Written by Tom Waddington, BASI ISTD
This is an important topic and not one to take lightly as most instructors have probably saved up all summer to get some new gear in the pre-season discounts.
Head iSpeeds? Magnums? Salomon X Drive? There is plenty of choice. The question is will a certain ski help you in a certain strand? Is there one ‘miracle’ ski that will be amazing on everything? The answer is no.
Racers go from 13 m radius in slalom to 35 m in GS. Mogul skiers have a straighter softer ski, freestyle guys are on twin tips etc. As instructors we are required to perform a variety strands that encompass skiing in general. The idea of ‘ski caddying’ to certain disciplines is not one we can really entertain for technical exams.
Personally I love the Rossignol 18m GS masters. I’m a big guy so a nice stiff ski works well when I put the hammer down. However I also know people half my size that can work this ski better than me so it’s not just a question of physics.
In fact this summer I have seen many junior race teams on world cup 35-meter radius skis. So how come they can bend it like Beckham only weighing 9 stone wet through? Because of hours upon hours of practice and high skill level.
Often as coaches we are asked “I’m weak in a particular strand, do you think that this particular ski would help” I think that if you are asking these kinds of questions then you should worry less about the ski and more about the amount of time spent training. A high level skier would be able to ski to the criteria on many different types of skis.
What about boots and flex?
Essentially boots are the ‘steering wheels’ of the ski. It is very important to get a good fit and appropriate flex to your weight, ski stiffness and skiing ability. For example, if you have a boot that is soft in relation to a stiff ski combined with a dynamic skier it is super hard to achieve a high degree of ski performance. In fact, speaking to ex British team member and eurotest opener Aaron Tipping he thinks that it is actually more important to have a well fitted boot to enhance feeling and control. In his opinion this far outweighs the intricate details in ski choice.
So which ski should I choose for BASI exams?
In conclusion I would say that if you get a 16-18m radius piste ski, fairly stiff with a good fitting and equally matched flex boot then that is a good choice. If you cant do a certain strand very well or are having problems with technique then don’t look to blame the ski, look to train and practice more until you can make that ski do everything it can do. In skiing, the pilot is more important than the plane.