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What's with the XC skis that look like alpine skis?



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 15th 04, 02:11 PM
Bruce W.1
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Default What's with the XC skis that look like alpine skis?

In a local XC ski rental shop here in the midwest I've seen a new style
of XC ski which looks a lot like an alpine ski. It's shorter, wider,
and has tapered sides.

This thread has its origin in a previous thread about modifying wax type
skis, but that's another topic.

At issue here is the tapered sides of the new skis, and their shorter
length.

It has always bothered me that traditional XC skis don't like to turn.
Tapered sides would fix this problem. Is there any disadvantage to
this? On a hard packed surface I'm sure they are more difficult to keep
straight. In a groomed track there's probably little difference because
of the sidewalls of the track. But how do they handle on virgin powder?

The other issue is length. A shorter and wider ski is easier to turn,
which would be good on twisting/turning trails. A shorter length would
be more dangerous when crossing a frozen lake, I would think anyway.
But when trying to stay on top of crusty snow (with a powder base),
would a shorter/wider ski be more or less likely to punch thru the
surface, assuming it has the same surface area as a longer and more
narrow ski?

And why this departure from traditional XC ski designs? Are these
short/wide skis really only meant for groomed and packed surfaces, like
skating skis? And would they be suitable for backcountry usage?

Thanks for your help.
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  #2  
Old December 15th 04, 04:30 PM
Booker C. Bense
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Default

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

In article ,
Bruce W.1 wrote:
In a local XC ski rental shop here in the midwest I've seen a new style
of XC ski which looks a lot like an alpine ski. It's shorter, wider,
and has tapered sides.

[snip]

It has always bothered me that traditional XC skis don't like to turn.
Tapered sides would fix this problem. Is there any disadvantage to
this? On a hard packed surface I'm sure they are more difficult to keep
straight. In a groomed track there's probably little difference because
of the sidewalls of the track. But how do they handle on virgin powder?


_ Actually the reverse is true, they are awful in groomed
tracks and a blast in powder. Most are far too wide for the 70mm
that seems standard for groomed tracks.


The other issue is length. A shorter and wider ski is easier to turn,
which would be good on twisting/turning trails. A shorter length would
be more dangerous when crossing a frozen lake, I would think anyway.


_ I think any difference here is minimal, after all it's surface
area on the ice that counts and since these skis tend to have
less camber they might actually have more surface area to support
the weight.

But when trying to stay on top of crusty snow (with a powder base),
would a shorter/wider ski be more or less likely to punch thru the
surface, assuming it has the same surface area as a longer and more
narrow ski?


_ Toss up. I've got both and I couldn't tell you one way or the
other.


And why this departure from traditional XC ski designs?


_ Shaped skis have made a big change in alpine skiing and people
want XC skis that are as fun to turn as alpine skis. Since many
people are plodding on XC skis anyway, a ski optimised for
kick'n'glide that performs poorly in turning isn't always the
best choice for most people.

Are these
short/wide skis really only meant for groomed and packed surfaces, like
skating skis? And would they be suitable for backcountry usage?


_ IMHO, they are far more suitable for BC/ungroomed use than on
groomed trails. There is no free lunch in ski design, in general
a ski that turns better is going to be slower for kick'n'glide
and potentially a lot slower in the tracks. There is a lot of
range in this kind of ski, from some that might work okay in
tracks to some that never will.

_ Booker C. Bense



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  #3  
Old December 15th 04, 08:13 PM
Gene Goldenfeld
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Posts: n/a
Default

"Booker C. Bense" wrote:

_ IMHO, they are far more suitable for BC/ungroomed use than on
groomed trails. There is no free lunch in ski design, in general
a ski that turns better is going to be slower for kick'n'glide
and potentially a lot slower in the tracks. There is a lot of
range in this kind of ski, from some that might work okay in
tracks to some that never will.


In the skate lanes as well. It's reported from a variety of sources
with good knowledge that the skate cuts are slower and Fischer knew that
all along. Granted that there's an issue of absolute and relative speed
depending on the skier's ability and the course, on the WC circuit
skiers demanded 'straight cuts,' the ones with the white lettering you
can find in the US apparently at only a couple of shops, Gear West and
Finn Sisu.

GG
  #4  
Old December 15th 04, 09:43 PM
Chris Cline
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Default

Hi Bruce-
As another RSN'er mentioned to you in your previous
thread about the no-wax bases, you really DO need to
get out to the shops more ;- )

Or more accurately, you should have done so about 10
years ago.

XC skis have been evolving in several directions since
then, one of which is the shorter/wider/curvier
direction you're discussing.

These skis have been developed precisely because they
DO like to turn, at least better than the
straighter/longer skis. But you're right-- they're
relatively terrible at going straight, especially on
somewhat slick and uneven surfaces such as
groomed/packed snowmobile trails. They're also slow--
no glide, and only partly because of the no wax base.
The other big reason is because they are also cambered
like an alpine ski. In other words, it's an XC ski
that lets you get out away from the ski area (free
heel, light weight, etc), but you pay in terms of that
easy touring (kick-n-glide) ability.

If you look long enough/hard enough, you will see skis
of current design (~5 years or so) that can be placed
all along the continuum from narrow, straight, fast
classic ski to fatter/wider (really wide)/shaped
downhill ski. The trick is to pick where you want to
be along that continuum-- you will, unfortunately,
never find a ski that can do it all.

For what it sounds (to me) like you're looking for,
I'd focus on a ski that is:
1) somewhat wider (but not too wide to fit into a
groomed ski track, if you want to tour at groomed
nordic centers),
2) has a little bit of side-cut (about 6-8 mm
difference between shovel and waist, which is 2-3 mm
of "waist" per side),
3) has an identifiable double camber, but not a super
stiff, high camber (to keep the no-wax pattern out of
the snow at least a little bit while you're gliding,
but to not be too hard to climb with)
4) and of course has a metal edge, at least 3/4
length.

I'm not as familiar with ski selections as I used to
be when I worked at retail stores, but I know they're
out there.

Actually, if you find a good ski, let me know, because
that's a hole in my quiver that I'm looking to fill (I
NEED that 8th pair of skis-- really!)

Chris Cline
SLC, UT

--- "Bruce W.1" wrote:

In a local XC ski rental shop here in the midwest
I've seen a new style
of XC ski which looks a lot like an alpine ski.
It's shorter, wider,
and has tapered sides.

This thread has its origin in a previous thread
about modifying wax type
skis, but that's another topic.

At issue here is the tapered sides of the new skis,
and their shorter
length.

It has always bothered me that traditional XC skis
don't like to turn.
Tapered sides would fix this problem. Is there any
disadvantage to
this? On a hard packed surface I'm sure they are
more difficult to keep
straight. In a groomed track there's probably
little difference because
of the sidewalls of the track. But how do they
handle on virgin powder?

The other issue is length. A shorter and wider ski
is easier to turn,
which would be good on twisting/turning trails. A
shorter length would
be more dangerous when crossing a frozen lake, I
would think anyway.
But when trying to stay on top of crusty snow (with
a powder base),
would a shorter/wider ski be more or less likely to
punch thru the
surface, assuming it has the same surface area as a
longer and more
narrow ski?

And why this departure from traditional XC ski
designs? Are these
short/wide skis really only meant for groomed and
packed surfaces, like
skating skis? And would they be suitable for
backcountry usage?

Thanks for your help.







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  #5  
Old December 17th 04, 01:19 AM
gr
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Posts: n/a
Default

Bruce W.1 wrote:
In a local XC ski rental shop here in the midwest I've seen a new style
of XC ski which looks a lot like an alpine ski. It's shorter, wider,
and has tapered sides.

This thread has its origin in a previous thread about modifying wax type
skis, but that's another topic.

At issue here is the tapered sides of the new skis, and their shorter
length.

It has always bothered me that traditional XC skis don't like to turn.
Tapered sides would fix this problem. Is there any disadvantage to
this? On a hard packed surface I'm sure they are more difficult to keep
straight. In a groomed track there's probably little difference because
of the sidewalls of the track. But how do they handle on virgin powder?

The other issue is length. A shorter and wider ski is easier to turn,
which would be good on twisting/turning trails. A shorter length would
be more dangerous when crossing a frozen lake, I would think anyway. But
when trying to stay on top of crusty snow (with a powder base), would a
shorter/wider ski be more or less likely to punch thru the surface,
assuming it has the same surface area as a longer and more narrow ski?

And why this departure from traditional XC ski designs? Are these
short/wide skis really only meant for groomed and packed surfaces, like
skating skis? And would they be suitable for backcountry usage?

Thanks for your help.

I found that the Fischer Nordic Cruiser line (slightly shaped short
skis) had better glide than my long skis, when they had a demo day (so I
compared all at the same time). I then bought a pair and really like
them. I also have a pair of Fischer Outabounds (wide 88mm I think in
front), shaped, metal edge, BC type ski) and find the glide poor and a
real problem going straight on any hardpack. Don't like them to much at
all. I am thinking about a skinner pair of metal edge skies though.
gr
 




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