2011 Fischer Watea 98 Ski
|Lengths||166, 176, 186 cm|
|Turn Radius||21 m / 186 cm|
|Recommended Binding||X13 FAT 115|
|Sidecut||130 - 98 - 122|
Fischer Watea 98, 176cm
New for 2011, 98mm underfoot, rockered tip, soft even flex, more camber than usual, early rise (non-rockered) tail.
- Length/size Tested: 176 cm.
- Location of review: Mt. Bachelor
- Runs Taken: 3 to 4 including one bump run
- Demo or Own: Demoed, but own the ski
- Other skis/boots/product tested/own: Pretty much everything out there.
Hardpack, some slushy spring-like corn, no new snow, some firm windpack, cordouroy groomers, one bump run per ski. Plenty of off-piste, challenging snow to deal with, just what a 98mm ski was designed for.
- Age: 33
- Height/Weight: 5 foot 9, 155lbs
- Average days on snow: 30-50 days/year
- Years Skiing: 23
- Aggressiveness: aggressive all-mountain, like to ski fast, enjoy all terrain, especially off-piste skiing and bumps; groomers are fun too.
Compared to Blizzard's The One and the Dynastar 6th Sense Slicer, this ski is the lightest and probably the softest. The design is slightly different than the other 2: it has a lot of camber underfoot, and the rockered tip’s flex is in line with the flex of the other parts of the ski. On the Blizzi and Dynastar, the tip is significantly softer than the mid-body of the ski. 1st run was on groomers: the Watea 98 has a larger (21m) turn radius than the others (which are around 18m). This was evident: the Watea liked a bigger turn, was lacking a bit of energy, a touch grabby, and a decent, but not great carver. It felt less at home on groomers than the other skis did, more like an MX98 from Kastle, in that it had less sidecut, favored a larger turn, and was more mellow than the other 2 skis tested.
2nd run: bumps: whoa, this ski was really, really good here. Cat-like in the way it changed direction, super fluid, just absorbed terrain extremely well. Also, it had a huge sweet spot, the right flex, and overall was close to “superb” in bumps. One of the best bump skis of the year. Fischer must have some bump skiers on their design team: both this and the Motive series are amongst the best I have skied this year.
3rd and 4th run: skiing hard, frozen snow, windpack, some soft warm sloppy snow. The Watea really shines off-piste. Hard to put it any other way. I felt incredibly confident on this ski: I was very confident “attacking” the mountain, really letting my body flow at the end of the old turn. When on steeps, I tend to tense up (most people do) and sometimes rely on a small up-movement to end the old turn. I was confident enough on this ski to relax that outer foot, get it tipping early, and before I knew it, my COM was already inside of the next turn as I was flying down the fall line, completely driving the tip and ripping through the belly of the arc. It was such a predictable ski, that I felt I could trust it not to take me for a ride, and instead trust it to commit fully to the turn and ski aggressively (which is easier said than done). Once I had the skis flowing fall-line, the tip was soft enough to pull back my feet, get pressured on the tip, and then tip more an extend through the turn. The best way I can describe it is that everything seemed to slow down on this ski; it was almost as though the turns were coming at me in slow-motion, and I could react and anticipate easier than on almost any off-piste model I have been on. To me, these felt like some of the best turns I had ever made. Once into sloppy snow, the Watea again ripped, with basically no speed limit. It had a bit of energy underfoot, but was more damp than The One, with slightly more pop than the Slicer. Huge GS arcs, small turny slalom arcs; whatever you wanted to ski, it wanted to make the turn for you. Forgiveness was again high; it was tough to make a mistake on the Watea. Stability was along the lines of the other 3 at speed, but with the light weight, rockered tip and camber underfoot, it was even quicker, in that I felt I could aggressively pull my feet back and get the tip engaged quicker than on any other ski tested. Probably due in part to the really soft flex on this ski.
The Watea 98 definitely felt the most off-piste capable of the 3 skis (and again, the least fun on groomers, if you were looking for a snappy “carver” feel). If you spent most of your day roaming off-piste, but need a ski that isn’t for deep days, the Watea 98 is worth checking out (as is the Watea 84, it is as good off-piste and a quicker to boot). I don’t know how the 176cm would fare in deeper snow: the length may be a touch short for too much new snow. A 182cm version of this ski would be sweet: not too long for hardpack, but more float in new snow. Maybe next year.
Feedback from demo customers has been very positive. Heard everything from "wow, what a ski" to "when is the demo pair going on sale?"