Ever wondered why it is so hard to get used to a new ski? How can it feel so different, but be the same model as your ski partner's? The answer lies in the setup. It is now becoming more common to utilize the setup of the ski for increased performance. A few years ago, you would have been considered frugal to have calipers and wing angle gauges. Now, it is common to see entire toolboxes devoted to ski setups. At different stages of your skiing you will need to evolve your ski setup. The following is a guide to helping you understand how to best set your ski for optimal performance.
First thing to consider is location of bindings. The general rule of thumb is forward for beginner, center location for intermediate, and back for advanced. For skiers at or below 22 off, bindings forward help with the turn-ability of the ski. For 28 and 32 off, the center holes are usually appropriate. Thirty-five-off and beyond usually requires bindings to be one hole back to assist in the acceleration required to run short-line. Bindings forward equals easier turns, and bindings back equals more acceleration off the buoy.
Tail Measurement: The rule here is fin forward (toward the tip of the ski) equals less ski in the water and fin back (toward the back of the ski) equals more ski in the water. When a skier is gliding flat on the water in their natural stance, the water should be breaking under the front foot's ankle. Moving the fin forward is equivalent to moving the bindings back. When a ski feels too long for a skier, it is recommended that they move their fin forward (possibly in conjunction with bindings forward). This will make the ski feel shorter and easier to operate. The opposite would be the case if the ski felt too small for bigger skiers (fin back/ bindings back).
Length Measurement: Most people view this measurement as the amount of tip pressure at the finish of the turn. This is a very sensitive measurement. Too much length and the ski will overturn at the finish of the turn and not enough will cause the ski to wheelie at the completion. I believe that most people run too much tip in their setup. If the bindings and tail measurement are set correct, then less length is needed. Beginners tend to run more length and advanced skiers tend to run less. If you feel like your ski turns too aggressive on your off side and/or you feel narrow in the course, your fin has too much length. If your ski wheelies on your off side and/or you feel ''loose'' in the course, then you need to increase the length of your fin.
Depth Measurement: This controls the aggression part of your style. Less developed skiers tend to be tentative with their skiing, so they prefer shallower fins. More advanced skiers tend to prefer deeper fins. This is opposite to what most skiers would initially think. In the past, the advanced skiers ran shallower fins and beginners ran deeper ones. Here is why the statement was made. Your fin depth is like your keel. The deeper your fin, the more angle your ski can hold through the wakes. A shallow fin carries less angle cross-course but makes quicker/easier turns. A beginner tends to ski more at the buoys, so they would require a shallow fin for quick (possibly desperate!) turns. If you have ever seen a pro's ski, they generate much more angle cross-course so they arrive to the next buoy much earlier and faster. This requires a deeper fin because the skier will have more time to turn. If your ski slides out at the completion of the turn, go deeper with the fin. If your ski feels like a slug or is very hard to turn, then go shallower.
Wing: There is only one thing to remember about wings: the farther forward the fin, the more angle required on the wing. If you run your fin back, try a little less wing angle. Most skiers should run between 7 and 10 degrees of wing.
What should I do first when setting up my ski … bindings or fin?
1) Binding location should be set first. Evaluate what level skier you are and make a decision on the placement of the bindings. Remember … it doesn't make you uncool to run your bindings forward!
2) Tail measurement will be next. If you moved your bindings, you should move your fin in the same direction. In general, I would recommend that if you move the bindings one hole (one-quarter inch), then move the fin in the same direction about a tenth of an inch.
3) Next, set the length or tip pressure. Take into consideration that little movements can make MAJOR changes to the feel of the ski. The ski should feel symmetrical in the turns when the length measurement is right. If you move your fin forward you will need to decrease your length, and if you move it back you will have to increase length. This tidbit can be very useful to remember.
4) Now, set the depth according to your ability level and preference.
5) Last, set the wing. If your bindings are forward, run 9 to 11 degrees of angle. If your bindings are centered, run 8 to 9 degrees, and if they are back, run the wing 7 and 8 degrees.
After completing this crash course, you should now experiment and fine-tune. There is also help available to those looking to further understand these concepts.
For private instruction with Chris Rossi, call 407-568-1900 or 407-616-3031 or e-mail him at Chris@goode.com. Chris is sponsored by Goode Skis, Infinity Boats, Performance Ski and Surf and Carrera.