Some quick impressions from the Epicski Gathering demo day at Mount Rose today. Special thanks to Philpug and the crew at StartHaus for helping set things up, and to Rossi, Nordica, Blizzard, Fischer, Dynastar, Head, Elan, and Kastle for coming out to Mt. Rose to set us up with FREE demos of a big pile of next year's skis.
Conditions: 18" the day before, on top of icy conditions. The Chutes hadn't been opened the day before (and didn't open until a few hours into the day). So knee-deep fresh (over inconsistent ice and rocks) in "The Chutes", and a mix of soft groomers and chopped-up powdery bumps everywhere else.
Skier: 6'6", 265 lbs., primarily Eastern skier and PSIA instructor. I don't charge super-hard, especially off-piste, but I can lay over a decent carve. :-)
Rossignol Experience 88: I took these out because my girlfriend really liked the Temptation 88 the day before, and I wanted to see what they were like. Very smooth and solid on the groomers, although I felt like I was overpowering them at times. Fine in the bumps, but the fresh snow wasn't available yet. I was told these were unchanged from the 2011-12 version.
Dynastar Cham 107: I REALLY liked this ski. 5-point design, tip and tail rocker with camber underfoot. Held much better on groomers than I expected. REALLY fun in the powdery, choppy bumps -- went right over the crud underneath without getting bogged down. Didn't get a chance to take these in the Chutes, since that terrain wasn't yet and these skis weren't available later on.
Nordica Patron: Not impressed. 113(?) underfoot, tip and tail rocker. A lot of work on groomers for mediocre performance, and I found them to be somewhat hard to handle in the bumps as well. While I was going up the lift with these, they dropped the rope on the chutes, so I took what I could get and dropped through a gate before it got too tracked up. On the first turn I hit a submerged bump and lost a ski, so that wasn't the best start. They were better in the fresh snow, but I felt like I had to stay way back on them to keep the tips up when skiing at a moderate pace. Maybe an issue with the demo bindings/mounting?
Nordica Hell+Back: the Nordica rep gave me these after I told him I liked the Cham 107 a lot more than the Patron. 98mm underfoot, this has (IIRC) tip rocker but no tail rocker, and metal reinforcement. They definitely held a lot better on the groomers than the Patron, and maybe handled a little better in the bumps. I didn't take these back through the chutes.
Blizzard Bonafide: 98mm waist, flipcore, tip rocker. I had not skied these before, and I can see why so many people rave about them. Fantastic groomed snow performance for a ski this wide -- it's not as solid as the cambered 8.7 Magnum I own, but it's surprisingly close. EXTREMELY responsive; just does whatever you tell it to do. Easy to handle in the bumps and cut-up crud. I used these to take another trip through the chutes, which had gotten substantially more tracked out by then. They definitely inspired confidence in steep, somewhat inconsistent snow.
Blizzard Cochise: 108(?)mm, tip and tail rocker, IIRC no camber underfoot. Unfortunately, as I took the lift up with these after a late lunch, a storm front rolled in and they had to shut down almost everything due to high wind. I'd planned on going back through the chutes with these, but I couldn't do that without being stranded on the wrong side of the resort. These were okay working my way back down from the summit. Better groomer performance than the Patron, but definitely a big step down from the Bonafide. I actually liked the Bonafide more in the bumps, but these worked okay. Would have liked to try them in the powder.