Dimensions: 167 cm, 14.4 m, 78mm, 1/2
Location of Test: Mammoth Mountain
Number of Runs: 3 hrs
Height/Weight: 5'9" 155lbs
Summary: Surprisingly good edge hold for the medium flex. A user-friendly frontside-oriented all mountain ski that's happy to carve/brush and do other things as well.
The AX probably is the most flexible Laser I have ever experienced, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. In terms of stiffness, I'd rate SX > CX >> AX (and >SR88 very slightly) according to my hand flex. There is very slight rocker in the AX tips. The angle of the shovel is not as pronounced as SX/CX. Neither is the amount of camber on the AX. The ski is 78mm underfoot, 8/10mm wider than the SX/CX respectively. Just by the shape and dimensions, one can easily tell that the AX is meant to be more than a groomer, carver-type ski.
On my first run down, I immediately noticed three things. The skis run shorter than the stated length, turn initiation is not as pronounced as say full time carving skis, and they are happy to drift side ways (NOTE: the shop assured that they sharpen the edges after each demo). On my second run down, I decided to ski aggressively, and wow, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of edge hold. Tip engagement is not as super-immediate as sub-70mm skis I'm used to, but once the ski got on its edge, boy, it really held its ground to my satisfaction. And that flex! The tips were totally workable, allowing me to make both tight high angle arcs and wide turns by modulating the tip pressure. The tail felt never intrusive, but very cooperative if that makes sense.
I took the skis to the ungroomed trails and light bump runs after many runs on groomers. The skis handled them very well. The slight rocker and less pronounced camber definitely kept me out of trouble. Again, the relatively relaxed flex was quite forgiving, and the tail was very compliant. Never did I get pushed for being in the backseat in more than a few occasions. I was tempted to take them out to some deep bumps near the top of the mountain, but I didn't as the coverage was less than ideal, I was afraid of ruining the skis and I don't yet trust myself on deep bumps :)
I ended up spending much more time on the AX than I had planned, but I was glad that I did--my next demo skis were really disappointing for me. The AX is a good ski. Anyone who likes to carve that also likes to nibble around ungroomed trails would really enjoy this ski.