-2012 Rossignol Super S7 188cm, 12 Marker Jester 16, center mount (145-115-123)
-2009 Volkl Mantra 184cm, 09 Rossignol Axial2 120, center mount (133-96-116)
-2007 K2 Apache Recon 174cm, Marker M1 integrated piston binding (119-78-105)
-30 year old male, 6'0", 185lb
-2008 Salomon Impact 10 size 30.5 boot
-40 days a year Rockies/Sierras (midwesterner flying to ski with an Epic season pass)
I started skiing again in the 2008 season. At that point I hadn't skied since I was a kid on straight skis. I got Recons, and immediately reaped the benefits of shaped skis. Instantly I was a better skier than I remembered. Days with fresher snow were spent in steep black canyon territory. Dry days included carving blue and black groomers at top speed. Warm spring days were spent lapping double black mogul runs trying to improve my bump skiing. Perhaps nothing can float in Sierra concrete, but the Recons clearly were not adequate for powder days. Tons of effort with no floatation. They were very fast on groomers and made beautiful effortless turns, but felt very dead doing it. They can get through crud because of their weight, but don't feel particularly stiff. Basically, a very easy-going ski that left me wanting more.
After adding a set of Mantras, I swapped skis a few days just to get used to the differences between the Recons and Mantras, and after that, the Recons have been collecting dust. The Mantras are just that great. They are very responsive on groomers and allow very stable high speed carving. They will hold an edge in icy conditions. They are very lively underfoot which I believe comes from their stiff construction. This can also really help you blast through crud. That stiffness is not helpful in the bumps of course, but they are passable. They are a step up off-piste from the narrower Recons. The mid-fat waist allows some float, but anything beyond 8" leaves me a bit disappointed with their performance. I find myself leaning way back in order to keep the tips up, sinking, working hard, and not being as maneuverable as I want to on those admittedly rare deep days. Conclusion: all-mountain versatility on everything but the deepest of powder days.
The Mantras have >100 days on them now. During my most recent (unexpected) base weld repair I demo'd a set of Nordica Soul Riders (137-97-124) to experience something softer with twin tips and some rocker. Still allows you to bomb a groomer, but turns are more of a smear than a lean-to-carve. Way more comfortable riding backwards than the Mantras of course (though I spend <5% of my time in a park). The tips will stay up better in soft snow, though conditions weren't very deep that week. Compared to the Mantras, they are also more comfortable landing small jumps and going through the bumps. Crud is a different experience: more about deflecting to absorb rather than powering through. Overall, a very fun playful ski, opened my mind to rockers.
And then 14" powder hit Vail and everyone in Colorado came out of hiding... knowing the Mantras tend to disappoint me on the deepest days, I demo'd a set of Super7s in 188cm. I've obviously never been on something this wide before. I've also never enjoyed a deep day this much! Simply revolutionary coming from a mid-fat waist. Can really transform an ok powder skier into a stud. Floating, never touching bottom in untracked sections is of course amazing. Not getting exhausted, going faster than before, and looking better better doing it is where the real difference is though. Catching a little air gave super soft landings. And suddenly, I found myself maneuvering in deep powder in tight tree terrain with ease. Wow. I vowed to never compromise on a powder day again. I bought my own set and then had a chance to swap back and forth with the Mantras two more days with 0 and 4 inches of fresh snow. Luckily, I found some new steep terrain opening and had a chance to lay some trenches on big lines. That feeling is addicting on the Super7, but the Mantra wasn't able to float and turn as well on the same soft snow. The Super7 is very well behaved on the front side. On piste it still holds a good edge and uses the camber under foot to allow high speed carving. Keeps >95% of the confidence of my Mantras even on an icy black diamond at top speed. With better on-piste conditions or blue terrain I found even less difference between the skis. The softer rockered tips let me hit moguls faster than with the Mantras, but of course the width can be a bit to handle in the bumps; I found myself knocking the front tips together a few times, knicking the top sheet. When it came to hike for some fresh turns, the Mantras came out instead as I didn't want the weight of the Super7s. I eventually experienced some odd behavior with the Super7s, with the feeling of different radius turns depending on the depth of soft snow. I could only replicate it in the flat run outs after exiting a steep section at high speed on edge, but it wasn't confidence inspiring regardless. And the extra width under foot is like a heat seeking missile for hidden rocks off-piste... sending them to the shop after only 2 days for a base weld. Conclusion: revolutionary in powder, competent on-piste, but still planning on flying a 2-ski quiver next trip.