Transitioning Between AT Ski Setups

race-and-fat-skis

I know many of you out there probably have quite the quiver of rando skis and maybe a few pairs of boots. I know I do. They range from a 5 lb/foot (ski, boot, binding) old-school Dynafit race setup, to a more than 10 lb Black Diamond/Dynafit hybrid. I ski on both setups quite often (along with a couple other ski/boot/binding combos) and let me tell you, skiing both of them is a completely different experience and transitioning from one setup to another can sometimes be challenging.

I know what you are going to say. Wha, wha, wha…Rando’s crying about having too much gear. Poor thing!!! But seriously, I know many of you out there probably ski a few different setups. Mine spans the full range of the AT spectrum, from the now-a-days vintage, toothpick-like Dynafit SR11.0 (link to Dynafit’s current World Cup Race ski), 62mm at the waist, 160cm in length, feather light carbon fiber ski, to…at over twice the girth, the 125mm waisted Black Diamond Megawatt, that probably has close to four times the surface area of the race skis.  (Any math wiz’s want to figure it out?  Surface area of 90/62/76mm @ 160cm vs 153/125/130mm @188cm.)

Combined with the boots, which when you are going from one buckle, low cuff, minimal support rando race kicks, to four-buckle freeride AT boots with wrap style liners, the techniques one uses to ski each of them is often quite different. With the race setup, it’s hard to really pressure the boots, since there is nothing there to pressure, so I often find myself in a still legged, hunchedboot-transition over stance. With the Megawatts and it’s giant rocker tip, combined with stiff pebax and high on the shin boot liners, the balance-point or “center” is often easily achieved.

My mind acts in two different ways when I ski these ski kits.  When I’m on the race setup, at least on the downhill, it’s all about survival, recovering well, and trying not wipe out.  Often with arms flailing about, trying to stay in control and steer from the back seat.  But when on the big powder rig, it’s all about day-dreaming, ecstasy, and the feeling of floating on a cloud.   And that’s before 4:20.  :)

Besides the mental challenges, it can sometimes be hard “skills-wise” to keep up with the different body  movements it takes to be able to ski both ends of the spectrum well.  I think the more you try though, the better it is for you as a skier.  Your body will learn to adapt more to different skiing positions and won’t be forced to be locked into a single stance 100% of the time.  There’s no science to back any of this up of course, but it sure sounds logical to me.  You?

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17 Comments

17 Responses to “Transitioning Between AT Ski Setups”


  1. 1 Jonathan Shefftz Dec 21st, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Just get the Dynafit TLT5 Performance boot — then you can use the same boot for everything!

  2. 2 Josh Dec 21st, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Steve,

    Notice you went with the intuitions instead of the BOAs in your quadrants. I just got some quadrants and am pretty happy so far although the liners are really a pain to get in/out of. Thinking of putting some intuitions in ‘em also.

    Why’d you opt for the intuitions? Aside from the on/off, do they ski much differently than the stock BOAs?

    -josh

  3. 3 ptor Dec 21st, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I’m not into the schizophrenic thing. For me it’s insanity to ski on anything else than megawatts in touring mode (w/ lowtechs) regardless of conditions but then again I am not racing upwards to flail downwards.

    I use the Intuitions too in my Factors. BOA must be an acronym for Behind by One Adjustment ;-)

  4. 4 Omr Dec 21st, 2010 at 10:23 am

    My ski partner uses a race kit and he flies up the skin track but looks like a tele skier on the descents (wind-milling, face-planting, etc.) Have we now come full circle? Three pins coming back?

  5. 5 randosteve Dec 21st, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    JS…i’ve been patient and am waiting for my tlt5p’s to arrive. i’m hoping santa brings them this week. :)

  6. 6 randosteve Dec 21st, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    josh…i’d say the wrap liners beef up the boot a bit. maybe a bit warmer too.

  7. 7 randosteve Dec 21st, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    ptor…you use low-techs with your megawatts?

  8. 8 ptor Dec 22nd, 2010 at 1:58 am

    yup, same set-up you got minus the brakes (can’t see from your pics if you have the brakes on). Nothing beats ‘em for breaking trail or for steeps!!!! I’ve had that set up since the first white megas came out. I also have a pair with racing bindings to ride the lifts.(untill I get my Gigas) The new Megas are even better. I’ve been riding a pair of protos since June. I have Drifts ready in case I go over 6000m.

  9. 9 randosteve Dec 22nd, 2010 at 6:47 am

    roger that ptor…i was thinking you used true low-tech binders…like the race ones. yeah…skied both the new mega and giga a few weeks ago. my first time on a full reverse ski…it was fun.

  10. 10 Eurob Dec 22nd, 2010 at 7:39 am

    If you are really interested in how the surface areas compare I’d suggest to print out a picture of both skis (probably best an official one, true to size ratio), cut them out, and measure on a goldsmith’s scale. That’s probably just as accurate and way easier taking the tapered tips and tails and whatnot into account. But I digress …

  11. 11 Wick Dec 22nd, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    So where does the happy medium lie in these quivers…and what does it look like eh?.? …I guess that each one of us will error on one side or the other of this “line”. Anyone can ski pow!

  12. 12 randosteve Dec 22nd, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Wick…I feel like the bd drift is the quiver of one in my collection. When I went to Antarctica and New Zealand…that was the ski I brought…for versatility and unknown conditions.

  13. 13 ty Dec 23rd, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Ptor,

    You use Megawatts exclusively in La Grave? I found the original whit megawatts to be less than stellar in icy conditions…are the blue ones better?

    Happy Holidays

    Ty

  14. 14 ptor Dec 23rd, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Hey Ty,
    Sometimes I use Zealots when the mountain is all windbuffed, but rarely. I avoid icy conditions.
    Blue ones are better for sure but that’s subjective as I’ve heard contrary opinions.
    I love Megas on firm snow but I find I really have to crank’em way over on the edge right away and that’s why most people can’t deal with them on hard snow. Your hips have to be way over. I’d love to try racing in them cause they really do rail. Zealots could do great in a GS or Super G. Maybe I’m weird?
    Happy holidays tooo!

  15. 15 climbupskidown Dec 24th, 2010 at 12:55 am

    cheers to Super-G turns on Zealots! I also feel hip-angulation is key for me to get these skis to rip on firm snow. Ty…replace hockey with “skier’s edge” workouts.

  16. 16 Evan Jan 3rd, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Free google sketchup software can help determine and compare ski surface area. If you scroll down-past my stereotypical hippy telemark banter- to the image, you can see my method here. http://evinem.blogspot.com/2009/11/geeking-about-skis.html I omitted tip/tail surface area, and didn’t get into the details of camber/rocker or early rise tips/tails. Rocker/early rise shapes will require some creative basis for comparison as the tip/tail contact area varies much more than traditionally cambered skis.

  17. 17 randosteve Jan 4th, 2011 at 6:23 am

    evan…looks interesting. but i think i’m more confused now.

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