Skis Getting Narrower -- Did Colorado Ski Shops Not Get the Message?

Mike King

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Today, I found myself bored, so I ventured into two ski shops in Boulder: Epic Mountain Gear (the former Boulder Ski Deals/Colorado Ski and Golf) and Christy Sports, on a lark to look at the width of the skis available. I didn't see anything under 85 in width. Granted, I didn't look at the width of each and every ski, but if there was even one ski under 80, it would've been obvious as most of the skis were well over 95 in width.

I thought that the trend was to have more performance oriented skis over the past two seasons? Given that wide skis contribute to knee injuries and are not helpful for learning technique, not to mention that Colorado does not get that much deep snow and conditions are often toward the hard end of packed powder, it is really surprising to me that there are none of the great all mountain performance skis on the rack in a width less than 80. Is it that the shop retail staff just really doesn't know what the benefits are of narrower widths? Are industry professionals not educating the retail staff? Or is it that the skiing public has simply bought that a wide ski can do everything a narrow ski can do?

Mike
 

Josh Matta

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I think a wide ski is more fun for more people than narrow technical skis.

Its the market and never more.

The only people I tell to get 80-85 skis as only are people who have no plan to venture off in the woods, which is an extremely small percentage of my students.

The question I would ask you, what can a narrow ski do that a wider ski can not?

BTW my only real need for narrow skis comes down to ski hardpack off trail, on trail, because the trails are ground up anytime it gets hard anymore narrow skis simply dont make sense here as the old icey days are now 6 inches of loose granular.
 

Josh Matta

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I am also curious, why do you care what other people ski?
 
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Mike King

Mike King

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Josh,

Wide skis involve different muscles in the turn than a narrow ski. Wide skis encourage pushing the ski around rather than learning to tip the ski, bend it, and allow the ski shape to turn. Wide skis put more force on the knees than a narrow ski. Not learning how to get performance from a ski will probably limit the skier, especially if they ever wish to teach and become certified. See https://www.pugski.com/threads/ski-width-and-certification-exams.15647/
 

Josh Matta

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The only thing about that I agree with is knee.....I feel it on my feet mostly but again I dont ski wide skis on hard snow. I generally find soft snow to ski or quit. With how much I ski I generally find soft snow, and if its fun hardpack I go grab a narrow ski. My Monster 83 are generally the narrowest I like to freeski.

I feel more limited about where I can ski on my Ititan or Monster 83, than I do my E93s. I can literally ski the whole mountain on my E93s, there are times and places where I can not ski the whole mountain on my Monster 83. cue you saying I need to get better at skiing so I can ski the narrow skis....the reality is I dont like the prospect of bottom feeding powder around here.

Also honestly the PSIA even implying you need narrow skis to do L3 is silly and makes us look lame in the eyes of the GP. Our students do not use SL skis, so why should we?
 
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Mike King

Mike King

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Wide skis definitely have their place, and certainly there are folk who generally are skiing off of the groomed where a wider ski may help. I doubt the vast majority of skiers ae skiing the manky off-piste stuff but are generally skiing snow, even when ungroomed, that is pretty compacted and for which a ski in the 80-90 width would be perfectly fine 95% of the time. Wider skis limit the ability of the student to progress; they reward twisting and pushing to an edge rather than tipping to an edge.

Certainly PSIA-RM does not imply that you need a SL or GS ski to pass L3. Most folk who go to a L3 exam will be on something that is in the 75-84 range. The former chair of the alpine committee recommended no wider than 83. Not exactly narrow.

But what is probably true, and what the exam statistics show, is that if you have only skied wide skis, you probably didn't learn the mechanics of how to tip, bend, and turn a ski with performance. And that will probably not allow you to pass.

Mike
 

Doug Briggs

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How many college kids are at CU (in Boulder)? 35,000? More?

I suspect the college age market is not a one that is looking for more performance but rather more float and ease of skiing. Which is to say, if you went to a store in a different market, you might see a different selection of ski widths. To illustrate my point, I work at shop with the word Racer in the name which accounts for all the race skis leaning in the racks, but while we have Atomics, Fischers and Kastles over 100mm, the vast majority of our stock that isn't a race ski is race inspired, like the Fischer Curv. You'd like our selection, @Mike King ;), and it would offset the wide ski focus you noticed in Boulder.
 

fatbob

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Erm Mr Briggs has just told you exactly which type of shops have a large selection of the skinny skis you are looking for.....
 

Doug Briggs

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Gang the problem for us who want to ski on "narrow" skis is finding any thing narrower than 85 on a wall here in Colorado. So demoing say a Kastle MX 76 is only a dream.
Our posts overlapped. Read between the lines of my post above to see where you can find narrower skis to demo.
 

NE1

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The question I would ask you, what can a narrow ski do that a wider ski can not?
Umm...Rail (in the true sense). Pull a strong G-force with your hip hugging the hill. Roll up on edge and instantly pull you into the turn with Instantaneous reaction to your input.

Oh,...and all the reasons wide skis are not used for racing.
 

Blue Streak

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This discussion requires a definition of terms. What is a wide ski?
And do you really think you recruit a different set of muscles to ski a 78 mm wide Stockli Laser AX versus an 88 mm wide Blizzard Brahma?
Is the Bonafide a sissy ski because it is 98 under foot?
I know one or two Pugskiers hereabouts, who can tip them on edge and carve it up just fine.

But I do get your point. I know one guy that shows up to CERT clinics with a pair of 110 wide twin tip fully-rocketed God knows what skis, and he will probably never learn how to turn a ski properly with those. I have often thought about saying something to him, very much along the lines of your suggestion, but it’s not my place.
 

Doug Briggs

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Umm...Rail (in the true sense). Pull a strong G-force with your hip hugging the hill. Roll up on edge and instantly pull you into the turn with Instantaneous reaction to your input.

Oh,...and all the reasons wide skis are not used for racing.
Two words: Marcus Caston.

There are tons of others that rip carved turns on skis over 75 mm wide. The type of snow you're on makes a difference. Hard pack is much more conducive to narrower skis but this aspect (approrpriateness) of wide vs narrow has been discussed to death in a variety of other threads. Like this one: Are 100-plus wide skis overrated for most lift served skiing? The executive summary of that thread is, choose the appropriate ski for the conditions and your desires/whims. The OP was pondering marketing and sales.
 

Josh Matta

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Umm...Rail (in the true sense). Pull a strong G-force with your hip hugging the hill. Roll up on edge and instantly pull you into the turn with Instantaneous reaction to your input.

Oh,...and all the reasons wide skis are not used for racing.
ok what about a wide ski prevent you from railling?

also we are not racing so who da fuq cares.....
 
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Josh Matta

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Josh, do you think students learn as well on wider skis as on narrower?
When starting out...hell no.....but I never said they did.

I will say that if they want to go off into tree and are an adult I would much rather they be on a 85-90 ski even packed snow conditions here....
 
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Mike King

Mike King

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This discussion requires a definition of terms. What is a wide ski?
And do you really think you recruit a different set of muscles to ski a 78 mm wide Stockli Laser AX versus an 88 mm wide Blizzard Brahma?
Is the Bonafide a sissy ski because it is 98 under foot?
I know one or two Pugskiers hereabouts, who can tip them on edge and carve it up just fine.

But I do get your point. I know one guy that shows up to CERT clinics with a pair of 110 wide twin tip fully-rocketed God knows what skis, and he will probably never learn how to turn a ski properly with those. I have often thought about saying something to him, very much along the lines of your suggestion, but it’s not my place.
Watch the video. Narrow is <80. And yes, there are different muscles between a 78 and an 88. Probably. At least there are between 65 and 88. Watch here.

Maybe you can find a couple of pugskiers who can tip a wide ski up and rip like they could on a narrow ski, but here's a former Olympian who is no ordinary skier who finds a pretty different performance...


Watch the video. Yes it is 55 minutes long. But it provides the experimental evidence of the things I'm saying.

Mike
 
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Mike King

Mike King

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Two words: Marcus Caston.

There are tons of others that rip carved turns on skis over 75 mm wide. The type of snow you're on makes a difference. Hard pack is much more conducive to narrower skis but this aspect (approrpriateness) of wide vs narrow has been discussed to death in a variety of other threads. Like this one: Are 100-plus wide skis overrated for most lift served skiing? The executive summary of that thread is, choose the appropriate ski for the conditions and your desires/whims. The OP was pondering marketing and sales.
Yeah, Marcus Caston. He has an alpine racing background and learned how to tip and bend a ski. Still, if you watch the Art of a Turn video sequence on groomers where he is skiing a Bonafide, watch how that outside ski is reacting to the pressure of being tipped at a high edge angle on firm(er) snow. Lots of fluttering in and out as the ski engages and disengages. Think about the force that's placing on the knee. Not much like a narrow ski would perform. And the other two in the film? An NCAA champion and a USSA development team member. They have learned the mechanics of tipping and bending a ski.

 

markojp

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FW incredibly little IW, we stock everything from race skis to 120mm underfoot. Most sales are in the 90-100 width for men, and 85-95 for women. Given our terrain and snow conditions, those widths make sense for most skiers who aren't lugging around a quiver. And as odd as it may seem here, most skiers don't own more than one or two pairs.
 

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