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

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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

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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