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Do skis really break down?


thager
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Ski breakdown depends on many factors with the primary ones being exposure to sun (excessive heating) and repeated extreme flexure (heavier short line skiers). If you are light, smooth, and keep your ski out of the sun, it will last longer.

 

Breakdown will show up as a drop in consistency, falling for no apparent reason, or having to pull your guts out to accelerate.

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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Mechanically what happens is the foam core separates from the exterior layers. The flex numbers drop dramatically. It is usually a very gradual process, and may not be felt as you adapt to it. Only when you get on a stiffer ski do you really notice it. If the ski has any water infiltration, or is heated in the sun, you may experience a sudden loss or even a breakage. Personally, I've had one ski go bad after it was left in the sun for a week.
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Here are flex results of my 07 Fischer 68" Yellow done 3 years apart on the same flex tester (by the same tester):

 

Fischer 01, Yellow 68, 3/26/07, new, 82, 113, 133, 153, 3.1, Roger's

Fischer 01, Yellow 68, 3/30/10, used, 80, 111, 131, 152, 3.1, Roger's Fish after 3 years

 

A couple of pounds difference across the board. I actually think it skies better now, but maybe I'm better now...

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I think the edge bevels might actually go before the flex, but that is just a WAG.

 

I have a flex tester now, and will be able to test my skis off and on in the future.

My biggest ski failure was unfortunately my bestest ever ski, 9100 240 AMP, and that was from using a brillo pad to "clean" it up. Smoothed the bevels out. Costly lesson!!!

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@AB Brillo pad on ski? I like you so I am not going to make fun but... I am privately giggling.

 

@disland exactly correct.

 

I think it is safe to assume that ski manufacturing has improved in the last 10 years but skis do break down to some extent. I believe that skis break down less than they did 10 years ago. I do not have any data ... this is just a semi educated guess.

 

Part of the mystery is that they do not seem to be break down at a dependable rate. That is to say you will see one ski that is 5 seasons old that is fresh and one ski that is 2 seasons old that has totally lost it's zing. I have only ever had one ski really go south (Blue and Red Sixam).

 

If I was going to ride one ski at a time like a normal skier, I think 2 seasons would be my limit. I know there are some Fishers and other skis that are way older than that but they are not what most of us ski on.

 

In most cases the ski design is moving forward on a regular basis so if you can you should refresh every few years anyway. I have repeatedly tried to get someone from a factory to write about ski evolution with no success. The bottom line is there are only a hand full of people on earth that really understand ski design and they are learning lessons every day.

 

Generally speaking 2012 skis are better than 2007 skis.

 Goode  KD Skis ★ MasterCraft ★ PerfSki ★ Radar ★ Reflex ★ S Lines ★ Stokes

Drop a dime in the can

 

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Generally speaking, maybe 2012 skis are better but you saw how much my scores changed this year. Perhaps I found that one ski in a million that is good only for me. Don't know, but if it isn't broken why fix it? Most of us will never get into 39' or deeper anyway. Number of people I know have claimed their ski has gone soft. Maybe. Probably just wanted a new ski. Person on that ski now is skiing great on it. I realize construction does matter. RTM appears to be stronger longer but with that said I skied an old school compression molded Mastercraft Pro for ten years into 35'. I'm sure planned obsolescence is built in somewhere by some manufacturers but we'll never know. As far as composite breakdown goes its going to be a real bummer when present day aircraft with mainly composite parts start that process! Enough rambling.
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@Horton, I deserve it. Long ago it was thought that you would clean oils and crud off the bottom of your ski, and a brillo pad was good to not have a smooth surface that created suction with the water.. I would bet that I wasn't the only one to do this, maybe the only one to actually admit. I think I even saw some pros doing it on tv at some point...

They should have said, "don't try this at home"!!

 

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AB, 40 grit is better than scotchbrite.

Skis really can break down - but don't bet on it.

Sometimes coming back to a ski that quit working for you after a good separation time will make it work again. The skier is a bigger factor than a physical change.

Really old fiberglass boats (older than me and Ham!) are still holding together. I'll fly an old composite plane - before an old aluminum plane. And the structural breakdown accident rate for new planes is higher than the old ones. My Cessna is a 1978.

Horton, 2012 skis are lighter than 2007 skis. That's why they work better.

Eric

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I have a 9500 that skis great when I don't weigh so much... I don't know how old it is, but it was rocking 3 seasons ago before I had some injury issues (non skiing related). Still have it in storage waiting for me..

 

 

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I have a 68" 2007 D3 Nomad RC; I have skied it for a total of 4 seasons. It has had a chunk out of the side wall above the bevel from a handle pop that I fixed it with MarineTex (two seasons ago). I am a heavier skier (200 lbs) and sort of heavy on the boat (ski). Flexed the ski in June of 2011; still has the factory flex.
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Old Goodes were light.

When I used urethane cores, the cores would break down. First, the ski would soften. Then the ski would develop cracks and really soften up. Sometimes I could inject resin into the core and repair the skis. But those failures were real.

The PVC cores I now use do not break down much if at all. I still break skis but those falls are hard enough that the skis should break. Kirk's ski is several seasons old (and thousands of flips). Boron rocks!

The surface does age a lot - enough to notice for performance. Edges soften and bottom textures flatten. D3 rubber edge trick skis improved as the edges softened until it got too soft. Hard edges hold up better but they do change.

My trick ski bottoms get repainted and smoothed with 125 grit. I can feel the difference.

I wasn't joking about the 40 grit to AB - I repaint and scratch my slalom ski bottoms with 40 grit. The ski gets nice and sticky in the turn.

Eric

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Salboat racers fine tune their boat bottoms with various grits of sandpaper to prevent the hull from "sticking" to the water and slowing down their boats. I think the original bottom on my 9100 was just black paint that looked wet sanded, and that made a lot of sense to me vs some of the glossy high shine bottoms of other skis. At one time, i thought EP Stiletto had a variable texture bottom to breakup the surface friction, maybe somebody remembers that better than me.

 

Surface texture of a water ski is very improtant in overall speed and tracking. Bevels of course are very important as well.

 

I have wondered if I should rough up the bottom of some of these nice shiny skis that are out there today. It takes a leap of faith to wetsand on a $1K ski though!

 

Sort of like a haircut - you can always take a little more off, but never add it back, and a good ski surface won't grow back!!

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I understand that on a recent Animal Planet show, they showed that an alligator has a textured skin which help it slide through the water. It was compared to a golf ball, which has dimples all over it, and those help it slide though the air. Apparently, those textures are better than smooth.
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