Craig's ski reviews
Craig, ski tester profile
- Very experienced skier
- Emphasize - finesse and technique
- Preferred terrain - powder, soft bumps, off-piste freeride
- Height - 6'1" / 1,85 meter
- Weight - 180 lbs/ 82 kg
- Local ski resort: Vail Colorado
Skiing for 45 years with past stents that include Ski Patrol and PSIA ski instructor. I ski 100+ sessions per season, most in Vail Colorado. Even though I prefer off-piste, groomers are always part of the day, and on lack of snow days, may be the only runs in the morning!
I am a directional-traditional skier. I am here for the exercise, experience, longevity, and furtherance of ski technique. For my local Vail snow conditions I prefer a wider, damp, heavy, stable, even flex ski. It should be able to carve turns, have an easy release tail for bumps, good float and stability relative to size, for pow and crud. I place emphasis on a good carve turn with limited skid, smooth lines in the bumps. I am generally not a high speed straight line skier, however, I do love to make high speed-high edge angle, huge carve turns on groomed runs with consistent conditions.
- Current ski inventory:
- Rossignol Experience 88 HD
- Kästle BMX105 181cm
- Blizzard Bonafide 180cm
- Liberty Genome 187cm
- Other Sports:
Windsurfing - hiking - nordic - playing standup bass
- If you study written reviews:
consider the testers profile, and how it compares to yours. There are numerous great skis out there, but their characteristics vary widely . Matching your profile to the skis characteristics are the key to a gratifying ski purchase.
- About my ski ratings:
A 5 star rating, is a ski or equipment that I would love to have in my personal inventory. If I rate a ski less than 5 stars, it does not meet all of my personal profile preferences, but may be 5 stars for skiers with different profiles. I try to identify each skis attributes, and the terrain it performs best, to help you match your personal profile preferences.
- What is a profile:
Size of tester, skier level-type, testers ski characteristic preferences, preferred ski terrain.
- Two Ski Quiver (for in-bounds resort skiing):
I have found a Two Ski Quiver in Vail, Colorado to adequately cover most conditions for free skiing within the resort.
In the narrower ski, that I will use for no-new-snow, firm days, and carving, I currently use a 88mm underfoot width. Some of the characteristics that match my profile requirements in this approximate width, include: high damping qualities, shorter turn radius (approximately 14-19m), stiffer flex, above average edge hold for this width, smooth edge engagement, excellent carving, good torsional stability, even flex, shorter length, stability at speed, camber underfoot, maybe rockered tip profile, flat tail, (not necessarily in that order). In the case of my current ski (Rossignol Experience 88 HD) in a 180 length, it has great float for this width underfoot, with its wide tip and tail, and easily handles 4-6 inches, where my powder skis take over. I would consider a narrower ski, for a Three Ski Quiver, perhaps a detuned slalom race ski.
My second ski, the wide Powder Ski in my Two Ski Quiver, will be in the 114mm plus underfoot width, with a longer turn radius.
The characteristics I prefer for this ski will include: longer length, a good compromise of higher damping qualities and reasonable weight (higher or better damping usually comes with increased weight), even and softer flex, good float, rockered tip and tail with low camber underfoot, easy turn initiation (usually a twin tip), stability in variable conditions and at speed, good torsional stability, and above average edge hold for this width. My current pow ski is the Liberty Genome in a 187cm length, and satisfies the above requirements.
I have found that the widths in between these two can be superfluous, due to the versatility of today's skis. I currently have several top rated skis in the approximate 98-107 width, but I rarely find a reason to use them. The 88mm underfoot skis generally have better edge hold, and better carving capability, and shorter turn radius. The 98-107 width is well suited for those looking for a One Ski Quiver for Rocky Mountain-Colorado conditions, which tend to stay softer, than other parts of the US, due to low humidity and high elevation. These widths typically make sacrifices on both ends of the spectrum. If you want to maximize your ski experience, strive to find a firm snow ski, and a powder ski, that are properly matched to your profile requirements, as I have found in the two skis listed above.
- What are the important ski characteristics you should consider?
1) Length: does the manufacturer make the appropriate length in the ski your interested in, based on your profile, and if you compromise, should you error up or down in length for that particular ski?
2) Weight and construction materials of ski: light weight skis are currently popular. They typically use lighter varieties of wood, carbon, and hollowed out material-honeycomb to accomplish this. The result can reduce dampening qualities, and torsional stability, but may also reduce fatigue, particularly, if you ski primarily groomed terrain, or go backcountry.
3) Dampening or Damping: skis with higher dampening are typically more stable in off piste conditions (like a car with good shocks), including, cut up snow, chunder, crud, and bumps. Skis with Titanal (metal layers) are generally more damp, heavier in weight, and have good torsional stability. Skis with poor torsional stability, allow the tip to twist reducing stability, particularly noticeable in bumps.
4) Flex: softer flex can be more forgiving in off piste conditions-bumps, and increase float in powder, but I am generalizing.
5) Multi-point sidecut (also referred to as 4 or 5 point sidecut): typically better float in powder due to wide forebody. Shortens usable edge. Increases weight in front of ski. Can improve turn initiation or allow for shorter turn radius.
6) Ski Width: the new wider skis are amazingly versatile, but a two, or more ski quiver will increase your fun factor! If you want a one-ski quiver: something around 98mm underfoot is a good compromise for the Vail Colorado area I live in.
7) Rocker: most freeride skis use varying degrees of rocker in the tip and tail. Typically, wider skis have more rocker, increasing float, ease of turn initiation, but will reduce usable edge, and may effect groomed run performance. Can cause tip flap.
8) Turn radius: I am not typically a high speed skier, and generally prefer a ski with shorter turn radius, but there are definite exceptions, and do not limit my ski selection on this criteria.
9) Twin Tip: can improve turn initiation, do you ski backwards?
Some of my tips for skis:
- Minimum equipment needed to tune most freeride skis:
Edge file-tool with 1-2-3 degree setting, bottom file-tool with .5-1 degree setting, edge stone for detuning, gummy stone for deburring, drywall sandpaper and hand tool to structure base, wax, cork, firm bristle brush to clean file and structure wax, heavy rubber band or similar to compress brakes.
- Ski your new skis out of the box, prior to a shop tuning them.
Hand tune through the season, try to make them ski as new, but detune to your preference. Have a quality shop with a quality machine tune to your specs, at least once a year, to flatten, structure, and repair base.
- Know your factory recommended edge angles.