Replacing skis has nothing to do with the graphics, although early 2000s graphics on a ski in 2014 doesn’t look too good, but what matters is what’s happening underneath the topsheet over time. The abuse from the mountain conditions, skiing style and technology changes over time can greatly hinder the performance of skis.
Regular maintenance will keep your skis intact, but eventually the wear-and-tear of use will prevent you from improving. While you can technically ski on a pair of skis forever, you really shouldn’t.
So now the all-important question: How long does a pair of skis last?
There are many layers to the question. First off, if you’re skiing on a ski that is 10 years old, you’re missing out on amazing benefits and technological advancements to skiing.
Some of the materials used in the newest skis help the ski remain lightweight (reduces fatigue), have varying base shapes to hone in on what you like doing (park skiing vs. groomers vs. backcountry) and even the size of the skis. For instance, with the addition of vibration dampening technology, you’ll have a smoother ride over the bumps and crud which tire you out more quickly.
The newer designs of skis afford you the opportunity to have shorter skis than ones that you were probably outfitted for only a few years ago. On top of length, you also have width. Powder skis which help you float in the deep stuff start at 111mm and can go as high as 123mm; sizes unheard of just a few years ago but greatly beneficial for powder skiers.
Modern construction and technology allow these wider skis to remain torsionally (edge to edge) stiff so they have tremendous edge hold even on this wider platform. This means these skis are awesome on hardpacked while still offering great performance off trail.
A Rocker Profile is now incorporated in some way in every ski from race to powder and this shape vastly improves the way you ski giving you greater precision and forgiveness.
Check out a video about Rocker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzL7RrXU_pA
Now what if you ski just a couple times a year? Well, you can really get a good 80-100 ski days out of a ski before it starts to lose its luster. This is a good guideline but it’s still a rough estimate because it depends on your weight, your ski style, the construction of the skis themselves and maintenance.
Just like every other piece of equipment in life (except maybe a Twinkie), the materials in skis have a shelf life and they do begin to break down. On day number 80 of skiing, the materials won’t react or have the same feeling as days 1-10. The wood inside will lose its snap, fiberglass will break down and lose rigidity, edge hold will suffer, etc.
Overall, the reason to consider a new pair of skis is recognizing how technology and design has changed over the years as well as realizing how much strain and stress is placed on skis as they are used. Each year ski companies roll out new technologies that improve how we go about skiing. Dampening systems decrease the wear-and-tear on skis as well as our bodies, rockers are created to make skiing in a variety of conditions more natural and various woods and metals are used
inside to make specific skis ideal for varying skiers.
Skis can last a very long time but they’re only really so good up to a certain point. By upgrading your skis though, you will find that you will enjoy the sport much better and your skiing will improve with the new technology and designs.