Test Location: Big Sky, MT
Conditions: Variable, some fresh snow and windblown, overall soft and typical montana conditions (not deep, but consistent)
Jed P: 5'10", 240 pounds, 37 y.o. Independent leg, power through type style. Tends to crush through things more than "dance over" them.
Warren S. skier type: Advanced on groomers, Advanced intermediate off-piste. 6'1", 205lbs., 71 years young. Boots are Technica Diablos w/ intuitions.
Video of how people ski:
(Jed P. is in Blue Jacket/Brown Pants, Warren S. is in Black/Black and the man)
Stockli Stormrider 95, 183cm:
Jed P: Best ski I have ever skied, but the ski must be skied from the front of the boot/ball of the foot/arch. Must be pressured to make a turn, doesn't like to slide. Power in gobs to spare, tends to like a "racer" type technique and stance, rather than feet together or "sliding" style. Regarding float, the ski likes to push/power through rather than "float" on top of the snow. It basically begs to hit things (crud) hard and blast through them rather than dance over impediments in the chop.
Warren: First ski to actually ALLOW him to carve turns. OUTSTANDING on the groomers, but not a ski he could push all day long. The ski must actively be skied, making the skier more tired and have to be "on" all day from start to finish. While an outstanding groomer ski, probably not something he'd want to buy due to the fact that the ski is just too demanding. Not a "fun" ski or playful, it begs to be pushed and pushed hard.
K2 Annex 98, 177cm:
Jed P: While I thought I would hate this ski, I was quite pleased with it's off-trail suitability and easy, gentlemanly like manner both off and on-piste. I didn't feel like this ski did anything in particularly wrong, but it was just "there", kind of like driving a Toyota Camry. It was simply automatic. If I was on skis all day teaching, I think I would reach for these. More apt to slide than carve, but will make a shorter turn than the other skis in the test. NOTE: The more I skied it the more I liked it.
Warren S: Just like his Apache Outlaws (2007, 88 under foot) Not playful, just kind of "there". Rather dead. Did everything "okay" but didn't really shine and wasn't outstanding in any one regard.
Nordica Hell and Back, 177cm:
Jed P: Light, playful groomer ski. Wanted so badly to be "more" than it was (it did excel at groomers) but just couldn't get there, as there was not enough power to get from edge to edge in quick GS race style turns. Float in soft snow/crud was worst of the group and least fun. Felt again, like an old time ski, very traditional in feel. Stiffer tail and straight-ish shape helped in the groomed.
Warren S.: Better than the K2 on the groomed, helped with the carving of a turn. Again, a notch above the K2 off trail, but not overwhelmingly so. Float was better than the stockli or K2.
Blizzard Bonafide, 180cm:
Jed P.: An excellent "all day" ski that excelled in variable conditions and not so much on-trail. Probably a 60 off/40 on ski. Could be used to make all turn shapes, and was just a touch more demanding than the K2, but not overwhelmingly so--in fact, it made it a better ski, as it was able to do more. Float was a touch above the stockli, and could bounce and play more so than the stockli. Very impressive soft snow performance, and on groomers did everything "okay". If the stockli is a Porsche 911 and the K2 is a Camry, this ski would be a BMW M3. Refined and gentlemanly but with a touch of "go" if you want it.
Warren S: This is the perfect ski. On and off groomers, it does everything well. Completely transformed my skiing. Carving, floating off trail, the number one thing was that the ski allowed me to ski all conditions (relative to pitch/gradient) and make the same turn/look the same. Allowed me to ski longer and with less worry or issue.