Has Dan Wilson found the perfect ISIA / ISTD ski?

Winter is ever nearing and stocks of potential new season ISTD ski are starting to make an appearance online and in stores. The excitement kicks in at the thought of a new pair of skis, but wait a minute…which skis do I want? Which skis do I need?

Has Dan Wilson found the perfect ISIA / ISTD ski?

Choosing is the hard part

Choosing the right ski for you can be a difficult job, especially if you don’t have time to get out and test them, and when training for ISIA and ISTD exams, selecting the correct ski can be vital.

It’s important to choose a ski that firstly you like but more importantly, a ski that will suit all your needs and help make life as easy as possible when it comes to exam time.

ISTD ski

Does the perfect ISTD ski exist?

Now, finding a ski that’s designed for both bumps skiing and long turns is impossible and nobody wants to be taking 4 pairs of skis up a hill for each strand they will be training in so we have to find a middle ground, something that will give us the best performance possible in all the strands we are training / being assessed in.

For a lot of people, skiing bumps on a stiff ski is very difficult and not a very enjoyable experience but a worse experience for me personally is trying to perform high performance long turns on a ski that flaps about more than a dog being held over water. They don’t provide enough grip or control to perform the kind of turns required so I would advise staying away from soft skis.

Does it tick all the boxes?

Stiff skis you say, Race skis then surely? Well yes and no, race skis will definitely give you the performance and grip required for piste performance but can be a real pain in the soft chopped up variables and can be susceptible to snapping in the bumps…I’ve witnessed this twice now. Unless you have grown up racing and use race skis day in day out, I would again suggest staying clear, for now.

So what’s left? Basically, a detuned race ski. Rather than FIS approved world cup skis, look for the toned-down version, for example, the Head world cup rebel iSpeeds. Atomic Redster Doubledeck or my personal favourite, Volkls Race tiger.

ISTD ski

Atomic vs. Volkl

These skis, although not being FIS approved race skis will still be stiff enough to handle long GS turns down a steep icy run but at the same time won’t be too hard to handle in variables and bumps compared to their older beefed up brothers.

Dan’s choice

As I mentioned before, the Volkl Racetiger GS is my personal favourite with a 170cm or 175cm at 18m radius it already sounds ideal for what is required at these levels of skiing. It also sports a tip rocker which may sound slightly odd for a GS based ski but I cannot fault what Volkl have done.

The rocker allows the ski to be rolled onto its edge with ease allowing for early grip in both long and short turns, it also helps lift the ski up, out and over the cut-up variables and in the bumps it helps to get the tips up and over without so much brutality.

It also makes it easy to rotate the skis quicker because of less ski to snow contact at the front of the ski. As skis go, I think it’s the most versatile around and it gives more than enough performance on piste. It’s playful, powerful and perfect for Tech exams.

Written by Dan Wilson a previous member of our Verbier ISTD training team, and now an instructor mentor for Meribel Residential BASI Level 1 & 2 courses.