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Skinny Skis in a Fat Ski World

kbroderick

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Wider skis certainly have a place. I once heard someone describe all mountain skis as being compromised everywhere. I did a lesson with a level 3 at Alta. He said a lot of folks he saw and taught were on skis that were too wide. I don't recall what he was skiing but they were pretty narrow, something in the 80 range. They're harder to get on edge and there's mounting evidence they are harder on knees. In the early 2000's Atomic had a ski that was < 70 under foot. Wide skis can certainly be advantageous for folks that have the opportunity to ski deep soft snow. But I do think comparatively narrow skis are better for the the conditions most of us get most of the time.
Atomic still has several skis less than 70mm underfoot: race skis and their retail cousins. For firm snow, they're a whole lot of fun; the true race skis take a lot of effort (and skill) to behave properly, though, and should be paired with a race boot for the full experience. The retail/beer-league variations are kinda like going from a true race car (with super-stiff suspension and no climate control or sound dampening) to a driver's street car: yeah, they lack the raw power or the absolute performance, but if I'm spending five hours on the road, I most definitely do not miss the aftermarket suspension and solid motor mounts I had on my GTI.

The scientific evidence that wider skis are harder on joints on hard snow is, IMO, not really all that surprising. You're adding a lateral lever arm below the foot during an activity that already applies unnatural stress to the knee (among other things).

Outperform according to what metric? Speed? You keep talking about physics as if speed is the only thing that matters, and floating is inherently superior in all situations. I personally find skiing to be about a great deal more. I enjoy the physics and dynamics of my skinnier skis, even in steep & deep. The weighting/unweighting, in & out of the snow is way more satisfying to me than floating and "carving" through powder. At the end of the day, ski on the gear that gives you joy. Everything will have its pros and cons

Not trying to be a telemarketer, but have you tried tele? If you really like weighting and unweighting and aren't opposed to less-efficient modes of downhill transport, it may be worth a shot.

Well I know one thing for sure...I skied with a racer out in Chile in pretty hardpack conditions. I had 98 twin tips..he had friggin real GS skis. I couldn't accelerate anywhere near him. He could 60 on those things. So he switched to more conventional skis..well..still blew me away. Talented guy..fun trying to keep up with him.

I got really annoyed when I got beat in beer league by a guy on twin tips, until I realized that he had been a fairly successful FIS-level racer out of a midwestern "mountain". True GS skis will, however, make a significant difference; if you know how to glide, they become a bit of a liability on catwalks because you keep catching the people in front of you.
 

deadheadskier

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I was an early adopter of fat skis. Rossi Axioms in 2000-2001. 110mm underfoot. Stiff ass planks. They absolutely crushed it at Stowe that winter. But, that was the biggest winter of all time for Stowe at a reported 440".

I remember going to Aspen that winter and even there most people were shocked by the width of my skis. Super rare even for the west at the time. I still have them actually. I could carve them ok and even manage hard pack on a fresh tune ok. Tried convincing myself that this could be a daily driver as they were so dang fun in deep snow.

And ultimately I think that's where people make not necessarily wrong, but not the ideal gear selections. They're not honest with themselves about the conditions they mostly ski. They buy the skis that will be most fun and perform the best on the best of days and not the skis most suitable for the typical conditions they encounter. I could in theory ski my 107 as a daily driver, but they won't come close in performance to what the 78s can on hard pack days. As someone mentioned earlier, it physics.
 

Bumpsis

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I think its worse to get caught in a deep pow day with a skinny ski than the other way around..as I have experienced both.
Must be nice to "get caught in a deep pow day". I don't ever remember "getting caught" by sudden powder dump - I assume that's what you meant. I ski mostly here in NE and I hardly ever see more than 6 inches of fresh, and if I do, my 80mm underfoot do just fine. I take the same ski out west and have no issues with soft snow. I think that there is something of a myth that every time one goes out west you'll encounter bottomless powder that will absolutely require you to be on some 100+ pontoons. I'm old enough to remember a really fun day at Snowbird, eons ago being on 190cm long, old style skinny skis and they floated just fine. It must have been the super light Utah powder...
 

BushMogulMaster

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Must be nice to "get caught in a deep pow day". I don't ever remember "getting caught" by sudden powder dump - I assume that's what you meant. I ski mostly here in NE and I hardly ever see more than 6 inches of fresh, and if I do, my 80mm underfoot do just fine. I take the same ski out west and have no issues with soft snow. I think that there is something of a myth that every time one goes out west you'll encounter bottomless powder that will absolutely require you to be on some 100+ pontoons. I'm old enough to remember a really fun day at Snowbird, eons ago being on 190cm long, old style skinny skis and they floated just fine. It must have been the super light Utah powder...
I've skied hundreds of days here in CO. I can count on one hand the number of times I felt that my "skinny" skis were inadequate. Low angle terrain with more than 10" can be tricky. Otherwise, they're delightful. Quick edge to edge, stable on hardpack, perfect in the bumps, great for quick turns in the trees, okay for crud with a bit of muscle behind them, and fun on steep & deep.
 

deadheadskier

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I've skied hundreds of days here in CO. I can count on one hand the number of times I felt that my "skinny" skis were inadequate. Low angle terrain with more than 10" can be tricky. Otherwise, they're delightful. Quick edge to edge, stable on hardpack, perfect in the bumps, great for quick turns in the trees, okay for crud with a bit of muscle behind them, and fun on steep & deep.

Yes,

But IIRC, you got into using bump skis as when you were young you aspired to be a competition level bump skier and you wanted the best tool for the job. How many guys trying to ski zippers at that level are regularly on 115 powder skis? A small amount of people and certainly no one competing.

Same thing holds true for people skiing big lines out west. They're looking for the best tool for the job and that's just not a bump ski.

You can turn a Philips screw with a flat head driver, but it just isn't the best tool for the job. Ultimately that's what skis are. Tools. And the engineers design them to do specific functions really well knowing some other functions will be compromised.
 

kingslug

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Must be nice to "get caught in a deep pow day". I don't ever remember "getting caught" by sudden powder dump - I assume that's what you meant. I ski mostly here in NE and I hardly ever see more than 6 inches of fresh, and if I do, my 80mm underfoot do just fine. I take the same ski out west and have no issues with soft snow. I think that there is something of a myth that every time one goes out west you'll encounter bottomless powder that will absolutely require you to be on some 100+ pontoons. I'm old enough to remember a really fun day at Snowbird, eons ago being on 190cm long, old style skinny skis and they floated just fine. It must have been the super light Utah powder...
I have found out West and even sometimes here..the weather report can be way off, in a great way. Lets say they call for 2 to 4 inches and you say ok, ill go out there in the 88's or whatever midfat..and it dumps 18 inches...thats getting caught. At Alta I met some friends who brought their skiiny skis..ok..how to convince them to rent fat ones..because its a fat day today. One run in the deep and they rented fat ones and had a much better time. If you have mids and fats and your going some where it could dump..bring them both..doesn't cost any more.
 

jimmywilson69

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I've been "caught" at Stowe more than once. The last time, last year I at least had my 96s so it was fine. It would've been really awesome to have those 116s with a surprise 20 inches though...
 

Smellytele

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I've been "caught" at Stowe more than once. The last time, last year I at least had my 96s so it was fine. It would've been really awesome to have those 116s with a surprise 20 inches though...
Think about getting caught the other way - only having your 116's and it is a hard packed groomer day as the snow never came down.
 

Edd

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I’ve been happy on 93 underfoot daily drivers for the last 3 seasons. But, I posted here recently that I’ve purchased a pair of Stockli Laser AX skis (78 underfoot) to use as carvers. Well, they’re pretty good at that but, after two days on them, they seem good at everything with more overlap with my Kore 93s than I predicted. I’m happy either way, but it seems I’ll be spending more time on skinnier boards.
 

kbroderick

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I've been "caught" at Stowe more than once. The last time, last year I at least had my 96s so it was fine. It would've been really awesome to have those 116s with a surprise 20 inches though...
I remember a reported-4" day that skied more like 6" or 8" when I was coaching at Killington. We got as far as bringing gates up to Bunny Buster before realizing that we weren't going to be putting them in the hill.

I didn't have my all-mountain skis handy and skied all day on a pair of Fischer FIS slaloms. Turns out they float better than I expected; I think I underestimated the value of the wide shovel and tail. There was another day that we were across the way at Pico for a race and had a similar outcome—a little more snow than forecast, no race, ended up skiing the woods with the slalom skis (which worked fine) and no helmet (which was a little nerve-inducing).
 

abc

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I’ve been happy on 93 underfoot daily drivers for the last 3 seasons. But, I posted here recently that I’ve purchased a pair of Stockli Laser AX skis (78 underfoot) to use as carvers. Well, they’re pretty good at that but, after two days on them, they seem good at everything with more overlap with my Kore 93s than I predicted. I’m happy either way, but it seems I’ll be spending more time on skinnier boards.
Reality is, most skis have quite a wide performance envelop. And the more skilled the pilot, the wider that envelop.

After all, your Kore 93 isn't "ideal" on most thing. It's just good enough for a lot of conditions. Same with the Laser. You're just trading one compromise with another for a lot of the conditions.

People confuse "right tool" with "good enough tool".
 

kingslug

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Did powder last longer before fat skis unleashed the masses on it?
Powder at most busy resorts lasts about an hour on most of the runs..you have to go into the trees or sidecountry to find more. This is why I spent a lot of time in avalanche country..finding pow. In Europe though..it can last the whole week as most people where I've been at least, did not like skiing in it. This is St Anton last year. And yes I had the 117's20200206_114625.jpg
 

raisingarizona

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Reality is, most skis have quite a wide performance envelop. And the more skilled the pilot, the wider that envelop.

After all, your Kore 93 isn't "ideal" on most thing. It's just good enough for a lot of conditions. Same with the Laser. You're just trading one compromise with another for a lot of the conditions.

People confuse "right tool" with "good enough tool".
Or you can reach a higher level using the right tool. I prefer to ski at my peak performance, not my good enough performance.
 
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