or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Does a more forgiving ski encourage poor technique?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Does a more forgiving ski encourage poor technique?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I understand that at beginner and probably through mid to upper intermediate levels a forgiving ski is a good thing. But at advanced levels (ie 7 or above) does a more forgiving ski encourage and reinforce poor technique and thus hinder advancement? OTOH, would a more demanding ski encourage and reinforce good technique to upper level skiers and promote progression of skills? Any thoughts?
post #2 of 14
I'm not sure how we would measure "forgiveness" today. As I listen to folks many are running in to their local ski shop and buying fairly high performance "all mountain" skis.

I don't know who first said it, however, I believe a lot of the all mountain skis (68-72 mm underfoot) don't do anything particularly well mainly due to the length they are skied.

I "rep" for Fischer and am lucky insofar as we have a full fleet of varying Fischer equipment at our resort. I am amazed at how well our rental fleet skis IF THE RIGHT LENGTH SKI IS SELECTED!

I suppose I can ski about as well on a well tuned rental ski as I can on my own skis.
The things I need are;

1) 160 cm
2) binding cants
3) one degree/one degree tune

So in essence it isn't the arrow......it's the archer!
post #3 of 14
I'd agree with Rusty Guy. It's more the Indian than the arrow. By the time a skier has achieved upper intermediate, one has hopefully learned enough technique and skills and be well on his way to good skiing.

The 'forgiving ski' can inhibit but doesn't have to be that way. As I have seen it is more the length as the real culprit.
This is evident from the days of the GLM method which started you out on a very short ski and each year graduated you to a longer ski. The problem is people don't get skis every year. They get used to teh shorter ski and stay with it, expecially after trying out a longer ski. This is an additive factor for the intermediate plateau.

When they go to buy the shaped ski and are told to buy 10 to 15 cm's (nowadays 20)shorter than their straight ski, they measure from their own straight ski length instead of what the proper straight ski length should be. Their new shaped ski ends up down by their chins instead of somewhere around the hair line.

Inform them of this and you get the standard complaints you've heard for years: I don't like speed; I want the ski to turn easy. You talk like a Dutch uncle to assure them that the difference between their old ski and the shaped ski is like night and day. You can see it in their faces... they don't believe you.

A customer recently returned to the store and reminded me of how hard I talked about this with his wife. She finally agreed to the length I suggested. He told me that he made a partial run and stopped for his wife. As she approached him, using her new skis for teh very first time, he said she had the biggest smile on her face he had ever seen in a long time! And he thanked me for talking her into the proper length of ski.

The point of my rant is too short of a ski regardless of straight or shaped may be a crutch due to fear. Fear is the result of sitting back and other things. I would say it's more the length than the shape which is used as a crutch rather than learning to ski correctly.

"I can get down the hill now without falling all the time. I don't need any more lessons." And so they plateau at intermediate level. If someone might show them a tip or two to work on and they see improvement, they might be inspired to take lessons again. They then at a higher level of skiing may see the "advantage" of their short length of ski turn into a disadvantage and buy a bit longer ski next time!
post #4 of 14
It has been my own experience that length of ski is a critical factor, as is stiffness and other characteristics. A "too difficult" ski can challenge, perhaps, an already accomplished skier - but on almost any level of intermediate, it hampers learning.

My own guess is that a "too forgiving" ski would not hamper learning, up to a point. That point is where the skier wishes to exceed the performance limitations of the forgiving ski. At this point in my own development, for example, I could not ski at the speeds to which I've become accustomed on a lower level ski - but my skis still are "forgiving" in comparison to other skis of equal performance capability.

There is no magic bullet in ski selection - technique is what makes any skis work. However, a ski that is too long or too stiff is a hindrance for most developing skiers. I also think it's possible for a ski to be too short and too flexible to permit further development, though I believe that's less frequently the case. The ski's length and stiffness are not absolutes - the most effective for learning must be matched to the skier and to the instruction. I shall never forget the day at the Academy that nolo had us all skiing on snow blades [also called ski boards] - what a revelation! These were REEEEEEALLY SHORT! They were also very demanding - actually, "too short", thus forcing us to accommodate.

For the most part, though, I believe that learning skiers are hampered by "too much" ski rather than "not enough".
post #5 of 14
One of the most improved characteristics of "shape" skis is the range of "effect" feedback they provide in responce to a skiers "causing" movements. When learning skiers make changes, especially ones to use more efficient movements that engage the technology, these skis go "YEE-HA" in responce. More astute instructors are capitoliziing on this feature by using guided discovery tactics that promote greater awareness of the different outcomes avaliable from different inputs.

Unfortunatly, too many low end "forgiving" beginner skis performance falls off too early as the skier's energy level goes up, providing at best a "muffled" responce and limited growth support performance for people who wish to continue to improve.
As such, "beginner" skis offer to little performance to support a serious learners growth potential. They are suitable for maybe only the first 10-15 hours on snow and then become more of a hinderance than a help to a skiers progress. These skis have a propper place in the rental room to support lesson programs that get people to the point where they can get their own adv-intermediate ski to continue to learn and grow with.

I do not advocate over-selling performance either. There are skis to help you in "getting there" and skis that expect you to "already be there". I see a lot of stunted growth in pseudo-advanved skiers going to short race slaloms (without getting lessons in how to ski them) and only entrenching their park-n-ride habits. The "un-forgiving" (reactionary) precision some of the true race skis discourages experimentation from the comfort zone for lessor skilled skiers.

There are many great wide performance range skis out there to benifit all levels of skiers, both stagnent, and learning.

But, one might suggest that low-end beginner skis should only be sold to people who want to remain a beginner, or are prepared to buy new skis mid-season.

Yet, on the other end of the spectrum, more highly skilled skiers are more adaptable to using the short carving SL spin-offs (which are not real race skis anyway) for all mountain skiing.
post #6 of 14
Very good thoughts, all.

Br'er Oboe, I think your skiing self-awareness now is so great that I cannot continue to believe your self-assessment of "intermediate at best." Your comments are spot-on!

I do not advocate over-selling performance either. There are skis to help you in "getting there" and skis that expect you to "already be there". I see a lot of stunted growth in pseudo-advanved skiers going to short race slaloms (without getting lessons in how to ski them) and only entrenching their park-n-ride habits. The "un-forgiving" (reactionary) precision some of the true race skis discourages experimentation from the comfort zone for lessor skilled skiers.
Arcmeister, that is exactly what I think. I would add that a precise ski can ruin the experience for an advancing intermediate who "buys up" to "grow into" the ski, especially if the skier is especially hard on him/herself when he/she makes a mistake that causes the precise ski to respond accurately TO THE ERRONEOUS INPUT. The ski then seems to be "misbehaving" and that can be quite frustrating.

I think that the best customers are those who are humble, almost to a fault. They tend to accept suggestions gracefully and seem earnestly willing to change their views on what type and length of ski they should ride.
post #7 of 14
One more remark about appropriate length:

As an experiment for the uplifting of mankind and because I have a pathologcal obsession with owning as many skis as my closet can hold, I have taken a bold step. In addition to my notorious Rossignol Bandit XX's in 170 cm length, I have added a pair of Rossignol Bandit X, also in 170 cm length. I personally feel that 170 is the best length for me in each model . . . but here's the result:

These brother skis are alike in virtually every respect - same materials, same construction, same length. They vary only in width and slightly in shape. Having skied the single X only for the past two days and only on firm snow, it is clear, and even the most obtuse-on-snow can realize that the single X has markedly better edging, is easier to maeuver in short turns, and is more stable in both short and long turns and straight running as fast as I could go while keeping my lift ticket.

The point is, length is only one factor. Skis can vary by general stiffness, flex pattern, shape, and total base area on snow. The qualites that Arcmeister describes are wonderfully subject to manufacturing control with today's materials, constructions and designs. The "right ski", it would appear, is the one that best hears the skier "talking", and "talks back" most clearly with information the skier can use.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
OK, great discussion, but here's the real, selfish reason I ask. I'm a level 8 skier, 5'7" 150lbs and am in the market for some new sticks. One, the Rossi Bandit XX 170cm, is much more forgiving and easy going than the other, the Atomic R:EX 168cm, especially on more challenging terrain, bumps and short turns. So, I'm wondering if the more demanding ski will "require" me to improve my skiing techinque, which is something I am very much interested in, in order to really get the most out of the ski. OTOH will the less demanding ski will hinder my improvement? Given my height, weight and level, I believe I am considering the right length, especially since my current 180cm Atomic Betaride 9.22 are a bit long for me. So, any new thoughts about either this or continued thoughts on the original topic?
post #9 of 14

I'm kinda in the same boat. I'm going to buy some fat skis to run with Fritschi Freeride bindings, to open up my backcountry skiing readiness. I'm caught in among four skis - the Pocket Rocket, the R:EX, the G4 and the Big Stix 84.

Of the four, I would expect the R:EX and G4 to be the most difficult in the bumps - they will demand more precise input. They prefer to make larger turns. If I want to be able to ski bumps and tight trees with these two different skis, I need to be on my game. On the other hand, I don't expect such difficulty from the Pocket Rocket or Big Stix 84. All these observations are based on what I've heard about these 4 skis.

When I ski crud or powder or any ungroomed, I usually prefer to make bigger turns. This means I won't mind the demanding nature of the G4 or R:EX.

What a quandary, eh?
post #10 of 14
I leapt from Olin Catalyst to Nordica Next 7.0 (both shaped). It took me 2 full seasons to get used to them, but I learned a lot in these 2 seasons. The shorter Nordicas (170 cm) are much less forgiving than the longer Olins (185 cm)...

I improved, but it took me quite a bit of determination and drive. What drove me was I knew that in the end I would become better with the more technically challenging skis. I think I did.

I think a more forgiving ski encourages confidence. But the price is less attention to technique.
post #11 of 14
I almost quit skiing some time ago out of pure frustration. Pierre, eh! figured out that my skis were too long and too stiff. My notorious obsession with demo-ing skis arose out of that frustration. Pierre and Lars talked me into staying in the sport, and Pierre's advice on skis hit the mark. Ideally, skis would be forgiving enough to allow pleasure and substantial enough to allow growth. Skis that are TOO "challenging" can be worse than skis that are "too" forgiving, because they erase the very reason why we ski. Skiing is for fun. If I had to spend two damned years of my life in misery, it wouldn't have been fun.

For what it's worth, I weigh 150 at 5'8" and have been skiing the Bandit XX since last season. Great ski. Never felt it was "too forgiving", and skiers far more expert than I use it their advantage. Now I also have the Bandit X and the Head Monster iM 70x, both with 70 mm waists [as compared to the XX with 74 mm]. On packed snow the X is great, and on Wednesday at the end of the day I'll know about the iM 70x in spring conditions. When I can get them into natural snow a foot deep, I'll let you know how they do.

I'm having fun skiing. It's a challenge . . . and it's also a pleasure. For me, to be worthwhile, my skiing must allow both both.

[ March 17, 2003, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #12 of 14
I think the vast majority of skiers are on way, WAY, too long a ski.

Skied all day with Bob Barnes at Loveland. I suppose he is 5'11, however, he is a skinny guy. I'm 5'11" and weigh 185.

I started the day on a new pair of next years Fischer RX8's in a 170. I wanted to try the ski and there were a few inches of fresh snow (4-6 I would guess) Bob was on a 160 cm slalom ski.

By noon I had switched to a short slalom. I think they force me to find my balance, they do fine in deeper pockets of snow, and they do great in bumps.

I would say it's analagous to the difference between a sports car and a large sedan. Short shaped skis are a blast. The little Fischer WC SC has a turn radius of 10 meters. It's a blast!
post #13 of 14
Oboe, I plan on being at Sugarbush on Wednesday to demo some Head skis. I'll be on the lookout for a guy with a new pair of IM 70's.
post #14 of 14
Mac, if you see a guy with those skis, have him look me up to compare notes. I'll be skiing at Jay that day. When will you next be at Sugarbush? I expect to be there often.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Does a more forgiving ski encourage poor technique?