Tony Crocker wrote:JSpin needs to weigh in here...
Unfortunately I may not be of much help on this one, since I think we may be coming from a different perspective with regard to gear at this point. For Ty and Dylan, we have dealt with the gear fairly simply so far (actually, extremely simply for Dylan in that as he is roughly two years younger than Ty, the gear he gets is what Ty skied on for the previous two seasons). Also, we’re not part of any race community, so we haven’t had any real interaction with coaches or folks that know about high-performance kids gear. I wasn’t even aware that there was much in the way of advanced/expert-oriented gear for kids at this age. However, based on Tony’s comments, it does sound like Ty is doing the same sort of skiing as Adam (“free skiing”) so I’ll provide some comments on how things have gone for us and it may be helpful for parents of kids that aren’t following the “ski racing track” at this point.
We’ve only had four pairs of skis between the boys so far, and for the first two pairs (KiD-SKi skis for seasons 1 & 2, 76 cm K2 Omni Jr. for seasons 3 & 4) there really weren’t too many options in a practical sense. Two years ago, when we were getting our third pair of kid’s skis for Ty (which wound up being for seasons 5 & 6 as we’d anticipated) we found that it was the first time we really had any options. The first thing we focus on is length. The general rule that we hear for sizing kid’s skis is to go with a length between the chin and nose, and since we hope to use them for a couple of seasons, we go with whatever 10 cm interval is near the nose height, erring on the high side so we’re still at a reasonable length at the end of the second season. So, two years ago, Ty’s nose was right around the 90 cm mark, and that made choosing the size pretty easy. At the first swap of the season, there were dozens of pairs of used/new skis (most mounted with bindings) available in that size range, so all we had to do was choose which pair we liked best. This is where our choice of skis might differ from folks who are into racing. Since I sought out skis that looked like they would be able to handle powder and crud well, I focused on the wider skis, although I still wanted something with plenty of side cut so that carving would be fairly easy on groomed runs. There was one pair of skis in that size range that really caught our attention (at least relative to the other available options). Based on the width and side cut, it looked like a good all-mountain ski for the typical conditions we find, and Ty was happy with the color and all that, so we got it. I never even looked up the specifics about the ski until now, but here’s what it is (I found a link describing it a bit):Dynamic VR17 90 cm 100.0/64.5/83.5, 5.5 m radius
Anyway, they have served Ty well as far as we can tell. Last year, Ty was finally big enough for Garmont’s smallest Telemark boots, so we had to find him a pair of skis to mount with Telemark bindings. We decided to bump up to 100 cm, since he was ready for that length based on the usual rule and the skis were hopefully going to go two years again (seasons 6 and 7). It was actually somewhat tough to find un-mounted kids skis around here that I could actually hold in my hand and inspect, but ultimately I found two options at the Alpine Shop, one of our local stores. Of the two we found in the 100 cm size range, one clearly had a narrower waist and a built in rise/riser that gave it more the look of a racing ski. The other was this one, which we purchased:Rossignol Radical X1 100 cm 98.0/66.0/85.0 7.0 m radius
It seemed more in the vein of what we were looking for based on width and side cut. As I look at the descriptions, both the Dynamic and the Atomic X1s that we’ve bought are for “beginner/intermediate” skiers, although I’m not sure that matters much at this level. If these are softer and easier to flex, that’s great, and I doubt Ty or Dylan will be overpowering any skis for quite a while. Both pairs of skis that we’ve bought for the kids seem to have similar dimensions, and have worked well enough for our snow conditions, so we’re happy with that. The boys aren’t skiing at high speeds on icy terrain, so they only need so much performance in that area as far as I’m concerned. We generally ask Ty about racing a few times during the ski season, but thus far he’s had no interest, and we don’t have any interest in going there unless he wants to. I think it builds great skiers, but it’s a big time commitment and potentially a lot of time away from the skiing we’d rather be doing.
With this thread sparking our interest, E and I just measured the boys’ heights in anticipation of ski swap season approaching along with the need for Ty to get new skis. As expected in the two-year cycle we’ve seen so far, Ty is ready for new skis. His chin is now at 96.5 cm, which is higher than his 90 cm Dynamics. His nose is now at 104 cm, so I suspect we’ll be checking out 110 cm skis for him. I don’t anticipate he’ll have any trouble with that length based on his abilities, and they may allow another two-year cycle. Dylan’s nose is now at 89 cm, so in theory he should be set to move on to the 90 cm Dynamics. Interestingly, Ty was really sent for a loop when he first went to the 90 cm skis from the 76 cm ones back in 2007. He couldn’t turn them well immediately, and got frustrated. Granted that was back in early November, out on a day of early-season un-groomed snow
, but it will be interesting to see what Dylan does with them when he first starts. Ty quickly got control of those skis after that first outing, so I don’t think Dylan will have too much trouble.
In terms of boots, we’ve generally gone with what is available, which was just a Dalbello CX1 single buckle, rear-entry style boot for the first set of K2s. When we bought the Dynamics, there were a lot more options in that size range, and we were able to get Ty a much more substantial-looking (two-buckle for his size range) boot in the Tecnica RJ series. The Tecnicas certainly seem like a step up in performance from the first pair, in that they can be adjusted more with the multiple buckles and seem a bit stiffer.
I’m excited to see what options are out there for Ty this season in terms of both boots and skis. The bigger he gets, the more options there seem to be. Our first large-scale opportunity to check out gear will be in a couple of weeks (September 4th-7th) when Bolton Valley will be sponsoring a big ski/snowboard sale
. It’s not a swap, but they are supposedly going to have lots of closeouts and kids stuff, so we will certainly check it out because we get an extra discount as season’s pass holders. At some point we may not be able to continue getting two years per child out of each set of skis if they have a growth spurt, but with the way things are going we don’t shy away from getting brand new equipment because we’re getting four years out of it. So if we see something at the upcoming sale that looks like it’s what we want, we’ll probably get it even before going to the swaps. I’ll certainly talk to the reps at the sale about what skis/boots will be good for Ty, but short of their advice tuning me in to other important things to consider, I’ll be getting skis based on the type of skiing that we usually do (soft/chopped/powder snow/side country) and focusing on the following three main criteria:
2) side cut
I wonder at what point (if ever) all the great new ski attributes like rocker/reverse camber/early rise/reverse side cut etc. are going to start making their way into kids skis, because while I wouldn’t get Ty and Dylan powder skiing-based skis for the main one in their quiver, I would definitely consider getting them powder skis with those features as an additional set if they started to become available for kids. I can’t wait to demo some of those features myself and see how they work.
Personally, I’ve generally gone with the higher-end skis for my equipment, since I haven’t wanted to worry about durability or the ski performing as needed, but I find (at least perhaps outside of hard-core racing) that performance is far more about the skier and time on snow than the gear. Adapting to the ski thrown on your feet and taking the time to make it work is often an excellent learning experience of its own that can be better than tons of drills - you are constantly being drilled to make the ski work the way you want it to, so you can’t slack off with regard to technique. With that said, I’m still going to shoot for the most appropriate high-performance gear for the boys, but I just don’t worry about it as much in powder and soft snow because the tolerances are a lot bigger than if they were on the race course.