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Problems w? Skiing - New Skis or The Conditions?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I took a day trip to Camelback Mt. in the Poconos in PA yesterday and had a very bad skiing experience and am wondering how much it had to do with new skis or the conditions.  Here are the facts:

This is my first season but I am athletic and have been fortunate enough to ski a lot this year and have progressed pretty fast.  I woulld say that I'm an advanced intermediate.

I was skiing the Volkl AC3Motion (170 cm) skis and got pretty good at a variety of turn shapes, skiing down blacks in a controlled manner.
I bought the Elan Magfire 78ti (176 cm - I'm 6'2", 185 lbs) from dawgcatching (great deal, thanks dawg!) a couple of weeks ago but due to the lousy weather in the Northeast, I haven't had a chance to take 'em for a spin.

The weather in the Northeast over the past week has been very warm, mid-60's, close to 70 and sunny.  Prior to that we had monsoon type rains for a couple of days.

So yesterday I finally get the chance to go to the mountain and try out the new Elans.  The weather was sunny, with a high near 70.  The snow was wet, slushy, bumpy, cruddy, and generally crappy.

Started out on a green and had to pole and skate most of the time because my skis were sinking in the snow in any type of flat area.  Moved up to some blues and started carving and I was doing okay but I found it hard to find my sense of balance.  I felt that I could not keep my weight forward, kept falling back on my heels or when I was forward I was too far forward.  The guy I went with who snowboards said I looked like I was too crouched down and working too hard.

Every once in a while, I would catch a bad edge but was able to correct myself without falling.  I gave myself some leeway since the skis are wider underfoot than I'm used to.

The real problems came at the steeper blues and blacks.  I was not able to link turns very well at all.  Had to skid a lot (which is a lot harder to do on these skis than my Volkls) and the skis felt like rockets.  I picked up so much speed so fast and felt like I did when I first started going down blacks.  I was leaning back into the hill and doing everything that you're not supposed to do.  Fortunately, the mountain was not crowded so when I got a little out of control (picking up too much speed), there wasn't a danger of having other skiers too close, or I would have stuck to blues.

The conditions were such that my skis were getting tossed around all the time (very turbulent and not stable) and I had to spend most of my energy fighting to not have the skis re-vector too suddenly.  On the steeper terrain, I would look ahead to try and find good areas to turn but all I would see were bumpy, cruddy areas instead of packed powder.  There were even a few instances where it was really slushy that my skis were sucked into the slush and I had to fight not to be tossed forward over the tips. It was not fun.

I was skiing a few weeks ago in spring like conditions with my old skis and the only problem I had was a bumpy ride but I was stll able to link turns on pretty much any trail.  I do suspect however, that the conditions were a bit better a few weeks ago as compared to now.

So, I came away confused if it was me or the conditions as the main culprit.  Perhaps, the Elans are too advanced for me?  Perhaps, I just need to get used to the skis and find the sweet spot?  Perhaps, the conditions were too poor?  Or perhaps it's a combination of everything?

Two other variables I should mention.  I asked dawg to mount the bindings 1 cm forward.  Also, I've always had some problems with my right foot/ski pointing slightly inwards, so the shop wehere I bought my boots put in two wedges to help my foot to point outwards (supinate?).  This is the first time I was skiing with the wedges in my boot.

I would appreciate to hear the thoughts/assesments of folks who are much more experienced that I am.

In hindsight, I don't even think I would have enjoyed skking those conditions with my old skis.

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 16
Ah yes, those spring conditions do show you some issues - center and balance - and forces you to carve to enjoy those conditions.
It's possible that the elans have a more aggressive tune, But I would check where your center of mass is(between the skis) and your balance is (fore to aft on the skis), Once properly centered and balanced allow the skis to carve their natural radius turn without forcing them to skid.
post #3 of 16
Spring conditions can be tough if you dont have the experience.  It can be a joy once you get the hang of it though.  That said, those skis you were on are no picnic.  They are not really for the conditions as you describe them; they are happier on groomed hardpack for the most part.  Of course as you become a better skiier that limitation will diminish, but for the way you describe your ability it could be that they were just too much for you on THAT day in THOSE conditions. 

It also doesnt help that you were attempting to learn a new (and rather serious) ski in less than ideal conditions.

In short, it was probably a 50/50 combination of lack of experience with spring conditions and attempting to use a new ski that really wasnt made for those conditions, with changes to boots you were not used to.  Its hard to change that much and still ski well the first time.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies so far.  The answer usually lies somewhere in the middle so I'm sure it's a combo of a lot of factors.

Steve2ski, I believe the Elans are tuned to 1 and 2 which is what I had on my Volkls.  When you say check center of mass and balance, are you suggesting I make technical adjustments or just ski on them a little more so I can learn where the balance points are.  Thanks.
post #5 of 16

I'll chime in after the weekend---I will have similar conditions to play in!



post #6 of 16

What they said.

You've got a new ski, with a longer length, wider underfoot, a different geometry, and somewhat less forgiving than what you're used to. That takes some time to adjust to, and not just a single day.

Then you hit some new snow conditions.  A change of  conditions can make a world of difference in a run - particularly over the course of a day in the springtime.  It can go from jaw-chattering ice to lightning-fast corn to mashed potatoes, to wet concrete all on the same slope, in a few hours.  Again, that takes some time to adjust to, and not just a single season of skiing. 

post #7 of 16
Originally Posted by hespeler View Post

Thanks for the replies so far.  The answer usually lies somewhere in the middle so I'm sure it's a combo of a lot of factors.

Steve2ski, I believe the Elans are tuned to 1 and 2 which is what I had on my Volkls.  When you say check center of mass and balance, are you suggesting I make technical adjustments or just ski on them a little more so I can learn where the balance points are.  Thanks.

Ski them more, Center I refer to is weight on each ski, Balance I refer to is weight in location of tip to tail of ski. 
By more aggressive tune I refer to edge is sharper toward the tip (making them grab sooner with less skier weight forward) allows you to stay in the balance point of the ski with your Center of Mass and requires less wt shifting to get the input required to initiate your turns. (quick steering for a car)
With your ski's being individually "tossed about" may be caused by to much/little wt on one ski compared to the other or not being centered.
Now consider these parameters with a "rough ride" and you have to have confidence in the speed and turns to stay centered and balanced, but I think you are on the right track "just ski" oh yeh, bindings forward "makes'em quicker"
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks again.  All of these replies are helping me put it in perspective.

I thought forward mounted bindings helps to initiate turns quicker.  Didn't realize it would make the ski quicker too.

For a good part of the season, I was craving higher speeds but yesterday I was resistant to it.  I guess I just have to get used to everything and get more experience.
post #9 of 16
 I'd say to revisit the new skis next fall when you can start out with a good baseline of packed powder and branch out from there.  Seriously, it's almost impossible to sift out the finer points of a ski in heavy spring snow, and certainly tough to adjust to a new ski.  I wouldn't make any conclusions about the ski or skier just yet.  The skis were likely swamped/buried in slush most of the time, and you probably didn't even need metal edges!  No telling how they will perform when you can evaluate them under more reliable/repeatable conditions.

I tend to stick to tried and true skis in spring snow, and lower my standards a bit.  It's not the conditions to be busting out perfectionist turns like Stein Erickson, or to be evaluating the qualities/characteristics of new skis.  You just can't tell very much or make precise enough turns to really get a good feel for the skis.
post #10 of 16
Slush is the ultimate crud.  Sounds like you may be crouching down into the backseat  with a little rotation tossed in.  Your skis are different and less forgiving than what you are used to, but would put most of the blame on over skiing on your part. 

Slush may be the ultimate 3D skiing snow.  Stand neutral on both feet, tighten the core muscles, and get the feel of skiing in the snow.  You will compress the snow under the skis so you are actually skiing more on the bottoms than the edges; you are still edging but most of the resistance is under the foot.  Don't think that skiing slush is ever really smooth, but it is fun.

Bad things will happen to you if:
weight goes back (your ankles straighten up and loose a lot of steering power, you will go straight).
transfer weight too much (one ski sinks excessively and lots more of feeling like the inside ski is overturning).
To low a body position (crouching caused the weight to be thrown forward more easily, fore and aft problems),
over rotate the body (you loose torque for turn initiation and may over turn and/or sit back).

Keep at it, time on task will make it easier. 
post #11 of 16
 I think the problem is that you skied Camelback in the Pocono's - I only skied there a few times when I was in high school (several decades ago) - but as far as I can remember - those were the typical conditions.  Go west young man !
post #12 of 16
Sounds like you're getting some great advice, as usual, from the readership..
You're a beginner, not a never-ever, so you have experience, but this is your first Spring, so you've never felt the conditions underfoot b4.
The ski may be a bit too much for you to control as it is an advanced ski, but the more you ski, the better you ski.
Keep doing it. Try to stay up & forward - I have the same troubles when I'm in survival mode but always seem to be able to talk myself back to proper stance. The blacks can be a bugger, so stay where you're comfy now, and get back on those rides next Winter. You'll be grateful for all the practice you give yourself NOW, then. 
post #13 of 16
 Years ago, when I was on ski patrol, I bought some new skis and new boots a the same time.  I also had cants mounted under my bindings; an old technique that doesn't seem to be used anymore.  I was ready to go out on patrol on my first day on these skis and boots and we skied down to the lift.  Actually, everyone else did, but I just ran in a straight line.  I couldn't turn the skis at all, I had no control whatsoever.  It was weird and frightening.  I eventually got them under control and that combo lasted me for quite a few years, but the initial day was pretty bad because everything was so new.

This may be some of what you experienced.  The Elans are great skis, once you learn how to control them you'll love 'em.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for all of the input.  I am hoping to get up to Hunter or Belleayre this Friday.  Looks like the high will be in the mid-30's.  If I can make it up, I will bring both skis in my "quiver" (can't believe I already have a quiver) and see how I do.  Maybe ski the Elans in the morning when the snow is still frozen and switch to the Volkls later in the day when the snow softens up a bit.
post #15 of 16
now that you own more than one pair of skis, don't hesitate to ski the right ski for the right job. The conditions you described are probably better suited to your old skis. I just got some Obsethed rocker powder skis this year and this is my first year owning more than one pair of skis (i.e. having 'options' on what to use every morning). When we got out to Big Sky it hadn't snowed in 3 weeks. After hearing people at the local ski shop saying "oh, it's my 100% everyday ski" I forced myself to ski the Seths anyway, to "learn" operating them on groomers/hardpack/chop pow/bumps and eventually got "ok" on them, could haul down the grooms and not kill myself on bumps. However the last day I got back on my Public Enemies which were much much better suited to the conditions and had a lot more fun despite it being an older technology, less advanced ski. I had a lot more speed/control on the bumps and wasn't having to work to not get 'thrown' due to the rocker.

Anyway, you may want to save your learning experience on the new skis for the proper conditions, or you'll just get frustrated. They'll still be waiting for you next year, enjoy the last few days of the season on a pair you're comfortable on. Skiing is all about having fun!
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
Well I was able to get up to Hunter yesterday under much better conditions.  The high was only about 35 or 36 degrees.

I was able to ski the Elans all day and it was definitely a better experience.  There were still plenty of bumpy ungroomed areas that gave me trouble but there were also plenty of groomed tracks that I had no problems with and really enjoyed the Elans.

That said, this late season snow has showed me that my ability level is not as good as I thought.  The first thing on my list for next year will be a lesson.
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