Ski Brand Speed....

Discussion in 'Racing and Competition' started by Frankly, Nov 25, 2017.

  1. Frankly

    Frankly Upwind of NY Pass Pulled

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    Granted my modern World Cup ski experience is filtered through the overlords of the Olympic Channel but on more than one occasion I've heard the expert, i.e. Bode Miller refer to a skier's equipment issues in such a way you can tell it's more than just the tuning or boot fit... I get the impression he thinks the entire brand is F-d up. He jabs a lot of subtle digs at Atomic and Fischer. Surprisingly he goes pretty easy on Head except for their SL skis from a few seasons back.

    He just did it today, commenting that Shiffren's GS set up wasn't ideal.

    Now I understand at the Hirscher and Shriffren level everything is essentially custom made and they have spent a lot of time testing. And at the mere mortal level all the brands are competitive and other factors take precedence. And Atomic is notorious for spending money to disguise what their stars are really using... replacing decals, paint jobs, etc.

    But are Heads and Stocklis inherently faster than Atomics and Fischers? Because that's the impression I'm getting from watching WC racing as it's presented to us here.
     
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  2. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    I think he took a shot at Volkl today
     
  3. Primoz

    Primoz Making fresh tracks Skier

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    @Frankly first, Atomic is anything but "notorious for spending money to disguise what their stars are really using". The only one, probably in history of Atomic, that's using non-Atomic equipment is Hirscher. And they disguise it so badly, you don't need to be expert to notice this. Everyone else, most likely including Shiffrin, are simply not allowed to use anything but Atomic. If it doesn't fit them, bad luck. Things are actually that bad, that they are not allowed to use old Atomic equipment if it fits them better then new one. For example pretty much everyone on Marker are still using old bindings, especially for GS, as they are much faster then new ones. With Atomic it would be no go.
    Then to what's better or worse. Thing is, skis are different, and the way they are made, it's impossible even today to replicate super fast pair. So you might have super fast pair, and maybe you pick it for race, or maybe you and your serviceman pick wrong one. This speed thing doesn't show in SL or GS, but in DH, especially on glide autobahn like LL is, it shows. But then there's also wax, right structure etc. so it's really hard to judge from race results.
    Another thing is how whole setup is dialed in. There's maybe 3 or 4 guys on WC today, that really get skis build for them personally (Bode was one of them in past). Everyone else, just pick one of models they are available. For example Rossi has about 6 or 7 (depending on season) GS models, and racers picks the one that fits him best. If none of them fits you super good, then you are scre**wed and you just need to adapt.
    But either way, it's impossible to say Head skis are fastest, and behave best just looking on results. Their list of victories has nothing much to do with quality of skis but with quality of racers they were able to buy. If Atomic would be so bad, I don't think Hirscher, Shiffrin or Fill would be winning so much. Fischer on the other hand, simply doesn't have racer capable of winning races at the moment. Not because skis would be bad, but simply, because no Fischer racer is at the moment capable of winning WC race (on any kind of skis). Or on the other hand, Vonn was winning everything on Rossi, and she kept doing so on Head. So it's not like there's big difference once she switched to Head :)
     
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  4. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    I agree with Primoz.

    From all that I know, the true custom built and purpose built skis for individual athletes are incredibly rare. I know guys who tested for Head...specifically for GS skis for Ligety and Bode. Perhaps Svindal had a special layup, but word I always had were that his skis were basically Bode's.

    Hirscher is on his own program. So is MS. Vonn has a very custom built boot, as do a half dozen guys on Head.

    But beyond that group, I think it's safe to say that the various companies all have race rooms that turn out very good product. Some in larger numbers, and with more design models than others, but good product.

    I also think that most athletes make their decisions based on the contract, maybe the support. The get the most money, the best product, and the most service support, means your one of about 3-4 in the sport of each gender.

    But there are a very few cosmetic games going on. For sure. Not many at all. Some. Like less than a handful.

    It's also easier when a company "comes clean". Good example is a number of years ago when Fischer still made an excellent straight last plug race boot, but had them all look like the SOMA boot in terms of the signage, etc. Very scarce at the time. I think there were about 3-4 Americans, all National team on the boot. I know two Canadian guys, who were dropped from CAST who could not get it, until they basically bought them under the table in Europe.

    That has pretty much always been the case for North Americans. To get the best, the "real" stuff, you better be on the team, up the WC start list, or have a close personal contact in the right place in Europe.

    Not new. I recall my son's coach sitting me down and explaining that he could get fully set up with free equipment, and "it will be the crap they send over here", or "we can go to Europe and buy the real stuff."

    Or if you're a serious speed skier, maybe, maybe, be able to buy a pair or two that were used by a recently retired WC guy and reasonably known to be pretty fast. I had a top ten guy asking to sell his best race pairs at $10K a pair. Think he dropped the price, a lot.

    @Primoz makes some great points, as usual.

    Here, in the USA, going to be interesting to see what if anything happens with MS's Atomic contract being up at the end of the season. Very interesting. Could be almost any end result.

    Going to probably be a record contract either way!
     
  5. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    Some skis are just fast. Allegedly it has a lot to do with that particular piece of ptex holding more wax. The only way to know though is to test on snow. I presume the top speed racers get first pick of these fast skis. Afaik, these skis are kept in rotation from year to year just changing top sheet. Assuming they meet a change in rules. Maybe @Primoz can answer.

    Many years ago - mid 90's, I remember Picaboo Street crashed badly and broke her leg, and ski. She cried- over her skis, because they were fast. The leg could be fixed.
     


  6. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    Hate to keep posting articles from skiracing. This one is from the premium section. Don't know the rules. Interview with Alex Martin, Ted Ligety's tech.

    He's talking about a lot of things, including testing the new 30M skis. As Primoz notes, Alex says they tested about 6 different sidecuts, and 4-5 different "constructions" for each of those. Then they worked on mounting points, angle, plates. So by his math 70-80 set ups.

    Based on what I have seen before, he'll have one that he really prefers, and generally uses, and they will probably travel with and be ready to use a couple of others depending on race day. Maybe.

    Lot of work, for sure!

    https://www.skiracing.com/premium/backshop-interview-with-alex-martin
     
  7. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    How do they decide what they prefer? I've talked to one tech who said sometimes the one that "feels better" they are actually slower on.

    It tells you something about boot setup when even Mikaela with all the resources available, has trouble.
     
  8. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    Yep, you'll hear "feels good, times slow", as age old words. I recall when Nordica came put with the Doberman with the duck foot stance that they felt would be in particular a fast speed boot. Felt great to ski for many guys. Timed "not so fast" for anybody that I heard of.

    Depends on the ski and the discipline. And the skier. But basically it involves a lot of time on the same course, sane track, with clock and video.

    In that article and video I find it interesting to hear Alex Martin state that Ligety really uses a different ski and setup "than anybody else" as he generates his speed by skiing super clean arc to arc instead of skiing a shorter, uglier more aggressive line. I think it will be interesting to see how it goes with the new skis.

    Speed skis, BTW, involve a lot of testing relative to the pure speed of the ski. Glide tracks and such. More emphasis on base material, structure, edges. And then of course you have the whole wax testing process.

    I believe that the pilot makes the difference, but sure is a lot of work in testing the planes!

    I would love to have some real insight as to when one of the very best in the sport considers making a change in ski/boot companies and how they go about those evaluations in a short period of time. I guess you are concerned with the exact model and design. Have to evaluate so much, as well as hammer out the contract. Seems somewhat complicated.

    Though some deals have been made just on the money. And the relative reputation of the company on tour.

    As always...what they are skiing is not what we are skiing, though it has become closer.

    MS' boots? I think sometimes no matter the resources, it's not that easy. Could also have some really opinionated people in the room. You might have a model and design that has worked really well, you have had tweaked, and then they roll out a new model that's problematic. That was the case with the first Redsters.

    You have some of these athletes add a fair amount of muscle mass in a year or so. MS, Hirscher, etc. That can change the equation.

    I'm reminded of when you go to your friendly bootfitter, who knows your foot, and needs. You walk in, in flip flops and shorts, looks at your foot, does an evaluation and says "Yep, that foot was made for a XYZ boot." Last time around, I really wanted to try a Head boot. My guy, who is good and experienced with me, said "no way" and explained why. The many reasons.

    So....if I were paid a HUGE sum of money, and was a top of the heap athlete, I guess I'd have three options. One is for them to do whatever magic they can with a stock boot, and a huge bin of boot parts. A second would be to maybe do a few things with other boots and parts in their corporate family. Third would be for them to build me a complete custom boot, from the clog up. That does happen, but not for many.

    Even the custom boot doesn't always work. In some cases an athlete's physiology is just not ideal for the boot. Boot was designed for somebody else. So there is constant non stop tweaking and fiddling. And of course some athletes develop that the reputation of constant
    fiddling.

    Better you are, more fiddling put up with!

    And some fiddle themselves. Some guys swear they can feel a single piece of electrical tape under a toe or heel piece, or on one side to adjust cant. Thomas Vonn was one, as a coach and working with LV. That's kind of precise!

    Coaches with "a good eye" can generally recognize a boot problem, but sometimes need more than a run to do so. And, sometimes they are on the money, sometimes not!

    I am amazed at the really skilled ones.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
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  9. BGreen

    BGreen Out on the slopes Skier

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    I'll try to respond to more later, but there is a big difference between recognizing a boot problem and correcting a boot problem. It isn't as simple as Internet pontificators say because you are adapting a messy human structure to a rigid exoskeleton.
     
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  10. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    GREAT, GREAT point.
    The work is in the fix for sure.
    And often that's just "hard"....inderstatement.


    If you had a nickel for every guru who HS stated that both MH and MS have had boot problems...you'd have plenty of $$$. Realizing that a team of guys who work on nothing but those boots, for them, full time and still can struggle to get it right puts it in perspective.

    Fixing is hard. Fiddling is easy!
     
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  11. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    Novice question here

    In the day and age of 3D printers and imaging, why can’t they take a molding of a skiers lower leg/foot and design a boot around it with the stiffness/reinforcement exactly where it is needed?

    Seems the technology is there. Are ski companies using that kind of stuff?
     
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  12. Thread Starter
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    Frankly

    Frankly Upwind of NY Pass Pulled

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    Thanks for taking my clumsily worded thread starter and actually putting down some interesting content. I don't mean to sound denser than I already am but sometimes asking a dumb straight forward question leads to a good conversation.

    Sometimes people just think I'm stupid ;-p

    In regards to gear feeling good but skiing slow... I know with shooting sports there is a saying, "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast" but when they interview top competitors they call BS and say, no, fast is fast ;-p I know for sure that my old Langes back in the day sure felt lousy when I cranked them down but I was faster in spite of (or because of?) the pain. I know that biomechanically my feet should be perfectly neutral and held firmly but not vice-gripped but because the bones in my feet are held together by Jello, clamping things down worked best.
     
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  13. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    Dodge Ski Boots, which are made of Carbon Fibre, now fit all of their boots remotely. The process involves making a 3D model of your foot, from a series of pictures taken from your smart phone.

    One of their initial challenges was working with dealers who had no experience with this material and process...even if very expert in traditional boot fitting. Like grinding and shaving away material. So, they decided to take it ALL in house, and I believe that the results have been good.

    So, yeah, some is being done now.

    The ski companies that make true custom boots for a very few of their athletes do make models of their feet.

    Keep in mind that you have the shell, and the liner, and generally also want to be able to dial things in by tweaking them. Adjustability.

    Always thought that one of the bigger guys might buy Dodge, or pay a big fee to license the technology.

    Beyond that, no clue. None.

    Check out the custom fit part:

    https://dodgeskiboots.com/
     
  14. Thread Starter
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    Frankly

    Frankly Upwind of NY Pass Pulled

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    But isn't there more to a good boot fit than a 3D model? After all a custom liner / foaming is going to replicate whatever a 3D model might do for most people, albeit with more spongey materials. The base of the boots are going to be similar between all of the different kinds of boots.

    To me the big factors are where seams and pressure points are, like where the plastic sections overlap and create ridges when flexing, etc. And the big boogieman, stance/canting... what is optimal? We all think it should be neutral but not always and then how do you go about adjusting it? From the bottom, the shaft, etc. all work and all create different results.

    Put me in a gravity swing and cast my entire lower leg from the knee down, then build me the optimal boot from that. And we'd still be arguing years later....
     
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  15. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    @Muleski

    That is interesting. Certainly along the lines of what I was asking for sure. Ever Skied them? Know anyone who has.
     
  16. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    I have ZERO vested interest in Dodge Boots.
    I know most of the better men who have raced in them.

    All that I know is that are at least taking a step to use a 3D model of your foot to "build" a boot. Granted, it's not a custom molded boot. But it's a lot different process that any of us not on the top 25 of the WCSL seem to be using, or at least that I know.

    Agree 100%. Probably why I use a BD foam liner in a nice close fitting shell that works for my feet, and is properly aligned and fitted.

    There is also the cost to develop and use this, when the process in place now tends to work pretty well for most skiers. Unfortunately the two most high profile skiers seem to have constant issues, and are cashing huge checks from the same company, for now!

    Dodge is not close to perfect. Just interesting. Many people rave about them. And taking the original "these are a bitch to fit, need special skills, training and tools" to "we're going to fit every single pair remotely" is an interesting move.

    Which also drastically cut their distribition costs {and their price} and apparently improved the result.

    Do you remember when Dodge had three guys in their boot either getting or close to getting WC GS starts. They ALL eventually were blocked by their ski companies. "You want our skis. You use our boots."

    A lot to this equipment "stuff", beyond designing the best mousetrap. Federation pools, contracts, in some cases rules.....

    Just kind of like Bill Doble and Dave Dodge's boot story....and of course WCN.
     
  17. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    So the Ski companies put pressure on their skiers to NOT use the Dodge boots and forced them to use their boots? I get the under contract thing... Been there done that and have received that uncomfortable call :( before.

    This tells me that the top tier (i.e. WC level) skiers thought it was worth a try.

    This type of fitting has to be the future! Is this one perfect? Dunno, but I have to bet they are on the correct track
     
  18. James

    James Skiing the powder Instructor

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    Hah, I rhink Bode at one point was sponsored by many of them. Fischer, Rossi, Head as I remember.

    The whole "if only the boot was molded to my foot/leg it would be perfect" is a myth. Yeah you can't have gobs of space, but some areas seemingly it's ok. Others not. If you have everything so tight you lock up the ankle, I'd say you're screwed. If your feet go numb, there goes a lot of your balance system. Btw, my bet is a lot of junior racers are locked up.

    I don't think we've settled on what's optimal in terms of angles for ramp, zeppa angle, or forward lean. Or how to determine for individual people. Over the years boot makers have just changed these angles, including rail angle, (toe out), willy nilly and without publishing them.
    Take a look at David McPhail's blog. It'll drive you nuts. If the industry took this as seriously 30 years ago we'd be in much better shape today.

    https://skimoves.me/2017/11/04/8550/
     
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  19. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    The ski companies all either own their own boot companies, for the most part, or are aligned.

    If you are under contract, you agree to what the terms are. You want the skis. You use the boots.

    One skier who was making huge progress in the Dodge boot was Jon Olsson. Jon began his career as an alpine racer, and was damn good. At about 16, he went to the freestyle side, and beyond "killed it."

    He decided, legend has it on a bet, to resume racing. And he went hammer down. To WC starts. Very "legit."

    He was Head's highest paid snow sports athlete, as I recall. When pictures began to come out of him training and racing in New Zealand in a Dodge boot, he fairly soon there after had been fitted to a whole quiver of Head boots.

    He was example A. On much lower levels, you had fully comped younger athletes and college athletes who were told to forget the boots if they wanted skis and support.

    And not likethe race boots these athletes were getting were not working. They were.

    I'm not saying Dodge is revolutionary. Very interesting for sure. Have some experience with them. Great guys.
     
  20. Started at 53

    Started at 53 You can call me Jay Skier

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    OK, so now I have another thought...

    Boot angles would be a lot easier to control/determine if all bindings had the same delta. I find it amazing that there is not an industry standard and then adjust the boot angle accordingly
     
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