A review of several of next years mid-fat (97-ish underfoot) skis.
These impressions are from the 2 day demo at Mt Bachelor. Conditions were firm/death cookies in the morning, softening to grippy slightly wet snow by afternoon. I included a couple skis in the high 80’s underfoot range because I happened to ski them. Absent from this list was K2, Dynastar and Salomon (and I’m sure I several others).
About me: I am an ex-D3 racer from the East coast, get about 20 days on snow a season, ski with finesse as much as power, am 6’2” tall and weigh around 186 lbs. I typically ski something in the mid/high 180’s.
Blizzard Bonafide- These skis blew me away on the groomers. Fantastic edge grip, great hold from the moment you tip them on edge. Laterally very stiff, almost too stiff at times (although some of this may have to do with the fact they also came from the rep edge high). They can be difficult to pivot or stivot turn, they grip tenaciously as soon as they’re tipped on edge, but can be prone to a bit of chatter. They’re not as forgiving in crud as some of the other options on the list and have a slightly narrower sweet spot. A ripping ski on the groomers and in softer stuff, that could use a little more dampness off-piste. I would love to try these again with a different tune.
Fischer Motive 95- One of my favorite skis of the test, and maybe highest on my list of performance for the price. Good edge grip, a fun ski on the groomers that could also rip off piste, forgiving enough to make you feel comfortable, but firm and damp enough to rip. It had a good combination of release for stivoting, with a forgiving shovel and enough dampness to blow through crud. Potentially a solid quiver of one for the western states.
Kastle MX98- A man’s ski. A turn radius of 27 is committing, but should you dare to ski this at 10/10, it’s a bonafide (sorry for the play on words) race stock GS ski that’s just a little chubbier at the waist. Damp, supple, smooth, no upper end speed limit, this ski came alive the faster I went. Could be stivoted with no problems, no chatter, and blew through crud and uneven snow. A real skiers ski.
Stockli Stormrider 95- My favorite skis if money were no object. It struck me as a more approachable MX98. That same damp, smooth, supple feel of Kastle, without the massive turn radius and committing speeds. Buttery smooth on piste, could carve up a storm with little to no chatter and blow through chunked up snow. Slower speed stivoted turns felt a little dead, but as soon as the speed picked up a touch, the skis came alive. One of my favorite skis in the ~95 mm underfoot category, and a ski I would own if I were a doctor or lawyer.
Scott-The Ski- A surprise like for me. I wasn’t expecting much from Scott, and The Ski delivered. I skied it in the longest length, which put it at 94 mm underfoot. It had good edge grip, felt great on the groomers while still retaining a bit of user friendly-ness off-piste. Turn radius felt just a touch shorter than the Motives, which could come in helpful if you find yourself weaving through traffic and/or crowds on the weekends. Felt like you could really bend the ski if you got on the front of the boot (though this could be the "3D sidecut" they were touting) I would love to test edge grip on ice (not that a 94 mm ski is designed for ice) but to see how the 3D sidecut holds on something more firm. I'll update the review if we manage to snag these from the rep early next season.
Atomic Vantage-A ski I never really gelled with. Not sure what it was about the ski, edge grip felt decent, not a great amount of chatter (but some), but I felt like the ski never really gave me feed-back as to what was happening at the snow, it just felt dead. Not damp, but more of a numb feeling. Not a bad ski, but not one I came to terms with. More time on this might yield an answer, or potentially a different tune, just not a ski for me.
Nordica Enforcer- Another fun ski. Good positive edge engagement, a little less chatter than the Mantra, with a 18.5 m turn radius that made carving medium radius turns a blast. Fairly forgiving in the trees and crud, could be a good east coast ski.
Volkl Mantra- A great groomer ski that felt unsettled by death cookies and other snow imperfections. If you got it on good snow, it ripped, but felt like it wasn’t as forgiving of snow imperfections as I would have liked. I might be a little bit “old school” with my preferences, but it felt like it was mounted a little far forward as well. Off piste it felt similar to the Blizzard Bonafides, a bit of chatter, but with a little more dampness. A good ski on perfect snow, though I don't know if it quite lived up to it's hype.
Rossignol E100- A solid ski. Normal edge engagement, good rotation and release when needed, a ski you didn’t have to think about too much. These felt similar to the Motive 95’s, though I was a fan of the Fischers over these. A little bit more work off piste, but I skied these in the 190 cm length, and with wet heavy snow (and less tip rocker than the Motives) these might be a little less versatile for all over the mountain. A solid ski that took to groomers, and could handle off-piste with a bit of work, but never caught me off guard.
Line Sick Day- Not a bad ski for what it was, very forgiving off piste, an easy ski to ski. Not quite enough dampness on the groomers, but I didn’t expect that. A good cruising ski, or for heading into the trees. Not a ski that will catch you off guard, very predictable.
Line Supernatural-Actually a rather fun ski. I didn’t expect a lot from Line, but the Supernatural made me reconsider. A little less forgiving in the bumps and trees, but took a big step forward in carving performance with the addition of metal. The added stiffness and dampness made this a ski I liked much more than the Sick Day for my skiing style.
Head Monster 88- A great all round ski, potential for a 1 ski quiver. This is narrower underfoot than the rest of these, but I didn’t get a chance to get on the Head Monster 98’s, so I included these. Similar to the Nordica Enforcers, but more damp and with slightly less positive engagement, but they felt more versatile and forgiving. A good all around do anything ski.
Kastle MX88- Traditional Kastle feel, but with a more useable turn radius than the MX98. This ski is unflappable, powers through crud, bumps, whatever you throw at it. Not a ski you will likely overpower, but not stiff as a plank either. You don’t notice the dampness until you switch skis, and everything else feels chattery. These made the off piste snow feel smooth, and make you feel like a better skier. A single ski quiver, or a great travel ski if you’re unsure of what conditions will bring. A great ski for ripping GS turns on the groomers, then ripping through some chunked up snow in the bowl.