I mentioned on the NRGY, the fun is gone thread that I would post up my comparison reviews after a full day mixing it up today. Phil had the skis out w/ a group of east coast buddies. Thx for letting me ski the toys, Phil. (waiting for kids at swim team, so could be long…)
5ft 11, 170lbs, finesse skier, 45, psia level 3 (from ages ago, don't teach anymore), my skiing has been aired out here, but my description, I like to ski fun and exciting terrain, at mostly moderate speeds and pretty smoothly.
Here's a link to vid of me skiing a couple weeks back on Hell and Back in some bachelor crud for skill/style reference.
I like to ski off piste, using groomers for access to get back to lifts...
Squaw Valley, wet! yesterday, 6-8 of new really really wet sierra snow, that got skied, tracked, slid, packed, and then it rained last night to the top of Squaw, no freeze. slide paths, and areas with lots of traffic were skiing best, and by afternoon, snow cone snow, melted down even 6in plus on access groomers.
nordica NRGy 100, 177, stock tune out of wrapper w/ at least few days on it
Nordica hell and back, 177, mine, sharp 1/2 tune, a few weeks ago,
Bonafide 180, 2014/15 graphic, Start haus tune/wax
I do not sell skis, am not affiliated with any shops or companies. I tend to send people who ask me for recommendations to either dawgcatching or Start Haus, depending on what they are looking for. I am not a pro ski tester, but have skied a lot of skis, and over the years, I have skied at demo days for shops as well, so do not just ski skis I would like, but a wide gamut. That said, I'm doing these reviews for how these skis skied for me, and for what I like a ski to do.
I've reviewed Hell and Back recently, and compared it to the kabookie and fx 94, so no full review here, just comments on how it stacked up in the end.
I have to admit, today this one skied better for me then my original demo of it last year. It skis very similar to Kabookie, as has been said many times, but feels a bit more demanding. It may not be any stiffer, but does push back more a slow to moderate speeds. It was a dichotomy to me, in that I actually really liked it when skiing steep funky bumps, and quite steep slide paths (top of chute 75, steepest part of face of headwall). When the gravity was providing the forces, the ski worked great and listened well. I loved the tip, as it was forgiving, and didn't try to grab parts of terrain I didn't want it to, but hooked up where I asked. In these steep off piste turns, I released out of the turn well, and the tail didn't bother me as it has in the past.
but, when making moderate speed turns in the flatter access area, it was less agreeable to my 170lbs of finesse. I figured out how to make it work, but I had to push a bit more then I like. Also, I spent enough time to figure out how to work the tail on the bonafide, and now understand why it and kabookie were not ideal for me. The tail sidecut and profile need a bit more weight to get them to work well, and I tend to ski a bit more on the ball of my foot. If I moved back to the arch, it would hold and be more agreeable. In contrast, the HandB has quite a bit more tail, and stays strong even from my normal balance point.
All in all, I can see why this has been a best seller, and is super versatile. I still wouldn't own it for me, and if I wanted to bond w/ the tail shape, I'd probably buy the kabookie for me I could make it work a bit easier and liked the energy it had. If I was 20lb heavier, the bonafide may be good, still having to make an adjustment to get the tail to smile for me.
NRGy 100, 177
Right off the bat, after spending lots of time on the HandB, it is not similiar to that ski, or the enforcer. They were not trying to create an update, but a completely different ski, closer in philosophy to the Bonafide then HandB, but far from a clone, or Wonafide as I've heard it's been called. To back up a step, it was actually longer then the 180 bonafide, and they both skied shorter then my 177 handB, probably do to the longer sidecut engagement of the forebody of the ski, and the tip profile.
So, as I stepped on it, I had read about the variety of reviews, many not positive. Stiff tail, washy tail, vague tip, lacks the energy (so what's w/ the name….), so I had that in my head as I stepped in. And, as stated, it skis quite differently then the previous nordica. It felt lighter, less grippy, and less poppy (energetic rebound), but as I skied it as it's own ski, it performed well. I was predictable, solid, responded to what I wanted very well. First impression was that it was much easier skiing this funky snow then on my HandB. It was willing to drift more easily, but felt solid when I asked it to engage, whether that was a quick hit on the face of the bump, or full carving engagement. The tail didn't feel stiff to me, and has that new profile that has bugged me in some skis, but it worked much better for me the the bone or kabookie. It felt more substantial in shape, but soft enough to be easy to release it.
more Chute 75 comparisons!
I skied them all back to back, multiple runs down chute 75, I think I skied the chute 10 times this afternoon, so @ 20K vert, switching on and off (Phil and his group from the East were spectators for one, as they were resting in the choke at 2/3 of the way down and I skied to them, Phil, how'd the ski seem to be working from that perspective?).
upper half is steepest, if you know 75, and was a slide path, some snow shapes, but mostly steep and pretty smooth, with fast wet snow, then some large bumps, and crazy shapes formed by creating moguls in slide debris.
H and B, skied like i expect it to, well, prefers to hook up, and takes finesse to drift, especially as I have it tuned. fun skiing, but demanding at times, especially in the bottom bumps if I missed an absorption or didn't pull it back.
then, I skied the bonafide, and was pleasantly surprised. with the forces of the pitch, it bent up much better for me, and the tail was happy to release and drift well. the tip was dreamy, as it didn't try to dig into the shapes like the HandB tends to at time.
then, I skied the nrgy (which spell checks to o r g y by the way), and after the morning skiing it, I thought it would be good, but not amazing here, BUT, it was Amazing. In this pitch, and super wet snow, it was my favorite! It was just so predictable, solid, fun, easy, but sweet. The sidecut felt between the other 2, and perfect for my choice of turn shapes (19.5), the tail felt between the other 2, easier to release then HandB, but more substantial then bonafide (for my balance point)
So, here's some thoughts to sum up the day.
The Hell and Back can provide the most excitement. If I just skied Northstar, or any mtn with moderate terrain/pitch, it is the best ski here for me. It provides the energy and excitement more with the full engagement, longer edge, distinct tail sidecut profile. It does everything well, but wants a skilled pilot to give it the energy and it gives it back.
The NRGy would be my choice for skiing like today, and probably for Squaw Valley in general. The mtn provides lots of excitement, shapes, terrain, and forces, and this ski allows you to work with those things. It doesn't create as much excitement, but it does everything you ask of it without argument or embellishment.
I also don't know how this one would do on ice, hard snow. Will it hold like Hand B, don't know, it has metal, but feels more torsionally compliant then HandB.
I wouldn't have named it energy, but it's a great ski, and definitely more approachable then the Hellnback or bonafide.
On the holding on hard snow point, I may actually write another opinion piece, though. I think people get too much ski w/ the idea that they will work well on hard snow, but don't keep 'em tuned well. Put a sharp 1/2 on most of these skis, and keep it sharp, and it should hold for rec snow conditions. The contact point is so much more important then the stiffness, and often the least thought about. i think skiers should ski skis they can bend well, and then ski em really sharp when the snow requires it, not ski really stiff skis and ski 'em all winter w/ no tunes. Sorry, derailment of ski review… :).
Bonafide, much better then my first take, and while I still think it's a bit too stiff for my weight, skiing style and position, I can see why peeps would love it.
bring on the snow!