Title: Review: 2012 Stockli Stormrider 95, current/2012 VXL, CX, LXL, and Spirit Motion
Environment and Conditions:
Stowe Stockli demos (big shout out to Whiteroom), 2-3 runs per ski, 32-38 degrees F, clear and windless, spring conditions over frozen. Demo was at Spruce, did not take skis over to Mansfield.
Middle aged, 6' 170 lbs, 30+ days this season, 30+ years skiing, PSIA level 8-9
Aggressiveness: Moderate to assertive finesse/technical on populated slopes, compete a bit, like to turn, prefer trees or chutes to groomers unless I'm working on stuff. Knees too crappy to jump.
Current skis I like: Anything over 70 mm from Kastle, anything under 100 mm from Blizzard, Rossi race skis and fatties, Stocklis that I can flex, iM Heads, PM Gear and DPS for specialized fats.
Stormrider 95 (rockered, 183 cm, 95 mm waist, 22 m radius, 11 mm taper) - Have been wondering when someone would catch up to Kastle. But while everyone's been watching the new Blizzards, Stockli snuck in and stole the crown. Certifiable rocker in a Stockli! Looked to be about 30 cm long, bullet shaped tip that never flared upward very much. So long and low variety. Tail has a fairly long flip that doesn't rise very far. Construction is classic Stockli, two fairly thick sheets of metal, not sure if synthetic or wood or mix as core. Nicely textured topsheet is kelly green with abstract long spikes of black, red, and white. Not fugly, but not elegant either. Since there's not much taper, the tail looks large. Oddly, no finishing/cover at tip, so doesn't look very Stockli-like at a glance.
These felt heavy in the hands compared to 176 FX94's, but they ski like lightweights. The predominate feeling is easy, unflappable, silk. These aren't crushers in the sense of a Head Mojo or longer Atlas. You really notice the rocker and flip tail, not because they engage abruptly - actually the best mesh of rocker and tail to sidecut I've ever encountered - but because the ski runs like it's in the middle 170's. Just tip 'n turn. I'd like to try a 175-177 if I were going to use these mainly in the east, but the 183 would be perfect for the west. Don't know what increments they'll come in.
In heavy mush and piles of crystals, these tended to iron out, rather than bulldoze. These were perfectly happy to smear and pivot all you wished. I was doing whirlies on the blue groomers, skiing backwards with the kids, all the stuff Stocki's aren't supposed to enjoy. In partly refrozen crud that was bouncing my Atlases, these required less active compensation than either MX88's or FX94's, skied more like a relaxed MX98 squaretail, or a stouter current MX98. At 40 mph, definitely without the kids, these kept saying (in singsong Swiss German, of course), "So when you going to ski, ya?" They didn't feel as race ski precise as a metal Kastle, but better in that regard than any other rockered 90-something I have tried.
On refrozen crust and soft ice, these carved predictably. They engaged positively and progressively, no flapping or sudden "uh, there's the sidecut." Compared to my M88's, a touch less absolute grip and a different feel at initiation, very easy, but not that light dive into the turn the MX88's have. Felt very planted in the belly of the turn, and required less attention at the end than MX88's. I attribute this to the single radius and flip versus dual radius and square tail. I did not find these to reach high edge angles as effortlessly as a Kastle, maybe more like an Atlas. They'll get up there, but you have to ask. Not quite as quick onto their edges as the FX94, but a whole lot more poise once there.
In bumps, these required a hair more positive initiation effort than Kastle or other lighter skis such as the Atlas or Legend 94, but they were also less work pivoting than all but the Legend, and more fun than the bunch. Once or twice I had to look down to verify I was slicing big piles of heavy crud that had overmanned my Atlases a run earlier. Absorbed everything the mountain threw at them without braking a sweat. Not sure these would be as pleasant as a softer ski like the Legend or Blizzard One/S3 in more packed moguls like you have at National, though. The weight didn't wear me down in bumps, but I only skied two runs on them, so...
By contrast, my FX94's are no fun at all in these conditions, plenty quick and supple, but needing constant management, and they can get jouncy in a hurry. MX88's OTOH are supple and easier at the start, but let you know they have a big heavy flat tail waiting; they prefer short swing zippering to longer swing pivots and rolls. Best comparison for the SR 95's would be a current MX98; nearly as quick, bit less forgiving and supple, smoother and stiffer without being planky.
Overall, I find these to be a (gasp) better ski than the FX94, slightly better than current MX98, and way better than any other mid to high 90's I have skied. (No, I have not skied the new Blizzards yet. But I'd be very surprised if they top this.) A surprisingly close call with the late lamented squaretail MX98, depends on taste and mission, still maybe a touch behind the MX88 overall, which I like better for the frontside, not as much for off-piste, toss in tight places. Unfortunately, Stormrider 95's may be too heavy to hike any distance or skin. Paging Stockli guys: Any weights?
Stockli VXL (179 cm, 87 mm waist, 21 m radius) - Had not skied these before Sunday. If the SR95's are next generation, these are fully executed this-generation. An honest competitor to the MX88. I found these more stable in the muck and crud than any ski in the 87-89 range I've skied except the 89 Stockli SS and XXXL, and those are far more kick-you-in-the-a** planks when you don't bring your A or A- game respectively. Very nice grip in on undemanding ice, very planted and smooth in bumps. Effortless on transitions from soft groomed to scratchy. Extremely damp; found myself wishing for a touch more snowfeel once or twice.
These required a bit more active management in heavy difficult snow than several comparable skis such as the Sultan 85, MX88 or Apex. Could have been me, moving from ski to ski, but they seemed a touch irritable about lateral CM. And the traditional tip, while nicely softened over the XXXL, still lends itself to going through, rather than over, so that's a matter of taste. Overall, I would group this with the Apex, a bit behind the MX88 but ahead of any of the other "Crazy 88's."
Stockli CX (170 cm, 69 mm waist, 15 m radius, 16 mm taper, wood core, polymide inserts in top Titanal sheet) - Had heard a lot of good things about these and the SX. Couldn't get to the SX's. For about a half run I kept looking down at my boots because the CX's felt so diminutive. (Also a better looking ski in person than pics convey; nice pebbled surface and bold simple graphics.) Then I realized I could just push them harder and harder and they wouldn't fold. Conversely, I could relax and they were fine with that too. Just a superb all around carver for days when you face variable snow and may spend some runs ripping on your own, some cruising with the family.
On hard snow and soft ice, very planted and non-temperamental. Not as much grip as my G-Forces, but better than most other skis of this genre I've tried. Silky smooth, light feeling, and unflappable; you just initiate and if you wish the ski will take care of the rest, regardless of the surface or speed. Well, to about 40 mph, which was as fast as conditions allowed here. Suspect for GS speed freaks on bigger terrain, the SX would be the ticket, although it might give up some of the CX's suppleness at lower speeds. Found myself wishing for that demo, a touch more snowfeel on the CX (very damp; have a hunch the demo binders don't help with that), and another 2 cm of length. (They felt about as stable at 170 as my G-Forces do at 167.)
In bumps, this was comparable to a Supersonic or Contact Ltd/Cruiser, which is high praise. Not as flickable as a Supersonic, not as airy as a Contact, not quite as versatile as either in the tail for different kinds of turns. But smoother and more secure than either; kinda felt like a mini Apex, that terrain-hugging quality. Better in bumps by far than my MX70's, or Head SS's, or my various Fischers. Also comparable to my old Rotors (the original bright blue ones), but a bit quicker and lighter edge to edge.
In heavy mush and crud, this ski was weirdly untroubled. I've never been on a recreational carver that was so unaffected by slicing through bad snow. It has the ease of a Dynastar Contact, but far more secure on rough snow. Perhaps call it a 4x4 for lighter skiers. My G-Forces are just as solid or moreso, but provide a lot more feedback about what's happening out front; this can be a good thing on ice, but distracting in heavy crud. Superior in every way, on every surface I tried, to Kastle MX70's, which appear to be directed at the same audience. Cannot speak to the RX's, but if I were Kastle, bet I'd be hearing breathing at my shoulder from the SX...
Wife's test; she's late 30's, 5'8", 140, PSIA level 7-8, power over finesse, loves trees and speed (although not at same time necessarily), currently owns 5* (161) and MX88's (168), has never demoed before and MX88's are first ski since the 5* were new, so little as comparison :
Stockli LXL (170 cm, 80 mm waist, 17 m radius) - Hit of the day for her. Said that they had a lightness and ease even in the heavy muck that surprised her. Typical Stockli stability. She liked them in bumps, on soft ice, all over the mountain. Compared to her MX88's, they felt quicker edge to edge, lighter, friendlier, but not as planted at speed, nor as much grip. She said several times they felt stiffer once in the turn than the 88's, which surprised me. About the same effort to achieve a given edge angle.
Her comments about stiffness could reflect either the fact that the 170 LXL's are the longest in that model, while 168 MX88's are the second shortest out of four, or that she was skiing slower today than usual because of conditions. In either case, she said she'd think about these as keepers if she didn't already own the 88's.
Stockli CX (170 cm, see above). Wife skied the same CX I did since they did not have shorter lengths. Predicably, she had troubles with it, said that it felt planky and unresponsive until she got it moving, then she liked the stability and smoothness. Not a fair test, we agreed, because of the length issue.
Stockli Spirit Motion (165 cm, 69 mm waist, 14 m radius). These served as a comparison to her 5*'s. She found them compliant, smooth, easy to initiate, "just a very nice ski." Very easy in bumps, were not deflected at moderate speeds by piles of heavy mush. They were noticeably softer than her 5* and she didn't feel the same "oomph" when she hit the accelerator, or what she described as a "special, right there-feeling" when she edged on harder surfaces. But she enjoyed the refinement, not as raw feeling as the 5* either. We agreed that this would be a superior ski for intermediates, or for advanced skiers who wanted to take it easy and cruise big arcs on the frontside.
Edited by beyond - 3/22/11 at 7:32am