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How much difference might ski choice make for passing CSIA level 3?

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(@jjmchew)
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Hi All,

I've been quietly working through the vast content on the site.  Faced suddenly with a spring discount on skiis thought I would reach out to the community.....

 

Ultimately, I'm curious to what extent ski choice might help/hinder me in challenging the CSIA L3 ski/teach exams (especially given bump skiing is a big requirement). 

An old L3 I worked with briefly even thought it would be worth renting more 'serious' skiis for the L2 exam (when I had old Fritschi freeride bindings mounted on the Bonafides, previously my only 'front-side' ski).

 

 

My story:

I went from only having the Bonafides (last season) to getting a pair of carving skiis (Atomic SX-10) and learned more about using the edges and carving this season than I had my entire ski career to-date.

Given how much I can learn from a unique pair of skiis, is it worth getting a pair of Head e-magnums - they have a shorter radius (170 length, 13 m radius, 72 mm underfoot)?  At 13m radius they sort of seem like a slalom ski, but I wonder if a more pure-bred slalom ski might be better.  I feel like SkiNerd has indicated that the wide shovel and short radius might be a hindrance for bump skiing.

 

 

My current ski options: 

Blizzard Bonafide 2016 (180 length, 21 m radius, 98 mm underfoot) (now remounted with alpine bindings)

Old Atomic SX10 2005(?) (170 length, 15 m radius, 67 mm ish underfoot)

I've heard other instructors recommend Blizzard Firebird HRC, Rossi Hero multi-turn and Volkl Deacon 84 as good all-rounders.

I currently teach (part-time and have a CSIA L2).


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@jjmchew You hear different things from different people but from what I understand the examiners at Level 3 want to see you bend the ski and to earn your short turns. For that reason I think the recommendation is a ski with a radius 14 to 17 or maybe 15 to 18.

That said these guys are very astute and are easily capable of making adjustments to their assessments for the equipment you're on, so if you ski on a slalom ski they'll make the necessary compensations in their judgements.

What I would certainly do though is to be on a performance ski, not something more at home in powder. While the Magnum may have a slightly shorter radius, I would think it would be good. 

I have a pair of Titans. They're a bit wider and 14.1 radius. They seem to be a popular choice for a lot if people. They're quite old now and I bought a pair of Nordica Doberman Spitfire 80 with a 17 radius and also Fischer CURV DTX with a similar radius.

I've heard really good things about the Deacon and would see that as a good choice as well. I think geepers might have passed his Level 3 skiing on a Rossi Experience 84 so his input would be interesting if I'm right.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@jjmchew I should have added that I personally would definitely not train or do the exam on the Bonafides or the old Atomics.


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(@therealmrtall)
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@jjmchew I'm glad you asked this question; it's an interesting topic because I am currently in the research phase myself for new skis next season. I'm on a Rossi Experience 88HD (88mm underfoot) now. The general advice I've been given for Level 3 training is that 80mm underfoot is about the maximum to look for.

My struggle (first-world problem) is which width to settle on and just how stiff the ski should be. I'd place myself on the intermediate side of advanced, so stiffness is something I'd like to better understand (and a question I had planned to ask on SkierLab). Do I go 80mm for something perhaps a little more versatile (as we get a lot of soft snow here) or go more along the lines of 74mm? A few skis to consider (in the on-piste category) on my list are:

One note is that the CSIA pro deal is an option you can explore, so you'd get an end-of-season discount early next season (or even this season depending on availability). Some manufacturers require you to find a shop that will participate in the CSIA program, while others (e.g., Rossi and related group) will ship directly to you.

In any case, I'm interested to see what others recommend in the thread.


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(@skinerd)
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There is no official requirements for gear and there are probably some folks who could pass the ski off on a pair of spatulas, however, for most humans, I would say you can get away with anything under 90mm underfoot.

Something a little narrower in the 70 to 80 range will definitely offer an edge grip and quickness advantage on firmer snow and that’s probably the range most candidates will opt for. Of course, if you end up with a breakable crust in the bumps that advantage can quickly become a disadvantage:)

For sidecut, somewhere between 13 and 18 is a typical range. A shorter radius will allow you to take advantage of the ski design a little more, but can encourage a some folks to get stuck and demonstrate a ‘park and ride’ approach in the longer turns. I’m a fan of 15 to 17 myself.


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(@geepers)
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There's an interesting piece in one of the PSIA presentations on the correlation between ski width and passing of their L2/L3 exams. (Note: they are a 3 level system and do bumps/carves in L2.) Definite pattern on the graph - the narrower the ski the better the chance of passing.

Vid below cued at the relevant part of the presentation.

For L3 a narrower ski (<80mm) is better suited for the carving tasks so the general thought is why make life hard... That said I managed to pass on Rossi Exp 84s (2018) 14m. Nowadays I ski a 67mm (still 14m) and that's what I would use for an exam. It would have to be a particularly heavy pow or evil crust to change my mind - in which case the 84s may get the dust blown off.

 

This post was modified 4 months ago by gpatters

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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@geepers that's an interesting video. I would like to see CSIA stats for Level 3 and 4 but suspect they'd be similar.

Ron's comment that he can ski so he doesn't need a wide ski is great and reminds me of a comment I've shared on here before when 2 young instructors were discussing whether to go with the 110 or the 120 or something and a certain Level 4 commented, ''Alternatively guys you could learn to ski.''

@therealmrtall I'm guessing the Salomon's are the newest incarnation of the range they've been putting out for well over 10 years (I can never remember the names of skis) but I had 2 forerunners of this ski and they were great skis. I've heard good things about the Rossis too. I don't know if it's still the case but the Elan range used to have a really big binding delta angle which when added to the boot ramp angle (my Lange's are 4 degrees) creates a hill to stand on which will likely encourage a backseat stance.


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(@jjmchew)
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@adrian_hamilton I was wondering if you might be able to elaborate on your preference for not using either set of skiis I've currently got.

I think I understand the rationale not to use the bonafides: large radius, slower edge to edge, tougher to carve, tough on the knees.

However, the Atomics - although old - seem to have the right characteristics (by number) - 14m radius, perhaps a bit narrow underfoot, but nothing that wouldn't push me to better develop technique if conditions did get softer.

Regardless, I think I'm looking for a ski that's stiff, performant, carving/front-side focused and (to some extent) versatile.  I can see the Head e-magnums being a bit more specific, but also have an option on the Head e-rally which are a bit more 'versatile' (14m radius @ 170 and 78 mm underfoot). 

I guess I'm wondering how much difference the ski could possible make and for the price ($650), thinking one of these could be just as good as anything else....


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(@therealmrtall)
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Posted by: @adrian_hamilton

@therealmrtall I'm guessing the Salomon's are the newest incarnation of the range they've been putting out for well over 10 years (I can never remember the names of skis) but I had 2 forerunners of this ski and they were great skis. I've heard good things about the Rossis too. I don't know if it's still the case but the Elan range used to have a really big binding delta angle which when added to the boot ramp angle (my Lange's are 4 degrees) creates a hill to stand on which will likely encourage a backseat stance.

@adrian_hamilton I'm really leaning toward the Salomon skis. I had a set of Force 9 skis way back in the day (early '90s). Their gear has always been pretty solid. Seems their boots work best for me too. If I go narrower, the Salomon S/MAX series could be a possibility. I also like the sounds of the Hero multi-turn. The piste range for Elan (and a bunch of others) are limited in the ski length, which for me could be a problem. I'm 6'5" tall, some of their piste skis max at around 178cm with some even shorter at ~170cm. Salomon and Rossi are available into the 180cm range. I might be able to get away with 178cm, but going to 170, for example, is probably too short. (I'm also 205 pounds, if that also factors into the ski length and/or stiffness.)


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@jjmchew perhaps I was too dismissive but I would be concerned if a 16 year old ski was still displaying its original flex characteristics. Skis can become lifeless as materials degrade.

An old method which you could try is to place the skis base to base. It shouldn't be too easy to squeeze them together. If they are really easy they are probably past it. 

Also I would definitely want the bindings checked and if they're ok recalibrated if they're the same age.


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(@jjmchew)
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@adrian_hamilton  Ah - great point, thanks for elaborating.  There's still lots of camber left in the ski (they definitely don't sit flat on the ground), but I've wondered if they've gotten soft. 

I demo'd a pair of Stockli Laser AX - while I liked these, they didn't feel as quick or snappy (and reminded me of the Bonafides, just narrower and tighter turning).  That said, the Stockli also felt much stiffer and harder to bend for short radius than the Atomics.  I've wondered if skiing the Atomics has made me lazy since they are quite old (vs pushing the Bonafides through shorter radius turns).

@SkiNerd - I had to look-up "park and ride", but I think I understand: as long as I'm actively driving / bending the ski through turns, it doesn't matter what radius they are.  I guess a shorter radius ski puts the onus on me to achieve tighter turns, or the same radius at a greater speed. 

The drawbacks to the lower radius would be stability at larger radius / speed (depending on the ski) and not developing a strong ability to bend/steer straighter skiis.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@jjmchew I am also an advocate of giving yourself the best chance you possibly can and controlling the things you can control. That includes equipment. It's a really tough process to reach the standard or at least it certainly is for me and if it's possible I would look to get the best equipment for the job.


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(@jjmchew)
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@adrian_hamilton  I have no doubt L3 will be tough - it's a 2 year from now goal (at a minimum)!  As you've alluded to, equipment choice at this point is really about finding something I can train with. 

From being self-taught and largely touring for the last 15 yrs I had a lot of bad habits and was re-learning to some extent.  Spending the entire season on icy groomers (it's been relatively low snow at my local hill) means I've really developed a lot more technique and ability on the edges and I'm looking to maintain the learning trajectory - it's been fun actually getting better (and understanding why things were hard before).


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@jjmchew there are a few others on here taking that route so it will be great to share some ideas and information. I'm from UK and have had no skiing this season so some icy groomers would be a dream.

Also being 63 I'm getting a bit panicky to have missed a whole season and missed most of last as well as my wife got a bad injury on our trip and we had to come home even before everything shut down.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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@therealmrtall I'm only 6' but even at that I have a Nordica SLR slalom ski I use indoors that's only 165. I would have thought 178 would be ok in a piste ski. My Titans are only 170 but my Fischers are 178. a lot depends on the ski I guess.


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