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Atomic SL9

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Ski Make: Atomic
Ski Model: SL9
Ski Length: 150
Snow Conditions Used In: variety (hardpack, powder, granular..)
Number of Days Used: 4
Your Ability: level 6-7
How Many Years Have You Been Skiing: 4
Avg. Days per Year Skiing: 50
Other Skis You Like: Atomic R11, SX11, Salomon Pocket Rocket
Your Height/Weight: 5'6" 140 lbs
Never had the opportunity to demo these before I bought. Got them over the summer at a super price, and on faith from reviews I've read. I originally got these primarily to be used as my 'small hill' ski for the small local hills and use my R11's and PR's at Whistler. The more I skied the 9.12's the more I love them. They are so fun and so versatile. I could really lay them over and carve hard arcs with so much G force. Short turns, medium turns, long turns, it could do them all. Great stability and grip with out the kind of dampness that my R11's have where I lose the feel for the snow.

These baby's love to turn, and turn with so much energy that sometimes the rebound will launch you. I thought that slalom ski were only for short turns, but this ski can handle medium and large arcs just fine. I was surprised how good it was in crud and boot-top powder. The wide tip gives it good float despite the narrow waist, and the ski is stiff enough that it doesn't get tossed around in the crud. Its doesn't float like 75mm+ ski, but does a lot better than you would expect from the skinny 65mm waist. In the steeps, trees and tight spot, I feel invincible when I'm on these, there's no pitch that's too steep or spot that too narrow. It's replaced the R11 as my favourite ski, which were more of a struggle in the moguls and tight trees.

This season the SL9's and the PR's are my favourites. I'm starting appreciate the fun factor a lively ski has over a stiff damp ski that isolates you from the snow. It's funny how your tastes can change. I can see why the SL9 was Peter Keelty's pick for ski of the year last year.
post #2 of 9
I have waited a bit to comment on my Atomic SL9s until I was sure about my comments. First, I must say I didn't demo the SL11 so Atomicman may be correct in saying it is a better ski, but I can't say.

I weigh 142 lbs, 5'9", and consider myself an "aspiring expert." I also picked up the SL9 (160cm)at a great price to use on my small local midwest hill. For that purpose, I am thrilled. The ski is fast, forgiving, and fun to toss around. My older skis instantly have no value to me.

I also had a chance to ski them at Steamboat and contrast them to other skis under different conditions. A Blizzard 7.5 FXP in a 165 length, was better on piste, faster and more stable. However, in the trees and powder, it was a little stiff and more work. I also had a chance to ski a Volkl Supersport 5 Star in a 161. Felt like the SL9 only more precise and carve happy. Comparing the 2 is interesting. The Supersport seems more surgical; the SL9 more comfortable, especially with crud. Both are great fun.

Also tried the Atomic EX in soft snow. Nice match. But for grins, I took out the 165 Pocket Rocket into the powdery trees. Now there is a match made in heaven (if you are into leisurely glade skiing). The SL9 is OK, the EX is very good, but the PR is great. I could practically do circles around the trees. Of course, as soon as I hit the trails, I was ready to switch to another ski, like the Blizzard.

In sum, the SL9 is a very good small hill ski that is fairly versatile, esp. if you don't weigh too much. Other skis are match up better in other conditions.
post #3 of 9
As I've noted here before, SL9s are among my favorite skis. I don't find them turn-specific either, and ski them all over the mountain. This weekend I traversed on my SL9s out to Alyeska's Max's Mountain, where the powder was light and thigh-deep. Obviously they weren't the best tool for the job, but I enjoyed the short length in the trees.

I spend a lot of time on a 160cm SL9, so I may be just used the ski's quirks, but I still think it's one of the best skis I've tried- and as a gear-whore I've tried a lot of skis. I find they handle speeds up to 40 MPH, and they make small hills and slower speeds fun as well.
post #4 of 9
I couldn’t agree more with your comments Wizard. I just got back from skiing at Killington for three days. The conditions there varied quite a bit from day to day where yesterday the conditions in the morning were white out and with the wind blowing so hard, it blew a lot of snow off the steeps leaving bullet proof ice exposed. These skies just carved right through the ice and when I did hit a lot off the heavy crud, they just carve right through it. I went on a couple of closed trails with about 8" of fresh powder and bumps. I could zip right through the bumps without ever getting bogged down in the trenches. I also thought that this ski would just be pretty much a fast short quick turning ski. Wrong! I love cranking out long GS type turns on these skis. That’s when I really get to open up my stance and lay these skis over on their edges to the point where I can drag my knuckles on the snow. I love the rebound on these skis. I’ve been tossed in the back seat a few times due to operator error but I just love the kick they give.

Small mountain ski? Not for me…Right now it’s my all mountain ski. I’ve skied them 6 times so far this year and just love them. I’m skiing these in a 160 and I also own a pair of the Volkl t50 5 stars and the Head im 75 chips. Yes, I love my Volkl’s and they are also a blast in GS type turns. I’m just having too much fun on the Atomics right now.
post #5 of 9
I'll chime in too on this fun ski! I'm 160 pounds guy level 8 or 9, age 56, been skiing forever. I decided to make this ski my all mountain ski so selected it in 170CM length. On groomed corduroy, packed powder or east coast boilerplate, these skis are the best I've ever skied. They hook up right away, and scream to be tipped way over on edge. If you want "RAILROAD" tracks on short, medium and long radius carves you'll get'em as long as you stay centered to forward on 'em, and keep your hands forward! If your stance is a little "back" these skis will not perform. Performance in NASTAR racing courses is much better than my previous skis, (Volkl P50 SL, 163CM). Off Piste, Crud and 12" powder are also very good.
Downside for the skis is they hate to run dead straight, like on flatish transitions/traverses. The 12 Meter radius sidecuts beg for both skis to at least tilt a bit. Other downside is hard skidding; they chatter and jump a bit if skidded.
Suggested tuning spec is 3/4 to 1 degree bottom bevel and 3 degrees side bevel. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #6 of 9
PEC32, I think I mentioned this before - I had trouble with my SL:11 not performing as I thought it should (especially loosing edge) and I was not sitting back on the ski. Peter Keelty told me to move my binding to the front screw holes and set the varizone all the way forward - what a difference! My 157cm skis now have a huge sweet spot and I never loose edge! The 9 should even be easier. If you haven't already, just experiment. It takes less than tem minutes to make the adjustment. I am planning to acquire the SL:9 so I can ski better at slower speeds.
post #7 of 9
Forgot to mention - when I now put my Atomics side by side with my other skis (Rossis, Stocklis), the bindings are in the same spot, not any farther forward. I am planning to have my Volkls remounted as they are not adjustable.
post #8 of 9
Finally had to chance to try out the Atomic SL11 to compare to the SL9, and it was on a race course. Once the course got really hard and fast, the difference was clearly there. The SL11 held its edge much better than the SL9. Now I understand what Atomicman was talking about. On the race course, I found a clear preference for the SL11, and so did the other skiers who tried them. I think the key difference is the SL9 soft tip; it doesn't hold up as well on hard surfaces. On the rest of the mountain with softer snow, I think that soft tip helps with the versatility.

In sum, the SL9 seems to be more all mountain, but the SL11 would be the clear race course preference.
post #9 of 9
I'd agree with your assessment of the SL9 vs the SL11. I've adapted to the softer tip on the SL9, so it holds well enough- but not as well as the SL11. My K2 SLs were much softer than the SL9, but with the right driver they would hold on glare ice. A few very accomplished racers I know have extremely soft Rossi SLs, and do amazing things in the gates. I don't have those skills.

There are sometime when I'd like the stiffness of the SL11 in the gates, but the time I lose when I make mistakes on them is more than the time I lose on the SL9. I timed it last Spring, and it was a question of what ski I felt more comfortable on. I'll probably revisit a stiffer slalom this Spring and see if my ability has improved enough to justify a move up.
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