January 26, 2005

New Skis

I wasn't intending to buy new skis this season but.........

I started the season skiing on my Salomon Scream 8 Pilot skis (170cms long), which I bought 2 years ago after demo-ing them whilst skiing with Ski Weekend. They were second generation carving skis, designed for 50% piste, 50% off piste (sidecut of 107,69,l02 and turn radius of 15m). At the time I bought them, I thought they were pretty radical in terms of side cut. However, Lucy suggested I might like to try one of the newer, shorter carving skis which were even wider at the tip and tail. I demoed a few different pairs from an excellent rental shop on the Rochebrune side of the mountain (where we are) called Ski Technic. Lucy introduced us to David, the owner, who was very helpful and suggested skis we might like to try based on what our skiing preferences were. I started on the Dynastar Exclusive Carve Spice, which I absolutely hated! They were 158cms long, so a lot shorted that my Scream 8s, but very radically shaped as they are primarily a carving (ie piste) ski. For me, this seemed to result in me being unable to make them go in a straight line and I felt that the massive shovel (tip of the ski for those who don't know) kept "catching" in the snow and wanting to turn me, even when I didn't want to. If I laid them fully over on the edges for a carve turn, they were ok, but they didn't seem to like any skidding or pivoting movements, so didn't really suit my style of skiing at all. In fact, I was struggling on them so much that Lucy swapped skis with me (luckily we have similar size feet so didn't need to adjust the bindings) and I skied her Dynastar Legend 8000 skis in 172cms length. These were pretty stiff and a bit long for me, but at least I could turn them and they seemed more predictable. So I ended the way exhausted from having to put in some much effort to turn them, but at least I could get down the mountain! Well, I say that, but at one stage whilst going down a "pathy" bit of slope, where we had to keep in close to the netting at the side to avoid the rocky bit, the skis suddenly decided to do a "right turn Clyde" and I ended up piling into the netting fence (designed to stop you zooming off down a very steep slope with trees at the bottom) with my skis stuck through the netting and higher than my bum (which was by then on the ground) which made it extremely difficult to extract myself! Fortunately, everyone else had skied on further, around the next bend, and missed this attractive spectacle.

The next day, I tried the Dynastar Legend 4800 (sidecut 114,75,102), which are similar skis to the 8000, but lower down the range, so a bit softer to flex and therefore easier to ski. I tried them in a 165cms length, which was also a bit more manageable. These skis were great, and I ended up skiing them for 3 days - the remaining days of our lessons with Lucy. They were easy to turn, flexible, and good fun, but by the end of the 3 days I had confirmed my initial suspicions that they were, in fact, a little too soft for me. Sometimes, when carving a around a corner on a path, or when turning on the hard pack at speed (well, speed for me), I felt I was too heavy for the ski and it wasn't giving any "spring" back.

I asked David to recommend something in between the two skis (the 8000 and the 4800) and he suggested the Salomon Scrambler 7 Pilot, which I took on the second day we went to Les Contamines. These skis had a huge shovel but were wider underfoot than the Carve Spice, so overall felt a bit less radical in shape. I skied on the 155cms, which felt a bit short. Overall, they didn't really grab me.

I did some internet searches and found that there was another ski between the 8000 and the 4800 called the 6200 (imaginative names, but they were all named after the heights of mountain peaks). However, nowhere in town seemed to have these for rent (or even to have heard of them) but I discovered another ski, the Dynastar Exclusive Legend, during my search. This was a women's version of the 8000, so the flex is a bit softer (but it's a stiffer ski than the 4800) and it has other "women friendly" features, like the binding being set a bit further forward on the ski and a built in 1.5 degree ramp angle in the binding (helps you to keep your weight forward). Anyway, I hired these skis in 158cms and liked them, but worried about whether they were a bit short for my weight. David had said he could order these skis for me from the local factory (he didn't have them in stock for sale, nor for rental) but then I was faced with the question of whether to go for the 158cms or the 165 (which I hadn't skied but thought would probably be better for me). In the end, I managed to find them for rent last Sunday when we had a day of knee deep powder on every piste in the resort. Not sure what happened to me that day, but I had the best day of skiing in powder that I have ever had - my weight was forward, I wasn't intimidated by the deep snow (which I normally am) and I just went for it. I found the skis really easy to pivot in the snow (they are exceptionally light) and the extra length definitely gave me more floatation than I would have got from the 158s. That sealed it really, because although I wasn't convinced I wanted to buy new skis before that, having skied that well and had such a good day on those skis, it was a done deal that I was going to buy them.

So now I have new skis. Since I bought them, I have only had one skiing day and we didn't ski much because it was so cold (this was yesterday), so I need to ski them a bit more in different conditions before I really know what they are like - but so far, so good.

Hmmm, now have even less excuse for poor skiing..... definitely running out of excuses fast.


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Posted by Miche at January 26, 2005 11:35 AM | Categories: Gear
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