Looking for help on first ski purchase. Sorry, long post warning.
About me – 38, 5’10, weight varies from 166-176. 23 seasons of on and off experience. Never skied real mountains of west or east, great lakes/appalachian regions only. Only twice did I experience powder between ankle and shin deep. Current season entirely on two hills in western NY. Returning after a few years away, not as confident and capable as in teens/early 20’s. Prior to this year I never entered mogul fields or glads and want to develop the skills to do so confidently. Would like to attend a mogul camp. Confident on most other terrain, longer steeper runs give me cause for hesitation as my speed can get away from me leaving me on the edge of control – a dangerous feeling. With the exception of those steepest runs I enjoy fast runs, typically one of the faster skiers on the hill, which isn’t really as fast as I would like to think it is. I would like to consider myself level 7, and might well be a 5 or 6.
This season I sampled many different skis (ALWAYS in standard rental boots, yuck, planning a professional fitting and purchase before next season), some disgusted me, others taught me what I don’t like, others yet really impressed me. I've ALWAYS rented either from on hill performance rental shop or retailer demo's. All comments on skis are by no means a review and may be relevant only to me, and my skill set, and what I like to feel in a ski.
I’ll list what I rode, and comment on ones worthy of comment in hopes those with experience (looking at you dawgcatching) will have some input as to what I will enjoy most on purchase.
Elan Magfire 8 – 160 - easy ride Elan Magfire 12 -176 - not for me, Rossignol Roc X – 170 - no comment, Head Big Easy – 160, 165, 170 – really easy riding boards, perform okay in varied conditions. A bit slow but confident and helped me regain my skills early in the season.
Fischer Progressor 10+ - 170
Early season, larger hill, this is my favorite ski ever on groomed runs including lightly roughed up powder (3 inches fresh that had been pushed around for several hours). Stable, fast, easy to turn, great grip. Just feels solid. Provides nice feedback when pushing higher speed turns and works well on quick turns. Stays stable at any speed I pushed through crud. Took it out early in the season before I had confidence to attack the steeps or enter bumps.
Fischer Progressor 8+ - 175
Larger hill, icy under 6 inches of fresh granular. Surprised me how much harder I had to work to enjoy this after the love of the 10+. I expected an easier ride – nope. Any amount of laziness on this and it would jet away from me. It felt like the binding position was incredibly forward on the set I rode. Likes to be on edge. Comfortable at speed, controllable through small bumps, and just required more focus than I like to give. Wore me out. Wrong length for me? Wrong ski for varied conditions? Perhaps I wouldn’t have loved the 10 on this particular day either?
Fischer Motive 80 – 175
Larger hill, late in season, rode same day before and after the Progressor 8. A real sweatheart. Super easy ride. Does nothing wrong. Felt like I was on something much shorter. A very maneuverable ski, easy to take into bumps, super stable on chopped and shoveled crud runs, gripped ice very well. I felt very relaxed and confident on this, not tentative to take it anywhere. The most comfortable of the long skies I rode all season. My concern is that along with doing nothing wrong, nothing about it screamed “WOW this is what we do best together”. Not as fast as I’d like on long intermediates.
Rossignol Phantom SC74 – 168cm
One the oldest lowest priced models I rode all year (short of the Head Big Easy). I really like this aside from the graphics – just ugly IMHO. Nice energy and feedback at speed, quick edge to edge, stable. Didn’t get to ski it in crud/bumps/chop/steeps. I liked the confidence it gave at ‘my’ high speeds.
Rossignol Avenger 74 composite 166 –
Took this out on the larger hill – 3 fresh inches of medium weight powder fell after grooming, an additional 9 fell through the day. My favorite day of the season. The conditions gave me confidence to attempt skiing bumps after realizing I was skiing bumps all day after the trails started getting some use. A very nice and confidence inspiring ride (for the day). I can’t comment on how I would like it on groomers/hardpack/ice because we had so much snow falling through the day. The day and the ski worked very, very well together.
Rossignol Avenger 82 carbon – 177 –
Rode same day as P8 and Motive – first ride of the day. Took these three on same trails, in same order. This one did not suit me (expected to enjoy it after liking the 74 so well). Hard for me to control and keep speed in check.
Solomon Enduro – 170
Rode on the larger hill, middle season (same day as and just before the Progressor 10) felt heavy, unwieldy, and VERY substantial. Only rode 4 runs and traded out, made me work a lot, not easy for me to get on edge with this one.
In summary: Would be satisfied with either Progressor 10 (for most days, if it will help me learn bumps), Motive 80, or –gulp – old used Rossi Phantom SC74’s. What I want though, is to be ecstatic with my choice. I would love to ride Sultan 85’s and Motive 84’s to make a final decision, they are not available regionally, and, oh yeah, looks like it would be hard to compare anyway since we’re in rain/thaw/refreeze end of season cycling now . I’m willing to purchase either without a demo if the better experienced with them members here would suggest them over the Progressor 10 or Motive 80, for me, and my preferences. (or insert ski of choice here__________) And what lengths should I be looking at in each? I was very satisfied with the Motive 80 in 175, but not wowed. Wowed by the Progressor 10 at 170 but question it’s usefulness in learning bumps and going off trail. I fear it now after wrestling the P8.