Some of you may be saying: “Wait, didn’t I already read this blog?” Well yes, sort of. A few seasons ago we released a blog on this very same topic, but we felt it was important to revisit this question with the way skis have changed over the last couple years.
As we discussed in Part 1, for the average skier, the materials and construction of a pair of skis will typically hold up for somewhere between 100-125 days on the slopes. After this point, the core of the ski will start to lose its natural integrity and energy – and no one wants their skis to feel lifeless underneath their feet. Aggressive skiers often will find their skis have an even shorter lifespan, and they are also more likely to blow out the skis’ edges on rocks or rails.
While the average lifespan of skis is fairly unchanged in the last 5 years, the most current skis come with new technology that has drastically affected their ability, meaning you can get more out of them over the course of their life. This blog will take you through how quickly ski tech changes and why it is often beneficial to update your set to something more technologically advanced, even if you’re old skis are still usable.
What is the Life Cycle of Ski Technology?
Ski manufacturers are always pushing the envelope on ways to make their products better, and in this day and age, the honest answer is that there are no poor performing skis. As long as you find a ski that is designed to ride the terrain that you want to ski and designed for your skill level, there are at least 4-5 options that will be perfect for you.
But every 5 years or so there comes along a new technology that quite considerably improves the ability of skis. First it was the shaped skis, then it moved to fat skis, next it became the addition of rocker and lately it has become the trend of making them lighter without losing any power. Skis produced within this 5-year threshold are still using modern shapes and technology and are perfectly fine for even the strongest of skiers. Once your skis get to the 5-10-year-old age they are still considered modern, but you may not be getting the most of their performance or could be forced to work harder than you should to get the same level of performance out of them.
Ski industry statistics show that, on average, skiers replace their equipment every 8 years or so. So, if you are one of those skiers who is out there on 8-year-old equipment, you can rest assured that you’re not out of the ordinary, but you do have to realize you’re on the downside of your skis lifespan. If you are one of those skiers who is out there on rear entry boots and straight skis (yes, that stuff is still finding its way to the mountains), it’s time to improve both your skiing performance and enjoyment on the hill by replacing your gear.
Skis Have Never Been Lighter
So, in what ways can newer skis help improve your performance? The biggest trend of late that has been coming out of the factories is the production of skis that are lighter and stronger than ever before while also being easier to ski. Every major manufacturer in recent seasons has developed new techniques to reduce weight while increasing performance. Rossignol has developed their Carbon Alloy Matrix, Atomic uses a Carbon Tank Mesh and Head uses Graphene.
Simply put, lighter skis are less fatiguing to ski, and by exerting less energy to make your ski react when and how it should, you will be spending more time on the slopes and extend out your ski days even longer. This is important because it’s helping you get more money out of those ever-increasing lift ticket prices. If you’re plunking down the big bucks for an expensive lift ticket but find yourself getting exhausted and calling it a day early, a lighter pair of skis could help you ski longer and with less fatigue, making the most of your valuable ski time.
Skis Have Never Been More Versatile
One of the most popular categories of skis for men is All-Mountain Wide Skis, and for women it is the All-Mountain category. For years when selling skis, I would have to say the wider that ski is underfoot, the slower it is edge to edge. The fact of the matter now though is that it just isn’t true anymore. Skis like the Nordica Enforcer 100 have really rewritten the book on versatility. As far back as 5 years ago this style and size of ski would have a somewhat sluggish feeling when the snow was less than ideal, relegating you to spending your days contained to the groomers. New shapes have tightened up the turning radius and perfected rocker profiles that allow them to carve easily on the frontside and charge through powder when you get a dump. The popularity of both styles of skis allows the skier to have the true, but often overused, term the One-Ski-Quiver.
Should You Get a New Pair of Skis?
When deciding whether you should replace your pair of skis with something newer, there are two questions that you should ask yourself:
1. How much performance has my current pair lost since their original purchase?
2. How much extra performance would a new pair give me?
There is no one answer for when you should replace your skis, but if you notice that your skis are becoming more and more cumbersome to ski on, a new pair could be just the jolt your skiing needs. On top of getting rid of those tiresome old skis, you’ll also get to experience the latest in ski technology and take your skiing to the next level.
Want to hear more about some of the latest and greatest skis on the market? Head over to our On-Snow Video Reviews page for the lowdown on the newest models from all the best brands, including Head, Rossignol, Blizzard and more!