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Always Used Demo's-Buying First Pair of Skis

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have always rented my ski equipment, but this year finally bought my first pair of ski boots (Rossi 110s).  I ski primarily in the Aspen/Snowmass area.  This year, I am taking a week long Breakthrough on Skis course offered in Aspen/Snowmass where hopefully I can break through from being an intermediate skier (mostly blues and an occasional groomed black) to an expert skier.

I am going to get to go skiing for a total of 4 weeks this year.  Thus, I figured that I could pick up some of the 2008-2009 model skis (and bindings) at some of the online sales for the same cost (or less) than my rental costs over four weeks.

I am 42 years old, 5' 10" tall and weigh 240 pounds.  I have usually skied on 172cm length skis in the past.  The guy who sold me the new boots told me I should be skiing on 180 or 184cm skis given my height and weight.

I was hoping some of you could make suggestions as to the appropriate ski for me.  While I am a solid intermediate now, I hope to be skiing more challenging terrain after my course and 4 weeks of practice this year.  Thus, I would rather buy skis into which I can "grow" from a skill standpoint rather than a pair that I will outgrow by the end of this season.  A close friend who is a better skier than I just picked up a pair of Volkel Gotama twin tip skis and Marker Baron bindings for a really great price and is very excited about them.  Would those work for me, or are they too advanced?  Any better suggestions?  Any thought about the length of the skis?

Thanks a lot!

post #2 of 8
The good (and the bad if you are trying to decide) news is that there are many really good skis out there right now.  The Gotama continues to be a wildy popular ski and one of the best one ski quivers for a western mountain.  I've had a pair as my daily drivers for two years and I'm going to buy another pair when I retire these.  You will get many endorsements re this ski.  The ski has been changed quite a bit for this year with a little bit more width, different lengths and most importantly, mild rocker in the tips and tails.  I prefer last year's ski as this will not function as my deep powder ski; I felt the tails washing out a little bit on steeper terrain when I skied this year's ski at the end of last year (due to the rocker).  If you are looking for new (either year), deals are on the rare side because even the remaining skis from last year (and there arn't that many), carry $500 +/- price tags due to their popularity.  I think they are very much worth the price whether you go the new ski or last year's.  Because Volkls are shorter than their stated lengths I would not recommend less than the 183 if you go last year's (I'm 6' 1", 215 lbs and will go to the 190).  An intermediate will have no trouble with this ski.  And if you do buy this ski I suggest you talk to your shop about binding mounting position as this ski has a range of positions rather than just a boot center line.  I feel the boot center line is too far back on this ski (as a daily driver) and you should be 2cm or so in front of it.  There are articles and threads on the web about binding mounting position , including a very good one right here on EpicSki.  Unless you are headed to the back country I wouldn't get the Baron; the Griffon or Jester would do nicely.  Hope that helps.
post #3 of 8
You say you've demoed a lot of skis.

Which have you liked?  Which haven't you?
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
I have only been skiing a couple of years, and am embarrassed to admit I really have not paid as much attention to what I was skiing as to the length (started in the mid-160s and more recently have been in the low 170s) other than asking for high-end carving demos.  My last ski trip to Snowmass in February, I used Volkl AC30s and they seemed to work pretty well.

I will be skiing mostly groomed slopes, and working on turn shape and quality (in Aspen/Snowmass).  I have been reading through the various threads on this site (what a resource!), and it seems like 4 good all-mountain carver candidates are Volkl Grizzlys, Blizzard Magnum 8.7s, Volkl AC50s and Volkl Mantras.  From what I have read, it seems like my weight (240) would be an asset with the very stiff AC50s and Grizzlys.  I have read that the 8.7s are easier for intermediates to drive.  Of course, I hope to become more of an expert skier after my week long intensive course and would rather select skis that I can "grow" into rather than skis I "outgrow" after a season.

If I go in a back bowl or run into deep powder, I am happy to rent fat skis.  I need this pair to help me with everyday Aspen/Snowmass packed snow, and light to moderate powder.  Thoughts, my friends?

Thank you!
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

A lot has happened since I first posted above.  Since then, I have researched skis more extensively here and in the new Skiing Magazine buyer's guide.  After doing so, I have reached the conclusion that many people on the site promote:  I need at least 2 pair of skis!

After pouring through many product reviews and reading many threads discussing the pros and cons of different skis, I had convinced myself that I should probably buy the Volkl AC50s or Blizzard Magnum 8.7s to use as a carving ski.  I know they are both mid-fats, but the reviews I have read really characterize them as wide carvers given their stiffness (especially the AC50s).  I have found some amazing deals on both skis from last season.

I was then looking for a ski I could use on beautiful powder days in the Aspen/Snowmass area.  They are expensive, but I convinced myself that the Kastle MX98s would be a great powder ski for me.  No one advertises last year's Kastles online, so I have been sending emails to people who sell them to see if I can get a significant price break on one of last year's MX98s.  In any event, I was happy that I had finally "figured it out" and now had a plan for my ski acquisition.

Then, I ran across this article on EpicSki http://www.epicski.com/wiki/powder-skis-and-skier-size that stands for the proposition that depending on a skier's weight, the width requirements for powder skis change.  The author offers up a chart that suggests I (at 5'10" and 240lbs) would need powder skis at least 117mm width to get the same "float" that say a 185 pound guy would get with mid-fats at mid-80s widths.  If that is true, I should probably be looking at the MX108 Kastles (108mm wide) rather than the MX98 (98mm wide), or even considering something like the K2 Darkside at 116mm wide!

I would love to read your opinions about using the AC50s or Blizzard 8.7s as carving skis instead of something skinnier, and also how wide you think I should go on my powder skis.


post #6 of 8
I'd be careful with the AC50s for an intermediate who liked the AC30s.  AC50s are pretty stiff, demanding skis made for experts.  They are quite a bit different than AC30s.  I'd try to demo AC50s before buying them given your situation.  I've never skied Blizzard 8.7s but I know Philpug raves about them & I believe he says they are not as demanding as other skis in that category.
post #7 of 8
Tex- Glad to see you investing time and effort into research before you buy. You're correct about going with a mid-fat for where you're going to be skiing. Western snow is soft enough that you don't need 60-something under foot to get a good edge grab. My biggest suggestion to you is to get out on a new pair of skis as soon as you can, so you can get a good feel for them. If you're going into an intensive week long clinic, you want to be comfortable on the gear you're skiing before you start it. Having taught those types of clinics before, I can tell you that they really are what they say they are, intensive. Off the bat, you're going to have instructors breaking down your skiing into minute detail, and then giving you tasks to do to improve everything. You'll spend a run doing pressure drills, another on stance, another on edging, another on hand position, another on where you're looking (i'm not kidding)... and on and on all week. With all that going on, the last thing you need is to be distracted by having to acclimate yourself to new equipment. Even if its only getting a morning in on them, it'll help you get an idea of what the skis are like with your technique now. It also gives you a better idea where the changes are coming from, the equipment or the technique. You probably won't be doing anything the same after the week you'll have, so everything will feel different.

Also, a couple pointers going into your clinic week. Like I said, you're going to be attacked from all angles about your skiing. Needless to say, all the criticism you get will be constructive, so do your best to take it as such. Also, you're going to be given tons of information in a very short amount of time. Ask your clinicians to write down the drills you are doing, so you can have them to repeat after the clinic is over. We instructors are not wild about writing things down, but as it's an intensive clinic, your clinicians will be hoping for a nice tip at the end of the week, and will definitely do it for you if you ask. Oh, and another thing... be nice to your clinicians and tip them well. We don't get paid nearly as much as you might think. Last but not least, a nickel's worth of free advice. On a number of occasions, you said you're intermediate, and want to become an expert during this clinic. Probably just lack of terminology knowledge, but you're not going to become an expert in the course of a week. You may become more of an advanced skier, but expert is beyond advanced. Gaining expert ability takes years, and literally thousands of hours and millions of turns. So don't be discouraged if after the week you're not quite ready to ski a 60 degree back bowl. Sit-crawl-walk-run-ski. It takes a while, but keep at it, because with enough work, just about anybody can get there. Good luck, and have fun!
post #8 of 8
I'd take the 8.7's over the AC50's any day...  They just ski Better.... Keep in mind the engineers that developed the 8.7 use to work for Volkl..  A guy your size will need a fairly wide powder board to hold that weight, so I would be looking at 110mm and up for your powder skis...  I personally ski the Gotamas as my powder ski's and really like them, very versatile ski..  Could float better, but nice fun ski in any condition except ice...
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