Originally Posted by twochordcool
Is my thinking really horribly off base?
Yes, it still is.
Hi Twochordcool. Welcome back. So you didn't take my advice last year. . . and here we are again.
First, I'd recommend that you re-read the thread(s) from last season. Who was right? Who made sense now that you've skied a few more days? Maybe listen to those folks this time around. . .
There are a lot of pretty experienced, quality skiers here all telling you the same thing which is "you don't need any new equipment. . . you need days on your current equipment and instruction." Why is that? A few reasons:
1. Experience. You still lack the experience to really determine the skis that you want. Last fall, you had skied 10 days lifetime. And based on that treasure trove of on-mountain experience you purchased 3 pairs of new skis. What are we up to now? 20 days lifetime? 30 days lifetime? I skied 35 last season (and I am a desk jockey, full time). There are folks on this board who put in 40 days before President's day. The needs, impressions, reviews of experienced, regular skiers are just different than a beginner/intermediate type. That isn't a slam, it is just reality. Example: when you talk about needing a ski for powder and off-piste skiing, do you really know what you are talking about? Have you skied much of that type of terrain? When/where will that take place? You mentioned that you hate moguls. I've got news for you. With obvious exception for under trafficked resorts, unless you are planning a heli trip, hike for your turns, or spend all day deep in the trees post storm, at the sort of places you ski all ungroomed terrain will bump up or become contoured in an hour or two after opening up. While not everything is Mary Jane-style PMT runs, basically all off piste skiing is a form of bump skiing to some degree. So if you don't like that, you are pretty much skiing groomers full time - and that is OK if that is what you are into, but it does have implications for what equipment will be optimal.
2. Stop reading ski reviews. Last year you purchased 3 skis - and the one you like best was probably the least loved by the reviewers and the echo chamber in places like this. The R290 (basically the updated Lord) is a fine ski, but it isn't a ski that most of us giving advice here would choose for ourselves. But that is OK, it was a great choice for you and guys like Jim and Phil knew that and nailed it on the recommendation, given very little non-bs to work with. You say that the Blizzi's didn't work out, and you want to swap those for Volkl RTM80s. Why? You already have a narrow ski, the X-wings, that you like, that you can ski and that is probably more appropriate for your current ability level. What makes you think that the RTM 80 is a better choice than the X-wing for you? It might be worse. Where do the X-wings fall short? If you buy the RTM80, you are basically saying that you are done with the X-wings. They are a complete overlap. Rather, take the X-wings to your lessons and spend your hardpack days on those skis. When you figure out why they are lacking, you'll know precisely what to get next. Until then you are just guessing and it is possible that you have precisely what you want and need already.
3. Skis are for Ski Days, not ski conditions. I said this last year, and I'll say it again. . . you pick a ski to cover a certain kind of ski day, at certain kinds of mountains. . . not snow "conditions." Skiing isn't golf. You pick something in the morning that makes sense that day and you go with it. The truth that you won't often hear is that a good skier can make it work with one, maybe two skis. Everything else is just for fun. This is the real reason you don't need more skis. You already have covered 99.9% of the likely conditions that an early intermediate in the NE will face in your X-wings and your R290s. If you make it out west for a trip this year, you are still covered for 95% of the skiing you'll be able to access at this stage with the 90s. If you luck into a huge dump in a place like UT, thank the ski gods and high tail it to the demo shop first thing in the morning - plunk down $50 and take whatever soft'ish powder ski they have in your length and get ready for a life-changing day. But buying that ski, and keeping it in your garage for two years? That won't change anything but your bank account (in a negative way). Reality check. . . powder skis are a hoot, if you know how to ski powder, but you should be able to cover a foot of fresh snow in your 90s no problem. And again, how many days, lifetime, have you been on the mountain where they were (a) reporting more than 12" and (b) you were actually skiing in snow that went above your kneecap?
4. Don't bother with a ~98. You don't need it. What ski day is it for that your 90s can't handle, aside from a super deep powder day (where the 98s will be sub-optimal also)? Answer: there is none. You don't have enough experience to really know that yet. But it is true. You don't need that overlap - unless there is a significant difference in the two skis in terms of feel. And you already found that you preferred a softer ski in the ~90 slot (at this stage), so another softie 7-10 mm wider won't provide all that much of a difference in softer snow, and it will be worse on groomers (where you spend the majority of your time). I haven't been wrong yet, but still, don't take my word for it - go demo the Q98 and find out for yourself.
5. An actionable recommendation. Because I know that you can't help yourself, I'll give you a recommendation that actually makes sense given the skis you have, and what you have told us. You already have the narrow, hard pack ski covered (X-wing) and you also have the daily driver east/west covered in the R290s. And there is no way that you are going to convince anyone that you need a full-blown powder ski at this point, unless you are moving to Revelstoke in the fall. A ~98 is unnecessary overlap, but a ski in the mid-100s, softish makes some sense if you are going to get in a real block of days, especially in the west. So the ski that I'll recommend is the Rossi Soul 7. It will be super-well reviewed by all of the mainstream magazines - and I know that is important to you. I know that you didn't like the E88, but the Soul 7 is a totally different animal from the Experience series (full disclosure, I've only been on the E98 for comparison). It is light, quick, surfy, sure footed-on hard pack and extremely easy to ski. It has a crisp, glassy feel that I associate as being typically Rossi and based on the fact that you tend to favor Sollies, I think that this is a direction you'd dig in higher performing skis. This the rare, super-well reviewed ski that will delight across the spectrum, from intermediates to experts. This is your daily ski on your western trip to a place like Whistler (if you have any fresh snow at all - otherwise you'd use the 90s) and it will be dynamite on a powder day, especially for someone skiing the less rowdy, lower angle pitches that will be skied off in one of two hours anyway. It skis pretty short - I liked it in a 188, you'd probably want it in a 180. I don't think you need this ski, but it certainly makes more sense than another carver (that you might not be ready for) or an overlap of the current daily driver.
So there you have it. Short answer: Sell the Blizzis, sell the E88s, pocket the cash and roll it into lessons, plane tix and lodging. When you get better, you'll know what you want next. . .
But if you must have a hot, new, well-reviewed ski, the Soul 7 would be a good one for you provided that you make to the conditions for which it was designed.
Good luck and have a fun season.