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Watea 98

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

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.

post #2 of 13

Question: considering the rocker, in your opinion, do the 98's ski shorter than the 94's?  I am considering picking up a clearance pair of 94's but they only come in 186 - a bit long for me but I think i could adjust.



post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I believe the 185 Watea 94s have a flat tail (actually very slightly turned up) and not a full twin tip like the 98s, so they would have an effective length of at least 10 cm longer than the 186 Watea 98s, but I suggest you check that out to confirm. 


My new 98s have twin tips and slight tip and tail rocker, whereas my old 94s have no rocker and no twin tip, so they ski much longer than the 98s.  I don't know about rocker or tail rise in the new 94s, can't say exactly how they compare.  Hope that makes sense.

post #4 of 13

I have a pair of watea 98's (in 176) that are my off piste ski and on a whim (they were very inexpensive at the end of last season) purchased a pair of watea 94's in 178. They are still in wrapper sitting next to my desk. The tip rocker is the same as the 98's i.e. not very large and the tail is not a twin, but is quite turned up (and has that swallow cut out),  just put them on the floor and using my office best plastic ruler! the last 6.5cm of the tail is not in contact with the floor, using piece of paper underneath to show the contact point and looking straight down.

Edited by carroz - 1/11/13 at 12:10am
post #5 of 13

Thanks, that makes complete sense.

post #6 of 13

So I have to ask, and excuse me but I am new to the Rocker scene, is it a simple assumption that if the last 6.5 cm of tail is off the ground that the ski will "ski" that much shorter?  will 176's rockered ski like 170's traditionaly cambered?


Your response is greatly appreciated (both of you)



post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Blong1018 View Post

So I have to ask, and excuse me but I am new to the Rocker scene, is it a simple assumption that if the last 6.5 cm of tail is off the ground that the ski will "ski" that much shorter?  will 176's rockered ski like 170's traditionally cambered?




This is a loaded question because "rocker" covers a lot of options.  The term "early rise" is sometimes used for small amounts of rocker, but it is impossible to tell where one stops and the other begins, and they are used interchangeably.  When you talk about rocker you also need to consider the length and the height.   This is further complicated by the fact that some manufacturers include the tip in the claimed length of the rocker and some do not. The Watea 98s have just a little tip and tail rise so the bottoms are only about 1/4" apart when the skis are put together, whereas a ski like the DPS 112s are a couple inches apart (more rise). Obviously that makes a difference in how they ski, even if they have the same length of tip and tail rocker.


A true twin tip is usually about 15cm in the back and results in pretty much losing all of that length except in some deep snow situations.  The mounting line on a flat tail 185 will be father back from the ski tips than on a 185 twin tip, and the twin tips will ski shorter in all situations.


There are various versions and lengths of slightly raised tails (not to be confused with rocker), which softens the end of the turn and basically shortens the effective length of the ski in almost all situations, except with your weight back in deep snow.  In your example the portion of the 6.5 cm of raised tail will not come into play when carving on hard snow, and will have a minor effect in deep snow in some situations.  It is basically not there compared to a flat tail ski of the same length.  If part of that 6.5 cm is rocker and not raised tail that portion will ski pretty much like a regular ski in all situations.  Confused yet?  .


Rocker is a different deal and depending on how high it is it can shorten the feel of the ski when carving on hard pack.  The rise on the tip and tail of the Watea 98 is so small that when you tip them on edge on hard snow the rockered sections engage, whereas with a higher rocker ski that will not happen until it is way over on edge.  Rocker also makes the ski drift more easily on hard snow and spin or smear in deep snow, so it turns like it is shorter but the entire length of the ski is in play in deep snow, so you get the benefits of a long ski but the easy turnability of a short ski, at least that's the theory.


I am sure others can pick some of my opinion apart, but I believe the basic rule is that you can subtract twin tip from the effective length, and also figure most of a raised tail is lost length, except in some deep snow situations. Low rise rocker is not lost but as it gets to higher rise it will disappear for hard snow purposes.

post #8 of 13

I really appreciate your insight, makes perfect sense to me and also reinforces my thoughts on purchasing skis: no way of knowing how they are going to perform until you actually strap them on and rip some turns.  I have skied both the Watea 84 and 94 in the 2009 model (pre rise/rocker)  and am trying to figure out the geometry/performance differences between the two model years.  Between your response and conversations with others I think I have it figured out.  Again, thanks for the time.

post #9 of 13

I agree with Mudfoot as far as effective length.  I have a pair and they are great skis off-piste. A fun light ski in powder, bumps, crud, trees.  Really good bump ski!  Just ok on groomers.  I am selling mine (186).  My wife likes groomers and I really need a ski that can at least cross over to that terrain so that skiing with her will be fun.  They are in great condition with 10 days on the snow.  They were purchased from Dawgcatching so they were set up properly - flat bases, frequent hot wax etc.  PM me and I will send pictures.

I am wanting $350 for the skis and bindings.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've now got another 7 full days on my 98s in everything from hard groomers to a foot of powder.  I went a few days of really not liking them, but have now come around to really enjoying them.  The deal for me was figuring out my new boots and getting the flex mellowed out to where I like it.  Stiff boots and the Watea 98s are not a good combination.  The other thing is that the tips have more rocker than I first realized, and consequently they cannot be skied like my old skis.  With my big height and weight it was very easy for me to overpower them (particularly with stiff boots) if I pushed the front end like on traditional skis.  The Watea 98s need to be skied like the full rockered skis they are.  Once I got dialed into staying in the middle of them they performed very well in all conditions, except hardpack.  Because of the twin tips and rocker the "middle" is not that big, particularly for a guy my size, but they are stable and playful now that I have figured them out.  It is pretty much a matter of just moving your knees from side to side to get them to turn. Their big drawback for me is that they will not carve at speed on hard snow, no matter what I do, although they are still very predictable and enjoyable, just a little "drifty".  I tend to avoid the groomers most of the time, so it is not a big deal. I particularly like them in the bumps where they are very forgiving.


Two of the reviews I read before buying them kept coming back to me while skiing the 98s.  One called them "an anorexic powder ski," which is true.  They ski deeper snow (even the funky stuff) very well.  The other review mirrored my experience perfectly.  The guy said he initially did not like the Watea 98s, but then he figured out that skiing them was more Tai Chi than Kung Fu, and once he got tuned in to "the Watea way" he really liked them.  The Watea 98s are rockered skis, and they have all of the benefits and drawbacks of rocker, but I would recommend these to anyone who likes to get off the groomers and ski with a light touch.

post #11 of 13

I think of Fischer as the least damp brand, so it's ironic that you, such a champion of dampness (even in name), would acquire some Fischers.





How well you are able to ski is related to how hard you are willing to fall.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by crudmaster View Post

I think of Fischer as the least damp brand, so it's ironic that you, such a champion of dampness (even in name), would acquire some Fischers.


I am not sure exactly how Fischers stack up against other brands for dampness, but I know that all Fischers are not created equal.  The Watea line has no metal layers, and uses soft woods and twin carbon fiber I-beams.  They are a smooth ski, and it is probably due to their flex more than their dampness, but I have never had them chatter.  I stumbled on my 192 cm Watea 101s the first year they came out 8 or 9 years ago as a powder ski choice, but realized their fairly soft even flex made them a great bump ski, even in the 192 length.  A few years later I got some Watea 94s to become my one ski telemark quiver.  The Wateas certainly do not have the snap or carving ability of the Stocklies, K2s, Goodes, and Atomics I have owned during the same time period, but I always seem to come back to them because their are just so damn easy to ski.


Last year I skied the remnants of 10" at Telluride with some friends on a variety of skis including S7s, Mantras, Gotamas, and Atomic Theories.  The day included lots of steep bumps, and since it was a low snow year I took the 101s, which would not have normally been my first choice but had become my rock skis after a quiver sell off.  I realized in the afternoon that I was having a blast on my Wateas and using less effort than my friends on their stiffer skis.  I have always been a fan of softer even flexing skis, but they are hard to find in the high performance end of the spectrum, so the Watea 98s seemed to be a logical choice for my next pair of all-mountain mostly off-piste and bump oriented skis. Unfortunately the twin tips make their longest length 186s ski too short for me, and they suck on hardpack more than I had anticipated, but I still am enjoying the heck out of them in bumps and soft snow, so I guess they are damp enough.  I hit Alta last week after they had received over a foot of new over the preceding couple of days, and I knew it was love when I grabbed my Watea 98s instead of my tuned and waxed Keepers that I had been dying to ski, and which would have also been an excellent choice for the day.  Like I said, they are an anorexic (thin) powder ski, so if you keep them in the softer stuff they do great.


As for my namesake, based on the crud skiing I have done on the 98s I'm looking forward to getting them in some deep thick soft slush.  I think they will be a great tool for slathering some hot mud  After all, they do have "boat hull technology."

post #13 of 13

I was skiing with a guy on Watea 98's, the wood look top sheet.  He loved his skis. He showed me how they actually are a swallow tail design. Nice. The boat hull tip is probably so expensive, relatively, to build, I always hoped they'd be able to keep making it. Sorry they won't; this guy really liked it.  No hype around this ski, but what a smart design for a DD out west, or a powder ski. If I had more dough ray me I'd get a pair. 

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