Fischer Watea (BC TT) 98 – Last year’s model (2011-12)
186 cm, 130-98-122 sandwich construction, carbon I-beams (fairly soft flex) and a 21 m sidecut. I am 6’5” and 215 lbs.
I got these at an end of the year deal last season and have finally had a chance to ski them enough to comment. Fischer converted these into the Big Stix 98 for this year, but from everything I could find they are the same ski except they got rid of the boat hull tips, and should ski very similar. Even though discontinued there are lots available on the net for $450 or less, so I thought a review would still be appropriate.
These are cambered with a slight tip and tail rocker, a full twin tip, and the weird boat hull tips, which is undoubtedly why they did not sell well.
I have skied Watea 94s and 101s for several years and like the Watea line. They are all on the softer even flexing side and tend to excel in soft snow but not on hard. They are forgiving skis with a big sweet spot, and the 98s fit that profile. These measure 186 but the twin tip knocks off 15 cm on the back, and combined with the rocker they ski very short.
I flat mounted them on the line with some old Neox bindings that probably inhibit the mid-ski flex to some extent, and dulled the rocker slightly. After moving the bindings around I finally found my spot 1 cm back from the line where they had the familiar Watea feel, and may try another cm back to see if I like that even better. Don’t know if the mount line is unusually forward because of the twin tip, but I am not going to be skiing them switch and I really did not like them mounted on the line.
Like the other Wateas the 98s require a light touch or they can be easily overpowered on hard snow. I did quite a bit of groomer zooming and they did nicely but did not hold an edge well on very hard (icy) snow. Although they were very predicable and did not chatter. They like to be turning and were surprisingly quick edge to edge for a 98mm waist. The have a moderate snap in the tails that I found just right, because I am not a fan of real pushy/poppy skis. The tips engaged quickly and I did not notice any flapping at high speed, but because of my size and the short running length I found myself wanting to get low as the speed picked up.
Got to try them in some over the boot powder and several different varieties of crud. The boat hull tip construction makes them resist deflection really well and they tracked nicely though some fairly heavy stuff. I ramped up the speed in an open area of foot deep tracked up pow to make them really plane and took them into what I call the “roller skate mode,” and was pleasantly surprised how stable and smooth they were for their size. They are a light ski and will get knocked around a little in heavy crud, so they require some focus. The boat hull tips may have been helpful, but I didn’t really notice them in any snow condition. Overall I would rate them a good crud ski for their size, but not a bulldozer.
I bought the 98s as my all-mountain ski, but my main goal was to get a ski that would be good in the bumps, because I end up skiing a lot of them due to my locale. Like all the other reviewers, I found them to be very good in bumps. I like a soft even flexing ski for bumps and the 98s were easy to ski and very forgiving. Probably not a good zipper line ski, but great for slowing things down and relaxing as much as possible, yet still had some pop if I wanted it. Quick to engage the tips and ease to release the tails.
My overall impression is that they were just what I expected from a Watea and the reviews I had read. If you are like me and tend to avoid the groomers as much as possible they would probably be a good choice as long as you don’t mind their soft flex, and the inevitable grief you will be taking because of the weird tips. In the big picture the Watea 98s may not be quite “enough ski” for a guy my size if I am chasing my younger faster ski buddies, but on the other hand I am anticipating that after oozing through the big bumps at Telluride for a few hours I will be very happy I got them.