If you’ve read through some of the Comments Sections of our reviews, you’ll have noticed that we get quite a few good questions and comments from our readers.
And we often find that a reader has brought to light an interesting point about the piece we’ve tested, or has raised a broader question that’s worth considering and discussing.
But some of these comments and questions can get buried deep down in a particular thread, so we’ve created this series to feature some of the conversations that are taking place around Blister.
This week, we’ll highlight a question about a ski’s “quickness” that appeared in the Comments Section of our review of the Atomic Vantage Theory:
“You talk about how quick the ski is from edge to edge, and imply that a narrower ski will be quicker edge to edge then a wider ski. I thought this made perfect sense, but no matter how wide or narrow a ski is, as soon as you angulate your leg/foot, the ski will respond, more or less, instantaneously to correspond with this angulation. But the wider the ski is, the more work you need to do to make the movement. But this is a function not of width per se, but of weight. So, all things being equal, a wider ski will be slower edge to edge, but if my reasoning is correct, a lighter ski, even if wider, should be quicker edge to edge. In your opinion, does experience bear this out?”
Will Brown’s Reply:
Good question, Eric.
The short answer is: Sometimes, but it depends.
The much longer answer is:
I think you’re right that the width of a ski doesn’t change the physics of how one of its edges is engaged. In terms of the angle of your leg and the amount of movement involved, I don’t believe there is a difference between setting a 115mm-underfoot ski on edge at 30 degrees vs. setting a 85mm-underfoot ski. So in that sense, I suppose me talking about “quickness” and how fast a ski is edge to edge isn’t technically accurate. I think you’re right that it is more a matter of the amount of effort required to put a ski on edge. Requiring less effort translates to the ski feeling “quicker” – the ski is easier to put on edge more quickly.
In any case, your comment got me thinking about why that is, and what the most significant factors are—weight vs. width, etc. I’m not so sure that how quick a ski feels isn’t a function of width, at least in part, and I’m not sure it’s only a function of a ski’s weight, either, but you’re right in that weight definitely plays a role.
Tipping a 115mm-underfoot ski on edge to 30 degrees (or from one edge to the other) seems to take more effort / leverage than it does on a 85mm-underfoot ski. Why? I’m no engineer, but it would seem to have something to do with the distance between the center of your boot sole to the edge of the ski. If you put a candle on a holder with a very narrow base, it will take less force to tip it over than if you put that same candle on a holder with a very wide base. (All you scientifically-inclined readers out there, please feel free to chime in with a better, more sophisticated explanation, as I’m sure there is one.)
So I don’t think we can rule out width, but you’re right in mentioning weight because (in keeping with my weird candle analogy) the weight of the base of the candle does affect how easy it is to topple the candle. So at what point does the weight of the base play more of a role in keeping the candle upright than the width of the base? What’s going to feel quicker – a narrower, heavy ski, or a wider, lighter ski?
At 124mm-underfoot the 188cm Line Magnum Opus is going to feel quicker than the 108mm-wide 188cm Armada Invictus, in part because the Opus is lighter (+1 for weight). Would a very heavy, 68mm-wide slalom ski with a race system binding on it feel quicker than, say, the 110mm-wide Volkl V-Werks Katana? Probably (+1 for width).
So lighter (but wider) can be quicker, but it’s not always the case. Weight and width are only two of many more variables in ski design. Sidecut, effective edge, length, flex, swing weight (how the weight is distributed on the ski, which is different from a ski’s overall weight), not to mention snow conditions, all play a role in how quickly and easily you’re able to get a ski from one turn to the next, or how hard it is to do so.
That’s why we really do try to communicate the particulars of a ski, keeping in mind all of these factors. But, clearly, even then, we’re still liable to misspeak now and again. In any case, thanks for prompting this little thought experiment, and helping me stay on point. :)