One of the biggest misconceptions we get here at Folsom Custom Skis is that custom skis are intended to only benefit advanced or expert level skiers. Beginner and intermediate level skiers often think that their skiing abilities may not be good enough to deserve custom skis, or that custom skis will make it difficult for them to progress on snow and become better skiers. The fact of the matter is that this couldn’t be further from the truth, and being on the right skis from the start is just as (if not more) important as being on the right skis as an advanced or expert level skier.
Retail stores and rental shops are frequently where the problem starts. Customers walking into these locations are often judged solely based on their ability level at that moment, rather than their athletic background or desire to improve at skiing. If you say that you’re a beginner level skier, many shops will size you on a ski choice that is safe and conservative. The ski will feel comfortable to begin with, and the first run or two is likely to be very manageable.
These skis are often times very short (130-150cm) and narrow (60-80mm), and lack substantial materials in their construction. They rarely have wood cores, sidewalls, or fully wrapped edges. While these skis may be intuitive for a half day, many people will “grow out of” those skis quickly, progressing to a point that the skis are no longer appropriate for their skill level. This can happen in as quickly as a few runs, or over a the course of a few ski days. Even worse, is that in some cases, low quality skis can actually interfere with your progression and comfort on snow, preventing your skill level to advance at a pace you’re comfortable with.
We’ll preface this answer by saying that (some) shops are doing a better job at fitting customers for the right skis than they were 5 years ago. Longer and wider skis are being used more frequently than in years past, but they still rarely include high quality construction, which can be a major factor in your skiing’s progression.
Probably the biggest factor in beginner level skis’ construction is the addition of a wood core, rather than a foam core which many rental skis have. Wood cores will make for a much more responsive feeling in the skis, and can still be very forgiving when manufactured the right way. Additional factors such as UHMW sidewalls and full 360° edge wraps around the bases of your skis will make for skis that are much stronger, and will last years longer than a mass manufactured beginner ski. There’s nothing more deflating as a beginner level skier than buying a pair of skis that falls apart.
We believe here at Folsom that being on the right product from the get-go is essential to success on now, and we have a few shapes and construction types that lend themselves to this philosophy…
Folsom Beginner Shapes
We mentioned earlier that shops often put beginner level skiers on narrow skis. At Folsom we follow this logic to some extent, but believe wholeheartedly that 70-80mm underfoot skis are only practical for a small percentage of regular ski conditions. At 88mm underfoot, and available in a whopping 150-194cm length span is the Spar 88, our best selling ski to date. The Spar 88 is fantastically strong on hardpack for entry level skiers, and it can bridge the gap to softer snow for those that have less experience skiing powder.
When the snow gets a little deeper on a more regular basis, our Completo is a competent mid-width ski that is still friendly and accommodating thanks to heavy taper in both the tips and tails. This “5-point” design makes it easy to initiate turns and track through mixed snow conditions on powder days, and days following a storm as well (check out our “Ski Lingo Dictionary” blog to learn about taper, 5-point design, and ski geometries).
In terms of powder skis, the Gambit 113, Trophy, and Gold Digger are Folsom shapes that again incorporate tapered tips and tails into wider geometries. While the wide skis will weigh more inherently due to their dimensions, they can be a joy to ski for beginner skiers in the right conditions (i.e. deep pow!).
Folsom Beginner Constructions
As important as the shape, is the construction of beginner skis. It is essential that the skis incorporate quality materials that don’t decay quickly or fall apart, but not be too strong or overpowering of a ski build that the customer does not feel comfortable on their setup.
Through over a decade of custom ski building experience, we’ve found that our core blend of Poplar & Bamboo works phenomenally well for a multitude of beginner and intermediate level skiers. It is light and lively, and will support entry level skiers as they become comfortable in different types of conditions.
For those that are a little more weight sensitive to their skis, our Aspen & Bamboo core is a lighter option that sacrifices very little in terms of performance for the weight saved. When paired with our 70 / 30 Glass Carbon composite laminate, the result is a lightweight resort ski that could easily double as (or be converted into) a touring ski down the road.
The bottom line here is that there are many instances when retail stores and rental shops can take a backwards approach to ski fitting. Rather than a ski that can be progressed into, customers are put on skis that frequently inhibit their ability to progress. While this isn’t always the case, we like to think that at Folsom we fit our customers onto skis that may not feel perfect on the first run, but will prove to be a much better fitting product in the long run. As always, we are here to chat skis at any time, and look forward to hearing from you.