I demoed a bunch of skis this season, and am still trying to work out what I should buy. I've just moved to Canada from Australia and this will be my first time buying skis.
My life changed when I rented this season's Mantras for 2 days at Sun Peaks, although I'm starting to suspect the tuning was more significant than the ski itself. These skis refused to go in a straight line: the front of the skis would sporadically catch in the snow whenever I was not turning - even on fresh corduroy. In short radius turns on groomers I really felt in contact with the snow - usually the back of my skis skid around a bit, but here I was always on edge. The skis also felt really springy in these turns (rebound?) and I loved it. They were also great at railing longer turns. I think they were pretty good off-piste too, but my technique there is poorer (for now!) so it's harder for me to compare.
But a few days later when I demoed a different pair of Mantras at Silver Star, they just felt like regular skis - I didn't feel as precise or springy in the turns. The tips weren't catching either. Same year, same length. Very different quality snow, but both resorts had areas with hard packed/slushy groomers and there was a big performance difference.
Doing some reading, I'm starting to think that the first pair weren't detuned and the second pair were? Could that make this big a difference?
Other skis I tried on the trip (all 177cm-180cm):
- Shreditor 92s for 2 days at Sun Peaks - OK on the groomed, though the tails slid around a bit when making short fast turns
- Bonafides for 1 day at Silver Star - AWFUL! I could not get an edge to save my life, except on >5cm of slush. No edge on hard packed groomed, or thin slush. Except twice when the edge engaged half way through a turn and nearly threw me off the front of the skis. No edge -> no flex -> no rebound. Slight improvement swapping the skis to the other feet, but not much. Gave up after about 6 runs and went home questioning my abilities. I don't have a point of comparison to know if the edges are blunt. The ski shop were very concerned and looked the skis over, and found no burrs. I had high hopes and had read these were similar to Mantras, so I don't understand why I hated them so much.
- Nordica NERGY 100s for 1 day at Silver Star - OK.
- Atomic Rituals for 2 days at Big White - OK. Got a good edge on the groomers, with a bit of rebound. Didn't float on 15cm of steep untracked pow as much as I'd hoped - but my hopes were set by deeper and drier Hokkaido powder on fatter skis, and the Rituals were my first time skiing in a couple years.
So could I reproduce my experience on the first pair of Mantras if I buy some and always get them tuned "properly"? What should I ask for when getting them tuned? Would it be worth re-demoing the bonafides/something else on non-detuned skis?
I'm 184cm tall and about 80kg.