or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › EpicSki members thumbnails from the 2014 Gathering Demo at Alpine Meadows
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

EpicSki members thumbnails from the 2014 Gathering Demo at Alpine Meadows

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Please feel free to post your reviews here. I would also like to thank Alpine Meadows for letting us put on this event. I will be posting my snippets as soon as I can recover from a day of demoing and a night of bootfitting at the Start Haus open house.












Edited by Philpug - 3/28/14 at 7:15am
post #2 of 27

Loved it! And thanks for booking a powder day too

post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

I had a chance to get on some skis in the conditions they were intended for...powder. 

 

Atomic Automatic 102/109-These two bothers have been some of the most pleasant surprises for me going into 2015, they are light, playful and just a ton of fun. The 1OS category is still trying to define itself with wether it wants to be a powder ski or big mountain charger or in some cases both. The Automatics are on the finesse side of the chart and I will say they were some of the most talked about skis from our Gatherers 

 

Blizzard Spur- This is a new limited production 125mm wide ski from Blizzard for this coming season. There will only be 250 of these produced coming into this season. I think this is a new direction from Blizzard with there big mountain skis for the upcoming years with the lightening of the ski with the use of carbon at the extremities and continued use of the iso core. The Spur in its massive 189cm length and 125mm underfoot was amazingly nimble for it's size. I cannot wait to try it in conditions that I can actually see in. 

 

Dynastar Cham 117- Cham 2.0. Dynastar is evolving it's Cam shape for next year and the first model is the Cham 117. Gone are the metal versions of the Chams for the lighter HM (High Mountain) construction along with a new shape and profile. The latter change is what makes the new 117 better, Dynastar lowered the tip profile, and gave a bit of tail rise to the design along with evolving the sidecut for a more relaxed turn shape. On snow feel, even in the 180cm length,transitioning from Alpine's wind buff to scoured hardback showed that they are going in the right direction with this new 2.0 incarnation. 

 

Rossignol Super 7- Light, playful and nimble are the attributes of the Super 7, in the soft snow, the Super really shined. If I was looking for a easy ski to just play in the trees and and ski JUST powder with..a great choice, but while I don't think of myself as a big mountain charger, I felt I could over power this 7. 

 

Volkl Mantra- Off piste, the Mantra performed fantastic,  I would say that of all the 98-100mm skis it was my favorite in soft snow, it was easy to pivot and allowed me to come in and out of the bumps and tight spots of Alpine with a big smile on my face, it is been a long time since that happened to me on a Manta. On piste is where I feel the Mantra could benefit from a bit of camber, tracking was bit disconcerting and there was no pop in and out of the turn. 

post #4 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
 

 

Dynastar Cham 117- Cham 2.0. Dynastar is evolving it's Cam shape for next year and the first model is the Cham 117. Gone are the metal versions of the Chams for the lighter HM (High Mountain) construction along with a new shape and profile. The latter change is what makes the new 117 better, Dynastar lowered the tip profile, and gave a bit of tail rise to the design along with evolving the sidecut for a more relaxed turn shape. On snow feel, even in the 180cm length,transitioning from Alpine's wind buff to scoured hardback showed that they are going in the right direction with this new 2.0 incarnation. 

 

 

Cool, this is exactly what I asked for at the last Tahoe Gathering Demo.

post #5 of 27
I tried to take each ski through a similar route and a variety of terrain and uses. Good snow on relatively open slopes, tight trees (sierra tight anyway), and steep heavy crud well on its way to becoming moguls. I skied the crud in a fast big turn "ignore the bumps" style.

I started with the rossi sin in a fairly short length. 177 maybe. It turned quickly but felt a bit short. Did not try the crud on it. Then the soul 7 in a long length. Didn't like it. Seemed vague and unpredictable in hooking up.
More on the automatics and chams later.
post #6 of 27

The Automatics sound as if they've been redesigned for the better. As far as the S skis, totally agree, but will point out a logical issue with reviewing fatter skis:

 

I think it would useful to let go of criteria more suited to 90 mm skis. A 110+ ski is not meant to be a one ski quiver. (Unless you spend a lot of time on TGR.) So seems to me, it's useful to focus on criteria that are more relevant to the mission of the ski. For instance, any fat ski with rocker of any kind, even tempered with 4 mm of camber, will be vaguer to hook up, and less effective on groomers, than any 90 mm with a touch of early rise, a flat tail, and 7 mm of camber. Powder skis are not optimized to hook up. Some will be vaguer than others, but IME, and following high school physics, everything has a tradeoff. So a more decisive initiation will also usually be paid for with that "hookiness" we all scream about, or overly responsive tips in deeper cut snow or variable say going from crust to piles of chop. And rocker in the tail, such as the S series has, screams, "slide me, pivot me, have your way with me laterally." Bullet shaped tips scream, "I'll slice through this chop instead of trying to turn and blowing your ACL." Fat Stocklis scream, "Hans, is that you? Make me do this chute with one turn. You know how I love that."

 

This is not to say that I'm defending the S series from charges of vagueness or lack of precision. Dead on, in fact. But when I read things like that, I tend to think, "uh, and your point is?" In fact, I haven't mounted up my Super 7's, but I'm very suspicious of all these reviews about how the Souls and Supers carve up firm snow. Assume they'll be better than the old versions. But that's like saying my 15 year old 4 banger SUV is faster to 60 than my 15 year old 4 banger VW van was. You like speed? Get a Porsche Cayenne. I'll take my old Taco framed 4-Runner with 229,000 and manual compound low going, and we'll see who gets up some occasionally plowed county roads in VT quicker. Different tools, different purposes. ;)

 

Then some logistical issues:

 

I also think it would be useful for reviewers, every posted review, even if a single paragraph, to paste in their weight, height, and where they ski typically. Level is useless, we're all experts and above. And our profiles rarely include this. But our size makes a huge impact on how we perceive skis, how we evaluate another person's takes, it's a PITA to go fishing for old posts to find out folks' size, and not all of us know each other well enough to have shared a bathroom scale. Besides, my memory is Swiss cheese. 

 

And I will think about a critique very differently if the ski was used in the PNW by a guy who thinks snow should be squeezed before using, versus a woman in Montana who thinks all snow hangs in the air for 10 minutes after you ski through it. In this case, and having skied S7's in Sierra Cement, I can unequivocatingly recommend almost any other ski made, including those 333 plywood jobs, for Tahoe. Back bowls at Vail? now you have some sticks worth checking out. Trees at Alta? Buy 'em without demoing.  

 

Finally, I think it's reasonable to specify what mission the reviewer is after; big mountain chargers like the Cochise and Katana will be better at relationship commitment, but worse at playing around. That's what the designers are after. Differences among good skis are more about what's the impact on that burger when you use a different cheese. Free lunches only exist in our fevered imaginations, as we try to reduce cognitive dissonance when we slap down the plastic. 


Edited by beyond - 3/28/14 at 7:56am
post #7 of 27

Excellent points! 

 

Reviews are almost useless with context.  We need context!  Hearing experts talk about how good a ski is means nothing, when an expert can make any ski work because of their skill set.  What is a certain ski designed to so, where will it be skied, what is the size of the person using it, and the expectations of the skier........these things (and more) make a HUGE difference in the outcome of the impressions of a ski.

post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
In this case, and having skied S7's in Sierra Cement, I can unequivocatingly recommend almost any other ski made, including those 333 plywood jobs, for Tahoe.

 

That's about the same reaction I had.  And totally agreed about no ski around 110mm "carving" up the groomers.  They get by at best - some of them, like the Cochise, can get by surprisingly well, but people tend to get carried away.  I was probably guilty of this at some point.

 

Anyway, I noticed the new Bent Chetlers in one of the photos.  Curious to hear what some folks thought of them.

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

 

I also think it would be useful for reviewers, every posted review, even if a single paragraph, to paste in their weight, height, and where they ski typically. Level is useless, we're all experts and above. And our profiles rarely include this. But our size makes a huge impact on how we perceive skis, how we evaluate another person's takes, it's a PITA to go fishing for old posts to find out folks' size, and not all of us know each other well enough to have shared a bathroom scale. Besides, my memory is Swiss cheese. 

 

And I will think about a critique very differently if the ski was used in the PNW by a guy who thinks snow should be squeezed before using, versus a woman in Montana who thinks all snow hangs in the air for 10 minutes after you ski through it. In this case, and having skied S7's in Sierra Cement, I can unequivocatingly recommend almost any other ski made, including those 333 plywood jobs, for Tahoe. Back bowls at Vail? now you have some sticks worth checking out. Trees at Alta? Buy 'em without demoing.

Finally, I think it's reasonable to specify what mission the reviewer is after; big mountain chargers like the Cochise and Katana will be better at relationship commitment, but worse at playing around. That's what the designers are after. Differences among good skis are more about what's the impact on that burger when you use a different cheese. Free lunches only exist in our fevered imaginations, as we try to reduce cognitive dissonance when we slap down the plastic. 

 

Beyond,

 

No one on Epic champions a process for  better reviews than you. In a perfect world, I'd agree with the above, but, for the Alpine Meadows demo day, I've a few caveats.

 

In discussions with Garyskr last night, he told me the conditions were 6 to 12 inches of fairly heavy California snow. From the pics, it's clear that visibility was far less than clear on the mountain. Two years ago, in similar conditions, the Gathering was at Alpine, and, it was all I could do, on the first few runs, to figure out how to ski my own 94's. I'd be very hesitant to transfer yesterday's experiences, based on the specific conditions to all-around ski competency. The Gathering group is comprised of folks who are not regular reviewers, so, my thinking is the snapshot reviews need taken with a big grain of salt. By having all the reviews in one place, maybe one or three skis will stand out for the conditions that day, but, how does one separate the wheat from the chaff. There's an Epic story that the late Stu Campbell would let everyday skiers participate in reviews of skis, only to find that he needed to educate them on how to review a ski.

 

Maybe there's some benefit in knowing I'm 200 lbs and ski a small east mountain, but, I can't agree that stating proficiency is irrelevant because everyone's an expert...I realize that statement is more for humor. My bottom line is that if I want good info on a specific ski, I look to the dedicated Epic Gear review for that ski. Let the snapshot reviews be whatever they are. Heck, my reviews are, generally as simple as: I like 'em or not. Nobody should ever buy a ski on what I say, but, I'll still play the demo day gear review game, it's just fun.

post #10 of 27

Based on the photos and videos I've seen and the the snow level elevations, there's no way yesterday's snow was heavy by Tahoe standards.  Especially compared to what we've had so far this season (imagine going 50 mph, throwing your skis sideways, and the snow still barely flies above your knees.. I haven't been to the white room once this year, other than my trip to Utah).  Just saying.

post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

 

This is not to say that I'm defending the S series from charges of vagueness or lack of precision. Dead on, in fact. But when I read things like that, I tend to think, "uh, and your point is?" In fact, I haven't mounted up my Super 7's, but I'm very suspicious of all these reviews about how the Souls and Supers carve up firm snow. Assume they'll be better than the old versions. But that's like saying my 15 year old 4 banger SUV is faster to 60 than my 15 year old 4 banger VW van was. You like speed? Get a Porsche Cayenne. I'll take my old Taco framed 4-Runner with 229,000 and manual compound low going, and we'll see who gets up some occasionally plowed county roads in VT quicker. Different tools, different purposes. ;)

 

 

 

Depending on your definition of "firm" - those Super 7's will, indeed, carve a turn pretty dang well for a 115. Maybe not as good a my Enforcers or the Cochise's could (and totally get that those arent really "carving" skis.) but the new Super 7's are not bad and if you dont mind your knees hurting and its not ice - they are surprising.  Heavy chopped up snow on the other hand is........lets say their "challenge".

post #12 of 27

Nice reviews @Philpug . I got similar feels on the skis I tried (Atomics, Dynastar and Mantra).

 

@JayT I like weird skis so take my input with a grain of salt, I didn't enjoy the Bent Chettlers. Maybe it is because I fell on them - and I rarely fall on a blue groomer. They seemed heavy and unresponsive. And this was in the best powder of the day (first run). I was excited to try them because my wife got some and loved them in powder. No brand prejudice as I loved the Atomic Automatics. Try them yourself before you buy. If you can try some of the other skis Phil reviewed as well. Oh, and the snow was Tahoe par - heavy by Montana standards but not by ours.

 

"I'll still play the demo day gear review game, it's just fun" @Living Proof got that right.

 

Eric


Edited by eleeski - 3/30/14 at 4:02pm
post #13 of 27
Phil or Trek: do you have a list of what skis the reps brought? Specifically I wanted to include the lengths of the atomic automatics in my review. I know they were 190ish mid 180s and 180.
post #14 of 27
Beyond: when I said the soul 7 was vague I was not talking about hardpack. There was no hardpack, except the last few hundred feet before the lift.

When I put a powder ski on edge I want it to make a well defined turn.

The automatics made a turn with a user selectable amount of drift, from very little to smearing sideways.

The big chams made a different turn that always had a lot of drift, unless you were going very fast and really working them. But it was still predictable and anything but vague.

The rossi's were just weird.

I am 190 pounds, 5 foot 10. This year most of my skiing has been at Gatherings. My regular ski is a 188 Coomba, 102 waist, which I use on everything from ice to powder.
post #15 of 27
The snow for the demo day was true powder at the very top, a bit heavier (and very chopped up in places) mid mountain, and heavy at the bottom. The wide variety was great for demoing.
post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

Beyond: when I said the soul 7 was vague I was not talking about hardpack. There was no hardpack, except the last few hundred feet before the lift.

When I put a powder ski on edge I want it to make a well defined turn.
 

Intriguing statement that I must admit I don't get. A well defined turn in powder or chop is impossible by definition. Think about what's happening to a ski in powder, the lack of a bottom on which to set an edge, the amount of lateral displacement. 

 

So you must mean soft groomed?

 

Or maybe I'm misunderstanding what "vague" and "well defined" mean as you use them. For me, a well defined turn is one in which you can feel, and work, the entire engaged edge throughout the turn to carve an arc reasonably close to the radius you choose. Once you can't engage the edges throughout the turn, the turn begins to accumulate variability over which you have less, or no, control.

 

On groomed, that's a very typical high intermediate GS length turn, say 25 m, on 14-17 m radius skis with early rise. Rotate the skis into the top of the turn, with some slippage, then some edge engagement prior to the apex, usually with too much weight on the inside ski, then a tail skid ("brush"), from past the apex through the 2/3 mark as the skier downweights a bit, then some more tightening up the carve into a kind of check stop that doesn't stop. All about controlling unwanted speed with skidding. As the skier gets better, goes from a "J" recovery turn to an "S" that's overweight in the middle, and drunk at the end. Skier thinks that's a carve for sure. 

 

In softer snow there's a fair amount of that variability, because the surface on which the edge is trying to engage is becoming poorly defined, and the skier's COM is getting knocked around a bit. There's a bunch of variability in powder. Where you're using your mechanics to bend the ski against the constantly yielding substrate, and reacting to what's happening. Not much proactive precision there. 

 

For me a vague turn would be one in which the initiation and finish are not well defined, relative to my input. I tell the tip to engage, and I'm not completely sure the moment that it does, just a bit later when it's actually turning. Ditto for the tails and finishes. Twin tip tails, for instance, or any rocker, will be vaguer than a traditional camber, although the exact meeting of contact point and sidecut will mediate that a bit. And a squared off tip, with sidecut all the way, like a mid-fat Rossi, will tend to initiate so eagerly that it's problematic ("hooky") in chop. But even on racing skis, an early rise tip is vaguer than a traditional.

 

Wide skis add a second element of delay, not from the tip getting to the snow, but from one edge to another. 

 

Anyway, if you're referring to soft groomers and crud, I do not find turning rockered wide skis to be well defined on any kind of packed or semi-packed surface, relative to a 70-80 something carver with camber. Any wide rockered ski. And I've owned or had extended demos on some that people speak of as killer big mountain carvers, like the Cochise, Elan Olympus Mons, BMX108, and the PM Gear Lhasa, as well as plenty that are considered vague. 

 

So I respect your take, just hard to square with my experience. Have a hunch we're talking past each other, not unusual here. 

post #17 of 27
Thumb nails gentlemen, not quibbling, thumbnails. Focus. smile.gif
post #18 of 27
It was 6 to 10 inches of heavy new snow. By a well defined turn I mean I get a solid platform to do the analog of carving against. If I don't put the skis at as big an angle I get some drift. I want the amount of drift to be predictable.

The snow was heavy enough that 6 inches was effectively bottomless. (NN showed me some deep stashes of true powder higher on the mountain later, but I was back on my own skis by then).

The crud I tested on was heavily trafficked areas that were starting to form moguls. I also hit a couple faces where ice lenses were showing through the new snow, but that's a whole different challenge.

So do l need perfect snow to appreciate the soul 7? If so, I still don't understand because anything works when the snow is perfect.
post #19 of 27
Just write what you thought about the skis, good, bad, or indifferent. Let the reader take them for what they're worth... or not.
post #20 of 27
I tried the Atomic Automatics in all 3 models: the 117 width at a length around 190, the 109 in a mid 180 length, and the 102 width at 180 long. The radius printed on the ski was close to 20 meters for all of them.

For context, I am 190 or 195 pounds, 5 ft 10 inch, and my daily ski is a 102 wide and 188 long Coomba.


All three models made came around quickly when put on edge, but can make a more smeared turn when desired, or even slide sideways or be thrown around if you need to fix a mistake. Yet they all felt stable at reasonable speeds in the variable snow.

They all felt great on the open trees and slopes. I felt the the 102 gave up a little stability compared to the 109 without gaining much quickness.

In the tight trees the 117 was manageable, but when I switched to the 109 I realized it was a lot easier to make good tturns on them.

The biggest difference among the three was when I made big round high speed turns down a steep pitch through the chop. The 117 felt good. The 109 handled it fine, and the 102 was a bucking bronco ride.

It would be interesting to try these skis in the same length to see how much of the difference was the models and how much was the length.

I like all 3 of these skis, but the 109 is definitely my favorite. In fact I would go so far as to say I love the 109.
Edited by mdf - 3/31/14 at 11:45am
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post

It was 6 to 10 inches of heavy new snow. By a well defined turn I mean I get a solid platform to do the analog of carving against. If I don't put the skis at as big an angle I get some drift. I want the amount of drift to be predictable.

The snow was heavy enough that 6 inches was effectively bottomless. (NN showed me some deep stashes of true powder higher on the mountain later, but I was back on my own skis by then).

The crud I tested on was heavily trafficked areas that were starting to form moguls. I also hit a couple faces where ice lenses were showing through the new snow, but that's a whole different challenge.

So do l need perfect snow to appreciate the soul 7? If so, I still don't understand because anything works when the snow is perfect.

The 109 sounds like an interesting ski. I still don't comprehend how 6-10 of "effectively bottomless" snow gives a ski anything to carve against, even by analogue. Maybe this is really about flex. I wonder if the Soul 7 is just too flexy for your size, so you process that as not a solid platform (which it wouldn't be), while a beefier ski will resist your bending more, thus feel more solid, which then gives rise to a sensation of well defined for you, whether the ski is actually sliding or carving or not. 

 

Do the Automatics have metal in them or carbon or both?

post #22 of 27
One has carbon and one has metal. Don't remember which.
post #23 of 27
As much as I like the atomics, they are a lot like the skis I already have. For my last demo I wanted something completely different.

So I tried the biggest Dynastar, the Cham 127 in a 190. Wow! Maybe not my favorite ski, but definitely the most fun to demo.

My first reaction when the rep handed them to me was "these things are heavy. Probably weigh twice as much as my skis. I would not want to get into a situation that requires throwing these things around.

The default turn on these things at moderate speeds involved fairly low edge angles and quite a bit of drift, but was effortless. I just cruised down some steep bits and through the open trees.

But my bomber run was really a revelation. Big s-turns on edge at high speed through steep crud. It sliced through like butter. Did not even feel like crud, and it didn't feel like I was going fast.

This would be a dangerous ski for me to own. I'd keep skiing faster and faster until I eventually killed myself.
post #24 of 27

Thanks for the great previews of '15 fat skis, especially the new Automatic series. I can't wait to try the 109 and new 117s, which I've read are 10% stiffer than the old 117s. I hope the new are as good as the old, or an improvement(?), especially around bumps.

 

Did anybody notice any differences between the new Auto 117s and the old ones?

 

 

me: with bottomless ignorance (but for fun:)),  5'10" 150 lbs., @ Loveland, Colo., mid-March Bentgate demo day

(12-24" fresh, light powder from two dump days in a row)

 

I skied the Soul 7 (188), Super 7 (180, 188) and '13/ '14 Automatic (179, 186) on the same demo day, same conditions, then repeated with the two fatter, longer skis on two other good powder days.

 

Conclusion: preferred 180 Super 7s (for a.m. powder/chop) and 186 Autos (for p.m. chop/crud)--contrasting but both good skis. 

 

On 1st demo day: (powder) with soft packed towards the bottom on runoffs; chopped/crudded up late in the day here and there; with transitions from 12" (overnight) to 24" (combined with previous day) in lots of places. For Colo, pretty ideal powder conditions.

 

Skiing two of the new Rossi 7 series and Autos back to back was a joy in the deep, and a contrast in float/powder turn feel, and edge feel/carving here and there, in open terrain, glades, chop/crud, bumps and in the few packed powder spots.

 

The fat Autos, at least in soft conditions, really hold an edge for me: a fun, dependable carve and edge, noticeable even on such a day, a decisive difference in p.m. resort powder conditions, for me. I still may get a pair.  

 

But I bought the Super 7s. My priority was a resort pure powder ski (an a.m. resort ski, still good in the p.m.). 

 

The relatively narrow Soul 7 was not as fun as a number of fatter skis I tried in deep powder conditions, especially the Super 7 and fat Autos, whose stability, float and turn felt like heaven. So I got off the Soul 7s as fast as I could, in spite of how good they were. And yes, their soft carve felt weird, especially compared to, say, a good Atomic (Automatic, Ritual, Coax, Crimson, etc.).  At times even on that day, in the p.m. esp., in the chop/crud and runoffs, and in bumps, it was an obvious difference. 

 

The Super 7s do hold a pretty good fast gs carve on Colo groomers, but they also feel "weird" on edge, especially compared to the fatter Atomics (but many other skis as well). Maybe partly because it's easy to slightly "skip" out of the edging groove, in uneven conditions, on the plastic 7s, but not the Atomics. 


Edited by ski otter - 6/3/14 at 12:25pm
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Living Proof View Post
 

 

Heck, my reviews are, generally as simple as: I like 'em or not. Nobody should ever buy a ski on what I say, but, I'll still play the demo day gear review game, it's just fun

 

My skis were like a fine wine, with hints of forest fruits served by nubile vestil virgins.

post #26 of 27

Ah, the skis, ah, the wine, ah the hot wheels!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-0uQUUdJFE


Edited by ski otter - 6/3/14 at 6:17pm
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by veteran View Post
 

 

My skis were like a fine wine, with hints of forest fruits served by nubile vestil virgins.


I'm with you....I like fruity virgins..

over and out!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Member Gear Reviews
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › EpicSki members thumbnails from the 2014 Gathering Demo at Alpine Meadows