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Need advice on carving skis

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi All,
I had a bad car accident last winter and missed the entire ski season. I want to make up for it this year, but I do have a few things going on that may interfere. I partially tore my ACL in the right knee, and also broke my neck in that accident, so this year I was thinking I'd slow myself down from my normal "fast as I can go" carving style by getting a true carving ski and making shorter turns. I could use advice on what the best of the carver skis are from 07 to 09. I'm a level 8 skier, perhaps a bit more than that on groomed runs, 190 lb. Thanks in advance for your help.
Cheers,
Bob
post #2 of 11
Head iSupershape @ 170 or 175.
post #3 of 11
If I can make a suggestion, following the fragile state of your knee joint , i will advise you against deep sidecut ski. The narrow under the foot  platform (60 -75 mm) of the carving ski tents to engage in the turn  fast  and aggressive with a bite which spreads fast though the tip and mainly the tail. If you are not prepared and on the right position and centered above the ski you can tore your fragile knee very fast.  However if the ski underfoot platform is slightly wider 80-90 mm. maximum length of 175,the initial edge engagement is much more forgiving and controllable. The wider platform will give you much more forgiveness in the edge engagement and in the the same time you can tip the ski and carve with more comfort and ease. The wider ski platform make bigger turn radius but you can compensate by appalling more  aggressive pressure if you feel ready for it, There for you will be able to build back your confidence without the risk of re-injuring your fragile ligaments.
The wider ski will also be more stable for cruising and you will have a wither platform if by chance you want to venture in some crud and powder. Think Snow!
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspencarve View Post

If I can make a suggestion, following the fragile state of your knee joint , i will advise you against deep sidecut ski. The narrow under the foot  platform (60 -75 mm) of the carving ski tents to engage in the turn  fast  and aggressive with a bite which spreads fast though the tip and mainly the tail. If you are not prepared and on the right position and centered above the ski you can tore your fragile knee very fast.  However if the ski underfoot platform is slightly wider 80-90 mm. maximum length of 175,the initial edge engagement is much more forgiving and controllable. The wider platform will give you much more forgiveness in the edge engagement and in the the same time you can tip the ski and carve with more comfort and ease. The wider ski platform make bigger turn radius but you can compensate by appalling more  aggressive pressure if you feel ready for it, There for you will be able to build back your confidence without the risk of re-injuring your fragile ligaments.
The wider ski will also be more stable for cruising and you will have a wither platform if by chance you want to venture in some crud and powder. Think Snow!
 

Are you a skier or what?  If you understand how to turn a shaped ski properly, you can safely ignore the above.  If you don't understand how to turn a shaped ski properly, sooner or later you will torch your ACL trying to steer anyway, so you might as well stick with what you want. 

The Supershape is reputed to be a great ski (I have a pair in my garage, waxed and waiting for the Basin to open so I can try them), but my understanding is that ski is not super forgiving.  If your technique is always on, that won't be an issue.  Otherwise, you might want to leave yourself (and your suspect knee) some margin for error.  The other thing about the Supershape is that it reputedly doesn't like to give up an edge.  Again, it boils down to strength of technique (and intended use), but if your technique isn't sufficient to easily allow brushed carves with that ski, it may be too one-dimensional for you.

What I'd suggest is investing $20 in Peter Keelty's www.realskiers.com site.  All of the reviews you need (going all the way back to 1999) are there and that should give you enough information to narrow down your choices.  Instead of asking here for recommendations, you can ask for feedback on skis you think you could be interested in.  Regardless, you'll definitely want to demo if you can.

If you find a 12-13 meter side cut is too much for you, you might also consider staying narrow but going to something in the 15-17 meter range.  Those skis will have less bite when you put them on edge, but they are still very turnable.  Dynastar Contact 4x4 might be a good choice in that range. 

Also, consider the tune.  You can slow down the engagement by increasing the base bevel.  Opt for a 1 degree base bevel for a more progressive engagement. 

The problem with going wider is that it is work to get them on edge.  88 doesn't seem bad when you ski them (with good knees), but when you step down to a narrow waisted ski, the difference is night and day.  If you do decide to think about going wider, be sure to demo wide skis for an *entire* day.  My guess is your knee won't tolerate the added load you are going to be subjecting it to trying to lever the ski on edge.
Edited by geoffda - 10/6/09 at 10:53am
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Are you a skier or what?  If you understand how to turn a shaped ski properly, you can safely ignore the above.  If you don't understand how to turn a shaped ski properly, sooner or later you will torch your ACL trying to steer anyway, so you might as well stick with what you want.


Geoffda--AspenCarve is not just a skier, but a former racer of some repute (that is an understatement). He was also a pioneer in the development of modern carving skis, having invented and marketed the original "S" ski--the first shaped ski I ever skied on, even before the Elan SCX. His advice is worth listening to!

And he is correct that narrow, high-performance skis with very deep sidecut can kick back like a chain saw, wrecking havoc to knees and more, especially in some conditions, if not skied with "respect." It is especially true of stiffer and shorter skis--modern race slalom skis in particular--and especially in soft and/or inconsistent snow conditions. I know of at least four good friends, top-notch, world class skiers all, who have had their legs shattered by such skis. I've come close enough to a similar catastrophe myself.

The problem is that these deep-sidecut skis are so reactive, and so sensitive to changes of pressure and edge angle, that they can snap back at you in an almost explosive, cascading chain reaction when things go even just a little wrong. The common scenario is to have them tipped up at a high angle, carving a great turn, and then to either get just a bit too far forward on them, or to have them sink into the snow, hit a patch of "slower" snow, or otherwise slow down a little--which throws your weight forward on them. Then that big tip hooks up aggressively, causing the turn radius to tighten dramatically, throwing you even more forward, and so on. At best, a spectacular "high-side" crash ensues. At worst, your leg breaks right at the boot top--which, again, I've seen too many times.

The irony is that these accidents only happen to very skilled skiers capable of creating high edge angles and high-G carved turns. And they tend to happen on easy runs. They are unlikely to happen to skiers who twist and skid, and keep their skis at low angles. The worst case I've witnessed was on a green run with perfect conditions--freshly groomed packed powder from a blizzard the day before, under a bluebird sky. Slalom race skis are made for ice. In the packed-but-soft conditions here, the ski suddenly broke through and sank deeper into the corduroy, slowing down and bending deeper, setting off the chain reaction I've described. Result: compound spiral boot-top tib-fib fracture. 

Again, this is a syndrome that is not, unfortunately, uncommon. Contributing factors include short, high-performance modern slalom skis, and variable or unpredictable conditions. Imperfect technique makes it worse--especially the tendency to lever forward against the boot tongues, combined with upper body rotation into the turn (a very common error).

---

That said, most people here know that slalom skis are among my favorite things in the world! I ski them in a wide range of conditions. But I treat them with a great deal of respect in certain snow conditions. They are meant for ice, and they work best--and most predictably and safely--there. Beware.

Be forewarned!

Best regards,
Bob
post #6 of 11
Based on my previous post, theBobski, my ski recommendation for you would be a ski somewhat softer, slightly longer, and perhaps a little wider, than a real slalom ski. I'm affiliated with Hart skis--which I cannot recommend highly enough--and in their line, I would consider the Phoenix or the Pulse. Both are extremely high-performance, hand-built laminated construction, with sidecut meant to carve. The Phoenix is narrower, like a slalom ski but not as stiff. Try it in 173cm. The Pulse is a little wider, at 77mm underfoot--better in softer conditions, somewhat more forgiving (as AspenCarve suggested), and probably a better all-around ski for you. I'd recommend 170cm for the Pulse, although you could also ski it in 180cm if you didn't want quite so turny a ski.

Best bet yet: take a lesson and seek the opinion of a qualified instructor!

Best regards,
Bob
post #7 of 11
If your knee sustained any meniscus damage, the advice to use a wide ski is to be avoided due to the increased loading on the medial compartment when you put the ski on edge.  Since the ski is wider, the edge is a whole lot further from underfoot.  This leverage increases the forces on the medial comparment (inside of the joint) when you try to edge the outside ski.

The load increase is significant.

To my view, bad knees -> skinny skis.
post #8 of 11
Oct 6, 2009


Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspencarve View Post

If I can make a suggestion, following the fragile state of your knee joint , i will advise you against deep sidecut ski. The narrow under the foot  platform (60 -75 mm) of the carving ski tents to engage in the turn  fast  and aggressive with a bite which spreads fast though the tip and mainly the tail. If you are not prepared and on the right position and centered above the ski you can tore your fragile knee very fast.  However if the ski underfoot platform is slightly wider 80-90 mm. maximum length of 175,the initial edge engagement is much more forgiving and controllable.

Aspencarve:

Was advised of this fact by my "go to" equipment guy, Brian Eardley of Ski Center, Washington DC, a few years back, when I asked him to mount a narrow waisted 150cm Fisher WC SC ski.  He advised against it, saying that the radical side-cut (10 meter radius) might tear up my knees.  I didn't know that even up to a waist width of 75, a radical carving ski would still exhibit this tendency.  Thanks for this useful information.  I do remember the "S", Elan SCX and the Kniessl Ergo, some of the earlier shaped skis on the market in the early 90s.  Thanks for coming up with your revolutionary ski.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

Geoffda--AspenCarve is not just a skier, but a former racer of some repute (that is an understatement). He was also a pioneer in the development of modern carving skis, having invented and marketed the original "S" ski--the first shaped ski I ever skied on, even before the Elan SCX. His advice is worth listening to!

And he is correct that narrow, high-performance skis with very deep sidecut can kick back like a chain saw, wrecking havoc to knees and more, especially in some conditions, if not skied with "respect." It is especially true of stiffer and shorter skis--modern race slalom skis in particular--and especially in soft and/or inconsistent snow conditions. I know of at least four good friends, top-notch, world class skiers all, who have had their legs shattered by such skis. I've come close enough to a similar catastrophe myself.

The problem is that these deep-sidecut skis are so reactive, and so sensitive to changes of pressure and edge angle, that they can snap back at you in an almost explosive, cascading chain reaction when things go even just a little wrong. The common scenario is to have them tipped up at a high angle, carving a great turn, and then to either get just a bit too far forward on them, or to have them sink into the snow, hit a patch of "slower" snow, or otherwise slow down a little--which throws your weight forward on them. Then that big tip hooks up aggressively, causing the turn radius to tighten dramatically, throwing you even more forward, and so on. At best, a spectacular "high-side" crash ensues. At worst, your leg breaks right at the boot top--which, again, I've seen too many times.

The irony is that these accidents only happen to very skilled skiers capable of creating high edge angles and high-G carved turns. And they tend to happen on easy runs. The worst case I've witnessed was on a green run with perfect conditions--freshly groomed packed powder from a blizzard the day before, under a bluebird sky. Slalom race skis are made for ice. In the packed-but-soft conditions here, the ski suddenly broke through and sank deeper into the corduroy, slowing down and bending deeper, setting off the chain reaction I've described. Result: compound spiral boot-top tib-fib fracture. 

Again, this is a syndrome that is not, unfortunately, uncommon. Contributing factors include short, high-performance modern slalom skis, and variable or unpredictable conditions. Imperfect technique makes it worse--especially the tendency to lever forward against the boot tongues, combined with upper body rotation into the turn (a very common error).

---

That said, most people here know that slalom skis are among my favorite things in the world! I ski them in a wide range of conditions. But I treat them with a great deal of respect in certain snow conditions. They are meant for ice, and they work best--and most predictably and safely--there. Beware.

Be forewarned!

Best regards,
Bob

Bob:

Thanks for your detailed description of the causes of this problem.  I knew the consequences but  not the whys.  Thank goodness that recreational/performance skis have tended towards wider waists (probably an under-statement).  However, if I remember correctly, I read that last year you were surfing on 8 inches of powder on your slalom skis at Stowe.  Not to get off topic, but, any word to the "un-wise" about "rocker" skis?  I understand that this design will be the next big revolution in skis, even for east coast skiing.


Think snow,

CP
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post




Geoffda--AspenCarve is not just a skier, but a former racer of some repute (that is an understatement). He was also a pioneer in the development of modern carving skis, having invented and marketed the original "S" ski--the first shaped ski I ever skied on, even before the Elan SCX. His advice is worth listening to!

And he is correct that narrow, high-performance skis with very deep sidecut can kick back like a chain saw, wrecking havoc to knees and more, especially in some conditions, if not skied with "respect." It is especially true of stiffer and shorter skis--modern race slalom skis in particular--and especially in soft and/or inconsistent snow conditions. I know of at least four good friends, top-notch, world class skiers all, who have had their legs shattered by such skis. I've come close enough to a similar catastrophe myself.

The problem is that these deep-sidecut skis are so reactive, and so sensitive to changes of pressure and edge angle, that they can snap back at you in an almost explosive, cascading chain reaction when things go even just a little wrong. The common scenario is to have them tipped up at a high angle, carving a great turn, and then to either get just a bit too far forward on them, or to have them sink into the snow, hit a patch of "slower" snow, or otherwise slow down a little--which throws your weight forward on them. Then that big tip hooks up aggressively, causing the turn radius to tighten dramatically, throwing you even more forward, and so on. At best, a spectacular "high-side" crash ensues. At worst, your leg breaks right at the boot top--which, again, I've seen too many times.

The irony is that these accidents only happen to very skilled skiers capable of creating high edge angles and high-G carved turns. And they tend to happen on easy runs. They are unlikely to happen to skiers who twist and skid, and keep their skis at low angles. The worst case I've witnessed was on a green run with perfect conditions--freshly groomed packed powder from a blizzard the day before, under a bluebird sky. Slalom race skis are made for ice. In the packed-but-soft conditions here, the ski suddenly broke through and sank deeper into the corduroy, slowing down and bending deeper, setting off the chain reaction I've described. Result: compound spiral boot-top tib-fib fracture. 

Again, this is a syndrome that is not, unfortunately, uncommon. Contributing factors include short, high-performance modern slalom skis, and variable or unpredictable conditions. Imperfect technique makes it worse--especially the tendency to lever forward against the boot tongues, combined with upper body rotation into the turn (a very common error).

---

That said, most people here know that slalom skis are among my favorite things in the world! I ski them in a wide range of conditions. But I treat them with a great deal of respect in certain snow conditions. They are meant for ice, and they work best--and most predictably and safely--there. Beware.

Be forewarned!

Best regards,
Bob
 


Hey Bob,

I think the question is what is going to be the best ski for a weak knee.  You'll get no disagreement wrt to the point that you make, but that is why I asked thebobski (somewhat tounge in cheek) if he was a skier.  Narrower is going to be better--as long as you don't twist and you dial it back a notch so you don't do what you are describing above.  And a front side carver (as opposed to a full on SL ski) should at least mitigate the risk of the scenario somewhat.

Wider is going to put more stress on the knee and its going to encourage twisting when you lever it on edge.  Which is why perhaps a 15-17m turn radius on a still fairly narrow ski might be the best compromise of all if the risk of the dreaded slalom blowup is deemed to great for the OP.
post #10 of 11
Good carving skis that I have been on include the Fischer WC SC and the Head SuperShape.  $20 spent on a realskiers subscription is well worth it to research a few more skis.

If you get carving skis and use them properly to carve SL turns at SL speeds you will be fine.  If, like most good skiers, you are not content to stay within slalom speeds just because you have SL skis on your feet, you run a big risk.  So long as you are arcing the ski at a radius less than it's sidecut, everything is fine, but if you ramp up the speed to GS or SG teritory, you will be making GS or SG turns, the ski won't be arcing, it will be drifting.  It is while drifting a longer-than-its-sidecut-radius turn, that the ski can suddenly succeed at doing what it was designed to do and go into a tight turn, but only if conditions are right.   It's easy to dismiss the problem Bob speaks of, based on personal and anecdotal information, but don't dismiss it.  I too, was perfectly happy screaming down runs at a mile a minute on 13-m skis, until I finally found the conditions needed to trigger an unpleasant event. It's not likely to happen on icy hills or very hard snow, nor very soft yielding powder, but it can happen in conditions that are in between. 

The trouble with the carving skis is the turn radius, and to a lesser extent the short length; it's not the width. 

My advice is to get yourself something with a slightly longer radius like an Fisher WC RC or Head SS speed in a little longer length.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Aspencarve, Bob, and all,
Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge and your thoughtful replies. I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I've been gone and just got home today. I should have added a few more facts to my first post.
I'm 63. I've taught skiing for 8 years (Alpine level 2 cert. and Nordic downhill level 3 cert) and feel that (2 seasons ago) my carving technique was quite good. I was skiing on Volkl AC3's in a 177 and Volkl Mantra's in a 184.
The AC3's meet the requirements Bob and aspencarve suggested, I think, but I tend to fly on those puppies (clocked at over 60mph most runs when conditions permit) and I'm pretty sure that isn't a good idea until my knee has had time to heal more. Surgery repaired the 2 meniscus tears this August, but they couldn't do anything about the ACL partial tear. That was the reason I thought maybe a true carving ski would be the answer.
You've all given me food for thought and good suggestions. I'll wait till the season begins and demo before I buy anything, and use the AC3's with some caution for a change. Thanks again for the insights and help.
Sincerely,
Bob
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