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Thread: New Race Skis (warning- Long blog)

  1. #1
    Senior Member jclose8's Avatar
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    New Race Skis (warning- Long blog)

    With all the changes in GS regulations, and the resulting new designs from the manufacturers, I decided it was time for me to broaden my horizons a bit with regards to radius' and ski lengths.

    Most "cheater" GS's max out at a length of 180 to 185, and a radius around 18 to 20. To me, that isn't really a GS ski, and really doesn't work well for me even on a relatively easy Nastar course. Not sure why that is, because many people seem to really like them (maybe I'm just old and still a little ingrained into the straight ski era?).

    Anyway, I got the word on next years Blizzards, and the race stock skis will be available in 182 (23m), which will be their masters/cheater, 183(>30m) 188(>30m), 190(>35m), 195(>35m).

    First thing I needed to do what find out exactly what I have now.... Mine are 182's and are marked >23. I have a radius calculator program, but these Blizzard skis have a tip that turns up very abruptly, and is squared off, so it measures short. To offset this, I measured the actual contact length and plugged it into the calculator. With the tip, waist and tail measurements added in, the radius came out to 25.1. I did the same thing with a pair of 186's and it came out to 26.9, so I am pretty confident both are pretty accurate.

    I have several years of experience now with the 182 (25m) ski, and I know I don't want any LOWER radius (ie: next years 182), but I don't want a 183 (30m) either.

    In order to bridge the gap between what I have now and what will be available in the future, I decided on a current year 186 (27m).

    Now.... On to the review. I've only got a few days on them so far, but WOW. I like them MUCH better for free skiing, and they seem to be excellent in a course. So far I have only used them in Nastar, but have had no issues carving the entire turn and going arc to arc. They definitely don't feel like they are too straight. My line has changed slightly, but for the better. A larger radius turn won't allow you to go too straight and turn late. I've been working for a couple years now on pressuring my edges above the gate.... often that caused me to come in too tight on the gate, I would have to release my edges a bit, slip past the gate and then re-engage below the gate. Not ideal. These skis seem to allow me to pressure early much more easily. We will have a training course on our race hill tonight. I'll report back, but I expect them to be even better on a larger, steeper run. Race league Thursday night..... That will be the real test! I may be a little slower at first, as I adjust, but we'll see. Again, I'll update.

    My 182's have now been passed on to my wife, who moved up from 176's. She is reporting many of the same feelings I have.

    Bottom line is, maybe everyone can benefit, ski a better line and progress more by going to a longer, straighter ski. I'm not suggesting that everyone go to a 27m..... obviously it depends on your racing experience and skill level, but if you are on a 170 with a 15m radius, maybe move up to a 180 with a 18m radius?

    Thoughts? Comments??
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  2. #2
    Administrator patmoore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jclose8 View Post
    .... but if you are on a 170 with a 15m radius, maybe move up to a 180 with a 18m radius?

    Thoughts? Comments??
    In the past two weeks I've been thinking along those lines. I'm skiing better this year than in the past and I've been experimenting with longer skis (around 175 cm). Over the past couple of years I've used 165 cm Elan slaloms for our Monday Night race and I think it was the right choice for my ability at the time. For all other races I've been on Fischer Progressors in 170 (14m in the front and 17m in the rear). At last year's Nationals I used Atomic Redsters in 174 cm (17.8 radius) and did well with them.

    This season I've been alternating between the Progressors and several other models with the best success on 174 Redsters (17.8m)and 175 Fischer RC Pro (17m). I'm thinking of using the Fischers at next Monday's beer league race. It will be an interesting test.

    In pretty much every case, the longer skis are outperforming my Progressors. A year or two ago that would not have been the case but my technique seems to be getting better. Spending three days with AJ last weekend certainly helped.

    Yesterday was manufacturer's demo day at Stratton and I did try next year's Head GS cheater in 180 and feel I could do well on it but for the moment I'm going to focus on the 175 lengths. Jamie is going to keep us posted on his results and I'll do the same.
    Last edited by patmoore; 02-06-2013 at 05:09 PM.
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    I ski on 182 cm Nordica Dobermann's with an advertised radius of 19.5 m, but I find the physics of determining a ski's on-snow radius to be rather complicated for my small brain. A combination of side cut, edge angulation and reversed camber combine to determine the on-snow radius of the ski. So there is not a single turn radius of a carved turn for a given ski - since the carve radius will also depend on the relative angle between the skiers leg and the hill.

    My subjective experience with my Dobermann's is that when I have them on their "rails" and get good pressure on the outside ski, they really lock in on the turn no matter what the condition of the snow is on the course. It is a feeling of confidence.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jclose8's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iSpeed View Post
    My subjective experience with my Dobermann's is that when I have them on their "rails" and get good pressure on the outside ski, they really lock in on the turn no matter what the condition of the snow is on the course. It is a feeling of confidence.
    Agree 100%. My point is, as you get more used to those skis, and your skill level and comfort level grow, the only way to get faster is to go straighter. Unfortunately, the skis aren't made to go any straighter, so you have to start your turn very late and make a short radius turn at the gate. I just think that if a person's skill level starts to exceed the level of the ski, bad habits start to form.

    Just a theory....
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  5. #5
    Member Johnny V.`'s Avatar
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    Boy, I don't know.......every time I've tried to go bigger, I'm slower. My main race ski for the past 4 years has been Atomic D2 179 cheaters (replaced this year with 179 Redster cheaters) both are 18.4. I've got a pair of 183 D2 women's FIS (>23) that I've experimented with-they are great to free ski and feel good in the course, but my times are worse on them.

    I'm sure my fair at best technique is a big factor and size matters also-I'm 5'10" and right around 175 lbs. I'm sure a bigger younger guy or girl (I'm 60) can bend a ski that I can't. Also, our beer league course sets can change quite a bit-Tuesday morning was a tight one with about 18-19 m vertical offset. Times were high even for the fast folks. Our start is flat and often offset, so if your technique is less than perfect (most of us) the cheaters help.

    You've got me thinking though-I may take the big skis to this mornings training and see how they feel. As I've stated in another post, I'd like a chance to try the Redster 183 skis-they are supposed to be a little softer in the tip.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jclose8's Avatar
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    Update: So far, so good. Last night we set a training course on our FIS hill. Probably a bit tighter than normal, so it was a good test. Skis worked well and carved smooth turns. It FELT fast, but I guess tonight is going to be the test. It will be the first time I put a timer to it. At this point, I just hope to be about the same as usual or even slightly slower. I know it will take a little time to adjust. If I'm close to normal, I think I will end up faster in the long run. I feel like I am skiing a better line now, but the clock will tell more.
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    I first wish to send kudos to Pat Moore and his staff at Surburban Ski and Bike. They were at Eastern Regionals with a stable of race skis. I was able to demo several pairs and ordered the Fischer RC Pros (check the higher toe plate to increase tip pressure). They had a race discount, but everything about there presence, demos, Q&A, listening to advice to others on a range of topics was impressive.

    As an added note, I commented to Pat that I really liked his informal review of the various race skis to chose. I had been confused after FIS changed the ski regulations. For me, 'cheater' was not a good description for a quality ski. Should I get an FIS legal ski because overall it was a better quality ski? Surburban Ski and Bike had very generous demonstrations including racing the NASTAR course. That sold me. If anyone is in the market for new skis or other skiing equipment, I'd really encourage them to contact Surburban Ski and Bike. If you are within traveling distance, I'd also check to see if they may be having a ski demonstration, it's worth it.

    Finally, I also encourage Pat to continue his informal rating of race skis, even ones not skied. It can be a nice summary of FIS and non-FIS race skis with their turn radii. I used to see all of these descriptions, letters, and numbers, but it became jibberish to me.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by petedskier View Post
    I first wish to send kudos to Pat Moore and his staff at Surburban Ski and Bike.
    I agree, thanks, Pat. I'm loving the D2's

    jclose, how did it go with the FIS skis in the race course.

    I have had a chance to finally take the D2 FIS GS women's through Nastar, and I feel it was comparable to the mené─˘s FIS SL skis I have been running on the past 2-3 years. I can tell a difference on the flat section of the course as the GS skis build up more energy and have a better release out of a turn than the SL skis on the flat. The GS skis tend to run faster with the SL's being a little more squirrely on the flat section.

    Next chance I get, I'll try to run the course same day with SL and GS skis alternating.

    Still likely the driver, but right now I feel like the GS length is going to be faster long term as I get used to it. The other racers who have moved up to a longer length noted the first year on them, they were a little slower, but the following year after growing accustomed to the length, their times had improved.

  9. #9
    Senior Member jclose8's Avatar
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    I finally got to get some extended timed runs on them on our Nastar course on Sunday. My buddy BK and I are virtually identical on that hill, and that's exactly the way it ended up Sunday as well. We took a bunch of laps and both were around the same times. He ended out edging me out at the end with a run that was about a 10th faster than my fastest. I felt VERY comfortable on them. I haven't had a good result on our FIS hill yet.... Went out on my first run the first time I tried them, then went down on my side first run the second time. Bummer, because the course was really chewed up by run 2. I'm working in Boston the next couple days, so I'll miss Thursday night, but so far I'm pretty pleased. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but I'll be fine.

    They FEEL faster and smoother. I'm curious if that's why I'm making mistakes on the big course... I feel like I'm carrying more speed and have less room for error. Can't wait to put it all together! Overall, I've been skiing pretty well this season, though. I was second overall in our flagship event of the year, the Hornbogen Classic, only behind a really fast 16 year old, Colin. The Hornbogen features a Downhill, SG, GS and a SL all added together. He beat me by 3 tenths in the DH, 1 tenth in the SG, 2 HUNDREDTHS in the GS and then 1.6 SECONDS in the slalom. Tough kid. Right now his GS points are 93, and his SL points are 74. Awesome for 16. The coolest thing about it is that I remember when his Mom and Dad used to bring his sister and him to the Nastar course when he was honestly no older than 4! (I was pacesetting back then too...) They would be there first thing when the course opened and do laps until we pulled the course. After that, they would ski all over the ski area until close. Awesome ski family.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Racer X's Avatar
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    Ok, I'll chime in with my thoughts and personal experience:

    When I first got serious with racing, training etc. 12 years ago, I wavered between various used race skis in the 166-170 range that I could get cheap on eBay. Volkl P-60's, Rossignol RC World Cups, Atomic GS 11's and LT 11's - i tried em all (still have many of them) all were ok, and were a big step up from my Salomon X-Screams for racing.

    Most were in the 14-16 m radius range, and served their purpose well. As my technique improved, and I started carving better turns, I settled on a 175 cm cheater GS ski (Atomic GS 12 and then the Atomic D2) which again served me well - tougher to turn than the shorter (and shorter radius) skis, requiring better technique to turn well, but rewarding good technique and turns with better speed and times - yet the "cheater" aspect of them allowed them to be forgiving when the hill was tougher or my technique suffered.

    However, after 3-4 years on these length skis, I felt stalled out last year - like I'd hit a wall, a plateau where I was no longer improving. So this year, I bit the bullet and went to the Atomic Redster D2, 179 cm length, 18.5-19 m radius.

    I was initially concerned that the extra length would be a problem, but in fact it has been just the opposite - I have not noticed any negative effect from the longer length, and I think they've actually been an advantage in certain course situations. I feel like I'm improving again (not just the skis, but they've helped), and even the coaches at race training have commented on the difference.

    The point of all this is that from my personal experience, as my skills and technique have improved, I have been able to move to a longer, straighter ski, control them, and benefit from the increased speed potential in them. That all being said, one of the coaches had me try his 23 m 186 true FIS race ski in training a couple of years ago, and try as I might, I could not turn them efficiently in our training course, which was set very similar to a typical NASTAR course - I simply did not have the skills to do it - so the theory has its limits, at least in my case.

    I believe that for most NASTAR racers, with a few very highly skilled racers being the exception (including the likes of Jamie, John Medicine, Matt Tucker, Joe Minnock, etc. in the Midwest) a "cheater" GS ski in the 170-175 length works best in a NASTAR course. But by all means, as your technique improves, longer straighter skis allow you the potential of more speed - to a point.

    JMHO
    Last edited by Racer X; 02-20-2013 at 12:30 AM. Reason: iPad formatting
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