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decision help - best single ski quiver for the PNW

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi All, 

 

First post and must say I've appreciated all the info users have provided on the site.  I'm currently looking to purchase my first pair of skis after renting all last year and would like to hear anybody's thoughts.  Here's my situation...Last season was my first season ever skiing and unfortunately I think I'm hooked.  I skied last year at Meadows on Hood and will spend this season there as well, although I may venture to Bachelor for a long weekend this winter.  I'm 28 years old, a "retired" athlete trying something new after a lifetime in team sports, 6'3" and 245lbs.  I rented gear all last year and I felt the rental gear to be a little limiting as I progressed through the season (I'm sure it was a combination of technique, my size, and equipment).  

 

I would like to put a ski ability "level" down, but I've seen so many different descriptions I only think it's fair to describe how I ended last year.  I finished last year being able to get down almost anything on the front side of Meadows.  I can easily control speed, adjust turn length, and carve any of the blue runs on the mountain..I really worked and improved on carving and not skidding my turns.  I am comfortable carving the easier blacks (if groomed).  I started to struggle when we began exploring off piste going between runs (tips diving but this got better with practice even though it was definitely hard work) or in heavier chopped up snow. I definitely have the strength and ability to get down some of the steeper black runs but I'm not bombing them yet...same for bumps.  I will most likely hit up a lesson this year to continue to improve in the steeps.  I loved the progress I made last year and I want to make sure that I have the proper gear (and renting is a pain) so I can make as much progress this season as I did last season.  My goals (in order) for this year are to hit the off piste and chopped stuff harder with more confidence, get more comfortable carving down the steeper blacks and bumps, get into the trees, and maybe venture into a couple of the wide open double blacks (I think I will spend more time in the trees then in the open bowls or the canyon).

 

So, I've reading a lot about different skis but there is obviously a large variety.  The reality is I will probably spend this season roughly 70/30 on/off piste, although it would not surprise me if I spent more time off piste and in the trees later this season.  I will definitely demo as many skis necessary before buying skis.  That said, I would like to narrow my list before I go and try to demo everything.  I'm currently looking at the following skis:

 

Line Prophet 90 @ 186

Line Prophet 100 @ 186

Rossi S86 Freeride @ 186

Salomon Lord @ 185

Salomon Sentinel @ 184

Dynastar Legend Sultan 85 @ 184

Dynastart Legend Sulat 94 @ 185

 

I love to hear any thoughts from anyone, especially anyone that is a similar size, of how these skis ride both on and off piste, in variable conditions, and in the trees.  I'd also be interested if anyone has any other recommendations.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 

For what it's worth, I'm leaning towards putting STH14 Drivers on the skis but I open to other suggestions (I looked at the Jesters, but I'm not sure if they are worth the extra $).

post #3 of 18

There are several categories of opinion that will crop up. I am of the fat & rockered is good camp. Skis like '11 Obsetheds, Line SFBs, S7s, Praxis Concepts (or even BCs), maybe some of the ON3Ps, DPS 112RPs, Blogs or Bent Chetlers, etc., etc would be examples of what I'd be looking at (note that I have not skied even the majority of this list yet). That goes extra for the PNW. Extra extra for a La Nina year in the PNW. IMO these will be way more fun for what you say you want to do than narrower non-rockered (or marginally rockered) skis. Even the skis on your list - while not skinny by older standards - seem to me to be a bit behind the times relative to what is now available.

 

The STH 14 Driver  is a really fine binding. I would not hesitate to use it. 

post #4 of 18

Spindrift is right, you're going to get different opinions on this.  I'm going to disagree with him.  You say you expect to spend about 70/30 on piste.  To me, that's not a good candidate for a fat rockered ski as a one ski quiver.  Everything on your list will be better on groomed terrain than everything he suggested.  Yes, you can ski a fat rockered ski on groomed terrain, but it wasn't designed for it.  For someone looking to build their basic skills and still planning on spending the majority of their time on groomers, I don't see how it's a benefit.

 

Of your list, I'd recommend the Prophet 100 probably.  It's the most off-trail oriented ski on there, but will still ski the groomers reasonably well as you work on building your skills.  I think it'd be a good ski for you both now and in the future.  I'd also probably drop everything in the 80's off your list.  I think 90-105 is the sweet spot for a one ski quiver in the PNW, but that just my opinion.

 

If you wanted to stick around that width range and get something with rocker still, there's some good newer stuff to pick from in the high 90's with rocker.  I think those skis are better suited for a one ski quiver than the 115+ waisted stuff that spindrift suggested.  Some things to look at in that category are Blizzard The One, Dynastar Slicer, Rossignol S3.

 

My final suggestion?  Demo a wide range of stuff if you can.  Feel free to include stuff at all ends of the spectrum, including both wider than you were thinking and narrower (at least one of each) because it'll give you some idea of what strengths and weaknesses you get in the different categories of skis.

 

Edit: Oh, one thing I sort of ignored.  I focused on waist width in my answer as a dividing characteristic between groups of skis.  That's absolutely not the only thing that needs to be considered, there's flex, rocker, torsional stiffness, sidecut, etc.   There are skis in the width range you were asking about that are really just fat frontside carvers (volkl grizzly for example).  I'd stay far away from anything like that if I were you.  They would not help you as a progressign skier (some of them are pretty demanding skis) and they would hinder you as you try to move more off piste.

post #5 of 18

Welcome to Epic!  I also live in the PNW (have a shop in Sunriver, Village Bike and Ski; feel free to say hi if you are in town) and get 40+ days a year at Bachelor, and also hit the other PNW resorts from time to time.

 

I don't think there is any one "right" answer, but you have some direction as to which way you can go. If it were me (I have sold hundreds of skis to people exactly in your position, and have a lot of feedback, in addition my personal observations), I would start with looking at where you are skiing.  Considering you are starting at a 70/30 ratio, it gives us somewhere to start. I am going to agree with Jaobrien on this: there are some good skis on your list, and you should look at something that will allow you to develop more skills (developing skills is best done on-piste) while giving you the performance to ski more off-piste terrain. Get something that is too stiff or narrow, and you will be somewhat limited.  First off, they will push you around and hinder skill development. 2nd, it will be a struggle to ski in new snow, which you want to progress to. Skiing on narrow skis in new snow can be done (see 10 years ago), but it alot more fun on something with some float.  If you go too wide (Spindrift's list), then you will find it difficult to progress.  Learning a dynamic retraction and pedal move on big rockered skis is going to be nearly impossible; it is hard enough to do on regular cambered skis which are narrower and more responsive.  Plus, they pretty much suck on groomers and bumps, and that is where you are going to be spending some of your time.  You need a ski that you can learn to work the ski tip to tail: engaging the tip of the ski, getting the feel for where your feet should be, where your waist should be, how to or not to pressure the tail.  Something in the middle here is in order.  You can grow your quiver at some point in the future to add both the narrow "hasn't snowed in a week" ski, and the wide, big dump ski, but you will find that in the PNW, most of your use comes from something in the middle, on an average year.  If you get a wicked deep day, grab a pair of demos if necessary.  

 

Normally, for people in your situation, I recommend something around 80-90mm.  From your list, I can say both Sultans would suit you very well.  You will find the 85 more responsive, but the 94 is very responsive for what it is. The Prophet 90 is also a good all-mountain PNW choice. Something with a bit of tip rocker is OK, but I don't think it is a major consideration either way. Things that are of consideration: something that isn't too demanding. A ski that bends up and gives you feedback when you make a good move, or that gives you negative feedback when you "screw up", but not a punishing ski.  If you are taking lessons, most of the skill building will be on piste, on groomers, and then perhaps venturing off-piste. You have to master the moves on "easy" terrain for them to become 2nd nature when you take them into more challenging terrain.

 

My personal experience on growing my skill level (which I have been working on steadily for the past 3 season, and have improved a ton-like yourself, I was a pretty good athlete, but had some bad habits that were holding me back): most of my "skill building" has been on skis in the 70's or 80's, going to a couple of ESA camps and working with Holiday.  I know I could have done it on wider skis, but the feedback on the narrower skis is much greater, and they respond to changes in technique much more easily.  Above all, get a good coach if you can.  It is well worth the investment, and will give you the tools to use on the mountain to become a better skier. 

 

Also, please keep in mind that these won't, or shouldn't be the last skis you will buy (I run a ski shop, of course I would say thatsmile.gif). Get what you need for this point in time, not where you hope to be in 3 years time.  

 

 

The skis I like for someone in your situation: 

 

 

Line Prophet 90 (good moderate flex)

Dynastar Sultan 94 (moderate flex, has enough sidecut, feels narrower than it is)

Dynastar Sultan 85 (same as the 94, just narrower)

Elan Apex (88mm underfoot, relatively forgiving flex)

Volkl Kendo (88mm underfoot, slightly stiffer than the Apex)

Fischer Watea 84 (excellent ski, quite forgiving)

Fischer Watea 94 (excellent as well, 84 is better for skill building though)

Fischer Motive 84 (a touch stiffer than the Watea 84, still a great all-mountain ski)

K2 Aftershock (mid-flex ski, has some tip rocker, but has not too much bearing on overall performance)

Kastle FX84 or FX94 (enough beef to take you to higher speeds, mellow enough not to beat you up)

 

I haven't skied the Rossi, but have heard good things.  

 

Also, as recommended above, it is good to demo.  And, to get quality instruction. That is much more important than any gear decision, in the end.  Good technical skiers can ski any terrain, no matter the ski.  There are plenty of people out there on the latest trendy gear that can't turn their way out of a wet paper bag. 

 

Forgot to mention: here are some reviews of demos I did last spring. I am coming from a different skill level and height/weight than you, but they may or may not still be relevant.

http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/98203/2011-mid-fat-ski-reviews-80-100mm-waist-skis

http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/97886/2011-big-mountain-ski-reviews-100mm-and-fun-shape-skis

post #6 of 18

Here are two threads with thumbnail reviews of all the skis you mention and some others. See what you think.

 

http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/96369/the-crazy-88s-revisited-2011-mini-reviews

 

http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/92748/western-daily-drivers-in-the-90-100mm-range

 

SJ

post #7 of 18

two skis i'd like to try based on repeated (mostly positive) reviews are the new atomic access

and the nordica enforcer ....hope to try at whistler this season.

post #8 of 18

At 245 lbs., the OP needs a strong ski. So pay attention to ski construction. Wood core is a must for you and a metal layer (usually TI short for Titanal) will also add strength.

 

I agree with the 80mm to 90mm all mtn. ski width for someone learning to ski, but taking lessons and getting ski purchase feed back from the ski instructor is the way to go.

 

IMO skip the Salomon Lord as it is the same construction as the Salomon Lady and as such it is too soft for people over 200 lbs.

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

At 245 lbs., the OP needs a strong ski. So pay attention to ski construction. Wood core is a must for you and a metal layer (usually TI short for Titanal) will also add strength.

 

I agree with the 80mm to 90mm all mtn. ski width for someone learning to ski, but taking lessons and getting ski purchase feed back from the ski instructor is the way to go.

 

IMO skip the Salomon Lord as it is the same construction as the Salomon Lady and as such it is too soft for people over 200 lbs.


yeah, he might overpower the Lord.  I was thinking that at his weight, he could get away with a stiffer ski that for most of us, would be "experts only". 

post #10 of 18

DPS wailer 105

post #11 of 18

I also agree on the Salomon Lord, having tested them while being similar size (6'6", 230lbs). I did not dislike the ski, but they were not very powerful and felt very damp on groomed terrain. They would be nice for someone our size wanting to relax and have fun but not with ambitions. For the rest I only tried the Sultan 85 and I think those can be very nice for you as they are very allround and still fairly powerful. The 94 is better in powder ofcourse.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

 

This is great...exactly where I wanted the thread to go.  

 

Spindrift: I must admit, when I read your list it seems like quite the jump to go from rental skis to something in the 110-115 range.  That said, this year (so far) looks to be holding true as a pretty good La Nina season, but as dawg said, I can demo something wider for the few days a year Hood gets the true powder.  There was one day last year where I had thigh high Hood powder (the thick stuff) and I ended up blowing through the stuff all day rather than floating on top.  For my size, I'm thinking I need something with quite a bit of surface area for the real deep days.  Thanks for the feedback on the STH14.

 

Jaobrien6:  For me not knowing anything about anything, I tend to lean towards your thinking which is why my original list had skis in the 85-100 range.  Great suggestion on demoing skis outside the range I'm really looking for to get a feel for what certain feature really do.

 

Dawg:  thanks for the feedback and I'll be sure to swing by if I make it over to Bachelor this year.  I also agree (but haven't told the wife yet) that this most likely will not be the last ski I buy and I will probably own multiple skis at any given time.  Furthermore, I know that building my skill set is where a majority of my focus will be for the foreseeable future.  That said, I'm aware that people have skied on long toothpicks in crud and powder (i.e. my mom growing up at Timberline and Skibowl on 215s).  I definitely won't say I've mastered on piste terrain as there is always something to work on, but I can pretty much go as fast as I would want to go down anything that's groomed.  On the steeper stuff, I can’t admit it’s second nature...I’m consciously focusing setting good edges and carving my turns.  This takes work (especially on soft rentals), but I’m able to use my leg strength to power through some of the turns.  It often feels like I’m pushing the limits of the rentals, but my legs are strong enough to make them work for me on the steep terrain.  Thanks for the additional skis to consider.  It looks like either the Prophet, both Sultans, Kendo and Watea should be on my list.  Thanks for the links to your other review, looks like I’ll be doing some reading tonight.

 

SJ:  Thanks for posting your previous reviews.  I actually read all five pages of the daily driver thread last night and considered sending you a PM.  There’s lots of good stuff in there.  From what I’ve read, it looks like I’ll definitely be demoing the P90 and P100, Sultan 94, Slicer, and maybe The Atlas.  IT looks like the S3 and The One May be to soft for someone my size.

 

DanoT: you nailed it on the head…I’m 245# on a good day but with my gear, I probably push 255-260#.  Great call on taking a lesson and getting purchase feedback from the instructor.  Thanks for the input on the Lord.

 

To reiterate for everyone, I really feel prettty comfortable on any groomed run.  It feels like I’m pushing the limits of the rental skis when I’m on steeper terrain at higher speeds, but my leg strength is able to push them into and through the turns.  Some of the steeper stuff is a lot of work for me at this point, but it’s fun to go down.  I really started to struggle last season when I started to venture into the ungroomed black or in the trees between runs (all on the front side).  It often felt like I was skiing under the snow (sinking below the crust) and the tips were getting pushed around making it hard to maneuver.  This is the scenario I’m looking to improve in.  I’m not sure that 70/30 is where I’ll be this year, but I want to improve my ability to get around in the terrain that’s not groomed.  I know this takes practice and I’ll make improvements by working on the on piste stuff.  I guess a fundamental question is (and I’m sure it’s a combination)…are my struggles on the ungroomed trails (typically crusty, chopped up, heavy snow) due to the ski or my skill set?  It sounds like, due to my size and the type of terrain I want to ski in (and I like short quick turns), I should be looking for something that is fairly stiff, maybe with a little rise, and that can turn fairly quick.  Thoughts?

post #13 of 18

I live in Bend and bought the MX88 from Dawg, a really good all around ski (expensive!), been on it two days so far. Has as much speed capability as I ever need and what's cool is that it has a big sweetspot, you can ski it hard and it performs or take it easy - you don't have to be "on it' all the time. We skied some chopped up light stuff yesterday and it was just too much fun.

 

post #14 of 18

Just to be clear IMO nothing I listed was a true powder specialty ski. They are more in the realm of modern "all mountain". That list includes most of the skis I'd consider if I had to select a "quiver of one" ski for the PNW. Admittedly there is a softer snow bias - but there's a trade off in every decision. 

 

Especially at 245 pounds, if you have any off piste aspirations it'd be just plain silly to go as narrow as some are suggesting. For you, those "crazy 88s" would be ice skates in the context of off piste skiing. You can get some fore/aft stability from length, but the arithmetic reality is that almost all of what people describe as "float" comes from width. For all practical purposes, the only way to increase "float" is to add width -- and not by a mm or two. And float is what you want - even for "30%" off piste - in the PNW.

 

Several well regarded folks here are rather fond of "narrower" conventional designs - IMO because those designs match how those folks already ski. That's fine. But that is different than those skis being intrinsically better for all around skiing. In contrast, I know some superb skiers who would flat out refuse to ski recreationally anything materially narrower than what I described - under anything but the worst icy/hardpack conditions. Off piste or on.

 

In general - I'd say that jaobrien6's post had some good advice. Go experiment. And watch. Just do not a priori discount modern designs - especially in the 105-115ish range. If it turns out something narrower sings to you - cool. You might consider spending a couple days on the hill paying attention to who is skiing the way you aspire to ski on the terrain you want to ski & watch what they choose to be on. Obviously there are some challenges built in smile.gif. But if you pay attention, lots of interesting things will likely reveal themselves.

 

As for stiffness - again, watch the folks on the hill & see what you aspire to. There are some incredibly strong skiers on the entire stiffness spectrum. While you are likely not going to be well served by a super soft ski (eg an EP Pro), lots of options are still open to you - depending on how you want to ski. For example, I've heard any number of people griping about "overskiing" EPs and Hellbents & those skis being too soft at the some time people I know are truly slaying everything from firm groomers to pillows on them. I have no doubt that a 189 Obsethed would be a fine ski flex & float wise - yet some will call it "soft". Flex is only part of the equation...

 

FWIW, my first NA day for the season was at Baker last week and the number of fattish Icelantics (notably & interestingly Shamans), ON3Ps, K2s, etc was surprising, even to me, for what was essentially a groomer day. 

 

Oh yeah - every time I have crossed paths with jaobrien6, he's been on his Huge Troubles. Just sayin' biggrin.gif

post #15 of 18

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post


Oh yeah - every time I have crossed paths with jaobrien6, he's been on his Huge Troubles. Just sayin' biggrin.gif


Touché. wink.gif

 

I can honestly say that one of the most illuminating things I've done when demo'ing has been to demo skis outside the range of what I was considering.  It's much better done during a demo day or at a ski area that has a conveniently located demo shop, so you can easily swap after a few runs.  That's actually how I ended up with a pair of Huge Troubles.  I didn't think I was in the market for something in a 115 waist but I just had a ball on them.  And they are more versatile than I would have thought a 115 waist ski would be, I must admit. (Caveat: I'm not a 70/30 on-piste skier, I try to stay off the groomed for the most part.)

 

I think you've gotten a lot of good and varied feedback so far in this thread.  I wouldn't discount any of it, but use it to put together some ideas for demo'ing, and then go out there and start to figure out your own preferences.

post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

Spindrift, thanks for your thoughts and advice, I agree with you that float for someone my size is mainly going to come with width.  I would also be willing to compromise with the performance on piste to have a ski more suited for off piste.  I think I read somewhere in one of the forums where a user said something like "the only time I wanted a different ski is when I needed a wider one, never the other way around".  I tend to agree with that philosophy and will accept some on piste performance compromise, only if it won't significantly hinder my learning curve (this may not be possible).  I'll definitely keep my options open since I don't have a ski type/feel bias already.  I really agree with jaobrien6's advice on trying things outside the range of what I think I'm looking for and will do this for sure.

 

It sounds like my best bet is to demo as much as possible...soft, stiff, narrow, wide, etc.  Is there any way to narrow the possibilities?  I'll be heading up there this coming weekend so I'm hoping to start knocking off some of the models and narrowing the ski type and feel.

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post

 

Several well regarded folks here are rather fond of "narrower" conventional designs - IMO because those designs match how those folks already ski. That's fine. But that is different than those skis being intrinsically better for all around skiing. In contrast, I know some superb skiers who would flat out refuse to ski recreationally anything materially narrower than what I described - under anything but the worst icy/hardpack conditions. Off piste or on.

 

Oh yeah - every time I have crossed paths with jaobrien6, he's been on his Huge Troubles. Just sayin' biggrin.gif



As you say-IMO: unfortunately, you would be mistaken here.  Several reviewers here are very good skiers, or full-blown, legitimate experts that live in places like Tahoe, and ski with world-class skiers on a daily basis.  I am betting they ski better than 99.9% of the people on this site. They own, and ski, all types of skis.  Skiing isn't about developing specific techniques for "wide skis" or "race skis": technically proficient skiing will allow a skier to rip the mountain, and technically deficient skiers get left in the dust, no matter how trendy the skis and boots.   Being an all-mountain skier requires a full set of tools, technique being the most important of them, by far.  And, speaking of tools: good skiers usually look at skis like tools, some better than others for getting the job done.  Certainly, every expert I have skied with (and that includes some people, met through mutual friends, that are legit world-class skiers) has various skis that they choose from.  Most days they may not mind too much if they don't have the perfect ski on their feet, but given the choice, they would take the correct ski.  Most probably honed skills in the days of Ingemar Stenmark; and could ski circles around you or I. They didn't grow up learning "skinny ski technique", they learned how to ski, period.  Sure, there are complaints about wide rockered skis and the fact that they limit skill building. I see it every day on the hill: kids on Hellbents heading down liftline PM to get to the park, who ski straight and throw them sideways to scrub speed and can't buy a turn, or some poor sop trying to navigate bumps over on Tippytoe when all he learned how do to was slide on rails. But, that doesn't mean those kids won't suck just as much on any other type of ski.  They just haven't learned or cared to ski well. Then, you see a couple of kids ripping down Thunderbird on wide park skis, getting huge angles and arcing out turns: whaddya know, they were over running gates on the MBSEF team in the morning and are some of the faster guys around, according to a friend who is a coach.   

 

There are good wide skis, good narrow skis, good skis in the middle. There is a reason lots of different skis are made. Even in the ski movies, loads of different skis are used.  Hugo Harrison is probably one of the cleanest skiers out there; his model has slight camber and a rockered tip, and it works perfectly for his skiing style (well, it is his ski), which is quite precise and technically solid.  Doesn't mean that someone who skis looser would not perfer a reverse camber ski. 

 

I think I sold jaobrien6 his HT's.  I got rid of mine in favor of the new 6th Sense Huge, and also got that MX108 (Harrison pro model) on order.  Hoping they get tons of use in this La Nina year.

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by m82ward View Post

I think I read somewhere in one of the forums where a user said something like "the only time I wanted a different ski is when I needed a wider one, never the other way around".  

 

That is a great reason to demo if you are headed up and a big storm hits.  It is quite cost effective, $35-50 well spent.  Also, you may want to check out the Epicski instructor list: 

http://www.epicski.com/wiki/epicski-instructor-and-coach-listing

 

and see if there is someone locally you can work with.  It will be the best money you can spend (aside from lift tickets, of course), above and beyond any gear you could purchase.  

 

Stop by and say hi sometime!  For all the skis we sell to Epicski people, we rarely see people in the shop.  Then again, Sunriver is a bit out of the way.....too bad, as we have a great demo fleet that barely gets used.  

 

 

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