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Analytical Slalom Ski Characterization

HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
edited March 2009 in Skis Fins Bindings
<p class="MsoNormal">
<font size="3"><font color="#000000"><font face="Times New Roman">With all the Ski Tests, articles, opinions, posts and fads; we still do not seem to have solved the puzzle of how to characterize a slalom ski. I will always reject the idea that in a SkiTest or SkiReview environment, you can effectively put numbers or grades to a skis behavior. On the other hand in long term test I think there is a possibility to characterize a ski. <span> </span></font></font></font>
</p>
<font size="3"><font color="#000000"><font face="Times New Roman">Is there a perfect woman? Or the best beer? I think not! <span> </span>I think skis are the same way. For one skier the D3 X5 is the best thing ever and for the next skier it is fire wood. I personally think the X5 is the most underrated ski in the industry. What we can all agree on is that they are different. <span> </span><span> </span></font></font></font> <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"> </font>
<p class="MsoNormal">
<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">I have one ski nailed down for long term testing this year and am requesting enough skis to keep me busy all season. So it is time to finally define the new method. I think I want to call it “Analytical Slalom Ski Characterization” (ASSC – pronounced “ask”) or maybe “BallOfSpray Analytical Slalom Ski Characterization” (BASSC – pronounced “bask”)</font>
</p>
<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">I am envisioning an ASSC matrix. In the actual matrix I do not think direct ski comparisons is a good idea for the purpose of flushing out the idea here I am going to make some generalizations. </font><font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"> </font>
<p class="MsoNormal">
<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">Both the Radar RS-1 and the Connelly Prophecy allow me to essentially tail ride into my heel side (2/4/6 RFF). These skis literally, to not require me to advance on the ski as I approach the apex on that side. In comparison an HO A1 turns reasonably well on heel side with weight centered but works considerably better with additional front foot pressure. Besides the amount of front pressure needed for heel side turns, I think the HO A1 and the Connelly Prophecy are far more alike then the RS-1 but for this one parameter there is a common attribute. <span> </span>So in the ASSC Matrix, maybe there is a data point that for “Heel Side Turn / Front Foot Sensitivity”. The RS-1 and the Prophecy get a low sensitivity rank and the HO gets a moderate or high sensitivity rank. </font>
</p>
<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"> </font><font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">Of course there is then the problem of scale and perspective. As I recall with the HO, moderate front foot pressure delivers perfectly acceptable heel side turns, but extra weight forward rewards the skier with massive angle. If we add the MPD’s toe side turn in for comparison, without enough front foot pressure the MPD <span> </span>will never turn but when you get past the tipping point it goes 90 degrees in a millisecond. So I guess there could be data point for magnitude. (Could that be right?) (Anybody following this?)</font> <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"> </font>
<p class="MsoNormal">
<font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">In truth I am thinking out load (and rambling) here. If I can not develop a method that I believe is meaningful and accurate I will not proceed. I think since the first time anyone tried to describe a ski we have maligned some skis incorrectly and boosted others beyond their rightful place. <span> </span>I just know when I read product reviews from other sports or car magazines I realize how well it can be done.</font>
</p>

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Comments

  • skiron07skiron07 Posts: 83 Baller
    <p>
    John-
    </p>
    <p>
    fwiw, you really need to try a St. Bernardous ABT12 belgium trappiest beer-
    </p>
    <p>
    but seriously, I agree with your premise- comparing skis is like comparing children...it should really never be done.  pointing out strengths, weaknesses and tendencies is however as should typology vs. skier profiles.
    </p>
    <p>
    thanks for keeping up the fight
    </p>
    <p>
     
    </p>
    <p>
    ron in ct
    </p>
  • DWDW Posts: 2,247 Mega Baller
    Great idea.  IMO feel that direct ski comparisons can offer great value to the purchaser.  That does not mean that I think it is an easy task to define the metrics on how to do that and exactly what to compare. . . . .
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    I like Ron's comment about compariing childern. I think that hits the point about no ski being best. They are all different but not better or worse.

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  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    <p>
    Exact numerical asessments of ski characteristics will not be reliable or valid. In trick tests, the uncertainty bands (which did not get published but we spent a lot of time calculating) were shocking. Some skis had narrow bands (everyone agreed) and some had average scores only because half the skiers felt one thing and the other half felt the exact opposite! However, it can't hurt to try to quantify a general "feel". Just don't expect the numbers to be gospel - and do not publish fractional scores!
    </p>
    <p>
    Traits I assess for when choosing a ski are:
    </p>
    <p>
    1 Turn radius - I prefer the tightest radius.
    </p>
    <p>
    2 Stability in the turn - often the opposite of #1 (a keeper scores well on both). Balance required fore and aft would be a major factor here.
    </p>
    <p>
    3 Comfortable pull position - almost always defined by the offside pull. How hard is it to get on the front and how sensitive is it if you don't.
    </p>
    <p>
    4 Hookup. I want the ski to be really slow here (to protect my back) and really low drag (usually opposing traits). The transition to the pull needs to be non technical.
    </p>
    <p>
    5 Preturn (where the speed of the ski really shows up). The carryout factors here as well as the transition into the turn. I like a slow ski here that doesn't go too wide and gives me a lot of time to adjust my body position. Many others want exactly the opposite (John?) so this will be the most difficult to measure reliably.
    </p>
    <p>
    6 Graphics. Anyone who has seen my skis knows just how important the appearance of the ski is to me.
    </p>
    <p>
    I'm not sure we can put numbers to my Analysis of Ski Specifics (A.S.S.) but it gives me a good seat of the pants feel for the skis. Of course I'd be interested in numbers from a Ballofspray Allknowing Description of the Analysis of Ski Specifics (B.A.D.A.S.S.) - after a couple of Steel Reserves.
    </p>
    <p>
    Eric
    </p>
  • kdeupserkdeupser Posts: 51 Baller
    <p>
    I don't go through alot of ski's, I usually upgrade every 3 or 4 years.  I read as much as possible to try and stay up on the current ski's so I am better prepared when I do upgrade. 
    </p>
    <p>
    One thing that just stand's out in my mind, and correct me if I am wrong but with the layup consistantcies of today one could do a quote ski test of 5 ski's all from the same manufacturer, model, length, version, etc... and still have a vast difference.
    </p>
    <p>
    Aside from flex testing, how about torsional testers?  I mean I almost don't like to recommend ski's to people due to the fact my ski is probably completely different than the ski they will receive when they purchase their own copy of it.
    </p>
    <p>
    And John correct me if I am wrong, but this is basically what your saying?  So in your new version of testing does this mean to create your matrix you are going to be demo'ing 3 or more of the same ski, type, length, etc,... to create this matrix?  I believe this would be the best way to truly create such a matrix, but man what a bunch of testing.....
    </p>
    <p>
     
    </p>
    <p>
    Cool thread,
    </p>
    <p>
    Ken
    </p>
  • tsixamtsixam Posts: 371 Baller
    edited March 2009
    <p>
    <span><font size="3"><font color="#000000"><font face="Times New Roman">I think it can be done. But I don´t think it can be any kind of judgement like good/bad/worse/better or anything like it. The best way would probably be to identify some areas that are interesting to a majority of skier and then rate the areas on scale from maybe -10 to +10. An extreme neutral ski would be a 0. <span> </span>If you really need to step on the front of the ski to turn the off side it is a +10 and if you can turn on your back foot it is a -10. <span> </span>A -10 or a + 10 can be positive or negative depending on your ability or your style.</font></font></font></span>
    </p>
    <p>
    <span></span><span><font size="3"><font color="#000000"><font face="Times New Roman">Tsixam</font></font></font></span>
    </p>
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    edited March 2009
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">Let me be clear. I am proposing a method be developed. Nothing more. If the method proves to be valuable perhaps others would use it for perspective. I do not think ASSC is practical for anything but a long term review because it takes a lot of time on a ski to get down to this level of detail. (This give me a new idea. ** see below)</font>
    </p>
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"></font>
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">When I do a long term test, it is just me on one ski for a number of weeks. Therefore it is NOT definitive. I will never claim to be the worlds best ski tester, I am just a guy who has done a bunch of it and enjoys it. </font>
    </p>
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"></font>
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <font size="3"><font color="#000000"><font face="Times New Roman">You could dismiss my long term reviews for the following reasons: Only one ski tested. Only one skier. My style and habits do not represent your style or habits. <span> </span></font></font></font>
    </p>
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"></font>
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">I contend that my long term review is valid for the following reasons: I have ridden more skis then 99% of the skiing population. I am very careful to not state anything about a ski that I am unsure of. I am the first one to tell you that there are no black and white answers. I understand that there are skis that do not work for me but are actually perfect for another skier. The point if ASSC is not “I love or hate this ski” but “this ski does this or that”.</font>
    </p>
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"></font>
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">As for flex patterns. Not too many years ago that was totally true. Todays skis are substantially more consistent. I talked with Paul Crawford about this over dinner at SkiTests on 07 and was amazed to hear about the QC process at D3. </font>
    </p>
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000"></font>
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">** as part of the validation of ASSC I think maybe you would need a baseline ski that you have skied on a lot. For me, my baseline ski might be the Prophecy. Since it is kind of at the end of the spectrum in a lot of ways, switching to and from the Prophecy exposes the attributes of the other ski. <span> </span>Hmmmmm</font>
    </p>

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  • Jim NeelyJim Neely Posts: 291 Baller
    <p>
    Tsixam's comments remind me of the way disc golf discs are rated. <a href="http://www.innovadiscs.com/catalog08/2008_web2%2027.pdf">http://www.innovadiscs.com/catalog08/2008_web2%2027.pdf</a>
    </p>
    <p>
    Innova rates each disc in four categories, speed, glide, turn and fade. A golfer who knows his own style can make a pretty good determination about which disc to buy.
    </p>
    <p>
    The same four categories would almost work for skis. It would be much easier to create a meaningful rating system if eveyone had the same conditions: water temp, water speed, binding location, fin setup, rope length, speed control, boat wake, etc.
    </p>
    <p>
     
    </p>
    68" Vapor
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    <p>
    Jim,
    </p>
    <p>
    That is exactly the problem. You can not get it down to 4 categories. The differences are just to small. The differences are too complex. Ridden correctly they all get wide and turn great. I am sure Asher could shred on any ski in the industry. The point is, what are the little things that you need for your skiing. What is the thing that you do wrong that you need the ski to take care of for you.
    </p>
    <p>
    Pick one item like heel side turn: If all I cared about was a wicked Heel side turn, I would never get off the RS-1. For my money it has a totally bitch'n fool proof heel side turn. The trouble is, I do some stupid things on toe side that make that ski a chalange for me. This gets me back to the details of what kind of skier is right for that ski on toe side?
    </p>
    <p>
    Horton
    </p>
    <p>
     
    </p>

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  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    <p>
    Tsixam, +10 to -10 is way too many rating points. + 0 - might be right, ++ + 0 - -- might be too specific to be valid.
    </p>
    <p>
    John, your testing paradigm might be the best. Take one ski and ride it a lot. Eventually you will get the feel of the ski and be able to understand the finer (or weaker) points of the ski and give a meaningful review of the ski. Perhaps you could publish (here?) detailed reviews of skis. Try for a standard format (ASSC or BADASS) so others can post in a similar fashion on the skis they ride frequently.
    </p>
    <p>
    Kdeupser, while differences ski to ski do exist, the differences are small now. Of course, if you do find huge differences ski to ski, that is important information for us. Regarding the physical properties (like flex or rocker), there are so many variables that ski performance is very hard to predict based on physical measurements alone. Again if there are huge physical variations from ski to ski of one manufacturer that information is interesting - regardless of whether it makes a large difference in feel or not.
    </p>
    <p>
    Fun thread,
    </p>
    <p>
    Eric
    </p>
  • skidawgskidawg Posts: 3,369 Mega Baller
    edited March 2009
    <p>
    Jth,
    </p>
    <p>
    You expend so much energy into this hobby we call sport .  It amazes me.  If you put half that energy into monetary pursuits u could have retired to your own private ski island in the carribiean. Try a dog fish 90.  Yum
    </p>
    Mr. Mom is Horton's favorite movie!
  • skibugskibug Posts: 2,097
    maybe we are looking at this from the wrong perspective.  I am now just rambling; but, thinking out of the box.  Maybe a slalom course is not the best place to evaluate skis for certain characteristics.  Ultimately one category would be course performance; but, what about designed tests outside the course.  Somehow you have to take out the skier ability and eliminate as many variables as possible.  Maybe there is a way to make the data descrete like setting up just a few significant points on the water that would test cross course speed, or angle generated, etc.  I would think that you could break down the 10 most important aspects of a ski and then design some type of tests for each on an individual basis.  You could produce the identical test for various levels of skiers and then normalize the results.  Take a 15' off, a 22' off, a 28' off and so on up the rope.  The designed tests would have to be made to accomodate all these levels of skiers so that the results could be evaluated on a level playing field.  It is difficult for a 15' off skier to evaluate a ski through the course; but, if the same skier only had to produce 1 toeside turn in a more controlled fashion you might get a better piece of data.  Or maybe you could measure the diffence between the angle generated be a 38' off skier and a 15' skier, in a controlled test environment, then we would be getting closer to discrete data.  Just like 0-60 acceleration and braking.  I don't know, i might just be crazy.  Just my outside of the box thinking.   
    Bob Grizzi
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    <p>
    Skibug, your thoughts lead to an interesting concept. The ski characteristics are totally irrelevant! The ONLY thing that matters is the buoy count!
    </p>
    <p>
    Pick a ski, log all your rides for a couple weeks (keeping track of conditions, settings, other variables and scores) and see what your buoy count is over the long term. This will measure how good the ski really is.
    </p>
    <p>
    Of course, what ski do you want to take to a tournament? The ski which scores best at your top pass but doesn't often get there or the ski that consistently gets you high scores - even if you will never ski a PB on the ski. These are the real choices we make with our equipment.
    </p>
    <p>
    If I'm not skiing the course I will be on a short fat ski with no fins...
    </p>
    <p>
    Eric
    </p>
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    <p>
    Dawg,
    </p>
    <p>
    Everyone needs a hobby. This is mine.
    </p>
    <p>
    Skibug,
    </p>
    <p>
    Interesting.... Not sure I am going there but it is interesting.
    </p>

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  • skibugskibug Posts: 2,097
    <p>
    I totally agree that bouy count is all that matters; but, if you are going to break down ski characteristics, then you need to define those characteristics and design a test for them.  Much like football players at the combines are tested in various performance categories, 40 yd dash, bench press, shuttle run, vertical jump, etc. etc.; this doesn't always translate into what kind of player the athlete is on the field.  Autos are tested in performance categories as well; but, it is a combination of the various performance categories that makes the overall impression of the car.  These individual attributes may sway your opinion of what you think you need and at least give you an idea if the ski is faster, generates more angle, carves a tighter radius, etc.  All that said, this would be a rather large and complicated effort for a very very small population of skiers.  Knowing the characteristics of a ski would still only narrow my selection of skis to test before I buy.  I would still have to ride a handful.
    </p>
    Bob Grizzi
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,975 Infinite Pandas
    <p>
    I look at what the skiers who ski at the level I'd like to ski and try those skis. Scott Larsen is not too relevant to me because he skis with a much different style (OK he's way better than I can hope to be). But if Don Parsons or Dee Johnson gain a bunch of buoys, you know I'm going to ride that setup.
    </p>
    <p>
    If I can make the ski get buoys, the characteristics don't matter.
    </p>
    <p>
    Of course for me specifically, the characteristics do matter. I need to build my skis to do the things that make the other skis work. Having a reference of how skis behave and respond will greatly assist me in my ski design.
    </p>
    <p>
    I believe that this site is used by other ski designers. The input from the skiers here will affect the next generation of skis.
    </p>
    <p>
    Skibug, your idea does have real merit. Give us the attributes of your ski. We'll probably flame you on your format but it's got to start somewhere.
    </p>
    <p>
    Eric
    </p>
  • skibugskibug Posts: 2,097
    edited March 2009
    I ride a 2007 D3 Nomad RC, I will defer to the experts on what they say the attributes of this ski are supposed to be.  All of my input is based off of feel since I have never tested it in a fashion to produce discrete results.  There are few to many aspects of a ski's characteristics that cannot be quantified, for instance edge change; totally dependent on skier ability and technique.  This produces a certain subjective feel for a skier to comment on.  I think angle, turning radius, slip, cross course speed, width, possibly load, flex in application, torsion, could all have tests designed to quantify them.  I am sure I am missing some; by no means am I an expert or an elite level skier.  This is just food for thought; but, at the end of the day we will probably just all defer to the experts and the marketers of the high end skis and put some blind faith in what they are telling us about the true intent of the skis performance.  No matter the test results produced, I still believe I will always ride before I buy. 
    Bob Grizzi
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    <font color="#0000ff"><em>"No matter the test results produced, I still believe I will always ride before I buy."  <font color="#ff0000">Yes!</font></em></font>

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  • HO 410HO 410 Posts: 351 Baller
    <p>
    John, 
    </p>
    <p>
    From what you were writing about the Prophecy, RS-1,
    and A1 in the initial post, what you are planning to do is compare
    skier input to ski reaction. That should be useful and reasonably generalizable information. If you are looking to turn this into
    something bigger than a John Horton pet project, I'd be happy to help
    with writing up a testing procedure and database for participants to
    fill out. Obviously the linchpin in this is a skiers ability to consistently identify a behavior (tip-pressure as an example) and add to it or back off from it for an entire set. Could be interesting.
    </p>
    <p>
     
    </p>
    Nikon D80, 50mm f 1.8, Tokina 12-24mm... Sorry, wrong forum. Josh T.
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    "what you are planning to do is compare skier input to ski reaction"  <font color="#000000">Hmmm... yea I guess so. That is a good way to put it.</font>

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  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    edited May 2009
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3" color="#000000">Having administrated and written the independent ski test 3 years and then a as a skier one year, I am still dissatisfied with the way we describe skis. I am a firm believer what we need to describe skis and not try to rank or rate them. Below is a link to what may be my new approach. The review itself just a thumbnail.</font>
    </p>
    <p class="MsoNormal">
    <strong><a href="http://tinyurl.com/dyennl">http://tinyurl.com/dyennl</a></strong>
    </p>
    <p class="MsoNormal">


     
    </p>
    <p class="MsoNormal">
     
    </p>

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  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,738 Administrator
    Yea .... no this is just my review structure. How any big review is done is the organizers choice.

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