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All Mtn ski advice

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi All,


Looking to buy a new pair of skis for the upcoming season and blinded/confused by the sheer volume of choice out there!  Would greatly appreciate some sage advice from those in the know.


Basic details:


Male, aged 40, 5ft 10", 187lbs


12 years experience carving pistes in Europe (all the biggies; Zermatt, Val d'Isere, Verbier etc..) with 3 years dabbling off-piste in slopside powder and slightly further afield.  Did 9-days in SLC last season trying to self-teach powder skiing in Solitude, Alta and Snowbird.


Currently ski some Head Xenon 10 carvers (170 length) which I love.  Quite light, soft flex, very responsive and hold the edge beautifully).  I'd love to find an equivalent all-MTN version.


Ideally looking for:


1. All-MTN/Freeride ski (70-80% powder 20-30% piste)

2. Lightweight and easy to manoeuvre

3. Soft-medium flex (bouncy and responsive)

4. Probably 98mm 

5. Multi-dimensional sidecut

6. Fully rockered or trad camber underfoot with tip and tail rocker

7. Wood core and lots of other vibration dampening qualities

8. Sandwich sidewall construction or combo of sandwich underfoot with cap in tip and tail.

9. No upper limit on budget.


I'm a totally non-agressive skier so stability at speed is far, far less of an issue than manoeuvrability/playfulness.  More likely to want something with shorter turn radius as I like to explore rather than head down the mountain in a straight, fast line. I intend to have minimal time on piste while I try and perfect powder (slopeside and further afield) so good float is important.


Based on limited research thus far, i'm looking at:


1. Blizzard Bonafide - fantastic reviews but I would question whether i'm agressive enough to get the best out of this ski

2. Line Prophet 98 - again, great reviews but possibly too stiff in the flex?

3. Praxis Piste Jib - haven't found any reviews as yet but like the sound of this one

4. Volkl Mantra - again, reviews seem to suggest a stiff flex


Ultimately, the ski has to be accessible and user-friendly enough for someone in the early stages of their powder/all-MTN career but be good enough for when I get good!  Once i've achieved that goal, i'll be looking to get stuck into the backside/backcountry here in Europe (St Anton, Espace Killy, Chamonix) but also regular trips back over the water to enjoy some of that awesome US powder in (resorts i'd love to try....) Powder Mtn UT, Grand Targhee WY and Whistler BC.


Thanks in advance,


Tubby Geoff 

post #2 of 6

Welcome to Epic.  I would recommend you consider adding the Nordica Hell and Back to your list.  It's 98mm underfoot, lightweight since it doesn't have a layer of metal in it, camber underfoot, early rise tip.  I ski it's little brother, the Steadfast, and it is a great ski.  It carves really well, is quick in the trees and handles bumps well.  I've had it in 18-20" of powder and it was great.  If you can find on to try, give it a shot.  Nordica says it for advanced to expert skiers but I find it just really easy and fun to ski.  Most of my skiing is off-piste and it suits me well.

post #3 of 6

Rossi S3

post #4 of 6

4FRNT Cody

post #5 of 6

Hi TubbyGeoff,


If you are truly thinking of a 30% groomed and 70% off piste ski, you may want to go even wider.  By today's standard, the skis that you listed, the 98 mm category, are 50/50 skis.  Those skis have become the Western United States one ski quiver.


If you really want to think wider, here are six options (not in any particular order) that I think would hit most of your parameters.

1.  Line Sir Frances Bacon

2.  Blizzard Gunsmoke

3.  Armada TST

4.  Atomic Blog

5.  Blizzard Cochise

6.  Dynastar Cham 107


These skis are probably more 40/60 skis, but I feel that they will accomplish your needs more efficiently than the skinnier models.  I have found these skis to be very user friendly.  They were softer than I expected (especially the Blizzard Cochise and Atomic Blog).  None of them felt planky.



post #6 of 6

Hi TubbyGeoff.  Based on your self-profile and intended use, I think that your short list is probably a bit off.  I hear you saying that you are looking for something in the 100ish class, soft snow biased, and that you favor something nimble and playful over stability.  In your words:



I'm a totally non-aggressive skier so stability at speed is far, far less of an issue than maneuverability/playfulness. More likely to want something with shorter turn radius as I like to explore rather than head down the mountain in a straight, fast line. I intend to have minimal time on piste while I try and perfect powder (slopeside and further afield) so good float is important.


Given that, notwithstanding reviews in the mags and bluster on the boards, I don't see how either the Mantra or the Bone would be a match.  Both are on the more stiff, more damp side of the class, excel in firmer conditions and can migrate to soft snow conditions.  And neither are particularly "playful" nor "maneuverable" in tight spaces.  Fans of both skis will say that they can be maneuvered and played on - but those folks are bringing some skills to the table.  Not slamming either ski - I personally LOVE the Bones. But based on your self-description and intended purpose, you could do better.  The P98 is more workable and as a Euro-carver, you'd probably like how it feels on harder snow.  But it is a peer of the Mantra and Bones - I think that you are asking for  something softer.


My recommendations for you:


1. Atomic Access.  This is probably the most under-rated, under-appreciated ski of the past couple years.  In soft snow, it is a blast to ride.  It feels like a mini, more manageable version of the Bent Chetler.  It would be a perfect intro to modern powder-oriented skis for you.  It floats, smears and can push through heavy snow just fine.  It will do all of shockingly better than anything you've likely ridden.  And it is decent - not awesome - on groomers and harder snow.  You get some tip flap at high speeds, but the ski is surprisingly stable and holds a fine edge.  It is workable for an expert and plenty fine for an intermediate - max stability at speed isn't a criteria for you.  I think that the Access is a rare ski that I think migrates well from intermediate to expert.  There is something for everyone to like (for an expert who skis powerfully at high speeds, it is a soft snow, slack-country set up; for an intermediate it is a great western daily driver).  If the Access were tagged on the wall at $699 rather than $499, it would get way more love.  But that is a market inefficiency you can turn to your own advantage.  Seattle area shops sell a ton of these - for good reason.  Customers love them and don't come back and complain.  It is a perfect daily driver or inexpensive slot in the quiver around here.  At your weight and level, the 181 would be perfect for you.


2.  Rossi S3.  Another ski that gets no love around here.  And I can see why.  If you haven't noticed it, this board has a pretty strong bias for skis with firm snow/carving competence and the folks who post recommendations here tend to be experts (and experts, other than lightweights, tend to favor more stiff, more damp skis for good reasons).  But that doesn't make every ski that is unloved around here "meh" for everyone.  The S3 isn't a ski that I would choose for myself either, for a bunch of reasons not germane to this thread or your purchase decision.  But for you, it should be on the list.  Great soft snow performance, easy edge to edge.  The downside is lack of stability and less firm snow grip - neither of which are criteria for you, for this purchase.  If you go up to Whistler, you'll see a ton of folks riding the S3 as their daily, non-powder day ski.  They aren't all stupid, nor do they all suck.


3.  Cham 97.  One you probably want to demo.  Full disclosure, I've only ridden the 107, so I am inferring the 97's performance a bit.  But coming from a Euro-carving background, you might really appreciate the feel of the tail and the shovel and shape of the ski make soft snow really fun and easy. Probably a slightly more demanding ski than either the Access or S3 because of the flat tail, but workable.  Also, the 97 has a pretty short turn radius 16 at 178, which is something you are looking for.


As Denny pointed out above, because you are positioning this as basically a dedicated off piste ski, you could up-size to the 100-110 class.  Of his recommendation, the Blog is probably the best choice (a ski that splits the difference between the Access and the Chetler - but is pretty soft).  Neither the Cochise nor the Cham 107 make sense for where you are and what you are asking for (too much ski for what you have asked for - although I personally like them both a lot).  I think you are really asking for a Western (U.S.) all-mountain ride with a soft snow bias.  So the 3 100ish skis above make sense.  Of course there are others (Hell?) - but these are 3 I can reasonably comment on that also fit your ask.


Good luck and have an awesome season.

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