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Choosing the Right Ski

dlague

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This summer I spent a lot of time researching skis that would benefit me being in Colorado and in the end I have considered skis the 105-115 range for myself and skis in the 98-106 range for my wife. While I almost pulled the trigger on a pair for both of us, I ended up waiting after talking to the locals here. After visiting a shop or two and explaining what we currently ski on, they recommended that we ski a full season here because most of the days skiing will more than likely be non powder days unless I can drop everything and hit places immediately after the storms. They also felt the skis we have should be fine. We both have two pairs of skis, groomer specific and a bit wider, wide shoveled and very rockered ski that allows us to get after some powder.

That being said, I thought this article does a nice job and talking about choosing the right ski and yes the suggest demoing.

http://www.lastfrontierheli.com/news/1029/choosing-the-right-ski/

How did you pick you quiver or single pair? What considerations? Bumps, trees, powder, cruising, race etc.
 

deadheadskier

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Last three skis I've purchased and current quiver:

Fischer Motive 84 - solid reviews at the time of release as a very good EC all mountain ski mainly suited for groomers. These skis I'd grade a B - too narrow to be enjoyable in anything deeper than 6" or so. Hard snow performance okay, but nothing special. Bumps - okay for a system binding. They shine most carving on packed powder surfaces. I use these skis primarily now on days that the conditions are nothing special as to limit wear on other skis.

Nordica Vagabond - powder ski. Got a great deal. I had demoed Volkl Gotamas the season prior and loved them, but couldn't find a deal I wanted. Vagabonds are basically same dimensions and construction as the Gotamas. No complaints. Absolutely love em. A+ ski (that collected dust all last season)

Nordica Steadfast - wasn't in the market, but got a screaming deal. Same series as the Vagabond, but surprisingly much stiffer. This leads to much better hard snow performance than I was expecting, but a bit less than desirable bump performance. I'll give them an A. If they had the same flex pattern as the Vagabond, I'd give them an A+

Next ski will replace the Fischers with something much narrower and geared exclusively towards hard snow days with no expectation of skiing bumps or trees. We have a lot of these days in NH. Ideally I'd like to demo, but I always buy late model new skis, which makes demoing a challenge. Often the size I'm looking for isn't available by the time the price drops to what I want to spend.
 

jimk

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When I went on my 9 week ski trip out west in 2015 I brought two skis, both Nordicas I got for fairly low price. Same 107mm Vagabond as deadhead, and 84mm Burner. I wound up using the Burners 2/3 of the time. It wasn't the snowiest of winters and I liked how the Burners were easy to maneuver in bumps. I wound up blowing out the edges of the Burners at A-Basin near the end of my trip and just went with the Vagabonds all the time in spring conditions the last week.
I think the longer you stay out west the wider the ski you are going to want. But for now I think your wait and see and demo plan is good. I used my son's Bonafides a lot last winter (98mm) and thought they'd be a pretty good choice for daily driving, but they might be a little burly for bump skiing. A lot of this depends on your terrain preferences and skill set. In the meantime HAVE FUN!

Ideally, if I was skiing the west all the time and had a two ski quiver I'd think about something around 85-90 as narrow ski and something around 110 to 125 as fat ski. But around 100mm if one ski quiver.
 

Jully

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Next ski will replace the Fischers with something much narrower and geared exclusively towards hard snow days with no expectation of skiing bumps or trees. We have a lot of these days in NH. Ideally I'd like to demo, but I always buy late model new skis, which makes demoing a challenge. Often the size I'm looking for isn't available by the time the price drops to what I want to spend.

What I've always done is just demo any ski I might be interested in, then made myself a note about the ski and then spend all offseason looking for deals on that ski (and I usually have 2 or 3 skis in particular I'm looking for to fill that roll). Additionally I'll look back at the previous few models of the ski and see if the construction of the ski changed at all. Many skis stay the exact same, just have different topsheet graphics from year to year, so buying a 2014 ski new in 2016 is a great deal if you can find it!
 

Bene288

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I try to narrow it down on internet research, specifically Alpine Zone, and local shop talk. I bought my old Atomic Theories without demoing and had great luck. However I demoed the Soul 7 as a powder ski before buying. I'm close to pulling the trigger on the Brahmas without demoing. I've heard fantastic things about that ski.
 

cdskier

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I've always been a big fan of demoing, but with my most recent purchase (Nordica Hell n Back) I bought them without demoing. At some ski areas there just isn't a great selection of demo skis available nearby. That presents an even bigger challenge when you want to really try a ski under a certain condition (i.e. powder). I bought this particular ski to use on east coast powder days but find I actually use it as my go to ski as long as conditions are packed powder or better. I did demo some similar skis from other manufacturers on a mini powder day (including the Volkl Mantra). My issue with the Mantra was that it was a heavy and fairly stiff ski (I already have a stiff Volkl ski as my hard pack ski, so didn't need another). My cousin used to work in the ski industry on the retail side and was very familiar with my skiing style. After I told him what I was looking for and my feedback on the Mantra, he recommended the Hell n Back saying it was a bit lighter than the Mantra since it didn't have all the metal that the Mantra had.

So for me my last ski purchase was done on the basis of demoing other skis combined with a recommendation from someone that I trusted.

I still advocate demoing if you can, but if you can't, then find someone you trust and be able to describe exactly what you are looking for, what you like in a ski and what you don't like, etc. I can see myself continuing along that path with future purchases.

I have no idea what my next ski purchase would be. I'm quite happy with my current 2 pairs of skis and they work well in most east coast conditions. Maybe for a big powder dump a slightly wider ski than the Hell n Back (98 at the waist) would be nice. Otherwise I'm content for now.

One big downside of demoing...if you're NOT in the market to buy something, it can be dangerous. Every time I've said I didn't need anything else and end up demoing, then I find I want something else and end up spending money that I wasn't planning on spending.
 

dlague

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Many skis stay the exact same, just have different topsheet graphics from year to year, so buying a 2014 ski new in 2016 is a great deal if you can find it!

That is the approach I take, I found two par of skis that were around 115 underfoot for $270 and $250 and a pair of skis for my wife that got down to $250 as well all were new but 2015 models. But at the last minute opted to wait and see. I bought my son's Volkl One skis for $159 new 2015. All great deals.

All of the online companies have their Memorial Day, July 4th, Xmas in July and Labor Day Sales. The gear I tracked got lowest pricing during the Labor Day Sale and now headed up!

It is hit or miss though the $159 price was during a Christmas in July Sale at skiessentials.com
 

bdfreetuna

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Picked Atomic Vantage 90 CTi 184cm after an immense amount of internet research and talking to a guy who uses them and loves them.

I had it narrowed down to that, or Nordica Enforcer 93 or Kastle FX95 HP. Ultimately I decided on the Vantage for the higher level of playfulness (at maybe some small loss in power comparatively). I'm pretty happy with my decision and think this ski will be ultra versatile and really good at steep technical fall line skiing.

I cannot wait to get on these skis. And the best part, if there's some ski out there I might have liked better, I'll never know ! :D
 

deadheadskier

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What I've always done is just demo any ski I might be interested in, then made myself a note about the ski and then spend all offseason looking for deals on that ski (and I usually have 2 or 3 skis in particular I'm looking for to fill that roll). Additionally I'll look back at the previous few models of the ski and see if the construction of the ski changed at all. Many skis stay the exact same, just have different topsheet graphics from year to year, so buying a 2014 ski new in 2016 is a great deal if you can find it!

Oh, I definitely get the approach, but certain skis, especially something specialized like I'm looking for, sell out of popular sizes the season they are released. And they typically don't drop down to the price I want to pay until 2 seasons removed.

As an example, this is a contender for what I want for hard snow.

http://m.ebay.com/itm/351565081166?_mwBanner=1

Ideally I'd prefer a 180 and also pay a bit less than $500.
 

KustyTheKlown

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i enjoy a really stiff burly ski with camber underfoot, some decent tip rocker, a wide turning radius, that likes to go fast, will never chatter, and will crush variable and changing snow conditions encountered in one day. i am 5'11, 185.

for my day to day ski, i have moment belefontes, 187 cm, they are 106 underfoot, and super stiff. they are a ski that needs to be driven or they will slap you. i bought them after taking a friends pair for a run one day a few years ago, and i love them and will probably replace them with an updated version of the same ski eventually. http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/moment-belafonte-187cm

for days out west and the occasional dreamy day, i have kastle bmx118s. 183 cm and 118 underfoot. i bought these on a total whim. a "wow these $1200 sick pink kastles are on sale for $400, it would be silly to not at least try these." they are an awesome ski. http://www.skinet.com/ski/gear/kastle-bmx118-2013

i have old k2 public enemies for fuck around purposes. october, may, urban.
 

deadheadskier

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Very fun ski. I had a pair of them in a 180. Loved them for free skiing, but went back to the Atomic version for the race course.

Head makes a similar model as well, but those seem even more difficult to find in the right size at a good price.

I'm 5'8 and range around 200#, so a 175 would probably work, but for the skis intended purpose I'd rather the extra length.
 

Tin

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i enjoy a really stiff burly ski with camber underfoot, some decent tip rocker, a wide turning radius, that likes to go fast, will never chatter, and will crush variable and changing snow conditions encountered in one day. i am 5'11, 185.

This. I love the stiff and heavy skis. Super versatile ski. Hard pack they stick, crud they power through, can blast groomers, and then the underfoot and rocker helps in our type of snow. Just do it all ski for me. Granted it take a little more energy to make them bounce bumps but I'm no "savemeasammy" anyways.
 

KustyTheKlown

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This. I love the stiff and heavy skis. Super versatile ski. Hard pack they stick, crud they power through, can blast groomers, and then the underfoot and rocker helps in our type of snow. Just do it all ski for me. Granted it take a little more energy to make them bounce bumps but I'm no "savemeasammy" anyways.

yep. both of my skis require a lot of leg strength and you very actively have to drive them. but its so worth it. they crush anything and everything. the moments could be a little bit better in deep pow, but on a deep pow day i take the kastles.
 

deadheadskier

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Devil's advocate, but if you found a similarly constructed ski around 90 under foot, you'd ski even better. 106 for a daily east coast driver seems like doing finish carpentry with a sledgehammer. But to each their own
 

deadheadskier

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And I say this as someone who skied and enjoyed my 106 Vagabonds almost every time out the season before last when the snow was soft. They worked well, but you lose a lot of precision when the snow gets hard IMO.
 

Scruffy

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Good call on waiting. True bottomless days are few and far between, even in CO. Especially when you're fighting the multitudes of pow hunters. You'll be lucky to get a run or two before it's chopped up.

AIRC, you're on Cham 97's. Mid-high nineties under foot is the sweet spot for a daily driver out west. The Cham's, unless you got the High Mountain version, is not a light ski, it should power through the crud and chop just fine.

I had taken a clinic with Dan Egan not that long ago and he recommended no wider than 88 under foot for east coast and 98 for west for a daily driver, and that boy can ski.

My current quiver is now more aligned to free skiing: bumps, trees, chutes, pow; whereas in the past, when I was racing some, it was aligned toward race skis and skis that were build on a race platform for free skiing.

East: Kastle FX84s ( 84mm under foot )
West: Blizzard Bonofides ( 98mm under foot ). Previous to these, Volkl Mantra circa 2008, Stiff and burly 96mm UF
Pow: Kastle FX 104s ( 104 mm under foot )
Race: Atomic GS and Fisher SL ( several years old now, but in mint shape since they don't get much use anymore. Still fun to take out once in a while when the conditions are just icy groomers )

I use to ski everything out west in my old Mantas: two feet of pow at Jackson Hole to three feet of pow at Alta, so the mid-high 90's is a versatile range.
 

KustyTheKlown

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And I say this as someone who skied and enjoyed my 106 Vagabonds almost every time out the season before last when the snow was soft. They worked well, but you lose a lot of precision when the snow gets hard IMO.

at this point anything sub100 feels squirrelly to me, but point taken
 

dlague

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Good call on waiting. True bottomless days are few and far between, even in CO. Especially when you're fighting the multitudes of pow hunters. You'll be lucky to get a run or two before it's chopped up.

AIRC, you're on Cham 97's. Mid-high nineties under foot is the sweet spot for a daily driver out west. The Cham's, unless you got the High Mountain version, is not a light ski, it should power through the crud and chop just fine.

Wow good one! Yes I have the Cham 97 (one season) and they are heavy. Between the rocker on those and the sidecut they slice and dice very well. In late April we got one 1-2 ft powder day but it was a heavy snow so low angle runs were tough and steeper runs got cut up quickly, but our Chams did fine.

While at a ski shop (Christy Sports) I explained what we have and he said to wait it out. Thought that was interesting since he was not pushing to sell. It was in line with what others were saying. Makes sence, we were on vacation for a week and skied very nice PP but any snowfall amounts were 2-6 inches. According to the guy in the shop, the first thing skiing people new to Colorado do is go buy a nice fat ski - laughed while saying it.
 
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