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newbie questions on buying skis

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi,
I'm somewhat new to the sport.  I've skied about 10 times.  Recently I've done more skiing and probalby will end up skiing more since my son really likes it.  So far I have always rented skis, but I see that can add up quickly.  So I am considering the purchase of some skis.  But I am a bit lost since I don't know much about skis.  I usually go into the shop and tell the guy my shoe size, height and weight and they hand me skis.  I saw some used skis on sale locally, on craig's list.  They caught my eye because the price seemed reasonable.  They are Atomic SL9 with Atomic bindings. that the user reports were only lightly used.  The price is $150.  

Would these skis be good for an advanced beginner hoping to be an intermediate soon?  I stick to groomed
trails and probably will stay there for the foreseeable future.

Will most bindings work with most boots?

Do bindings need to be mounted to fit the boot or are they adjustable over a range?

If fixed mounting, can they be moved to fit a different size boot?

On my rental skis the tech flipped a switch on the binding to adjust the length to fit the boot.   Is this a
standard feature of bindings or something that rental places do?

I'm an avid cyclist and I am handy with tools.  I can build up a bike from components and I usually buy used bike parts to get the most value for money spent.  I'm wondering if it is the same with skis if with a little knowledge and basic tools I assemble parts into usable skis. TIA
-------------------
Alex
post #2 of 10
I am not familiar with the Atomic SL9 Skis but after doing a Google search I am not sure the would be the best for you.  I am sure others here can answer better then I.   As far as bindings,  All current bindings will fit all current boots.  Boot soles have been standard for quite a few years.  Older bindings are a problem.  Ski shops will not work on older bindings. They have a list of bindings that the manufactures still indemnify(insure) and will not work on bindings that are not on the list. Bindings come in both standard and rental versions.  The rental versions are adjustable to a range of boot sizes.  Normal bindings have a small adjustment range so if your boots are close they could be adjusted for them.  If they are not close they will need to be re-mounted to fit your boots.  IMHO,  binding mounting & adjustment should be left to the pros.  They should have the equipment, tools and training to do the job properly.    Of course, some shops are better than others.
post #3 of 10

I concur w/brownie_bear.

adr5
, I would recommend against purchasing those skis for several reasons:

 

1)      In any vintage, the Atomic SL9 is a detuned slalom ski.  Even though it is the easier-skiing version of the SL11, it is still not for a beginner of any sort.  In addition, a slalom ski is a specialist ski that is limited in versatility relative to the great generalist skis that are available today that are much more appropriate for your first pair of skis.
 

2)      The type and model of ski is actually secondary to a specification that you did not know to provide: ski length.  There are many discussion threads on this board on the issue of ski length for a given a) skier weight, b) skier height, c) skier skill level, d) intended usage, and e) regional snow variation.  Suffice it to say it’s not a simple issue, esp. when we’re talking about a skier who is advancing through skill levels, as you are.  This is one reason why most people recommend to hold off buying skis until you’re at least a solid Intermediate.  By that time you should have a good idea of how different ski lengths affect your skiing, and what your personal preferences are.
 

3)      Just about all alpine bindings will work with all alpine boots.
 

4)      Non-system bindings (“Fixed mounting”) can often be re-drilled to work with a different boot.  There are some limits, though, as the newly-drilled bindings holes need to be a certain distance apart from existing holes.  There is also some complexity in where to center the boot (fore-aft), but that’s not a necessary discussion right now.
 

5)      System bindings can be adjusted for different boot sizes, but it is usually a tiny bit more involved than the single-button/level adjustment that you saw with your rental bindings, which are known as “demo/rental bindings”.  However, it is still easy.
 

6)      Skis are not hard to service by anybody with some mechanical aptitude, but certain operations are not worth the normal user’s time or tools involved to do it, much like installing a bike headset (which would require a reamer/facer, and press... you get the idea).  Some operations are financially risky if you screw up (i.e. drilling/mounting non-system bindings).  It is not worth it to pursue putting together your own skis if you’re a beginner.  With enough experience owning modern skis and having seen exactly what shops do for you, more-seasoned skiers can pursue being self-sufficient.


My best advice would be to continue renting skis until you are a solid Intermediate.  Meanwhile, pay attention to the length of the ski, perhaps even varying it up to (try different lengths) to figure out how they feel differently to you.  It would even be advantageous to "demo" skis, that is, to rent higher-end skis (i.e. not ones from the general rental fleet) to feel out the different types of skis.  Trust me, they can feel very different.

What you SHOULD spend your money on is to visit a well-regarded professional bootfitter (not just somebody who tells you he's a bootfitter, but rather somebody recommended by "Ask The Boot Guys" forum.  Trust me, I've made that mistake.)  Many beginners fail to see that the single most important piece of ski equipment is the link between you and the skis: the boots. Many beginners also make the mistake to think that the expensive services of a real bootfitter is a luxury that rich (and stupid) skiers use, but that they can do without, as they've been adept at sizing shoes, perhaps even with some inkling of foot biomechanics.  This is a complete underestimation of the both the complexities of a ski boot and the almost night-and-day difference a well-fit boot can make to your skiing.

(Athletic) people have gone from Beginners to Advanced skiers in only a few days with the right-fit boots.

You may not save that much money with having your own properly-fit boots, but you will 1) be that much more comfortable, 2) progress much quicker in your improvement, and 3) not have to be grossed-out by rental boots.
Edited by DtEW - 1/6/10 at 3:28pm
post #4 of 10
DtEW is wise. Heed his advice!

Also, before shopping for a boot fitter, do some research and find out how boots are SUPPOSED to fit. "Comfy" in the store is rarely a good thing as that almost always means they're 1, 2, and sometimes even 3 sizes too big. Rental boots are not a good thing to compare them too, either.
post #5 of 10
Nono, SierraJim/dawgcatching/et al are the wise owls of gear.  I'm just a parrot and a magpie. 
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you both for your answers, they are very helpful.  I will be passing on the skis I saw on CL.  I'm 5'7" and weigh 175. The two most recent times I went skiing I rented skis in a 160cm length, not my choice but what the rental places gave me.   My most recent ski trips have been to Utah,SLC area. My next ski trip will be to Utah again or Colorado.  If I really catch the ski bug I might ski closer to home, which means upstate NY or the Poconos.   What should I notice by going up, or down, in ski length?   Right now when I ski I can only ski every other day because after a few hours of skiing my thighs are hurting so much I have to stop very often.  Would ski length help, or hurt, in that respect?  Before my next trip I plan on doing some exercises to improve leg strength.  I hope that will allow me to ski longer with less pain.

If I were to go with demo skis, what would I look for?  How do I know what the different skis can do for me?  What is the difference between a slalom ski and a generalist ski?  

Thanks for the tip on boots.  I will be heading over to the boot forum to get advice on boots.

------------------------
Alex
 

post #7 of 10
If you rent demo skis from a shop that is near the lift you can change to different skis for free if you are not happy with the one's you have rented.  Take the advice from the rental shop for sizing and type.  This appears to cost more in the long run, BUT, that way you will not buy a ski you don't like and you will not pay the expensive baggage fees that most airlines charge.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmpotash View Post

 This appears to cost more in the long run, BUT, that way you will not buy a ski you don't like and you will not pay the expensive baggage fees that most airlines charge.

This. Good sound advice so far. Boots - done right - first money you should spend. Once you have that then go demo a ton of skis. Ski designs these days are going every which way - so there is a lot of choose from. I'd stick in the 160's... might look upper end. However, if you are set up on a demo package then by all means, take out a longer set... 170's or even 180's just for a few turns to see the difference. Couple of things:

1. Shorter is generally easier to turn. So if your thighs are bugging you then ya, you want to stay shorter.
2. Longer is generally harder to turn (more effort), faster and more stable.

Like I said earlier about ski design - these are big time generalizations. I have some Armada JJ 185's that turn on a dime because of their design.

As for exercises and such - ya, sure, get a leg workout for sure but more importantly work on your core. That's really what gets ya in the end. Due to your experience level you are probably using your legs too much/inefficiently. This might not make sense but the more familiar you get with your equipment and skiing the less work you will ask your legs to do.  For instance, you get a boot that fits that you can buckle tightly comfortably and you'll start to transfer some of the work to the boot itself - taking it off of your legs.

Hope that helps.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mmpotash View Post

If you rent demo skis from a shop that is near the lift you can change to different skis for free if you are not happy with the one's you have rented.  Take the advice from the rental shop for sizing and type.  This appears to cost more in the long run, BUT, that way you will not buy a ski you don't like and you will not pay the expensive baggage fees that most airlines charge.

Airline fee is not an issue as I have been flying Delta and skis count as a regular checked bag, so the fee is not outrageous as it is for something like a bicycle.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Que View Post

Hope that helps.
 

Yes, it helps alot.  Thanks to you, and all the others who have posted.  I will be reading as much as I can before I make a purchase.  If anyone needs road bike advice, let me know. :)
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