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What in the construction makes a highend pair of skis faster then say a mid range ski

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I always wondered about this, because I've been getting beat on my Volkl SS4's by a friend on Salomon Verse 6, and my skis were waxed the night before.   I know the SS4 isn't a world cup ski, but I would think they'd be faster then an old Verse.  I'm just talking about going straight down a hill with no turning.  This has been happening on groomers, shallow powder, and crud.  I just can't keep up with some when we go straight down a hill, even with fresh wax and they didn't wax after two days.

Could it be a pattern in the base of the ski, or a better quality PTex.  Or could it be that the base is damaged by ironing that it closed the honeycombs in the ptex that doesn't hold wax any longer? 

I'am due for a new pair of skis anyway, and my skill and ability have passed what the SS4 can do.  So in my next purchase, I want a faster ski.

post #2 of 28

Weight of the skier=mass, build of the skier, and apparel (baggy or tight clothes) =wind resistance actually have more to do with straightlining speed than the construction of the ski (assuming they are relatively the same length and tuned well enough).

 

I was a lightweight in high school and had to fight really hard to log faster times than skiers I was actually a lot better than.  They outweighted me by 50-75 pounds.  Even on better skis, in a striaghtline the heavier kids were always faster no matter what I tried.  Had to make it up in turns and line selection.

post #3 of 28

The quality of bases vary quite a bit. Even within a single production run of skis using the same materials. Thats why they have professional ski testers. They find out what the fastest base is on a given day by running a straight test track over and over on different skis. It is also why speed skiers have multiple skis (apart from breakage). Some skis are faster on some kinds of snow than other 'identical' skis. Their reps know which ones are intrinsically faster for each snow condition and help the racer select the skis based on how they ski and how fast they are for the conditions.

 

Structure, wax and use also affect the ski's speed. There are different structures for different conditions. Wax is obvious. Use comes into play directly relating to structure. The more cycles of skiing and waxing a ski experiences since a grind, the faster in general it will be.

 

All this is speaking to skis specifically. I am in complete agreement with crgildart. The factors he raises are far more likely the difference you experience, with wax and structure a close second and third. It takes the same skier on the same track with different skis (ala professional ski tester) to determine which ski is imperically faster in a certain condition. One item crgildart left out was skier ability. There really are gliders and non-gliders and everything in between. I see it all the time as a speed coach. It only takes a slight variation from absolute flat to slow a ski(er) down. You are effectively making a 200m snowplow if you just slightly ride your inside edges, for example.

 

Riding a flat ski is an art.

post #4 of 28

I've learned this on the cat tracks at Vail.  I have to consciously roll my ankles out a little to get my skis flat.  I generally can coast past people who have to skate all the time, and although yes I do wax my skis, when on vacation they don't get hot waxed - I believe it's all about getting off of the edges.

post #5 of 28

I don't think that high end skis are necessarily 'faster' than mid range skis, but they're overall better 'performers'.  For me, when I'm buying high end skis, I'm not doing so because I want to go faster, it's because I desire some other aspect of it's improved performance based on  it's design and construction.  I'm sure there are many mid range skis that have a speed limit well above what I'm ( as well as most skiers) are comfortable with.

 

Unless of course, you're talking specifically about race skis..... than yes, they're faster.

post #6 of 28

There are definitely faster skis outside of the race world. Up here in Stowe we often ski out of bounds and then back down Rt 108 to the resort. You find out how good your bases are when doing that. Some of them might as well be felt.It really sucks when you have to start skating and your buddy is still in his tuck pulling away from you.

 

Last year I was skiing at Killington woth a demo team member who was on Race Stock Blizzards. My consumer level Kastles were clearly faster. When we were skiing down the cat tracks I had to keep checking up to keep from running him over.

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

 

Last year I was skiing at Killington woth a demo team member who was on Race Stock Blizzards. My consumer level Kastles were clearly faster. When we were skiing down the cat tracks I had to keep checking up to keep from running him over.


Unless they both had exactly the same tune and wax you have no real measure of anything quantifiable regarding ski performance. Could simply be the prep......
 

post #8 of 28

...you cant beat a fresh wax and tune that's matched to the conditions.... even makes my shit skis go fast.

post #9 of 28

All other things being equal skier skill makes the skis go faster.

All other things are never equal, barring gross differences, the following factors are pretty much in order of what makes the most difference going straight.

Heavier skiers will be faster than slower skiers.

Less sidecut will be faster.

Better base material and wax (for conditions) will be faster, especially when temperatures warm up a bit.

 

When you throw in turns, stiffer tails help make skis faster.

post #10 of 28

You should probably switch skies with your friend and run the "straightline" test again. 

post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

 

Structure, wax and use also affect the ski's speed. There are different structures for different conditions. Wax is obvious. Use comes into play directly relating to structure. The more cycles of skiing and waxing a ski experiences since a grind, the faster in general it will be.

 

All this is speaking to skis specifically. I am in complete agreement with crgildart. The factors he raises are far more likely the difference you experience, with wax and structure a close second and third. It takes the same skier on the same track with different skis (ala professional ski tester) to determine which ski is imperically faster in a certain condition. One item crgildart left out was skier ability. There really are gliders and non-gliders and everything in between. I see it all the time as a speed coach. It only takes a slight variation from absolute flat to slow a ski(er) down. You are effectively making a 200m snowplow if you just slightly ride your inside edges, for example.

 

Riding a flat ski is an art.



Yep, agree but OP mentioned that the results are the same in deep snow and crud too.  Riding a flat ski certainly helps.  Also pre-jumping bumps and pushing off the backside of them, even washbaords, can give you a little more juice.  But, if your friend is a lot heavier and/or more aerodynamic you will have a hard time beating them on a straightline by just changing skis.

post #12 of 28

Agree with all of above, all basic physics and ski prep. But less clear why straightlining is criterion. Nor why a question about construction ends up with base prep. Seems as if that should be held constant. 

 

If OP tries the longest radius turns he can produce, nearly a straight line but on the edges, he'll not only be moving a lot faster (and more securely), but he'll be able to bring more of the ski's construction into play (flex pattern, energy storage, vibrational resonances in an arc), not to mention his leg strength and skill set countering basic mass of his buddies.  I'd guess that stiffer skis "go faster" not only because they can allow higher speeds before they lose contact with the snow, but also because they can store more energy for release at the end of the turn, and (probably) damp down oscillations that are wasted energy. Stiffness=construction. 

 

An allied question is whether designers optimize for straight lines or turns. I'd guess turns, given the attention to flex patterns, shape, and so on. The perfect straightline ski would be, ah, straight. And not flex at all. Lot like the planks I skied on in the 50's.

 

Finally, unless I missed it, no one's mentioned length. Not precisely construction, but linked to construction. Flex patterns of GS and up racing skis, for instance, are specifically designed to optimize longer lengths than rec skis. Which in turn tend to come in longer lengths/greater stiffnesses the higher performance they are. If there's any basis for analogy with boat hulls, perfectly stiff longer skis in anything except glare ice will simply have a higher possible terminal speed in a fluid medium. (Yeah, I know there's a debate about whether snow is a fluid or a bunch of particles, but we still use measures of behavior in fluids, like float, to talk about skiing. Would like to know from an engineer who knows hydrodynamics if the analogy holds.) And obviously, longer skis will be more stable. 


Edited by beyond - 7/14/10 at 4:56pm
post #13 of 28

The only way to determine the faster ski (not skier) is to blind test it in a track with a single skier. Skier ability, technique and weight are critical factors in side by side racing. I don't argue that in the scenario described by the OP that weight couldn't be the overwhelming factor, however, the OP hasn't told us his or his friend's weight, so we can only speak in generalities. Did the OP start out in front but then get drafted and passed? Did the OP keep pace to a certain speed? Did they both just 'stand on their skis' like in a meaningful wax race?

 

In recreational 'drag racing' their are too many variables to be able to determine 'this ski is faster'. If the OP wants to be faster, then I would advise he look for a coach. If he wants a faster ski, I'd suggest get a professional/expert tune. In most cases changing the skier's technique will make far more difference than changing the ski. The exceptions would include replacing an obviously slow, poorly tuned and waxed pair of skis with something better.

 

I wouldn't advise any of my racers to gain weight to win or to change skis (note the exception above) to go faster. I would advise them in ways to manage the ski/snow interface and aerodynamics.

 

To the OP, why do you want a faster ski? What do you think it will do for you?

post #14 of 28

When traversing, skating, or straight-lining I can feel the increased speed on my 195 Atomic Arc RS's from around 1990. The longer ski is definitely faster, as stated already, I'm just re-inforcing that.

 

My Legend Pro's are super dampened construction, and stiff and heavy, quite straight. they seem pretty durn fast to me also.

 

Otherwise, assuming a person had decent skis with a large radius, waxing is where to work on your stuff.

 

post #15 of 28

What is this "slow skiing" that you speak of?  I do not understand...

post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 

Well, one of the guys, on an old verse 6 is probably 30 to 40 pounds heavier, but it was only his second season skiing.   I think his verse 6 were the same lenghts as mine around in the hi 160 cm range.  I'm 5/7 around 185 to 190.  Now another guy, who is probably 20 to 30 pounds less then me and we're both close in ability is way ahead of me on a pair of K2 Apache recons, my skis freshly waxed, and his skied for two days before this, without rewaxing.  And we're talking just straight lining down the hill, no turning at all.   I had my boots custom fitted, grind and shimmed to compensate for a minor bull legged issue in one leg.  I'd imagine that should keep the ski edges from digging in when I'm straightlining.

post #17 of 28

Sounds like your wax is bogging you down. Did you brush all the wax out of the structure?  Do your bases even have any structure left?

post #18 of 28

Past prep of a ski, I think there are higher quality base materials and as much of a difference is dampening and other materials that go into the construction of a ski that can allow it to go faster and achieve a higher speed. Epic mentioned his Kastles, the materials and their construction process allows the skis to run better at speeds. 

post #19 of 28

There's definitely prep of course. I have tw pairs of Kastles. The pair that was prepped by Edgewise is faster than the other pair no matter what the wax. It feels like I am standing in a puddle of oil when I'm in the lift line.

post #20 of 28

Some people just glide better!  Myself an another instructor have tried this several times. Identical skis; except his were tuned, he has a few pounds on me and I consistently pull away from him. No turns, only gliding, side by side. That is why some racers are referred to as good gliders and others as more technical. Edging, pressure, balance, etc. all come into play.

 

"You do not grow too old to ski, you grow old because you stop skiing"

post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

There's definitely prep of course. I have tw pairs of Kastles. The pair that was prepped by Edgewise is faster than the other pair no matter what the wax. It feels like I am standing in a puddle of oil when I'm in the lift line.


The fastest skis I ever recall skiing were a pair of Kastles prepared by the east coast rep that had multiple hours of hot boxing and about $200.00 worth of wax in them. They were the first skis I were on that slowed down time. LOL.

 

While we are at it, are we going to get into the discussion on different bindings and plates which can contribute to the top speed?

post #22 of 28

Switch skies and test again. Tells us the same thing as running them single on the clock. 

 

If nothing changes and he's still faster, then you know the skies are the same. If you guys are the same speed, then his skies are faster. If you are now faster, then his skies rock and yours suck. But if he's even faster, then you already had the good sticks. Good luck getting yours back.  

 

post #23 of 28

My GS skis are for sure faster than about anything else I have been on except for epic's/lindsey Vonn GS skis.

 

I just wish my Ones and Katana could be nearly as fast for the 108 slog! Good thing I can skate pretty damn fast.

post #24 of 28

The fastest skis I ever owned were a pair of 2001 Kneissl Supafly 185's.  I was clocked at 49 going backwards down Silverbelt at Silver Mountain during the "Gravity Game".  It made the Kellogg Herald front page! 

 

On a somewhat related note... I probably got somewhere closer to 60 going switch down Steep & Deep during a rare groomed day, but there was no radar gun to back it up.   

post #25 of 28

All of my racing experience is nordic, but I can definately say there is a difference in p-tex quality. I don't think the difference between mid and high end is going to be huge though.  How wet were the conditions?  Wax significance is really dependent on water content in the snow.  More water means wax is more important.  Just about any hard wax will slide fine on ice!

 

As others mentioned, technique, size, etc, are all likely bigger factors.  If you think about the physics, from a first order perspective, you have gravity pulling you down the hill, and friction and wind resistance holding you back.  Longer skis = more surface area, which is less pressure on the snow, and less friction (within reason).  Likewise, if you're not flat on the ski, you've greatly increased the pressure on the edge you're riding, and hence friction.  You're going to glide fastest if you balance you weight on the skis. 

 

I'd imagine there are some drills you could do to improve this?

post #26 of 28

Most true race skis (i.e. a FIS rated team ski or better) are faster than most other skis.

 

Once in a while though, a rec racer or other rack ski sneaks through production with a really fast base.

 

I've had direct experience with a couple of these, and done a fair bit of testing to account for all the variables.  At the end of it all, the bottom line is that there are fast & slow bases.

post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mogulmuncher View Post
the bottom line is that there are fast & slow bases.


Yep, setting aside wax (please), the actual base hardness will make a detectible difference. Some manufacturers select slower, harder compounds that are more durable, some go the other way. 

post #28 of 28

All of those factors imo are smaller then the speed gained by skiing on a flat ski without the edges at all engaged.  To do this takes practice as well as getting used to the feeling of the skis kind of swimming.  It's not a feeling that most people like, and hence my money is still on the OP having their edges slightly engaged.  As masters racer said, it's like being in a snow plow.

 

Having had your boots aligned does not mean that you are setup flat, boot fitters often set us up to have our inside edges slightly engaged.

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