Fear of ‘too advanced’ ski gear

On ski forums, I often read (and sometimes comment on) threads by people in search of a new pair of skis because the ones they have ‘feel unstable and chattery’. In many cases, the first comments are ‘get lessons then; chattery skis are a result of poor technique’ or something similar.

I do think that better technique will let you handle skis better, even chattery skis. However, I also think that the gear you’re on plays an important role in how you feel on your skis. This goes from a decent tune to well-fitting boots, but also the character and construction of the skis you’re on. And their match to you as a skier and the conditions you encounter.

Anecdotal empirical evidence

I have a few friends and family members who are intermediate skiers. They do take lessons from time to time, but they also just want to cruise about, have fun with friends and family on holiday. They are recreational skiers, they don’t feel the need for continuous training toward some sort of expert or pro status. They just want to enjoy themselves.

Most vacations, they have been renting gear, trusting the rental shop completely. Some of these skiers, however, have experienced quite a bit of anxiety or at least insecurities on the rental gear they were on. One big plus of rental gear: if you don’t like it, you go back to the shop and ask for something else.

On a few occasions, I have gone with them and asked the shop staff if I could pick something out for them. I know how they ski and what they don’t like in the gear they got in the first place. Bear in mind that these skiers are on an intermediate level, moving towards ‘advanced intermediate’ at best (for the near future anyway). I picked out skis that the shop was hesitant to rent out at first because the gear would be ‘too advanced’. 

Don’t be scared

On this new more advanced gear (that the shop staff nor the brand literature would have these ‘intermediate’ skiers on), my friends and family felt much more confident. They skied better, more secure, faster too, but also more controlled. And no more anxiety, because they ‘really trust these skis’. And all of this without any lessons or significant practice time between the old and the new gear. 

Nowadays, when ski brands tend to build skis for wider audiences and target groups, there is no need to fear the ‘higher level’ gear. The risk of skiers actually breaking their necks on advanced skis is nihil. I wouldn’t put them on FIS skis obviously. But when you know the skier and you know the skis you put them on, there’s no real risk in putting intermediate skiers on more ‘advanced’ level skis. 

Do they need the performance (rebound, precision) of a higher-level ski? Many would argue no. Maybe they won’t be able to utilize the high-end performance fully, but the confidence-inspiring stability often is something they are looking for. It may even be the thing they actually need in order to progress.

1 comment on “Fear of ‘too advanced’ ski gearAdd yours →

  1. Interesting, concise & relevant article 👍

    It has been my experience that my intermediate (get to ski one week a year) ski buddies are always put off from hiring the top (gold) level skis.
    Normally I help them pick skis on arrival in Resort and generally agree with their choice of mid level intermediate (silver) skis.
    However I do keep an eye on them on piste and often (after a day or two back on snow), i recommend they upgrade based on how they are skiing …
    Initially an intermediate going from a soft R13 to a stiffer R15 (Volke Race Tiger for example) for the first time might find it a bit awkward but they will soon get used to the extra stability and invariably soon get to like their new skis ..

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