Generalist vs Specialty Skis

I totally agree with an article in September Ski magazine about having the right ski for the given conditions is best, “Put Your Best Ski Forward.” Since I usually have limited cash, I generally try to find a ski that will do it all, also known as an “all mountain” ski. But as the article points out, this is a compromise. Last year I really felt the difference in my ability to ski gates fast when I switched to a ski designed for racing the kind of course found in Monarch’s Town Challenge. My times dropped immediately. My all mountain ski is too short and has a tighter turning radius than needed on the course. This resulted in my tails breaking loose and slowing me down. Once I put on the right skis I was able to hold the edges much easier and thus reduce or eliminate any skidding and slide much faster through the gates. Having nice sharp edges helped a lot too. My all mountain ski, since I’m on them all the time, need tuning more often, and as a very busy ski instructor, I don’t get to it enough. So it only makes sense that I would not ski the course as fast as someone with the right equipment optimized for the task. Only makes sense, doesn’t it.

I’m wondering what adjustments I need to make in my tools to optimize for the task of passing Level III this coming year. Last year I worked on my boots, poles, skis, but I’m not sure I got it quite right. I think I can do better with more modern boots. I think I went too short for poles last year. I can see now how shorter poles altered my technique. One of the things that I was getting gigged on was that my hip was dropping to the inside causing too much angulation. Do you think poles that are too short could contribute to over angulating? I do.

The article talks about the width of skis and their purpose. Wider skis have a harder time maintaining an edge on hard pack, for example. Narrow skis don’t float as well in powder. It all makes sense. The right tool for the task is the way to go. Guess I better start looking into getting a pair of race skis and some powder boards and keeping my everyday “all mountain” skis tuned up.

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