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August 28, 2006

An Excellent Point About Skis

Check the comments on the previous post and I want to discuss them in some more detail. Not the literal one about me having a money tree, but a hypothetical conversation to have:

"I already own my gear, boots, skis, etc., so why would I want to demo or buy new gear?"

Well, let's assume that you are not in hotpants from the 80's and skiing straight as an arrow 210's from back in the day. Generally, most ski shops are going to sell an average weekender skier a nice set of carvers. I personally bought my first set of Atomics that were a Beta Carve 8.18 and had a very nice sidecut and are like glue on packed powder, ice, groomed, and crud. They are 190's, so a little on the big side, but great skis. I still use them in early and late season and since my dad is roughly my height and wears the same size shoe, he gets my old boots and uses my groomers when we go out. BTW, he actually has bright red hotpants and a powder blue 80's ski jacket. We almost ditched him over it. Chicks hanging all over him all day made it hard. They thought he was a rock star.

Let's compare a good all around ski with lots of sidecut to a powder ski. First thing you will notice is the width, especially in the middle, but also in the tips and tails. The powder ski is just plain wider. Of course it is. That is for float. But you will also notice less sidecut. It makes the ski a little less stable on packed runs. The skis perform radically different, and the honest truth is that unless there is some major fresh out there, a pure powder ski sucks. A carving ski is a much better choice.

What you have to ask yourself is what do you ski most. And for almost everyone, it is packed slopes. I mean, how many powder days with more than say a foot of pow do you get to ski? So it does not make sense to own a powder ski unless you live close to the slopes or have the freedom to chase powder. Basically, you either have no job (Jeremy) or have a job that let's you blow off work whenever you want, yet provides you enough money to pay your rent (me). Rent demo skis on the deep dumps. Just make sure you get to the rental shop early or they will be gone on the days that you really need them.

So let me answer Jake's question... what do you need a third pair of skis for. I don't have a really good answer. First, everyone should own groomers. Those should always be your first ski. Then, if you are a jibber, own a set of park skis. Or maybe a set of powder skis if you can get in enough days to make it worth it for your second set. I have a hybrid fat twin-tip that works for powder and is OK for the park. But they are a little heavy and so I am looking at park skis that will be somewhat narrower and definitely shorter than my current ones. They will never see powder since I have a powder ski, but will be purely for hitting the park. Biggest reason I am interested is so that I can learn some tricks and hang with Jake and Jackson. They are both riding a more park ski since they are pre-teens and jibbing is where it is at.

OK, so that is ski buying 101. Now, the next step is getting enough time on your skis that you can honestly feel the difference and know how to make your different skis perform under your feet. Truth is that skis are like a hammer. You gotta know how to swing it or all you do is smash your thumb. But as you progress, you honestly will see the pluses and minuses of different equipment. Each ski has its own strong and weak points.

So let me sum this up by saying, when you get up to the mountain, demo two or three sets of skis. Even if you already own gear. Spend at least a day or two a year on new Demo skis. Technology is not progressing super rapidly, so there are no massive changes, but this will let you try out new stuff. And if you have straight as an arrow 210's, once you ski shaped skis, you will take the old ones to Play it Again Sports or throw them away. Most shops on the mountain will let you demo multiple skis during the day if you ask really nicely and know or sweet talk the guys behind the counter. Then you will have a feel for what suits your style and your body.

Posted by Justin at August 28, 2006 11:52 AM