2012-13 Kastle LX 92
Length Tested: 174cm (top-of-head for me ... but only if I stand on tip-toe)
Dimensions/Turn Radius: 133-92-116 / 18m @174cm
Binding: K12 CTI (re-branded Marker demo with "Royals" style toe; older style heel with the patented Kastle "auto-discolor" feature)
Mount point: +1cm
Environment & Conditions
Location of Test: Sunday River & Mt. Abram, Maine
Number of Runs: couple of dozen over 4 days
Snow Conditions: Man-made refrozen WROD-style early-season marble, fresh knee-deep medium-density "powder", later-in-the-day deep chop, skied-out but still un-transformed western-style snow several days after a minor storm, ditto groomed into soft corduroy.
Terrain encountered in test: easy groomers, moderate groomers with short steeper pitches, mild bumps, moderate bumps, shrubs, long grass, stumps, rock ledge, short convoluted off-piste steeps and drop-offs. No meaningful trees or sustained steep terrain of any kind so far.
Demo or Own: own
Height/Weight: 5' 7", 135lbs.
Ski Days/Season: 30 - 40
Years Skiing: 46
Aggressiveness: Moderate(Finesse), level 8, beer leaguer
Current Quiver: 11-12 Rossi FIS GS 175cm, 08-09 Blizzard Supersonic 167cm, 11-12 Armada TST 174cm
Home Area: Saddleback, Maine
Preferred Terrain: firm groomers, soft easy bumps, trees
Pliant, traditional-feeling ski that likes a light, patient touch and a skier whose nose points downhill. I don't see this as being an ideal ski for Clydesdales. It's also probably not for over-rotating flailers, since its charms emerge more readily with a disciplined stance. (Oh yes, at times I absolutely tested them with flailing. Someone had to.) Attentive middle-aged folks who have put some skills in the bank over the years but who are smaller (like me) or are fading a bit in the power department (also like me) should appreciate this ski. It favors soft groomers, packed-out (but not icy) bumps, medium and long turns. Seductive snow-feel is married to a reassuring quiet demeanor at a variety of speeds. (Often in my experience, you either get snow feel or dampness, but not both.) Dawg used the phrase "terrain smoothing" in his review, which is right on the money. Under my feet, at least, this ski is not great in substantial 3D snow, nor on rock-hard eastern man-made. It's a little dive-y and stiff-feeling in knee-deep pow. On real hardpack it is, of course, slow edge-to-edge. And while edge grip is excellent even tuned at a conventional 1 / 2, the the ski feels slightly insubstantial and not quite planted on this surface, especially at lower speeds and angles.
Upside: In its preferred habitat, this is probably the sweetest, most gently rewarding ski I've ever been on. It has a certain "unbearable lightness of being." Energy level is superficially moderate or even low, but the ski pushes back magically with exactly the right level of pop based on what I put in, as though the flex had been custom-matched exactly to my size and strength.
Downside: This ski suffers from borderline personality disorder. The clearly off-piste-oriented width can seem at odds with a stubborn insistence on keeping its nose down on the grindstone. For the LX 82 this direction might arguably make sense, given that model's primary mission on groomers. But for the 92, a modicum of early rise would seem to be in order, to help duffers like me cope with the thick stuff more easily. Heck, even my GS skis have early rise now. (No doubt this explains the recent addition of some tip rocker on the FX 94 and elimination of the LX 92 from the lineup.)
Conclusion: The net effect of all this is a ski that is utterly brilliant for a person of my size and ability, but only in a somewhat narrow range of conditions by east coast standards. I have never been to Sun Valley, but I imagine that the typically soft but not necessarily deep snow, combined with the numerous wide-open groomers and bump runs, would make that resort the perfect home for the LX 92 and its sunny disposition.
[I have more detail written up on my experiences with this ski in specific conditions, but will only bore you with it if you PM me or otherwise clamor.]
NEXT DAY EDIT:
A friend saw my review and said, in effect, "Wow, you really didn't like those skis, huh?" Actually I do like the skis. So I re-read my post from last night and can see that it comes across as more negative than I intended.
The 92 is a great ski, maybe just not the very best choice for me, in the particular niche I need it to fill. This reflects a flaw in my ski selection process, not in the ski. I.e., I should probably be on something a bit narrower, as I had originally intended to do before I made this impulse purchase. I did not want to fill up the review with a long story about how I ended up on this model, and by omitting that story I took away some of the relevant context.
As an east coast skier, it's good to have an all-mountain ski that that is happy on really hard snow. If I'm going to sacrifice the key hard-snow parameter, as I've done with the LX, then in compensation the ski had better be awfully darn good in a wide variety of soft conditions, including heavier crud and pow. Rare is the day we don't see significant hard snow on a good part of the hill in these parts, and on those rare days I'm likely to be in the trees on my quick and (relatively) fat skis with rocker, not on what for me is a long-skiing full-camber all-mountain. We just don't get a lot of days where the whole mountain is soft but packed. Too many thaws and rainstorms for that. By contrast, if I lived in the Rockies, I would not be placing the same weight on hard-snow performance, and would probably be totally infatuated (as opposed to merely pleased) with this ski as a daily driver, since I would be using it in its preferred conditions more of the time.
Finally, it's still early days for me with the LX 92. I continue to find things I like about it, and am adjusting my skiing a bit to capitalize on those things. I think that's fine to do, personally, as long as I feel like the adjustments are basically good for my skiing, which in this case I do. It's part of pleasant ongoing discovery. And if I don't love it at the end of the season, some obliging Bear will surely take it off my hands for me.
Edited by qcanoe - 1/10/14 at 7:43am