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Looking for some help to get me out of my paralysis by analysis for new skis

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone, I've read a lot of your posts before tossing my question into the fire. I hope you won't mind giving me some advice to get me out of this funk I've put myself when it comes to purchasing a new set of skis. Apologies for the length, I'm just passionate about this and after reading so many great posts from you guys I just wanted to open myself up.

I'll start with my physical stats:

Height: 5'6-7"
Weight:~195 lbs (before Turkey day I was 192, then jumped to 200 after the gorge, but I fluctuate in the 90's)
Athletic ability: I go to the gym year round and work on cross-training activities, I am pretty strong though in high school I was in the band, not playing sports :P
Abilitiy: Can do all blues but avoid any with moguls. Can handle east-coast blacks and am venturing into more blacks in the west
Problems: My knees weren't so happy with my choice to take-up skiing

The shorter version:
My current skis are 158cm Atomic e.TL (110-70-101). I've learned that this model is called easy to learn and is meant for new skiers looking to become intermediate. I ended up with them after my girlfriend determined they were too long for her and since they worked well for me I bought them at the end of the season-long rental period.

My problems with them are that they don't handle the east coast hard-pack/frozen granular/ice very well, and they sunk in the several feet of powder I got in Utah. So I think it's time to get a new pair of skis.

Where I ski:
I live in New York but alternate skiing between the East and Rockies. Got in 15 days last year, with 9 East/6 Rockies, but this year I bought the summit pass in Colorado and it'll be either 50/50 or skew towards the Rockies (1 trip down, at least 3-4 more planned between CO and Utah).

What I demoed:
I just spent the weekend at Breck and demo'd two sets of skis: the K2 Xplorer (170cm) and the Line Prophet 90 (172cm) both reccomended by my favorite shop in Washington, DC for a mix of east/west skiing. Conditions were much more remeniscent of the East (hard pack, some ice) than what I'm used to out there, but since I was demo'ing for an all-condition ski, I was actually happy to get to test that way. My first day with the Xplorer's was great, it's definitely a bigger ski than what I'm used (both in length and width), but I could carve turns on the frontside well, there was no fresh snow to try anything else out. The next day I traded for the Line, and I think my legs were just fatigued and I had a miserable start to the day (the hard conditions definitely wear you down). After a lunch break, I definitely felt fresher, and was starting to enjoy and get the hang of the ski. Some of the times if I got my position right, I could really get the ski to pop me out of a turn and that was a great feeling. I kept the lines for day three and fatigue was definitely an issue. My friend suggested that I might be putting in too much effort to turn with them, and he suggested that the deeper sidecut of the Xplorer's might be the better bet for me.

What I ski:
I have skied primarily in the frontside, but I know that I won't be there forever. My first black-diamond bowl in Big Sky was an amazing experience and I loved every second of it. The year when I hit the Montezuma bowl in A-Basin I fell twice pretty much face-planting (but it was soft, so no problem there). And though I've had semi-miserable experience with it to date, I'd love to catch-on to what everyone raves about with deeper powder (we were getting feet a day in Utah) though Utah seems to always be able to put me back in my place.

In the East I have done all but the double black run at Snowshoe. I go pretty fast and my technique is improving. I am gaining more and more confidence in frozen granular/hard pack and want to be able to rip through it, but that's making the best of a less-ideal situation. What I loved were the times with the half foot of new snow where I really got to play and I also sneaked into one of the race runs in Stowe and that was an absolutely exhilirating run. I was FLYING!

With my knee problems I am pretty terrified of moguls. Though a shop guy told me that if I was in search of fresh snow, moguls would be unavoidable. I hope that's not the case!

The conflict (i.e. why I need your help):
While I enjoyed the Xplorer's my first day, I wasn't completely in awe of it. That could have as much to do with the fact that it was my first day of the season, or that my technique is not where it needs to be to appreciate what the ski was giving me. With the Line Prophet's I may not have given them a fair shake, because my body was fatigued due to the harder snow conditions. But with all of that in mind, it's hard to part with $650 if I didn't feel I absolutely loved what I was on.

This is made more difficult when I look at some of the sites and see older models or used demos selling for 300 bucks with bindings. I was considering purchasing a 167cm Apache Recon for under 300. It gets great reviews from the skiing media and mixed but generally positive write-ups on the board. The reason I was looking at it is because its similar to the Xplorer, but is slightly more geared to the frontside, which if I'm honest with myself is primarily what I ski on (though I will be venturing to the bowls as the season progresses).

I was initially sold on Head skis because of the liquid metal/intelligence marketing speak. The idea that a ski could respond to the conditions by tightening and gripping harder in frozen snow really excited me. Unfortunately most of those models are several years old and harder to demo before buying. The shop told me they liked the old Monster stuff, but they were unimpressed with this year's stock and decided not to carry any of them.

And after submerging myself in a good number of posts on the board I also came up with the Dynastar 8000 which I can get a 165cm for under 300 as well. My only experience with Dynastar is that the guys at the shop had shown me the Dynastar Sultan, but thought that it might be too stiff for my knees and ability.

Background: I became hooked on skiing on my first trip out to Gore Mountain, NY about 6 years ago. Unfortunately it was the end of the season and I had to wait almost a whole year to go out again. The next season I went to Vail and was in total awe. Unfortunately while I couldn't contain the excitement and desire to ski as much as possible, my knees felt otherwise and I spent a good bit of the time in the medical hut, letting them recover (they would feel like water). Over the years I tried a ton of different braces, pain-relievers, and lotions to no avail.

It wasn't until I made a commitment to learning proper technique that I really started to make progress. I picked up a book by Lito Flores (based on Harald Harb's system) and immediately started to ski better, and with less pain (I had an open stance before and tried to muscle my way down, twisting, etc). I still had to take breaks from time to time on a long west-coast run or sit one out if the pain was too much, but I could still make it a full day if I used my energy right.

Then I bought the Ski Mojo (which if any of you are interested I can talk about in a separate post). And after two days warming up at Hunter/Wyndham in New York without it, I was able to ski three straight pain-free days in gorgeous Big-Sky Montana. Gone was the need to stop every hundred yards or so, except to let my girlfriend catch up :) . That was last year and I got a solid 15 days of skiing all over from West Virginia (snowshoe, timberline), New York (Hunter, Wyndham and Gore), Montana (Big Sky), Vermont (Sugar Bush, Stratton), and Utah (Solitude and Snowbird)

Throughout the season I had some tremendous highs including skiing the incredible bowl at Big Sky, and some lows like feeling like a complete beginner and completely overwhelmed at Solitude and Snowbird (we were getting several feet a day) and a completely hard pack/ice day at Snowshoe.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. You guys are amazing, and I hope as I continue to improve, I will be able to contribute to the board.

-Frank
post #2 of 10
Blizzard magnum 8.7 it solved most of my problems in and off the snow Just an all around great ski
post #3 of 10
At 195lbs you'll be happier in the long run with skis longer than 165. Maybe 172-175.
post #4 of 10

You sound like a big strong person. For and all around ski 170 or 172cm is very small for you. These are not more versatile length than something closer to 180cm which would be a better fit.

The whole point of demoing a ski is to decide f the ski works for your and your style. Based on what you wrote, I would encourage you to go with the xplorer -- probably 1 size up from the 170 length you tried.

You can also keep demoing and try other diffrent stuf fto see if those work even better. Its up to you.


Edited by tromano - 12/16/09 at 3:37pm
post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jmk15 View Post

At 195lbs you'll be happier in the long run with skis longer than 165. Maybe 172-175.
 

Frank,  first Welcome to Epic, nice to have you and your passion for skiing. To partially answer your questions/statement.

1)  Am a believer in demoing until you find the right ski for the conditions/snow etc. you are trying to match.  I agree that it can cost and be a headache but in the long run you will actually save money and get what you want.

2)  Don't believe someone/anyone can tell you "get this ski", just because it worked for him/her doesn't mean it will for you.  Also, in reality how can someone who doesn't know you and has never seen you ski recommend a ski.

3)  Demo.  Use the net and/or the phone an find some s cheduled Demo days at resorts where you will be and you can try several ski's and it will be free.

4) Find a ski area with a demo plan where you can try 3, 4 or even 5 different pairs a day. Most bigger and even mediium resorts have such a plan.   Just ask.

Also agree with above at 195 you might want a longer ski, at least 170.  The key is go try them out before you buy.  Good luck and again WELCOME.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot guys!

I wonder if my skill level still isn't high enough to be able to appreciate the difference in skis. I think more often than not, I blame myself for what the ski is or isn't doing. (and I'm probably right in pointing the finger at myself :P )

I do key into several concepts that have been shared with me, for instance I've bought into the idea that metal in a ski helps to improve edge-grip on hard snow. I've also read that vertical sidewalls improve edge-grip at the possible expense of float in powder.

With regards to length, I wasn't surprised to hear the suggestion to go longer but that is one that kind of troubles me. I ski fast, regardless of whether I want to or not. With the knee problems I have much more longevity in the day if I do wider turns than many smaller ones, and as a result I speed up very quickly. I've learned to stay in control at speed, but am hesitant to get a longer ski since I was told from the very beginning that the longer the ski, the faster you go.

I was looking at the Recon's in 167cm because I read that K2 was incorrectly specifying the size a couple of models back and that when measured they were actually 170cm. (they supposedly are labeling them correctly in the more recent models).

Physics wise, how do the weight of the skis and the length work together? Is it that too much weight on a ski causes the ski to over compress?

I'm going to look into what resorts are offering demo sessions and see if I can get myself out to a couple of events.
post #7 of 10
If you want to buy a ski that will help you with learning PMTS technique, I would encourage you to stay with a narrower waisted ski.  The best ski for learning will be something with a 12-15 meter radius and less than 70mm under foot.  170 is probably going to be the right length--particularly if leg strength is a limiter.  The longer you go, the more effort will typically be required to bend the ski (within a given model).  The Head iSuperShape is the cannonical PMTS ski, but it isn't happy with steered turns and it isn't a super forgiving ski.  The Dynastar Contact 4x4 might be a good choice; it is a fantastic ski with softer edges and more forgiveness (albeit at a slightly larger turning radius).  I've also heard good things about the Head Icon TT80.  There are certainly plenty of other choices that would get you in the ballpark.

All that said, if you want a ski that will have some versatility, you may want to go a bit wider (like ~78mm underfoot). Your shop is clueless on Heads.  Despite rumors to the contrary, the Peak 78 is the same ski as the Monster im78.  That would probably be a pretty good one ski quiver for you.  It won't give you the kind of float that you would get from a Prophet in the really deep stuff, but it will ski just fine with proper technique.  If most of your days will be back East, there is no reason to buy a wide ski.  If you want wide when you are in Utah, you can always rent if you luck into a deep day.

In any event, if you are really serious about technique, do yourself a favor and don't go wider than 78mm.  The wider you go, the harder it is to tip your ski on edge.  Not only is greater leverage required (which causes an increasing temptation to get on edge by throwing your body around instead of using your feet), but you get forced into a wider stance which also compromises your tipping ability.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankr View Post

Thanks a lot guys!

I wonder if my skill level still isn't high enough to be able to appreciate the difference in skis. I think more often than not, I blame myself for what the ski is or isn't doing. (and I'm probably right in pointing the finger at myself :P )

I do key into several concepts that have been shared with me, for instance I've bought into the idea that metal in a ski helps to improve edge-grip on hard snow. I've also read that vertical sidewalls improve edge-grip at the possible expense of float in powder.

With regards to length, I wasn't surprised to hear the suggestion to go longer but that is one that kind of troubles me. I ski fast, regardless of whether I want to or not. With the knee problems I have much more longevity in the day if I do wider turns than many smaller ones, and as a result I speed up very quickly. I've learned to stay in control at speed, but am hesitant to get a longer ski since I was told from the very beginning that the longer the ski, the faster you go.

I was looking at the Recon's in 167cm because I read that K2 was incorrectly specifying the size a couple of models back and that when measured they were actually 170cm. (they supposedly are labeling them correctly in the more recent models).

Physics wise, how do the weight of the skis and the length work together? Is it that too much weight on a ski causes the ski to over compress?

I'm going to look into what resorts are offering demo sessions and see if I can get myself out to a couple of events.

 
 Frank, if you can take a lesson and ask the instructor to teach you how to finish a turn then you will not keep accelerating.  The length of the ski has nothing to do with this it is your technique. Try finishing your turn slighly up hill and that will keep your speed under control.   try this start down the fall line on an easy blue or green and make identical medium radius turns and make your 5th turn the same speed as your lst  and 2nd turn. this is a good drill and your can do it with any type of turn and then you can use anywhere on the mountain when you want to control your speed.  The more skis you demo the better your selection will be.
post #9 of 10
post irrelevant ...
post #10 of 10
Frankr the thing that makes a ski go fast is the skier... given how you ski, fast cruising, long - shallow turns etc... If you want a ski that works for what you are doing then I will double down on my earlier mention of a longer ski with a longer radius >=20m and on the wide side 80-90 under foot. That will give you stability and safety at speed. The way you ski, a short (170) or very shapely ski (<15m radius) will not be as stable and has a higher risk of very bad falls when you catch an edge going fast which is much more likely on a short skinny shaply ski...

At the same time as geoff and others have said... If you want to work on technique and learn to ski differently with more skill and more in control and be safer for a whole lifetime of skiing enjoyment then a short narrow carver will help you develop that technique. Its worth while, IMO...
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