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 Hero Elite ST Ti
- Rossignol Experience 88 HD
- 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.
- My 2 and 3 SKI QUIVER (for Colorado "in-bounds" resort skiing)
Narrow Ski, in 3 ski Quiver:
Rossignol Hero Elite ST Ti 167cm length, 13m turn radius, 122-68-104mm sidecut: Used for early season-man made snow, or firm conditions (which we had a lot of during this 2017-18 early season here in Vail). Yes, this is a more one-dimensional detuned race ski, but that's ok. Superior edge hold and carving ski, damp, short radius turn extraordinaire (Oh...the G-Forces, what a work-out!), good in bumps for category. Subtle tip rocker (10% of ski), camber underfoot, flat tail.
Middle Ski, or narrow ski in a 2 ski Quiver:
Rossignol Experience 88 HD 180cm length, 17m turn radius, 135-88-124mm sidecut: Superior stability at speed, damp, excellent carver at all radius, versatile, above average float. Very good in bumps. Use up to 3-5 inches of fresh, before switching to powder ski. Short rockered tip, camber underfoot, flat tail.
Wide Powder Ski:
Liberty Genome 187cm length, 23m turn radius, 170-141-157mm sidecut. Superior float, excellent edge hold and carving characteristics for category, very good damping, excellent in soft powder bumps, very maneuverable, versatile, moderate rocker tip and tail with camber underfoot, Twin tip.
You may notice that these three skis have similarities, and indeed similar on-snow feel, particularly with the two Rossi's. This makes a easy transition when switching between skis, as conditions warrant. There are other great skis that could easily satisfy these 3 categories for me, but this Quiver is a ideal match for my profile. All three fall into the heavier weight category for their width (I do not favor light weight skis, with light damping qualities that lack stability), with above average damping-stability, edge hold, carving characteristics, smooth-progressive edge engagement, even flex, and camber underfoot. Please see my individual reviews for further details.
I owned several top rated skis in the approximate 100mm width, but I rarely found a reason to use them, with such a comfortable transition from the versatile 88 underfoot, to my versatile powder ski. This 100mm 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. There are a lot of great skis in this category, like the top rated Blizzard Bonafide at 98mm underfoot, but they make sacrifices on both ends of the spectrum. They typically do not have the edge hold, or carving characteristics of the top rated narrower skis (90mm or less), and they do not have the float of wider pow skis (115mm +), resulting in laborious skiing when things get deep. Even for the airplane traveler, two skis in a ski bag is doable, and will cover most conditions. But, if you live in, or near a major resort (or your just a ski aficionado), the 3 ski Quiver is killer! Spend money on things you love.....
- 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) A definition of Damping is: A reduction in the amplitude of an oscillation or vibration. A ski with high damping qualities is generally more stable, controllable, and "POWERFUL" in variable terrain, cut up snow, bumps etc (typical resort skiing). It is also normally heavier in weight. Ski companies are making advances with new materials, to combine lighter weight and better damping qualities. Skis with higher damping, are generally better suited for resort skiers, that ski "lift serviced" terrain. Light weight skis, that are typically lightly damped, can be advantageous for backcountry hiking, (AT skiing) in untracked, consistent, smooth, snow conditions. The Antonym or opposite of damping is: to intensify, invigorate, or magnify the amplitude, oscillation, and vibration.
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.