Seeking help getting through / past intermediate stage - focus on skis

Discussion in 'Hardgoods: Skis, Bindings, Poles, and More' started by Snowcat, Jan 23, 2018.

  1. Snowcat

    Snowcat Booting up Skier

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    Seeking advice from advanced / expert skiers who did not grow up skiing and who had to go through the intermediate skill level stage as adults:

    Question: "Thinking purely about the skis themselves, what advice would you give to adult intermediate skiers about how best to choose skis if they want to progress to become advanced / expert skiers? To avoid any uproar, the goal is not for the skis to instantly transform your skiing but to help you improve as you are taking lessons and working on your skills. The goal is to become advanced/expert, not to make skiing easier today. Assume also that boots are properly fitted by a good bootfitter."

    I know many in this camp. Unfortunately our advanced/expert friends all grew up skiing and/or don't care about gear at all, so they are no help. There was a recent reference to "overgearing" and some people said they started with shorter and softer skis than you would expect given their height / weight.

    What do you all think? What advice would you give? What did you do right? What do you wish you had known before?

    Thanks!!!

    p.s. not sure if this is in the right category...
     
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  2. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

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    I fall into that category. Good questions. I'll have to add my thoughts later, partly because I'm still sorting it all out myself!
     
  3. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    1. Where are you skiing and what do you want to ski terrain wise? Trees and bumps, steep groomers, East vs West snow conditions?
    2. What ski are you currently on? What length too?

    For example if you were an eastern skier that skis mostly groomers, but looking into trees....an all mountain ski between 75-85mm waist.
     
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  4. Dwight

    Dwight Practitioner of skiing, solid and liquid Admin Moderator

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    I would get a slalom type ski to work on better technique. Then I would add to my ski quiver for the terrain I prefer to ski.
     
  5. LiquidFeet

    LiquidFeet Out on the slopes Instructor

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    Ditto what Jilly asked. I've added one more question. Your answers will help people custom design their answers to your skiing and your goals, not just suggest buying what worked for them.

    1. Where are you skiing and what do you want to ski terrain wise? Trees and bumps, steep groomers, East vs West snow conditions?
    2. What ski are you currently on? What length too?
    3. You want to become advanced/expert. When you say that, what do you envision yourself being able to do?
     


  6. WheatKing

    WheatKing Ice coast carveaholic Skier

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    I'd review the comparisons of gear that Phil does here and pay close attention to those that say "does not punish mistakes". To me the difference between the intermediate and advanced intermediate(and above) is not so much the skill, it's the ability of one to trust not only the gear, but your abilities. If you can't put faith into your gear you'll never inclinate and angulate.. which is the gateway to advanced/expert

    I still remember the run, the spot and the time when I threw caution to the wind, and decided to lay them and myself over and put blind faith into my skis and either they were going to work some kind of magic.. or I was gonna be laid out across the slope.. much to my surprise i didn't fall down, quite the opposite.. and from there the rest because easier..

    My advice... ignore the "expert" skis.. ignore the "rec" skis.. get an "easy" ski on which to learn.. for me.. and i'm glad I took the advice from old guy at the ski shop.. was the amp rictor in a relatively short 167.. there are many better skis out there.. but i don't think i would have progressed as well if it wasn't for an easy to ski ski..
     
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  7. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

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    I'll bite, as I've been tossing around the idea of something to REALLY learn to carve on. I have access to quality instruction at least once a week, so that's covered. I have a GREAT all-mountain ski that I've skied exclusively this winter--the 2018 Black Pearl 88 and it's helped me progress quite a lot, BUT I'm really wondering if I need to pick up a dedicated ski to learn to carve on. I have some Head Super Joys but at 163, honestly, I think I need them shorter. (So, yes, looking for recommendations of a slalom type ski to learn to carve on. I'm getting there on the BPs, but think a full-camber ski is the way to go.)

    On that note, do NOT be swayed into getting onto longer skis as an intermediate because they are more "stable." They also have more edge to release and work. I've actually downsized from a 166 to a 159 and am very happy that I did.

    Also, don't be swayed by the search for the "holy grail" of skis. Choose an appropriate length, waist width, and ski based on skill set, and ski IT and nothing else. (Thanks to Tricia for that advice.) Yes, I'm kind of going against it by looking for another ski to carve on, but keep in mind, I typically get 90 days on the hill per season. Last season, I took out a different ski almost daily based on what I thought conditions were going to be like. Pick a fav, and ski it the most.

    Don't get caught up in the speed game--faster does not always = better skiing. Don't mimic your friends who ski mach schnell but brush or skid every turn, thinking that they are superior in skill to you.

    Take as many lessons with higher level instructors as you possibly can.
     
  8. Plai

    Plai Paul Lai Skier

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    Big +1 ... I'm another late learner and have decidedly gone back to under 80mm technical ski to focus on technique.

    Focus on skis at your target level. I knew I was in the backseat sometimes when I got my first technical ski. I thought it would ride me. It did a little, but I quickly learned to "drive" the skis. What a game changer.

    I find that practicing on groomers is sometimes too lazy/easy -- I get sloppy. There's only soo many edging skills, pivot slips, falling leafs, and 360s you can do before my kids start to worried about me. So, venturing occasionally into bumps to verify and can help focus skills in a hurry.

    Good luck and hope to hear how you progress.
     
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  9. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    If a ski does not bend, it will not turn. Go a bit softer. Avoid people validating their own purchases and saying "I just got the new XXXX xxx2000 is a 186, the ski rips, you need to get this too...Best. Ski. EVR!
     
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  10. Analisa

    Analisa Putting on skis Skier

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    I'll add my piece - PNW skier who cruised blue groomers and wanted to get into ski mountaineering (and shortly thereafter matched with an expert while playing ski resort Tinder). For me, progression was about feeling comfortable on double-black off-pistes. Took about 3 weeks, and I blindly picked a ski that was perfect.

    I got a pair of Dynastar Cham 87s and sized down to 152 (8cm shorter than my height) since that's what Evo had on clearance (and at that point, I didn't realize that it really mattered). They have oddly large shovels - more in line with what you'd see for a mid-90's waist, which made them okay for float. The short length + short turn radius + insane amount of rocker made them incredibly easy to turn and control. I could make it down anything, one short staccato turn at a time. I can't tell you how many times I heard some variation of "you're not a good skier, but you ski everything on the mountain and you never fall down." As I have friends that are going through the same progression on the "right" sized skis that are more advanced, they tend to have a little more of that top of the run panic (our local mountain doesn't have off-piste blues, nor many groomed blacks, so you end up trying to tackle steeps & off-piste all at once - so control is almost doubly helpful).

    I spent a few months more than I should have on the Chams. I wish I had known what to "listen" to as a sign that I needed an upgrade. My next ski was a few cms taller than me, wider, but still not the chargiest things on the mountain. The extra stability has let me open up my turns, smooth the transition between them, and build more power where I actually feel my skis flex. I think part of the reason I felt comfortable pushing them was knowing that I had gotten down those runs 50+ times on my shorties and that I didn't die.
     
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  11. Thread Starter
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    Snowcat

    Snowcat Booting up Skier

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    Thanks for sharing!

    Not able to reply properly right now but wanted to quickly say that it's so great to see all the thoughtful comments.

    Will reply back when I can next find a block of time.
     
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  12. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    We will be here waiting.
     
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  13. Thread Starter
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    Snowcat

    Snowcat Booting up Skier

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    Wow! OK, so many thoughts. Let's see if I can reply coherently.

    • Ultimate Goal:
      • To eventually be able to ski down any normal resort run + offpiste anywhere with confidence, east coast, west coast (excluding extreme offpiste stuff)
      • To do this with good form and excellent control not just get down the run.
      • Not concerned about skiing crazy stuff that would make the gopro highlight reels.
    • Current skis:
      • E84 (non-HD)
      • these are fine, neither here nor there...seem to be an ultimate compromise, which you can consider good or bad
      • they were cheap and great for starting out
    • Some ideas that I'm hearing:
      • @Dwight, @AmyPJ, @Plai go with a narrower ski to hone skills
      • @WheatKing need to trust skis - I totally understand that ... to some extent, I don't want to be thinking about my skis at all
      • @AmyPJ don't overgear, take lessons and focus on form - we're on the same page there - but how to tell if overgeared?
      • @Plai use bumps as a way to test how you are progressing - in retrospect thinking about past experiences, I like that idea
      • @WheatKing, @Philpug go a bit softer with an easier ski that you can bend
      • @Analisa don't overgear, go shorter initially but know when to upgrade
    • Side notes:
      • @AmyPJ - definitely relate to the "holy grail" ski idea but I'm now ok with idea of a quiver if helpful
      • @Analisa - I totally relate to the top of the run feeling on steep narrow terrain (how to trust skill/gear to make the first few turns!)
    • New questions:
      • maybe naive but how can you tell whether you are under or overgeared flex-wise? I definitely can turn but some skis are easier than others to bend and drive. how do you know when you have the "goldilocks" level for you?
      • how do you know that you need to upgrade your ski relative to your level?
      • also, I sometimes ski with beginners and at other times more expert skiers ... does this change anything? am I adding too many demands now?
    Would love your additional thoughts. Did I understand what you're all saying? What else am I missing?

    Thanks again!
     
  14. Monique

    Monique bounceswoosh Skier

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "normal" and I'm not sure what you mean by "extreme." By normal, do you mean "groomed or bumped"?
     
  15. Thread Starter
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    Snowcat

    Snowcat Booting up Skier

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    @Monique. Extreme = extreme offpiste stuff ... narrow chutes, cliff skiing, etc. I guess all I mean is I'm excluding daredevil stuff or seriously out of bounds terrain. Maybe another way to put it is that I want to be able to ski any life-serviced trail on or off piste. Does that make it more clear?
     
  16. Monique

    Monique bounceswoosh Skier

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    I think you're probably mistaken in what you think is available via a lift, but I get the idea. Thanks.
     
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  17. François Pugh

    François Pugh Out on the slopes Skier

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    Maybe I'm not in the crowd you are looking for advice from, but if you are lower intermediate and want to improve, the best ski for you to do that with would be one with a SL shape and full camber, but softer in flex. Soft is a relative term. If you weigh 185 lbs, a Fischer WC SC (not SL) would be great, if you weigh 150 lbs, it would still be too stiff.
     
  18. rcc55125

    rcc55125 Putting on skis Skier

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    You haven't answered the question, where do you ski most of the time, east, midwest, west.
    This is good to know since it's where you will be doing the majority of your practice and your typical skiing day.
    How many days per year do you average, 5 to 10, 15 to 20, over 50? This will make a difference in what ski you might want to use.

    Now with that our of the way I'm going to give you a thumb nail sketch of my skiing. I started when I was 30 years old. I started skiing with a ski club in the midwest so I was making 5 day western trips almost from the beginning. I would ski mostly weekends and get maybe 20 days per season. Then I had kids and skiing days dropped to almost zero. Once the kids were about 8 we started skiing as a family, again maybe 10 to 20 days a year. Kids left home and skiing dropped off again. Once I retired my wife said I needed something to get me out of the house. I became a ski instructor at our local area. So, this gave me about 35 years experience being an intermediate.
    I'm now working on my PSIA Level 2 instructor certification at age 70. You may think this makes me an expert but I think of myself of more an advanced intermediate. I say this because I just spent two days skiing with Heidi Ettlinger and Brenna Kelleher from the PSIA National Team, a humbling experience to say the least.

    So, what ski would I recommend? An all mountain ski, about nose height, 75 to 85 mm under foot. Your E84 may be just fine depending on length.

    I'm 5'-9" (175 cm) tall and my daily driver/training ski is a 170 cm Head Raw Instinct. I even ski this on piste at Breckenridge.

    You said you intend to take lessons, great. This will definitely get you off the intermediate plateau.
    You talked a little about boots, you seem to think your good there. Softening the boots may also help by making it easier to flex the ankle so you can get pressure on the front of the ski. Ask your instructor. If your 200 pounds a 110 flex may be fine unless you plan on racing. If your 6-6 and 250 OK 130's.

    Go to your local area and spend a couple of hours with an instructor before you change anything. Ask them about what skis you might want. Ask them about boots and boot flex. You may be surprised by the answers you get.
     
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  19. WheatKing

    WheatKing Ice coast carveaholic Skier

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    At the risk of sounding cheezy.. you need to be in tune with your body.. you need to know what feels right (and is right) and what feels wrong (because it's wrong).. sometimes it's not so easy.

    When your on hardpack and on a carve that you know is right, and the ski hooks or skids at the apex of the carve.. you're probably under geared.. when you carve and you know it's right but you need a ton of speed to maintain it, or even initiate it.. you're probably over geared. and for each situation on every hill, there is a ski that is better than another ski.

    I spent most of my skiing life on gear that was "over geared".. I even just bought some new skis last spring that I recently sold because after skiing them a few times, they just weren't for me.. and demo'ing just wasn't in the cards.. An expert *can* ski any ski, any where, any time... but they don't because, well why would they..

    being an east coaster.. i'd recommend getting an easy SL ski and learn to ski it slow and fast and push it to your limit.. and when you get good enough.. push it to the skis limit.. it'll probably take a few years and lessons should accelerate the process depending on what kind of student you are.. but that's just me..

    Once you have good foundation skills.. applying those to different areas of the hill becomes easier... there is a lifetime of learning in skiing.. don't forget to enjoy it and really.. don't over analyze it.. I know I learn best when i'm having fun..

    I'm the wrong guy to recommend gear.. but perhaps posting a video of your current abilities would be helpful for those that can.
     
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  20. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

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    E84 is a great ski, with a generous sidecut. Stick with it, I think.
     
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