Regarding your Steadfast diving, falls, etc., it's not your fault so much here!
I like to charge fast on groomers (who doesn't)......
They are great for up to about 4" of snow and then I start to struggle with them. They're also difficult in crud, chop and your variable conditions at any kind of speed because they're so light and every little bump in the terrain really starts to throw me around. This is probably a limitation of my skiing ability also but there there have been many times I wished for a more damp ski.
Off-piste I am much more timid since I had a difficult time building up a lot of confidence. I'd make some great progress then lose it in a perplexing fall not always knowing exactly how I screwed up. I also never felt fully comfortable off-piste on my Steadfasts though I am hesitant to lay much blame on my gear instead of my ability. That said I really wouldn't mind skis that helped me out a little more.....
I demoed the Steadfast and Hell & Back, and for me they have some of the qualities of good gs race skis, in a good way; but also, like such gs skis they have some of the problems of those skis in unevenness, pow & off piste: for me, they do have a tendency to deflect at the tips or dive at the tips going fast in uneven, crud or chop snow. I adjusted for this by being more on top of the skis when the bottom was uncertain, more square and balanced; but this is a ski design problem. Many good gs skis have the same problem, inherently. That's why we ski more versatile skis!
I was not alone in my observations here:
"Nordica Steadfast 178
Not good for REALLY fast skiers, but probably pretty good for your average expert skier without a REAL race background. My biggest reservation was that it was deflecting all over the place at really high speeds. I think this ski would be great for the majority of good skiers on EpicSki, but for the bigger guys, or those that really push higher speeds, I'd skip this one. I can see a lot of versatility in this ski, but it just doesn't quite have the muster that I'd want. Like I said, probably a great ski for a lot of people here, but not for me."
There are other threads saying the same thing.
Your comments on considering two different types of powder skis seem to me to be on the money, but....(see spindrift here):
This is an interesting debate and I'm glad its in this thread. I originally intended to pick up a purer powder ski, something definitely over 110, but this conversation as well as some PMs and other outside advice has me considering a more soft-snow favoring all-mountain ski to start out with instead. I won't be making any big lines, or skiing the steeps this season. I'm still working on technique and form and will be keeping it more on the mellow side.. open faces and gladed trees, etc. So I need the right tool for the job here. Something confidence building.
My current home mountain has a ton of great terrain all over the place but to get in and out of it usually requires groomers and in particular one especially long and tiresome cat track. My understanding from this thread is that the wider and more specialized I get in a powder ski the more awesome it is in pow but the worse time I'm going to have on anything else.....
Rossi Soul 7
Line SFB / SD
Nordica Vagabond / El Cap / Patron
Icelantic Nomad RKR
Atomic Ritual / possibly a new automatic in 109
This is a great list, but.... I own Rituals (103), love them, and I did with them, in essence, by accident, exactly what was being recommended for you here (esp. well by Mudfoot), though I knew how to ski powder from years on narrow "powder skis." I believe this to be excellent advice, but...FAT SKIS ARE SO INCREDIBLE, WHY WAIT NEEDLESSLY? Just realize there's a lot to learn with technique. (Again, see spindrift above.)
Also, you are greatly underestimating how well some fat skis will do on groomers! I can just gs rail on my Super 7s, and they are not the best fat skis at that listed here.
(Note: the skis in bold letters are skis I know to be very capable on groomers, from demo or fellow skiers)
So I think I'm actually looking at two different skis here- a fast, damp off-piste capable crud-buster that still has some float and a nimble floaty powder ski for the trees.
Don't mind to find this in a single ski, but switching gear mid-day is not a problem. So perhaps a 105-110ish range all-mountain would be appropriate in addition to a fatter ski purely for soft snow. The right off-season deals could enable me to add both to my quiver this year. If not I'm looking at just one addition for next season.
Something I'd add here about powder skis is that, in my more limited experience (not a pro, for example), there is probably a ~115 mm. waist "sweet spot" when it comes to powder deeper than ~10-12". (e.g., Praxis GPO ~115, Automatic 116, Super 7 115, Line Influence 115, Sol Quest 115, Line Mr. Pollard's Opus ~115, Shiro 119, Patron 113, Gunsmoke 114, etc.).
There is a sudden stability, not just better float.
Mudfoot mentions this, but the feel of this is wonderful, for any level skier. It may make you lazy, but...(see spindrift, again), wow! Do not deprive yourself of this!
This year I added Super 7s to my Rituals, and now love both skis: the wider ones for a.m. resort powder ideally, and the Rituals ideally for a bit less snow, & p.m. chop, crud, soft bumps--any soft snow, actually. But I'm hard-pressed to use my Rituals now as much as I do my Super 7s, at least this year in Summit County, CO.
Spindrift is right here, at least in my limited experience: there is less stability on my Rituals, even with how great that ski is, once it gets past 10" of powder at least. Spindrift's description of the tendency of a narrower ski to slide off its waist in deeper snow is real. This only happened to me 3 times I know of in 50-60 days of skiing on the Rituals; but twice it was a smack down, and it did affect my skiing and confidence with speed in deep and steeps (much like your Steadfast problems, only less, I'd guess).
Also, to address your second ski desired--and I could be wrong here also--but there seems to be a "sweet spot" for great chop/crud + still-floating-in-powder skis of around a 108 mm waist. (Line Sir Francis Bacon, the new Automatic 109, the Vagabond/El Capo 108?).
I'd mention the Blizzard Cochise and Volkl Katana here, but they don't seem to really float well in powder, especially compared to the others mentioned: too stiff?
I tried to find one ski that would do what both these types of skis would do, and I haven't found it yet. Maybe one of the skis I haven't yet demoed, like the Line Influence 115, the Quest 115, the Praxis GPO, or the new Automatic 109? For me, the old Automatic came close.
Dunno! You all tell me!
Edited by ski otter - 6/12/14 at 6:46pm