Ways to save on buying skis

It's not necessary to pay top dollar for new skis today.There are just too many skis around, and dealers want to get rid of them. If you desire a particularly "hot" model, however -- one with a good reputation that better skiers seem to want -- you may find it in short supply and selling at top list price.

It's the so-called "package skis" designed for novice and low-intermediate skiers that are going begging and offer the biggest "bargains." Meanwhile, last year's models are generally selling at significant discounts in those shops where they are still available. Picking up a 1980 ski for 1981 makes a lot of economic sense.

Generally, skis are getting longer for every ability level. Shorter models are growing fewer. With more good skiers around and heightened interest in recreational racing, there's more demand for the stability of a longer ski. And improved technology is making it easier to turn longer, stable skis.

Among the changes in 1981 skis, K2 has converted its 710 and 810 series from a wood core to a foam core surrounded by a fiberglass torsion box and added glass and metal laminates along with the letters "FO" -- and price tags of $250 and $275. Rossignol's popular ST Comp has given way to two skis -- the FF ($250 ) for racers and experts and the STS ($230) for those who want a slightly softened, or "detuned," ST Comp. Fischer has a new "Lite" series of easy-turning full-length skis at list prices of $190 to $245.

If you're not sure what ski is right for you, one of the best ways to find out is to try some "demo" pairs. We'll look at how you can do that next week.

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