A question came up recently from a Blister member, John, in the Comments Section of our review of the J Skis Masterblaster, and we thought it was worth highlighting. We also thought that some of you might want to offer your own two cents.
And just a bit more context here (though you can read the whole exchange below the Masterblaster review): John was asking me about edge hold on ice — which is something that a whole lot of skiers care a whole lot about. We were talking about the edge hold on ice of the Liberty Origin 96 (a very good ski) vs. the Nordica Enforcer 93 and the J Skis Masterblaster.
Regarding the Origin 96’s edge hold on ice, I wrote this: “The Origin 96 is a heavily tip and tail rockered ski, with a relatively short running length. That is not the profile that is going to excel on ice, but on anything relatively soft, its edge hold is excellent.”
“Regarding edge hold, I know the whole industry is currently using the “running length” argument as a basis for edge hold, but that doesn’t make complete sense to me. I’ve skied super short slalom skis with short effective edges that held like ice skates (ice skates themselves have very short running length) and super soft stainless caped skis that also had bombproof edge hold (Volant 15 years ago – don’t know about them today).
I suspect the key is torsional rigidity and wonder if manufacturers are relaxing torsional rigidity to improve looser, more playful, more forgiving characteristics. So, when the [blister review of the Liberty Origin 96] referred to the Origin 96 as being comparable to the Nordica Enforcer 93 in edge hold, which is rated fairly highly in this area (e.g., your experience with the ski on Stauffenberg), and with J Skis (like so many other manufacturers these days) stating the Masterblaster has race-ski carving performance, it lead me to think the stiffness underfoot of the Origin 96 may indicate acceptable hard snow edge hold. I believe the Enforcer 93 could be sufficient for my needs and look forward to the Deep Dive AB with the Masterblaster.”
Lots of good thoughts and questions in there, John.
And regarding running length — note that in my comments about the Origin 96, I don’t merely mention the ski’s “relatively short running length,” I say that it is “heavily tip and tail rockered” too. And I think that’s pretty key. On a non-rockered slalom ski or ice skate, you’re right — the total running length / effective length is very short. Let’s make up some fake numbers here, and imagine that the running length of a slalom ski is 140 cm. It’s pretty easy to imagine that the running length on the Liberty Origin 96 (say, in a 182 cm or 176 cm Origin 96) is also around 140 cm.
But the big difference is the significant amount of tip and tail rocker on the Origin 96 — whether you are skiing relatively steep, sheer ice on-piste, or chunky, nasty ice off-piste, it is very easy on a heavily tip and / or tail rockered ski to get too far forward or too far back on the ski, so that you are over-pressuring those rockered tips or rockered tails. And if / when you do overpressure those tips or tails, the ski will want to wash out — slide out — from under you, in a way that will be less true of a non-rockered slalom ski or ice skate. The full length of the slalom ski and ice skate are in contact with the ice, and maintain contact with the ice.
But of course, there are other relevant factors here, too:
The Origin 96 is a relatively light ski — much lighter than the Masterblaster, and still noticeably lighter than the Nordica Enforcer 93. And when trying to gain purchase / grip on ice, weight is your friend. This is one of the reasons why race skis are so damn heavy — you want to keep that ski planted and connected to the firm snow.
Metal / Titanal
The more you care about edge hold, the more weight is your friend. And adding layers of a damping material like titanal will also help the ski stay connected to the snow.
So to me, the weight of a ski (heavier is better) and the materials of a ski (titanal vs non-titanal) will likely be greater factors — alongside how rockered / non-rockered a ski is — than the torsional rigidity of a ski.
If weight + rocker profile + materials are all equal, then yes, I think you’d be right, John — the more torsionally rigid ski may well perform better on ice. But in the specific case of the three skis we are discussing: the Liberty Origin 96, Nordica Enforcer 93, and J Skis Masterblaster, I think the weight and material differences are bigger factors than the respective differences in torsional rigidity of the skis.
And to be clear …
I offer this not as the final answer on this, but as food for thought. Look forward to seeing what you, John, and other readers think…