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Seeking Skiing Tips for old-style-ski skiers


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thepirate1 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0

Dear Skiers among the climbers:

Many many years ago, people used to ski on heavy often wood-core long, skinny, straight skis.  I learned on these, then took many years off skiing.  I'm back, I tried the new-fangled skis that have narrow waist, fat tips and tails, and are short.  Skiing these new skis and new boots just doesn't feel right.  I feel like I'm off balance;  the skis turn easily, but I don't feel like I'm in control, with precise turns that I really push on.  I used to really lean forward; this feels completely wrong now.

Is there anyone out there old enough to remember going through the transition to newer non-straight skis? Anyone remember any hints during the transition?

Any hints or directions to references on this would be very much appreciated.

-TPC, off-balance

t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 60

You could give telemark a go. 

Mike Mooney · · Silverthorne, CO · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 0

Yeah, weight more centered.
You normally don’t need to unweight to turn.
I rarely leave them flat on the snow because they are a little squirrelly going straight. 

brian burke · · santa monica, ca · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 130

there’s a pretty wide range of ski shapes out there. if you find your skis unacceptably squirly under foot it could be worth trying a longer ski with a stiffer construction and less sidecut. 

Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1

New skis are so much better than the old long straight HEAVY wood core ones. I love my Elan.

I skied Dynamics 218 cm for a long time, they weighed a ton and were not great for powder. They were FAST as hell on ice though, and could handle crud really well. Perfect for East/Midwest conditions, sucks for powder in the Rockies.

You can put much less effort into turns on the parabolic skis. Just stay balanced, shoulders perpendicular to the fall line, and let your lower body do its thing.

Andrew Rational · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2018 · Points: 10

I telemark, and I’m in the same boat. I hate the feel of shaped skis and plastic boots. It is antithetical to the true tele turn, and the reasons why the turn was developed. Most (almost all) folks I see telemarking now are actually doing a parallel turn in the (too low) tele position, not a real tele turn. So now I scour secondhand stores, the ‘net, and garage sales for long straight skis and leather boots. It is getting fairly dire now, but I have a few pairs of NIB skis stashed away, and an Italian company is still making boots. When it finally comes down to it, I plan on building a ski press and making my own. A friend built one a few years ago, but neglected to make it long enough for me, the jerk, and he is turning out some nice skis.

Alec Orenstein · · Gallup, NM · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 10
brian burke wrote: there’s a pretty wide range of ski shapes out there. if you find your skis unacceptably squirly under foot it could be worth trying a longer ski with a stiffer construction and less sidecut. 

I’d second this. I’m a former (fair to middling) high school racer, and still ski like one—I engage my tips hard to initiate the turn, much more than the “new schoolers” who ski more centered. There are lots of skis out there that reward the old-school style, you just have to find them. Avoid too much tip rocker, and make sure you’ve got a nice amount of camber under foot.  Don’t be afraid of skis that seem very wide in the waist—they can still charge hard. (I ski 108 under foot usually, and carve them like gs skis.) Also, don’t forget that a ski with tip/tail rocker will ski a LOT shorter than its advertised length.

Go demo a bunch of skis and talk to the folks at the demo center about what you like and don’t like. There are a million different shapes and styles out there these days, and you’ll find some that feel comfortable to you.
thepirate1 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0

Alec Orenstein: I'm only 5'7", and I used to ski on 195's.   I had 165s recommended for me!   One thing:  I do intend to do Alpine Touring (AT).  There, you never get groomed snow, in fact, you get a lot of unexpected hard chunks that are a little scary.   I'll ask if less of an extreme cut will still be good for AT when I choose my skis.  Other than that, will try to stay a little more over the middle.  

Oh...what demo center???  Do they demo AT skis?   

Thanks.

-TPC

mike again · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 41

Regarding AT and tele demos: a few shops have great options: alpenglow in tahoe city and freeheel life is slc come to mind.

There is also an annual demo tour put on by backcountry magazine that does free demos at resorts around the country. 

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65

Take a clinic at a resort. Explain what you’re looking for when you talk to the ski school desk. The technique is a little different from what you knew.
“Parabolic” skis with the super radical sidecut are a thing of the past - circa early 90s. 

Forthright · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 110
t.farrell wrote: You could give telemark a go. 

reported 

kevin graves · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 5

The new technique is something we've (old duffers) all had to progress in. Your old style translates. For instance, instead of unweighting up and weighting down in order to turn, rotate legs or edge; you now transfer weight from one ski to the other by weighting forward from one ski to the other. Don't bob up but 'leap through the window' to the left and then to the right to weight the new downhill ski. I too suggest a group lesson (level 3) with specific request to move on from old style to new style technique. Easier to demo than to explain !

I will say this; my children skied on new rentals 10 years ago while I still had my Rossignol 210's. I had trained hard for 2 years for an Ironman about a week away. My kids beat me down a double black diamond and when I reached the bottom--I was about ready to heave....their new skis were that much easier compared to my old long skinny skis. Learn the new style and you'll find it so much more dynamic and fun :)

Alec Orenstein · · Gallup, NM · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 10
thepirate1 wrote: Alec Orenstein: I'm only 5'7", and I used to ski on 195's.   I had 165s recommended for me!   One thing:  I do intend to do Alpine Touring (AT).  There, you never get groomed snow, in fact, you get a lot of unexpected hard chunks that are a little scary.   I'll ask if less of an extreme cut will still be good for AT when I choose my skis.  Other than that, will try to stay a little more over the middle.  

Oh...what demo center???  Do they demo AT skis?  

Thanks.

-TPC

Maybe 165s would be a good length for you, but that depends on the style of ski and terrain you're skiing.  For instance, if you're ripping groomers and making tight GS turns, that's a good size.  Full cambered skis, especially heavy stiff ones, can be on the shorter end if you're sticking to hardpack.  But once you get into world of rocker shapes, that's probably gonna start to feel short.  (It makes sense; the length is measured from tip to tail, but a rockered ski has a certain percentage of the ski that's not really in contact with with the snow at all times, so it's going to ski a lot shorter.)

If you're doing touring, and skiing stuff that's inconsistent (crud, etc.), the rocker shapes of the newer generation of skis are going to help a lot--they will allow you to cut right through stuff that would ordinarily slow you down.  For an all-mountain ski, you probably want less sidecut, more waist width, and some rocker.  Off the top of my head, a brilliant all-mountain ski that skis everything well, but also lets you engage the tip and really get forward and drive the ski is the Nordica Enforcer--I loved skiing that ski.  I ski a Line Supernatural--also hard charging and very good when I'm engaging the tip; not sure they make them anymore, though.

I'm not sure where you're located, but any major resort will have a good demo center, or several.  Typically, they have an assortment of higher-quality skis that, for a set price, you can swap out all day quickly and easily.  (Before I bought my last pair, I demoed a lot at Squaw.)  Don't get too focused on whether a specific ski is an "AT Ski"--I tour on skis that a lot of people put alpine bindings on, mostly because I wanted a really fat ski that I could have fun with on 20 degree slopes in Colorado.  You can always demo a ski in alpine bindings, and if you like it, buy it and put touring bindings on it.

If you're going to tour on the ski, just make sure you're balancing weight with all the other properties.  And if you really plan on skiing in bounds as well as out of bounds with one ski, think about dropping the dough on the Solomon Shift binding, which will give you better uphill and downhill performance (with a weight penalty).  But because a big heavy "directional" all-mountain ski is so fun in-bounds (makes crud feel like pow, can make GS turns in a mogul field, etc.) a lot of people will have two pair: a dedicated resort ski and a dedicated touring ski, mostly because of weight.

Welcome (back) to the world of skiing.  After a long time out, it can seem overwhelming.  It really is a different sport with the new skis--techniques have changed, terrain that seemed impossible 20 years ago is regularly skied with no problem, and you can have a lot more fun in variable snow conditions.  In my opinion, all the major ski manufacturers make great skis, and what you're really looking for is the right balance of rocker shape, sidecut, length, and weight.  Go spend a couple days at your favorite resort trying a bunch of different skis and see if there's one shape that you feel more comfortable with; almost every manufacturer will have a ski that feels like that, and so you can shop around.

Edited to add:  I also second the recommendation to take a clinic or a lesson on some new all mountain skis.  It'll be a good way to get some immediate feedback on how to ski the new generation of skis, and your instructor will be able to talk to you about what skis fit your style and technique.
Buck Rio · · MN · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1
Alec Orenstein wrote:

Welcome (back) to the world of skiing.  After a long time out, it can seem overwhelming.  It really is a different sport with the new skis--techniques have changed, terrain that seemed impossible 20 years ago is regularly skied with no problem, and you can have a lot more fun in variable snow conditions.  In my opinion, all the major ski manufacturers make great skis, and what you're really looking for is the right balance of rocker shape, sidecut, length, and weight.  Go spend a couple days at your favorite resort trying a bunch of different skis and see if there's one shape that you feel more comfortable with; almost every manufacturer will have a ski that feels like that, and so you can shop around.


This...go rent some skis at a resort, go skiing, buy what you like.

I bought resort skis at the end of the season for 50% of their value. They had a ton of life left (still do). I don't do any more backcountry skiing, so I don't need an AT ski. So that narrowed it down a bit.
Stiles · · the Mountains · Joined May 2003 · Points: 840

Community Skis  $600 custom skis. $700 custom carbon fiber model.

A lesson goes a long way. As does demo-ing shapes. So does skiing. Get lots of runs under your belt. Practice, yo! And weight your shins.  

Switch to telemark. 22designs bindings. That NTN stuff is heavy and stiff. 
Curt Haire · · leavenworth, wa · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 1

I'll echo the guys who are telling you to demo, demo, demo.  I learned to ski in the 1960s, worked as an instructor in my highschool & college years (late 60s-70s) then worked professional ski patrols from about 1980 into the mid-90s.  As gear progressed, I found myself "backing off" with every ski & boot improvement - had to ease off of working the ski, and let the ski do the work.  Each new "generation" of gear meant easing off a bit, until It got to where it felt like the skis & boots were doing all the skiing themselves, and all I had to do was think where I wanted to go, and the skis would do it.  But I have to say, each new "generation" of gear was a bit disconcerting at first, until I figured out how to not "over-ski" the new gear.  I can see how one who learned in the old days, took a long hiatus, and came back to the brave new world, might be at a loss.  take your time.  ease off of the old-style weight shifts and just stand in the center of the ski and think/work edges.  a lesson or two (preferately private) may help, but mileage is everything -- plus demoing enough different stuff 'til you find what you like.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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