What's Happening with Equipment? 

During the season we do a lot of testing of new ski brands and other types of gear.  

The comments below are in reverse chronological order.  Current year's notes will be followed by those from prior years. 

1/27/12:  We're finally getting some decent snow here - better late than never as they say.  I've been using a demo pair of Rossignol S86 skis lately, and find them to be superb in the choppy bumps.  That 86 millimeter width under foot is really helpful in slicing through the uneven snow.  As I'm now using more compression and flexion when skiing the bumps, the softer tip section of this ski is also a big help.

Earlier this winter I tried a pair to more current Rossignol Experience 88s and thought they were almost identical in performance characteristics to the older S86 model.  That being said, I'm a bit happier (at least mentally) with a slightly narrower ski for the bumps, so for now, the S86 is my go to ski in chop or slop and soft bumps.

2/27/11: A lot more days on the Sultans have raised my opinions of this ski.  Have to admit I really like it.  Other notes on this web site will tell the reader that I still prefer skiing bumps more than anything else on the mountain.  If moguls didn't exist, I'd simply stop skiing.  And no, I don't ski them like a kid - just like them a lot.  So the ski's working well, especially when the bumps get a bit smoother and firmer.  If these Dynastars finish off the season well, I actually may not have to buy a new pair of something next year.

12/20/10:  A mixed bag of feelings about a couple of skis.  Vail is stuck (happily, of course for the moment) in a massive stream of moisture pouring into the valley from Southern California - logically called a pineapple express.  

It's creating havoc with the skiing.  Lots of unusually heavy snow almost every day is making conditions on the mountain, if not unbearable, at least inconsistent and somewhat difficult.  The Sultans work more or less OK in this stuff, but the tail is really stiffer than I like.

Ditto for the 177 Salomon Lords I demoed today for a handful of runs. Really was hoping the Lords would behave more like our old 1080s and Foils, but they did not.  Maybe not the ski's fault and maybe more due to the tough conditions.  In any case I didn't like them enough to buy a pair.  I want to want new skis - and in this case, just didn't.  

One of the reasons is that yesterday I took out my old pair of 174 Salomon Foils, and frankly they worked great.  Very soft flexing and wonderful in the chop and even better in the choppy bumps.  I know they won't hold well once we get firmer conditions, but for now, they're going to be my go to ski when the snow is as difficult as it has been lately.

 12/16/10:  OK.  I've actually had a couple of weeks on the Sultans.  Results are really pretty positive.  First day on them was dealing with some five day old chop in some of the biggest bumps on our mountain, and it really wasn't very pretty - - but after that, things have gotten a lot better.

This is an unusual start to the season in Vail.  We may have the most early - and really good - snow we've seen in the past 30 years or so.  As has been the case for as long as I can remember, my focus remains on bumps.  I like smooth firm bumps of all sizes.  Clearly at this advanced age, I simply can't ski them as fast or as hard as I did when much younger, but bumps will remain my primary fascination until I can't get it together any more on the hill.

This new Dynastar is definitely nice on the bumps just described above.  They hold well in the troughs and also on fairly firm groomed runs.  I'm OK with them in choppy bump conditions but have to admit I cannot do the nonstops on all of our bigger mogul trails when the chop alternates with slick spots and the legs are constantly doing speed ups and slow downs on every turn.  Nevertheless, I like the ski a lot.  It was supposed to have some rocker.  I do not believe that is the case.  Simply can't see any sign of it when I squeeze the skis together.  Don't know what to make of that issue.

This weekend I'm testing a pair of Salomon Lords on Sunday morning - at least that's the plan.  Apparently this ski also should have some decent rocker.  If I actually do get to test them, and if the rocker truly exists, it will be interesting to see if that feature softens the impact of entering a big nasty trough in some bumps.  More report on that when the testing is done.

11/28/10:  Sight unseen I just ordered a new pair of the Sultan 85 Legends from Dynastar.  172 cm. length.  This season seems to be the coming out party for rocker base skis, so it's incumbent upon me to at least give them a good try.  All for the good of the ski industry of course.  This model gets very good ratings in the magazines, and since they're already in the "family" of skis that I'm happiest with at the moment, it seemed like a good choice to test. 

The logic behind a bit of tip and tail rocker seems to makes sense, particularly for the type of skiing in which we more or less specialize - namely bumps.  While we don't ski those gnarly runs the way we may have done as kids, mogul skiing is still our preferred way of enjoying time on the slopes, so if the rocker dampens the initial shock of entering a big trough, more power to the skis - and less pressure on my knees too.

Since we're still in Arizona for another week, it will be a couple of weeks or more into December before we'll have had enough time on the new boards to render some kind of opinion on how they work.

2/15/10:  Tried the Atomic Snoop Daddies again today - - and to be perfectly honest, I'm probably giving up on them.  While they are pretty turny, the reason I mostly bought them was to ski powder bumps.  Yes, they do turn fairly well in bumps, but my sense is that I'm just about 20 pounds too light to be on these "stiffies".  

At about 156 pounds I simply have too much trouble bending them and keeping them on the snow - and the other thing that bothers me about them is that they (at least for me) seem to ski a bit "thick".  For whatever reason they just don't feel like they'll cut cleanly through a patch of deeper powder or crud.  Maybe I bought them a bit too long for what I'm doing - got 176's vs. the 171's that I probably should be on.  Who knows?  Anyway, I'm turning back to my easy flexing Salomon Foils and will stick with them through the end of this season.

12/29/09:  Was able to get the Snoops mounted and have been able to try them on the  mountain only for about three runs, but those limited minutes on them were pretty positive.  Given their width, my initial reaction about the skis while shuffling into the lift line was that they felt really strange, but when I started down the hill, my attitude changed.

The description in the ski magazine reviews jibed with what I experienced.  At 176 cm they look quite a bit longer than the way they skied.  Good holding power on firmer surfaces and nice quickness in the bumps.  Am guessing the better rebound due to wood core was also a help in the latter regard.  Will add notes later (if and when we actually get some deeper snow here.)

12/19/09:  My how time flies.  Looking back at last year's notes about equipment as I just unpacked a 2008/09 pair of Atomic Snoop Daddies.   Had tried to acquire this year's version, but it's completely sold out of pro stock.  The reviews for this ski seem to be outstanding for the type of use to which I'm going to put it, so hopefully the reality will live up to the reviews we've read.  With a wood core and apparently great quickness for a ski measuring roughly 95 mm underfoot, if it works as well in the bumps as it's purported to, this should be another winner.  Haven't had the ski mounted yet and probably won't do so until after the holidays since all the shops are slammed with business right now.

Coincidentally Sue's picked up the women's version of the same ski called an Elysium.  It's quite a bit softer and somewhat narrower, but has identical reviews to the Snoop.  She bought hers premounted so can use them right away.  Unfortunately that's not likely to happen either over the holidays since our snow cover is very sparse right now.

As soon as we've had time to test our new acquisitions, we'll write up a better report here.

12/24/08:  Today I'm using a "flat" pair of the latest Dynastar Legend 8000s that I mounted with a very lightweight pair of Salomon step in bindings.  Inexpensive ones at that.  But the combination is a whole lot better than last spring's pair with those overly heavy rental bindings on them.  To be honest I believe the current pair flexes significantly better too.  There's no stiff spine running down the top of the ski just underneath the boot area.

Really like the skis.  They continue to be very functional in our early season soft bumps and also seem to work well in all the chop and powder we've received so far this December.  It will be interesting to see if they can stand the test of time when off piste conditions get even tougher.

03/31/08:  On a whim I too picked up a demo pair of the men's version of that Dynastar Legend 8000 that Sue had purchased back in February.  With a heavy rental binding on top of the core apparently containing both wood and metal, the 172 cm. skis were extremely weighty compared to any of the Salomons I've been using for the past several years.  Initially they felt very strange on the snow being much more "damp" and almost dead feeling compared to our Thrusters or Foils.

In retrospect it must have taken me a good three days to get used to that "feel", but as time has gone on this spring, I've really fallen in love with the ski.  It not only works well on conventional terrain but seems to be wonderful in the bumps as well.  Given the fact that we spend 99% of our time in the bumps, that's really a good thing.  Don't completely understand why it acts so well in the moguls, but maybe part of the reason is that the dampness may provide better holding power in the rock hard troughs we get here mostly towards the end of the season on all our bump runs.  I might hypothesize that that damping effect avoids what might be termed the micro vibrations that occur with the softer Salomons, thus leading to better holding power.  It was also interesting that I seem to be able to ski the 8000's much sharper than the Salomons which again contributes to better edge holding.

Next winter I'll buy a completely new pair of this same ski and will compare it mounted with a lightweight unrailed binding to the rental type.  It should slightly increase this ski's flexibility, hopefully without destroying any of the other characteristics I've learned so far to enjoy.

02/28/08:  Sue's looked all winter at a variety of skis she could use not only for teaching but also for pleasure.  Earlier she bought a pair of new K-2 Lotta Luvs.  They worked fine for her, but as the season progressed, she found the combination of that 160 cm. length and a massive rail mounted binding to be way too heavy for her taste.  The ski behaved just fine - the weight was a problem.  Recently she demoed a 158 cm. Dynastar Exclusive Legend - the women's version of that model.

For whatever reason, everything now clicked.  Despite being only 75 mm. underfoot, she had a great day in some deeper, heavier spring powder and enjoyed it in the bumps as well.  She was sold.  With that ski being wildly popular this season, she couldn't find any available pro stock so ended up buying a well used pair of demos.  Whatever works.

12/19/07:  Ah, another winter, another pair of Salomon skis.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not that in love with the brand, but what I've found, is that when one ski in a "family" of skis seems to do the job, then other models of similar shapes within the brand probably will also be somewhat familiar feeling right out of the box.  That, more or less, is what I'm experiencing this year with the new Salomon X-Wing Tornado (170 cm.).

My reasoning for picking up the Tornado (124-75-107) and 14.5 meter turn radius is that I really need a ski for the firmer (read icy) snow conditions we get here in Colorado from time to time during the winter, and also a ski that is somewhat stiffer and can be used on the NASTAR course when it's necessary to race a bit.

So far the ski seems to be working OK.  I like the tighter turn radius and it performs as advertised on firmer snow.  It is, however, a bit tougher in the bumps.  A much stiffer tail section than the 1080 group of skis that work so well in moguls makes crucial staying forward in the bumps, something I'm not always able to do 100% of the time.  On the other hand though, the greater shape of the ski makes it easier to "climb" quickly up the face of a bump when it's necessary to slow down in a mogul field.  It looks like this ski will fit in nicely with the rest of its immediate "family".

02/22/07:  Not much has changed since last season.  On a whim I ordered a pair of the newest (strangely named) Salomon X-wing Fury skis in a very short length - 164 cm. They came with a rail already installed that allowed the toe and heel piece to simply be slid on and then adjusted to the skier's boot length, which negated having to go to a shop to have the binding mounted.

Unfortunately I thought the rail made a very flat spot under foot and stiffened the ski too much, so I ripped it off and bought another pair of standard bindings which were then mounted by a shop.  This modification got rid of the flat spot, but for me at least, made the ski way too short, so I simply gave them to my wife - who now loves them.

At the same time I bought the latest version of the Thruster and found it to ski exactly as the original one did a few years ago which is a relief.  It remains the best bump ski I've found - very forgiving in the moguls and wide enough under foot (80 cm.) to be useful in light chop and modest depths of powder.

02/21/06:  Given our real enjoyment of the old 1080 (now called a Thruster), we invested in the next wider model in this series - called a Foil.  Same results.  The skis is wonderful for chop and powder, something we've had in massive amounts this record setting winter.  Slightly stiffer in the tip and tail, it doesn't seem to get tossed around in the back bowls and works wonderfully in our front side bump runs.  Definitely a keeper from our standpoint.

12/08/2004: Picked up a pair of 171 c.m. Salomon 1080's last spring -which were very used demo's with the intent of using them strictly in the terrain park.  This fall I've been working with them on all our bump runs and find the ski to be absolutely outstanding - at least on our early season (very soft) bumps.  They're so forgiving I've been able to do nonstops on every bump run on the mountain with little effort.  While some of this may have to do with better conditioning during the off season, this ski is just so soft and easy turning that I'm completely wowed by it.

Given that the ski may be a bit too soft for back bowl work, I've also ordered a pair of 175 c.m. Salomon Pilot 10 Xtra hots.  They're reputedly quite a bit stiffer than the 1080's, but are also regarded as fairly quick turning, so perhaps this may turn into another "Swiss army knife" type of ski for Vail mountain.

01/02/2004:  Having had great difficulty finding an Atomic pro form last winter, I contacted the main representative here in Colorado and subsequently ended up taking on the job of repping the line in the Village Ski School locker room.  Thus my current obvious bias towards this brand of equipment.  Bought three new models this year and have the following comments about them.  The Sugar Daddy's (173 c.m.) I've not yet skied but hope to sometime this weekend.

A pair of 180 c.m. R-11's have turned into a decent teaching ski that also works very well in moderate powder and crud conditions.  Frankly I think they're too stiff directly under foot to be anything more than barely tolerable in bumps, but we'll comment more later when the bumps develop better shapes and troughs.

What I'm really enamored with is a pair of 170 c.m. SX-9's.  This tuned down supercross type ski has become my go to pair for carving and bumps.  When first on them, I'll admit to hating them for several runs.  Then I started playing with the fore & aft adjustment of the binding and after moving the binding to the farthest back position, discovered that the ski was exceptionally quick and responsive for shorter turns.  At 64 m.m. under the binding this is not a great powder or deeper crud ski, but I suspect it will be outstanding when the bumps get deeper and firmer.

12/02/2003:  After reading some early season ski ratings in the major winter publications I took an opportunity to try the new Atomic R:EX model.  This ski was described by one of the tester skiers as the one he could use to ski anywhere in the world.  After trying them for a day - and subsequently buying a pair, I think I'd agree with him.  Although it's definitely a wide body, and further although it's described as a long turn type, by buying a shorter model (177 c.m.), it seems to work well almost everywhere on Vail Mountain.

On the plus side the ski is astonishing in chop & crud.  One can actually seek out the worst possible conditions and enjoy them.  Powder is fine too given the 80 m.m. width under the boot.  With the short length bumps are also enjoyable, the only exception being very narrow troughs where the extra width is a negative.  Belying its race heritage even in the shorter length the ski performs wonderfully well on groomed and very hard surfaces.  Perhaps the one characteristic that is most impressive seems to be some form of energy efficiency that allows the user to ski further and harder with less effort.  To be honest I can't explain why this is the case, but for me, it's been eye opening.

3/22/2002:  Here's a look at this season from my personally perspective.   Those of us who have been addicted to the performance of the Volant titanium series of skis were pretty disappointed when the company filed for bankruptcy last fall - even though the assets have since been acquired by a Canadian company and the manufacturing moved to the Atomic plant in Austria.

Unfortunately we were also disappointed in the latest versions of the Power series which are now being produced in some type of steel cap construction.  These new skis don't seem to have the dampness of the earlier other metal versions.  They're quick, but seem to lack the all around performance of earlier skis of similar shape profile.

OK, what else was popular this year in the Vail area.  Solomon has always fared well, particularly with the Scream series.  Their new Pocket Rocket may be the ugliest ski ever pressed, but if tuned properly, seems to do most everything that Vail Mountain can throw at it.  The other usual suspects - Rossignol, Atomic, and particularly Volkl this year were also popular.

For bindings the latest Marker driver product actually seems to dampen vibration according to the people who've tried the on & off switch.  Pole technology seems to be at a standstill.  Rental companies are commonly using the Leki adjustable although the adjusting mechanism is clearly not foolproof.  Technica still leads the parade of performance boots.  While we continue to favor Strolz for their comfort & fit, this year's foaming system was flawed, and these inner boots pack out way too quickly - particularly because of the $1000 cost.

3/1/99:  Extraordinary!  I was able to pick up one of next year's Volant Ti Powers from the factory in a 188 cm length.  It's by far the best ski I've ever used - and the tuning's not even been moderately tweaked yet.  Bumps are perfection, crud is a blast, the trees are easy.  I can't find anything wrong with the ski.   Supposedly this metal gives the skier no feedback in terms of returning energy, but that's not the case as far as I can tell.  The ski is stiffer than past models and at least for me is as good as it gets.

2/15/99:  Here's an update on the latest fat skis (powder & crud masters).   Unless you're dealing with that once-a-year two foot dump, the Volant Chubb, Ti Chubb, and Rossignol Bandit III would probably be the best choices.  These three not only ski the deep but also perform anywhere from great to moderately great on packed snow as well.

3/27/98: Now have three shaped Rossi's. It's interesting that the mounting marks on all of them were basically wrong coming from the factory. Both the Viper 9.9 and the 9.3 that I picked up earlier in the season had to be mounted back about a half inch - and the Bandit X that I got a week ago had to be moved back a full inch from the factory mark. This is not a good situation, even though I like all three skis.

Should you be picking up any of these models and have a knowledgeable shop to work with during the mounting process, be sure to ask the technician about this known problem.

On another subject we've been playing with the new "snow blades" lately and here are some comments on those toys. They're really fun on decent snow - read firm - but in these slushy spring conditions, they can be a bitch to deal with - particularly straight running. So far our experience has been that the new Salomon snow blades may be the most versatile and fun to ski. I tried two different models of the Canon "Easy Rider" and found them acceptable in decent snow, but less than that way once conditions got messy. The Canons are shorter and wider than the Salomon and that probably accounts for the difficulties. Actually their performance is almost identical to the old "Big Foot" skis or the Atomic "figls". And that even though they have substantially more sidecut.

It was interesting how much these short sticks helped skiers who had previously been only marginally successful in any kind of bumps. The confidence level went right through the ceiling and allowed a couple of these people to successfully negotiate bump runs that would have been totally out of their league with normal skis on. Will be even more interesting to see how the transference occurs when we can move from the shorties one day to "longies" the next. Unfortunately we didn't have time to evaluate that situation this season because of timing problems.

11/09/97: We just finished our fall workshop training for ski school and had a very illuminating dissertation from Mike Porter - our Ski School Director and all around fine coach and skier. He and several other high level testers worked out several of the new skis last summer in race camps and bought back the following data. The consensus of all of the testers was that what they call "taper angle" is critical to determining performance of these shaped skis.

Apparently the historical optimum difference between the width of the tip and the width of the tail in the range of 12 millimeters remains key to optimizing performance even of the new shaped skis. What this means is that the waist width is not overly critical (except for deep snow conditions), but that the tail must be roughly 12 millimeters less wide than is the tip.

What happens is that if the tip and tail widths are virtually identical, the ski takes over from the skier in terms of creating turn shape and even more critical, the release of the ski between turns. In other words for skis with identical tip and tail widths, the ski may attempt to continue moving in one direction, even while the skier is attempting to make it move in another.

That characteristic may be desirable for low/low intermediate level skiers who need to "feel" turns through a longer arc. But it is not appropriate for more advanced all mountain skiers and racers who require much more control over the radius and shape of their turns.

So this is information worth considering when choosing shaped skis for an individual's basic skill levels. I was personally happy to note that the two new skis I chose for this season happen to have 10.5 and 12 millimeter taper angles, so even if they are not perfect, at least my mental attitude concerning their construction is positive.

Just a couple of more comments. There's been some concern that shaped skis will put more pressure on the user's knees than will conventionally shaped skis. The above testers noted just the opposite. Reasonable shapes appeared to reduce leg and knee strain and allowed them to ski longer with less effort.

The last note relates to ski lengths. Because of the shaped ski's ability to allow more pressure towards the tip and tail, these skis simply ski "longer" than conventional ones. The testers found that "squirliness" was more often related to their attempting to use a LONGER ski than was appropriate for their height/weight and skiing styles. So it is best to err on the short side.

Conventional wisdom suggests the following reductions from the user's normal ski lengths:

Race skis - - 5 centimeters

High performance - - 10 centimeters

All mountain - - 10-15 centimeters

Powder shapes - - 20 centimeters

10/27/97: This season should be a real adventure. I just picked up two new shaped skis sight unseen - all based on the recent Ski Magazine and Snow Country recommendations. First pair is a Rossignol 9X 9.9 in a 191 cm length. Second pair is a slightly less shapely Rossignol 9X 9.3 in a 198 cm length. Stay tuned for a review of both of these highly regarded new models.

11/27/96:  Vail now has a technology center at Mid-Vail offering unlimited use and testing of roughly 50 different models and lengths of shaped and powder skis at a cost of $6 per hour.

Ski School supervisors who did a good deal of testing last week are very impressed with the variety of characteristics displayed by various manufacturer's product offerings.  Even at the shortest lengths offered primarily to level 1 skiers (never-evers), the shaped skis appear to be of great assistance in narrowing the wedge used by all beginning skiers with the consequent ease of transition into matched ski turns at the next stage of learning.

At this point from a personal standpoint the favorite skis of instructors seem to be the K-2 Four and the Head Cyber 24.  These two models have less radical "shaping" and more longitudinal stiffness than other offerings.  Most instructors seem to prefer the shaped skis in lengths approximately 10 centimeters less than their regular skis.

12/4:  Attended an instructor group clinic today on shaped skis and to be brutally frank, was overwhelmingly disappointed in what I tried. And that was only one ski.  Nevertheless I learned a lot about myself and skiing in general, so the experience was profitable.

Our group of very strong skiers (two females & four males) were to test ski two different models of whatever shaped skis were available this afternoon.  I and another instructor ended up on 198 cm. K-2 Fours.  This is supposed to be the primo ski of all this year. Unfortunately, as I found out within a hundred feet of putting them on, the skis were at least 10 centimeters too long, railed, too sharp, not beveled, and not waxed properly and they were constructed for someone weighing well over 200 lbs.

Can anything else be wrong?  Not likely.  Anyway, these two by fours wouldn't ski bumps and barely turned slightly elsewhere, nor could I bend them an iota. They must be built for Leon Lett of the Dallas Cowboys. After five runs on wildly differing slopes I returned them and went back to my personal Viper X's.  Thank god for my own skis.

The rest of the group had more fun, but only when they tried skis with more shape (Rossignol Cut 9.8's, some kind of Olin, the Head Cyber 20,etc.) and a lot of softness.  However none of us would trade normal skis for these new "fun" types.  There's a place for them (the new ones).  And that's probably with people who have never been able to slightly carve a turn - and also for entry level skiers who will definitely progress to open stance parallel turns quicker on a shaped side cut. But I don't thing they're for me - at least not as an every day meal.

2/1/97:  OK - by this time in the season things are getting better sorted out.  The favorite shaped skis in the locker room remain the K2 Four and the Rossignol Super Cut 9.9.  Most instructors still prefer their conventional skis, but when we're out with clients we want to be able to relate to them directly.

So when they ski shapes, so do we.  The same applies to powder skis.

But using my Rossi Viper X's, I've found that I can approximate the shaped ski capability when tipped on edge, so that ski works fine for me.

Fat Skis:

Because Vail is widely known as a powder skiing paradise, we do a lot of work with "fat" skis, not only to help our ski clients, but to use ourselves. While the vast majority of instructors don't have a specific need for the wider boards, all of us appreciate them under certain conditions. With that extra width we've found we can go places normally reserved for boarders only - particularly in thick trees. So don't look down your noses when you see a person using these specialized skis. Here are some of the ones I've tested in the past couple of years ranked according to my favorites from top to bottom:

1/17/96: Testing the new Rossignol Viper X:

When I ride with people on the lifts who have on a pair of these skis, I always inquire about their satisfaction with them. Generally speaking people ski them short. In other words egos no longer appear to be getting in the way of reality. That's smart. 201's seem to be taking over among the better skiers using them - unless like Eric Nesterenko, the body weight is over 200#.

My only negative comment relates to hard snow. Admittedly these were designed to be all-mountain (read crud, powder, junk skis), but I'd like my one ski of choice to work EVERYWHERE.

The only place I'm uncomfortable is on hard pack at high speeds. When I was chasing a young ex-racer down Riva over Xmas (him on his 207 Atomics & me on my Vipers), I chipped sideways from my line, while he held his. But for teaching and everything else, I'm still happy.

More Testing of the new Rossignol Viper X:

I'll admit it - I was worried about this ski. Before getting on them I talked to several other instructors who have used them early in the season. The consensus seemed to be that unlike the old 7XK, you cannot fake a slalom turn on these guys, but that they tracked like a rail at high speeds. My problem is - sometimes I like to make slalom type turns and I love the bumps. Wayne Wong's comments in Snow Country were enough to make me want to set the skis out somewhere so someone would run off with them & I could move along to something else.

Anyway my fears appear to be groundless. At least for my style of bump skiing these things work just fine. They're a bit stiff throughout their length, but when I softened the binding setting on my Marker S/C's, the stiffness didn't seem to impact their turning ability quite so much.

Keep in mind that while I'd prefer to spend 90% of my time on the hill in the bumps, I don't try to ski them at Mach 2, so the style I use is somewhat softer & slower than that which you'd see with true bump professionals. So much for bumps. The good stuff is that these do perform like champs in the crud & chop, which is what they apparently are made for. More later.

The Marker Selective Control Binding:

OK here's another equipment development concept that had me curious. I finally broke down & had a pair of these variable stiffness plate bindings installed on the skis noted above. Had never used them prior to this mount, but thought I'd better be as high tech as some of my students, so what the heck.

Anyway, much to my surprise, these plates do make a difference. And surprisingly, I can tell the how they effect the rigidity of the ski between each setting. Most people I skied with last year who used this binding thought they could feel some change in ski stiffness between the two furthest apart settings, but I definitely can tell that a change occurs with each movement of the lever. As you might suspect, the stiffness is most noticeable directly under the foot. That pattern lengthens slightly as you increase the settings, but it is primarily near the binding.

At this point I'm most comfortable with the softest possible setting. I suspect that's because we've had ongoing fresh snow and I've been operating primarily in the bumps and crud, so it stands to reason that the softest flex would work best under these conditions. It will be nice to have the stiffer setting available should we develop hard conditions over the holidays as is so often the case.




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