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Can the Max RoxkerBlock (R-60) Make a Big D3 Handle Like a Smaller Ski?


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  • Baller

Traditional thinking suggests that a bigger ski is faster and more efficient but harder to turn so you should use the biggest ski you can still turn well on. With D3’s introduction of interchangeable RockerBlocks, can we now get a bigger ski to turn better? I spent the past week exploring this possibility.


I weigh 165 lbs. and normally ski on a 66" ski. This week I used a 67" D3 Quest. I started with the stock block (R-30) and factory settings. It skied as expected; it felt big but it also felt precise and acceleration came easy. It even turned well, but the turns clearly felt ponderous compared to my Nano OneXT.


I then bolted on the maximum rocker R-60 RockerBlock with the same factory fin settings. The only difference I could identify was that the circumference of the turns tightened up a bit, quite a bit actually, but it still wasn't as "quick" turning as the stock 66” Helix I’d been riding or my XT. It was encouraging, however, that it was nowhere near “loose” at the tail. The R-60 had made the 66” Helix too loose for me, making it prone to spinning out. On the bigger Quest, the R-60 just let it carve a tighter radius.


I then decided to try fin changes to see if I could get the big ski to react more like a smaller ski. I reduced the fin depth until the tail got a bit loose at the finish of the turn. Essentially, I could get it to turn as sharp as I wanted, but the ski still felt kind of big. Plus, the easier smearing tail made possible by the shallow fin came at the cost of a little less space before the ball.


So I played with moving the fin forward and the bindings back which puts less of the ski in the water. This made the ski feel a little shorter; then it occurred to me, what’s the point of reducing the ski’s wetted area; just use a smaller ski so it can operatate within its designed performance envelope. To get the benefits of a larger ski’s increased surface area, you have to use the whole ski as it’s designed to be used; so I went back to the stock distance from tail and my original binding placement.


This gave me a ski that turned impressively then bolted across the lake, but it would crush me if I wasn’t in perfect position at the end of the turn and moving efficiently into the cut. And from that came a eureka moment: yes, you can make a big ski turn, but are you good enough to handle all that surface area when it hooks up?


Effectively shortening the ski by moving the bindings back and the fin forward is like putting skinny tires on a Ferrari; what’s the point. If your technique is good enough and if your first name is Nate, you can ski on a big ski that replaces drift with precise, low-energy-loss handling, complete with extra acceleration. But if you can’t be consistent on it, you’ll probably get further down the rope on a smaller ski because it will be more forgiving. I was able to get the big ski to handle how I wanted, but found it similar to skiing in really cold water; I had to be strong and precise—at all times.


My take-away from all of this is that a big ski can be made to carve a tighter turn with a RockerBlock and smear more with a little fin work. But the end result is still different than using a smaller ski. A smaller ski is a bit softer, lighter, rides deeper, and is easier to control. It flexes more and yields a tighter carved radius which fortunately for me, requires a little less talent. But for an efficient and consistent skier, skilled in the art of hard acceleration without overloading the rope, there’s likely an advantage to be gained by supersizing your D3 with an R-60 RockerBlock. Only you can decide this one.



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  • Baller

I'm leaning towards the Helix @Skibrain. The XT is a fabulous, hard turning, forgiving ski, and I can see why it's done so well, especially for strong shortliners. But both of the D3's get me the same results (into 38 in practice) with less work.


The XT, with its wide body, narrow tail, bindings-back design can pivot hard at the ball—which is really handy sometimes—but I'm working on carrying as much speed through the turn as I can, and D3's design with a wider tail, bindings more forward (longer tail), and less wing, helps me carve-with-speed rather than pivot-and-go. The D3's more generous tail area also helps me stay on the front of the ski. Most of my fails on the XT involve accidentally getting onto its less supportive tail and getting stuck there.


The Helix, with its narrower bevels, is designed to be the faster than the Quest, but I was a little surprised to find the 66" Helix even faster than the 67" Quest. The Helix carries its speed longer in the pull-out and shoots off the ball more easily than the bigger Quest. The Helix is remarkably forgiving too, especially for how quick it is. A 66" Quest would likely be the most consistent ski for me, but I find the Helix to be still forgiving enough, and I'm just so enamored with how it accelerates that I think I want to work with that.

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