I am re-assessing my ski quiver. There are a few reasons for that. Firstly, I am selling my 2018 Blizzard Rustler 10 with alpine touring bindings. I just don’t tour that often (if at all) and the ski is a bit light and jumpy for what I would use a ski that width for. A matter of preference, obviously.
Secondly, I haven’t been able to find a ski – yet – for those truly mixed conditions: hard, re-frozen corduroy slopes in the morning, rough crud, bumps, and spring slush, all in one day. I did have the 2016 Völkl Kendo for that. In soft 3D snow, however, I found this ski (and all other iterations of the Kendo) a bit too much geared towards hard snow and not floaty and smeary enough in soft piles or easy enough in bumps. Again, all of this is preference.
For hard snow, I have the 2019 Fischer The Curv GT. This is not going to change. And even if I would pick another hard snow carving ski, that would not really make a difference for the quiver I am building. A superb carving ski will always be part of a quiver, here in Europe.
The question is: do I build a two-ski quiver or a three-ski quiver? Of the skis I know I like, I could go for each of these two options:
Option 1: Fischer The Curv GT + 2023 Fischer Ranger 102
Option 2: Fischer The Curv GT + 2023 Fischer Ranger 96 / Black Crows Serpo + Black Crows Atris (108 mm underfoot)
Some have wisely said: ‘pick skis for what you actually ski, not for what you want to ski.’ Therefore, let’s take a look at the conditions I actually encountered over the past seasons. I take extensive (mental) notes, so I have been able to analyze my own skiing.
Note that I live in the Netherlands and to ski proper mountains (the Alps, in my case), it takes at least an eight-hour drive. With my day job, I don’t have the luxury to go powder hunting every time there’s a storm brewing. So, really deep days (when I truly need float) only happen rarely. The snow conditions have to be right, but also the ski area that I’m at and the people I’m with. In the Dolomites, for instance, there’s not much accessible freeride terrain. So I won’t be able to take full advantage of the powder; it will just be on-piste crud in a matter of hours.
Or when I’m in France with my family and there is nice fresh snow, I can’t really go at it either. On-piste it will be bumpy and skied-out pretty soon. And off-piste with no powder buddy is a no-go (none of my family ski off-piste). For me to really need the float of a wider powder ski is basically a coincidence of me being in the right place (terrain-wise), at the right time (when there’s fresh snow), and with the right people (being able to go off-piste safely to enjoy the pow). I am not complaining; I’m just offering the context of my analysis.
Over the past five seasons (season 2016-2017 up until and including the 2021-2022 season; the 2020-2021 season counting 0 ski days for me, due to Covid restrictions), I have scored each ski day on the scale below. It basically describes the type of conditions (snow, terrain, company) I would have wanted a ski for that day:
Hard: hard snow, groomer day – hard snow carving ski preferred
Hard-ish: hard, but softening due to high temperatures or a few centimeters of fresh snow – Curv GT does just fine, but so would a grippy front-side all-mountain ski
Mixed: bumps, crud, hard patches, soft patches, no off-piste – a true ‘all-mountain’ ski would excel here
Soft: not too deep powder (< 30 cm let’s say), powder on top of groomers (if not with the right crowd) – a freeride ski could work here, but also a 90-100 mm all-mountain ski with enough float end/or punch
Deep: powder, float needed – something that floats well and is not hard to smear
Here are the results of my analysis:
If I would take a ninety-something ski (next to my GT), that ninety-something ski would have to cover everything from ‘Mixed’ up to ‘Deep’ conditions. Even for the most versatile ski, that’s a stretch. So a ninety-something ski warrants the need for an even wider ski for those deep days (and some of the ‘soft’ days as well).
If I were to complement my GT with a freeride-caliber 102 ski, the GT would cover the ‘Hard’ and ‘Hard-ish’ days. The wider ski would have to deliver on all other days, including the really deep stuff. Would next year’s Ranger 102 have that amount of float to keep my 90 kg above the snow? And would it be able to handle the hard patches of those mixed conditions sufficiently? On that last question, the answer is definitely ‘yes’, by the way.
Looking at the numbers, though – and especially the percentages of days for each condition category – those really deep days only count for 8% of the total (14 days over 5 seasons that I have actually been able to really ski the deep snow, being in the right place at the right time with the right people). That does not really warrant a wide powder ski. And knowing the new Ranger 102 and its capabilities in mixed and soft conditions, I am confident I could make them work on those deep days too. And if it really dumps and they prove not to be floaty enough, I can always rent something suitable.
So, my conclusion (for now) is option 1: a two-ski quiver with something like the new Ranger 102 next to my GTs.
Then again, some of my skiing friends just invested in courses and gear to ski more off-piste (they didn’t before). That might change the percentage of days I could fully go deep. And so the story evolves each season…
NOTE: the fact that these skis are all Fischer and Black Crows, doesn’t mean I am sponsored by either of those brands. It just reflects my personal preference for skis in each category to illustrate my quiver-building process. Each skier should find the best matching skis for him in his own quest for the perfect set-up.
3 comments on “An analytic approach to quiver building” Add yours →
Love the data driven approach. I have (unfortunately) not kept track of conditions, but seat of the pants tells me that at home >40% hard, 40% hard-ish, 15% mixed and 5% soft.
On vacation in the Rocky Mountains:
3%hard, 4% hard-ish, 70% mixed, 20% soft, 3% deep.
My categories would be a bit different than yours, because (out west) the only time my family stays on groomers, is the ‘hard snow’ days. Every other day, which includes the ‘hard-ish’ category, we will be in the bumps, trees and other ungroomed slopes most of the day. So, ski selection wise, that changes my selection a bit.
And I am not counting touring skiing in here, because it requires separate skis. This is for lift served skiing only.
Back to what you are discussing, aren’t you driving to ski most of the time? In that case, wouldn’t a 3 ski quiver be better?
Like you mention, it can be hard to find a ski that covers the truly wide range of conditions above the Curve GT’s area of application.
Something in the 88-100mm waist width category, optimized for Mixed conditions, bumps, trees etc, but not needing a ton of float, and something in the 105+ waist width, perhaps aimed more at speed and stability in open terrain.
Then, looking at the long range forecast, location, and companions for each trip, you could probably leave 1 of the quiver at home most trips, but if needed, you can always squeeze another pair of skis into a car.
That’s basically what I have had the past few years, that 3-ski setup. The fact is: I rarely need more than 102-105 mm for float and every 90-ish ski that I like overlaps too much with that 1-0-something. Now that I have found a 102 mm ski that does everything I want in mixed and in soft conditions, really helps.