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"All Mountain" vs. "Free Ski"

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Where is the line drawn, and which is a better ski for me? I know, these are questions that ultimately only I can answer, so I'll add some info from my first day of the season and some demoing I did.

Firstly, I got the bug for new skis last year when my just returning to skiing brother started passing me when demoing skis. I was on my 8 or so year old Bandits at the time. I immediately went into the demo shop at Wachusett and started demoing some of the same skis he was on. I tried Rossignol E88, Nordica Steadfast and I believe Volkl Kendo last year. I like the Steadfast best, followed by the E88. I felt the Kendo was too much for me, although it was the last ski of the day and my legs were pretty tired.

I've sold the Bandits at a local swap, so I need new skis. Last Friday I did some demoing at Mt Snow. They just got snow the day before, so the conditions at the 9:00 am start were pretty nice. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of trails open, so conditions didn't stay great for long.

I started with the Nordica NRgy 90. This replaces the Steadfast, so I really wanted to like it, but I didn't. I can't really say exactly why, but I'll try. It lost the feeling of being on rails that I had when carving the Steadfast, but didn't gain a lot of playfulness. It just didn't wow me.

Next I tried the E88. I felt like this ski was not the same ski as last year. I know they supposedly didn't change it much, but it felt a good big heavier than last year's model. I liked it, but I wasn't ready to say this is it.

Next I tried the Head Rev85. This ski I liked a lot. I felt like it carved really well, although I had to really be careful about staying on top of it. Not quite as on rails as the Steadfast. But, it was much nicer about leaving the turn and jumping into a new one. Also the most easy going ski I tried Friday.

Last I tried the Blizzard Brahma. Too much ski for me. I wanted to try the Bushwacker also, as it seems on paper like that would be better for me. Alas, Mt. Snow's demo shop didn't have one.

That was all I was able to try Friday. My impressions were that I want something a little easier going than many of the "All Mountain" skis in the 88ish waist. So my question now is, should I start looking at some of the "Free Ride" skis? I do around 70% of my skiing on piste, aim to carve when the slopes are right for me. Still wind up skidding on steeper stuff. Like to try trees and bumps, both need to be ideal for me to have much fun. Really like trying powder when it's available.

I think I want to get to Wachusett and see what Salomon's they have, I'd really like to try both the X-Drive 88 and the Q90.

So, how does one decide whether to look at All Mountain vs. Free Ride? Is there a hard and fast rule? Am I looking at the wrong categories altogether?
post #2 of 5
You demoed what could be called 'front side biased all mountain skis'. I don't really know what you mean by 'free ride' for your application. Around here, it generally means 104-120 underfoot, stiffer than a powder specific ski, and by that definition, not what would jump out at me as a nice eastern ski. If you're talking more about an all mountain twin tip, then the Nordica Soul Rider should be near the top of your list. If your talking about a ski that seems more designed for off piste applications, then I'd try the Kastle FX 84.

All that said, when you demo a ski and like it (your Rev 85 pro) don't over think things. Buy it, go skiing, and embrace the chance to jump off the 'gotta have gear' treadmill for a while.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response. You're the second person who mentioned the Soul Rider to me, so I'll have to check it out. I think that skis like that are what I'm referring to. I am also very interested in trying the Salomon Q90, which they list as a part of their "Freeski" line, separate from "All Mountain" which interestingly, for Salomon, ends at 88 mm waist.
post #4 of 5

I suggest thinking about your preferred style on the carve <-> smear continuum.


If you love pop and power as you rail on the edge with a full finish from the turn, squared tailed full shapes (maybe some tip rocker) will make you smile. (Steadfast)


If you like to pivot in tight spots like trees and bumps, a more versatile with tip rise and (slight) tail lift makes it easy to twist those thigh bones and smear a nice arc around.(Bushwacker)


Unless you REALLY like fully finished turns(almost traversing between turns) I suggest at least a rounded or (slightly)tapered tail.


Look for a ski roughly as wide as your boot.


Also last year's skis are discounted or on closeout, retail(new skis) is for suckers.

post #5 of 5
last years skis....check out skiessientials.com. I just got my 3rd pair from them on Saturday, last years Kendo.

The Steadfast was a great ski, I find my Kendo's to be just a bit more playful but the same great snow feel and grip. You should give it another try.

I haven't been on the 2014/2015 model yet, but plan to be at Okemo on Dec13th.

Unless you stay away from the bumps, trees, crud, then go with a all mountain ski, the freeride skis do it all.

Lot's of threads here recently, about this same basic choice, make sure you read them also.

Lot's of great skis out there.

Hey do you have great fitting boots ? They are the most important part.
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