Last year towards the end of the season I decided I needed new skis. I had been on my Rossi B78s for six years and felt that I could do better with a newer ski. This feeling was reinforced after demoing some of the new skis from last year. Two in particular I liked were the Nordica Steadfast and the Rossi E88. I especially liked the locked in feeling the Steadfast gave me when I had it on edge, but I did feel it wanted to stay that way a little more than I would have liked. Of course I do realize that steady and playful are to a certain extent diametrically opposed goals.
A little about me so you'll know where my needs are. I'm a 52 year old upper intermediate who started at 36 years old. I'm 5'9" and 210, so not a small guy. I ski and mountain bike a lot better at 190, so I need to get rid of my "wife went to grad school" weight. She got the masters, I got the extra chores and the lowered gym time! I ski mostly in the east on groomers. I do like trying trees, but only if the snow is perfect. Same with bumps but to a lesser extent. I also like trying ungroomed snow when we have it available here. I try to get out west at least every other year. Steamboat this year, right after Christmas! On blues I'm getting better with my carve, but I still feel like learning to ski at the end of the stem to turn era is hampering me. It's part muscle memory and part psychological, I'm sure. On blacks and in any ungroomed I tend to go back to skidding. I'm looking to get rid of that, or at least get to the point where I'm making a conscious choice of the best turn type for me, not be hampered by my muscle memory/fear.
Fast forward to this year. I got rid of the B78s at a local shop's swap, in part to help fund new boots and skis for the twelve year old, and in part to make sure I really committed to buying new skis this year.
I pretty much new I wanted to look at mid-eighties to low nineties in the waist "all mountain frontside" skis. Lengths I was looking at were around 177-180.
The Friday after Thanksgiving I went up to Mt. Snow and demoed four skis in that category. The E88, the Head Rev 85, the Blizzard Brahma and the Nordica NRgy 90. In order, I preferred the Head, the Rossi, the Nordica and the Blizzard. The Blizzard was definitely too much ski for me, the Nordica just left me cold, very different ski from the Steadfast, the E88 felt heavier than last years. The Head had tons of playfulness but wasn't quite as stable as I was hoping for. It is a very nice ski for me however.
Next up was Wachusett. I talked to the shop manager, Mike. He felt that some of what I was talking about looking at was too much for me, based on my own description of my skiing. It was a bit of an ego deflation, but probably what I needed to hear. I did try the Salomon X-Drive 8.8, and it was way too much ski for me. I also tried the Kastle LX82. He had it in 172, which I felt was too short. Nice ski though. On to the K2 Rictor 82, which Mike felt was at the edge of what I should be looking at (he was obviously also directing me towards narrower waists). Really liked that one a lot. If I was in the market for a quiver, that would be in it. Really felt locked in when on edge, pretty easy to get from edge to edge, but not really playful feeling.
Next I tried the Rossi E84. Pretty much new right away this was it. Almost as locked in feeling as the K2, much more playful. I went back and forth a few times between the K2 and the E84 a few times, then skied the E84 for the rest of the afternoon. Went in at the end of the day, credit card in hand, and picked these up, with Salomon Z12 bindings:
Left everything in the shop's capable hands and went off to the pub for an apres beer!