Pros: No speed limit, impressive edge hold, incredible crud performance, disco sticks, delicious torsional stiffness
Cons: Cheapo Marker system binding, haven't tried them in the bumps, pretty heavy, un-intuitive turn initiation, turn radius is a bit long, expensive
Ski in question: FireArrow 84 EDT (2013 model, but rumor has it they only changed the graphics since last year)
Binding: This is a system ski. Cheapo Marker binding system.
Size: 184 cm
Tune Details: Hand tuned 2/1 degree edges, Swix CH8 Hydrocarbon hot and cold scrape
Days Skied: 1 at Killington on early season ice, 6 at Sugarloaf in highly variable conditions
This is a very beefy ski, and not for the faint of heart. If you try to ski them from the backseat your day will be unpleasant, and it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of turn initiation here (perhaps owing to the blunt tip). On my first day of firm ice at Killington, I didn't really sort out comfortable turn initiation (esp. at low speed) until 2PM. I hypothesize that initiation difficulty is why these skis are famous for being returned/sold soon after purchase.
How they feel:
The short story here is that these skis dominated almost all the frontside conditions that showed up. This is perhaps the most powerful-feeling consumer ski I've ever been on. It feels suspiciously like a wider version of the Nordica Dobermann GS Pro; they're quick edge-to-edge for their width, damp and smooth at speed, and predictable through the turn. They're less playful than the FireArrow 74, but incredibly sure of themselves through crud and chop. The tips are very stiff both longitudinally and torsionally, and they bust crud like there's no tomorrow. They are stiffly cambered as well, and you can really feel them storing energy during flexion. They will skid more willingly than a true GS ski and penalize you less for loading the tails during late control and completion. But this ski's core DNA is pretty much just a widened beer league GS ripper and it is in general not forgiving.
I rode them for a week of uncrowded, variable-conditions skiing at Sugarloaf, including (on different days): classic 'Loaf white ice, a rainy day, and a few inches of new snow. Perhaps owing to that rain, there was hardly anyone else on the mountain, so I had enough room to really let them rip. I am used to overpowering non-competition skis; I stand six foot six inches, 205 lbs in my stocking feet, and am composed mostly of leg and core muscle with a fairly aggressive race-background skiing style. But in six hard, fast days, I was unable to find their speed limit or give these planks more than they could handle. If you go looking for this ski's boundaries, you will end up sweaty, breathing very hard, and with sore quadricep muscles. I recommend the attempt very highly.
I have yet to see a mogul this season, so I can't shed light on their performance in the bumps. However, by extrapolating this ski's on piste performance, I can't imagine them being particularly friendly while bumping. A mogul run now and then might be doable but you might end up breathing hard.
My first complaint is that the turn radius might be a bit long for crowded East coast weekend days. To get these things out of the fall line while skiing a clean line, you need a lot of hill width. The 184 cm version has a 20 meter radius, which is pushing the limits of plausible for a Saturday at Hunter or Windham. And they're so longitudinally stiff that it's not easy to get a shorter-radius turn out of them. You need to lean them over really, really far in order to draw small C's.
Also the system binding is not going to win any awards, and its maximum DIN is 12. So if you're a big guy and you ski these the way they're meant to be skied, you might not get to keep your binding spring in the middle of its travel. Maybe next year they'll put a more race-flavored binding on.
Also, these are ungodly expensive. Don't pay full retail. Find them on the internet or buy some demos. I have a feeling the shop's demos get skied for one run and then brought back, so you could get a nearly-new set for pretty cheap.
All things considered, this is probably as close as I've ever seen to a flawless East Coast one-ski quiver for a strong skier. It shreds everything on the frontside, especially in crud and on the hard stuff. It's a blast. Truly disco sticks. But don't get carried away --- for real sheer blue ice you still need (at a minimum) a skinny beer league SL or cheater GS ski.