October 28, 2014

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Ski Sizing

As the number of ski shapes, profiles, flexes, gimmicks, and doodads continually expand every year, those that might be considered new to the sport can face real difficulties when trying to figure out just what length of ski is going to work for them. Remember the 80’s, when the ski shop guy would just eye you up, ask how many times you’ve skied before, maybe tell you to stick your hand up in the air, and you’d be out the door with your new winter toy in matter of minutes? Well, that was thirty year ago now, so stop living in the past, and start relishing the opportunities the progressive ski design has given us.

The bare bones rules is, grab a ski length that is somewhere between the height of your chin and the top of your head. Less experienced or even smaller skiers might gravitate towards the shorter end of the spectrum, looking for increased maneuverability when starting out, while bigger people with more days under the belt may go the other way as their downhill speeds increase and they need a larger, more stable platform.

The Sevrin and the Loken will follow this rule fairly well and have been widely accepted by skiers looking to have a good all around tool to attack everything the resort can deliver on any given day. While the rule of length may similarly apply, the two skis will perform quite different, based on their respective widths and profiles. Both skis have early rise or “rocker” in the tip, which is a great feature for newcomers as it makes turn initiation easier and discourages any tip hooking. The Sevrin has a small amount of this, allowing the rest of the ski to be fairly predictable. Beginners will generally find the Sevrin easier to understand at the start and even some more experienced skiers appreciate a more traditional feel to their skiing experience, opting for the Sevrin as well.

Profile comparison of Sevrin 96 (top), Loken 106 (middle) and Anton (bottom).

However, to the Loken’s credit, that tip rise and added width gives it exceptional deep snow performance. What makes it such a great all around charging ski is that because the rise in the tip is long and slow, as the ski begins to lean to one side during a turn, the edges will very quickly be engaged, even on hardpack, and you’ll have a big, long, stable ski to drive. And when you’re in deep snow, those tips will float up nicely and keep you moving.

The Anton is also a great all-around ski, but it handles very differently and therefore excels in different situations. While a 185 Anton may seem long at first, you’ll have to remember that the rockered profile means the running length will be significantly shorter than that. Also the more abrupt rocker doesn’t allow the Anton’s effective edge to “grow” as the Loken can during a turn. So, when on packed snow, you’ll actually feel like your turning a 165 and when you get into deep snow, you’ll have that full surface area engaged to float you up and make that ride down nice and smooth.

Along with the Anton sporting more girth than the Loken, a major difference in style is the turned up tail. It makes the Anton exceptionally maneuverable in tight situations as the skis can be pivoted quickly, giving them a smaller feel than a similarly sized Loken. In short, the 185 Anton and 188 Loken will ski like they’re much farther apart than a mere 3 centimeters.

So, it’s important to not only think about your own skiing ability, but also what you like to ski, and where you ski. You may have the skills and power to ride a Loken everywhere, but if you’re squirming through tight, interior trees on a regular basis, the Anton might just be WAY more fun.

Rounding out the lineup we find two pretty condition/location specific skis. The Viggo is built for the park and the three available lengths will largely depend on size of the rider and whether they’d like a bit bigger and more stable landing platform or something that’s easier to throw around with more maneuverability. The Oda has one purpose and consequently, it has one size. Strap that 185 on your feet and go obliterate some untracked snow. The deeper, the better.

Ski size is extremely important as it can make or break any day out on the mountain, so some careful thought and deliberation is definitely recommended. Too long and you’ll be languishing through burnt out legs, an out of control feeling, and a certain increase in injury potential. Too short and you’ll be leaving a whole bunch of fun and improvement on the table. And having fun and getting better are pretty essential aspects of skiing.

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