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Looking for an all-mountain ski, help me choose!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I'm a skier returning from a long hiatus, about 14 years. I'm 46, 6' 2", and 200lbs. I've been skiing since I was about 5, and by the time I was 19 I'd spent a couple of seasons in Summit County, skiing primarily A-basin with the occasional Breck, Copper, Vail etc. I was an expert-level skier, riding on a set of Rossignol 4S Kevlars. I skied bumps, steeps, trees, powder and really whatever was happening that day, but mostly bumps and very steep, narrow gullies. 

 

Now granted I'll never get in 90 days in a season again, and my body and knees will never be 19. I have a wife and a couple of kids now who are just learning, and I'll probably spend some time skiing with them. I went a couple of weekends ago and skied mostly groomers on rental equipment, and spent a lot of time waiting for the wife. No knock on her, she's also coming back from a long hiatus due to a severe injury to her femur, but the reality is that I won't be spending as much time on expert terrain as my profile might indicate otherwise. Probably a mix of hanging with the kids on green runs for a while, some intermediate stuff with the wife, and some daddy-time exploring steeps and bowls. Serious bump runs will be avoided like the plague due to my knees and back just not needed to take a pounding. Just not fun for me anymore. We'll be primarily at Tahoe, at Alpine, Squaw, Northstar and most often Homewood. will travel to Aspen on occasion to ski with a buddy who never left Colorado when we all went out there after high school. 

 

Right now I don't have any skis, and have set about looking at all-mountain skis. Just bought some boots, some Lange RX130's. Really comfortable and felt right in terms of stiffness. I used to ski on Lange ZS's, which were a softer version of the ZR. 

 

Here are the skis I've been considering based on ski shop dude feedback and reading up online. 

 

  • Rossignol Experience 88 or 98 (can't decide which might work better!)
  • Blizzard Brahma or Bonafide (same) 
  • Vokl Mantra
  • Rossignol Soul 7

 

I'm looking at lengths in the 184-188 range. I plan to demo on the mountain at Alpine Meadows this weekend, but not sure what they offer and they're not answering the phone. I could demo locally, but my buddy in Aspen suggested I do it on-mountain so I can try multiple skis. 

 

Please let me know your thoughts! Challenge any assumptions, ask for any info I may have left out, suggest other skis, or give me your feedback on the skis I'm considering. 

 

Chris

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 28
Thread Starter 
Beuller? Anyone?
post #3 of 28
Not much to challange there. Sounds like you have a good mind set working.
Demo is the key. You may want to take a screw out of the back of the Langes to soften them a bit. I'm in a RX120 and have the bottom screw out. 6% softer.

IMO unless your a racer, you don't need that stiff of a boot.

I'm a Volkl guy so....I would suggest you get the Mantra and then look for a true powder ski for out there. I just bought 2012 Shiro's on line for $269 shipped.
post #4 of 28
You and I are very similar, except you are a bit older but you were a better skier than I ever was.

I am also getting back to skiing and after demoing a bunch of skis I just ordered the Nordica Hell&Back in a 185. Check it out. Blistergearreview has a good write up on it. It kinda skis like a Mantra light. Not a great bump ski, but like me, you are not planning to spend lots of time in the bumps. It is being discontinued and replaced by the NRGY line, so there are some good deals out there. Check out Skiessentials. There is also the Steadfast which has a 90 M&M waist, so a bit narrower.

Good luck
post #5 of 28
Funny, the Fed Ex guy is dropping off my Volkl Shiros 2012's from skiessentials today.
post #6 of 28

I'd start on the Bonafide, 187. If for some reason you don't love them, go to the Mantra, then Experience 98, then Brahma, then Soul 7.

 

You can demo the Bonafide at Gold Coast at Squaw. They are pretty knowledgable and will be able to rank the skis you've chosen by popularity.

 

Good luck, have fun.

post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 

Hey thanks, yeah my only worry with some of the skis I'm looking at is that they would have been great when I was younger and tearing it up, but I may be trying to bite off more than I can chew right now.


Going to demo the Bonafide in 180 this weekend. Just talked to a co-worker who's my size and ability and he's on 173's! 

 

Should be interesting. Going to see what else I can demo while I'm up there. 

post #8 of 28
There are a lot of great skis out there in the same catagory as the Bonafide, it comes down to personal feel on the ski. Enjoy the demo.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

Just picked the Bonafides up at the shop. Man, they're heavy! Wondering if a metal ski is going to be right for me–we shall see this weekend. Starting to think about lighter alternatives to demo while I'm up there.

 

Any suggestions? My buddy just demoed the Volkl Bridge and loved it. 

post #10 of 28
The Nordicas I mentioned above are much lighter than the Mantra I tried (haven't tried the Bonafide, but I think those are similar weight to the Mantra).
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I'll look at those and the Steadfast ad well!
post #12 of 28

This is my third season using the Steadfast as my daily driver.  It is a very lively ski, lightweight, responsive, good in the trees, pretty good in bumps, great edge grip.  I've skied it in powder up around 20" and it worked, although a bit more work than I wanted to do so I bought some Atomic Rituals.  The Steadfasts does not like backseat skiers and will reward them with a very hard to control rocket ride across the fall line.  But, stay centered or a bit forward and it is a terrific and fun ride.  I'm going to hate it when they need to be replaced.

post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtcyclist View Post
 

This is my third season using the Steadfast as my daily driver.  It is a very lively ski, lightweight, responsive, good in the trees, pretty good in bumps, great edge grip.  I've skied it in powder up around 20" and it worked, although a bit more work than I wanted to do so I bought some Atomic Rituals.  The Steadfasts does not like backseat skiers and will reward them with a very hard to control rocket ride across the fall line.  But, stay centered or a bit forward and it is a terrific and fun ride.  I'm going to hate it when they need to be replaced.

 

Thanks for that input! Sounds like a must demo for me. 

post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisfoxdesign View Post
 

Just picked the Bonafides up at the shop. Man, they're heavy! 

Heavy?

 

post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dmourati View Post
 

Heavy?

 

 

I remain open to Boris' way of thinking. 

post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 

Reading awesome things about the Line Sick Day 95, sounds like it's right in my sweet spot. Anyone try these? Length advice for demo? Looks like them have 'em at Tahoe Dave's. 

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisfoxdesign View Post
 

 

Thanks for that input! Sounds like a must demo for me.

Steadfast

 

I'm on these to as a daily ski on the east side of the country and they do just fine on all but really really hard snow, then they are just OK.    I also skied the Soul 7 and a K2 Annex briefly  (two runs each) a few weeks ago at Sunday River.  Both were fun and I actually liked the Annex better than the Steadfast in that days snow which was pretty good eastern few  day old groomed.

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisfoxdesign View Post
 

Reading awesome things about the Line Sick Day 95, sounds like it's right in my sweet spot. Anyone try these? Length advice for demo? Looks like them have 'em at Tahoe Dave's. 


186 for sure in the SD95. 

 

I am 5'11, 185# and I tried the SD95 in 179 and absolutely hated it.  It rode like a snowblade for me and gave me nothing in heavy junky snow.  It was fine - not stellar  - on the groomers, but it was at least tolerable in that milieu where the ski wasn't deflecting off every chunk of avy debris in its way.  I have been loath to really trash the ski because it is so far outside of my preference zone, and the length was way off for me, so I have tried to show restraint in this community and be fair.  But for me, the SD concept makes more sense in the 110 package (a more directional Bacon, I get that, notwithstanding the fact that I don't desire it).  But I didn't really get the 95, that layup, mated to that shape and width.  But I suppose Ski Magazine probably knows more than I do.  And length was clearly an issue, but I used to ride a 179 Prophet 100, no problem and have liked the Influence 105 in 179 also.  My take is that Line is a tale of two brand stories and that all of Line's Eric Pollard influenced skis ride short - Bacon, SDs etc. . . where I haven't found that to be the issue with the metal matrix skis from Line (Prophet/Influence series).  Moreover, just because you like the Prophet/Influence series, you won't necessarily like the EP designed skis.

 

Reading your first post, if you are attracted to the Bonafide, Mantra, E98, the Sick Day 95 isn't going to be your ski.  They are a totally different story.  Light, snappy, not damp.  It is a bit of an either/or.  I can't see someone who really goes for the feel of any of those 3 skis enjoying the SD 95 enough to purchase it.  Opposite ends of the feel/preference continuum.  Soul 7 is closer to the SD than the E98, Mantra, Bonafide.

 

In my experience, a ski similar in purpose and mission to the SD 95 that I think is way better is the Nordica Soul Rider.  Not my typical preference, but the Soul Rider is super fun, great in the bumps, great taking hits of natural features and rides with surprising stability in groomers.  In that ski I tried a 177 and although my preconceived notion was "too short" it worked and felt like about the same length ski as my Bones in 180 (although not even remotely similar in feel - the only thing those two skis share is that they are made in the same factory in Austria).  You'd probably want that ski in the next click up in size (185ish) and I wouldn't be afraid of the length at all at your size.  Super easy and intuitive ski.

 

Good luck and remember everyone is entitled to his/her own preference set.  There is one idealized "best" ski, notwithstanding the opinions you read here and in the magazines.  My regular ski partner rides a Sick Day 110 all the time and loves it.  He and I almost never favor the same skis - and we are both right.

post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 

Great post, thanks! I don't really know what I'm looking for to be honest. We'll see tomorrow if the Bonafide (and skis like it) are what I want. 

 

My knees are pretty jacked up and tendonitis comes easily, and when I picked these up yesterday I started thinking the weight of the Bonafide's might not be great for my knees. That's when I started looking at pretty different things. 

 

I'll try and see with the Sick Days in either 95 or wider and see how that works on Sunday. Thanks again!

post #20 of 28
How did the demo days go?
post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

How did the demo days go?

Great! Had a lot of fun on the Bonafides. Very soft snow in very warm conditions. Skied them both days. Not too stiff at all, turned easily. Mostly I was getting used to skiing again, and re-learning how to turn with shaped skis. Seems that rolling your body forward and turning your skis on edge is the way to do it. They turn so easily I was having to figure out how to modulate the truns in different situations. Overall just hard to tell what was me or the ski, either good or bad, so I'll do some more demoing.

Going to Aspen in a few weeks and will do more demos there.
post #22 of 28

Your situation sounds similar to mine, including physical size as well.  I demoed the Bonafide, E98, Mantra, and a couple softer twinnish-tip skis.  HATED the noodle skis, definitely prefer something with metal.  Metal may seem heavy at first to you, but your legs will adjust in short order.

 

You should really try the Rossi E98 (to be replaced next year by the E100, FYI), it's more hard snow biased than the Bonafide (though the Bonafide is still very good on groomers), has a stronger tail, is a bit more "traditional" in its feel, less vague on the tip, and can be pushed much harder from a forward stance.  Both skis are very good, but if the Bones seem just a bit vague in modulating turns, try the E98; it's like a more compliant and better-all 'rounder Mantra, particularly if you're avoiding the bumps.  It smashes through crud and really rips the groomers, and has no speed limit when running wide open spaces.  It's very damp and not lively or "exciting" and snappy at all, but the E98 really responds well to driver input; if you know what you're doing, it'll make you smile.  If you get in the back seat and lazy though, it'll take you for a ride.

 

Please report back with more demo thoughts, definitely interested in hearing your take on things.

post #23 of 28
Cool. Glad you liked the Bonafides. I still wish I had had a chance to ski those before ordering my Nordicas, but they were rented out the day I was skiing. My Hell and Backs should be arriving on Tuesday. Can't wait. Got to try to get up there one more day this season to try them out.
post #24 of 28

I don't think that you could go wrong with the Bones.  I picked up a pair this year to use as my DD on the East Coast (mainly Vermont) and I've really enjoyed them so far.  I was up there this past weekend with my GF so I stuck to the groomers for like 98% of the time and they were still really fun to ski.  I'm also a big boy (I've got 100lbs on you) so that could also be part of the reason as to why I find them so easy to ski.  I will admit that I do enjoy skiing them more at higher speeds, but I don't mind them at lower speeds either.

post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

Cool. Glad you liked the Bonafides. I still wish I had had a chance to ski those before ordering my Nordicas, but they were rented out the day I was skiing. My Hell and Backs should be arriving on Tuesday. Can't wait. Got to try to get up there one more day this season to try them out.

 

Would love to hear what you think of them! Would like to demo those as well, but my list is getting pretty long. 


Gunnerbob, I hear what you're saying on the noodle skis, and suspect I'd have a similar reaction. Feel like I want to try something softer just for a comparison, and right now I'm thinking like Volkl Bridge, Rossignol Scimitar, Nordica Steadfast and I have to try the Soul 7. 


I'm thinking the Soul 7 would be great for a day at Aspen. 

 

Anyway, thanks so much for all the feedback everyone, super helpful!

post #26 of 28
Thread Starter 

Specs on the new 2014/15 Volkl Mantra look very, very interesting. Have steered away because I don't want to be fighting the ski and sounds like it's stiff. But the new one in 184? Really hope to demo that in Aspen. 

post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 

Ended up buying a ski I'd never have guessed. Demo, go figure, eh? 

 

Kästle FX94. Skied them for a day at Snowmass and just loved them. So quick, smooth, stable and just fun. No comparison to the Bonafide's for me, clearly my preference. I didn't get into any crud or pow with them unfortunately, but if they do what they aren't supposed to be as good at (on-piste) this well, I can't wait to try them in the cut-up or the pow. I can't wait for next year!!

post #28 of 28
I think you found a great ski for your area, 94mm waist whould do well out there.
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