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What is the difference between a carver and a Sultan 85?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

There has been a lot of talk about skiing on hard snow this year for obvious reasons. A week ago I skied all day on groomers in Tahoe -- it was the day after the one series of storms we have had this winter, so the snow was pretty soft. I was on my Sultan 85 skis and I had a blast. But it got me wondering if I could ski groomers all day on hard snow (i.e. Tahoe hard snow, not true ice) and have that much fun. I started looking at various threads here and got confused.


Here is a quote from Dawgcatching (a reviewer I respect) from a thread on February 26 last year:

"Out here, it was more like "it hasn't snowed in 5 weeks, but rained a few times". Fortunately that is all gone now, but it was still pretty fun for a change of pace. People were bitching about the conditions, but they were plenty of fun on the right skis and if you know how to ski (hard snow). My personal choice was the Magnum 8.1, but same difference as the [Sultan] 85. It is great to have a ski like that around for anyone who doesn't live in Haines and own a helicopter."


This quote makes it sound like the Sultan 85 is a good choice for western hard snow. However, in a more recent thread, here is an exchange between Philpug and Dawgcatching:

Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

These 80-85mm skis are skiing so well that in most cases the pluses in versatility out weigh the Nth degree loss in edge hold or edge to edge quickness. Now with the newest of generations, thanks in most case to early rise, we are even getting bigger sweets posts that they are becoming even more versatile. What is also an interesting trend in this category, is that more and more of these skis are being offered flat (w/o hostage system plates) so the buyer can choose their binding of choice. icon14.gif

"True, some do.  But, there is always that vroom.....feeling I get when I load up a sub 80mm power ski that just isn't there on a frontside oriented wider ski (such as the Sultan 85).  When it is hard snow, that power and pop out of the turn. is the reason I am at the hill.  The best skis for that are race carvers, but a well tuned frontside power ski (like the P900, RX12, Stockli SX) gets it done better than any 80+ ski I am aware of.  But, if we are talking about the general population, most people don't want that kind of power and precision in their skis."


So, maybe the Sultan 85 is a good hard snow choice for the "general population" but a skier can have even more fun all day on groomers with a "frontside power ski."


So how much difference is there between a carver and a Sultan 85? Enough that I should add a consumer carver to my quiver? Would I want to ski more "hard" snow days in Tahoe if I had something like a Blizzard Supersonic? Or would I not be able to tell that much of a difference (I am not an ex-racer)?


I am intrigued by the idea of adding a carver if I could get one at a good price. However, I think I would want a more "all mountain" carver that would be fun in bumps, not too demanding, but be zippier and more thrilling on hard snow than my Sultan 85. Would this quiver addition be worth it?

post #2 of 14


Originally Posted by TallSkinnyGuy View Post

Would I want to ski more "hard" snow days in Tahoe if I had something like a Blizzard Supersonic?  Would this quiver addition be worth it?

Speaking from first hand experience, the answer to your question is a very loud yes.  I used to be a bit of a fresh snow snob.  Then about 5 years ago things changed for my wife such that groomed skiing is by far her best and often only option.  But she still loved to ski.  So I bought a pair of carving skis and started learning more about that aspect of skiing.  I have to say that pulling lined 2g turns on hardpack without any skid involved (at least in my mind!) rivals a good cut-up crud day.  Different joys, but still the same great sport, out in the same great mountains.


Side benefit:  At my home area anyway, new snow days are darn crowded, at least until noon.  On a sunny bluebird groomer day, the place is a ghost town.

post #3 of 14

The Sultan 85 is a versatile all mountain frontside ski with a bit of a bias towards hard snow. A true carver like say a Dynastar Course Ti is much more biased towards hard snow. The difference is grip, energy and dampening which favors the carver vs. versatility which favors the AM ski.


The true carver can make a day on the hardpack into some serious fun (and some challenge as well). The hard snow biased all mountain ski won't give you the level of exhilaration that the carver will but will be way more useful when there are mixed conditions to deal with.


Remember, the ideal quiver is three skis to encompass the three main categories of snow conditions (1) Hard snow (2) mixed snow (3) soft/deep snow.


Pick your priorities.



post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that feedback. I've been doing some additional reading on this topic since I made my first post and am definitely leaning towards adding a carver.


Anyone have any suggestions on specific skis? I have a tight budget and would need to buy older skis. Also, like I originally stated, I would want a carver that is good on the groomers but soft enough to also work well in the bumps. I would be looking for more excitement on the groomers that my Sultan 85 provides, but don't want anything too demanding. I was thinking of something like a Blizzard Supersonic or a Fischer Progressor 10+. Any other suggestions?

I am much taller than the average person but weight 190 lbs. I was thinking a 174 for the Supersonic or 175 for the Progressor.


post #5 of 14

Fischer WC.  Either RC or SC depending on the size of your local hill (bigger = RC).


post #6 of 14

Blizzard Supersonic, Nordica Fire Arrow 74, Head Supershape.


So many good choices, and lots of great prices for "leftover" model years.


I've never had a zippier, more fun, all around ski than my Fire Arrow 80 Pro's, but that is probably a bit wider than you are considering.


I own a pair of Fischer Progressor 8+ in 172, and they are really fun, but strictly a "wife ski" for when I want to discourage high speeds and encourage lots of short, quick turns.  At 195 pounds, they definitely have a speed limit.

post #7 of 14

Dynastar contact cross is available for little money at some sites right now and that would be an excellent compliment to the sultan 85. Also the K2 apache recon is a good all mountain "carver" that can be found at sites like evo.com at great prices. I ski a  fischerprogressor and it is a good utility front side ski, but very hard to find at discounted rates. Good luck.

post #8 of 14

Thanks for dragging that stuff up!  At the time, I had been skiing mostly frontside biased all-mountain skis over my usual mid 90's "average at everything" skis.  The Sultan 85 is a fun frontside biased ski, but still quite all-mountain.  Way more fun on groomers than the wider skis.  The Blizzi 8.1 getting a bit closer to a carver, depending on the feel you want (and the tune).  I was also trying out a couple of pure carvers (more or less) around that time, and of course, found them to be more fun.  If they were a 10 on firm snow in terms of fun and power, the others were like an 8.5 or 9.  Still great, but not quite up there; more versatile though. The Stockli Cross SX I was skiing with a VIST plate was work off piste.  Sultan 85: much more fun.  But, if I was sticking to groomers, it was better to go all the way, with a Stockli, Kastle RX12 (which I bought), or similar.  I guess it all depends on what you are doing, and what you expect out of a ski.  If I am skiing groomers, give me a ski with race-ski horsepower, but not quite the work involved. I don't want a ski that only turns above 40mph, but do want a ski that is the ski equivalent of my buddy's 911 Turbo.  Those skis get progressively worse in off-piste conditions, though, but really amp up the fun on groomers and hard snow.


If you aren't getting off-piste, I say go whole hog and get a real carver.  It you need a ski to bounce between groomers, bumps, and crud, then look at something like a Blizzard 8.1, Fischer  P900, Kastle MX78. Something with some horsepower and snap, but just more versatile in varying conditions.  I wouldn't buy an 8.1 for groomers, over a G-Power or Supersonic, putting it mildly.  But, I would ski an 8.1 as my frontside biased, haven't seen snow in awhile, go anywhere ski, whereas the G-Power might not be as versatile. 


The trick is finding a ski that has 90% (or more) of the hard snow power and juice of a true carver, yet still versatile, if that is what you are looking for. 

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

The trick is finding a ski that has 90% (or more) of the hard snow power and juice of a true carver, yet still versatile, if that is what you are looking for. 

That is exactly what I am looking for. I would only want it to perform on groomers and small bumps. I prefer short- and medium-radius turns at moderately high speeds but I have no intention of entering a race course. To compliment my Sultan 85 it would need to have more horsepower and snap but I would not want to be required to ski over 30 mph to get it to perform. I couldn't care less about crud performance -- this would be a ski for groomers and firm bumps. It would just need to be versatile enough to ski at less-than-race speeds and be good in bumps. And, it would need to fit my budget, so a used or pre-2012 ski is required.


post #10 of 14

To add another opinion to the original question since I have the Sultan 85s:  Sultans are a jack of all trades, master at none.  They pretty much always leave me wanting - more grip and pop on slick groomers, more float in pow, etc. - which is why I never 100% love them.  That's OK because they can do it all decently well.  To your question, when I switch between them and my slalom skis - night and day on the groomers and even bumps.  Much faster edge to edge, more pop, more grip, just a good deal more fun.  I've demoed the aforementioned Speed Course Ti (great) and basically same idea but maybe a better comparison since they're around the same turn radius.  If you like and know how to carve on truly hard snow, 85mm will not satisfy.  If you're just cruising down the mountain, save your $ and stick with the Sultans.  Of course, you want catch me off piste on my slalom skis.  For the "trip out West" when I don't know what to expect, Sultans win.

post #11 of 14

My frontside carvers are Head Supershapes. 12.1 meter turn radius. A bunch of rebound out of the turn, and I was hitting 55- 60mph today carving GS turns on groomers. Too much fun! You already have the Sultan 85's for an all mountain ski. This year a strictly frontside ski is where the fun is, at least in CA. And in answer to your question, Head SS - 121-66-107

Bob                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sultan 85- 126-85-110


post #12 of 14
You seem to like your Dynastar sultan 85's so why not go to a Dynastar carver, possibly the contact 4x4 if you're looking for an older model. It's a fantastic front side ski.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by huhh View Post

You seem to like your Dynastar sultan 85's so why not go to a Dynastar carver, possibly the contact 4x4 if you're looking for an older model. It's a fantastic front side ski.

I think I want to add a more carver-specific model than the 4x4. I'd like to go narrower and probably not quite as stiff as the 4x4. The Course Ti is intriguing, though. Actually, I'm starting to think I should take a day and demo a carver just to give the genre a try before making a purchase. But, if a good deal on a used carver that fits my criteria comes up I would probably jump on it.


post #14 of 14

I have the speed course without the Titanium nd it is an excellent front side carver. Great edgehold, stable and comfy. In a 178CM I can make all sizes of turns effortlessly. never tried the TI version, but the standard version skis like a beer league race ski. Absolutely love it!!

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