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!
Edited by mike_m - 11/15/15 at 3:31pm