New Ski Recommendations Requested
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JohnL
November 10, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
All,

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.

John L.

Otto
November 11, 2002
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
Volkl Supersport T50 Five Star

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).]

JohnL
November 11, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Thanks Otto,

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.)

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 11, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Otto is MUCH more knowledgeable than I am about skis, so please trust him more than me, but let me share some frustrations with you regarding so-called "All Mountain Expert" skis.

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).]

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Otto
November 11, 2002
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
Rumors of my expertise in this area are greatly exagerrated. In fact, Atomic is making some great skis right now but I couldn't tell you which one would be right.

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...

JohnL
November 12, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Thanks guys for your input. I definitely agree with your categorizations of skis into "East Coast" and "West Coast". For the past six years, I've used one set of skis for my trips out West and a second set for my local day trips and trips to Vermont. Unfortunately, both sets are in need of upgrading. I've also noticed that most of the skis listed in the "all mountain expert" category in skiing mags seem to be in the "West Coast" category; hence, one of the reasons for my original posting.

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?

Otto
November 13, 2002
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
Yes, I graduated from Middlebury in 1979.


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...

JimK - DCSki Columnist
November 13, 2002
Member since 01/14/2004
2,645 posts
In case anybody was wondering where/what these guys are talking about- Middlebury College is located in some beautiful East Central Vermont dairy farm country (Cabot's cheese?)between the Green Mtns and Lake Champlain and not far from Killington, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. Middlebury College is one of the foremost places in the US for those who want to get a higher education and ski their butts off at the same time. The school even has it's own ski area, the Snow Bowl, with 1000' vertical and a renowned racing program. I was in the area in 2000 and crossed over Lake Champlain at the bridge at Chimney Point.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
November 13, 2002
Member since 01/14/2004
2,645 posts
oops meant to say West Central VT
JohnL
November 14, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Otto,
I'll definitely look you up the next time I'm at Liberty.

Jim,
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.

JohnL
November 14, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Scott,
You need to get some techs from local ski shops on this board, they could get a lot of business out of us!

MikalB,
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).]

MikalB
November 15, 2002
Member since 11/14/2002
3 posts
Hi, just wanted to get in onhtis thread also. I'm looking at the Axis X also. I'm just an intermediate skier (estimation)and these are more of an advanced to expert ski. However, due to my size the guys at K2 support thought this was the ski for me. I'm 6'2" and ~270(give or take 5)lbs think pro football player build, minus the wads of cash in the wallet . So my question is that much more ski (over my ability level) really needed. I've seen some reviews that said the Axis (the bottom of the line, notthe X)is a great ski for big skiers. The K2 folks said they thought it would be to soft for me.

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.

Otto
November 16, 2002
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
With the caveat that you are getting free advice from someone who has no idea how you ski, what you ski and where you ski, I would not be hesitant to get the Axis X. I have seen a lot of bad adolescent or barely post-adolescent male skiers on high perf skis they should not have been on. But none of them weighed what you do and the Axis X is not that kind of ski. In fact, I have found the Mod X to have plenty of performance and to be very forgiving.

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).]

MikalB
November 16, 2002
Member since 11/14/2002
3 posts
Thx for the info. I ski mostly in New Mexico. I like it steep and deep, but don't really care for bumps, or trees. I'm going to ski them (Axis X) again this year and try some different lengths. Thanks again
ski_guy_59
November 17, 2002
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
Hey guys! I think we've talked about my new skis before, but just in case we haven't, I figured I could get your oppinion on them. I've got Dynastar Max 3's - 178 cms. I'm 5'11 and 175 lbs. I'm not a hard core diamond freak yet, but I'm working on it! Basically all blue terrain is a peace of cake, and most of the black is a little bit challenging, but nothing like it used to be. Of course I haven't been out west yet, but it will come with time. THINK SNOW!!!
JohnL
November 18, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
MikalB,

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.

JohnL
November 18, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
ski_guy_59,

Let us know how your new skis turn out on the slopes. Can't say I know much about Dynastars.

ski_guy_59
November 18, 2002
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
Will do guys! Still gotta get some boots, but I might be able to find a good late season deal! The 'Shoe pushed its opening date back till next wednesday, but its all good! I'll have another report, complete with snowcamping! THINK SNOW!!
Jarrett
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 20, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Jarrett:

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.

John

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.


ski_guy_59
November 20, 2002
Member since 11/9/2001
221 posts
Thx for the advice! THINK MORE SNOW!!!!

-JB headed to state swim meet in the warm south florida sun!

MikalB
November 21, 2002
Member since 11/14/2002
3 posts
JohnL

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.

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 21, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
We tend to focus too much on skis and not enough on boots, but boots are key. One thing you could do to save cash is find a pair you like at a retailer and then see if you can find the exact same model for a cheaper price on the web. You can then call the retailer back and see if he/she will come down a bit in price. Be sure to include shipping costs in your negotiations.

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).]

JohnL
November 21, 2002
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Ski boots are one of the few items I would discourage haggling too much over. I will gladly pay ~100 dollars more for boots to get proper sizing and initial fit. This extra price is normally recouped over the lifetime of the boot, since all qualified ski shops will service the boot and adjust the fit after you've bought their boot. Feet and boot linings change over time, so you're fit will be different over the life of your boot. Plus, a boot seems to fit perfectly in the shop may not fit as well once you've tried them on the slopes.

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.

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 21, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
After reading JohnL's post and thinking about it some more, I don't think haggling will work with boots. Retailers know how important a good fitting is and probably won't budge on price.
Scott - DCSki Editor
November 21, 2002
Member since 10/10/1999
1,096 posts
One other great place for getting boots is Ski Center in Washington, D.C. One of their bootfitters (I can't remember his name at the moment, but I think he's been mentioned on the DCSki Message Forum before) is nationally known.
PhysicsMan
November 22, 2002
Member since 11/20/2001
218 posts
The two well known bootfitters at the Ski Center are Bryan Beaumont and Bryan Eardly. (I hope I spelled their names correctly).

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).]

Otto
November 23, 2002
Member since 11/19/1999
176 posts
I don't know how we got here, but experience has given me this personal viewpoint on boots. Spend whatever it takes to get a boot that fits. If you have problem feet, that means spending on modifications etc. If you don't have custom footbeds, get them. They are, for the dollar spent, the best thing you can do for your skiing.

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).]

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 24, 2002
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Otto:

Your post inspired me to try on my boots yesterday. They still fit well.

(Anonymous)
December 31, 2002
I know this is late in the thread, but I also recommend Ski Center for boot fit and Boyd is very good. He does all my work when I need it. Happy New Year!
JoeSoccerFan
January 2, 2003
Member since 12/19/2001
17 posts
I don't mean to be today's malcontent, however....

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.

JohnL
January 2, 2003
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Actually, I know Brian B. from several Whistler/Blackcomb ski trips. I'll be sure to give him s**t the next time I see him - standing up an appointment is not good karma. Sorry to hear about your bad experience.
DC_Skier
January 3, 2003
Member since 01/2/2003
56 posts
Yeah, I have had similar experiences with Brian Eardly. He's kind of a weird guy. He fit me for my boots and foot bed when I first bought them and we got along real well. I needed some adjustments later on and had the exact same experience you had. Finally out of exhaustion I let another guy help me (Dave I think). He did a good job. Since then I have gone to Boyd for alignment issues and more fine tuning. He knows his stuff and is a great guy. Eardly is NOT the only one there who knows what he's doing and I will not go back to him either. Unfortunately Eardly is giving the Ski Center a bad name with his attitude. But over all Ski Center gives good unbiased knowledgable service; and even though they only guarantee boot fit for a year (I think) I have been going for adjustments for years with never beign charged. Try that with the hacks at Ski Chalet!
Roy
January 7, 2003
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
I agree on Ski Chalet. The one I used to go to was in Arlington. They've lost my business with their snobby attitude and lousy customer service.

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.

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