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New (this year) skier looking for advice on gear and learning

NEAri

Diva in Training
Hi all! I started skiing in January of this year. I started out by renting a pair of shorter skis on my first day. I found them to be easy to control, but as I got to steeper terrain and got moving faster I found them to feel unstable and had a lot of wobbling of the skis back and forth. My next trip out I demo'd a pair of Head Absolut Joy's at 158cm (I'm 5'8" and around 140lbs). I ended up picking up a pair of these and have been skiing on them for this past season (about 20-25 trips to the slopes this year).

I've found that I tend to struggle with turn control at slower speeds. On the days/runs that I can just let myself relax and build up some momentum I move from feeling like an awkward duckling with too-big feet when trying to push the skis around to feeling like everything is just flowing and leaving some nice S-shaped curves behind me. I'm still working on being more consistent with parallel turns and have just started to get a feel for rolling my skis on edge for turns. All of this works well on harder slopes / groomers (and once I get up to a certain amount of speed), but everything seems to fall apart if I'm moving too slowly, the slopes are choppy, or (as I've recently discovered) the slopes are slushy due to spring weather. I expect a large part of my issue is me being inexperienced and needing to learn, but at the same time I'm wondering if my gear isn't as well-suited to some conditions and that may be hampering me in being able to be comfortable and learn at those slower speeds or in messy snow?

Just picked up a spring pass for Killington last night, so I expect to see a lot of messy snow over the next few weeks. Any advice on things to try, or skis to look at if that might help, would be really appreciated!
 

snoWYmonkey

Angel Diva
So many suggestions, one of them being to search this forum for threads on skiing slush, or spring skiing techniques, etc....

Skiing slowly well is actually quite challenging. Hermann Maier a former world cup champion, once said that before a race he would find a very low angle slope and try to make perfect super slow turns. That to me says it all!

Your gear does not sound as though it would be the main factor. Making sure that they are well waxed is important in wet spring snow. Just as uneven snow causes balancing challenges to our skiing, so does very wet snow that will lead to inconsistent speeds throughout turns and from turn to turn, again challenging our balance.

You use the word pushing skis around, which leads me to suspect that there may be some small technique tweaks that will help you on those slower turns. Additionally, the rolling from edge to edge at really slow speeds needs to be adjusted as high edge is hard if not impossible to maintain when moving very slowly.

Will you have opportunities for learning coming up? Even just trying some drills viewable online can be an inexpensive way to explore your skill set and range of skills.
 

NEAri

Diva in Training
Your gear does not sound as though it would be the main factor. Making sure that they are well waxed is important in wet spring snow. Just as uneven snow causes balancing challenges to our skiing, so does very wet snow that will lead to inconsistent speeds throughout turns and from turn to turn, again challenging our balance.

I've definitely noticed how the wet snow seems to drag on my skis. I did have my skis tuned recently after having a particularly bad day on them. Not sure what the right frequency is to get them waxed (not sure if I'm up for doing it myself at this point) or tuned, but I had been out maybe 18 days on them so Google indicated it might be time. :smile:

You use the word pushing skis around, which leads me to suspect that there may be some small technique tweaks that will help you on those slower turns. Additionally, the rolling from edge to edge at really slow speeds needs to be adjusted as high edge is hard if not impossible to maintain when moving very slowly.

I think I may need more practice here. I definitely seem to move from parallel turns / rolling the edges back into more of a plough parallel turn. I think that's what it is called when you end up doing something like a wedge turn and move to parallel partway through? At best I end up skidding in a parallel turn. At worst I mess up my balance/weight and catch the back edge of uphill ski.

Will you have opportunities for learning coming up? Even just trying some drills viewable online can be an inexpensive way to explore your skill set and range of skills.

That's a really good idea. I'm not sure if I'll be able to do any formal lessons this year... I've spent a small fortune on getting myself equipped for skiing for the first time, plus buying lift tickets for each day I've gone (I missed buying a winter-season pass). That $120-$150/day for lift tickets has made this a bitter-sweet hobby. I'll look for some drills and online videos though, that could be a good way to get ideas and then go out and practice!

Thank you!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Hi all! I started skiing in January of this year. I started out by renting a pair of shorter skis on my first day. I found them to be easy to control, but as I got to steeper terrain and got moving faster I found them to feel unstable and had a lot of wobbling of the skis back and forth. My next trip out I demo'd a pair of Head Absolut Joy's at 158cm (I'm 5'8" and around 140lbs). I ended up picking up a pair of these and have been skiing on them for this past season (about 20-25 trips to the slopes this year).
Welcome! Glad @snoWYmonkey took the time to give you some tips. I've been lucky enough to have a couple lessons with her at JH (2014, 2020). She's very experienced and a great teacher for all ability levels.

You mention your skis. What did you do for boots?

I have the AJs. They are good skis for the northeast. However, at your height/weight, 158cm may be on the short side. That's fine for the first season for learning how to get skis to turn, but not as good for messy spring snow as you have discovered. As a point of comparison, my AJs are 148cm and I'm 5'0", 110 lbs. When I demo'd AJ 154cm several years ago, I was an advanced skier. I got them mostly for my home region (NC, VA, WV) plus a few trips to New England when my daughter was in school in Boston. I'm a retired ski nut who doesn't mind doing long drives from NC.

Just picked up a spring pass for Killington last night, so I expect to see a lot of messy snow over the next few weeks. Any advice on things to try, or skis to look at if that might help, would be really appreciated!
In the spring, often makes a difference if you apply wax before every ski day. It's not that hard to learn to do at home. When I first started, I got a $10 regular iron to be used exclusively for waxing skis. There are threads about waxing on a budget.

The other alternative is some sort of paste wax that you can apply 2-3 times a day while skiing.

Wider and longer skis are easier in soft spring snow that's been pushed around. I kept my old Black Pearls (2011, 88 underfoot) as "rock skis" for early and late season skiing when I bought new all-mountain skis to take out west. Also have used them in Jan-Feb during thaw periods (daytime times over 40) at my home mountain, Massanutten, in northern VA.
 

NEAri

Diva in Training
You mention your skis. What did you do for boots?

I ended up going with Atomic Hawx Prime 85 W's. I had our local shop (BootPro) do a custom sole for them, which seems to have helped (my left left is shorter than my right due to an accident when I was younger and while I have good arches my feet tend to pronate inward naturally). My main concern with my boots is (26.5 mondo) is that while they seem perfect on cold days, they feel like they're squishy and too-large for me in warmer weather.

I have the AJs. They are good skis for the northeast. However, at your height/weight, 158cm may be on the short side.

I had wondered about that. The 158's seem very large, but I did spend an hour on some Rossignol Stargazers at 162cm and those didn't feel too much larger than my AJ's. The Stargazers weren't quite zippy-feeling as the AJ's on a nice day, but I think they felt "softer" in terms of feedback from the terrain? I know they were a 92 waist-width while I think the AJ's are a 79.

Any idea what would be a reasonable length for someone who, on a good day, is mostly doing blues in the northeast? Most of my time is spent at Okemo.

In the spring, often makes a difference if you apply wax before every ski day. It's not that hard to learn to do at home. When I first started, I got a $10 regular iron to be used exclusively for waxing skis. There are threads about waxing on a budget.

Off I go to read/learn! :smile:

I kept my old Black Pearls (2011, 88 underfoot) as "rock skis" for early and late season skiing when I bought new all-mountain skis to take out west.

I've read some really good stuff about the BP's, but every review about every ski I read seems to disagree about who should be using it (beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert). Every time I think "I should look at picking up a pair of those or finding a demo," I find another review that says they'd be too much ski for me. :smile:
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I've read some really good stuff about the BP's, but every review about every ski I read seems to disagree about who should be using it (beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert). Every time I think "I should look at picking up a pair of those or finding a demo," I find another review that says they'd be too much ski for me. :smile:
As I noted in another thread recently, I rarely paid that much attention to published reviews of skis because the reviewers were rarely near my size. Never mind that when I was an adventurous intermediate I was mostly skiing at small hills in the southeast. That's not exactly where "ski tests" are carried out.

The reason demo'ing is well worth the effort is that there are so many variables that make a particular ski model "fun" for some people and "too much work" for others. It's also fair to say that the terms Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Expert have very fuzzy definitions with quite a bit of overlap.

For every brand and ski model, there are Divas who love them and Divas who can't get out of the bindings fast enough after one run. Even try for popular skis like the BPs. Even within a line, it's not a given that all the models are a good match. For instance, I like the BP88 and BP98, but have never had much use for the BP78 (evolved from the Cheyenne). To add to the confusion skis with the same name may change over time. From what I've read, the BP88 from 2017-18 (maybe 2019 too) is not the same as the BP88 for 2020.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
The 158's seem very large, but I did spend an hour on some Rossignol Stargazers at 162cm and those didn't feel too much larger than my AJ's. The Stargazers weren't quite zippy-feeling as the AJ's on a nice day, but I think they felt "softer" in terms of feedback from the terrain? I know they were a 92 waist-width while I think the AJ's are a 79.

Any idea what would be a reasonable length for someone who, on a good day, is mostly doing blues in the northeast? Most of my time is spent at Okemo.
(I'm 5'8" and around 140lbs).
General guideline is that for an intermediate, skis that reach up to the nose is a good length to start with. Could be a little shorter, but usually better if above the chin. Could be a little longer, but depends on what type of snow and terrain is of most interest in the near future.

When my daughter was a tween, already an intermediate, and still growing, I bought her two pairs of skis (used) that were at her forehead. The previous pair of skis were usually at her chin by the time we replaced them. She would adapt in a couple of runs. That way, we got 2-3 seasons out of each purchase. One ski school supervisor during early season was very skeptical she had the right skis when we showed up to get her into an intermediate group lesson. But when he asked her to make a few turns in the teaching area, she executed perfect C-turns with no hesitation. She ended up with a solo lesson that day . . . with his wife who was a very experienced instructor. She'd been doing the Children's program since age 4.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
Demo is the way to go! No sense buying a pair you might dislike.

Boots are more flexible when they are warmer. That’s why we never leave them in the car overnight and try to put them on freezing cold! The warmth is why they feel too big.

Spring skiing is different, and I didn’t like it AT ALL my first two years skiing. I hated it when the snow grabbed my skis, making skiing slowly a stop-and-go routine that I had no control over. When your skiing progresses you’ll have more confidence on spring snow. As @snoWYmonkey suggested, there are many threads to study on that topic.

I’m so glad you’re at Okemo! It’s my happy place to ski! Killington can be intimidating, and the trails are a little harder. Stick with greens until you feel steady. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The ambassadors are often clustered at the top of the lifts near a huge trail map - they have good advice and can help you keep from getting lost!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Hi all! I started skiing in January of this year. I started out by renting a pair of shorter skis on my first day. I found them to be easy to control, but as I got to steeper terrain and got moving faster I found them to feel unstable and had a lot of wobbling of the skis back and forth.....

....My main concern with my boots is (26.5 mondo) is that while they seem perfect on cold days, they feel like they're squishy and too-large for me in warmer weather.
If your skis wobble back and forth, that's a pretty clear sign that the boots may be too large. If the boots actually feel too large, they probably are. Usually too-big boots don't feel to large, and people think it's the skis or their technique causing the problems. This misconception can go on for years, boot after boot. Too-big-boots is a common problem with the first boot purchase, and sometimes 2nd and 3rd boot purchase. Most people buy too-big boots because they feel great in the shop and they don't know what a well-fit boot feels like in the shop. It feels weird, waay wrong, and much too tight.

If there's any disguised slop inside the boots, the spring snow will grab the skis and twist them while your feet stay stable, not twisting. The slop inside the boot allows the boot/ski to move while the foot doesn't. From what you've described, your boots probably need replacing with a smaller, better fitting boot. Of course, I could be wrong.

How the plastic shell fits is what matters. It should be snug length-wise, width-wise, and volume-wise. This fit needs to be checked without any liner in the boot. To check the volume, put foot inside without liner, snug the heel up against the back of the boot, and check how much air there is on top of the forefoot, in front of the bend at the top of the foot going up the lower leg, and around the ankle/heel. This space may seem to be filled when the liner is in place, but if it's filled with compressible liner and that liner compresses, then it qualifies as empty space.

To check the length, take the liner out and snug the toes up agains the front wall. The space behind the heel should be one thin finger wide, no more. Check width by looking at the left side and right side of the foot; feel down in there with your hand; how much space is there on both sides? Less than one thin finger's width is good.

A loose boot is a loose steering wheel. Wobble wobble! Uncontrolled twisting! Tails crossing, tips crossing, that sort of thing. Insecurity when side-slipping because the foot slips sideways inside the boot and the skis won't stay pointed the way you tell them to point. Turns that just won't comply with your wishes. And woe be unto you if you should venture into the bumps!

You are in a 26.5. What is your shoe size? This only applies to length, by the way. People here with the same size street shoe can tell you what length boot they are in. This may not be very precise a check for length of boot for you, but it's a simple start.
 
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Iwannaski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'll add to what @liquidfeet said about the shell fit, do this when sitting first and on your SMALLER foot. Your foot may spread a whole size when you weight it, and this is what an insole can support "out" of happening. For example, I wear a size 10 women's shoe, but unweighted I'm almost a whole size smaller and I wear a 25.5 boot.

If I were to look at a chart and NOT a shell fit, I'd be in a 26.5.

I know you said the boot shop did the insole. Did they fit the boot as a whole, or just the insole? If you realize your boot is too big, and I know you mentioned budget, maybe they can help you with a stopgap for a season/half season? I know that's not ideal, but I get budgets... :smile: or, if your boot is still really new, maybe you can sell/swap it?

You got this...it feels like a challenge, but you're on the right track! :smile:
 

Mudgirl630

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
To add to @Iwannaski and @liquidfeet, the boots are the most important quipment. No over statement here. If you are not in the perfectly fitting boots, you will be wasting your time a lot. Even not safe sometimes. Unfortunately, ski boots should not be like comfy bedroom slippers. Also, the liners will pack out slowly as you use them. Since I ski A LOT, they typically only last about 2 1/2 seasons or less even fine tuning them as I go(will ski around 140 days this season). Also, the weather and the temperature will change how you feel about them. Some days, your feet could be swollen also. BUT, you need to start out with the best fitted boots to begin with. Your boots are too big. Ask a few instructors around for the great boot fitters where you are. I know it is another expense, but all of the ski shop would have the end of the season sale now. At least, find a great boot fitter and go try some boots, so you know what they should fit like. Even for me, finding great ski boots is a huge task. I just finally found a pair for my extremely low volume small heel floppy feet. I do have new custom made insoles to go with them. They were made at @footfoundation here in Aspen, CO recently. Good luck!!! We have all been through all this.
 
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NEAri

Diva in Training
Thank you all for the wonderful feedback!

I’m so glad you’re at Okemo! It’s my happy place to ski! Killington can be intimidating, and the trails are a little harder. Stick with greens until you feel steady. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The ambassadors are often clustered at the top of the lifts near a huge trail map - they have good advice and can help you keep from getting lost!

I love Okemo! It's been a great place to learn and having it only a short drive away makes it very convenient! I've been trying to get my value out of my Killington spring pass (4 visit so far) and have had a great time. The snow is turning to slush, which I really don't enjoy. A small amount of it and I seem to do okay by keeping my momentum up and trying to avoid skidding too much, but I was there yesterday and the slush piles were REALLY deep and it was a ton of work to not get tossed around or stuck.

You are in a 26.5. What is your shoe size? This only applies to length, by the way. People here with the same size street shoe can tell you what length boot they are in. This may not be very precise a check for length of boot for you, but it's a simple start.

Depends on the shoe, but I usually wear a women's 9.5 or 10.

I tried my girlfriend's 24.5 boot on the other night. I was able to get my foot into it, but it's definitely too short for me. My toes were scrunched up at the end and the width there made my toes start to have to cross over each other to fit in the pocket. I haven't had a chance to try on some 25.5's (do they make just a 26!?).

I know you said the boot shop did the insole. Did they fit the boot as a whole, or just the insole? If you realize your boot is too big, and I know you mentioned budget, maybe they can help you with a stopgap for a season/half season? I know that's not ideal, but I get budgets... :smile: or, if your boot is still really new, maybe you can sell/swap it?

I picked up my 26.5 boot in January from BootPro in Ludlow, VT. I've used them around 30 days this season. I had a custom footbed made and recently had the place add some additional insole into the boots to reduce the extra up/down space I was feeling in there. That made a big difference and the boots feel more snug now (this might further support that a 26.5 is too big for me?). The person at the shop also showed me a way to use the strap first to snug the boot to my leg before using the buckles. That also helped me feel like the boot was more part of my foot and leg. I did a couple days with these changes and, slushy snow aside, it felt better. I expect I'll be looking for a different boot for going into next season (not much snow left for this year it seems). I wish there was a Zappos for ski boots! :smile:

I think next year I'm going to have to start out with some lessons. From everything I've read I have probably developed some bad habits to compensate for skiing some terrain I probably shouldn't be on yet. I've good control and confidence at speed on greens and blues, but it all falls apart when I have to slow down and pick my way through any tough patches.

Thanks again everyone!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
...I usually wear a women's 9.5 or 10.
...do they make just a 26!?
...I had a custom footbed made and recently had the place add some additional insole into the boots to reduce the extra up/down space I was feeling in there.
... a 26.5 is too big for me?).
...The person at the shop also showed me a way to use the strap first to snug the boot to my leg before using the buckles. That also helped me feel like the boot was more part of my foot and leg.
Quick responses to some things in your post.

--You have a large foot, shoe size 9.5 or 10. I suspect the length of a 26.5 is not too long, but that may depend on some other things. You also have a footbed which sometimes shortens the foot by lifting and supporting its arch, which is good. I'm not sure if, with the footbed, your foot would now fit into a 25.5. You'll need to check that out by doing a shell-check of a 25.5 boot, with the footbed inside the empty shell, and your bare foot on top of it. Others here who wear a 9.5 or 10, what length boot do you have? There will be variations because of those other factors.

--No, they do not make a 25, or any whole sizes. If you find one, it's still a 25.5. Weird, huh?

--Using the velcro power strap correctly is important. But manufacturers make it hard to know how to do this. I assume what you now do it wrap it around the tongue to bind the tongue to your lower leg. Then the plastic flaps go around on the outside, right? That's good.

--If you do look into getting new boots, there is a measure of the up-down space. It's called "volume." Try on low-volume boots. The box may or may not be marked LV. Your knowledgeable bootfitter will know which boots in stock have low volumes. Volume and width both need to match your foot. I wish boot manufacturers would market these built-in characteristics for their boots. People just don't know; all they look at is the length. If you buy new boots, go in October as stock arrives, so you get the best selection.

Good luck!
 
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Iwannaski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Size 10 (big foot), 9.5 (smaller foot) - BOOT SIZE 25.5. (too wide, but that’s for my next pair to fix)

@NEAri - I would bet that if you look at the bootorials series (YouTube) and you do the checks he recommends, you’ll find that your boot is BOTH too long and too wide (sorry?)

My local shop said to come in after the kids go back to school for the best selection - we’ll be buying 2 pairs of boots for long, narrow feet, so I did the due diligence early.
 

Knitjenious

Angel Diva
Size 10 (big foot), 9.5 (smaller foot) - BOOT SIZE 25.5. (too wide, but that’s for my next pair to fix)

Ditto. Wear 9.5, sometimes 10 shoes, but 25.5 boot. Though to be honest, I have realized now that I've been buying 9.5-10 shoes to accommodate a wide spot on my foot, moreso than being needed for length.

In my boot fitting, they were able to point out that I have a fallen arch that insoles help with and were able to push out the shell to accommodate the wide spot.
 

floatingyardsale

Certified Ski Diva
I'll add to what @liquidfeet said about the shell fit, do this when sitting first and on your SMALLER foot. Your foot may spread a whole size when you weight it, and this is what an insole can support "out" of happening. For example, I wear a size 10 women's shoe, but unweighted I'm almost a whole size smaller and I wear a 25.5 boot.

If I were to look at a chart and NOT a shell fit, I'd be in a 26.5.

I know you said the boot shop did the insole. Did they fit the boot as a whole, or just the insole? If you realize your boot is too big, and I know you mentioned budget, maybe they can help you with a stopgap for a season/half season? I know that's not ideal, but I get budgets... :smile: or, if your boot is still really new, maybe you can sell/swap it?

You got this...it feels like a challenge, but you're on the right track! :smile:

Follow-up question for you --- or anyone else who wants to take a crack at it. Would it make sense to measure one's foot as it is on a footbed/orthotic rather than flat? If I am in an insole that properly aligns my foot, my foot measures a quarter-inch smaller -- basically half a shoe size from an 8 to a 7.5. In a ski boot I will always have a high-arched footbed to prevent overpronation (and take up volume.)
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Follow-up question for you --- or anyone else who wants to take a crack at it. Would it make sense to measure one's foot as it is on a footbed/orthotic rather than flat? If I am in an insole that properly aligns my foot, my foot measures a quarter-inch smaller -- basically half a shoe size from an 8 to a 7.5. In a ski boot I will always have a high-arched footbed to prevent overpronation (and take up volume.)
Yes, when doing a shell-fit with liner out, put the custom-made footbed in the boot then put your bare foot on top of it, and stand.
 

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