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Ski choice is what allows us to progress — our stories

echo_VT

Angel Diva

Hey ski divas
There have been so many posts asking what ski to choose.

If you’re one of those people and you’re looking to progress as a skier, go to a narrow waist ski. And don’t take my word for it, but Deb Armstrong’s. See her YouTube video pleading for learners to get on a ski that won’t hamper progress (i.e. a small waist ski). For those that don’t know Deb Armstrong, she’s a world class skier and a world class instructor.

My trainer (psia east demo team member) as well told me if I want to progress I need to get off the 90 mm waist skis and get to a narrower ski. He is one of the most joyous skiers I know and also one of the kindest. He’s not the type to say that to just say it. I can say from my own experience the 65-68mm waist underfoot skis have actually taught me and my skills improved as a skier just from skiing those skis.

the wider width ski is great for deep powder days and after attaining skiing skills. Deb herself says as such in the video linked!

Give it a listen!

And divas who have progressed on small waisted skis (60-80mm underfoot), please share your story too!
 

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I saw this video about a month ago and thought about it again when my husband and I were demoing skis this past weekend. He had rented the Mindbender RX (85mm) but enjoyed the stiffer and narrower Volkl Deacon 79. I think it's a good choice for his first ski.

I spent 10 years (but not really that many days) on a 72mm Salomon ski that was way softer than anything in Deb's video. Being in California, I felt like shops want to push the upper 80s and above, but for the runs I'm doing and my current skill level, I prefer to stay narrow-ish. I ended up buying an 84mm ski for myself, so we'll see how it goes. I'm certainly not opposed to trying narrower, but I also don't have aspirations of being an aggressive skier.
 

VickiK

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Skipping over the first quarter century of my skier days, the 2011 Black Pearls were my widest skis at 88mm, and they were a lot of fun. But it was when I went to a 68mm waisted ski that I got better at carving. I'm better at carving on my 80mm waisted skis now and consider them my most versatile skis.

p.s. I will be lowering the price of my 2022 Stockli Nela 88s soon, in case anyone is interested, they're posted in the Gear Sell/Swap thread. Shameless plug, I know.
 

echo_VT

Angel Diva
My first instructor (seasonal group at Hunter Mtn) when I returned to skiing too recommended going to a narrower ski. At the time I was on 86mm Roxy skis (probably Dynastar Legends under the hood. I mainly didn’t listen, got 90+ mm skis and the next instructors I had also suggested a narrower ski. I skied those for 6 years, before I changed them in my 7th year. I did progress on them, but not as much as I progressed in the most recent 2 seasons.

Not all narrow waist skis are performance or race skis either. Deb displayed her quiver and they are great skis for advanced skiers as she’s an advanced expert herself — but there are narrow waist skis for progressing beginner and intermediate level skiers as well.

wider skis tend to promote skidding on hard pack conditions. And high stress on the knees to get them on edge in hard pack. The narrower ski requires its skier to be dynamic, have agility. One ski can be chosen to give a lot of feedback to its skier or be damp and take inaccurate direction from its skier like a champ.

I’ll come off the soapbox now. Probably for not wanting advice — but I just want to say I made the same mistake too and stuck with the wider ski. Wider skis are super fun. The shops promote them, especially out west. So do the brands. Who doesn’t want a ski that slays in powder? That said, they do hamper learning for the progressing skier. Know what’s being sacrificed if learning and progressing is a goal.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Big fan of narrower skis to learn how to carve. I never quite "got it" until I ended up on a pair of used master racing skis. Serious epiphany, lightbulb, moment. Less angle is necessary to engage and keep the carbe going with narrower skis. I also felt the apex to apex sensation that was missing on my 80 plus width skis.

As stated in previous replies, I am now able to carve with wider skis more easily.

Firm snow lessons the 72 underfoot boards come out, otherwise I still ski 90 and up to 112 underfoot, but that is because the bumps suck on stiff carvers. Eager to try a soft flexing 80 with some pop and edge grip.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
Many discussions on this with our Women In Skiing page for the CSIA ladies. In fact someone, somewhere wrote an article on ski width wrt carving and learning. It invoked a lot of discussion. I'll see if I can find it.

I agree that narrower skis are needed to learn, no matter where you are skiing. My favourite skis are still the Rossi Z5's from late 2000. They were 75 under foot with 127mm shovels. Went anywhere.

As for wider skis, my arthritic knees are not liking anything too wide. I'm planning on selling my SA 88's next fall and demo'ing some 80mm stuff.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
As much as I've loved my Volkl Blaze 86's for the last two seasons, I bought a pair of Stolkli Nela 80's this year and REALLY LOVED them. I'm going to look for an even narrower front side ski for 23/24. I'm an advanced skier, but I think there is a lot I can still learn (or re-learn) on a narrower ski. Plus, the knees aren't getting any younger . . .
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@BlizzardBabe I love my stockli SC 72. Though they prefer being driven which is not all that forgiving on knees either when compared to fat boards.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I have not. Anything under 84 in my region has to be bought unskied as I live in fat ski territory.
 

brooksnow

Angel Diva
I have not. Anything under 84 in my region has to be bought unskied as I live in fat ski territory.
Ridiculously, it's the same here in Maine where we are not known for our powder. Mid-80s and up are what's available to demo. I've been looking for some skis that are narrower than my Kenjas (88) and won't buy anything I can't try. I find the Kenjas to be a good compromise for most days but I would like something significantly narrower for fast, slick, firm... days and for quicker carving fun.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I have not. Anything under 84 in my region has to be bought unskied as I live in fat ski territory.
WOW! That sounds crazy to me. The fat ski craze hasn't been around all that long, but based on what I've heard from instructors and others in the know, the pendulum seems about to start swinging back the other way. I understand the desire for fat skis in appreciable powder, but even out west there are plenty of days where a "skinny" frontside ski is perfectly fine everywhere on piste.

Over the past 3 years I've never skied with instructors or clinicians who've been on anything wider than an 82 - even in 8-10 inches of fresh powder. The instructor I just skied with in Vail three weeks ago was on a 76 despite the fact that we were skiing the back bowls and were getting about six inches of fresh almost every night.

That said, I guess "trends" sell skis . . .
 

jthree

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Not sure if this is what you are looking for... I learned on the great, straight skis of the 90's and I was still using my mid-90's era straight skis until about 6 years ago. Then I bought Rossi Temptation 80's based on the shop's recommendation. I started skiing more after I moved to Vermont, and I feel like I progressed really well on these. The only comments I got from an instructor was that I might want longer skis for stability (these are 144 cm).

My current ski is the BP88, I don't really notice more skidding or stress on my knees, but maybe 8cm isn't a big difference? I still have yet to try anything much wider.

I was so interested to hear you talk about your narrow race skis and how they pushed you to progress as a skier. I might have to figure out how to try something like that out!
 

kmb5662

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I also agree a narrow ski is an absolute must to really progress on if you want to have good technique. I got back into skiing as an adult (first learned as a kid) in my mid 20s once I was out of school and purchased a Volkl Flair 76 Elite (a simple wood core carver) as my first pair to help get back into the swing of things and I truly don't believe I would be where I am now if I first got on a wide ski. I now have wider skis that I take off piste and on trips out west (Sheeva 9 and BP 88) and have upgraded my Flair to an Atomic Redster X9 WB (75mm underfoot) that I use for most days here in the east and I when I want to practice drills and work on technique. They're pretty stiff and can be a bit punishing if you get off balance and make mistakes but I feel like they force me to be a better skier and I can feel the feedback from the ski so much easier compared to wide, rockered, softer skis. I am a firm believer that once you get to be at least a solid intermediate everyone should have a narrow performance carver in their quiver. Once you get the hang of them they are a BLAST to ski and you'll have just as much (if not more) fun on them than any all-mountain ski.
 

echo_VT

Angel Diva
It’s 8mm! Also you’re an excellent skier probably before getting the shaped skis, so it’s probable that it’s not as big of an impact than if you were learning.

Also yes, I have 86mm and 93mm underfoot and it’s quite different! It’s also different from my 106mm underfoot which I just take out in deep powder but once tried it on a trail just to get used to the ski and it was kind of impossible to get it on edge.

I’m thinking if you tried 78mm underfoot you would notice a difference.

Also something to note for the other J’s in your family if they want to learn and progress, narrow might be ideal for those goals!
 

echo_VT

Angel Diva
I’m glad there has been terrific conversation as well as experiences shared here! I just noticed now when I saw @Jilly recommending to watch Deb’s vid in this thread! Thank you for finding the request for advice on next skis.

@NYSnowflake also shares a recent experience on narrow skis while in Whistler on that thread!
 

echo_VT

Angel Diva
once you get to be at least a solid intermediate everyone should have a narrow performance carver in their quiver. Once you get the hang of them they are a BLAST to ski and you'll have just as much (if not more) fun on them than any all-mountain ski.

this is gold right here. Thank you for diluting the important parts of what I think I’m saying in those 2 sentences!
 

jthree

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It’s 8mm! Also you’re an excellent skier probably before getting the shaped skis, so it’s probable that it’s not as big of an impact than if you were learning.

Also yes, I have 86mm and 93mm underfoot and it’s quite different! It’s also different from my 106mm underfoot which I just take out in deep powder but once tried it on a trail just to get used to the ski and it was kind of impossible to get it on edge.

I’m thinking if you tried 78mm underfoot you would notice a difference.

Also something to note for the other J’s in your family if they want to learn and progress, narrow might be ideal for those goals!
Haha yes 8mm, I should have known the difference between cm and mm given my line of work! And yes, curious to try narrower one of these days, as well as wider. But that's part of my quest to demo more to learn more about skis.

And yes the other J's have skis on the narrower side, I think 78? Too lazy to go look RN.

PS I have seen that Deb video several times but I watched it again in this thread because Deb is just so much fun to listen to.
 

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