I'm trying to expand the input into my decision to buy a new set of skis (in addition to the recommendations from our qualified local ski shops and the reviews from the standard ski mags). This year, I'm looking to upgrade my "East Coast" skis. My old "East Coast" skis doubled as my rock skis and are 6+ year-old Salomon Super Force 2S's ~200 cm. (My "West Coast" skis are shaped, so I'm not a ski Luddite.) I'm looking for a short-turn radius all-mountain-expert set of skis that does well in bumps, the *ahem* hard-snow we tend to get in the East and Vermont-style tree skiing. (Actually Vermont is the only East Coast state in which I've ever done tree skiing.) Since no pair of skiis excels in all conditions, I'm willing to sacrifice high-end speed control and crud-busting capability. I'm 6'1 and 185 lbs.
Any suggestions (or donations) welcomed. Thanks in advance.
K2 Axis XP or Axis X (XP is stiffer and bit more demanding)
I ski the Mod X (equivalent to the Axis X) in the bumps and the same conditions you describe and like them a lot..
Salomon Crossmax 10.0
Throw your old ideas about length into the trash. You are tall, but not heavy.. don't go longer than the low 180 cm range for any of these. Deal with a good ski shop and get their feel for what length to order...
And IMHO, if you need boots and skis and have to choose, buy the boots...
[This message has been edited by Otto (edited 11-11-2002).]
The K2 Axis X is definitely one ski I am considering; I was talking to a K2 rep @ yesterday's ski expo and that was the ski he recommended. Glad to hear that you've had good experiences with them. (It's nice to get another opinion besides that of a manufacturer's rep.) He recommended the 181 cm length - that's consistent with your recommendation. Whatever ski I get will definitely be quicker to turn than my 200cm convential skis and my 193cm Volant "West Coast" skis. The Volants will plow through anything, but you have to work them in the bumps and man, are they heavy to carry.
The Axis XP sounds a bit more like what I look for in a "West Coast" ski; stable @ high speeds and a good crud-buster; wider underfoot for better float in softer snow.
The great thing about the constantly improving ski technology is that as long as you chose the right length and class of ski, whatever decision you make is definitely better than what you are currently skiing on. Can't wait until this season.
(BTW, I'm definitely in good shape with boots - Tecnica silicone-injected. They're not too stiff for an upper-end boot and they fit like a dream.)
Many "All Mountain Expert" category skis are designed for someone who wants to ski both the front and back sides of Vail. These skis are not as fat as pure powder skis but they are still fat enough for those who want to sample the untracked stuff. The problem with this type of ski in the East is that "untracked stuff" is more fantasy than reality. I got suckered by my own ego into buying a pair of 188 cm Volkl G-31s in late 2001. These skis worked like a charm in Zuers after a big dump, but for the Mid-Atlantic, they are not always optimum. They are too long and too fat for the ice we often get here in this part of the world. In short, they can be a lot of work. A shorter, narrower ski would make life much easier for me on most days. For the "machine groomed" hardpack we get here, I've found that something like a 181 cm Atomic GS-11 works much better for me (I'm 6.0 in height and medium in weight). The Volkl P-50 might be another good bet, although I have yet to demo that model. We simply do not get enough soft snow here to warrant something like a Volkl G-3 or any other "all mountain" ski that claims it will work well on both hard and soft snow... Just my 2 cents.
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 11-11-2002).]
As far as "All Mountain" is concerned, K2 people tell me the new Axis XP, which is wider underfoot, will still ski good in the east. However, I think that in most manufacturer's minds this "All Mountain" concept does not necessarily apply to the east coast. Just like the lowest loading mark on the side of a ship is denoted "WNA" for "Winter North Atlantic," the conditions here in the east call for specialized characteristics. I don't know if it is possible to build a ski that will really shine both in the east and out west...
John, while skiing "untracked stuff" in the East is pretty rare, I do find that most of my skiing in Vermont and selected local areas (especially Blue Knob) is ungroomed terrain. I probably ski 75% ungroomed. So having a ski that is somewhat resistant to deflection in cut-up or piled-up snow is important. Since the lines on most East-Coast trails are tighter than out West, quick turning is crucial. And of course, hard-snow edge hold.
Otto, do I recall correctly that you went to Middlebury? (I was class of 84.) Do you get to ski New England much anymore?
I ski New England at least once a year. Usually Killington or Okemo but frequently other places, often because ski instructor educational events or exams are being held at one place or another.
Last spring, because I knew my youngest son would be going out west to school this year, he and I did a "search for the last eastern snow" trip in the first week of April. We closed Ski Windham, did a day at Smuggs, and did a few days at Jay Peak. There was day old fresh stuff at Smuggs that ripened in the sun to the consistency of nearly cured epoxy. Very humbling....
Sadly, I last skied Mad River in the early 90's and haven't been to the Snow Bowl since 81 or 82...
If you want to come up to Liberty and make a few turns, give me a shout...
The ironic thing about going to college in Vermont is that I actually ski more now! Go figure. Timing in life is everything... I guess it pays to have a bit more discretionary income than the average college kid. Plus, it's nice to actually have weekends off. Snowmaking has also improved a real lot since the early 80's: two of the winters I was at Middlebury were some of the driest ever. As I recall, the ski team had to train down at Killington for weeks straight. Now, even the small areas have pretty substantial snowmaking.
I do have fond memories of the College Snow Bowl - it's where I learned to ski as a little kid. Every winter, my family would spend our February vactions in Middlebury. (Back in the days of poma lifts, lace-up boots, wool sweaters, and jeans with warm-ups over them.) I still remember being scared to death of the snowcats and would run to my mom every time one went by.
WRT the K2 Axis X, I did see that some ski magazines listed it both in the "all mountain expert" and "emerging carver?" categories, so maybe the ski is appropriate for a relatively wide range of abilities. A ski shop person or other board members would know better than me. (But it is good to get a wide range of opinions, since everyone has their own bias.)
Otto made a good point about the boots.
[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 11-14-2002).]
Earlier it was mentioned in here about length also. What would be the right length for someone my size? I've only skied on rentals and the size has been ~185. I'm also looking for boots. Which for my size foot is also a difficult task.
Thanks for any info.
I am 6' and go about 230. I am on the 195 Mod X and will be going to a 188 Axis XP this year. When you are big, your weight plays a role in selecting length. Not enough ski is just going to fold up when you ski it hard. If you were a more advanced skier, I would tell you straight up to go with the 195. Since you are not, the 188 seems like a decent choice.
[This message has been edited by Otto (edited 11-16-2002).]
Where do you ski in New Mexico? Taos? The group I go skiing with each year is thinking about going to Taos this winter. Any recommendations?
Another ski thought. If you primarily ski the steep and deep out west, you may also want to look at the Axis XP. It is a mid-fat ski (wider under the feet), and will have a better float in soft snow and will plow through crud/cut-up snow better. The caveat is that as Otto has said, it is a bit more ski than the Axis X. The Axis XP will be much harder to turn in the bumps and trees, but if you don't ski bumps or trees (and don't really want to) then the Axis XP may be a better choice.
Since you ski out west, you'll probably have a better opportunity to demo on the mountain than you would have here in the Mid-Atlantic. If you're not certain you can handle a ski, I'd definitely demo first.
Let us know how your new skis turn out on the slopes. Can't say I know much about Dynastars.
Boots are something I would not skimp on. You need to go to a big retailer, try on a lot of different models, and get the pair that fits the best. If there aren't any good ski dealers near where you live, wait until you are at Snowshoe or any big resort with lots of retailers. You'll pay a little extra, but your feet will thank you. If you get to DC, the Ski Chalet can hook you up.
Boots are key to steering and life can be truly horrible if you end up buying the wrong pair. There's an interesting article in the current issue of Skiing about what can happen to your feet if you don't get the right pair.
PS Don't go by price. Sometimes less expensive boots are more comfortable, especially if you are not a racer and don't need the enhanced performance of a stiffer, expert boot.
-JB headed to state swim meet in the warm south florida sun!
Thanks for the info. I have skied Taos a few times. It is a very nice place to ski. The lift served blacks are mostly bump runs (so I've not been on those much). They have alot of steeps and trees that you can get to with a little hiking (I've not felt that I'm good enough to try that yet). They have been getting great snow and are planning on opening this Sat (11/23). It is a place where good skiers have alot of terrain to choose from, but beginning skiers are somewhat limited and often overwhelmed with even some of the green runs (when conditions are poor). (That is why I've only been there when going with a group of experienced skiers, my wife and daughter are just beginners and I don't think they would enjoy it as much as other places). Also Taos is a no snowboard resort, so that is something to consider if you have riders in the group.
So it kinda depends on what you are looking for. There are 2 other areas close by (Angel Fire & Red River) both are more tailored to the family and the less experienced skier.
Hope that helps.
If haggling is not possible, I still would go with a retail store because the boot fitter will need to play with the padding in the boot to get it right. I bought my boots at 7 Springs because I could actually ski in the boots and then go back to the fitter to have him play with padding to eliminate hot spots. You may just want to wait until you get to Snowshoe and go from there. I plan to buy my next pair of boots at Ski Chalet because I can return to the store after each ski trip to have the boots tweaked
[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 11-21-2002).]
Skis, poles, and other gear are commodities as far as I'm concerned. Once I've made a decision on what to buy, price is a main factor for choosing where to buy the item.
Boyd McHugh (sp?) is also very good, but is probably a bit less well known as a bootfitter. All three have worked there for ages.
I dropped in a couple of weeks ago to have my daughter fit. She is an odd case - very thin, long feet. She is also quite tall and light weight. We had gone around to a bunch of other stores, and couldn't find a pair that fit AND that she could flex. When we arrived at the Ski Center, neither of the two Bryans were there, and Boyd was busier than the proverbial 1-armed paperhanger, so we wound up with a college kid who also turned out to be extremely helpful, spent a lot of time with her, and finally found an appropriate pair.
Bottom line -- It's not the cheapest place in town, but the difference in service and expertise is well worth it, particularly w.r.t. boots.
Tom / PM
[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited 11-22-2002).]
My sons will tell you I am a cheapskate. My approach is not extravagant. Once you get a pair of boots that fits well, you can use them for a long time. I have had the same boots since 1996 and they have been skied on more in one season than most recreational skiers would use a boot over the course of several years. At least one buckle has been replaced and this may be the year that duct tape appears on the cuffs of the liner. When I bought them, they were the best fit I could find out of many, many boots I tried on. I then spent more time and money on having them fitted so they were right.
If you protect the soles from concrete or the boots have replaceable pads on the front and back of the sole, the boots will last a long time.
If you do it right, boots can be a long term investment.
In addition to the Ski Center people mentioned below, I recommend Derek at Pro-Fit in Leesburg.
[This message has been edited by Otto (edited 11-23-2002).]
[This message has been edited by Otto (edited 11-23-2002).]
Your post inspired me to try on my boots yesterday. They still fit well.
I had a bad experience at SkiCenter this past week.
Here's my story, I made an appointment for 2 PM this past Monday with "a Brian". I arrived 2 minutes before 2. When I made the appointment, Brian told me that both Brians would be there at 2.
Every person, asked me if they could help, I told each that I had an appointment with a Brian. Brian E was helping a customer and I figured that when he was done that he would help me. The rest of the staff was very friendly. They told me that the other Brian was skiing and was expected immediately. Brian E disappeared after checking out his customer. After 30 minutes, I spoke to Brian E, he told me that I didn't have an appointment with him and he was involved with an another task (not with the customer). I waited a few more minutes and figured that Brian B who I had the appointment with may not show. So I booked. I wasted 50 minutes. I can't fault the personnel who were there. However, I won't go back. I left work early choosing a slow time (Monday afternoon) to ensure that I had time and expertise to get fitted correctly. I have wide flat feet with pronated ankles.
I guess I'll give Derek at Pro-fit in Leesburg even though it's way out of my way a shot.
Should I wait until the end of the ski season? Will prices be lower?
Sorry for the whining.
I had an issue with a ski bag that was torn. The GM said it was my fault. I wrote their home office and complained. The GM called me again and offered to split the cost to sew up the bag. I did it myself and decided to take my business elsewhere.