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Report from Loveland demos, November 2015

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Just got back from the demos at Loveland.  Wanted to try possible replacements for two of my go-to skis: my everyday teaching skis (versatile, but biased toward the frontside with a waist around 80) that I can comfortably ski all day for six days straight(!) and a possible replacement for my moderate-depth soft-snow skis; again, ones that are versatile (good in snow up to 10 inches, in trees and bumps, but also with good hard-snow grip).  My current skis are previous-generation Volkl RTM 80s and Rossi S3s.   

 

Conditions were perfect for demos:  The first day, we had about 9 inches of fresh at 9 AM, turning to crud by 10, then bumps by midday.  The next day was clear and cold, with the trail starting as a velvet groomer and turning into hardpack and firm bumps by midday.

Me: Copper instructor, 5' 10", 165 lbs., modern technique. I'm what's called a "feeler," so my reviews are quick impressions of well-regarded/well-reviewed advanced-expert skis. Notes were scribbled on the chairlift after a run: totally subjective! I like skis that are just "there" underneath me as a natural extension of me, whatever the condition: not so stiff that my legs are always being pounded (i.e., older Volkl carvers/Mantra), not so soft that they don't give me confidence on hardpack or at speed.

 

So, with that disclaimer, and taking into account that a 230-lb. linebacker would certainly prefer skis I find to be too stiff or burly, these were my notes.  All models were skied in 170-177 lengths for the narrow mid-fats; 177-180 for the wider skis.  As a general note, there are very few bad skis out there!  Manufacturers have seemed to settle, in general, on a design of camber underfoot with varying degrees of early rise, and modest rise in the tails.  The defining difference I found was the degree of firmness/stiffness in the ski.  Obviously, my preference, at my weight, is a ski with less of a burly construction (usually with less, or no, metal). 

 

Starred skis (*) were my favorites.

 

 

 

Narrow mid-fats, 78-84 waist

 

Everyday, go-to skis.  Looking for playful, versatile, shorter-turning skis with decent off-piste performance and good grip on boilerplate.

 

*Volkl RTM 81 (177 length):  Excellent everyday ski for 90 percent of ski days.  Very versatile.  Very good in crud, bumps, and hardpack.  Livelier and firmer than previous version of RTM 80s. 

 

*Dynastar Powertrack 84 (176)  Very user friendly and easy to ski.  Great for a mellow or advancing skier.  Very good in crud, bumps, and hardpack.  More of a speed limit than the Volkl and less dynamic, but fabulous for most recreational skiers at most areas.

 

*K2 Ikonic 80 (170):  A very good ski from K2.  Good in crud, bumps, and hardpack.  Damp, but not dead; huge improvement over Rictor 82s.  New Volkl RTM 80 a bit better for a dynamic skier. 

 

Kastle CPM 82 (172):  Very good ski.  Powerful carver; great on hardpack, pretty good in crud, but too firm for me to ski everyday.

 

Head Instinct (83 waist; 177 length).  Very good ski but too stiff for my weight.   

 

 

Soft-snow skis to replace Rossi S3, 95-102 waist

 

Looking for playful skis optimized for soft snow up to about 10 inches but with decent hard-snow grip and good in soft bumps and trees.

 

*Atomic Automatic 102 (180); *Salomon Rocker 2 100 (178):  Both excellent, versatile skis, nimble, good in everything I encountered over the two days.  Both a bit firmer than my S3 but ski very similarly. 

 

*Dynastar Cham 97 (178)  Excellent ski.  Big change from the previous iteration of Chams.  A bit more dynamic than the two above but not burly at all.  Equal versatility.  Looks like a wider version of Powertrack 84s and 89s.

 

*Line Sick Day 95 (179)  Very nice.  Good in crud, bumps, and hardpack.  A bit damper and less nimble than the Salomons or Atomics above.

 

Volkl 90 Eight (177):  Powerful, versatile ski, but a bit too firm for me. 

 

Scott Sagebrush (100 waist, 178 length):  Very nice ski, but not really playful and a bit too firm for me.

 

Atomic Vantage 100  (180):  Excellent, versatile ski for someone over 180 lbs., but too burly for me.

 

Fischer Ranger 98:  (180):  Burliest of all demoed.  Excellent, versatile ski for someone over 180 lbs., but not for me.

 

Line Sick Day 102 (179)  Too wide to be nimble, better for deep snow.  Good in crud; unwieldy in bumps.

 

K2 Pinnacle 95 (177)  No.  Tried at Epic A-Basin gathering.  Huge early rise.  Never knew where it was going to take me.  (Very mixed reactions from testers; some liked it a lot.)

 

Hope this was of some use.  Have a great season!

Mike


Edited by mike_m - 11/15/15 at 3:31pm
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 

The Loveland consumer demos will be tomorrow (Saturday) starting at 8:30.  Most manufacturers will be there.  Definitely worth attending if you like trying the new toys!

post #3 of 18

Super helpful. Looking forward to tomorrow. Will put Powertrack, RTM and Ikonic at the top of my list. 

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Cool.  Let me know what you think!

 

Best!

Mike

post #5 of 18

Wow, that's a lot of skis to demo, even over 2 days!  And nice to see your comments about your weight and preferences.  Too often not included. 

post #6 of 18

Refreshing because you're an accomplished skier ballpark for my size and weight who's ready to say when a ski's too firm for them, even when the Received Wisdom is otherwise. :yahoo:

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_m View Post
 

Head Instinct (83 waist; 177 length).  Very good ski but too stiff for my weight.   

 

Interesting.  At 83mm, this should be the Strong Instinct Ti.  I'm 5'7", 145-150 pounds.  I demoed this ski in a 170 at Copper last season and really liked it, enough that there is a pair in my garage.  I also own the Nordica Fire Arrow 84EDT and found the Heads to be quite a bit lighter and softer.  The Head will be used when I just want to play around and the Fire Arrows for when I feel like being serious.  Have you ever skied the Fire Arrows?

 

And you ought to consider the Nordica Soul Rider as a replacement for the S3.

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi, Mtcyclist!

 

The Strong Instinct was a very nice ski, and less work than the Fire Arrows, as you noted.  The differences in ski feel between most modern skis is pretty subtle, but noticeable if you are on them all day, six days a week!  I've really come to feel the key to finding a ski that works best for a given skier, all other factors being equal, is his/her weight.  (Of course, if you are powering through heavy Sierra crud regularly, a stiffer ski will help!)  The thing is, many skiers try to overpower the mountain and want a burly ski to help them do it.  My philosophy is that the mountain is bigger than you are.  You can fight it all day, but eventually it's going to win.  I prefer the martial arts philosophy.  Instead of imposing force, I prefer to redirect it; work with the hill and take what it gives you, partner with it like a dance, instead of arguing with it and trying to impose your will.  To me, that's a lot more fun.  It is a relationship, after all!  To do that, I find a more nimble, playful ski usually works best, at least for me.

 

In regards the Soul Rider:  another very good ski that works well for many skiers, just not nimble enough for me.

 

Best!

Mike


Edited by mike_m - 11/15/15 at 7:11am
post #9 of 18
I fully understand what you're saying. At my size I'm not even considering trying to overpower the mountain, maybe a very small pile of snow. I have to rely on technique, not brute force. Individual skiing style is also important, even though you and I are both at the same end of the finesse-power spectrum. Referring to skiing as a dance is a nice analogy.
post #10 of 18

Yesterday, as per typical, was a bunch of fun. Always surprised at what a value demo day at Loveland is -- especially for my non-Loveland pass holding friends. $60 got everyone a lift ticket, lots of skis to try out, a big lunch ($12 goes a long way at Luv), a beer, a free pair of Smartwool socks, and all 4 people who demo'd won something (small things) in the raffle!

 

Me for context: 6'2" / 175lbs. Advanced, not expert skier -- probably 8ish on most scales. Not uber powerful, not graceful enough to merit the moniker "finesse". Early season I am mostly on a pair of K2 AMP Aftershock in 181 which I like for their dampness, but wish they had a bit more energy. 

 

What I got on:

 

Dynastar Powertrack 84 (183cm): Agree with @mike_m -- very forgiving, but fun ski. Easy in the limited crud-bumps off Upper Richards. Friendly in a variety of turn shapes. A bit lacking in dampness for me, but overall something I'd highly recommend for an advancing intermediate. A couple less-aggressive friends got on it after and really enjoyed it. 

 

K2 Ikonic 80 (177cm): Still that calm K2 feel, but certainly more lively than my K2 Aftershocks. Didn't require 100% focus at all time to be enjoyed. Surprisingly fun when skied aggressively although not as smooth as the Volkl RTMs. I could see these as a nice replacement for days I want to just enjoy being out -- I find K2s are easy to pick up on the cheap at end of the season as well. 

 

Volkl RTM 84 (181): Powerful, ready to run. A bit beastly for bumps, but smooth and rewarding through the crud. Really like these, but felt like they needed more mountain to really excel. Would love to have these on cut-up, low-snow days in big terrain. 

 

Kastle FX85HP (181cm): Felt like a more refined Powertrack 84. Tip and tail rocker made it very easy on the bumps. Noticeably light swing weight. Had no right being as good on the hardpack for their shape and weight. If $$$ were no object, these would be a super fun slush bump / spring groomer / corn ski. 

 

Favorite ski of the day:

Head Rally (177): Okay -- nothing like the other skis. But I had never been on a true front-side specific ski. Wow. They always want to be on edge, and when they are they're so remarkable quick, generate force way faster than I was used to. Took three runs to get used to their power, but the last three runs were just a blast. 

 

All and all, I think rather than focusing on replacing the K2 AMPs after this season, I may be looking for a short-radius, carver. When the terrain / snow is crappy, they are just a blast. 


Edited by jmeb - 11/16/15 at 7:54am
post #11 of 18

Was up there today and tried Icelantic for the first time. Absolutely loved the Maidens (even skiing on a longer length than I'd normally prefer). Also tried the Nomad SKNY. I've skied on fat skis for a while now so going to a "skinny" ski was an odd feeling and too specialized for a ski I'd purchase, but fun to try.

 

Anyone here have any experience Icelantic? I'd definitely consider them after today. Currently an Atomic fan.  

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi, Jmeb!

 

Glad you liked the RTM 84, but it was the RTM 81 I demoed!  That narrower one would have eliminated the "beastly" quality you noted!  I agree on the Head Rally.  I've recommended it many times in the past.  A great frontside-oriented carver that still has versatility and cuts through crud like a knife.  For a good skier looking for a 70% frontside, 30% crud/bump/moderate-powder ski, it's a winner.  Powerful, moderately firm, but not burly or abusive.  One of the very best in that category.

 

Best!

Mike

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_m View Post
 

Hi, Jmeb!

 

Glad you liked the RTM 84, but it was the RTM 81 I demoed!  That narrower one would have eliminated the "beastly" quality you noted!  I agree on the Head Rally.  I've recommended it many times in the past.  A great frontside-oriented carver that still has versatility and cuts through crud like a knife.  For a good skier looking for a 70% frontside, 30% crud/bump/moderate-powder ski, it's a winner.  Powerful, moderately firm, but not burly or abusive.  One of the very best in that category.

 

Best!

Mike

 

Agreed -- I think the RTM was just a bit too much for the conditions. I wanted to take the 81 out but they only had the shorter one in stock multiple times when I came by. 

 

The Rally was just so eye opening -- so unlike any ski I've been on before. It's the kind of ski which really shows me how much I have to learn about good technique. 

 

Love to cross paths with you when you're at Loveland this season. Thanks for the tips. 

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmeb View Post
 

Kastle FX84 (181cm): Felt like a more refined Powertrack 84. Tip and tail rocker made it very easy on the bumps. Noticeably light swing weight. Had no right being as good on the hardpack for their shape and weight. If $$$ were no object, these would be a super fun slush bump / spring groomer / corn ski. 


I think you mean the FX85 or FX85HP, yes? The 84, last year's model, didn't have tail rocker, didn't come in a 181, apparently fairly different. 

post #15 of 18

The Head Rally (and other similar skis) are very popular here in the East.  Nice to see it getting some Western love.  It's a great ski.

post #16 of 18

Six runs on the Rally?  Hope no one else wanted to try it.

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 


I think you mean the FX85 or FX85HP, yes? The 84, last year's model, didn't have tail rocker, didn't come in a 181, apparently fairly different. 

 

Yes sorry -- FX85 HP. Whoops. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Utagonian View Post
 

Six runs on the Rally?  Hope no one else wanted to try it.

 

It was from 2:45-3:45. They stop lending out skis at 3. 

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by scfiore View Post
 

Was up there today and tried Icelantic for the first time. Absolutely loved the Maidens (even skiing on a longer length than I'd normally prefer). Also tried the Nomad SKNY. I've skied on fat skis for a while now so going to a "skinny" ski was an odd feeling and too specialized for a ski I'd purchase, but fun to try.

 

Anyone here have any experience Icelantic? I'd definitely consider them after today. Currently an Atomic fan.  


I've been skiing various Icelantic models since 2008, and I am a big fan of most of their skis.

 

We had a great icelantic demo day at my local eastern hill last march.

 

I spent a lot of time on the Nomad SKNY RKR 181cm.  I loved it, great in bumps, firmer snow trees and fine on hard pack (for a rockered twin tip w/ no metal).  Very versatile, very fun and the snow leopard graphic this year looks absolutely stunning in person. 

 

Liam

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