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  1. #1
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    Ski reviews: Qualitative vs Quantitative

    When reading a review for a ski or the description on a manufacturers website, words like ‘poppy’ or ‘playful’ often come up. The opposite of ‘playful’ might be ‘dead’ which has negative connotations. But a ski that feels dead might have been intentionally designed that way to keep it smooth through chatter and crud. These descriptors are so subjective to the each rider. Other characteristics like the dimensions, turning radius, effective edge are all quantitative and unambiguous. If you were given the task of describing every detail of a ski in a quantitative manner how would you do it? How would you measure stiffness or dampness for example in a standardized way that quantitatively captures exactly how the ski feels. Would you rate dampness on a scale or would you be more scientific and use damping coefficients? What other characteristics or measurements would you include?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    Would you rate dampness on a scale or would you be more scientific and use damping coefficients?
    70 IBUs or greater works for me.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using TGR Forums mobile app
    ˇÓrale, vato!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    When reading a review for a ski or the description on a manufacturers website, words like ‘poppy’ or ‘playful’ often come up. The opposite of ‘playful’ might be ‘dead’ which has negative connotations. But a ski that feels dead might have been intentionally designed that way to keep it smooth through chatter and crud. These descriptors are so subjective to the each rider. Other characteristics like the dimensions, turning radius, effective edge are all quantitative and unambiguous. If you were given the task of describing every detail of a ski in a quantitative manner how would you do it? How would you measure stiffness or dampness for example in a standardized way that quantitatively captures exactly how the ski feels. Would you rate dampness on a scale or would you be more scientific and use damping coefficients? What other characteristics or measurements would you include?
    When a "reviewer" says a ski feels dead, you really don't have a clue as to is weight and style.

    This is where tribal knowledge combined with a few trusted reviewers is all we need. Otherwise, we're looking at the equivalent of those websites that start off with "The 10 best xxx", along with sponsored links directing you to a vendor.

    Many numbers are deceptive, and turn radius (in the context of modern ski design) one of those.

    The main column we'd need is color. This would be a numeric "redness" scale, with red getting a "10" because we all know it's the best ;-)

    [edit]@mall walker's comments (below) nail it. We have no meaningful way of conveying ski quality/application with an objective numbering scheme, and numbers mislead, with an impression of "false precision".[/edit]


    ... Thom
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  4. #4
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    So much is context-dependent, especially with respect to the height/weight of the skier. If you're 6'5" 240lbs, a ski that feels like a noodle might be a fucking I-beam to me at 5'10" 145lbs. Not to mention ability, style, where you ski, and so on... I'd rather just get the background info from the reviewer and use that to color my understanding of their review, rather than obfuscate the relevant information by disguising it as objective.

    Now if you had some way to measure the dampness or whatever (a materials science sort of way) that is another story.

  5. #5
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    The only reviews I find useful are when I know that person likes other skis similar to my tastes. More often than not, I've noticed they're usually in the same ballpark in terms of height and weight.

    Also: stiffness is too vague and I like how Blister has really emphasized stiffness / flex in various parts of a ski, not to mention lateral stiffness being an important factor.

    Ski design is as much art as science so reviews are never going to be perfected in any real way. That reminds me of the Soul7 - I remember trying it and thinking, I fucking hate this ski but it's a really good ski for a lot of people.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    The only reviews I find useful are when I know that person likes other skis similar to my tastes.
    That's what's great about tech talk / skiing with mags (or people who ski a shitload), is that you eventually understand what someone's preferences are, and this makes their reviews much more translatable into your own terms. Despite not having met / skied together, I would interpret a review of a ski as "lightweight and softish flexing" from Thom differently than I would from Norseman, for example. The best is people I've skied with, who are similar size to me, and also like similar skis... like if snowaddict91 or Boissal says "you'd like this ski" there's like a 95%+ chance I will like it.

  7. #7
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    I've written hundreds of ski reviews and descriptions, and have yet to use the term "dead." In retail and marketing in particular, the preferred terminology is something like, "smooth and damp at speed" or "quiet and confident on hard snow and chattery terrain" or something to that effect. "Poppy" tends to refer to rebound after compression, but obviously depends in large part on skier weight and style. "Playful" tends to refer to an ability to skid the tails if needed, but can also mean "zero edge hold."

    Words, even in the hands of skilled writers who also ski well, are funny. I suggest a demo if you are in doubt.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregL View Post
    I've written hundreds of ski reviews and descriptions, and have yet to use the term "dead." In retail and marketing in particular, the preferred terminology is something like, "smooth and damp at speed" or "quiet and confident on hard snow and chattery terrain" or something to that effect. "Poppy" tends to refer to rebound after compression, but obviously depends in large part on skier weight and style. "Playful" tends to refer to an ability to skid the tails if needed, but can also mean "zero edge hold."

    Words, even in the hands of skilled writers who also ski well, are funny. I suggest a demo if you are in doubt.
    I definitely used the term “dead” in paid reviews of skis (eg most K2 for several years), I believe i may have snuck it into copy, too, possibly to describe the K2 piste stinx.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bodywhomper View Post
    I definitely used the term “dead” in paid reviews of skis (eg most K2 for several years), I believe i may have snuck it into copy, too, possibly to describe the K2 piste stinx.
    Well played, sir. Usually the cardinal rule in copywriting for marketing or online retail is ALL the skis are good, or at least have some redeeming feature, since your employer already bought them and needs to sell them, or you've already delivered them and your dealers need to sell them. Descriptions like "dead," "gutless," and "unsafe at any speed" are usually stripped out and replaced with something more benign by a manager or editor. My attempts at humor in referring to things like "the burly 130 flex has the same level of support as one of Stormy Daniels' bras" have usually not seen the light of the Internet.

  10. #10
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    Mine didn’t make the internet. Print, “back in the day.” :P

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by galibier_numero_un View Post
    We have no meaningful way of conveying ski quality/application with an objective numbering scheme, and numbers mislead, with an impression of "false precision".[/edit][/COLOR]

    ... Thom
    Quote Originally Posted by mall walker View Post
    Now if you had some way to measure the dampness or whatever (a materials science sort of way) that is another story.
    That’s exactly what I’m trying to get at. The whole point of this thread was to start a discussion about how that could be accomplished, how to scientifically measure these things. There’s got to be a materials scientist on here that could chime in?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    That’s exactly what I’m trying to get at. The whole point of this thread was to start a discussion about how that could be accomplished, how to scientifically measure these things. There’s got to be a materials scientist on here that could chime in?
    The problem is people ski differently and perceptions will vary. Take a tip driver vs a very centered skier and they might completely disagree about a ski’s flex based on a particular part of the build.

  13. #13
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    fuckin engineers

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    The problem is people ski differently and perceptions will vary. Take a tip driver vs a very centered skier and they might completely disagree about a ski’s flex based on a particular part of the build.
    Maybe you need an explanation of what it means to measure something?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregL View Post
    Words, even in the hands of skilled writers who also ski well, are funny.
    That is why we should use numbers instead.
    I guess a lot of people misinterpreted the objective of this thread.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FullStop View Post
    fuckin engineers
    Thanks for the quality input dingus.

  17. #17
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    If we had numbers to describe the perfect ski, then every manufacturer would be building it - an intelligent one at that - one ski for all skiers in all conditions

    Give it 30 years or so ... about the time all of the snow is gone.

    ... Thom
    Galibier Design
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    Maybe you need an explanation of what it means to measure something?
    I get that. I’m saying it won’t mean jack shit.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by galibier_numero_un View Post
    If we had numbers to describe the perfect ski,

    ... Thom
    No no no
    I don’t want to use number to describe the perfect ski. I want to use them to perfectly describe any ski.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    I get that. I’m saying it won’t mean jack shit.
    Oh ok. So flex index of 110 vs 130 when we’re talking about boots means nothing?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    Oh ok. So flex index of 110 vs 130 when we’re talking about boots means nothing?
    Lol... you chose a really poor example!!!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by TahoeJ View Post
    Lol... you chose a really poor example!!!
    Alright how about DIN?

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    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    Oh ok. So flex index of 110 vs 130 when we’re talking about boots means nothing?
    It might if it was standardized across different manufacturers.

  24. #24
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    You can definitely talk about the damping capacity of different materials, but the problem is skis are not one solid material. We have different volumes of multiple materials and composites. This makes it more complicated to determine the overall dampness of a ski. Also skis that use the same materials could still have different damping characteristics determined by the geometry. I'm sure someone smarter than all of us could come up with a decent way to average out all these factors into a number, but I wouldn't count on that number being very objective between skis/skiers. I say demo or borrow and judge for yourself.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    Oh ok. So flex index of 110 vs 130 when we’re talking about boots means nothing?
    Not that much, I have 6 pairs of current 130 boots in my basement and the stiffness, not to mention progressiveness of the flex, varies a lot. What "130" usually means is the boot is the stiffest men's boot in a given model line (consumer boots, not race boots) - "110" is usually the third stiffest.

    Quote Originally Posted by skibumsmith View Post
    Alright how about DIN?
    DIN (or ISO) is a published set of standards, which practically applied (I assume you mean with reference to ski bindings; there are DIN and ISO standards for thousands of things) involves controlled testing to make sure the calibrations on a binding align with established torque metrics (Nm), or are within a certain range when physically tested for release. It doesn't tell you whether a binding skis well, is durable over time (the test does involved dropping the mounted ski from a height of 1 meter but it doesn't specify whether the binding itself hits the ground), or is difficult to put on, etc. Having TÜV certify your binding as having passed ISO 9462 or ISO 13992 doesn't mean it's "good" or that you'll be happy with it, only that it complies with certain standards for consistency of release.

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