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Breaking SL ski tips - A technique issue?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello EpicSki community!  I've been lurking here for a while, but just registered to ask a question.

I have a tendency when skiing SL gates to break my tips.  I usually break at least one tip every one or two weeks.  It's ridiculous to constantly replace my tips, so my local ski shop stopped giving me new tips.  However, I'm now back to skiing with tips after both of my skis topsheets delaminated spectacularly last week (My skis are now held together with epoxy, I'll be sending them in to hopefully get them replaced at the end of this season). 

I've only skied two days on them so far with the new tips, and I haven't broken them yet.  There are already marks from gates on the tops of my tips, though.  This got me thinking: a) My tips will probably be breaking fairly soon, and b) does the fact that I often hammer my tips with gates indicate some kind of issue with my technique or line?  Mostly, it seems odd that I am the only person on my ski team who burns through tips.  Am I doing something wrong?  They usually seem to break from the top, not from me running into gates. 

About my skiing: I'm 16 (almost 17), 150lbs, 6'0", and I ski fairly hard.  I'm not in FIS (I don't have the time or money, sadly), but I do ski hard. 

Thanks in advance for any guidance. 
post #2 of 12
There are some really nice recreational SL race skis out there that aren't quite sturdy enough to hold up to serious gate-bashing.  They're great for skiing a classic line, but when you get to the point of shinning & cross-blocking most gates (which will also mean occasionally putting a tip right into a gate), you could see tip damage starting to occur more easily than with a full FIS ski.
post #3 of 12
in re. mogulmuncher: There are plenty of full-on race skis that are prone to breaking. Actually, because the goal of a pure race ski is speed at the expense of anything else - including durability - sometimes the race skis are are going to be substantially less durable than their beer-league counterparts. I had one season where I shattered a pair of slalom skis on my first training run of the year, and then shattered 6 more in the next couple months before the company managed to get out the next year's (slightly tougher) version in the middle of the season.

You can do what we did, not wanting to have to call the rep on a weekly basis, and just add strips of foam to the topsheet leading up to the tips. One guy from a different school even machined some metal armor for his tips, but I certainly wouldn't recommend that because it must affect how the ski turns. As for the actual tips themselves, they are detachable for a reason - you might wanna try calling the local race rep and asking for some spares.

In terms of your line - it can certainly have an effect on how much the gates hit your skis. Generally, if you are blasting your tips, it means you are skiing straight and late,  but tips are always going to get hit to some degree regardless of your tactics (unless your tactics involve slowing down to the point where the gates don't hit the ground, or avoiding the gates entirely - neither of which are particularly fast). As such, some coaches may tell you to adjust your line because you are breaking your tips. This, however, is kinda backwards - adjust your line to go faster, wherever that takes you. Slalom is rough on skis, and basing tactics on saving your topsheets and tips is not going to help.

SO, it may feel ridiculous to replace your tips every couple weeks, but that really is all you can do, besides adding a little padding to the topsheets.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
@mogulmuncher: I ski on Head SL skis.  They're the highest level of SL ski that you can buy without having special connections.  :P

@ausgeschieden: I think I do ski a somewhat straight and late line.  I've been working on giving my skis more room to work for a little while now, and I'm starting to get better.  It's reassuring to hear that tips do have a tendency to get hit, so I'm not doing anything terribly, terribly wrong.  That idea of adding some strips of foam sounds like a great idea if my problems persist, thanks!
post #5 of 12
Make sure when you cross block you don't reach with your inside hand for the gate, because if your doing that (not only is it going to kill your angles) it might force the gate down at a weird angle
post #6 of 12

Agree with ausgescieden, in terms of many top end SL skis being in the "fragile" side. Seems to happen with different skis in different years. I also see more break, splinter, and delaminate in the real cold. Can't comment on whether this in indicative of something going with your skiing, or not. I do know that I've seen pretty good SL skiers who went through a period where they literally tried to boot-top every gate. Leads to not super fast results, and probably more ski damage. I'd work on the right tactics though, and not be skiing a race to prevent ski damage. You might find that in many situations, a bit more room will help. I also have no idea of where you making a turn pressuring the ski, releasing in the fall line, etc. So, maybe some video and some more time talking to your coach{es} can help there.

I know some guys who just destroy SL skis, and others that have zero issues, skiing very similarly with the same equipment, as well. So some of it can be bad luck.


My son destroys tip protectors at a pretty good rate, and always tries to have a handful on hand. Skiing the skis with no tip protectors is asking for problems, as a firm direct hit can delaminate the tip area. So try to get some more protectors. I'm not sure what your support is, or if you even know a regional race rep. If you don't, I'd contact Head USA and see if you can get some help. Or, go right to where you bought them.

Here's one extra step that helps with some skis, and doesn't appear to affect their skiing. Get a tube of clear silicone, and put a bead of silicone on the leading edge of the tip, essentially inside the tip protector. Depending on the design, it can add a little bit of shock resistance to the tip protector, and prolong their life.


post #7 of 12
What they said.  The silicone thing works, you can also go to a hardware store and get 1/4 inch rubber gasket material and glue it on.  Or, you can go set a pair of SL strips for $15 from Reliable Racing, which is what I do, because now all I have to do is stick 'em on my skis, and $15 is a lot cheaper than new SL skis every week...

post #8 of 12

You might try our new HDS that totally protect your skis and adds stability and edge hold as well.  www.floskis.com

post #9 of 12

After a lot of use slalom skis can take a beating, but regularly breaking tips is symptomatic of poor line and tactics. If you are arcing back toward the inside of the corridor at the point of contact, the slalom pole will usually fall on the snow parallel to the skis. If you are initiating too soon such that you are pinching the line off and/or skiing too straight at the gate with most of the turn under the gate, if you are boot topping, if the skis are more in the fall line at the point of contact, an outside clear will cause the gate to fall across the inside ski. A highly-flexed pressured ski reacts badly to a gate slapping down at well over 100 miles an hour on its raised edge. If you want to reduce your equipment costs and ski slalom faster, work on having more height above the gate when you initiate so you can pressure through the fall line and have the skis directed toward the inside of the course at the point of gate contact with the ski pole/shins.

Here are two super slow-mo examples of slalom skiing. Anja Paerson skiing correctly with no gate slap, and a NorAm level athlete hammering his skis from line pinching:






PS. Back in the day when slalom skiers were figuring out how to clear the new flex gates, everyone broke skis. Better construction and tactics resolved that problem, but in the interim, racers were glueing thick rubber strips on the topsheets along the edges. If all else fails, check out Ace Hardware.

post #10 of 12


By definition, a cross block is an outside clear, not an inside arm clear. An inside clear done properly will not necessarily do any of the things you claim.

post #11 of 12

What ski are we talking about?  The team I coach and tune for has been using Volkl's for a while now and the only broken tip I have seen is from a crash.  I often have a ski or two that de-laminates from getting slapped by the gates. 


Direct line is obviously the fastest as long as you can ski around the gates and not run them over with your skis...  If you are running anything but a race stock ski, I am afraid that you will never be happy with what you have. 

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

The season that I posted this I was racing on Head skis, from the season before they brought in the current metal tip protectors. This season I'm racing on Rossis, and have so far had pretty good luck with them.  My current coach has been focusing on getting me to widen up my line, skiing a less direct line with more room to move and actually use my skis.  I'm definitely still working on ingraining this new line into a habit, but things are going better now.  I'm skiing faster when I can do it and have had far, far fewer tip issues.  The skis definitely still take a bit of a beating, especially when I go back to old habits or otherwise screw up, but they're holding in better.  I'm not entirely sure why my old coach never pointed out my line issues, but I definitely had some. 


georget, thank you for posting those videos.  That's some great slow motion skiing from Anja.  I couldn't watch the second one though, Silverlight crashes whenever I try to play it. 

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