This past season I was fortunate enough to have the chance to demo and own many different skis, and I thought I'd share my thoughts to help future buyers get some information that may help them with a purchase of their own.
Skis that I own(ed) that I will review:
Volkl Kendo '12 (Own)
Volkl Ledge '11 (Own)
Salomon Rocker 2 108 (Owned)
Rossignol Sickle '13 (Owned)
Dynastar Cham 97 (Owned)
K2 Kung Fujas `13
K2 SideSeth '13
K2 Hellbent '13
Rossignol Super 7 '13
Height/Weight: 5'5" 110lbs
Ski Days/Season: 20+
Years Skiing: 4th this season
Current Quiver: Volkl Kendo, Volkl Ledge, Surface Double Times
Home Area: Fernie
Preferred Terrain: off-piste, bumps, trees
Conditions: for the skis I owned they were basically used in every condition you will ever see on the slopes, minus pure east coast style ice, tested at Fernie, Nakiska, Castle, Sunshine and Lake Louise. For the demo skis, it was numerous conditions at Lake Louise on a 30cm day, so from groomed runs to powder to bumps to chop.
I'll get things started with the demo skis. For the demo reviews they will be slightly limited as I only had a few runs on each, but did get a good feel for them due to the mixed conditions.
NOTE: Basically all of the demo skis were tested in a length LONGER then I would purchase. I was more then capable to ski them in the sizes I tested, but for a purchase it would often be a size down due to my size and weight, so take that into consideration.
K2 Kung Fujas 179:
This was definitely the most all around ski from the models I had a chance to test. First thing I noticed when I got these that the demo bindings were really far forward, probably 3cm behind true center. But despite this (and thanks for my weight..) they performed really really well in the 30+cm of fresh snow. They planned really nicely near the surface of the snow, and I only experienced tip dive once or twice when hitting deep pockets of fresh snow at high speeds. They are nice and playful in soft trees and open pow fields, you can really slarve some nice turns in the pow on these. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how quick they were when you wanted to do some slalom turns on the side of the run, they initiated the turn really well and didn't throw any surprises at you, which is something I like. However, there are some downsides to this ski, the versatility does hurt it in a sense, it's pretty good in most conditions, but therefore it really doesn't excel anywhere at all, its just good all round. Other then that... Stability, it's not the greatest on this ski, especially when charging through chopped cut pow and crud you really gotta stay on top of it and you do sometimes get a feeling of not fully in control. Lastly; no rebound, it really does feel like after a while you would honestly get bored on this ski, it's damp and pretty smooth but gives you no feedback whatsoever. Nonetheless I really did like this ski as a One quiver ski option for places that see a good amount of fresh snow it would be hard to beat for a playful, fun ride.
K2 SideSeth 181:
If you wanted the short version of this ski, it would go something like; these things charge..HARD. They are pretty stiff and long (especially for my size haha), lots of rocker in the tip and a slight kick tail, these in a 181 were at least an inch longer stand height then the 188 Super 7's, since K2's measure so long. But with that length came incredible stability and float. I don't think I can remember a time skiing down a steep open powder face at that high of speed in complete confidence, needless to say I couldn't do that all day on this ski, but it was a neat feeling to go all out and float smoothly down the run in complete control. However, this ski honestly is a true powder ski. Maybe I don't have the strength to work that length well enough, but on groomed runs it was manageable, but not something I'd take out on a day without fresh snow. In the chop I had mixed feelings about them. At times they felt incredible stable but then when trying to initiate a hard turn they would sometimes just completely wash out on me, which left me wondering how these would react under the feet on a stronger and heavier skier. All in all though this would be a great option for those deep days for those who like a directional powerful ride and something that is a bit heavier and doesn't get pushed around in deep snow.
K2 Hellbent 179:
I tried these after I tried the SideSeth, and when I was thinking the SideSeth seemed powder specific it honestly made me laugh looking down at what I had on my feet. I'm going to be straight up and say I did not like these skis. Nothing about them really worked for me. In soft snow, yeah they floated good, and by good I mean there is probably nothing that really floats as well. However it was weird. I love skiing powder, but I also like to ski IN the powder, not ontop of a foot a fresh snow. It just didn't well right. Combine that with the hugeeee rocker profile and it literally felt like trying to ski on a rocking chair, I could not find my balance on this thing. And when it came to the groomed runs, well I think you know how well it did. To be honest it wasn't that bad, I was actually probably most impressed on its hard snow performance given its 132mm waist and ridiculous tip/tail rocker, but compared to basically anything else, it wasn't too good.
Rossignol Super 7 188:
These really surprised me, probably my overall favorite ski of the test. I was pretty blown away by the combination of stability and ease of use. No this is not your big mountain comp ski, not even close. But for something 188 length and for its width it was really easy to use but still had some good stability to it thanks to the metal laminate. One thing I will never forget on these skis was how I was able to ski in 30+cm of snow, hard on the front of my boots, and pushing into the turn like a GS carve on hard snow, and still the tips are on top of the snow, it was really an incredible feeling to be able to be that forward on the ski and still get maximum floatation out of them. And how nimble they were, WOW. Almost a 190 and I could go through tight bump lines and trees almost like I was on my 163 Kendos (although the running surface is probably actually less then my Kendos...) I was pretty blown away again. I probably would have bought a pair of these the next day if they came in 178's, that how impressed I was. Then I got to the firm snow and chop. In chop they were super fun to tell you the truth, you could carve hard and fly through the air, turn to turn. Super playful but still confidence inspiring. On the firm snow, again it was nothing amazing, but for a ~120 waisted ski it carved really well, good enough that you could use this all day after a big storm, and probably the day after. Again, favorite ski of the test.
Edited by tsk94 - 9/5/14 at 10:39pm