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Thread Starter 
I’ve been demoing mid-fatties the last few weeks and discovering they are incredibly versatile. Because I don’t spend much time on the groomers any more, I’m looking for a ski that shines in the crud and mank on big Rocky Mountain hills. Unfortunately the other alternative to avoiding groomers is bumps, and I’ve also discovered that most skis don’t perform well in both crud and bump conditions.
I chose to compare these two skis because, more than any of the others I tried, they are the most similar. Me: 5’9", 175 lbs, skiing 15 years with a handful of 100-day resort seasons. Now I’m skiing 50-day seasons, with about half of those in the backcountry on tele gear. I’ve got an aggressive alpine technique that tires me quickly. I have a tough time just cruising and letting my skis do the work. I prefer big turns to small, but I’ll take tight-turning trees over groomed runs, especially on a flat-light day. I demoed the R:EX in a 177 and the Big Stix in a 180.
The R:EX and Big Stix 84 have the same waist width (84 mm), but the R:EX widens more at the tip, and especially at the tail, and the primary difference between the skis is derived from these varying sidecuts (more on that in a minute). Both skis shine in mixed crud and powder conditions, where they seem to have no speed limits. With some work, they even handled refrozen crud, which, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult conditions. On the corduroy, they both held a solid edge. The Big Stix probably had a slight (very slight) edge in bumps, which I don’t recommend either ski for anyway. The R:EX felt just a little more lively, producing difficult to control rebound and deflections in the zipper line.
The primary difference, I believe, is derived from the REX’s deeper sidecut: The R:EX initiates turns much easier, meaning it’s quicker and probably a better tree and steeps ski. The Big Stix was damper, probably making it a better crud busting machine because it absorbs all of the variable terrain. This difference really stood out on groomed runs, where I had to pressure the tongue of my boot, sort of like an old straight ski, to initiate turns on the Big Stix. The REX turned easily with a simple role of the ankle. In powder, I preferred the Big Stix, mainly because of what it didn’t do. The REX felt a little grabby in untouched snow, pulling into the turn faster than I wanted. (Again, this is probably a sidecut issue).
To summarize, these two skis are remarkably similar, and I’d have a tough time choosing between them if they were offered at the same price. I’ve decided that I’ll probably buy the one I can get a better deal on. By the way, other skis I tried, and didn’t like as much: 175 Salomon Pocket Rocket (too soft for really tough snow and completely useless in the bumps), 178 Dynastar…the Nobis one…, which was also a little too soft and felt flimsy in really nasty, refrozen crud. Both were a lot of fun in soft crud and powder, but probably not enough when the conditions got really ugly, and the pocket rocket was my favorite of the bunch on groomed runs.