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Help picking a ski for learning carving?

nopoleskier

Angel Diva
Our OP wants to buy skis that will help her learn to carve. She has experienced the speed of a carved turn and hasn't liked that speed, but wants to continue. She's already figured out that a short radius ski is appropriate for her needs. My ski advice is to find a short radius ski that is torsionally stiff enough to hold a carve.

However, I've been on skis whose tips and tails twist away from the snow when tipped on edge. Some skis are built to twist away. This twisting is due to torsional softness. That's implied by the very vague term "forgiving." Another thing implied by that term is longitudinal softness, and a large sweet spot in the middle that won't punish a skier who is back seat. Learners do tend to be back seat for years before they figure out how to get out of the back seat. So a large sweet spot for skiers still working on finding center/forward is good. Longitudinal softness, enough to help a slow, cautious, low-edge-angle skier feel the bend, is good too. And feeling that bend when carving is necessary, so an "expert" ski is not called for in this case.

But a ski with torsional softness will make it difficult for a budding carver to learn to link carved turns.

I think you are responding to her caution, and giving this OP advice based on your prediction that she may give up on carving (arc to arc) altogether since that involves speed. You may be right; she may not really want to learn to carve once she realizes what that means. The article you linked is excellent in explaining verbally how to carve.

@Auri-616, I'm recommending that you get a ski with torsional stiffness ... if you genuinely want to learn to carve. You won't be carving all your turns, just sometimes, on mostly low pitch terrain, when it's empty. This is thrilling to do. But you won't be carving steepish blue terrain, because the speed will be dangerous. You'll need to be able to use those skis for skidded turns. That's a more useful skill than carving, since it's what you'll need to use most of the time.

Many shop people have no idea what the torsional stiffness of a ski is when they sell it to a buyer. The only way a buyer can tell is by looking up the manufacturer's info online, and checking out if a ski is targeted at advancing intermediates or not.

I'm standing by my recommendations, even though @nopoleskier has been skiing a lifetime and I learned as an adult, even though nopole can carve a 2X4 and I prefer carving with skis.

Well if you're going to get into torsional stiffness and longitudinal, then we better talk about construction- "what the ski is made of" and flex pattern. Longitudinal stiffness (tip to tail)—determined by the length, core, and structural layers—affects stability at speed and overall responsiveness in the ski. Torsional stiffness—determined by structural layers like fiberglass or metal—affects carveability and precision when turning.

A flex pattern is the relative stiffness of tip and tail, and it takes into account both longitudinal and torsional stiffness. The flex pattern changes depending on skier weight and ability. A lightweight but powerful skier can flex a ski more deeply than a heavier novice.. Generally speaking, a ski does not have the same level of flex throughout the entire ski—it’s usually stiffer underfoot, where the most pressure is applied. Wood cores offer the most even flex pattern, giving a feeling of pop or rebound and smooth transitions without bucking you around. Wood cores are also more durable.

a ski that is too stiff will buck you around and burn out your quads. It will make you work harder to stay centered (read: you might find yourself backseat-driving), and you may have to slow down to stay in control. A softer ski will be easier to initiate into and release from turns, and will feel more forgiving in bumps. If your ski is too soft, however, you may experience the sensation that you are “going over the handlebars,” which does not breed confidence or enable you to improve. Soft skis can also feel less stable at speed and have less grip on hard pack.

When it comes to choosing the right stiffness, it’s all about finding your sweet spot. For many skiers, a versatile ski will have a forgiving flex tip to tail and enough torsional stiffness to offer stability and edge-hold. The skis I was suggesting are in this category.

And yes, not having seen how she skis I will always err on the side of caution. She said she didn't like speed is just learning to 'carve' so no I won't encourage her to be buying a ski that goes Mach 3 in 100yards. Skis cost a lot of $$ and to buy something without demoing is daunting and for sure there are disappointments with expensive choices based on someone else's opinion.

Since the OP asked for suggestions, what skis would you suggest for her?
All our techno gabbing isn't solving her quest to find the right ski is it?
What do you ski and why do you like that ski?

I always say "what one person loves another hates" Look at the Black pearls. thousands LOVE them, thousands Hate them! SAFE AND FUN is what it's all about.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
Hi @Auri_616 - Happy to have you here! And you've stumbled on a question that has the experts differing, so it should feel good that you have asked something that people have strong opinions about.

I just started carving this summer, just barely, before my indoor skiing place (Big Snow in NJ) shut down due to a fire. I discovered that I felt completely in control, and was quite comfortable going much faster than normal. The sense of controlled flying is wonderful (Bliss)! But with absolutely everything in skiing, it's far better to learn on a gentle slope than to find yourself going faster than you feel safe doing.

But you just got here! So I wanted to say
:welcome:
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
....
Since the OP asked for suggestions, what skis would you suggest for her?
All our techno gabbing isn't solving her quest to find the right ski is it?
What do you ski and why do you like that ski?

I always say "what one person loves another hates"....
I agree with all that you say above about how skis bend. That is good information about ski construction.

I never recommend a particular ski. Never. As you say, "what one person loves another hates." Most recommendations are of skis the recommender has skied and liked.

Instead, I explain what a person needs to find out about any particular ski they are considering, relative to how they ski, so that they can make a well-informed choice. That's what "techno gabbing" is always about. The techno stuff arms skiers to make an informed decision.

But I know most skiers just want the name of a ski that a lot of people like. There are plenty of beloved skis already named in this thread. I expect my words won't be useful for those folks and that's OK. A buyer, after wading through all the ski names offered up, is still likely to end up with a ski they like.
 
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Mudgirl630

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
--When one gets a real carve going, it is fast. There's no way around that.
--But there's an amazing sense of security in carved turns. And bliss!
--That's because the skis go exactly where they are pointed. There's no wondering how well the skis will hold, and no skidding sideways-ish at all.
--Feeling shocked by the speed with first carved turns is normal. Wanting to slow the carves down is normal. But.... bailing on the carve is not the way to do this if you are serious about building your skiing skills so they include carving.
--The way to control your speed when carving, without bailing on the carve, is to head straight across the trail with every turn. You'll still be going fast, but gravity won't be speeding you up when you head across the hill; you'll be coasting on momentum alone. I'm not saying traverse; I'm saying continue your round turn until your skis point at the trees. Then initiate your next turn.
--In other words, to keep your downhill travel as slow as possible when carving, complete your turns.
--The problem with completing your carved turns is crowds. You will take up a lot of space on the hill, and people above you may not expect that.
--Each completed turn can take you a long way across the hill. This is not good if there are skidding skiers above you not expecting you to cross their intended line. This is a safety issue, and the carving skier is the one not matching the crowd's flow.
--Choose empty trails to learn to complete your turns. This is important.
--The solution to safely doing speed control with completed turns is to keep your carved turns in as narrow a corridor as possible.
--A short radius ski with enough torsional stiffness to hold a carve will help you stay in a narrower corridor. Buying such a ski is important.
--That torsional stiffness part is important. When you buy your short radius ski, make sure it's not labelled as a beginner or lower intermediate ski. That usually means it's torsionally soft (and forgiving). AKA it won't hold a carve very well. The tip and tail will bend away from the snow when the ski is tipped up on edge and let go, no matter how skillfully the skier is moving.
--In other words, buy a short radius ski targeted at "advanced" skiers. When you are learning to carve, you are starting to move into "advanced" skill territory and you will need a ski to reward that buildup of skills.
--Such a ski can still be used for "advanced" skidded turns. These will be much slower than the carved turns, and if the ski is torsionally stiff, it will do these turns better than a more "forgiving" lower intermediate ski.
--And enjoy the BLISS!!! Nothing feels as exciting as a run of carved turns on an empty slope.
--Wear a helmet.
I must say that your comment is superbly done.
 

Mudgirl630

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I agree with all that you say above about how skis bend. That is good information about ski construction.

I never recommend a particular ski. Never. As you say, "what one person loves another hates." Most recommendations are of skis the recommender has skied and liked.

Instead, I explain what a person needs to find out about any particular ski they are considering, relative to how they ski, so that they can make a well-informed choice. That's what "techno gabbing" is always about. The techno stuff arms skiers to make an informed decision.

But I know most skiers just want the name of a ski that a lot of people like. There are plenty of beloved skis already named in this thread. I expect my words won't be useful for those folks and that's OK. A buyer, after wading through all the ski names offered up, is still likely to end up with a ski they like.
I agree with you. One ski come to my mind. I detest Black Pearl, but so many women live them. I tried to see what I am missing by demoing three times. Every time, I could not wait to get off them after 50 ft. They are extremely popular. Go figure. Skis are so personal. Does not matter what the reviews say. Simply put it, you need to demo them.
 

Auri_616

Diva in Training
@Auri_616 … where are you in Indiana? I ask, because what I might suggest might be different. So take everything below with a context driven grain of salt. :smile: Also, this is a whole bunch of thoughts, not organized, because I’m about to make brussels sprouts. LOL.

So, I LOVED the Cloud 9… literally all you had to do was put your weight forward and it rewarded me.
I have a real tendency towards anxiety, which made me put my weight back, but when I figured out how to work the C9s, I love them. it is hard on certain midwestern hills… we have a place where the green is maybe 15 feet across with a steep drop/trees to one side and I almost had a straight panic attack that I wouldn’t be able to make the turn in time…while I was trying to follow my 9 year old. But that’s a user issue, not a turn radius issue. ;)

I hear you on the speed but the turn radius was not an issue for me.

My problem was going too short (I am 5‘7” and not light and was on a 150… great for COLD confidence, terrible for speed and progression). So, I would definitely NOT go short regardless of ski… they will be fine for January, but by the end of February, you’ll really feel the stability issue.

Step 1 might be finding the right place for you to work on the aspects of carving you want to work on. We have three places within 45 min, and the cheapest/most popular among our friends are NOT the ones I prefer. I did realize that the bigger/more expensive place is REALLY where I prefer to be. (Of course) … but, the snow is in better condition, the learning spaces are wider and more practical. So, first thing for you might be to look at your options on location.

Maybe you can drive a little to get to somewhere wider/bigger that gives you space to make the full turn that @liquidfeet described?

You mentioned limited demo stock. Could you get a good seasonal rental for this year? Maybe, again, consider Chicago shops, which might have more stock. Then, maybe you can look at hills with demo days (I know Granite has one late season, I think Trollhaugen does, if you’re willing to drive to Wisconsin- but I’m guessing Michigan is easier and @Jenny probably has some good recommendations) and while progressing your skiing on the seasonal rental you can find places to demo?

In Chicago: I’ve heard Viking Ski Shop is the great one, and they’re huge, so might be a good place to access more stock?

I bought skis without demoing 2x, because it IS hard to find demos in the Midwest. The first time was the too short cloud 9s - seasonal sales bro error, so bad the shop refunded my money after skiing them all season. Now I will be on Renoun Earharts because I figure if I don’t love them I can return them.
I'm south of Indy--between Indy and Paoli Peaks. I think Perfect North is the second closest but still a few hours away. I'll have to think about a seasonal rental, didn't know that might be an option. If I wanted to wait to buy I could probably get out west again next year and demo then.
 

Auri_616

Diva in Training
@Auri_616 : as you have probably figured out if you didn't already know, @liquidfeet and @nopoleskier are ski instructors. However they have very different ski backgrounds. LF learned to ski as an older adult. Nopole was on skis by the time she was 3, if not 2, and was a ski racer growing up. They both live in the northeast.

Do you remember what length skis you rented in Colorado?
Yeah I think those skis were 160.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
All mountain skis, like the Black Pearl, have rocker. So at 160 maybe only 130cm is actually on the snow. I don't know the number for the BP's. A true carver will likely have traditional camber on it. So for example my cravers are 154, yet my all mountain SA 88's are 165. The norm is to go 10cm longer.

A seasonal rental might be the way to go. Some resorts have them available too. I know Tremblant has them and they are "high performance" options. But check your local ski shop. Give them the business and they will look after you down the road.
 

Iwannaski

Angel Diva
@Auri_616 … I honestly didn’t even know about seasonal rentals until last year. If you know what you want, or think your size/style/capability is going to be unchanged, they do not make sense. BUT. If you need something as a bridge, and can defer your decision while you explore, I think they make a lot more sense than any other option.

The same way people by stock market options, I think of a seasonal rental as an option. It gives you flexibility for a price. While you master carving, you can use one ski for a season. (some shops will even let you swap mid-season as your ability or needs change)
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Yeah I think those skis were 160.
I'm 5' 4", 120ish lbs
That seems like a reasonable length. I'm a few inches shorter and 10 pounds lighter. The narrower skis I've used in the southeast/Mid-Atlantic are 148-149cm. I went shorter since all the trails were groomed.

The suggestions to consider a season rental are a good idea. Especially if you know you'll be able to demo in Colorado later on in the season. I bought fairly inexpensive skis initially after my first demo day. Turned out to be not the best fit but were okay for skiing small hills when my daughter was still a beginner. Took a couple seasons to learn more about how to find a better match for my body type, interests, skills, and technique.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
In the ski shops I've been to (Killington/Okemo area and Catskills area) the season rentals are usually just one ski, not too fat, no choices. The demo skis give you choice and are higher performance, but that's per day and more expensive. Season rentals are a bargain if you want those skis. The skis are purposely built to be rentals, with adjustable bindings; sturdy, and basic. Not pure carvers, but they should certainly be reasonably easy to put on edge.
 

Abbi

Angel Diva
I agree with you. One ski come to my mind. I detest Black Pearl, but so many women live them. I tried to see what I am missing by demoing three times. Every time, I could not wait to get off them after 50 ft. They are extremely popular. Go figure. Skis are so personal. Does not matter what the reviews say. Simply put it, you need to demo them.
Every year I demo the Black Pearls in various widths and lengths and I’m with you! They never speak to me! But I have a friend who loves Blizzard skis more than anything so I try once a year to say I tried and to be supportive! :wink: And yet they are consistently one of the most popular women’s skis. Reinforcing the fact that each ski is personal to each skier!
 

Auri_616

Diva in Training
Well I went ahead and ordered the Liberty V76W's. Thank you all very much for the advice and suggestions! I'm sure the seasonal rental would have been a good idea, but I just didn't want to spend money on a rental without knowing how many days I'd get on them or if I'd have a chance to demo this winter anyway. I can always resell the Liberty's if they really don't work for me, I suppose!
 

ilovepugs

Angel Diva
Well I went ahead and ordered the Liberty V76W's. Thank you all very much for the advice and suggestions! I'm sure the seasonal rental would have been a good idea, but I just didn't want to spend money on a rental without knowing how many days I'd get on them or if I'd have a chance to demo this winter anyway. I can always resell the Liberty's if they really don't work for me, I suppose!
I just ordered those as well for progressing on my carving :smile:
 

newboots

Angel Diva
Did I mention this earlier in the thread? The first day I skied some old Dynastar Glorys (67 underfoot with a layer or two of steel!), I learned to carve. Not that I'm an expert, at all, but those skinny, stiff skis were wonderful.
 

nopoleskier

Angel Diva
Nice, I hope you like them too!!

I hope you enjoy them, I had mine out yesterday they are so easy to make short turns to avoid the icy spots and no bucking when they went in the piles! Can't wait to hear your report! Happy Skiing!
 

lakeviewpowder

Certified Ski Diva
Reviving an older post, as I am looking to add the Liberty V76W to my quiver as a dedicated front side carver.

I am 5'4 / 165 / advanced-expert / non-racing background. For the last couple of decades I mostly skied off-piste, but more days than not it's groomers on tap. My narrowest ski is a Nordica Enforcer (93mm, 169cm) and it's been a struggle to perfect consistent, clean carving turns.

I am looking at a 165cm length and I am wondering if I need to go shorter?

I am also struggling to find a suitable binding for the flat ski? Most bindings I see have breaks wider than 85mm and/or they are for lightweight, intermediate skiers. For those that have the Liberty V76W, what binding have you mounted? @nopoleskier, @ilovepugs, @Auri_616 Cheers!
 

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