The Numbers Game: Skis

Discussion in 'Hardgoods: Skis, Bindings, Poles, and More' started by Philpug, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Philpug

    Philpug Gathermeister--Utah Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Not much spoils fun more than logic: logic is the antithesis of fun. Numbers are logic, numbers are not fun. I hear numbers being thrown out like 14.5, 98, 131, 177 -- and I am sure 94.5% of the people reading this know exactly what each of those numbers represents. But what does each of those numbers really mean? Nothing. The are just points of reference. I could give four exceptions for every reason you want a ski with a particular number in a specific slot, and you would still get the on-snow results you are looking for.
    Ski Numbers.jpg

    “I want a ski that carves well and is good on ice” -- that is not a number. “I want a ski that makes a short- to medium-radius turn” -- that is not a number, either. “I want a ski that floats in powder” -- again, not a number. Numbers do not define how a ski reacts on snow. You want a ski that carves well? Get it up on edge and bend it. A ski does not have to be narrow to carve. You want a ski that is good in three-dimensional conditions? Relax and bend the ski and let it rise out of the snow. Personally, I have had some of the most fun laying trenches on a 90mm ski, just as I have had one of my best powder days on a 98mm ski.

    The point here is, Don’t get hung up on the numbers. There a lot of great skis out there that will do what you expect them to do, regardless of a specific length, width, or shape. Plus, they will do so much more. For your own enjoyment, don't let a number make the decision for you. Look at the flex, how the ski will bend. Look at the combination of rocker, rise, and camber and how it affects contact with the snow. There are no numbers tied to these characteristics, but they have a lot more to do with ski performance than sidecut and dimensions and sometimes even length.

    [The Exception: we know slalom skis need to be a certain dimension and length and this-that-and-the-other. The same goes for other race and discipline-specific skis. If you are looking for such skis, you are not the intended audience for this article. If you want to do the “yeah but’s,” you are welcome to discuss the hole in my argument. Here, we are talking about the ski that could be a one-ski quiver or the foundation of a multi-ski quiver.]
    Coming next, The Numbers Game: Boots, Parts 1 and 2.
    @Dave Petersen artwork.​
     
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  2. fatbob

    fatbob Out on the slopes Skier

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    There are numbers attached to rocker, rise and camber. Not always incredibly accurate or intuitive but they are there. Personally, none, a bit or a lot is probably enough of a scale for these measures.

    What about the number of "points" your ski has? 3 or 5?
     
  3. Philpug

    Philpug Gathermeister--Utah Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Some manufacturers played with the length of the rocker in MM/CM, Kastle for example, it never took off.
    Started with Armada with the JJ, basically it is a way of giving a number to a lot of tip and tail taper where the taper is past the regular sidecut, this 1st & 5th sidecut also receives a # in mm which will be less than the.. like this... 116/135/89/112/106...blue numbers are regular 3 point sidecut, red are the 2 points in addition to make it a 5 point. Could you argue that almost every ski is a 5 point ski? Maybe, to an extent to where you want to measure the ski. Did that help or make it more confusing?

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Bill Miles

    Bill Miles Putting on skis Skier

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    Years ago, at least one of the magazines used to publish lab test numbers for things like stiffness. The meaning of these numbers was indeciperable for me, and I suspect, most readers.
     
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  5. Mike Thomas

    Mike Thomas Whiteroom Pugski Sponsor

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    Thanks Phil! I've been saying this for years, much to the annoyance of anyone who wants to compare ski A (which was demoed and liked) to ski B (which is different but on sale), based on published numbers. It doesn't work.
     
  6. Philpug

    Philpug Gathermeister--Utah Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    @Mike Thomas, we are going to have fun here educating people. :beercheer:
     
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  7. cbk

    cbk AKA Carl; it's all about the stoke! Skier

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    My number is 10. That's how many pairs of skis are in my garage... :D
     
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  8. jwolter7

    jwolter7 jw7 Skier

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    Engineering is kinda about numbers...
    You would not have matched pairs of skis w/o numbers.
    Some people like numbers. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
  9. Philpug

    Philpug Gathermeister--Utah Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    But numbers are not the end all of how a ski will perform. There are a few skis over the years that I remember flexing that I thought, oh boy..this is going to be special, and I was right, they were. Special skis bely dimensions, numbers do not define them.
     
  10. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Head First Skier

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    Exactly...the numbers game is fun...even though at the level most people play it it's about as useful for predicting performance as a sudoku book.
     
  11. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    I think Phil is making a point when saying that these numbers mean nothing. He then adds that they are a reference, which is what they are. But:



    That's the key. A fully rockered ski will ski "shorter". But that's the simplest example. Overall, there are some basic principles: surface area helps float, so wider is "floatier". Edging a wider ski is harder. But there is so much complexity in determining the behavior of a ski, that you should rather focus on the behavior you want and need, find a ski recommended for that purpose, and then find the right size.

    In order to play the numbers game at the right level, you would need a lot more than three or four numbers. BTW, I would love to see those numbers standardize a bit more, especially for flex.


     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  12. Ron

    Ron AKA Finndog Pugski Ski Tester

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    its complicated..... :)

    So part of the "problem" is that some manufacturers measure a pre-cambered ski's length and some use post, some use the mid-length (165, 175. 185 ski lengths may have differing dims but they just use the 175 dims), Some measure waist width by the width of the topsheet, most use the base, some just fudge the numbers because of marketing. After all, a 100mm wide ski has sooo much more float than a 98 (yes, sarcasm) but, people go to what they know or perceive as truth when making decisions and forming opinions based on the complexity of facts they can understand or process, so the average skier isn't told about the myriad of components that go into the design of a ski. Its just too overwhelming. its much easier to grasp onto simple yes/no or black/white "facts". So wider waist = more float for instance, (not necc' true of course) Stiffer= expert Soft= novice. This could be said about almost any product or service that has a lot of technical aspects.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
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  13. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Two skis with very similar dimensions may have a significantly different flex pattern because of a slightly different construction.
    For instance, the Atomic Vantage 100 skis nothing like the Nordica Enforcer, which skis nothing like the Volkl Mantra, which skis nothing like...(insert other 100mm waisted ski here)
     
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  14. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    Fair, but numbers are a good place to start. They just can't be the end of it.

    I really appreciate how some manufactures--notably Praxis--includes a whole variety of numbers you don't typically see. Taper lengths, sidecut lengths, camber height, rocker length, rocker height, and (one of my favorites) camber contact length. How it all comes together is still a little bit of magic, but knowing those details can really prep me on which ski will be more playful vs chargey even if they are the same core, same waist width, and same length.
     
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  15. Ron

    Ron AKA Finndog Pugski Ski Tester

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    Speaking of contact points... this stat can be very misleading. Put almost any ski in deep powder and it will have 100% contact......
     
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  16. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    True. And stand on any ski and its camber will disappear. But we wouldn't say that camber stats are misleading, just mis-interpreted.
     
  17. Mike Thomas

    Mike Thomas Whiteroom Pugski Sponsor

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    I think of skis like food, knowing the ingredients in a recipe is helpful, but the chef cooking the meal matters more. Now imagine only knowing the grams of salt, pepper and the type of protein... how does the meal taste? You have no idea. That 'information' isn't helpful because it leaves way too many gaps. If you new all of the spices and other ingredients, that would be better, it would close some of those gaps... but you still don't know how the meal is being prepared. Brisket in a smoker will be different than an Irish boiled dinner. Knowing the chef's cooking tells you a lot more than the grocery list, a partial list is pretty darn useless. The numbers given out by the manufacturer is 'salt, pepper, protein'.
     
  18. Ron

    Ron AKA Finndog Pugski Ski Tester

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    great, now I'm hungry..... :huh:

    well-said though
     
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  19. jwolter7

    jwolter7 jw7 Skier

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    The question is do we look at something from the top down, or from the bottom up?
    The thing about skiing that makes it very unique is the fact that everything is happening in a constantly changing environment. So is there really anything that could be generally categorized as good vs bad?
    We have more choices to make on the types of skis made than any other time in skiing.
    Skis are designed around parameters for specific uses. From the lightest rando race ski, the 198 125mm power ski, the all mountain, the carving, race.

    Numbers define the specificity of that use. Then you go actually ski it to see if it really came out the way they intended... and to see how it meshes with your specific technique and overall needs.

    I picked my last USSA Central race ski in 1979 based on data tables in the ski mags... I skied on Minnesota ice... I was skiing on the Rossignol ST
    After analyzing the data I chose a Kastle National Team
    The amount of grip on a icy race course that the okume wood core 3 layer metal laminate Kastle had was almost 2x the amount of grip as the light fiberglass torsion box French ski. You could see that clearly in the torsional stiffness and tail flex numbers. The numbers were right.

    The numbers told a lot of us there was a very big difference between a top Salomon 1S cap ski and a very cheaply built squirt foam cap ski... The manufacturing industry did not demand changes in those methods. We did. The ski salesmen who actually gave a damn about performance.

    It was not the customer nor the manufacture that took away RE boots. It was the knowledgeable ski salesmen.

    It is not the ski company or the ski rep that determines how something works. I'll take data over a sales pitch everyday of the week. :)

    In the end numbers don't make the ski work for you. Most good skiers pick their favorite ski only after testing the ski on snow (top down).
    The data is the base of knowledge that allowes the technology and knowledge to be shared and deceminated by those who find that stuff to be almost as much fun as skiing itself...
    :)
     

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    Last edited: Aug 23, 2016
  20. Ron

    Ron AKA Finndog Pugski Ski Tester

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    totally agree, I would take that another step and say I don't think anyone is intentionally misleading the public. Its just that with the technology we have now, too many people are focusing on too limited data. Your mentioning of Praxis is a great example of a manufacturer (Keith) providing the skier with some really great data points!
     
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