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New skis for the newbie

mwoodsh

Diva in Training
#1
Hello! I am new to the forum, but have been pouring over posts for a while in hopes of figuring out a new set of skis. I'm 6'1, 165lbs, 35yrs old, and I picked up skiing 3 seasons ago because I'm a climber first and needed better, efficient tools to do more remote things in the winter. My wonderful fiance, who used to work in a gear shop, bought me my first and only pair of skis 3 years ago - BD Route 95s, 173cm. Because my goal with skiing was climbing, we mounted Fritschi Vipecs bindings. I've skied nothing else.

I spent the first 2 seasons trying to figure out skiing, mostly off the resorts, to varying success. I have an old ACL repair (from the 1 time I tried skiing in Pennsylvania in high school) and a partial tear in that same knee (from who knows what) so I've had to overcome some fear and pain to learn to ski. I'm vigilant with leg strength workouts and I still mostly ski backcountry with a knee brace, but I've been working on skiing in bounds without a brace.

After battling my way through a couple big trips with big packs last year, I am surprisingly SO HAPPY this year skiing - we've had a bad snow pack and so I've landed on the resorts a ton and I've kinda fallen in love with skiing. I feel like I've become so much more confident and my technique has improved and I'm having fun no matter the terrain. I sneak out several times a week to skin our little resort before work and I think it's the best thing in the world right now. Who would have thought.

As skiing has grown on me, I've begun to wonder if I have the right skis. A good girlfriend of mine just dumped her light, powder skis for Elan Ripstick 94s and feels so much more confident in bounds and in the backcountry. Which has made me think about my set up. I want to have the magic do everything ski, that I can have fun on groomers but ski and enjoy bumps and choppy crap, as well as all the varied terrain that comes with backcountry. I still use my skis to get to climbs, so weight is an issue for me and I often worry about turning and tearing something when I have a heavy pack on me. I feel like this is getting long winded, so here are the skis I'm curious about for my interests and abilities:

Ripstick 102 or 94, 170 cm
Blizzard Sheeva 9 or 10, 172CM

I'm tempted to try something a little wider underfoot if it's a little more zippy because I do like the float. But I'm not sure if that seems silly, since I just got the hang of my 95s and I have knee issues/weight concerns. The things I don't like about the Route 95s? They are pretty chattery in bounds and seem to be at their best in deep powder - which isn't what I ski all the time. Basically, they seem to take a lot of work in anything but deep snow. At the same time, I'm partial to them because I have learned everything on them, so I will probably keep them, but maybe let them rest for a season or 2. And then I wonder if I ski them more, I'll learn more and therefore should just keep chipping away at this skiing thing?

Oh, and I live/play in Montana and the Rocky Mountain region, with occasional trips and adventures north. Left the east coast a long time ago. ;)

Thank you for any input/feedback/experience sharing!
 

Analisa

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#2
I totally think you're on the right track with a heavy "skiing" ski and a lighter "approach/traverse" option where you can strap them on your pack with overnight gear, glacier gear, ice gear, etc.

Both options should be pretty great. I think I have a pair of Ripsticks in the works to review in the next few weeks, but I've gotten 4-5 days on the Sheeva 10s and they're fantastic for ballsy intermediates looking to push themselves. They really enjoy tight, quick turns and don't love pointing straight down the fall line and I wish they had been on the market 3-4 years ago. They allowed me to control my speed and take a cautious, controlled approach to tight tree lines and technical terrain, but maintain fluidity and seamlessly connect my turns - no side slipping or shopping for turns. The only thing I'd keep in mind is that you might want to demo on sizing. My happy spot is usually in the high 160s, and I found the 164s to turn way too easily, where I couldn't pick speed up much at all. The 172s were better, but still felt a touch short. If I could Goldilocks a custom 174 or 175, that'd be my sweet spot.

Curious what boots you're using and if you plan to do Vipecs on the next setup? Both will definitely also change your perception of how stable and easy they ski.
 

mwoodsh

Diva in Training
#3
Thank you Analisa!

The Sheeva 10s sound pretty close to what I think I'd like (I like quick turns, being fluid and in control.... though ballsy skiing is really dependent on the day). If I'm on 173s right now - do you think the 172s will feel that short? It sounds like the Sheeva skis short in general, but to be honest, I'm not even sure I entirely know what that means. My other question would be about the width - would going from 95 underfoot to 102 feel significantly different, given my 95s are really powder specific?

My boots are Dynafit Radicals. I struggled with boots because I've got a longer foot than women's sizing generally goes, but I don't have a wide, flat foot. Those were the most comfortable and warm that I could find and I've been happy with them. One day I'd like to try a stiffer boot.

We have a set of Dynafit Speed bindings in the house that don't have homes anymore, so for cost and weight, those were my initial thought for bindings. I'd like to keep this new set up with AT bindings so I can still tour on short days and when it's not just perfect conditions. However, if you have thoughts on better bindings, I'd love to hear it!

Thanks again for your input! I'll be curious to hear how the Ripsticks compare.
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
There was a pair of the 2018 Ripstick 94 in 177 cm at Ski Essentials for a clearance price. Not sure of construction changes in the ski over the past few years but might be worth a look/research...
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#5
Oh, and I live/play in Montana and the Rocky Mountain region, with occasional trips and adventures north. Left the east coast a long time ago. ;)
Welcome! Paging @mountainwest and @Skisailor who are at Grand Targhee and Big Sky for their suggestions.

I spent the first 2 seasons trying to figure out skiing, mostly off the resorts, to varying success. I have an old ACL repair (from the 1 time I tried skiing in Pennsylvania in high school) and a partial tear in that same knee (from who knows what) so I've had to overcome some fear and pain to learn to ski. I'm vigilant with leg strength workouts and I still mostly ski backcountry with a knee brace, but I've been working on skiing in bounds without a brace.
A couple of lessons would probably speed up the process of learning to rely more on the design of your skis, rather than leg strength, to get them to turn reliably in assorted terrain. The mountains more for locals like Bridger have good deals on lessons. One of my favorite instructors is a trainer/instructor at Bridger, as well as a Ridge Guide. If you can get away midweek, an intermediate group lesson can end up a solo lesson with an experienced instructor (10+ years).

FYI, I'm an older skier who became a solid advanced skier after popping off an ACL (not a skiing injury) and opting not to do ACL reconstruction surgery. I invested money and time into improving technique instead. Had the advantage of being retired so could get enough days on snow for practice to ingrain better fundamentals after learning what to work on.
 

mwoodsh

Diva in Training
#6
Thank you so much marzNC! That's a great suggestion about Bridger midweek, I had not thought about what a lesson could do to reduce knee fears. I took one when I first started, and don't know why I haven't since. Plus Bridger has been a great spot to try on different terrain for me, even though it's not that close to us.

FYI, I'm an older skier who became a solid advanced skier after popping off an ACL (not a skiing injury) and opting not to do ACL reconstruction surgery. I invested money and time into improving technique instead. Had the advantage of being retired so could get enough days on snow for practice to ingrain better fundamentals after learning what to work on.
Question about this - do you have pain? I haven't had instability in years, but my knee can blow up so fast (running can do this, hiking steep scree with a pack can do it), and that is honestly the only reason I ever contemplate surgery, is to reduce the pain. But, now that I think about it, the better I've learned to ski, the less this happens. So, yes - lessons. :thumbsup:
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#7
Question about this - do you have pain? I haven't had instability in years, but my knee can blow up so fast (running can do this, hiking steep scree with a pack can do it), and that is honestly the only reason I ever contemplate surgery, is to reduce the pain. But, now that I think about it, the better I've learned to ski, the less this happens. So, yes - lessons. :thumbsup:
Nope, never had any knee pain after the recovery period. That lasted 3-4 months. My injury was in June and I was skiing in January. Went to Big Sky later that season. I never liked running for exercise, even though I was on soccer teams in middle and high school and played recreational soccer for a while after that. But every knee injury is different, so that doesn't mean much for your situation.

I'm sure you've learned useful exercises from PT. If you want ideas of exercises that are directly related to skiing, take a look at my ski fitness blog, especially for hamstrings:
https://over50skifitness.blogspot.com/search/label/hamstrings

Being more efficient on skis is better for pretty much anyone, whether or not they have knee issues. Have had friends who were experts in high school make adjustments in the their 60s, as well as friends who learned as adults who are having more fun as they improve their technique now that they have more time and money for skiing.

That's a great suggestion about Bridger midweek, I had not thought about what a lesson could do to reduce knee fears. I took one when I first started, and don't know why I haven't since. Plus Bridger has been a great spot to try on different terrain for me, even though it's not that close to us.
Midweek intermediate lessons during late season can be a good deal. A friend of mine had three solo lessons in a row at Alta several years ago. Same instructor who was Level 3 and had been teaching for 20+ years. I guessing, but during late season I think some part-time instructors leave before the season ends so that it's the more experienced full-time instructors who are still around.

If you want a private at Bridger, my instructor is Ric Blevins. There was also another Rick who an intermediate Diva had a good lesson with back in 2012. She wanted a second lesson the same weekend and RicB was off on Sunday. We and a couple friends skied at Bridger after a week at Big Sky. Last season I did a semi-private lesson with Ric with my ski buddy. Even though we'd done a Taos Ski Week earlier in the season, we learned very useful stuff from him. I still do the first two drills he showed me back in 2012. Have now added one from last season.
 

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