Pros: Poppy, Carvy, Forgiving, Cool and Nostalgic. Brings back memories to old timers and tongue ties the youngins'.
Cons: Longest Length (183cm) not long enough @ 6'5". Thicker edges exist, and would be nice for durability on rails.
Well this will be my first gear review on Epic Ski, and I couldn't be more excited about the equipment under review. I didn't read many of the other reviews on here, so I'm not all too familiar with any standard format that is usually followed, so I'll be making up my own, so bear with me.
First of all, the ski under review:
Kneissl Fly Star All Mountain Twin Tip
Dimensions: 123-87-109 , 21m Radius @ 183cm
Tip Rise 57mm Tail Rise 45mm
No not Kastle...Kneissl! Why did I want to try a Kneissl? A number of reasons really. As is a common trend these days, it seems many people are branching out and trying various indie companies for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's a perceived better quality, sometimes just because it's a radical design, or sometimes just because it's cooler to have something besides Rossignol and Salomon. For me with Kneissl, it's a combination of quality and know how, the "cool/different" factor, and a little bit of nostalgia. Kneissl is far from a brand new indie sprout up company just learning how to make skis. They have been making them for years in Austria. They've got numerous olympic medals to their credit to show for it. Once upon a time, they were one of the biggest innovators in skiing. The original Skiboard is credited to Kneissl with the Bigfoot way back in 1990. A couple years later, it was Kneissl as well as Elan who got the ball rolling on the shaped ski revolution. Kneissl created their shaped ski, the "Ergo" in 1992. Elan with their SCX. So Kneissl is no stranger to ski innovation and crafting.
What happened to Kneissl, is kind of similar to other legendary ski brands. Olin, Hart and Kastle come to mind. They were making a good product, but through various ownership changes, and possibly lackluster marketing, their sales dwindled over time. But unlike Olin, Hart and Kastle....Kneissl never ceased to exist. They only left the USA for a little while, but continued making skis just like they always had back in Tyrol, Austria. Today their skis are definately on the conservative side. I would now compare them to Stockli and the new Kastle, where they still sell a good variety of frontside carvers and race skis with skinny waists, while everybody else is shifting to fat skis and rocker. Of course, like Stockli, Kneissl does have a small line of freeride skis, such as this Fly Star, as well as the 98mm Rock Star and soon to be a 108mm Rockered Rock Star (they should call it the Rocker Star ).
Anyway, after seeing New Canadian Air Force Members Marc McDonnell and Toben Sutherland on Kneissl way back in the summer of 2000 on Whistler, I started to take notice and wanted a pair for myself while everyone else was on 1080's, Concepts and Enemy's. I got myself a pair of Kneissls second gen twin tip, the Supafly in a 185 sometime in the winter of 2001 or 2002, and I loved them! The design was similar to the Enemy at the time, but unlike the Enemy, I was the only one on them. (and they didn't fall apart either). So I was sad to see Kneissl disappear from the US a couple years later, but most excited when I found out they came back a couple years ago, and I had to get another pair. Fast forward to this year, and I now got my Fly Stars.
About the guy skiing them. I'm 6'5", 200 lbs, and 29 years old. I've been a park rat since parks came on the scene in 1999. As I'm getting older, I'm finding cliffs and powder a lot more interesting, but I can carve high speed turns forwards and backwards, jump cliffs, ski powder without requireing 120mm under my foot, slide rails and land cork 7's. I consider myself a well rounded skier.
After a slow start to the winter here in California, I finally got to ride the Fly Stars while home in Spokane, WA for Christmas. I am skiing the Fly Stars with Salomon S914 Poweraxe bindings (because new Salomons suck), and they are mounted 1cm back from the center of the scale on the ski sidewall (Center Mount for Freestyle all the way to -8cm for Freeride) So I guess mine are 5cm back from center.
December 24th: Schweitzer, ID
Day 1 on the skis was about 29 Degrees, Overcast skies, and only a couple of inches of snow a few days earlier. First thing I noticed was the tenacious edge grip they had. I've been skiing and sliding rails with K2 Public Enemy's and K2 Fujatives for the last few years, and my new Powder ski last year was a 102mm waisted Hart BarHopper. The BarHopper was great in powder but a floppy noodle on hardpack. It felt amazing to have a ski that can hold an edge again. Even the K2's, at 80mm and 85mm, couldn't hold an edge like the Fly Stars when they were new. I'm guessing this is due to the significant normal camber the Fly Stars have, which I like. I really felt like the tip and tail were holding well. I also noticed the quickness edge to edge. I actually was entertained skiing the chopped snow and moguls off to the side of the run again. I haven't found that kind of skiing amusing in quite sometime, and have much preferred either going fast on groomers, jumping or powder. I found myself bouncing off bumps and jumping little rocks and giggling to myself all along. No Powder to be had this day, but I left with a much better first impression than last years skis.
December 25th: Mt. Spokane, WA
Similar temperatures to Schweitzer, but sunny blue skies. Had lots of fun this day riding around Switch. The Fly Stars are perfectly stable and can carve as good switch as they can forward. I also don't recall ever hooking an edge forward or switch on them. Mt. Spokane also was the only mountain of the week that had any sort of jumps built in their park (surprisingly...+1 for Mt. Spokane) even though they were small. Just a couple little table tops, but enough to spin a couple 360 Mutes, Safety's and Tails and such. Skis felt nice and poppy off the jump, and solid landing. I pretty much stomped everything so I can't say for sure how they handle landing backseat or off axis, but I'm guessing based on how controllable they are during normal skiing, that they will cooperate just fine during those times need. I forgoed the Rails, as I didn't want to tear up the edges on them, and at 29 with a career that requires I stay healthy, I care alot less about rails than I used to. I'd rather keep my edges on this ski.
December 26th: 49 Degrees North, WA
Was a wet foggy day with about 3" new snow Temperature I think was just at freezing. Had to watch my speed for alot of it because I couldn't see where I was going. Didn't ski anything particularly aggressive as a result, but I can say they are much more comfortable on wet heavy snow then the 102mm BarHoppers. I had a day with similar weather at Kirkwood last year on those skis and I swore I was going to put them on ebay when I got home. (In their defense, they are still nice in powder). But nothing quirky to report on the Fly Star in the wet snow. It skied as I felt it should. Never left me feeling like I should fear for my knees life or anything.
December 27th: Silver Mountain, ID
Ahhhh finally some powder! Silver was reporting 6-8" new snow that day and it continued to snow all day. I think it was 23 Degrees....Nice! This day I spent shredding the entire mountain (had to show Skiergirl777 around...she'd never been there...and I know it like the back of my hand). We started with an assortment of newly gladed areas on chair two, and tree runs in general. Skis were easy to maneuver through trees, and I don't care what everyone says about S7's and JJ's and such, these things floated just fine! (however it was only 8"...3 feet could be another story) I was happy with them anyway. Also took them down SOB (the locals know), and Wardner Peak for some wide open turns. I like them everywhere I've been so far.
Poppy, Carvy, Forgiving, Cool, Nostalgic Alternative to the Salomon Lords and K2 Extremes of the world. It's the funnest ski I've been on in years, and that's not just because it says Kneissl on it, but it really is that fun to ski. I thought I'd be talking about my BarHopper this way after last year, but alas, I am not. That was not a very fun ski. The Fly Star is a fun ski.
Only a couple. At 6'5" I wish the Fly Star was available in a longer version. The 183 is the longest available, and that only comes up about to my nose. Even my 2001 Supafly came in a 185. I wish this was the same. Luckily I'm used to skiing 179 K2's so even at 183, it's slightly longer than my previous park skis. However I think in a slightly longer version it would help it's all mountain ability when it comes to straightlining faces and such.
Only other thing I've noticed, but that probably isn't going to affect me, is I think the edges are skinnier than on my K2's. K2 uses a 2.5 or 3mm edge which holds up admirably to rails. The Kneissl holding them side by side looks to have a slightly (very slightly) smaller edge. Not as small as a rental ski or crappy salomon mind you, but not as big as a K2 Park Ski. The ski itself, with it's nice sandwich construction and similar sidewalls to lots of other good park skis out there, will probably hold up just fine to rails, but I've always commended K2 for using the thickest ones available after the original park skis would disintigrate before your eyes sliding rails.
That being said, I don't care. I love the ski and would recommend it to anyone...especially someone who isn't sold on rocker for normal all mountain skiing, and understands the value of normal camber.
One more thing. Whilst riding up the Gondola at Silver, an old timer was looking at them on the rack outside the cabin and said "Kuh-neezel...I didn't even know they were still around...(pause)...that's a cool looking ski!" Take that for what it's worth.
Post Script: I'm taking the Fly Stars to Jackson Hole next week, rather than my actual powder skis.