2012: Head iPeak 84, Blizzard Magnum 7.6, Blizzard Mag. GSr, Volkl Racetiger Sidewall SL
Environment & Conditions:
Wild Mountain, MN. Not a bad day for skiing in Minnesota: cold & clear. With a return to some more typical early January temperatures, the resort had been blowing new snow overnight, so when I arrived today (1/13) the snowcats were busy grooming everything nice and smooth. So, most every run was on nice soft corduroy with only a couple of runs still hard pact to icy. Actually made for some very nice skiing today, only drawback – not a lot of variety to see how the skis work in different snow conditions and, with only so much vertical to work with, a bit of a challenge to really work the skis. Thankfully, they did have an open race course set up, so I could get in the gates with the race skis.
Height/Weight: 5'-11”, 195
Level 8 or so, a little more finesse than aggressive, but still like to push toward fast GS type skiing. Ski the whole mountain, blue groomers to back bowls, except for the big moguls. Mix of traditional style skiing and modern carving technique. Other skis in this genre that I like/owned/have owned: Volkl AC4, Nordica Hot Rod Jet Fuel, Dynastar Contact 4X4, Fischer Worldcup RC4 Pro
Conclusion: Not a bad ski in the bunch! Constant comment for all of them – top notch carvers! Tip ‘em up on edge and ride the rails! I like the Blizzard 7.6 over the Head iPeak 84 for this type of frontside skiing. After a bit of disappointment testing the Blizzard 8.1, I was very pleasantly surprised by the 7.6’s performance. This could very well be my next ski!
Head iPeak 84 PR Pro - 177
Started out the day on this ski. This was the ski I was most interested in trying as I thought it would be the best candidate to be my all-mountain ski for Copper. It took a run or two to get settled on it, and my first impressions were not that great, but after a bit of adjustment (and getting warmed up on my part), the more I skied on it, the better I liked it. The ski’s strengths are great edge hold, handles speed very well, and a smooth, but not excessively damp ride. I found it just a bit balky at slower speeds, not quite as accepting of a skidded turn as I would like, and not always comfortable changing turn shapes.
The ski definitely prefers a more active driver. If I put myself in the back seat, the ski got rather unruly, especially at slower speeds. However, when I was centered or forward on the skis, the ski was very manageable and would go from a gentle skidded turn into a nice carve with a touch of speed and angulation. Wild Mountain has one run (The Wall) that is quite a drop and was hard and icy. It made for a good place to test not only edge hold, but also quick short hop turns that one might face in a tight chute. The iPeak was light enough to quickly move it from side to side, and the great edge hold bit nicely in to the hard pack.
On the down side, the softer tip of this ski made it a bit skittish when tracking on a straight schuss. I also found the ski just a touch too damp for my tastes. I prefer a ski with a bit more pop and a bit quicker side to side. I suspect that this ski, with its relatively softer flex, would be a very good 40/60, maybe even 30/70 frontside/backside ski for any western resort.
Blizzard Magnum 7.6 – 170cm
Wow! Even at a short 170 for me, these skis really performed incredibly well. Anything I asked for I got from these puppies! High speed hip to snow GS turns? No problem. Light, quick, side to side, plenty of pop and energy coming back out of the turn – they are right there. These skis compare very favorably to and ski very much like the Dynastar 4X4 ski that I also really like. I don’t have anything negative to say about these skis, just one hole to admit to that, of course, I didn’t have any real opportunity to see what these skis can do in crud or in any powder type conditions. My guess is these are about as good a 70/30 ski as one could find in today’s crop of skis. Would love to hear if anyone has had a chance to ski these in 6 – 12 inches of pow.
Blizzard Magnesium GSr – 174cm
A great GS citizen race ski. Expertskier calls this one a great way to get your ticket pulled. I’d have to agree. Not really happy unless it’s making high speed GS turns. I liken it to driving a top quality sports car – just cruising along then suddenly you realize you’re doing 120 and it feels like going 60. Very smooth, very stable. For me, it was a bit too much work to get it to shorten up. For the short beer circuit/NASTAR courses here on our local hills, I might opt for something with a smaller turning radius. But for longer runs, like the Master’s clinics at Copper Mountain, this would be a great ski!
Volkl Racetiger Speedwall SL – 160cm
I hadn’t ever tried a ‘slalom’ ski before, so this was a bit of a new experience. This is Volkl’s prosumer SL race ski with a Marker system binding. The ski worked really well in the gates, again, an excellent carver, very stable at speed, and, most surprisingly to me, not squirrely for a short SL ski. Good pop across the fall line and a lot of fun to lay over and make arcs back on the groomed runs. Also did very well on the ice on The Wall. Actually found this ski, despite its tight turning radius, to be very comfortable going long. So much so, in fact, that it re-ignited an old debate for me: for beer league racing, is it better to with a short GS type ski or a longer SL type ski? The Volkl makes a strong case for the latter. I could see this ski replacing my Fischer WC RC4’s as my everyday race ski.