I've read a lot of reviews on here re all of these skis but thought I would get folks thoughts given the following: I've got a wide powder ski (116 waist) and a Volkl Explosiv (2004, 173 cm). I love the Volkl on groomers but it is a little too much ski for me elsewhere. I'm 36, have skied most my life, and am male, but short (5'3" 145 lbs). I mostly ski at Alpine Meadows with the occasional trip to Alta. I am finally replacing the Volkl (but will continue to use it for groomers) so am looking for what others on here have called a PM ski. In other words, I want to use this ski off-piste when the conditions are less than ideal -- bumps, choppy crud, etc. Given my size, and a couple of reviews I've seen, it seems the Kastle LX 92 may be the best of the bunch (but the reviews on this ski were limited). But I've also seen great reviews for the Watea 98 in terms of its bump abilities, nimbleness in the steeps, and general goodness for mixed-conditions. The Sultan 94 and BMX 98 also seem like they would fit well for what I'm looking for and both of those I've seen on sale. So, any thoughts on these four (or others even) are much appreciated.
Watea 98, LX 92, Sultan 94, or BMX 98
I would say the FX94 over the LX92...a bit more metal and the vertical sidewalls make it a great option for a charging lighter skier as yourself. If you want early ride in the tip, the BMX is a great option but for what you want as an Alpine Meadows ski. If you want to demo them along with the Sultan 94, let me know.
Thanks. I didnt know there was a place to demo the Kastles up at Tahoe--but obviously there is. I'm a little hesitant re the FX94 given that the Explosiv was too stiff for me. But the only way to learn that is to demo. Will do so when the snow finally starts flying in these parts.
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Some of this depends on intangibles like feel and dampness. Agree with Phil that the FX94 would be a nice ski for Alpine, it's grippy, fairly lively, certainly more forgiving than the old Exploders but still not a ski that you would want to put on cruise control. No early rise or dual radii to help you arc 'em. The BMX98 is smoother in variable snow and require less driver maintenance in crud and bumps but gives up some grip on ice. Maybe not ideal for Alpine. I have not skied the LX92 but people who have say it may be ignored because it's bracketed by two of the best skis out there (MX88 and FX94), but maybe more versatile than either for lighter skiers who don't always want their pedal to the metal. Have not skied the Sultan, but have the sense from reviews it will be heavier and damper than any of the Kastles, prolly a bit softer too. (Also much cheaper if that's an issue.)
But just to play devil's advocate, all the skis you're talking about are basically one ski quivers. If I were going to supplement a true 116 powder ski, and mostly skied Tahoe, (and wanted the Explosive for groomers, which is an odd idea to me, but different strokes...), I would not be looking for these. I'd be down in the 80's range, something more aimed at carving rough or refrozen snow that can also handle lotsa bumps and crud or chop. Which is what Tahoe is like off-piste a day or two after a storm unless you hike a good ways. Some I'm familiar with that come to mind: Elan Apex, Blizzard Magnum 8.1, Kastle FX84, Stockli VXL, and one that I haven't skied but gets good buzz, the Volkl RTM 84. Just sayin'...
Your point re going narrower is well taken and I have considerd that and will probably try to demo something in that range. But here's a little more info.
Re the Explosivs, to explain further, I have been skiing on those for 7 years now and they have been my only ski until very recently. I’ve enjoyed them and have used them extensively all over the mountain, soft snow or hard snow. But for me at least, the Volkls were not good for making quick turns in tight areas and were no fun at all in the bumps. But they were great for making big GS turns on the groomers, and they were also fun in areas like Alpine's Beaver Bowl when the snow was soft. So that is why I will still use them for the groomers—a) because I don’t care much about how any ski I own performs on groomers, and b) because the Explosivs did fine there. But for all other conditions (except for deep powder), I do want a ski that performs better for me than the Explosiv did.
Now, if it isn't already very apparent, I am pretty clueless when it comes to the nuances of all the modern skis I have to choose from. Like I said, I've pretty much been skiing Explosivs for 7 years and while I now own a pir of 116 powder skis as well, I barely know those skis yet. The reason I gravitate towards the 92-98 range is because it sounds like there are a lot of skis in that range which will go where I no longer want to take my Explosivs, will be much nimbler than the Explosivs, and will also be able to take on the bumps in a good (but not great) way – at least that’s what the reviews of the Watea 98, FX 94, and Legend 94 suggest. I don’t doubt at all that the FX 84 will be even better than the 94 in the bumps so admittedly I should at least give something in the narrower range a try. But I am (or at least think so far that I am) looking more for a ski that’s good in the PM of a storm day or the day after as opposed to a ski that's good several days after.