to all that...

 

that being said, i probably couldn't rip a slalom course or zipper line bumps at this point.  i could definitely make a bunch of lazy GS turns thru the bumps and have a blast in the process, tho....

 

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post

 

I do think we need more progress on ski gear. When the manufacturers got lazy and didn't push the designs (late 80's) the sport almost died.  Fortunately, somebody made a snowboard and the shape changed skiing.  Skis began to progess, skiers began to progress faster.

 

Now as for the price of ski school, if the instructors don't learn new techniques then changing the prices won't do too much.  Too many intructors are unwilling to ski on anything with a radius greater than around 14 meters.  The few that do, props to them.  Ski technology is changing for the better, instructors need to change with the times...


 Thanks skierhj, This sums up the issue well.

 

When ski gear lacked diversity, technique was king. Skiers spent more time taking lessons. Skiers also watched the better skiers and racing form was at the top of the pyramid. Today skiers watch ski porn and consumers buy the gear that they see on film, hoping that they too can master off-piste. Ski gear marketing has succeeded in convincing consumers that new gear is what is needed to be an elite skier. Its as if life is a video game, if only life was so easy.

 

I will say that the right gear coupled with the right skills combined with adequate physical fitness can turn the weekend warrior into a very good skier. This should be the goal of the industry, or at least this web forum.

 

But high end gear combined with undeveloped skills will not provide results. If only ski gear was sold with lessons included.

 

Michael

post #13 of 20

This forum is a very small sampling of the skiing community, most of whom don't care how good their technique is. Most of the folks on this forum are very concerned about their skills. The quest for something better is what brought me here. I took a few private lessons and while my technique improved, I've learned much more hanging around here!

 

Equipment accross all sports/activities has improved and that's a good thing. I try not to judge other's skills. As long as you are having fun and are safe (and not running your board into me), I'm cool.

 

The only gripe I always seem to complain about is people skiing on slopes they don't belong on. I think everyone should be introduced to the concept of skiing the slow line fast (I first read about it by Bob Barnes). That should be every skier's mantra!!

post #14 of 20

Good discussion here.  I generally agree with the direction of the thread.  For me, the new gear brought me back to the sport, however, great instruction stoked the passion and made me a die-hard for life.  Once I came back, I knew I needed to really work on my technique.  I went to a couple of great ski camps and had to break down my technique and start all over.  Now, I can really enjoy the benefits of modern gear by using skis that allow me to explore much more of the mtn.  

 

I could care less how others ski as long as they're out there having fun and not endangering me.  I, for one, am always pursuring improvement across the full range of skills that make up good skiing.  I do notice, though, that very few people on the mtn even complete their turns; there is a lot of skidding through the bottom half of the turn.  I find that getting better only makes the whole experience more fun.  

 

Instruction is cost prohibitive.  I am amazed by how much lessons are at a major resort in the middle of the season.  I can't imagine how folks can afford that--particularly in an economy like ours.  I don't know what the cost structure is for the instructor and the resort but it seems they must do ok given $100 an hr rates. 

post #15 of 20

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by locknload View Post

  I don't know what the cost structure is for the instructor and the resort but it seems they must do ok given $100 an hr rates. 

     

Things are not necessarily what they seem! 

I agree with dawgcatching.  The better skiers have gotten better, the masses not so much but  with more range of snow.

 

edit:

Just saw this from another thread:

Apparently, it ain't the skis....

Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

We got a goodly dumpage of 12-14" of new snow late this last week. Yesterday, from the lift line, it appeared that a whole lot of real skiers--wearing helmets, technical clothing, top o' the line boots, and all the fattest, longest, raddest skis--had come out to play. I felt like an interloper--no pontoons, no helmet, no pack--just little ol' me, my Pieps, and my Tough Luvs. Finally we get to the head of the line and start up the hill. This is no ordinary hill--this is Schlausman's at Bridger Bowl, lift-served, backcountry terrain.

 

It had been closed during the storm and has accumulated an untracked bounty of new snow. And what do we see on the ride up but a whole lot of hackers sitting way in the backseat steering their tails, straight-lining, traversing, and sitzmarking their way down the hill. The good skiers were notable for their rarity. I'd generously estimate one good skier for every 10 hacks.  

 

 

post #16 of 20

I personally love to ski, but it is best for me when I am improving, and can tackle terrain that was either once very challenging, or say I can ski something faster, more aggressively, or more smoothly than before.  For me, that means just not skiing more, but getting good instruction and getting help going in the right direction.  For example, skiing in deep snow really opened up for me last year when learning the proper release moves: I have been able to ski deep snow fairly well for years, but learning those things took it to a new level: I started dropping my skiing partners, who are no slouches themselves.  It wasn't because I was skiing more or was on good skis, it was that I got the right skill set and could make the most of it.  

 

I would get good instruction regularly if I could afford it, but a camp, or even a 1/2 day lesson with a top instructor isn't cheap, and even amongst good instructors, it isn't always a slam dunk to get real benefit out of the session. I agree with others that a key to long term satisfaction is getting better: people like to feel improvement and a sense of accomplishment, which breeds better skiers, more interest in the sport, more commitment, and eventually will drive new gear purchases. If you are skiing the same as you did 15 years ago and are still using the old-school moves to get down the hill, new gear is only going to make a marginal difference.  

post #17 of 20


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WILDCAT View Post

 

15 years ago ski selection was simple. Most men used 200cm long skis and the width of the ski was skinny, from 60 to 67mm for 99% of the skis sold. Women generally used a shorter versions of men's models. It took years to develop all the skills to ski a long, skinny ski.


 

No, it wasn't simple.  In a lot of ways, it was much more complicated than it is today.  While there was not quite such an extensive variation in length and width or the sidecut profile from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, (apart from specialty models - of which there were a lot) there were very substantial differences in flex, camber and stiffmess, both longitudinally and torsionally. If you were paying attention to what you were doing, instead of just buying for the brand name or for graphics that matched your boots and favorite sweater and jacket, the flex profile was something you spent a long time studying before buying some new boards.  All the focus nowadays on the sidecut makes people tend to forget that those other factors are also critical to how the ski performs on the slopes and in different conditions.  And, unlike today, you didn't have the internet to help you do the research before demoing. 

post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 

 

We are all seeking a great experience as we enjoy a skiing. The sport combines two strong draws: great locations and a thrilling activity. Unfortunately, many skiers fail to progress quickly and lose interest in a sport that can be difficult to master or enjoy.
 
Three elements are required for rapid progress as a skier;
 
  • Properly selected ski gear
  • Basic skills and training
  • Adequate physical fitness
 
 Ski gear can improve the confidence of the skier or limit the activity. Skills are needed if the skier is to function on any level. Fundamental physical fitness can mean the difference between a full day of exhilaration or a potential injury. If skiers are willing to develop these three basic requirements, the sport would be safer and fewer skiers would leave the sport in frustration.
 
Poorly developed or selected ski gear can completely limit the skier. Imagine skiing with badly fitting boots and skis that are unstable at any speed and difficult to turn. 25 years ago this was all-to-common. These choices can be avoided with quality advice. Correctly selected gear that is appropriate for the general conditions, skill level and aggressiveness of the skier can contribute to rapid progress. This advice can be delivered by quality professions and knowledgeable enthusiast. Ski and binding advice can be delivered online, as this website offers, the best advice is provided at specialty retailers.
 
Skill development combined with correctly selected gear can quickly promote confident skiing. Any set of skills can help a skier cover a wide range of terrain and conditions with just a few days of training. Often skiers who progressed quickly with the help of good instruction continue to seek out additional training. Too many skiers rely on the advance of friends and family and learn just enough to be dangerous. Ski training can be a combination of on-line research and on-slope mentoring.
 
While skiing fitness is not much of an issue for younger skiers, it becomes important as a skier develops. Advanced skiers with good technique and gear can continue to improve if they maintain a high level of fitness. Older weekend warriors that ski with friends and family should consider the importance of year around fitness training.
 
Appropriate gear, training and fitness: skiers can succeed with two out of three. A fit skier on appropriate gear can advance quickly and enjoy the sport without a great deal of training. A well trained skier who is fit can make almost any ski work in any conditions.  Even disabled or less active skiers can enjoy skiing if they have the right gear and good training and instruction.
 
Cheers,
 
Michael


Edited by WILDCAT - 3/10/2009 at 06:31 pm


Edited by WILDCAT - 3/10/2009 at 06:32 pm


Edited by WILDCAT - 3/10/2009 at 08:37 pm


Edited by WILDCAT - 3/10/2009 at 08:39 pm
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by goblue View Post

 


 


 

No, it wasn't simple.  In a lot of ways, it was much more complicated than it is today.  While there was not quite such an extensive variation in length and width or the sidecut profile from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model, (apart from specialty models - of which there were a lot) there were very substantial differences in flex, camber and stiffmess, both longitudinally and torsionally. If you were paying attention to what you were doing, instead of just buying for the brand name or for graphics that matched your boots and favorite sweater and jacket, the flex profile was something you spent a long time studying before buying some new boards.  All the focus nowadays on the sidecut makes people tend to forget that those other factors are also critical to how the ski performs on the slopes and in different conditions.  And, unlike today, you didn't have the internet to help you do the research before demoing. 


 I agree that flex & torsional stiffness are secondary features to width and sidecut today, Camber is a hot topic, however.

 

Michael

post #20 of 20


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by locknload View Post

 

Instruction is cost prohibitive.  I am amazed by how much lessons are at a major resort in the middle of the season.  I can't imagine how folks can afford that--particularly in an economy like ours.  I don't know what the cost structure is for the instructor and the resort but it seems they must do ok given $100 an hr rates. 


 

Instruction is very expensive in my opinion. As for the instructor, its been almost 10 years since I stopped teaching but back then the cost was about $70/hr around here. the average ski instructor around here made about $9/hr or less for that lesson. Those were fully certified ski instructors. Most made quite a bit less actually. I haven't heard that things have changed dramatically since although I would be pleased to learn that they have. I think you can begin to see why the level of ski instruction is not very consistent or the skiing ability of instructors often not what you might wish for. I'd certainly like to beleive that things have improved considerably since my day. Reading the various threads in the instruction forums and listening to the plethora of bad information and reading the posts of people who teach who continue to wrestle with issues that reveal fundamental misconceptions does not convince me that things are much different. There are however some amazingly talented and dedicated individuals out there who can give you a great experience for your money and improve your skiing. I think part of the fascination of skiing is this pursuit of skill and the best instructors are into this continually.

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