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Do Americans buy too big?

post #1 of 105
Thread Starter 

I'm based is Switzerland, but everytime I ski with my american friends (i work at an american boarding school)  they have way too big skis. I've spent some time in Tahoe and Utah, and again saw some good skiers buying real big skis. The reason they told me was they wanted a big solid platform for the serious big mountain.

This is a load of bull. Get a good quality ski, length somewhere between tip of nose and middle of forehead, and stick with it. A top quality all mountain ski of this length will serve you anywhere, from bumps, crud, piste, steep and deep.

Bigger is not always better.

post #2 of 105

Well, that is a place to start. 

post #3 of 105

Here's an idea, and I wonder if anyone else found it to be true. Smaller, strong skiers are likely to have a ski over their head. Most of my skis are about 18cm longer than I am tall (176cm to 158cm./135lbs). It has to do with power one can put into the ski, as from weight, strength, and technique. so any notion of ski length to mouth or nose or forehead should also be tied into my concept of power (energy) into the ski. Also, skis that are different thickness sidewall and different construction sandwich for each size will figure differently into the equation. A 176 Legend Pro Rider is a pretty manageable ski. The 184 is a whole different story.

post #4 of 105

It's partly a Europe thing. The move back to longer skis hasn't really kicked in yet here.

post #5 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingaround View Post

Bigger is not always better.


For an advanced skier, bigger is better 90% of the time. A ski at chin height is not going to provide the stability through crud and variable snow at speed for a lot of people.

 

I have both, and the short ones only come out when i'm having a mellow day skiing with my Dad or something. Any real skiing, and fat long skis are the only ones i'll touch.

post #6 of 105

Two other considerations: 

 

1. Skier weight. Everyone knows Americans are fat. If a skier is only 183cm tall, but weights 220 lbs (100 kg) would you suggest they ski a 179 cm ski? Seems short to me, but then I'm american.

 

2. Ski rocker. Most people suggest going up at least one ski size when purchasing a ski with a decent amount of rocker, because a large portion of the ski will rarely be engaging the snow. My understanding (from my Swiss ski buddy) is that rocker is far more popular on this side of the Atlantic. 

post #7 of 105

Most Americans are too lazy to turn much .

 

JF

post #8 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

Here's an idea, and I wonder if anyone else found it to be true. Smaller, strong skiers are likely to have a ski over their head. Most of my skis are about 18cm longer than I am tall (176cm to 158cm./135lbs). It has to do with power one can put into the ski, as from weight, strength, and technique. so any notion of ski length to mouth or nose or forehead should also be tied into my concept of power (energy) into the ski.


My experience is that skiers to whom this applies already know that and take it into consideration.  For the masses, the general guidelines are an appropriate place to start.


 

post #9 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by NE1 View Post




My experience is that skiers to whom this applies already know that and take it into consideration.  For the masses, the general guidelines are an appropriate place to start.


 



that's why I can bring it up. a detail of an exception to a rule.  discussions in this forum often get more detailed and focussed than the general observations of the masses, which are more than covered in everyday chit chat.

post #10 of 105

Maybe that's why there are so many long skis for sale on ebay. Too many people buy big boards w/o demoing and then find it's too much to handle. All I can say is that skiing a 187 XXL in deep pow in a big wide open bowl is a heck of a lot more fun than skiing that same terrain on a 178mm 79 mm ski. And yes, I have done several tests, and have concluded big,fat, long skis can and do have a purpose. I wonder how many skis the typical Euro skier owns. Same goes for the avg American skier. Ski companies have done a good job marketing to us American skiers. They all seem to want that "quiver" of skis. One for each condition, even marketing that one ski quiver ski that slays all terrain and snow conditions!

post #11 of 105

Curious to know if the rocker buzz has caught onto the off-piste phobic euro's? 

post #12 of 105

one of the things i like about skiing on smaller skis is that by the end of the day, the tips are still coming just like my first turns. same with skiing the bumps. now the longer boards are nice for the big powder & rip sessions, however, the face shots aren't as plentiful.

post #13 of 105


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KirkwoodBandit View Post

Two other considerations: 

 

1. Skier weight. Everyone knows Americans are fat. If a skier is only 183cm tall, but weights 220 lbs (100 kg) would you suggest they ski a 179 cm ski? Seems short to me, but then I'm american.

 

2. Ski rocker. Most people suggest going up at least one ski size when purchasing a ski with a decent amount of rocker, because a large portion of the ski will rarely be engaging the snow. My understanding (from my Swiss ski buddy) is that rocker is far more popular on this side of the Atlantic. 


I'm an American skier and, as you say, I am fat.  My daily driver is 170cm and I could probably get by as well with a 165.  It skis powder up to 18 inches nicely despite a medium waist width of 66mm.  If it floats my bulk that nicely, then probably few non-backcountry skiers really need more on most days ... what they want is a different story. 

 

I have no interest in rocker because 1) strong, classic camber is what makes crisp turns on firmer snow possible and 2) the tips have always been turned up to avoid problems in 3-D snow. 

 

Could it be that our European counterparts are simply more inured to the ski advertisers' gimmicks?  tdk6, what do you think?

post #14 of 105

I've tried all kinds of lengths in all kinds of conditions.  My current quiver includes, 165 (Fischer WC SC), 188 (Völkl P50 F1), 190 (Machete G), and 208 (Kästle SG).

While I admit that the 208 SGs don't really work all that well in moguls, I have found that the 190 and 188 work much better in deeper snow and cut-up crud than the 165 cm skis, while the 165s don't offer all that much advantage in moguls or groomed snow (though they are better at carving really tight turns).

 

I think what folks are buying are skis that well work passably well in all conditions, and short skis (chin to forehead) really do give up a bit to the longer skis when it comes to irregular snow conditions where fore-aft balance is challenged a bit more, while not helping out all that much in other conditions if one knows how to work a ski.

 

You likely see a lot of longer skis on e-bay because folks buy the ski thinking they know how to use it, but discover they really don't.

post #15 of 105
Thread Starter 

Really surprised people feel the need to buy big skis for the big moutain stuff. My 178 K2 PE's are great everywhere. The last two years have been great in switzerland with some deep serious powder and that lenght is fine. I really feel the whole super fat, super big ski thing is a gimmick. Maybe it will help you ski it a bit easier, but other than deep powder, they're a waste of time. A good quality all mountain ski is really all you need if you want a good day any day in any condition.

post #16 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post

Curious to know if the rocker buzz has caught onto the off-piste phobic euro's? 


There's a good reason for that "phobia," you know. Offpiste, in the true sense (since we're using the Euro term), is very dangerous. Not patrolled, not avy controlled, generally not marked. The Alps is not like the US, where there is interesting, challenging, ungroomed terrain within the controlled boundaries of a resort. Offpiste is at roughly the same risk you'd take leaving the area boundary at a US resort. Lots (and lots) of people do it, though, and there's way more skier density to begin with, so the notion of empty offpiste/untouched powder for days in the Alps is inaccurate.

I saw some rockers here last season, for the first time. In my view, there are two reasons some of the US trends are slow to catch on in the Alps:

1. There are at least three competing visions of what it means to be a hardcore skier in the Alps: a) one that roughly matches the US ideal, fat skis, avy gear, duct-taped pants, etc.; b) the ski touring concept, which tends to be much more ascent/low weight-oriented here; and c) the racing influence, as World Cup actually sells skis and gear here; the sport is closely followed (and racing skis can be a useful part of a quiver here).
2. There's simply less powder . I can't imagine skiing all season on rockers in the Alps. I know people who ski fats all the time, but I don't (spring mornings = ice, for example). Now, how do you reconcile fat or rocker-ski sales with conditions in the US East or Midwest? That I don't know.

post #17 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post


 


2. There's simply less powder . I can't imagine skiing all season on rockers in the Alps. I know people who ski fats all the time, but I don't (spring mornings = ice, for example). Now, how do you reconcile fat or rocker-ski sales with conditions in the US East or Midwest? That I don't know.



You kidding?  There is an entire thread here dedicated to how awesome rockered fat skis are on east coast concrete.  It's titled "k2 Obsethed as daily driver for east coast".   Read up, there's tons of good logical stuff in there.

post #18 of 105

Hmm, guess I skipped that thread. Grossness of oversight matched only by breadth of skis.

post #19 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingaround View Post

Really surprised people feel the need to buy big skis for the big moutain stuff. My 178 K2 PE's are great everywhere. The last two years have been great in switzerland with some deep serious powder and that lenght is fine. I really feel the whole super fat, super big ski thing is a gimmick. Maybe it will help you ski it a bit easier, but other than deep powder, they're a waste of time. A good quality all mountain ski is really all you need if you want a good day any day in any condition.


It's not really a question of necessity; it's a question of style and comfort. I moved from the US about 5 years ago, and when I first skied in the Alps, I was on a pair of rented Volkl All Stars (probably about 10 cm shorter than my height). Those were far more than what I needed for groomed/hard pack in terms of edge hold and turn radius. In fact, skiing on piste with them became boring because nothing short of polished ice offered any sort of challenge; the things practically turned themselves. Off piste/between pistes, because of the short length and skinny waste, they were almost adequate, as long as I only did slow, boring, repetitive turns.

 

Now, I understand that a lot of people dig that type of skiing, but it doesn't really float my boat. So, when it came time to buy my own gear, I went with something fatter and longer (182 cm and ~110 mm, but traditional camber). It's not that I need something that big to make it down the mountain; I already proved I could make do on a pair of short carvers in Verbier. It's just that, the bigger skis are better suited for the style of skiing I like to do, which is a slightly faster and more playful ride on mellow to semi-serious off-piste terrain, trying to make use of terrain features and occasionally trying switch landings and other small tricks. And, on the odd occasion where I'm in a European resort that has trees and they aren't off limits, I like to ski the trees. Groomed pistes are merely transport routes for me, and I can handle them just fine on big skis.

 

Maybe some Americans just like to ski a different style that bigger skis are better suited for. And maybe some are still stuck in the mindset that bigger skis are the sign of a "bigger" man. Either way, who cares?

 

When you see people on blades, do you lecture them about how a proper ski is more stable and blah, blah, blah? If people want to slide around on ski blades, good for them. If they want to spend the day on Pontoons, that's cool too. If an 80-mm ski rocks your world, then stick with it.

post #20 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by KirkwoodBandit View Post

Two other considerations: 

 

1. Skier weight. Everyone knows Americans are fat. If a skier is only 183cm tall, but weights 220 lbs (100 kg) would you suggest they ski a 179 cm ski? Seems short to me, but then I'm american.

 

 





Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post

Most Americans are too lazy to turn much .

 

JF

Fat and Lazy
 

post #21 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post


 


I'm an American skier and, as you say, I am fat.  My daily driver is 170cm and I could probably get by as well with a 165.  It skis powder up to 18 inches nicely despite a medium waist width of 66mm.  If it floats my bulk that nicely, then probably few non-backcountry skiers really need more on most days ... what they want is a different story. 

 

I have no interest in rocker because 1) strong, classic camber is what makes crisp turns on firmer snow possible and 2) the tips have always been turned up to avoid problems in 3-D snow. 

 

Could it be that our European counterparts are simply more inured to the ski advertisers' gimmicks?  tdk6, what do you think?



typically PSIA I am stuck in my way and I am never going to change. your east coast counter parts are much ahead of you......

 

FACT You can not ski tight places in 3d snow as fast on 66mm skis as you can on anything newer.


Edited by BushwackerinPA - 9/8/10 at 8:05am
post #22 of 105


sure, nothing like skiing trees with a 66mm waist and submarining into covered fallen trees or rocks.  Nothing like braggin about how you got your spiral fracture because you like how your skis plunge into the snow.  Its not all about the mechanics of the skiing, its the experience of skiing. the feeling that many like on wider skis is why most ski them, end of story, its about the feeling.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post


 


I'm an American skier and, as you say, I am fat.  My daily driver is 170cm and I could probably get by as well with a 165.  It skis powder up to 18 inches nicely despite a medium waist width of 66mm.  If it floats my bulk that nicely, then probably few non-backcountry skiers really need more on most days ... what they want is a different story. 

 

I have no interest in rocker because 1) strong, classic camber is what makes crisp turns on firmer snow possible and 2) the tips have always been turned up to avoid problems in 3-D snow. 

 

Could it be that our European counterparts are simply more inured to the ski advertisers' gimmicks?  tdk6, what do you think?

post #23 of 105

post #24 of 105
Thread Starter 

Finndog, I get that feeling on my regular skis, that floating sensation. In some ways I think real fat skis are good and bad at the same time. With big fatties it's too easy, but you get to enjoy the powder if you're not quite up to it. And with regular all mountain skis, you probably need a bit more skill, but the sensation is just as good.

post #25 of 105

Us Americans, always compensating for our low self esteem with bigger toys.  I can't believe, however, that we continue to handicap ourselves on the ski hill with the wrong equipment.  Every 4 or 5 years I buy new skis.  They are bigger and fatter than my previous skis, and they perform better in virtually all conditions.  This has been going on for 35 years. 

 

To the original poster - what do you consider super fat, super big?  

post #26 of 105

This whole subject of longer vs. shorter is part of the same discussion as wider vs. narrower. The other Jim and I usually have this discussion every year with the managers from our ski suppliers. It is always amusing to them how "trendy" the American and Japanese markets are (although those trends tend to differ). Often these trends relate to fashion statements rather than real equipment needs. Regardless of the few that really need and can use longer skis, the majority of Americans don't ski very well or very fast. Also, the vast majority have absolutely zero desire to ski faster in any kind of conditions. Rather, their goals relate more to making skiing easier within the window of what they regularly do.

 

The chin high thing is probably too short for the average Joe and Jane skier but conversely the well over the head thing is over the top the other way. Somewhere in between usually works pretty well and the various manufacturers guidelines are often fairly close. One of the reasons that some Americans will buy the wrong thing is simply bad advice. Some of this can come from the younger ski shop personnel that really can use the bigger/wider stuff properly (or at least think they can). Some of those folks get a little self absorbed at times and tend to think that the whole world revolves around, and wants to be like them. Hence they tend to suggest longer skis than are necessary for the average skier. Some of this trendy stuff can be related to peer pressure and self flattery and will probably shake out over time. One thing is for sure, the Euro manufacturers may think that the American market is rather silly but they are certainly willing to accomodate us by building skis for us to sell.

 

SJ

Reply
post #27 of 105

You ever spend a day on some 187 JJ's or the like? Don't knock it 'til you try it.

 

On width/shape: All that being said, the average off piste skier in Europe encounters a far greater variety of snow conditions in a single day than does his US counterpart. In a single run in SUI I've hit boilerplate off piste crust, breakable crust, heavy pow, lighter pow, blue ice, nicely groomed, wet heavy crud, frozen crud, corn, slush, really slushy slush, hey i should be on a water ski slush. So to use say a  JJ as a daily driver in Europe is less fun than say it would be here in CB.

 

On length: I wont disagree with what others said here about the average weight of the average American vs. a Euro. So that's a factor. But I really think that it comes down to fashion/style and somewhat skiing style. I mean, we see if in the choice ski apparel  worn in Europe vs. North America. Why wouldn't we see it in skis? Lastly, as others have mentioned - rocker is playing a role in this too thought I imagine you're starting to see a fair share of rockered skis in Europe as well.

post #28 of 105

effective length about eyebrown height is my general rule...  SJ, do you have a guide line? Do you think groomed vs. off-piste makes a difference (just general practices you use in Ski Haus)

post #29 of 105
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post

Curious to know if the rocker buzz has caught onto the off-piste phobic euro's? 


When I was in Val d'Isere last December, it appeared the Brits were leading the way. The only other guys I saw on any fatter skis or "modern" designs (JJ's, Obsethed, etc.) were British university students. The lifties were all checking out our skis, but everyone else skiing the bowls were still on much skinnier sticks. (Then again, I might not have been in the right spots.)

 

I think it has to do with the park rat culture and lack of WC skiing on TV here. Due to the lack of mountains, kids here tend to go to indoor slopes to play on the jumps and stuff rather than do race training. Since park rats tend to be more trendy, it makes sense that the latest trends would be more popular here.

post #30 of 105
Thread Starter 

118-85-109 these are my current dimensions. I find I can ski it all with these. Oh, and length 178cm, about eyebrow height.

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