Just got back from the demos at Loveland. Wanted to try several high-end, versatile, mid-fat skis (waists 79-88) more biased toward the frontside than toward heavy, deep crud or soft, deep powder. These skis have all been getting consistently good reviews. Conditions: cold temperatures, no new snow, hardpack, occasional boilerplate.
Me: Copper instructor, 5' 10", 165 lbs., modern technique. I'm what's called a "feeler," so my reviews are quick impressions of well-regarded/well-reviewed advanced-expert, high-performance skis. Notes were scribbled on the chairlift after a run: totally subjective! I like skis that are just "there" underneath me as a natural extension of me, whatever the condition: not so stiff that my legs are always being pounded (i.e., Volkl AC50), not so soft that they don't hold on hardpack or at speed. So, with that disclaimer, and taking into account that a 230-lb. linebacker would probably prefer skis I find to be too stiff or burly, these were my notes. All were skied in 173-178 lengths.
Volkl RTM 80: This ski was the biggest surprise of the day for me. I used to ski Volkls in the G30 era but moved away as they seemed to get stiffer and burlier every year. This was my favorite ski of the day. Quick, responsive, with phenomenal grip. Volkl claims it is a "full-rocker ski" and, indeed, it seems quite flat in the midsection with a smooth, continuous rise to the tips and tail. So why is it so incredible on hardpack? Beats me, but it is. Conditions precluded crud or bump testing, but the rocker should allow good performance there, too. For a relatively lightweight, high-level skier who has a separate, deep snow ski and wants a great hardpack/bump/moderate-crud ski, this ski is definitely worth a demo .
Volkl RTM 84: A bit wider, beefier construction and definitely a burlier ride. Same great edgehold and more appropriate for a heavier (over 185 pounds) skier.
Dynastar Outland 80: Very solid performer. A bit heavier-skiing than the RTM 80 and not quite the edgehold, but a very good ski.
Salomon Enduro XT 800: Beefy, powerful, held well on the hard snow, but I really can't imagine these dancing down fall-line bumps.
Salomon BBR 7.9: These are certainly the most striking ski I can remember since the old Elan SCX extreme carvers. Superwide tip, narrow tail. Can slip a bit on boilerplate, but a nice, smooth, user-friendly ski. Smooth, even flex. Large tips tapped each other a few times and I'm not sure how they would be in bumps, but for an intermediate to advanced skier who wants a nice, forgiving ride with reasonable performance, these are worth a try.
Rossignol Experience 88s: Rossi and Blizzard have been on a roll for the past few years and these are worthy additions to their line. Versatile, nice feel on the snow. Slight early rise. A touch firm, but certainly not burly. Could use a bit more edgehold on hardpack, but a very, very nice ski.
Edited by mike_m - 11/17/11 at 10:06am