Trust yourself, regarding how a ski feels...

John O

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Wasn't sure how to title this, it's just an anecdote from my recent experience.

I picked up a pair of Armada Tracer 98's to be my daily driver this season. And when I took them out, there was a lot of weirdness in how they skied. I demo'd the ski twice before buying, so felt reasonably informed in my decision. And these skis weren't what I demo'd. My first thought was that the tune was off, based on the odd combination of being sort of loose, but also grabby and hooky at the same time.

So I brought them in to be tuned, to a shop that I've had very good experiences with in the past and was pretty much dismissed. Basically told that it sounded like the skis were "too sharp" and I wasn't used to that, and they'd detune them for me and see what I thought. I wasn't 100% sure of my assessment so I said sure. The skis absolutely felt different, and better, but still not right. So I brought them back and didn't engage in a discussion, just asked for a base grind and specified the base/edge angles I wanted.

End result? Skis feel great. I still don't know what was messed up about that initial tune (I did check to see if they looked railed and the bases looked flat to me), but it was a nice validation to know that I actually can tell (at least to some extent), what's going on with my skis.

My takeaway... believe in what I'm feeling, and trust myself.

Just my recent experience, wasn't sure if it'd be useful for anyone else to read.
 

cantunamunch

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My first thought was that the tune was off, based on the odd combination of being sort of loose, but also grabby and hooky at the same time.
THAT is a spot-on description of absolutely classic hanging burr symptoms. Being told it is all in your head is also a classic hanging burr event. Detuning improving things some but not giving you the ski you wanted is also spot on.

You are right to trust feel - no question there - you are the one who needs to deal with it day in day out.

Trust feel, yes.
Question diagnoses, yours or others', yes.
 
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GregK

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Glad you’re able to notice when a tune is off and your story just strengthens my feeling of always getting a full tune by a trusted expert before putting a ski on the snow.

I had a 20 year hiatus off skiing and got my first pair of twin tip Volkls and all new gear about 7 years ago. Always felt the new skis were very unstable compared to the old straight skis but thought “guess that’s what they are like now” as they are shorter and more center mounted. Got a base grind to remove some glade damage a year later and was floored how much more stable the skis were and how much better the edge grip was. The skis were very base high of course.

Felt like an fool to be skiing these out of tune skis for so long knowing they never felt right. Fast forward 21 more pairs of skis and I now do a more elaborate check and tune before they ever hit the snow. I’ve yet to find one pair of skis that wasn’t improved by a base grind and hand tune.

Think your skis have been like my last few Blizzard, Nordica and Head skis-sections of slightly base high (loose feeling) and sections of edge high(hooky) elsewhere. Found my bases “looked pretty flat” but skied funny even after hand tuning the edges and using a flat file to try and cut down the edge high sections. Light Base grind and hand tune the edges and everything back to right in the world.

Glad you noticed the issues with your skis as many don’t or will ever realized their skis potential by ignoring their gut when something doesn’t feel right.
 

Andy Mink

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Some brands are definitely better out of the wrapper than others. Some skis are better than others within a brand. When you hop on a highly touted ski and it's just not that good tune is likely the cause whether the demo folks want to admit it or not. Trust what your feet are telling you.

@John O, I'm glad you got your Tracers squared away. They're one of my favorites.
 

James

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Rented a pair of 180 Bizzard Rustler 9's ?, 92 underfoot, in Chamonix. Went skiing after a 5 min walk plus 15-20 min bus ride to Prarion in Les Houches.

Got off the gondola and descended down a flat traverse. Immediately the skis force themselves into a wedge. I thought maybe there's ice on the boots. Stop, clean them off. Skis just as bad. They don't want to turn, have a chaotic mind of their own. The snow is graupel coming down and compressed wet snow with a glaze. So it's also sticky. I stop again and go over all base edges with a diamond stone. Maybe it's a hanging burr. Nope, skis just as bad. Basically unskiable, dangerous. It's raining at the bottom, but I go all the way down to the bottom, walk across the street and pay to rent a pair of 168 Stockli Ax. At least they worked.

Probably the worst tuned ski I've ever demoed, and there've been some bad ones. Maybe it was a combo of convex, concave with some edge high spots. Don't know. This situation is difficult to get across in English, never mind in bad French. General tuning knowledge is even lower in France/Switzerland I've found.
 

GregK

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Blizzard Rustlers seem to be more often base high in spots and the Enforcers more edge high it seems from the factory. Always see “rustler 9 isn’t very stable” or “the Enforcers are a lot of work” and know the issue. Lol
 

NZRob

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That's a really great post @John O ....it's almost like we are conditioned to not really question the wisdom/capabilities of ski manufacturers, tuning workshops, tuners themselves. I've had the same experience several times over the years and the usual first thought is "oh I must be off my game/having a bad day/imagining things/it's early season/the snows crap etc etc"....then you go in and get the tune sorted and turns out you were correct.

I guess the take away is that when you've been skiing for a long time (and very regularly in particular) you get an extremely sensitive feel for what's going on under your feet, and when something feels wrong there is a really high chance that it is.
 

Doug Briggs

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Having a ski perform poorly is a drag. Identifying the problem is key.

I had a ski instructor bring in a pair of skis after getting a tune from us and said 'they are railed. they keep heading to the outside of the turn.' They looked good to the eye, the bevel meter and the true bar. So being the fastidious tuner that I am, and noticing that the skis had demo bindings, I took them out. When I tried to make tight, sharp turns, the ski would wash out for lack of grip.

They weren't railed but rather 'under-tuned'. He had requested a 1/1 tune when we were in the middle of a 'hard snow event'. The skis were 'sharp' in that they had a nice, fine edge but they weren't beveled enough to hold when/how he needed them to.

I called him to let him know what I found out (he was a bit incredulous that I'd taken his skis out) and told him he needed 1/2 to deal with the conditions.

So...

A good tune can be the wrong (bad) tune, too. You really have to look at the skis in question and evaluate the problem experienced and the actual source of the problem in order to fix them.
 

James

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Having a ski perform poorly is a drag. Identifying the problem is key.

I had a ski instructor bring in a pair of skis after getting a tune from us and said 'they are railed. they keep heading to the outside of the turn.' They looked good to the eye, the bevel meter and the true bar. So being the fastidious tuner that I am, and noticing that the skis had demo bindings, I took them out. When I tried to make tight, sharp turns, the ski would wash out for lack of grip.

They weren't railed but rather 'under-tuned'. He had requested a 1/1 tune when we were in the middle of a 'hard snow event'. The skis were 'sharp' in that they had a nice, fine edge but they weren't beveled enough to hold when/how he needed them to.

I called him to let him know what I found out (he was a bit incredulous that I'd taken his skis out) and told him he needed 1/2 to deal with the conditions.

So...

A good tune can be the wrong (bad) tune, too. You really have to look at the skis in question and evaluate the problem experienced and the actual source of the problem in order to fix them.
It would be great if more shops took the skis out. A couple shops I deal with regularly will believe me. Most stick to the "customer is a moron/can't ski" principle.
This year after telling a shop about their terrible demo, the discussion was- "oh, we didn't tune that yet, right? Nope, just another bad _ factory tune."
 

Doug Briggs

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It would be great if more shops took the skis out. A couple shops I deal with regularly will believe me. Most stick to the "customer is a moron/can't ski" principle.
This year after telling a shop about their terrible demo, the discussion was- "oh, we didn't tune that yet, right? Nope, just another bad _ factory tune."
It would be nice to be able to. Most skis don't have demos, though. Fortunately we don't get that many complaints. This guy was a regular and I figured, what the hell!
 

François Pugh

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This hanging bur thing is a real problem that's sometimes hard to diagnose, because it is so dependent on snow conditions and skiing technique.
To cite one example, my 2002 Volant 190 cm Machete G skis. I got these at 90 percent off MSRP in a remainder bin, thinking they might fill the gap between my SL and my antique SG skis. Turns out here in the land if icy hardpack, they were not the ideal ski; I cannot put a 3 degree side edge on them due to the stainless steel topsheet being in the way (and now barely have any edge left to put the stock 1:1 tune on 'em), but they did become my, as the Real skiers review from 2002 says, "serious deep snow ski - requires strong skier". I usually ski them every now and then just for a change from my SLs, but rarely in deep snow (seldom happens here in Sudsbury).

A couple of weeks ago, shortly after dislocating my shoulder and therefore being even more careful not to fall, I took them out in about 6 to 10 inches of fresh, and noticed that they required an awful lot of attention and sudden corrections to them wanting to take off willy nilly in random directions. This was not how I remembered the skis behaving in fresh snow; I would have been better off with my 13-m radius skis than these twenty seven-ish m radius skis.

I took them out last weekend in about 8 inches of fresh wet snow, but first I had a good look at the edges. All four edges had hanging burrs, bad enough to give my waxing iron nightmares. I hadn't noticed them while carving arc-2-arc turns on the ice, but they were more than noticeable in 8 inches of fresh-fallen dense snow, especially once the snow got pushed around into little piles. Not only that, but the very tips were railed with the edges beyond the point where the ski tip begins to curve up and it's hard to keep your side bevel guide guiding, extending about a mm or two beyond the base.

I used a gummy stone to lightly remove the hanging bur. ( I usually avoid touching my edges without a guide - it's supposed to ruin your base edge using a solid guide to tune to 0.5 degrees, but somehow OK to freehand with a gummi stone at 45 degrees and this doesn't ruin the sharpness of the edge???) and spent a long time grinding down the protruding railed edges.

the skis, once again, worked like pressing the easy button (compared to my RC4 SCs) in 8" inches of fresh.
 

CalG

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Doesn't anyone look at the edges with a pocket magnifier?

The one I use cost $3 and has a built in LED illuminator.
 

AmyPJ

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I feel your pain. I've had to jump up and down and rant and rave on occasion saying, "something just isn't right!" Get a tune, and all is well. Interestingly, the two pair of Sheevas I own were both "not quite right". I did just get a new pair of Santa Ana 88s and skied them without a tune, and they were great. Got them tuned because I really DO prefer to have new skis tuned, and they are FABULOUS. Just that much quicker, more responsive, with better edge grip.
 

James

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Doesn't anyone look at the edges with a pocket magnifier?

The one I use cost $3 and has a built in LED illuminator.
That's a good point. The answer is ...no. But in my recent case it would've made no difference as a hanging burr was not the issue. However, I like the idea of using a loupe on demo skis.
 

Wilhelmson

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My last set of skis were fine for about 100 days and then they just started to suck on flat ice, even after a grind and tune. I took a lesson and the instructor was like if you ever want to ski moguls bla bla. So it went over to the moguls and did his one foot drill through some moguls no problem. I bought some new skis and the ice problem suddenly went away. The skis were junk.
 

Wilhelmson

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Buying new skis is always a happy pill, no matter how much self delusion is involved.
Actually it was the skis because I used my old Volkls for then end of last year and they were fine also. But feel free to think whatever you would like, I don't claim to be a super expert skier anyways.
 

Tony S

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^^^ My comment was as much about ME as about you. ogwink
 

James

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When a "happy pill" (new skis) becomes a bitter pill, when is it time to pump the stomach?
 
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