Quiver Arrow Review – Volkl VTA88 LITE Tour Ski 2016-2017


Post by WildSnow.com blogger | March 7, 2016      

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“They have to be joking.” That’s the first thought that ran though my mind, about half way through my first turn on Volkl’s latest iteration of their highly engineered Volkl VTA88 LITE touring ski (2016-2017 version). The joke is on me, and it’s on you if you have ever doubted a “one kilo class” touring ski could be made, that, well, skis with dexterity and lubricity beyond a chunk of spring steel.

Volkl VTA88 LITE, 2016-2017 version.

Volkl VTA88 LITE, 2016-2017 version.

In fashion typical of what my cultural biases tell me is a good “German” ski, the VTA88 provides substantial torsional rigidity and snap, in combination with modern sidecut, plentiful tip rocker, and no tail rocker. Tilt and carve? They hook up. Get a little chatter in the midst of a higher speed turn? Just rock back a smidge on the supportive tails and embrace your zen. In the pulver, yeah, this is not 100 millimeters but is indeed one of the better “90 mm” planks I’ve been on in the soft stuff.

I know what you’ll ask next: “Lou, when I flex that out in the shop it seems like a carbon squirrely chatterbox, is there any mellow in the equation?” I’m here to tell you that for whatever reason, probably a cosmic cypher secreted in the triple padlocked development department at Volkl, this is not any more a “nervous” ski than a variety of much heavier planks I’ve been on over the years. In fact, perhaps those German engineers chopped up some recycled silk lingerie and mixed it into the core material, that’s how “satin” this lightweight skis. Don’t get me wrong, these are not full-on damped alpine skis, but prepare to be impressed by the weight/performance ratio.

Main point, I had fun skiing these in all but crust conditions where a much wider ski would have been a pool toy for my hesitant technique. If you get on some VTA88s, you’ll have fun too. They go uphill like crazy.

Note the Volkl VTA88 has the interesting Volkl binding mount “H” pattern, only narrowed down enough to accommodate a classic tech binding screw layout (also works with wider layouts such as ION or Dynafit Radical, and of course Marker Kingpin if you feel the need for beef.) I mounted these with a customized Dynafit TLT titanium toe unit and a rebuilt heel I had laying around, for a less than average weight binding setup that pairs nicely with the VTA’s feather mass. An even lighter binding would also make sense. Even a race binding.

This 2016-17 version of the VTA88 appears to have identical geometry to last season’s version. Visual difference is a slight change in graphics. The Ice.Off top sheet can’t hurt, but I didn’t find any remarkable difference in icing between this and a shiny plastic topsheet — though I feel we did notice somewhat of a beneficial effect (every bit helps). Most importantly, I thought these skied better than my testers last season. Problem is my previous pair were a step shorter, and with the VTA88’s plentiful tip rocker you do need adequate length for adequate performance. I liked those diminutive 1,000 gram wonders I skied last year in Norway, but I have to admit these 180s feel much more like a “real” ski on the down.

Classic Dynafit binding toe screw hole pattern fits in the zone, outlined with silver Sharpie.

Classic Dynafit binding toe screw hole pattern fits in the zone, outlined with silver Sharpie.

Heel ok as well.

Heel ok as well. Provided these minimalist mount plates are nicely designed they’re a clever way to save a few grams and help the ski flex. Also not that Volkl sells a pre-cut mohair Coltex climbing skin for the VTA, with a radical trim at tip and tail. Quite lightweight. I’ll cover those more in another blog post.

Proof, at least for the moment, white Volkl topskin with Ice.Off surface works better than a black ski.  Different conditions? Who knows?

Proof, at least for the moment, white Volkl topskin with Ice.Off surface works better than a black ski. Different conditions? Who knows?

Length: 180 cm

Weight: 1,133 grams per ski.

Sidecut: 127/88/106 = 39 mm sidecut

Binding offset: <>230 mm (We are beginning to include this, tells you how much ski tail is behind your foot for an idea of how the tails drop in powder and how the tails will do during a kick turn, measurement obtained by setting skis side-by-side and reversing one, then measuring difference between boot mount marks.)

Flex: Medium (in range of “soft, medium, stiff”)

See our review of 2015-2016 version VTA88.

Shop for Volkl Skis.



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Comments

80 Responses to “Quiver Arrow Review – Volkl VTA88 LITE Tour Ski 2016-2017”

  1. Rick March 7th, 2016 12:00 pm

    YAY ! A real world length !
    Lou, when you did the 1st review of this ski I noticed there wasn’t much in the way of how it handled the descent, it turned out to be more about the Marker Kingpin and the tour/trip itself.

    But you at 5′ 11″ on an ultralight 170cm ski I just couldn’t imagine that being too confident inspiring on the descent.
    Myself at 5′ 8″, I’m quite positive I wouldn’t go with this ski at less than 180cm.

    Very nice to see the H pattern with this model allows most all tech bindings too.

  2. Erik Erikson March 7th, 2016 12:02 pm

    I don´t quite understand the “binding offset”-term: Only 230 mm of ski left behind your foot? That can´t be right, can it?! Could you please explain the term once more?

  3. Christopher S March 7th, 2016 2:22 pm

    “measurement obtained by setting skis side-by-side and reversing one, then measuring difference between boot mount marks”

  4. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2016 5:02 pm

    Offset basically tells you how much tail is behind your boot, in comparison to another ski of the same length. It’s interesting, and has several applications. To be clear, you set the skis next to each other, tip and tail reserved, and measure the distance BETWEEN the boot/binding mount marks. That gives you an “offset” for the boot position. It doesn’t have much meaning until compared to other skis. We intend to begin doing that. Lou

  5. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2016 5:57 pm

    More testing of these today, along with Lisa being on a BMT 94. We think we did notice the Ice.Off topskin having a beneficial effect. Friend’s skis had more snow stuck, but then, his were dark colored so the comparison could be meaningless. We’ll do more testing over coming days. Lou

  6. Jim Milstein March 7th, 2016 6:14 pm

    Talk of lubricity got my attention, Lou, until I looked it up and found a second meaning. I should have remembered this is a family-friendly web site. Oh, well.

  7. Lou Dawson 2 March 7th, 2016 8:15 pm

    Jim, here’s to vocabulary. Didn’t Hunter Thompson say something like that (grin)?

  8. Bruno Schull March 8th, 2016 2:58 am

    I really like the recent discussion about binding offset, and the earlier discussion about boot position, ski center, sidecut center, and so on. I don’t know much about it all, but I wish I understand all of the inter-related variables better.

    Is my reasoning generally right:

    –On most modern skis with tip and tail rise, the recommended mount position will be somewhat behind the actual ski center, as well as the sidecut center.

    –Many people have good results mounting bindings a little behind the recommended position.

    –Mounting the bindings somewhat behind gives you more offset, and places less of the ski behind your feet.

    –Less of the ski behind your feet means that in powder the tails will sink more and the tips will raise more, which is advantageous. I guess there must be a balance: too little ski behind your feet wouldn’t offer enough support when your lean or fall back.

    –Less of the ski behind your feet also means it’s a little easier to make uphill turns when climbing.

    What would you recommend for somebody like me who constantly feels like I’m leaning too far back? I know I’m supposed to ski with my weight pressing into the front of the boot, but I often find myself struggling to maintain that position, and skiing with my legs pressing into the back of the boot, especially in powder, or on rough terrain.

    I know it’s really a technique question–I have to learn how to ski better. (That’s a another question, besides just practicing on my own, how can I actually learn how to ski better? Books? Videos? Coaches? Guides? Exercises?)

    Would moving the binding mount back or forward help me feel more centered over my skis?

    I can see it working both ways. On one hand, if I moved the binding back, I might be able to move the boots under the position my body naturally adopts when I ski. On the other hand, if I moved the binding forward, it might help me achieve a more forward position?

    In terms of what I want to do, I just want to be able to ski competently and safely in a variety of conditions, on and off piste. No super high speeds, jumps or tricks.

    Advice appreciated, both about binding mount, and improving technique.

    Thanks,

    Bruno

  9. Joel March 8th, 2016 4:01 am

    Thanks for the offset measure.
    I thought for a while that it could be a useful measure, especially for skiing steep slopes, but i never saw it.

    Thanks for the blog.

    Joel

  10. Erik Erikson March 8th, 2016 5:22 am

    @ Christopher and Lou: Thanks for the explanation concerning binding offset!

  11. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 5:48 am

    Hi Bruno, I wish I could help you with a magic bullet gear change or mod, but instead I would offer that to some extent you are over-thinking this stuff. Things like changing binding mount position on the ski are more for fine tuning how a ski skis, rather than curing macro problems. In my opinion anyhow.

    On the other hand, yet, there is the boot and how the boot cuff interacts with your style of skiing, size of your leg bones, binding ramp, etc… that’s where you can indeed get things tuned up and sometimes make a pretty big difference in how you feel on the skis.

    While I’m not sure a lengthy discussion would get us very far, I could perhaps offer a few tips about this problem of feeling like you are “leaning back.” To do that we need information about your situation. Firstly, I’d ask what boot and what binding, how many days a winter you ski, how many years you have been skiing, and your age. Next, I’d ask if you ski different setups, and which setup you like the best. I’d also ask if you are finding you voluntarily “lean back” to make things happen, or do you feel like you are being forced to “lean back?”

    Lou

  12. Frame March 8th, 2016 6:15 am

    Bruno, I subscribe to Lou’s view that there is no magic bullet and it’s going to vary from one person to another, however the thing that has made a real difference to my many years of leaning back (mates telling me to stop skiing like I’m on the toilet seat), is to lift my toes. I’ve tried lots of little mantra’s (hands holding a case of beer, press shins into front of boot), but that is what has made the difference for me. Learnt from a coaching week in the alps – I stumped up some cash to learn to ski, rather then hoping mates/gear would fix it (comment personal to me). It probably helped I was in touring boots that had been moulded for some room at the toe, so I could physically get those things off the sole of the boot.

  13. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 6:15 am

    You’re welcome Erik. It’s not any sort of big “standard” so we have to define our own , ours will use the factory binding mount marks for the measurement. I’ll play around with it a bit more and if necessary change how we’re doing it. For example, it might be better to express it after dividing the measurement by 2. I don’t know… main thing is to be able to get a sense of how much ski you’ve got in front of you and behind you, in comparison to other skis. Not a huge deal, but such an easy measurement to do, I thought, why not?

  14. torquil March 8th, 2016 6:36 am

    Is the binding offset not just the same as the usual measurement of how far back the boot mark is from centre, only doubled? Perhaps I’m missing something, it wouldn’t be the first time.

  15. torquil March 8th, 2016 6:41 am

    Sorry, I just saw your comment above… i’d say how far the boot centre mark is back from true centre is a simpler measurement to grasp – but its definitely useful to know either way.

  16. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 7:22 am

    Torquil, indeed, perhaps I’m describing this the wrong way. Reversing the skis next to each other then measuring the distance between the mount marks is just a simple quick way of finding how far those marks are from center of ski’s total length… I think (grin). I’ll play around with it more and perhaps do some photos. Thanks, Lou

  17. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 7:25 am

    BTW, I don’t know how many of you techie folks have gotten into finding the sidecut/radius center then observing where the manufacturer puts their mount mark in relation, but doing so is interesting once you’ve returned from a ski day. Finding exact sidecut center (narrowest point of ski) is tricky, anyone know the best way?

  18. Lorne March 8th, 2016 10:41 am

    Your “binding offset” is indeed just a doubled binding mount position relative to cord centre, Lou. Measure it that way, sure, but I suggest you half it to end up with a number that means something to more skiers, in this case -11.5cm. Many reference mount positions this way already. Nice of you to include this in your specs anyway.

  19. Andrew March 8th, 2016 11:06 am

    Other review sites measure distance between ski centre and recommended boot centre. Your measurement is double this, which is confusing as it doesn’t relate to anything physical on one ski.

    Personally I think measuring this is a waste of time as the measurement is not comparable between skis. Why? Because each ski designer adds a different amount of tip and tail. Choose a flat tip and the mount measurement reduces by a cm or more. Add a round tail and it moves back. etc. Similar issues occur if you try to measure binding setback versus on running length, particularly on fully rockered skis where running length can be a matter of debate.

    All I need to know when mounting a binding is whether to mount the binding so my boot centre is on the recommended mark, or 1-2cm further forwards or backwards to get the ski to feel nice. And even then this is a matter of opinion and isn’t critical since the skier’s centre of gravity changes relative to the ski with slope angle, snow density / speed and whether a heavy pack is worn. And to put this all in perspective, many freestyle skis kill it off-piste with bindings on ski centre, while others like the same skis mounted 6cm or more further back!

    The simple answer is to put the binding in roughly the ballpark, then let the brain do the rest.

  20. Rudi March 8th, 2016 12:02 pm

    Bruno, A 4mm or so shim under the TOE piece will force your weight forward. Many alpine racers do the same thing to get forward. I think this is even more important on a tech binding as they often have lots of ramp or forward lean. IE the toe is lower than the heel. You can simulate this by alternatively standing with your toes on a board or something and then your heels on the same board and observe the way your body and weight shift. I do it to all my skis tech and alpine.

  21. XXX_er March 8th, 2016 12:12 pm

    Back in the day a ski tech bud would put skis side by side touching and mark where the edges touched each other, then swap the ski & mark where the other edges touched

    His reason for doing it being that the more closely where those edges touched matched each other the more accurately a set of skis was made … tourist info

  22. Bruno Schull March 8th, 2016 12:39 pm

    Hi Lou—thanks for the reply. Yes, I definitely overthink things. But I guess it’s part of the fun for me ?

    I don’t want to take up time/space, but I can’t resist your offer of some guidance. I’ll give you some data, and if anything jumps out at you, great! In not, no problem. Hopefully, other people might see something they can connect with.

    I’m 42. I began skiing at 30, after a long background in cycling. I think I have been able to compensate for poor skiing technique by being generally athletic and having relatively strong legs, although that’s changing as I get older. I’m 6’ 4” and 200 pounds. I ski about 15 to 20 days a year, two-thirds at resorts, and one-third in the backcountry. When I’m at a resort, I try to ski as much as I can on off piste. When I’m in the backcountry, I’m on mellow tours with my wife, or using my skis to approach ice or alpine climbs.

    In terms of technique, I slarve and skid more than I carve, although I think I am learning how to feel and use the edges. If the conditions are good I can ski fine on and off piste, in powder, with a heavy pack, and so on. When the conditions are bad, I fall a lot. The hardest conditions for me are wind crust and refrozen surface over loose and inconsistent snow: my skis break through and get caught in the snow, and I can’t turn or slow down.

    For the resort, I ski on Rossignol Soul 7’s in 188. I feel like these skis are amazing. When I started using them I could ski anywhere. I only run into trouble I get going too fast on piste, or on hard frozen bumpy tracks. I think I like skis about 100 width with significant tip and tail rocker and soft flex. This seems to fit my style of skiing and they are forgiving and fun. A ski I really want to want to try is the DPS Wailer 99 with the regular wood construction, but I don’t feel like I’m cool enough. I use some basic Atomic alpine bindings and a basic Salomon boot that has a relatively soft flex that I like.

    For backcountry, I looked for skis that were close in numbers to the Rossignol Soul 7 but lighter. I eventually bought G3 Carbon Synapse 101s in 184. At first I found them really hard to ski. They were stiff and grabby and hard to control. After having the base structure removed and the edges rounded at the tip and tail they finally work well for me, but now I understand the difference between a heavier and softer ski like the Soul 7, and a lighter and stiffer ski like the Synapse Carbon. Ideally I would find a backcountry ski that is wide, light, and soft, or at least a little softer than Synapse Carbon. I use Scott Cosmos II boots and Diamir Frame bindings that have a pretty neutral ramp angle like alpine bindings, I think.

    In terms of which setup works best, I definitely feel more confortable on the alpine set up, probably because of the softer flex and forgiving nature of the skis, and the more confortable and secure boots and bindings.

    To answer your question about whether I lean back to make things happen, or feel like I am forced to lean back, I would say a little bit of both. I do my best to stay forward and pressure the fronts of the boots, but when I get into trouble, I either lean back to try to turn or slow down, or I get thrown back. And then of course I loose more control.

    @ Frame and @ Rudi—I like the idea of lifting the toes, either by thinking about it, or with a shim. It reminds me of a post from ice climber Will Gadd. In the constant battle to get beginner ice climbers to keep their heels down, he suggested that people try to consciously lift their toes, engaging the muscle in front of their shin, instead of pushing their heels down. It works!

    Thank you all so much.

  23. Bruno Schull March 8th, 2016 12:42 pm

    @ Lou–your question about finding sidecut center–could you place both skis right next to each other with the widest parts touching at the tips and tails, and then find the widest space between the two skis? Just an idea, probably silly. B.

  24. Toby March 8th, 2016 12:57 pm

    On Fischer Hannibal 94s I marked the starting points for tip and tail rocker and then figured out that the given boot center mark is the actual flat ski center. Would that make sense?

  25. XXX_er March 8th, 2016 2:29 pm

    How do contact points pertaining to early rise play into offset measure, should the running length between front & rear point of contact be taken into consideration in any way?

    Since we are geeking on ski engineeering I put my JJ’s on a table to compare the contact points/profiles/rise to my 112’s and i found the 2 skis suprisingly similar the big difference being that the JJ mount was WAY forward of the 112,

    Of course color wise your average Dentists will thro down his gold visa card for the elegant Lamborghini yellow 112’s while the freaky neon skeleton of the JJ’s probably not so much

    a woman on the chair told me my JJ’s looked perverse so I coined the term “perverse sidecut” and a few years later her husband the doctor …bought wailer 112’s

  26. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 5:42 pm

    Bruno, at this time I find sidecut center with digital caliper measurement, it’s pretty easy to get within a centimeter or so of an exact spot. Any better than that involves the angle of the caliper to the ski and stuff like that.

    All, you might find this hard to believe but in the early days (1970s etc) we would skis together side-by-side on the bench and run a pencil up and down between the skis and figure out which pairing provided the longest inside edge (which combo allowed pencil to go farthest). Running the skis this way was thought to enhance performance. Probably a myth, but it was fun and impressed female ski instructors. i just checked and this trick still gets interesting results. In fact, if anyone wants to come to my Wildsnow Skunkworks and get the full workup, including the pencil test, I have a special going on for only $795.00, whole package, including finding the binding offset!

    Lou

  27. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 5:46 pm

    Bruno, you made a mistake thinking a Synapse had any similarity to a Soul 7. One is a heavy floppy recreational ski (that yes, has its place and is well liked by many skiers) and the other is a wild mustang.

    My next question: When skiing your Soul 7 setup are you feeling this “leaning back” problem?

    If NOT, then this is a simple biomechanical issue involving boots, bindings, and skis. Let me know and we will proceed with diagnosis (grin). Warning, first step in solving the problem will be for you to use a Soul 7 as a backcountry ski as you need to eliminate the ski from the variables in this problem.

    Lou

  28. Kevin S March 8th, 2016 6:27 pm

    Lou great review and with respect to my mentor Hunter, his ultimate saying was:

    “When things get weird, the weird turn pro”

  29. Jim Milstein March 8th, 2016 6:36 pm

    “. . . and the glisse turns lubricious.”

  30. swissiphic March 8th, 2016 6:49 pm

    XXX’er; you can add these variables into the mix: Custom bending more rocker into the tip, spooning the shovel base material and adding tip and tail extenders. JJ’s needed 5cm tip extenders. My custom xtra rocker shovels, spooned tip base material K2 Darksides are gonna gain 5cms of tail apres tail extender. Skied them today up Surprise Creek by Meziadin Lake in perfect right side up kneecap to thigh deep pow…absolutely perfect response from the front, juuuuust a hair tippy in the back rockin’ off pillows and maching chopped schtuff…time for mullet hair extensions.

  31. swissiphic March 8th, 2016 6:52 pm

    and XXX’er; if yer wondering where the goods are…120cms storm snow at treeline around Mez Lake since march 3rd…and it’s all right side up. Moist below 2500 ft. Settling fast though with warm temps, the tree skiing window is now.

  32. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 7:03 pm

    Mullet extensions, I’ll have to use that in a review! LOL

  33. Lou Dawson 2 March 8th, 2016 7:07 pm

    BTW, skied VTA88 today under human power, three pow laps in the Colorado goods, yeah, they’re 88 mm, but they worked and I had fun. They sure helped me on the up. Lou

  34. See March 8th, 2016 8:48 pm

    Hi Bruno. I was recently asked about skiing 3 dimensional snow and this was what I came up with: stay centered and make the next turn sooner. “Weight forward” is good advice if you’re sitting back and “weight back” is good advice if you’re sinking the tips. Otherwise, just stay on top of ‘em. Turn sooner means use the energy stored in the ski during one turn to launch you into the next turn. And set up your boots/bindings to allow some knee flex unless you’re so competent that you can stand up straight and eat your lunch while making perfect arcs. And go soft or go fast.

  35. Patrick March 8th, 2016 10:05 pm

    Mullet extensions. Dig into this Lou. Really worthwhile up in Canada; the extensions could do double-duty. Some guys (myself included) would love to coif the mullet extensions under our hockey helmets.

  36. XXX_er March 9th, 2016 12:23 pm

    yeah but can you take it to the bank, I don’t think you are gona sell it to the guys with the gold visa cards

  37. swissiphic March 9th, 2016 12:43 pm

    xxx’er, yeah but why would I care? It ain’t for others. Empathy? I don’t care for it…I’m a narskissist. 😉

  38. Rick March 9th, 2016 2:57 pm

    Lou,
    how’re you liking the VTA skins – decent glide/grip ?

    Thanks !

  39. Lou Dawson 2 March 9th, 2016 3:49 pm

    Good grip and glide, Coltex mohair. Bikini cut works at the tail, I’d rather they were simply straight at the rocker tip rather than the bikini cut. But it works. Lou

  40. Mark O March 10th, 2016 5:47 am

    Noticed the F1 Manual in the first photo, they go well with the skis? Boot test/review coming soon…?

  41. Lou Dawson 2 March 10th, 2016 7:14 am

    Mark, F1 goes well with just about anything in ski touring. Am working on a review, but I can say we’ve got three pair in play amongst WildSnow minions and all are working fine.

  42. Bruno Schull March 10th, 2016 10:02 am

    Hi Lou–as always, thanks for your advice. Do you mean to say that my skis (Soul 7s) are not mustangs? Are they donkeys? Say it isn’t so…I guess the silver lining is that I got to compare the Soul 7 to the Carbon Synapse 101…expensive was to find out that I like soft and forgiving skis. The only problem I find with the Soul 7’s is when I get going a little too fast on hard snow, and the tips start flapping around…

    Your question: do I feel like I’m always leaning back just on the Soul 7’s or also on the Synapse 101’s? I thought about this for a while, and skied a little, to try to tell. I would say that the feeling is basically equal between both sets of ski and boots. I do feel a little more solid with the Soul 7 alpine set up, but I don’t think its an boot/cuff angle thing…just everything being a little more comfortable and secure. I use that Soul 7 at the resort, but I do honestly stay about 80% of the time off piste or on real side piste, so it’s not just a on/off piste thing. I guess that means that I have a technique problem, and not a binding position or other gear problem?

    So I will stop trying to over analyze binding offset and refine/change my question:

    How can I learn to ski with a more forward or centered position? It’s a subject I don’t see discussed much here…basic ski technique. Anybody know any good resources?

  43. Lou Dawson 2 March 10th, 2016 10:13 am

    Bruno, it’s possible that changing the boot angles on BOTH setups might help you feel better on both. No way to tell from here.

    You indeed should feel yourself in the “athletic ready position” when straight running the skis on moderate or low angle terrain. If you don’t feel the boot and angles helping you relax into that position then there is something probably off. But it could just be some bad habits in your body position.

    It’s possible you have too much forward lean in the boot cuff, or too little!

    I’m assuming your alpine ski bindings are something fairly standard?

  44. Bruno Schull March 10th, 2016 10:57 am

    Yes, my bindings are Atomic FFG 10’s or 12’s…

    If I’m just straight running on a low angle slope, I tend to stand relatively upright. To get into an athletic ready position I have to conciously push myself forward.

    Is there any way to tell if I have too much or too little forward lean? Actually, come to think of it, I think I have a two position lean on the alpine boot…I should try switching between positions.

    This is like some kind of telepathic magic trick…diagnosing ski issues through the ether 🙂

  45. Lou Dawson 2 March 10th, 2016 11:00 am

    Experiment.

  46. Bruno Schull March 10th, 2016 11:14 am

    Thanks Lou. I shall experiment (Wildsnow mantra?) Feels trivial to talk about this stuff with the avalanche news. Sobering. I appreciate the updates.

  47. Serge April 5th, 2016 12:39 am

    I’m thinking about using this as my fast and light ski (overnights, exploratory tours, some spring mountaineering) in a quiver of 3. I’m 6’2 175 and an intermediate skier. I’ll be using a beefier (but still light) 95mm ski at 177 for variable, resort and more challenging descents, and eventually I’ll get a longer wider powder board. Lou, I know you like how the 180 skis a bit better, but I’m wondering if the 170 would be enough for long multi day tours and the occasional couloir. Not looking (or able) to swoop big arcing turns, but I wanna make sure its enough ski for potentially challenging terrain with a heavier pack. Thanks in advance for any insights ya’ll might have.

  48. Lou Dawson 2 April 5th, 2016 7:35 am

    Serge, you will not be disappointed and you might find yourself using the VTA88 Lite for more than just specialized tours. At your height and weight the 170 would be the wrong choice. I’ve skied it short and liked having the next size up (what’s reviewed here) was a world of difference. I hear you on wanting short skis. Now days, it’s quite difficult to find skis that perform in lengths up to neck/chin instead of forehead, due probably to rocker and extended tips that make the ski perform even “shorter” than older designs. One I’ve found that skis ok short is the Scott Superguide 95, but it’s not light. Lou

  49. Serge April 6th, 2016 12:14 am

    Thanks for the response, Lou. 180 it is. I can’t seem to find the light pre-cut skins in a 180, so i ordered some transalp 88 profoils, which I’m thinking will be nice for traverses and rolling terrain. I know you were pretty smitten with the cho oyu when it came out (eons in ski tech years?) but I’m curious how you’d compare these two, since the vta seems to be even lighter per length. Cheers.

  50. Mike April 15th, 2016 4:46 pm

    Will the H-pattern on these fit a heel with 25mm between the screws? Looks to be pretty close..

  51. Dan September 17th, 2016 2:45 am

    @bruno
    simple (possibly too simple) idea: if you feel you’re leaning back too much, focus on keeping your hands forward, somewhere above the knees or even more forward. leaning back and forth is all about where your center of gravity projects on the ground and moving the hands is the easiest way to change that. it’s also the most frequent mistake you see on the slopes – people “forgeting” a hand at the back of a turn.

  52. Lou Dawson 2 September 17th, 2016 9:26 am

    Serge, Cho was a good ski IMHO but had a little too much sidecut sometimes. VTA has just the right amount for its flex etc it seems. That’s this year’s opinion anyway (smile). It all evolves, that’s the fun of it. Boots change, bindings change — our ski technique changes, so, the skis change…

    Thus apples-apples comparison down through the years can be pointless. Best to keep it within just two seasons or so, it seems.

    Lou

  53. Bruno Schull September 17th, 2016 12:55 pm

    To Dan–thanks for that. I have tried lots of things over the years, including trying to focus on my shoulders, hips, head. It’s hard to remember all the details and remain consistent. This season, when I get on the slopes, I will try your tips about hands. This brings up a larger question: how do you actually learn to ski, or learn how to ski better? Lou, how about some content about improving ski technique? Ten best tips to ski better? Ten most common mistakes? It might be boring for some readers, but for the relative beginners like me it would be great, especially since not falling is probably one of the most important parts of staying safe in the mountains! I picked up skiing as an adult, when I was about 30 years old. Now I’m in my mid forties, so I’ve been skiing somewhat regularly for about ten years. I don’t get too many days per year, maybe twenty, sometimes less, sometimes more. I can ski reasonably well on and off piste, in powder, in the back country, if conditions are good. If conditions are bad (for me that usually means inconsistent snow, breakable crust, wind drift, and so on) I struggle, fall frequently, and feel like a complete beginner. One hears so much about different kinds of turns, the feeling of the the ski edges, the entry to the exit of turns, different techniques, but it’s really hard to develop that understanding as an adult. I guess the simple answer is to ski more. But it is easy to ski season after season with the same bad habits. A good ski guide or instructor might be able to help, but it’s hard to find a good teacher, and not somebody who will simply say, “follow me down the hill and do what I do.” There are various schools and clinics that promise more focused instruction, video analysis, and so forth, but I have no idea how to evaluate their claims, apart from their marketing. Are there any good books or videos readers can recommend? A great mountain guide I sometimes work with recommended a particular local ski instructor, and this winter I will probably give that a try. Anyway, it would be nice to read some features about how to ski better! Thanks again.

  54. Armie September 17th, 2016 4:12 pm

    @Bruno
    I also “fell” into skiing in my 30s I’m now in my late 40s. Learning a new skill as an adult(I also learnt to swim in my 30s) I’ve found breaking it down into manageable chunks helpful. Regular practice on snow if you can (I’m in the UK and I have an indoor snow slope about an hour away I try and go once a month)ski with better skiers, take lessons, eventually someone will say something or show you something that clicks. It’s a skill sport practice, practice, practice. I’ve found dryland exercises useful(Rob Shaul’s 4 square drill on http://www.mtntactical.com) build up to doing it on a bosu, even just skipping(jump rope), also sports that mimic skiing movements or have a strong balance element like in line skating or using a trikke. I’ve used all the drills from R. Mark Ellings book The All Mountain Skier, his idea of a “toolkit” resonated with me. Warren Smith’s Ski Academy has loads of tips his “Braquage” drill(search on youtube) is one I use a lot. Also Glenmore Lodge’s “winter skiing warm up” also on youtube is how I start every session.
    Hope that gives you some ideas. Keep at it!

  55. Jim Milstein September 17th, 2016 10:22 pm

    Actually, Bruno, I think following other skiers is really valuable. When they are good, imitate them and get the feeling. When they are not good, try to see what their problems are and avoid them yourself. That works much better for me than verbal descriptions of what body part does what. Also, experiment! You may find a solution to a skiing problem peculiar to you. I had a long time ski companion who invented the sport for himself and skied like no one else.

  56. atfred September 18th, 2016 6:22 pm

    Breakthrough on the New Skis: Say Goodbye to the Intermediate Blues Paperback – September 1, 2006
    by Lito Tejada-Flores (Author)

    Bruno,

    one of the best books around on real life ski technique, as well as a very entertaining read.

  57. John September 18th, 2016 7:10 pm

    Check out “Skiing out of your mind” as well. Still a good read after all these years.

  58. Bruno Schull September 19th, 2016 3:50 am

    Thanks for all the tips–I certainly know what my homework will be in the coming weeks/months. @ Jim, yes, when I think about it, you’re right. I had one bad experience with a ski instructor, but watching other ski guides has been helpful. Maybe a mix of imitation and direct instruction would me most helpful? It probably depend on the individual.

    OK, another question. Skis with fancy new shapes seem to make going off piste easier that in the past. How do people feel about beginner and intermediate skiers using these skis? Do new shapes encourage bad form, or prevent you from learning good technique? As an analogy, it’s sort of like learning to mountain bike with a full suspension bike. Some people think that you can ultimately become more skilled if you learn on a hard tail (or, dare I say, on a rigid bike). I don’t necessarily believe that. Instead, I think it’s more nuanced. You learn different skills on different kinds of bikes. Does this apply to skis? Or, more simply, if becoming a better skier is my ultimate goal, is using modern skis, with rocker, tapered tips and tails, and so forth, going to help or hinder that process?

  59. Trent September 19th, 2016 10:01 am

    Bruno, you need to ski every chance you get. Books and lesson will help. But your greatest need is time on snow.
    As for gear, experiment. Don’t overthink the new skis. give yourself every advantage you can. My suspicion is finding the appropriate flex/stiffness will yield the greatest rewards. For the bad snow you struggle with, wider will help.
    Otherwise, just ski as much as possible with people you are certain are making you better. At your age, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia. Don’t. Just go ski. A lot. In all kinds of conditions. Get yourself into great dryland shape, don’t ski to muscular failure (ski hard, and then stop for the day), and ski as many days as possible. You will waste time trying to learn through books (helpful to a point), learn through instructors of dubious quality (some goods ones out there; many, many more bad ones), and the know-it-all charlatan on the chairlift.
    Ski, ski, ski.
    I made my living as a full-time ski instructor on two continents and in three serious alpine countries, and have a low general opinion of trying to teach late learners through four hour lessons. This will likely upset some folks on this site. The old saying by the Austrians immigrants who upped the ski school quality in the US in the nineteen thirties and forties still applies, “Bend the knees, two dollars please.”

  60. Jim Milstein September 19th, 2016 12:08 pm

    The stock saying I personally remember (from the fifties!) was, Bend ze knees, five dollars please! The Austrian ski gods never sold their lessons for two dollars. Please. Well, maybe in the thirties.

    Still good advice, especially for telemarkers. My advice: turn rhythmically; don’t fall; be like Lou.

  61. Trent September 21st, 2016 10:20 am

    Jim,
    I was born after Hannes died, but my grandmother always told the joke with $2 as the amount. Either way, it’s confirmation that some of the oldest and best thought ski instruction could only take you so far.

  62. Jürgen October 17th, 2016 8:22 am

    Hi Lou,

    could you please share your thoughts in a quick comparision with Movements Response X at almost the same width ? Would you rate the Völkl ATV Lite higher than Movements Response when it comes to chatter issues in harsh conditions ?

    thanks !!

  63. Lou Dawson 2 October 17th, 2016 8:32 am

    HI Jurgen, I’ve skied both skis and I’m pretty sure our blogger Bob Perlmutter has as well. I can say that I liked the Volkl better, which is easy to say as it’s one of the better skis in this form factor that I’ve ever skied. Bob liked the Vokle as well. Lou

  64. Bob Perlmutter October 19th, 2016 8:06 am

    Hi Jurgen, I have been procrastinating about a blog post I started quite some time ago about my conversion from a “beef boy” to a “svelte slider” due to all of the high performance, lighter gear. Among my top choices in skis is the Volkl VTA 88 Lite(that’s a mouthful). I never thought it possible that a ski as light as the Volkl could have such tenacious edge hold and be so chatter free. Bottom line, they ski! Despite what Engineer Scott from Star Trek said, “By God Jim, you can’t defy the laws of physics”. Apparently Scotty has never skied the Volkl VTA 88 Lite because the engineers at Volkl have in fact seemingly defied the laws of physics.

  65. John Carmola October 20th, 2016 10:58 am

    Hi Bob, I had the pleasure of sking the vta lite last spring in a variety of conditions. I experienced some serious chatter a few times on steep, smooth hardback. Similar to Lou’s experience on them in Norway. I’m 170cms tall and ski the 170. Doesn’t sound like you have had problems with chatter. I know you are similar size as I, what length are you using?

  66. Bob Perlmutter October 21st, 2016 12:25 am

    John, I skied Lou’s 180’s. They were a tad bit long and in a perfect world I would try them mounted +1cm. I never skied the VTA on true hardpack but on ski area groomers as well as in the backcountry. My lack of chatter comments are relative to my expectations for a 4.5ib pair of skis. It is very difficult to have a damp ski with so little mass and I think Volkl did an amazing job within those parameters.

  67. John Carmola October 21st, 2016 7:22 am

    Thanks for the reply Bob, yes I agree that Volk has done it again with a fantastic ski. I’ll play around with technique and tuning and see if the chatter can be reduced. What fun to be experiencing the advancements in gear that has happened in this last decade!

  68. Lou Dawson 2 October 21st, 2016 7:51 am

    Thanks Bob.

    All, note the shorter ones I had in Norway might have been somewhat pre-retail. The longer ones I have now seem to have much less chatter, to the point where I could get them to chatter if I tried, but for myself, I’d call it a ZERO problem. Lou

  69. Lou Dawson 2 October 21st, 2016 10:54 am

    John, edge bevel, easing off the edge (de tuning) at tip and tail, what kind of boot’s you’re skiing and even how the boots fit, and how fast you’re skiing, all are factors in chatter. Tech bindings can make it worse as well, as they have virtually no damping action while alpine and frame touring bindings allow a bit of somewhat damped “rolling” deflection of the boot. Or, frame bindings can make it worse (smile).

  70. darinb October 25th, 2016 9:14 am

    What is the width gap in the VTA mounting area? Trying to determine if they can take a screw pattern 25mm wide and haven’t been able to come up with the actual dimensions. Thanks!

  71. Lou Dawson 2 October 25th, 2016 9:41 am

    See comments:

    https://www.wildsnow.com/19750/modify-mount-dynafit-superlite-2/

    They can’t take a 25mm wide screw pattern… that’s too narrow. The narrowest screw pattern you could probably cheat at the heel would be about 29 mm.

    I have all that stuff here next to me, and just checked it out for you.

    Lou

  72. John Carmola October 25th, 2016 5:12 pm

    Thanks Lou, slight adjustments in technique seemed to help. Getting off the edge quicker instead of lingering in the turn, and keeping the feet stacked under the hips instead of angulating. Basically relearning how to ski a narrow ski. I’ll fool around with the tuning also.

  73. Nick November 25th, 2016 4:30 am

    How would you guys compare this ski to the zero g 85?

  74. Ryan P. January 14th, 2017 9:27 am

    Hi Lou,

    Not sure if this thread is officially dead but I seek your gear guru opinion. I’m very interested in snagging a pair of these skis but I can’t decide on 170cm or 180cm in length. I am also 5’11 but I’m a skinny lad weighing in at 135-140lbs. You stated this ski felt much better at the 180cm length for you but I was curious if weight of the skier makes much difference in this matter?

    Thanks,

    Ryan

  75. Kean March 9th, 2017 10:49 pm

    As previous poster, not sure if this thread is dead, but here goes. Have just visited the Volkl website and see they seem to be selling both the VTA 88 and the VTA 88 lite, with a 200 g saving in weight. Do you happen to know if the LITE version is just their new iteration for 2016/17 or are there other differences between the two? Seems strange they’ve kept both on the website unless they’re just shifting old stock.
    Incidentally, I’m a Brit skier living in Montebelluna, so if you come this way, Lou (or anyone else for that matter) I’d be happy to go tour with you!

  76. Launchpad McQuack April 11th, 2017 12:01 pm

    I’ve been on big beefy skis for a long time here in the Wasatch and have moved to touring 90% of the time over the past couple of years. My daily driver is 178 carbon megawatts with G3 Ion 12. I’m looking to add a pair of ultra lights to my current quiver of one for longer tours and more mountaineering skiing, though likely still pow oriented. I’ve spent the better part of the season looking over specs and trying a few out. I’m down to this ski (the Volkl VTA), the Hagan Y-ride, the Movement Alp Tracks 94, the Wayback 88, or even the Dynafit Carbonio. I know people here have skied all of these and I’m wondering what’ people’s opinions are for best lightweight mix to steep performance (pow oriented – Wasatch style). TIA.

  77. Ian July 23rd, 2017 6:38 pm

    Can someone please help me out.
    I’m trying to get a plate to fit a pair of plum 165’s to VTA 88 lites. It’s just the heel peice that is narrorw. Does B&D make a plate like this? I can’t get onto their website. I live in NZ so options might be limited and may have to make my own.

  78. See July 23rd, 2017 7:22 pm

    I’m just speculating here and I have no experience with v werks skis (and I don’t know what a plum 165 is), but I suspect it would be possible for someone with good composite material repair skills to reinforce the binding mount area to accommodate any binding you want.

  79. Ivo December 7th, 2017 8:42 am

    I bought a pair of these 180cm fitted with King Pin bindings and they are by far the lightest and best touring Ski I’ve ever skied on. I am. 6 ft tall, 175lbs weight and as you menti9ned they are the best going uphill, but more importantly great for going downhill in pretty much every conditions except chopped up snow, in which you wished for some more weight to pound through the crud.

    Amazing hold on icy bits, quite important for touring skis, although with speed they start to chatter a bit. Probably to be expected.

    If I need to skin up more than 1 hour, there is no better Ski. I could have mounted some lighter bindings, but the king pins are great to ski down with. Very easy to manoeuvre, it gives you great confidence.

  80. Court February 22nd, 2018 2:39 pm

    So if this thread is still being followed, wondering peoples opinion of this ski vs. Fischer TransAlp 88.

    For reference Im 5’10’ 165 pounds, male. I am an adequate skier, but not a hard charger, but often with people who are, so I’d like something confidence inspiring when your at your terrain limit, but no ambitions to lay down a Go-Pro worthy runs 😉

    I have demo’d the Transalps with Dynafit Rotation binding and really liked that set-up, but a couple people have told me I would like the Volkl even more.

    Mostly New England backcountry use, but occasional forays at the resort too.

    Any opinions would be welcomed.





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  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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