TonyPlush

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Posts
289
Location
Minnesota
Hey folks,

Considering buying my (sort-of) first ever pair of skis, and I’m pretty overwhelmed, to say the least.

I say sort of, because I’ve only ever skied two skis in my life.

I learned to ski 5 years ago on some $19.99 rentals from Academy Sports. After the first day, I bought some very well used 2005 K2 Fujatives from a friend, and I’ve skied those ever since.

All this to say, I have no idea what type of ski I like, or how much I’m missing out by keeping these now 13-year-old dogs.

Apparently, the 2005 K2 Fujatives are a park ski though and through. I only ever enter the terrain park on accident, so I’m thinking I could do better.

About me:

I’d classify myself an advanced intermediate. 5’9” 165 lbs, 28 years old. Current skis are 169 cm.

I live in Minnesota, but I do almost all my skiing on 2-3 pre-booked trips to Colorado/Utah each season. Because of this, I don’t ski powder all that much, and instead just take what the mountain gives me.

If I had to break it down, I’d say:
  • 60% of my skiing is fast cruising on blue/black groomers. I’m working on my carving, although I feel I lose my edges if pushing too hard on my current skis, and I feel especially helpless in icy conditions.
  • 30% is venturing into blue/black bumps, in trees, or away from the main runs.
  • 10% is testing myself on double black terrain.
Those last two categories seem to make up a bigger percentage each season.

Because of my complete inexperience with different types of skis, I’m not even sure where to start.

From reading online, I’m thinking maybe something like the Nordica Enforcer 93, but that’s just me throwing darts at a board. Should I just hit up the rental shops and start trying what they have?

I’d prefer not to break the bank. Since I’m coming from such old skis, I feel like I probably wouldn’t have to spend much to see an improvement.

Sorry for the long winded start. I wanted to make this more than a generic “what ski should I buy” post, so I’ll end by asking, what ski should I buy? (If any...)
 

tch

What do I know; I'm just some guy on the internet.
Skier
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Posts
633
Location
New England
FIrst question anyone will ask: Do you have good, well-fitting boots? If not, that's the very first purchase. This doesn't obviate the need for new skis, but is first in the process. Period.

If so, then....you have (at least) two options. One is to do the "right" thing and go demo/rent some skis after you get a bit of a sense (like the Enforcers, which might not be a bad choice, although others will have some suggestions). This might be easier than you think, b/c almost any place you ski out west will have shops that rent demo skis, often with a proviso that you can switch out even during the day.

The other way might be to just pick up some cheap used-but-much-newer skis, and ski on them awhile until you get a better sense of what you might like. Either way, you're going to end up spending some money -- probably in the $200+ range minimum. But consider this "tuition", not cost. Either way, you'll be learning what you like/don't like. As you say ANYTHING will be a difference -- and improvement -- over what you have.
 

Analisa

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Dec 29, 2017
Posts
882
I'd say Minnesota skiing is probably most similar to All-Mountain East in terms of conditions. Powder 7 (http://www.powder7.com/Mens-Mixed-Snow-East-Skis) does a good job of categorizing, and then labels them by whether they cater more to a true intermediate or an advancing intermediate (or higher, but most probably sit between these two levels). They also have some used demos with bindings than can save some money on the investment (and since they're cared for by a ski shop, I'm willing to bet they're waxed & tuned more regularly than a private owner posting on Craigslist). A few are more touring-oriented, so I'd just keep that in mind while you browse (they'll usually call it out in the product information).

An all-mountain will definitely give a different sensation to park skis. Park ones usually have cap construction (vs. a sidewall, that helps for carving stability), extruded bases that don't glide as quickly, and a pretty soft flex. It makes them a lot cheaper, which is nice if they're getting a lot of abuse in the park. You'll probably feel that a downhill ski suits your style a little better.

From there, I'd demo, especially on your out of town trips where the local ski shops will carry a pretty broad assortment and traveling with ski luggage is cumbersome. You might even be able to try a different pair every day. Once you've demoed a few in the category, you'll generally be able to find one you like, and use some comparison reviews to fill in the gaps.
 

Jilly

Lead Cougar
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,576
Location
Belleville, Ontario,/ Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Check and see if there are any FREE demo days at local resorts. That way it doesn't cost you, but you can't keep the skis for the whole day. They want to try, but not hog them.

I agree with Analisa - something in 80-85mm should on target.
 
Thread Starter
TS
TonyPlush

TonyPlush

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Posts
289
Location
Minnesota
FIrst question anyone will ask: Do you have good, well-fitting boots? If not, that's the very first purchase. This doesn't obviate the need for new skis, but is first in the process. Period.

If so, then....you have (at least) two options. One is to do the "right" thing and go demo/rent some skis after you get a bit of a sense (like the Enforcers, which might not be a bad choice, although others will have some suggestions). This might be easier than you think, b/c almost any place you ski out west will have shops that rent demo skis, often with a proviso that you can switch out even during the day.

The other way might be to just pick up some cheap used-but-much-newer skis, and ski on them awhile until you get a better sense of what you might like. Either way, you're going to end up spending some money -- probably in the $200+ range minimum. But consider this "tuition", not cost. Either way, you'll be learning what you like/don't like. As you say ANYTHING will be a difference -- and improvement -- over what you have.
Thanks for the reply!

My boot situation is even worse than my ski situation. But I'm planning on meeting with a bootfitter here in Minnesota (Pierce Skate and Ski) who the internet tells me is one of the most well regarded in the midwest. I'm not as intimidated by that process, since I can mostly just rely on their boot fitting expertise and pray the bill doesn't get too high.

I'd say Minnesota skiing is probably most similar to All-Mountain East in terms of conditions. Powder 7 (http://www.powder7.com/Mens-Mixed-Snow-East-Skis) does a good job of categorizing, and then labels them by whether they cater more to a true intermediate or an advancing intermediate (or higher, but most probably sit between these two levels). They also have some used demos with bindings than can save some money on the investment (and since they're cared for by a ski shop, I'm willing to bet they're waxed & tuned more regularly than a private owner posting on Craigslist).
I'd prefer to buy the skis based on my destination skiing, since I do more skiing in Colorado than Minnesota. A typical season for me is 7-10 full days at the big western resorts, and maybe just 2-3 short days here in Minnesota.

I love the suggestion about buying a demo setup. IMO skis are durable pieces of equipment, and you're not missing a whole lot by buying used. Then again, I've never skied a brand new pair, so maybe I'm missing something.

An all-mountain will definitely give a different sensation to park skis. Park ones usually have cap construction (vs. a sidewall, that helps for carving stability), extruded bases that don't glide as quickly, and a pretty soft flex. It makes them a lot cheaper, which is nice if they're getting a lot of abuse in the park. You'll probably feel that a downhill ski suits your style a little better.
So THAT'S why my friends are always blowing past me on the catwalks...

And the 2005 Fujative's do have cap construction, which may explain some of my gripping/edging issues.

Check and see if there are any FREE demo days at local resorts. That way it doesn't cost you, but you can't keep the skis for the whole day. They want to try, but not hog them.

I agree with Analisa - something in 80-85mm should on target.
A demo day would be perfect! Not having much luck finding them in MN, most of the results seem to be early season at the big Colorado resorts. I'll definitely keep an eye out though.
 

Slim

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Oct 2, 2017
Posts
1,353
Location
Duluth, MN
There are demo days in MN, BUT:

With the exception of Lutsen, any other hills in MN are just that, hills. No moguls, no powder, no sustained steeps and to short to really build speed. Any ski will do. If you really want to have a high performance option for most MN hills, it would be a slalom ski.

16C261B0-76EF-49A8-9B6E-E495EECEE38F.png


The same problem holds true for demo’ing skis in MN. You won’t encounter any of the different snow and skiing styles you want to try the ski in, so it’s of limited value.

I would agree, that if you are skiing only 2 or 3 days in MN(except Lutsen), it’s not worth counting that at all, unlike someone who lives on the east coast and also skis out west.

So then it’s time to think of what you want to get for skiing out west. What kind of skier are you? ON the ball, agressive? Easy and cruising? Do you enjoy a lot of feedback from your ski or lots of forgiveness? What do you enjoy most? What aspect of your skis and skiing is holding you back most? Who do you ski with? What do they ski like?

For example, I ski with kids. That means no warp speed(though they aren’t slow either), trees, moguls, tight trees, tighter trees, right through the branches, you get the idea. I love soft snow of any kind or location, I also love side slipping, spins and slashing, so I choose accordingly.​

If you are not so sure, something not to extreme in any design consideration is probably best. Ie: not to skinny, not to wide, not to much rocker, but not to little, not to much tip taper, but some.

In the cage matches Tricia and Phil call out “who is this ski for/ not for”, see what sounds like you. Then ask questions taking it from there.

Blistergearreview does a good job comparing skis, so if you see a ski you are interested in, they might compare it to slightly similar ones.

Ski essentials will give their feedback if you post a comment on their reviews. (Found under chairlift chat).

Proskilab has good overview reviews that are well categorized. (Look at both their all mountain reviews)
 
Last edited:

trailtrimmer

Stuck in the Flatlands
Skier
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Posts
818
Location
Michigan
Sounds like boots are being covered. The suggestions to stick with a 76 to 85mm ski are spot on, if you are on-piste most of the time and ski a mix of midwest and west.

How are your skills? Can you link turns? Is your upper body pointed down the fall line while you rotate from the hips, or are you turning your whole body? Any lessons in your future? Can you let your skis run, or are you a little timid about speed?

The trick is finding a ski that's firm enough to carve on hardpack but not so firm that you can't bend it at your skill level.
 

Slim

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Oct 2, 2017
Posts
1,353
Location
Duluth, MN
Check and see if there are any FREE demo days at local resorts. That way it doesn't cost you, but you can't keep the skis for the whole day. They want to try, but not hog them.

I agree with Analisa - something in 80-85mm should on target.
First some qualifiers:
  • I am not nearly as experienced with different skis as @Jilly, @trailtrimmer and @Analisa and leagues behind in skiing skills.
  • I am also much taller than all of you, which might give me more leverage over a wider ski.
  • See my preferences for skiing above, yours will differ.
Several of you have commented on the mix of skiing in MN and out west. However, as @TonyPlush explained (and I explained why I would feel similar), he is not looking for a ski for MN, he is looking for a ski for CO and UT. He says he’s at 40% ungroomed now, and growing, I take that to mean 50% or more ungroomed in the future.​

With that out of the way, I would say wouldn’t 90-100mm waist be a better choice?

You aren’t looking for a ski to carve up high speed east coast hardpack, you are looking for a Rocky Mountain ski, right?

In my last 5 years trips to CO, I have skied soft snow(not necessarily powder) the vast majority of time. Then come up to Lutsen in spring for “hot-pow”.

There are plenty of 90-100mm skis that hold an edge quite well. Less then 90mm really is a lot harder for an intermediate skier in deep snow, compounded by the fact that most of those skis aren’t made for deep snow, ie very little rocker as well. Especially for skiers like us, who don’t get to practice deep snow that often.

Then their are the opinions of others:
 
Last edited:

LeLeedler

Racer at Heart
Skier
Joined
May 3, 2017
Posts
84
Location
Aspen/Snowmass
I am thinking something in the 78-85 range would suit intermediate Minnesota skiing, here's a few awesome options.
Nordica Navigator 80
Kastle LX82
Fischer PRO mnt 80
Blizzard Rawhide
Rossignol Expirience 84
Soloman XDR 84ti
Personally I haven't skiied many of these but, the Navigator 80 is a really strong option for a great price, the Kastle LX82 is awesome but, a little pricey, and I haven't skied the Expirience 84 but, I have skiied its bigger brother the 88 and i didn't really like it but, it would be awesome for an intermediate!
 

trailtrimmer

Stuck in the Flatlands
Skier
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Posts
818
Location
Michigan
There are plenty of 90-100mm skis that hold an edge quite well. Less then 90mm really is a lot harder for an intermediate skier in deep snow, compounded by the fact that most of those skis aren’t made for deep snow, ie very little rocker as well. Especially for skiers like us, who don’t get to practice deep snow that often.
As skis get wider, they are harder to learn on. They take bigger weight shifts to roll them over and the angles to get them to hook up are far greater. Keeping it in the upper 70's to mid 80's will allow for much quicker progression.

Quite honestly, a 70 to 74mm is even better to hone skills on, but it lacks soft snow versatility.
 

Jilly

Lead Cougar
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,576
Location
Belleville, Ontario,/ Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Then if it out west skis....why not demo next trip out west. Take your boots. Use the money for the ski bag tariff and demo all week.

And again, you might get lucky and hit a freebie. March might see next years skis out for demo.
 

Jilly

Lead Cougar
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,576
Location
Belleville, Ontario,/ Mont Tremblant, Quebec
As skis get wider, they are harder to learn on. They take bigger weight shifts to roll them over and the angles to get them to hook up are far greater. Keeping it in the upper 70's to mid 80's will allow for much quicker progression.

Quite honestly, a 70 to 74mm is even better to hone skills on, but it lacks soft snow versatility.
Then there is this too! Back to the 80-85mm.
 
Thread Starter
TS
TonyPlush

TonyPlush

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Posts
289
Location
Minnesota
Sounds like boots are being covered. The suggestions to stick with a 76 to 85mm ski are spot on, if you are on-piste most of the time and ski a mix of midwest and west.

How are your skills? Can you link turns? Is your upper body pointed down the fall line while you rotate from the hips, or are you turning your whole body? Any lessons in your future? Can you let your skis run, or are you a little timid about speed?

The trick is finding a ski that's firm enough to carve on hardpack but not so firm that you can't bend it at your skill level.
Here's how I described my skiing before:
  • 60% of my skiing is fast cruising on blue/black groomers. I’m working on my carving, although I feel I lose my edges if pushing too hard on my current skis, and I feel especially helpless in icy conditions.
  • 30% is venturing into blue/black bumps, in trees, or away from the main runs.
  • 10% is testing myself on double black terrain.
I try to stay aware of keeping my upper body pointed down the fall line, although I do have a tendency to over-rotate when I get into terrain beyond my ability. (usually Rocky Mountain double blacks or the tougher bigger bumped blacks)
 

Slim

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Oct 2, 2017
Posts
1,353
Location
Duluth, MN
Keeping it in the upper 70's to mid 80's will allow for much quicker progression.

Quite honestly, a 70 to 74mm is even better to hone skills on, but it lacks soft snow versatility.
Would this not depend on WHAT one is trying to learn? None of my recent lessons (L3 instructors, private lessons and group camps) have focused on "getting the edges to hook up". In fact, a large part of my last lesson was variations on pivot slips, releasing the edges! The other thing that always seems to come up is pole plants and keeping weight forward, flexing and extending, etc.

Now, I am sure this is because I asked for lessons for moderate speed, in bumps and powder. I totally get your point if we are talking about hardpack carving. Do you think your width statement holds true for other types of skiing?

Of course, not sure what @TonyPlush wants to focus on.
 
Thread Starter
TS
TonyPlush

TonyPlush

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Posts
289
Location
Minnesota
Several of you have commented on the mix of skiing in MN and out west. However, as @TonyPlush explained (and I explained why I would feel similar), he is not looking for a ski for MN, he is looking for a ski for CO and UT. He says he’s at 40% ungroomed now, and growing, I take that to mean 50% or more ungroomed in the future.

With that out of the way, I would say wouldn’t 90-100mm waist be a better choice?

You aren’t looking for a ski to carve up high speed east coast hardpack, you are looking for a Rocky Mountain ski, right?
This is correct. I don't really care about optimizing my choice for MN skiing, because I do so little of it. I treat my 2-3 days of skiing here as nothing more than a tune up to hole me over until my next trip to Steamboat/Snowmass/Winter Park/Big Sky/Whistler/Park City etc.
 

Analisa

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Dec 29, 2017
Posts
882
If you're ski days tend to be west, it makes sense that your skis cater to it. The Enforcers make a lot of sense from a waist width perspective. They're considered by some manufacturers to be a more advanced ski, but that isn't any reason not to demo (if anything, it's nice to have "room to grow" as you progress). I'd put a Dynastar Legend 88 or 96 and Armada Invictus line around this class.

A bit softer or narrower will be easier to control - like a Sick Day 88 or 94, k2 pinnacle, or Rossi Sky/Sin 7. Or Blizzard Brahma. They still cater to advancing intermediates.

As for durability, if you're skiing less than 10-15 days a season, they should last you close to or over a decade. You'll want to focus on storage to keep them performing their best - temperature controlled, good storage wax for the summer or long breaks between trips (loosen your DINs on a similar schedule), and fill in core damage. I agree that there isn't a noticeable difference between new and used skis, but the difference between well cared for ones and ones with rusty edges and oxidized bases is noticeable.
 

trailtrimmer

Stuck in the Flatlands
Skier
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Posts
818
Location
Michigan
Would this not depend on WHAT one is trying to learn? None of my recent lessons (L3 instructors, private lessons and group camps) have focused on "getting the edges to hook up". In fact, a large part of my last lesson was variations on pivot slips, releasing the edges! The other thing that always seems to come up is pole plants and keeping weight forward, flexing and extending, etc.

Now, I am sure this is because I asked for lessons for moderate speed, in bumps and powder. I totally get your point if we are talking about hardpack carving. Do you think your width statement holds true for other types of skiing?

Of course, not sure what @TonyPlush wants to focus on.
Both hookup and release of edge to edge transitions happen faster and easier on narrower skis with rounded tails. You don't see olympians on wide skis in moguls, there is a reason for it. Something like a blizzard latigo is quite playful in the bumps and trees and can still carve, it's not a super wide ski, but is versatile. The Atomic vantage CTI in 85 would slide into the same category with a round tail and a bit to rocker, both can be had for quite cheap right now too.

If all one does is look for stashes, then yeah, 95 to 105 is the way to go. When someone specifically mentions they primarily ski groomers want to improve their carving and to build confidence and have better grip in conditions as well as play off piste, I have a hard time recommending wide skis. The widest sticks I'd even consider would be the Kendo which I really dig second to the Stockli SR88 which needs a trust fund to acquire.
 

Slim

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Oct 2, 2017
Posts
1,353
Location
Duluth, MN
Both hookup and release of edge to edge transitions happen faster and easier on narrower skis with rounded tails. You don't see olympians on wide skis in moguls, there is a reason for it. Something like a blizzard latigo is quite playful in the bumps and trees and can still carve, it's not a super wide ski, but is versatile. The Atomic vantage CTI in 85 would slide into the same category with a round tail and a bit to rocker, both can be had for quite cheap right now too.

If all one does is look for stashes, then yeah, 95 to 105 is the way to go. When someone specifically mentions they primarily ski groomers want to improve their carving and to build confidence and have better grip in conditions as well as play off piste, I have a hard time recommending wide skis. The widest sticks I'd even consider would be the Kendo which I really dig second to the Stockli SR88 which needs a trust fund to acquire.
Thanks for clarifying that.
 
Thread Starter
TS
TonyPlush

TonyPlush

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Jan 4, 2018
Posts
289
Location
Minnesota
Thanks for all the great responses everyone! Lots to take in, and a ton of great suggestions. I'm new here, but I'm already learning this forum is the best!

Hopefully I can score some boots that won't send me to the poor house before my trip to Steamboat at the end of January. From there, I'm thinking I'll spend 3 days demo'ing some different types of skis to get a feel for what's what.

When I go for the demos, do you all think I should stick around the 169 cm length? (That's the size of the decade old park skis I'm using right now. I'm 5'9.4" and 165 lbs) And if I have the option, should I lean longer or shorter?
 

Members online

Top