I am a 43 yo 175 cm, 80 kg, fit and reasonable aggressive lifelong skier, level 9, recreational racer and part time ski patroller. Demoed 178 and 186 2010 Gotama's. Purchased the 186's. Mounted Volkl boot centre. Went for the 186's as I found they turned as sharply as the shorter length but were more stable at speed. Perhaps if had mounted a bit forward would have had more tail for speed. Other (current) skis - Salomon Tornado Ti 175, detuned Fischer SL ski 165, detuned Fischer GS 175, FIS comply Atomic GS 183 (awesome,awesome,awesome also, but totally different). Other skis demoed including Head Monster, Volkl Mantra, Kastle (also good fun, also laminate construction).
Hard pack performance
The Gotama's turned fine on hard pack, including on 40 degree slopes which had been water injected for WC racing (not me doing the racing!!), albeit not as solid as the real GS skis but quite adequate for getting around the mountain between tree powder stashes etc, required being set on edge and pressure applied, thats skiing , isn't it? In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at the edge grip available on slick firm snow/ice. Slower than the race skis through gates (to be expected, about 10% slower under my feet) yet still able to get from edge to edge in an efficient and tidy manner. At flat out on groomers the ends were a bit active but the overall feel was still solid as long as there was some edge engagement. My nerve gave out before the skis gave up:)
Great in softer snow but I found them hard work in large, icy moguls. Great fun taking small airs and simple old fashioned tricks. Also very flexible in making line adjustments mid turn so as to hit the next sweet spot (edge off, sideways slide, line up, edge back on and hold on!). Rocker made for easy turn initiation. I think the shorter length would have been better in the moguls but I was prepared to sacrifice that for the steeps which are my preferred. Handled crud fine.
Who am I kidding!! ha, ha! Thats for my 14 yo! Let's just say easier than with the GS skis....
Awesome, awesome,awesome. Reassuring yet still agile. Again my concern regarding fractures etc kicked in before the skis limit was reached. Fantastic at slopes up to 45 degrees (avalanche controlled!). Didn't have opportunity to ski steeper on them. Good in tight trees and off the small airs that my 43 yo brain says are still acceptable. Landings stable. Not happy when I was lazy and not keeping them on edge. Rocker allowed for great point and shoot, especially in trees. Floatation was enchanting in dry CO pow! Suggested ideal use for bowl and powder conditions.
Topcoating seemed to chip and mark easily. Not happy (in my experience at least) when lazy and not driving them on edge. Seems expensive with full setup.