As a ski instructor, I recommend that ski lessons should be factored into your ski holiday. Ski lessons aren’t just for beginners and can help everyone to get the most from their holiday, whatever their goals.
However, some things are even more fundamental than the technique or tactics that instructors can pass on – equipment.
Along with your physical capabilities, the equipment you use will determine what you can achieve on the slopes, and how much fun you will have whilst trying. Equipment includes clothing and protection, but in this piece we’ll just look at ski hardwear.
A good boot fitter will match your foot shape to a particular boot (not all boots are the same shape on the inside). If there are any further modifications needed to accommodate your feet, then the boot fitter will be able to re-shape the inside of the boot to make them comfortable, they may also recommend a footbed which can help to keep the foot comfortable. If you suffer from very cold feet, then heated insoles are possible.
A good boot fitter will also match your skiing ability and power to the flex of the boot. An off piste boot will have different forward flex, lateral flex, delta angle, forward lean and insulation levels to piste boots. Balancing all of this can be tricky, that’s why we use boot fitters.
Piste skis need to be stable on their edges. Fat skis don’t do this, and can create some awkward leverage on the boot and the lower leg.
Pure piste skis will be 70 mm wide underfoot, and off piste skis over about 100mm. Anything in between is a compromise. If you want skis to perform well in powder and grip hard on the piste, you need two pairs of skis.
So why would you want to have KERS in your skis? To go faster like an F1 car, or blast fellow skiers off the piste with a James Bond-like laser in your ski; I think not! It’s all to do with turning.
The skis have piezoelectric fibres which transform kinetic energy whilst skiing into electrical energy. This electrical energy is stored for when the skier is at the end of their turn, when the ski is at maximum flex, and released to stiffen the tail of the ski. This gives the skier extra ‘pop’ into their next carving turn.
Alpine skis should be bought with a goal in mind. Like a car, they are suitable for certain terrain. Looking for speed then you wouldn’t buy a Ford Focus, you would buy a Ferrari so don’t settle for second best when it comes to your skis.
Best All-Piste Ski…
Our instructor’s picked Saloman X Drive 8.0 FS 2015, £549.99. With the best bindings of the lot, and excellent technology with an integrated carbon rod, this is a clever ski that will see you high and dry on all surfaces. While at the steep end, its all-rounder nature makes it a cheaper alternative than buying multiple skis for different occasions. Rather than settling for second best, this all rounder is at the top of its game. This ski boasts a super light honeycomb/Koroyd insert at the tip ensuring decreased weight at the extremities and increased dampening, the result? Ease of manoeuvrability. With Integrated PTP provided by elastimer pads at the ends of the X-Chassis, as well as a full basalt layer, Salomon have ensured power is smoothly transferred to edges ensuring that vibrations are reduced. This ski also boasts a rocker stabilizer system which improves precision and steering while on-piste. Combined with the twin rocker all-terrain 2.0 system, this ski is able to adapt to whatever skiing condition you expose it to. The combination of technologies means this ski is light but stable, innovative and long-lasting; an awesome option for any confident skier.
Best Value Ski…
Then look no further than the K2 Rictor MX 12 All Mountain 2013/14 ski, ideal for intermediate to experts. Reduced from £564.99 to £282.49, this sale bargain proves that you don’t lose out on technology if you go for last season’s skis. With an all terrain rocker, this ski will ensure you feel at ease no matter what the surface, even at high speed. Their in-built dampening system which combines Mod suspension and Mod Monic (a solid zinc mass attached to the suspension) reduces vibration and increases ski control. K2’s choices of core materials are also crucial. The combination of Aspen and Paulownia wood ensures that this ski is quick, and when combined with metal laminate construction which surrounds this wooden core, the ski remains stable and stiff at speed. This ski is the epitome of versatile and high end performance yet at a snippet of the price.
Off-Piste Skiing For You?
Look no further than our window display where you will find the Line Sir Francis Bacon 2015 at £489.99. Wide, at 108mm, combined with Line’s 5 Cut Sidecut, this ski is designed to handle whatever the mountain throws at you; bring it on deep powder! Relatively stiff, it is ideal for experts who have the skills to ensure maximum power and control. With the cherry on the top being the Maple Marco Block Core, under the right feet this ski can handle the highest speeds and the most uneven of surfaces while maintaining stability at all times. Combine all this technology with the essential thicker and stronger base and edges and this ski is made to last season upon season; priceless!
The Opposite, Looking To Ski On-Piste?
Our Ferrari equivalent is the Head iSupershape Magnum Ski SW TFB 2015. While at £679.99 our most expensive offering, it is worth every penny. This ski is designed to maximize performance, with Head’s infamous ERA 3.0 technology but S, that’s right, this includes the ERA sports model, this ski is the sports car of the pack. ERA 3.0 technology is exclusive to Head, it ensures all-ability steering excellence, increased turning efficiency, and increased stability through the reduction of vibrations via their piezoelectric Intellifibers. Confused? Don’t be. Just know that that the additional S means that the magnum’s ERA technology has been supersized. Combine this ERA 3.0 S technology with a speed rocker, Head guarantees that every wannabe-racer is at the front of the field. These skis are for experts; a combination of expert technique and expert ability will ensure that you feel the benefits of this skis top-end technology. This is personified by the KERS inbuilt technology. The faster you go, the more you get out of these skis. KERS stands for kinetic energy recovery system. The energy stored from the vibrations is transferred down the length of the ski, the result? Additional power and acceleration through the increased rigidity in the tail upon turning leading to increased speed upon your next turn. Imagine putting your foot full throttle on the accelerator, KERS has that same affect but does it for you, the result: effortless speed. The icing on the cake is the Race Structured UHM C Base, a combination of the fastest base and finish which ensures high performance, high quality, high speed, and expert precision. This is our instructor’s dream ski!
Racing Not Your Thing? Instead You Freestyle?
Our instructor’s favourite is Line’s Afterbang Ski 2015 at £349.99. Unlike the other Line on our list, the Sir Francis Bacon, the Afterbang is suitable for intermediate to expert skiers. 10% lighter than its 2014 equivalent, 2015’s Afterbang offering retains its technical prowess and then some. Its integral Skate Deck Construction is enhanced through the addition of increased durability and a carbon Ollieband which creates a spring that freestyler’s dream about. Further, the ski boasts 3D Butter zone technology which means that the thinnest part of the ski remains in-front and behind the binding in order to increase control over pressure placement. All this with the added bonus of Line’s Fatty Base and Edges, the 30% increased overall thickness means these skis are durable and long-lasting, and with a rocker-free camber base, Line ensures maximum edge hold when on-piste.
Feeling Left Out Lady Skiers?
Head’s Women Absolut Joy Ski SLR 2015 is an excellent all mountain ski, and a steel at £429.99. Unless you are buying a ski that can suit both yourself and your partner, it is best to pick a woman specific ski. The women’s camber on the Absolut Joy means that the ski technology compensates for women’s smaller and less powerful frame and lower centre of gravity by ensuring that the waist of the board is further forward. As a result, unlike unisex skis, the weight is evenly distributed ensuring that maximum speed can be reached. Essentially these skis are high performance, and easier to handle. With the additional benefits which arise from the inclusion of their ERA 3.0 technology, Head is a brand not to be messed with.
If this article, full of technicalities has left you bewildered, after-all you were only looking for a beginner’s ski that you could easily control to avoid looking the fool on the slope, we have the ski for you. Welcome into your life the Atomic Nomad Smoke Ski+ XTO 10 Bindings 2015 at £374.99. All mountain versatility…check. Unisex…check. Bindings included (no need to read another technical website, the world of bindings is as complicated as skis)…check; you are on to a winner! And yet this ski can rival the technicality of the others featuring a metal laminate core, which increases power and reduces vibration, and ARC technology, a single central bind point which ensures natural flex. The Atomic Nomad is the epitome of smoothness, encourages accuracy, and ensures that the beginners among you feel at home on the slopes.