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Skis have changed since the early '90's! Need help!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 



Hate to sound like a newbie... but I feel like one!  From Junior High through College, I skied regularly (10-15x per year) in the Canadian Rockies.


I haven't skied much since the mid '90's.  I recently bought a piece of property in the New Mexico Rockies.  This last year, they really got a dump of snow.  The snow is totally different than the snow in the Canadian Rockies... much lighter/drier (at least the one day I was there!).  I understand that conditions aren't always as great as when I went.  I believe they make a lot of snow early in the season and most runs are groomed.


I need skis!  But when I rented skis, I asked for "195's" as that is what I use to ski with15-20 years ago.  The rental people laughed at me!  Told me I was "old school"!!  I think they sent me out with 170 or 175's.


My skill level use to be "experienced" I'd say.  I use to ski mostly blues and blacks (and as I found out, I still can despite being older, stiffer and heavier!).  I'm 6 foot, 230lbs.


I like to ski mostly "on piste" (BTW, I don't remember people using the word "piste" back in the day... must be the new cool word to say?)  I will likely be skiing mostly groomed runs and crud with not infrequent "powder on crud" groomed runs.  No out-of-bounds or ski park stuff...


So, I want to buy a pair of '09 or '08 skis for a good deal.  Questions are:


1.  What length?

2.  Recommended Brands/Models given my skill level, physical characteristics, location of skiing and types of runs?

3.  Might as well recommend bindings to!




P.S.  Also, please tell me which brands are poorer quality.  It seems most people think Rossi's are now poorly built (they use to be great...  I need the "latest scoop" so I don't buy junk!)

post #2 of 21

(1) Approximately 175-178

(2) Despite your weight, you won't need an uber stiff or uber aggressive model. Go for a midfat (78-85mm waist give or take) with a medium-stiff flex.

(3) Most skis in this category will be system skis which means they will include bindings.


There are literally dozens of excellent choices for you and no single 'magic' one. The Dynastar Sultan 85 from 2010 would be a good call as would the Nordica Afterburner from any year dating back to '06.


As far as "junk" there isn't much of that around but I'd avoid mid priced K2s and Salomons and Rossi "Bandit" models in general.


If you decide to consider a Nordica model, I will have some unbeatable deals on older Nordica skis in approx 3 weeks. (watch for Starthaus skis deals #4)



post #3 of 21

What about boots?  That would be my first step.  Maybe try some demos of some of SJ's recommendations until you find skis that fit your needs.  Unless of course he has a deal that you can't pass on.


post #4 of 21

Welcome to EpicSki, and welcome to the fun of contemporary skis!


I don't want to sound like I'm repeating but, boots first.  If you get new skis and use old or misfit boots, its like driving a car with bad front end linkage.


That being said, Jim's advice on a nice midfat is spot on. 




post #5 of 21

Welcome to the 21st Century. Simply, Width is the new Length. Where years ago, the better the skier, the longer of a ski you skied, now it is width that is measured for manhood. Something in the upper 70's to mid 80's (in mm underfoot) and around forehead to head height should do it for you. As far as bindings, anything with a DIN in the 4-12 should suffice. As Jim said, keep and eye for the StartHaus deal upcoming, it will be worth it. 

post #6 of 21

Welcome back, and welcome to Epic! Two random ideas: 1) According to NOAA, New Mexico snow follows a desert pattern rather than a Rockies pattern. That's been my experience, too. Meaning that yep, you get this amazingly light blow. Followed by two weeks of no precipitation. Total base can be low relative to places in Colorado, and there is often serious ice. So get a ski that can handle both extremes. While I more or less agree with SJ about Nordica, I'd veto 80-something Dynastars (Sultans, Mythic Rider) in favor of Blizzards like the 8.1, Head Peak 82, or Elan 82 XTi's. Rossignol Avenger 82's would work well, too. 


2) There is no place I've been with more wonderful backcountry. You might think about whether you want to hike and walk a bit once you get your form back, take a safety course. If it seems to resonate with you, I'd suggest going a bit narrower (say low 70's to low 80's) for your Alpine ski right now, and plan to pick up a mid 90's to low 100's At setup in a year or two. If you do that, forget what I said about Dynastar, because the Contacts are great hardpack skis, but also think about skis such as the Blizzard 7.6 Magnum, Head Peak 78 chip, Elan 76 Ti, or Rossignol CX80. Each has its own distinct feel, so you may also want to think about what you used to like, as in damp or lively, beefy or light, and so on.


Good luck! 

post #7 of 21

The snow conditions you encountered at Angel Fire were directly related to el nino.  Do not expect those same snow conditions until the next el nino.  Taos Ski Valley has much better snow than Angel Fire in non el nino years.  I agree with SJ's recommendation about the Dynastar 85.  You can demo that ski from Mountain Sports in Angel Fire.  You can demo Fischer skis at Winter Sports in Angel Fire and I would recommend one of the Progressors to you. If you need boots go to TSV.  Talk to Jim at Taos Ski & Boot or you can go to the Boot Doctors but you'll pay more.  You'll get an excellent fit at both places.  You can also demo Dynastars at the Boot Doctors and a variety of skis from Taos Ski & Boot, including Volks, K2s, Nordicas, Salomons, etc.  Ice is generally not a big issue in northern New Mexico except for early season and then with the spring thaw & refreeze cycle, unless you consider packed powder to be ice.

post #8 of 21
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

Where years ago, the better the skier, the longer of a ski you skied, now it is width that is measured for manhood.

  Yep,  wide skis are like red sport cars -- they cover up deficiencies elsewhere (ski technique or .... )




Welcome back to skiing! 


Midfats do have their place in all-mountain skiing (I have 2 pair.)  But consider that even a medium width ski of 66mm underfoot gives  much more flotation than in the old days because of the fat tip and tail.  A ski like that will ski fine in boot-deep powder and superbly on piste, which is where you say that you expect to ski mostly. 


It takes greater skill and effort to make high performance turns on a 78mm midfat than on a medium width 66 mm ski, and greater skill yet on the fat skis out there which are best suited to extreme heliskiing in Alaska.   If you go wider than 80 mm, demo and make sure you can turn and stop on a dime on groomers to avoid that small child who darts out of the trees in front of you, i.e. verify that you can ski in control on them unlike so many people who "ski" them.


I'm almost your weight, and 90% of the time I ski on recreational slalom skis of 170cm give or take a few cm.  Head and Fischer both make good skis in this category.  The other 10% of the time, I'm on midfats.  Unfortunately my preferred midfat manufacturer has committed unspeakable atrocities against its midfat line-up for next season to achieve buzzword compliance, so I can't recommend it anymore.



PS As you've probably noticed, narrow skis are no longer manufactured.  This is a combination of the recreational fat ski craze, revised FIS standards for racing equipment, and improved manufacturing techniques that allow for torsional stiffness in wider skis. 

post #9 of 21

I would highly recommend that you spend a bit of time demoing skis at the beginning of next season.  You'd probably be most comfortable and best served on something in the 80 to 85 mm range, as others have stated.  In this range, I've really liked the Dynastar Sultan 80's and 85's as well as the Blizzard Magnum 8.1 IQ Max.  But, be warned, just because I, and a lot of other people like these skis, they may not "feel" the best for you. In the past, I've purchased skis that I've never tried yet, based on high ratings and recommendations and great closeout deals, only to find during demo days at my local mountain that there were other skis that just felt much better to me, my physiology and style / level of skiing.  One thing you'll find as you demo skis, is that if you go 'narrower' you'll be able to tip them on edge easier (by the way, that's how we turn skis these days), and if you go wider, the skis will feel much more stable. "Wider" skis will feel difficult to tip on edge at first, but you'll find it just takes a little getting used to and you will be able to tip and carve with wider skis also.  In a period of just 2 seasons, I went from a waist of 67mm to 78mm to 88mm and now to 94mm.  Spend some time demoing wider skis, and as you get comfortable on them, you may find that the extra stability instills much more confidence.


And yes, definitely get fitted for a decent pair of boots - good fit is key !  I wasted an entire season skiing boots that were too big.  I didn't realize until the next year, when I got better fitting boots, how much the poor fitting boots held back my progress.


Have fun!!!

post #10 of 21

or they're just a lot of fun; just like the red sports car. BTW- some people just can't drive the red sports cars.....skinny skis are their excuse to stay on the groomers, work on drills all day and out of the good stuff; which is fine with those of us who love the feeling and performance of our fat ski's!


but if you are so focused on technique that fun doesn't matter, buy the beige ford focus by all means and have at it!



BUt, the advice above is excellent, get properly fitted boots and demo some skis, not for 2-3 runs but at least an hour or so per pair until you can get accustomed to the newer designs.   In the end, you should ski on what you like, skinny or fat or mid-fat or rockered or whatever

Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post

  Yep,  wide skis are like red sport cars -- they cover up deficiencies elsewhere (ski technique or .... )


post #11 of 21



One of the "beige Ford Focus" models I'm talking about is one that you personally used to call a Ferrari... you know the one.  True, they both start with the letter F, Ford and Ferrari, but otherwise the two descriptions have little in common.  Get your story straight.


I am focused on technique -- guilty as charged -- to boost the fun I get out of skiing.  Look at my signature.  There's an equation that skiing equals the sum of three things.  Two are technique-related but the final and most important ingredient is "a big grin."  My comments to AngelFire about skis were driven by that 3rd consideration -- putting a big grin on his face.  Or to stick with the letter F,  Fun.



This post was brought to you by the letter F:  Fun, Finndog, Ford Focus, and Ferrari.

post #12 of 21

Hmm, I don't have a clue, I used to think a lot of skis were good  but then I found out how much more fun there was on my nice big fat skis skiing off piste. But you missed the point of my comment.  I have no objection to any ski; fat or skinny or whatever, just when people trash a fat ski because they either can't ski them, hide behind the "i'm working on technique so I stick to the groomers because I really can't ski off-piste" " Not saying you are but I know a few who do this.  or they think for some reason they're better than folks who ski them, thats when comments like yours bother me.  Ski what you like where you like.  IT's all good and I am glad you like your skis. I like mine. See we can get along.

Edited by Finndog - 6/17/10 at 1:01pm
post #13 of 21

Even though I'm in the ski business as a distributor, I would have to echo those that have said that boots come first, skis second.  The skis you buy will only perform when you have a boot that fits properly so that the movements you make are transmitted to the skis efficiently.


Once boots are out to the way, my guess is that as a skier with some "old school" habits, you might feel more comfortable with a ski that is in the "narrower" range of the all mountain category (70s to 80s underfoot) versus the wider all mountain skis. These skis will hook up and initiate turns a little easier.



post #14 of 21

Decide what size of turn you want to make.  Turn radii go from about 12 m and go up from there.


Decide whether you will be skiing tight places or open spaces.  175 cm and up for length.


Decide what speed(s) you will be skiing.


Go to realskiers.com, pay twenty bucks and make a short list out of skis that include a black "expert" skier icon, the speed range you want, and excellent point scores for for carving and any of the other areas that are important to you.


Oh, get some properly fitted boots.

post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the advice!  I researched some of the brands/models you all have recommended.  I like what I hear about the Dynastar Sultans 85.  I also think the graphics "fit" me (just a bonus... wouldn't buy just on looks ;). 


I appreciate the "must demo first" recommendations... however, I'm willing to take a bit of risk on this because the off-season deals seem pretty good and I'm concerned a ski with such good reviews won't be available for much longer...


Ok, so I found a few good deals... some include bindings, but I think the better deals come w/out bindings.  It appears that bindings come in different "widths" to accommodate different widths of skis. 




What binding do you recommend for the Sultans 85?

post #16 of 21

im a fan of the new marker line up, and if you want to skin or do some backcountry the duke looks pretty sweet (mechanics not actual looks), ive never tried any of their bindings though i just like them. Are you buying the flat ski or the ski with the integrated rail?

post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

I went ahead and bought the Dynastar Legend Sultan 85 "fluid" model with the integrated rail in 178's, brand new. I believe they are Look bindings.  So I'm good on the bindings.  Got the setup for $550 (after Bing search engine rebate)!!


Now I need boots!  I've got size 13 right foot and 14 left foot!  They are a bit wide too (like DD).  I have problems fitting shoes.  I probably need to go to a good boot fitting store like one of the members mentioned above.  I'm heading to the mountains for the 4th of July.  I'm going to stop by the ski store(s) and take a gander.


Where should I start with boots?  Any suggestions?

post #18 of 21

Angel Fire, glad you found what you're looking for, don't forget to report back when you've had a chance to ski them and tell us how they worked out.


Not sure if you got the chance to check out the  Special Deals for EpicSki Members but you will often find a deal there that beats anything you can find anywhere else on the web, not that 550 is a bad deal, but just something to remember in the future.


Enjoy those Sultans!

post #19 of 21

Stick with long skis for cruising fast but have head level skis for bumps or skiing between trees.  The problem with short parabolics is at high speeds (if they are flat - resting) they wash out on you.  A good gs ski is great for high speed aggressive cruising on groomers or curdoroy.  In the ski shop they try to sell you all mountain because that is what they stock and are for the average skier.  If advanced or very good skiers need to have a few pairs of skis.  I am 49 and 205 lbs I ski 185cm in a gs ski and 167 in all mountain bump ski.  I like speed alot better than picking my way thru obsticles

post #20 of 21

hmm, that sounds like a boot predicament youve got there, ive heard alot of good about foam filled custom liners, boot fitting shop is deffinantly a must and maybe the liners will fill in the voids so the boots fit tight

post #21 of 21

Congrats on your purchase! I ski the Sultan 85 in a 172 with Marker Griffon bindings. Can't remember your height, but we're about the same weight....depending on the type of mirror I might call myself fat. Easily the best ski I've ever been on.


I ski primarily out east except for a week each year out at Snowbird/Alta. I have had the opportunity to ski a bunch of other skis over the years and I think the Sultan provides a great balance between the attributes you want on piste, but still having the ability to rip some lines in the untracked. No, it isn't rock solid as the Contact or Volkl AC50 on hardpack, but it more than does the job. Nor does it float like some of the new rocker skis, but I never found myself being accused of being a uboat captain in 2' of powder.


Good luck!

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