I've been keeping an eye out all season for a mid-fattish ski that I could use for soft snow, chopped-up crud, inbounds powder days, and maybe future AT skiing.....if I ever decide to get off my butt and give that a go. Here's a quick thumbnail take on the ones I've tried so far along with a fuller review of the 2 stand-outs that are the subject of this dual review.
I am 5'10, 165 lbs, 47 years old, solid Advanced (High L7/Low L8) who skis 95% of the Mt. comfortably, 4% in "survival" mode, and 1% makes me whimper like a whipped puppy and wet myself. 80% off-piste/20% groomers and so-so aggressive.
Despite different days, conditions were generally 8-16" of fresh, seriously chopped up soft crud, soft groomers, and some very mild crust in places...some mellow bumps here and there.
Quick take on others I tried prior to the 2 in the title:
- Atomic Access, 129.5-100-121.5, 171cm - Mild-mannered, friendly-skiing ski that I liked more than I thought I would. Did most things pretty well, but nothing that floored me. It didn't like very thin layers of crust, tho. Philpug lists it as a "Steal & Deal winner," and I agree. Good bang for the buck, although it would have to be with the eye-searing lime green! O-K in powder.
- Line Prophet 98, 132-98-123, 179cm - Solid ski that felt damp the way I prefer. Precise. It felt a weeee bit long for me, so a bit unwieldy in spots. I probably would have really liked a 174-176 length. Not quite as nimble as I thought it would be.
Good in powder.
- Rossignol S7, 145-115-123, 176cm - Fun, fun, fun! A tree-slayer! Great in powder. Good enough for me in soft crud. Inspires unwise levels of confidence. Turns on thought alone! Still, a bit heavy feeling and "bulky" for my tastes. A slightly lighter feeling S7 would be perfecto! Not sure if I liked the tail...
- Line Influence 105, 141-105-131, 172cm - Me no likey. It felt damp to the point of being dead. Unresponsive...for me anyway. Felt like a tank. This one was probably too short also. Floated O-K. 1 run and done.
- Armada TST, 118-131-102-123, 174cm - Despite the hideous graphics, I fully expected to LOVE this ski! I Hated it. Very pronounced Early Rise. Supposed to have big sweet spot, but I could not find it. I found it very twitchy, jittery, and nervous skiing. It certainly made me nervous skiing it! Each ski wanted to do its own thing. The only ski I tried that I found confidence-robbing, as opposed to inspiring or neutral.
4FRNT Turbo, 129-104-116, 175cm - On impulse, I drove to Whitefish, MT, for 1 day of demoing the TST and the Fat-ypus L-Toro. Brought the TST back after a mere 3 runs of frustration, and the very cool shop guys at The White Room ski shop in Whitefish suggested I take out the Turbo instead of the L-Toro, which at 182 I thought might be a tad longish for me. I agreed, but since the Turbo hadn't been on my radar, I was skeptical of it. I Loved it! I kept it the rest of the day and never got around to trying the L-Toro, which appears to have a long running length with very mild Early Rise, BTW. That's just based on a quick look, tho...
The Turbo felt fairly burly and moderately stiff, but I think almost anything would have after just stepping out of the TST! Early rise is subtle. It's definitely a smooth and damp ride...like buttah. It's very comfortable on the groomers and skids without complaint when you need that, but when carving a turn, it prefers 'em mid to long radius. You can muscle a short-radius turn in, but it'll protest. I threw in some pivot-slips at one point just to see how it responded, and they were cake. If I kept to a long-radius arcing turn, they rocketed down groomed runs fairly comfortably.
Most of the afternoon was spent in mildly crusty boot-top-deep very chopped up crud...soft on the inside, firm on the outside. I found the Turbo to be a crud-crushing machine in these conditions. It just blasts through it all. On steeper terrain with variable snow, I have an unfortunate tendency to stem my turn entries just a tad. It's subtle, and other skis have always ignored it, but the Turbo did NOT like that! On the plus side, the Turbo forced me to correct it...that day anyway. Short turns off the groomed are also not its thing. I wouldn't want to take it into tight trees or long, narrow chutes. Awesome for more open areas, tho!
The only untracked powder I could find was very low-angle about 12" deep and thus low-speed stuff. The Turbo floated really well even at very low speeds and whipped turns around here easier than almost anywhere! Oddly, this was the only place I found it to be truly nimble, where most skis likely wouldn't be. Had I not been looking for a more nimble ride overall that would be great for the tree-skiing at my local hill, I would have bought a pair on the spot. Had they had them available at a good price, I might have anyway. A rock-solid, smooth, powerful-feeling ski.
4FRNT Cody, 126-100-122, 179cm - 2013 model - Back home and after a 13" overnight dump, I called a local shop to see what they had. I told them I liked the Turbo but was looking for something a little more nimble. The guy said he just got something in but would have to check with the Rep to see if he could send it out. 10 minutes later, he called back and told me to come get the all new 2013 4FRNT Cody. I would be the 1st non-shop person to demo it! He referred to it as a "Turbo Lite."
He's absolutely right, and it's a Rock Star!!! I had it all day and it did whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, and whenever I wanted it. It's the funnest ski I have skied EVER! I just thought about going somewhere, and that's where it would go. I was skiing super-tight and technical lines through tight trees and rocks that I wouldn't touch on my own skis, yet doing so without hesitation. They reminded me of a lighter-feeling S7.
It snowed another 7" throughout the day on top of the 13" overnight dump, so I never had a chance to test them out on firm groomers....Drat. Groomers were coated with a velvety layer of several inches of new snow all day. I heard them scrape once for a millisecond on the WROD that divides our 2 main bowls, and they handled that split-second of firmness fine..... Very good in the soft cut-up chop.
It's a semi-cap ski with moderate Early Rise and a 1/2-twin or kick-tail, but I noticed when I picked it up that the bindings appeared to be mounted pretty far forward. So, I don't guess it was a coincidence that my one and only quibble with the Codys is that they had more tip-dive than I would've expected. I was riding back a bit to compensate. When I get them, I'll mount the bindings back a bit to help fix that one issue. The shop says I can't buy them until September....Drat again! I'm now on their pre-order list. Inspires insane confidence! Best overall ski I've ever skied.
The funny thing is that 4FRNT wasn't even on my radar 2 weeks ago, and I'm now an unabashed 4FRNT fan....bordering on Fanatic.
As an aside, if anyone is ever in the Whitefish, MT, area, The White Room ski shop cannot be beat. The guys there are clearly skiers who just happen to run a shop. They're very cool, very nice, helpful, and appear to truly want to get you on the gear that's best for you. Wish they were closer.
Sorry this, my very 1st review, is so long, but I hope somebody finds it somewhat useful...