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(Low) intermediate skier - had my first chance to demo skis recently. What else should I try?

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#1
I'm a 5'3/160cm, 115-120lb skier. New Zealand skier so conditions are icy rather than powdery. Classifying myself as intermediate as I ski blues and easy blacks (let's be real though - my technique down the easy blacks isn't great, heck it's not even great on the blues - fall into the back seat too much!!). I've skied 1-2x per year up until now but now I live close to a ski field and have a season pass and I plan to go at least once per week as long as the mountain is open :smile: so I hope to see some improvement...

I currently have Salomon Crystal Origins 151cm. I didn't think I was a good enough skier to notice any difference between skis but last weekend I had the opportunity to demo 2020 Dynastar and Head skis, which were at my local field. I was surprised that I preferred both skis over my own!

Dynastar Legend 84w 156cm - felt like I could turn them just by thinking about it. They made the couple of runs I did on them really fun and I felt more confident linking turns. I didn't want to give these back at all haha.

Head Total Joy 153cm - it was quieter when I tried these so I was able to do 4 runs on them. I didn't actually like them off the bat, they weren't really easy to turn like the Dynastars were (because of my skiing technique I think). However they grab an edge and turn REALLY nicely when I got my weight further forward - once I was pressing my shins into the front of my boots, I was having a ton of fun linking turns with these too. I actually felt like these skis made me a better skier

I'd happily own either ski! I was only testing them on a nice wide blue run, I felt like the Total Joy was a more fun ski when I was weighting it properly but the Legends were more forgiving when I was in the back seat (which I'm especially prone to in narrower runs where I can't just do big turns). I don't actually know which I'd choose but I'm keen to keep demoing as I get the chance!

Any recommendations for other skis to demo? I'd also be interested in hearing what experiences other ladies have had with the skis I tried, as now I'm seriously considering picking up some new skis at the end of the season :smile:
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#2
Because of your conditions, try to keep the skis under the 84mm waist. Right now I'm too into summer mode to think straight about models....I'll let someone else come up with some ideas.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#3
I'm a 5'3/160cm, 115-120lb skier. New Zealand skier so conditions are icy rather than powdery. Classifying myself as intermediate as I ski blues and easy blacks (let's be real though - my technique down the easy blacks isn't great, heck it's not even great on the blues - fall into the back seat too much!!). I've skied 1-2x per year up until now but now I live close to a ski field and have a season pass and I plan to go at least once per week as long as the mountain is open :smile: so I hope to see some improvement...
Welcome! I've been following the opening of the ski season in Australia and New Zealand. No question that having a season pass will mean more "mileage" and that's usually helpful for gaining confidence. How did you learn to ski?

I currently have Salomon Crystal Origins 151cm. I didn't think I was a good enough skier to notice any difference between skis but last weekend I had the opportunity to demo 2020 Dynastar and Head skis, which were at my local field. I was surprised that I preferred both skis over my own!

Dynastar Legend 84w 156cm - felt like I could turn them just by thinking about it. They made the couple of runs I did on them really fun and I felt more confident linking turns. I didn't want to give these back at all haha.

Head Total Joy 153cm - it was quieter when I tried these so I was able to do 4 runs on them. I didn't actually like them off the bat, they weren't really easy to turn like the Dynastars were (because of my skiing technique I think). However they grab an edge and turn REALLY nicely when I got my weight further forward - once I was pressing my shins into the front of my boots, I was having a ton of fun linking turns with these too. I actually felt like these skis made me a better skier

I'd happily own either ski! I was only testing them on a nice wide blue run, I felt like the Total Joy was a more fun ski when I was weighting it properly but the Legends were more forgiving when I was in the back seat (which I'm especially prone to in narrower runs where I can't just do big turns). I don't actually know which I'd choose but I'm keen to keep demoing as I get the chance!
As you've discovered, you don't have to be an advanced/expert skier to be able to tell pretty quickly whether a given model is fun or too much work. Your sense of the difference between the Legend 84w and the Total Joy make perfect sense.

I'm a bit more petite, became an advanced older skier in the last decade, and own the Head Absolut Joy @148cm. The Head Joy line, Dynastar, K2, Nordica, and Rossignol are brands that I usually like at demo days.

The fact that the Legend 84w was a bit longer than your own skis is a factor to consider. For an intermediate, skis that come up to your nose are an appropriate length.
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#5
Welcome! I've been following the opening of the ski season in Australia and New Zealand. No question that having a season pass will mean more "mileage" and that's usually helpful for gaining confidence. How did you learn to ski?
Thank you! It's not a great start to the season, but not being an advanced skier is to my advantage here, as only the runs with snowmaking (mostly intermediate) are open so far. Suits me fine ;)

I learned to ski by taking two lessons a few years ago (i started with 0 skill haha), then just explored the mountain and skidded down various runs mostly on my own. At the time I lived 4.5 hours away. Now that I've moved closer to the snow I'm trying hard to improve my technique and get the occasional video of my skiing, and plan to take a couple more lessons to help that too!

As you've discovered, you don't have to be an advanced/expert skier to be able to tell pretty quickly whether a given model is fun or too much work. Your sense of the difference between the Legend 84w and the Total Joy make perfect sense.

I'm a bit more petite, became an advanced older skier in the last decade, and own the Head Absolut Joy @148cm. The Head Joy line, Dynastar, K2, Nordica, and Rossignol are brands that I usually like at demo days.

The fact that the Legend 84w was a bit longer than your own skis is a factor to consider. For an intermediate, skis that come up to your nose are an appropriate length.
It seems like the Head Joy line is a pretty popular one! All those brands are generally available in NZ, whether I'll see them at demo days is another matter, but I'm at one of the commercial ski areas in NZ so I should do. It's a bit unpredictable. I can also pay to rent demo skis from the ski shops around (there's quite a few near me) for a price. The Head demo rep confirmed they will definitely be back throughout the season, and told me I should try some of the other Joy models when they are. I didn't know anything about ski models on the weekend so I just wandered up and asked if they had anything for someone inexpertly skiing blues, and they eyed up my height and handed me a ski and told me how to ski it :"D

Yeah, I was a bit concerned about the length of the Legend 84w, it was the shortest ski that the Dynastar demo stand had at that time but the guy told me that it "skis shorter" because it has a lot more rocker than my current ski? It turned out to be fine/easy to turn.

I was really intrigued that these models were as easy or easier to turn than my current, 72mm underfoot, skis. Turns out there's a lot more to the equation than simply length and width..!
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
Was it the 2020 Total Joy? Navy blue with orange? If so, that is a NICE ski--super versatile. I'd be inclined to tell you to get the ski that rewards you for better technique but still doesn't kick your butt.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#7
I didn't know anything about ski models on the weekend so I just wandered up and asked if they had anything for someone inexpertly skiing blues, and they eyed up my height and handed me a ski and told me how to ski it
Sounds like a good approach to me! I often just ask what's the shortest skis available.

I was really intrigued that these models were as easy or easier to turn than my current, 72mm underfoot, skis. Turns out there's a lot more to the equation than simply length and width..!
For sure demo'ing is the best way to learn how different design (shape) and materials change the way skis that are the same length and width feel when making turns or going at various speeds. I find I learn more from skis that I don't like than those that are fun for my size and style of skiing.

Here are some examples of reasons for considering skis longer than you are used to. Height, weight, technique, favorite terrain, are all factors. At this point, I own more than one pair of skis. The lengths range about 10cm, shorter for narrower skis and longer for the all-mountain skis that are 85 underfoot.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/should-i-be-riding-on-longer-skies.15690/
https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/tips-for-switching-to-longer-skis.11783/
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#8
Take a look at the rental skis at your current mountain. Be sure to look at the ones they recommend for people of your skill level and weight/height.

Those skis are probably 75-78 mm in width at the waist (middle). I'm guessing, of course. The reason they are that narrow, or even narrower, is because learning to control your turns with a combination of tipping the ski and rotating it appropriately is easier on a narrow-ish ski, if you are skiing mostly on hard snow/groomers. For that reason, I'd suggest you buy a ski with a similar profile similar waist width.

You say you've had two lessons. It's turn initiation that pretty much determines skill level, at least on groomers. If you are starting your turns a particular way and want to improve your general skill level so that you'll have more control on those steeper groomers, you'll need a ski that helps you do that. Most probably a narrow waisted ski is what you need. When you buy, yo up your game from rentals, you could buy a ski that has the same waist width but more tortional stiffness than the rental skis. That stiffness means the ski's tip and tail won't twist away from the snow it's supposed to be gripping when you tip it. It will react to the snow with more force than a rental ski, thus giving you more feedback when you tip it. Learning to manage tipping is a biggie that you'll want to work on this season.

One other thing you mentioned is getting in the back seat. You'll be working on that this season, and it's real real REAL important. Rental skis for beginners/novices are "forgiving" of back-seat skiing. Another way of saying this is that they have a large "sweet spot." That means they don't react negatively as much as a more advanced ski when you get in the back seat. -- When you buy a ski that has a small "sweetspot," it will punish you when you are aft. However, it's not easy to tell when you are buying such a ski; shop employees don't always know. If the ski is marketed by the manufacturer as being for advanced/experts (which you can tell by reading online about the ski), that's a good indicator that the ski is not very forgiving fore-aft-wise. I'd suggest you stay away from those skis.

1. In those lessons, how did you learn to start your turns? If you don't know, that's OK.
2. Are you still using a wedge, or going into a quick wedge at the beginning of your turns?
3. How do you stop?
4. If you can do a hockey-stop, when you do them, are you facing the side of the trail when you stop?
 
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liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
@fgor, I just realized those last two questions have nothing to do with what skis to buy. I'm just an instructor missing skiing, going into autopilot mode. Don't answer if you don't want to. I can't edit them out now because too much time has gone by to edit that post. (Sorry!)
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#10
Was it the 2020 Total Joy? Navy blue with orange? If so, that is a NICE ski--super versatile. I'd be inclined to tell you to get the ski that rewards you for better technique but still doesn't kick your butt.
Yes! This is them :smile: If a ski is "kicking my butt" would that mean that I'm unable to turn it when I need to?

skis.PNG
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#11
Take a look at the rental skis at your current mountain. Be sure to look at the ones they recommend for people of your skill level and weight/height.

Those skis are probably 75-78 mm in width at the waist (middle). I'm guessing, of course. The reason they are that narrow, or even narrower, is because learning to control your turns with a combination of tipping the ski and rotating it appropriately is easier on a narrow-ish ski, if you are skiing mostly on hard snow/groomers. For that reason, I'd suggest you buy a ski with a similar profile similar waist width.

You say you've had two lessons. It's turn initiation that pretty much determines skill level, at least on groomers. If you are starting your turns a particular way and want to improve your general skill level so that you'll have more control on those steeper groomers, you'll need a ski that helps you do that. Most probably a narrow waisted ski is what you need. When you buy, yo up your game from rentals, you could buy a ski that has the same waist width but more tortional stiffness than the rental skis. That stiffness means the ski's tip and tail won't twist away from the snow it's supposed to be gripping when you tip it. It will react to the snow with more force than a rental ski, thus giving you more feedback when you tip it. Learning to manage tipping is a biggie that you'll want to work on this season.

One other thing you mentioned is getting in the back seat. You'll be working on that this season, and it's real real REAL important. Rental skis for beginners/novices are "forgiving" of back-seat skiing. Another way of saying this is that they have a large "sweet spot." That means they don't react negatively as much as a more advanced ski when you get in the back seat. -- When you buy a ski that has a small "sweetspot," it will punish you when you are aft. However, it's not easy to tell when you are buying such a ski; shop employees don't always know. If the ski is marketed by the manufacturer as being for advanced/experts (which you can tell by reading online about the ski), that's a good indicator that the ski is not very forgiving fore-aft-wise. I'd suggest you stay away from those skis.
Oh to clarify, I own the Salomon Origin Crystal - they were very cheap and already saving me money over renting skis, given I've owned my own boots for a long time and you don't really save any money renting skis only vs skis+boots :P I think they're probably similar to rental skis as they are very narrow. I assumed I'd just ski on these forever but was surprised to prefer other skis when I tried them! You're so right about the back seat thing. It's what I struggle with the most! I've found a few tips I will try next time I ski.

1. In those lessons, how did you learn to start your turns? If you don't know, that's OK.
2. Are you still using a wedge, or going into a quick wedge at the beginning of your turns?
3. How do you stop?
4. If you can do a hockey-stop, when you do them, are you facing the side of the trail when you stop?
1. I don't remember my first lesson as I was a never-ever skier then and couldn't even turn in a wedge. I remember in the second lesson I was told to push through my big toe on the outside ski to turn. I've stopped doing that now because I don't know what I was doing then, but now doing this just pushes my calf into the back of the boot which seems counter-productive for my posture issues :P however i think I'm just using my heels to turn now :/

2. I actually have a video for this! Not a great video and it's only the very end of the run because I'm out of frame before then

3. hockey-stops! or just a big skidded turn so I end up sideways on the trail

4. the side or sort of facing uphill sometimes (as in video) :smile:

I totally get it, now that I live so close to a mountain I wish I could ski every day, and I'm sitting at work already missing skiing, hoping the weather is good (not too windy) this weekend so I can ski then :smile:
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#12
I totally get it, now that I live so close to a mountain I wish I could ski every day, and I'm sitting at work already missing skiing, hoping the weather is good (not too windy) this weekend so I can ski then :smile:
Will you be skiing at Mt. Hutt this season? Looks like there is a Sat clinic for women during the late July and August weekends.

Unlike @liquidfeet, I'm not an instructor. Been taking advanced lessons fairly regularly in recent years. Have also skied with friends who are/were beginners or cautious intermediates who learned as adults. My question is: where are you usually looking when heading down the slope making turns?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#13
Oh to clarify, I own the Salomon Origin Crystal - they were very cheap and already saving me money over renting skis, given I've owned my own boots for a long time and you don't really save any money renting skis only vs skis+boots :P I think they're probably similar to rental skis as they are very narrow. I assumed I'd just ski on these forever but was surprised to prefer other skis when I tried them!
From what I can tell, the Origin Crystal is around 10 years old and 72 underfoot. It's fair to say that ski design and materials have evolved quite a bit in the last decade.

The first pair of skis I bought to use when my daughter was a beginner were former rental skis. They were really cheap. After I demo'd for the first time, I bought some K2 skis because I liked the K2 skis that I demo'd. Also pretty inexpensive before they were a previous model year. But after a couple seasons and more demo'ing, I found another brand with skis I liked a lot more. Both of those skis were mid-70s underfoot. But skied quite differently.

Have you found this thread about demo'ing skis in the U.S. northeast? From what I've read, snow conditions on groomed trails in the northeast and NZ are similar.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/need-a-crash-course-in-demoing-101.23774/
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
....From what I've read, snow conditions on groomed trails in the northeast and NZ are similar....
I was banking on that when I wrote that post up there. My experience is in the northeast, on mostly hard snow due to our frequent thaw/freeze cycles.
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#15
Will you be skiing at Mt. Hutt this season? Looks like there is a Sat clinic for women during the late July and August weekends.

Unlike @liquidfeet, I'm not an instructor. Been taking advanced lessons fairly regularly in recent years. Have also skied with friends who are/were beginners or cautious intermediates who learned as adults. My question is: where are you usually looking when heading down the slope making turns?
Yes, Mt Hutt is where I have a season pass to! That's cool, I found the Saturday ladies clinic, they don't seem to have any info about what it involves yet but hopefully they'll put that up soon. That could be pretty cool!

I always kinda look in the direction my skis are going, which I've recently been told is bad and i should be looking down the fall line the entire time. That's a surprisingly tricky habit to break haha.

From what I can tell, the Origin Crystal is around 10 years old and 72 underfoot. It's fair to say that ski design and materials have evolved quite a bit in the last decade.

The first pair of skis I bought to use when my daughter was a beginner were former rental skis. They were really cheap. After I demo'd for the first time, I bought some K2 skis because I liked the K2 skis that I demo'd. Also pretty inexpensive before they were a previous model year. But after a couple seasons and more demo'ing, I found another brand with skis I liked a lot more. Both of those skis were mid-70s underfoot. But skied quite differently.

Have you found this thread about demo'ing skis in the U.S. northeast? From what I've read, snow conditions on groomed trails in the northeast and NZ are similar.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/need-a-crash-course-in-demoing-101.23774/
That's a useful thread! Definitely gives me some more ideas for demos. Hopefully I do see these other brands at the mountain this season, I feel like they should show up! And yeah, I assumed skis had mostly stayed the same in the last decade but apparently not :smile:
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#16
Yes, Mt Hutt is where I have a season pass to! That's cool, I found the Saturday ladies clinic, they don't seem to have any info about what it involves yet but hopefully they'll put that up soon. That could be pretty cool!

I always kinda look in the direction my skis are going, which I've recently been told is bad and i should be looking down the fall line the entire time. That's a surprisingly tricky habit to break haha.
The next time you go to Mt Hutt, why not stop by the ski school and ask about the clinics for women? During early season, things can get busy so it's easy for stuff related to a website to back pushed down a To Do List.

The drill that's related to looking where you are going, and not where your skis are pointed is to pick a target down the slope that requires a few turns to reach. Best done on a relatively empty slope but can be done along the side of a wide trail. Look at the target, make turns to get there, and then stop. Repeat as terrain allows. Increase the distance to the target eventually but not too soon. Doing 4 turns well is much better than 14 so-so turns.

If it's any consolation, during the Taos Ski Week (6 consecutive morning lessons) I was in with other advanced skiers last winter, the instructor must have said "look where you are going" or "look DOWN the hill" a dozen times every morning. The season before, a different instructor would say "chin up" all the time. Both instructors were women who have been teaching at Taos for a few decades.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#17
That's a useful thread! Definitely gives me some more ideas for demos. Hopefully I do see these other brands at the mountain this season, I feel like they should show up! And yeah, I assumed skis had mostly stayed the same in the last decade but apparently not :smile:
Hope you'll post when you get to demo again. Very interested to know what models the various brands are pushing for 2020.

What can be very confusing is when the design of a given model changes but the name stays the same. The Black Peal evolved into the BP88 with some differences. A later version of the BP88 is a bit different from the initial version. That's why knowing the model year is important when buying skis from a previous season. Most of the time if the name is the same, the only difference is the graphics on the "top sheet" but not always. Design changes can happen after 2-3 seasons.

Head is introducing the Kore line for women for 2020. Quite fun and designed for advanced skiers. Wider than you probably want, but if you get a chance to demo, it's worth a couple runs.

K2 is also introducing a new line, called Mindbender. Also on the wider side.
 

Pixie Perfect

Certified Ski Diva
#18
I’m an intermediate skier and I demoed skis for the first time this spring. I’m 5’2” and I tried all of these skis (2019 models):

  1. Blizzard BP88 in 152
  2. K2 Endless Luv in 146
  3. Vökl Yumi in 147
  4. Experience W 88 in 152

I found the 4 skis I tried were all better than my previous rentals. I also felt liked I skied better with all of them. With that being said I could not feel any noticeable differences between the models I tried. I only ruled out Experience W 88 because I felt it was a bit heavy for me to carry compared to the other 3 models.

Maybe some of these models may be of interest for you to demo too!
 
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fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#19
The next time you go to Mt Hutt, why not stop by the ski school and ask about the clinics for women? During early season, things can get busy so it's easy for stuff related to a website to back pushed down a To Do List.

The drill that's related to looking where you are going, and not where your skis are pointed is to pick a target down the slope that requires a few turns to reach. Best done on a relatively empty slope but can be done along the side of a wide trail. Look at the target, make turns to get there, and then stop. Repeat as terrain allows. Increase the distance to the target eventually but not too soon. Doing 4 turns well is much better than 14 so-so turns.

If it's any consolation, during the Taos Ski Week (6 consecutive morning lessons) I was in with other advanced skiers last winter, the instructor must have said "look where you are going" or "look DOWN the hill" a dozen times every morning. The season before, a different instructor would say "chin up" all the time. Both instructors were women who have been teaching at Taos for a few decades.
Would you believe I skied at Mt Hutt this weekend and totally forgot to ask about the womens clinics? I was thinking about it on the way up - then totally forgot all day!

I tried to focus on both looking where I was going and doing rounded turns instead of skidded Z shaped turns - it seems I can one or the other but not both :P when I'm looking down the hill I can't seem to focus on my skiing enough to round my turns, and vice versa! Skiing sure is a lot of components to remember (body position in terms of how the joints are bent and stacked, upper body position/direction, proper weight distribution on legs, fore-aft weight distribution, initiating turns properly, ending turns properly instead of just skidding and jumping into the next turn ;) ), i'm slowly getting there though! Good to know I'm far from the only one finding it a challenge to put it all together :smile: I do see a LOT of people who look like they're skiing like me out there!
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
I only ruled out Experience W 88 because I felt it was a bit heavy for me to carry compared to the other 3 models.
Do you know whether they all had the same demo bindings? Sometimes the weight could be in the bindings. But, you can probably also look up the various skis online to see what the weights are. Most manufacturers will list the weight in g for a particular length.
 

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