Local Lessons on Straight Skis
November 26, 2004
Roy (instructor at Liberty) mentioned on another thread that Liberty wouldn't give a (presumed) Level 5-6 lesson to someone on 15 year-old straight skis. The skier skied on the skis ~10 days last season. What is the policy of local resorts concerning the required equipment for ski lessons?
Obviously, safely operating equipment is an essential requirement. What else?
There is a relevant thread on Epic about this Here
It seems that there is at least some belief that the ski techniques are all the same and that if you could carve the old ones then carving the new will be no problem...
So, 10% of the previously straight-skiing public is all right, then.
Roy (instructor at Liberty) mentioned on another thread that Liberty wouldn't give a (presumed) Level 5-6 lesson to someone on 15 year-old straight skis...What is the policy of local resorts concerning the required equipment for ski lessons? ... Obviously, safely operating equipment is an essential requirement. What else?
These questions came up at WT last season.
With respect to safety issues, instructors are not supposed to attempt to make safety judgements in the same way a shop tech might. However, if the problem is something obvious to an onlooker (eg, bindings that don't work correctly, the metal edges coming off the ski, delaminated or railed skis, no ski brake or retention strap, loose screws holding the binding to the ski, a boot that seems overly loose or tight in the binding, a boot that is falling apart or can't be buckled, etc.), then instructors/supervisor have the right to (nicely) refuse the client and recommend a change of equipment.
The SSD went on to say that if necessary (ie, the guest is about to walk away after we point out a safety problem, we can walk them into the rental facility, explain the problem, and they will probably be given a free rental of modern equipment.
Hopefully, most problems of this sort are caught by the lineup supervisor, and individual instructors rarely have to deal with these issues.
With respect to antique but seemingly safe gear, the SSD said that we should strongly encourage the guest to try new gear, but not demand it as long as their equipment doesn't have any obvious safety problem. We are authorized to offer the guest a ticket voucher for a later lesson to give them time to rent new equipment.
In rare cases, we can (with the consent of the on-duty SS supervisor) sometimes also get folks on antique equipment a free rental.
If, despite our best efforts, there is someone on straight skis in a group lesson & the lineup supervisor is aware of it, they will try to assign an instructor qualified to teach both shaped-ski and straight-ski students in one lesson, essentially simultaneously.
Tom / PM
Physicsman is right, and yet the question arises; why not try modern equipment with a good instructor. It would be a lot more fun. The shaped ski revolution is over; shaped skis won and now there are no more shaped skis, just skis. Older designs are now "straight skis". So give it a try. What have you got to lose. A few hundred dollars maybe to buy new equipment but what the hey, fun is fun. Go for it. (Just for reference I was totally against shaped skis when they came out. I had seen rear entry boots and cap skis. Five minutes into my first shaped ski demo and I was sold.) (Second, just for reference; I am an instructor and I don't know a single instructor who prefers straight skis.)
My parabolic skis are staying in the closet. Thank you very much.
Not that there is anything wrong with that.
What was wrong with cap skis? Salomon had some rocking performance skis back in the early 90's.
I think the issue with many skiers concerning shaped skis is that they don't want to spend money on new equipment when they feel their existing (but maybe dated) equipment is just fine. As an analogy, I probably bowl as often as many skiers ski. If some bowling guru tried to convince me that bowling technology had improved immensely over the years, and that I should buy the new GPS-guided, laser-assisted MIRV bowling ball, I'd probably react: "Well, that's nice, but just make certain my shoes are disinfected and my beer is cold."
I think us fanatics tend to have a different perspective about our sport compared to the general public.
PM, our supervisor turned 2 people away that had straight skis last year. He did have someone go with them to get free rentals so they could participate in the lesson. He remarked to me that he won't let anyone go through with straight skis and will always direct them to rentals.
Part of the reason for this is our equipment. How can I (not that I could) demonstrate straight ski techniques on parabolic skis? The equipment does have differences and I would have no idea where to start. I also was never an instructor on straight skis. I skied on straight skis for one run last year and found the differences huge (I got some good jump turns on those straight skis).
My main issue is the lack of support for perfectly good "legacy" equipment. Particularly with respect to how do you get new equipment.
Everyone says you have to demo before you buy. The prerequisiste to demo is you need to be familiar with the new equipment. To be familiar with the new equipment you can wing it, or in reality you have to take lessons on the new equipment. If you are a higher level skier on straights it's almost impossible to make the transition with out purchasing your first shaped skis on an Ad HOC basis basis with out first demoing.
I think the reality is that when you first get on shaped skis it will take you at least 3 skiing days and probabbly a couple of lessons to get used to them and ski them effectively. And to get a little expereince on a variety of terrain so that you can see what they are like. At that point you are ready to demo.
Obviously this is going to depend on how you skied the old boards and your other skills. And the ability that you have to learn quickly and adapt. The options to do that and to get the same skis each time seem pretty slim. I mean you are better off buying a pair of old model skis on ebay or at a swap than you are renting for the prices some places charge. At least at the end you ahve a pair of rock skis.
If you have a friend who has some older shaped skis in your size that can be borrowed thats probably the best... other wise its sort of annoying.
PM, our supervisor turned 2 people away that had straight skis last year...Part of the reason for this is our equipment. How can I (not that I could) demonstrate straight ski techniques on parabolic skis? The equipment does have differences and I would have no idea where to start. I also was never an instructor on straight skis. I skied on straight skis for one run last year and found the differences huge (I got some good jump turns on those straight skis).
Yup, I understand. I think that the only difference between our two areas is that if push comes to shove and the guest insists on using straights after we advised against it, we'll let them stay in the lesson, but we are essentially telling them that we don't think they will do as well.
BTW, I taught many, many years ago for a couple of seasons on straights, but I know that there is absolutely no way I could jump back on a pair and come immediately back up to speed, especially from the current era of 165 cm, 12 meter sidecut hypercarvers. About once per year I take out my 1980 vintage 205 cm Volkl Zebras just for yucks. All I can say is that they do go straight ... very, very well.
Tom / PM
To be familiar with the new equipment you can wing it, or in reality you have to take lessons on the new equipment. If you are a higher level skier on straights it's almost impossible to make the transition with out purchasing your first shaped skis on an Ad HOC basis basis with out first demoing.
tromano: my transition was renting really crappy equipment at Camelback, and "winging it" and I was hooked immediately. The learning curve IMO is pretty slight; spend a few days on the new boards and then go for a lesson and then demo some decent boards.
BTW I just noticed your location, we are practically neighbors
tromano, I have some theories on the "winging it" point, based solely on my own experience. (The sound of eyes rolling here is deafening, guys, stop it for just a bit and hear me out!)
1) Consider as a 'first try' a ski that would do well with traditional technique. What this means is that you may wind up looking at current detuned GS skis and possibly some race carving skis, with flex and side cut radius closest to what you have already, in the 20m range. Notice that this is -precisely- what a shop clerk will never recommend, but if the shaped-ski-learning-curve is slow (read few days on snow and few hours of instruction and ill suited supporting gear like boots) and the old skills are strong, why not? It might well represent maximum enjoyment and least skills confusion.
NOTICE: demo of new gear prior to lessons would easily result in the #1 strategy. It's how I came to formulate it in the first place. I disagree with Terrapin, the learning curve is only quick to some function, not to a full level 7-8 empowerment.
2) Address current trouble spots directly with modern gear. So, you're having a problem with skids on ice, eh? Here's a nice pair of super-damp sharp Volants for dirt cheep. Bumps a pain in the knee? Here's a nice pair of ex-rental Sceneos for cheeper.
Then, when a 'feel' develops one can move on to whatever one desires.
Whaddya think? (flame suit on)
EDIT: I found that inline skating in the off-season helped hugely with the transition, esp. in getting rid of up-unweight and tail-riding.
What was wrong with cap skis? Salomon had some rocking performance skis back in the early 90's.
Uhh, you mean like the S9000s that had to have 217cm (Pr8) to do the job of a 168cm modern ski? (Captain to engine room: make steam and revolutions to avoid tree!)
Free to good home Atomic ATC-1s 195cm if you want to try for yerself.
Sheena was already on relatively short and stiff skis they are Kastle SL450 160CM fairly stiff SL skis made in 1987. Theye have the slightest shape to them of maybe 64-60-62 something like that. This is much more shape than other older "straight" skis that I have seen.
Let's say you're off by up to 3mm on all those. That gives a sidecut radius of 55 meters. 165meters otherwise. My 180cm Volant Chubbs (110/90/108) come in at 33meters. Little wonder she's skidding on Ramrod or Gunbarrel or whatever it was.
Do your own calculations here
(PM's sidecut calculator).
As far as alpine skiing goes, I highly doubt there will be any support for the legacy equipment. It is so much easier to learn to ski on the new skis, and no manufacturer is making straight skis anymore. Unless you get a private teaching company, you may not find any support.
I understand the cost issue (and pain in the a** issue) of renting all the time. Last year was the first year I ever owned my skis. I also skied 70 days last year compared to the 10-15 I normally do. If your only skiing 10-15 days, that should be enough (and not too costly in the long run) to keep demoing skis. Check with Ski Center or Ski Chalet. I think they rent skis and you may be able to switch up and get different brands each time you go. This is probably better than the local mountains as they typically don't rent demo skis (unless you go to snowshoe).
Happy Thanksgiving. I for one am thankful for great online communities like DCSki.
Comprex: I guess I can only speak for myself and friends I grew up with skiing. The transition for us was pretty swift. I think it should be swift for most people too. It will be fun anyway even though you won't be on your old level for a while. Anyone who is reasonably athletic should pick it up quickly.
I think it is a perfectly reasonable and responsible thing for ski schools to advise prospective students that they might not get what they want out of a lesson if they insist on using older equipment that is fundamentally different in performance from what the instuctor and the other students will be using. I recall buying my first shaped skis in spring 97. This was at least one year into the shaped ski takeover. They first hit the market in numbers in the 1995-96 season. This is a long time; almost a decade now. After a few more years go by it might be reasonable to offer private lessons only for those who want to use straight skis on the grounds that it would not be fair to the other students in a group to have their lesson constantly interrupted by the instructor's need to give special instruction that student. In fact it might not be fair to the instructor either.