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2015 Loveland Demo Day

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Last year's demo day:

http://www.epicski.com/t/123070/2014-loveland-demo-day

 

*Location of review: Loveland
*Runs Taken: Blue groomers with a single short pitch of ~black steepness, probably similar to EC-style runs
*Snow Conditions: snowed 10+" the previous day, groomed snow, scraped off in areas, piled up in other areas, mostly soft, perhaps similar to CO conditions with back-to-back days of fresh snowfall that has been groomed down, with light snowfall throughout the day
*Demo or Purchase: Demo

 

Me: 5'10, 175lbs, 33 yrs/old, 31 years skiing. 60-80 day seasons the last 5 years, generally 30 day seasons before that (mostly in the PNW). Expert skier with an athletic, dynamic powerful style. Strong mogul background growing up (parents were pros in the 70s). Prefer damp, charging skis with good high-speed stability.

 

Skis tested:
184 K2 Pinnacle 105
184 Volkl Mantra
184 Volkl V-Werks Katana
188 Fischer Ranger 108 Ti
188 Fischer Ranger 98 Ti
185 Blizzard Cochise
188 Armada Invictus 108
184 Head Monster 98
184 Kastle MX98
190 Salomon Q-Lab
188 Atomic Vantage 100 CTI
185 Nordica Enforcer
179 Liberty Variant 113
184 4FRNT Devestator

 

Boots:

Tecnica Cochise 120 with Intuition ProTour Liners and K2 Pinnacle Powerstrap

 

Quiver:
'10 190 Volkl Katana with CAST STH16
'04 183 Head Monster m103 with STH16
'04 183 Head Monster 82 with STH14
'14 186 PM Gear Kusala (Extra Stiff) with ATK Raider 14 (both 10lb Hybrid and 9lb Pure)
'12 180 Down Countdown 4 with Dynafit Speed Radical
'11 186 ON3P Billygoat with ATK Raider 14 (early season ski)
'03 186 Volant Spatula with S900s (early season ski)

 

Skis retired this year:
'12 191 ON3P Wrenegade with STH16 (might bring this one back)
'13 191 ON3P Billygoat with CAST STH16 (sold - I prefer my Katanas in the resort, and Kusalas in the sidecountry and backcountry)

 

Skis new for this year:
'13 202 DPS Lotus 138 (basically purchased for an Alaska trip)
'15 190 Down Showdown 115M (really wish this was slightly narrower - excited to compare it to my old Katana)
'12 186 Line Influence 115 ($75 experiment - always been curious to see how it skis)

 

Other skis that I wanted to try, but were unavailable:
186 Liberty Variant 113
186 Line Supernatural 108
186 Moment Belafonte
184 Salomon X-Drive 8.8

 

I would have loved to try a bunch of touring skis, but I didn't even have close to enough time to do that. Next year??
G3 Synapse 109
G3 Zenoxide 93
G3 Zenoxide 105
Volkl BMT 109
Blizzard ZeroG 108
Blizzard ZeroG 95
Voile Charger
Voile X7
Salomon MTN Explore 95
Salomon MTN Lab

 

Considerations
Yeah.. that's a lot of skis, and a lot of runs. I took 2 runs on each ski, sometimes 3 or 4, depending on what I needed to determine more subtle differences. After each run, I'd take voice notes. Given that it's early season, with limited terrain, the only characteristics I focused on were moguls, dampness, deflection, and overall stability. I would prefer a longer section of moguls and more time on the skis to give firm comments on mogul performance, but I'll my initial impressions. I also checked swing weight by doing twists when sending a roller - didn't keep notes on that. With steeper and firmer conditions, I'd better be able to test scrubability and slarvability but alas, it is what it is. I didn't really give any ski a good hand flex, but I did look at the rocker profiles. I forgot to take notes on the profiles, so I'm going off of memory and may be a little off on a couple skis.

 

Summary
Overall, I'd be most happy with the Cochise, Invictus and Devestator as an one-ski-quiver resort ski. I'd likely be happy with the 186 Variant too, but I'd need to see if the longer length fixed the problems I had with it. I'd like to compare these skis along with the Cochise on steep chalk to know which one I'd prefer. I really want something in a 186-188cm true length. The Cochise and Devestator are too short, the Liberty is closer and Invictus is almost right. I'd like to enjoy the Q-Lab, but I'm hesitant about how that tip feels in soft chop and powder. The Mantra reminds me the most of my old Katana, but with a better mount point and not as damp (more resonance). If only it was wider, but I'd be hesitant on how well it'd do in untracked powder - I'd be concerned about float (especially in a measured 184-185cm). I'd LOVE to try the Ranger 108 in the same construction as the Ranger 98. I feel like Fischer REALLY dropped the ball on that ski, but maybe thats what the masses want? The MX98 is a better Monster, and a great ski, but maybe the Monster has more top end? Regardless, those that loved the old Monster m103 would be really happy with the new Monster, but I'm not sure how the turn radius would play in (need longer, steeper runs for this). Someone who likes to trick would obviously prefer the swingweight on the MX98 (which is awesome for a more traditional heavy ski).


Edited by Brian Lindahl - 11/18/15 at 2:07pm
post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

184 K2 Pinnacle 105
The rocker profile was pretty extreme - almost like a reverse camber ski, but with a little bit of camber in the very center of the ski. This was the least stable ski of the day. It felt like there wasn't enough effective edge and skied REALLY short. It still had a damp feel, but it deflected and didn't want to hold at high speeds. For me, this would be best as a powder-only ski, but I have doubts about how it would hold up at speed in chop and crud. No support when airing through moguls, but it did fine when zipperlining them.

 

184 Volkl Mantra
Very sublte rocker profile, less so than my old Katanas, but similar. Nice stable ski, very little deflection. The full rocker engaged well in and out of turns. I didn't notice any washyness when running bases flat. Aired well through moguls and zipperlined just fine. Dampness and silkiness wasn't quite up to par with the Monster, MX98, Invictus, Ranger 98,  Q-Lab, Devestator, Nordica Enforcer. Similar to Katana, Variant and Cochise, but with some resonance to it (like the old Mantra and Explosiv).

 

184 Volkl V-Werks Katana
Slightly more reverse camber than the Mantra, similar to my old Katanas. I didn't notice the washyness as much as on my old Katanas, but the snow conditions weren't quite steep chalk, so I can't say for sure if that's an accurate perception. You could feel the light weight of the ski in the way it deflected. It was still relatively damp, and could be skied hard and fast, but it still was getting tossed around some when really charging hard. Aired well through moguls and zipperlined just fine, but when on edge going through roughed up snow, it liked to deflect some. Similar to the tips on the Q-Lab and Variant, but enough for it to be disturbing (unlike those other skis).

 

188 Fischer Ranger 108 Ti
A nice rocker profile with more camber than the Variant, but similarly subtle tip rocker. The tail rocker was a bit more than the Cochise and the Variant, however. Wow. This was a terrible ski at speed. It definitely had more overall stability than the Pinnacle, probably due to better effective edge, but it deflected more than any other ski tested. Not very damp at all. For me, this would be a soft-snow only ski at moderate speeds. Definitely not a good choice for someone who likes to ski at high speeds.

 

188 Fischer Ranger 98 Ti
Similar rocker profile to the Ranger 108. Another wow. Completely different ski from the Ranger 108. After I came back to the tent and let the reps my opinion of the Ranger 108, they kept insisting that I try out the Ranger 98 and that it's a real ripping ski. I had other skis to test, and considering it was in the same family as the 108, I refused to try the 98. I figured it was just typical rep BS. At the end of the day,  I had some extra time left over, so I finally succumbed to the reps desires and took out the Ranger 98. I'm glad I did. Honestly, these skis should not share the same name at all. They are night and day different in terms of performance and feel. This ski was similar in dampness to the Invictus (less than the MX98 and Monster, but more than the other skis). There was no noticeable deflection. It zipperlined and aired through moguls well.

 

185 Blizzard Cochise

Similar rocker profile to the old Cochise. I know the older Cochise pretty well, having skied it a few times. I wanted to see how the changes affected the ski. Very little. If you liked the old Cochise, you'll probably like the new Cochise. I couldn't discern many differences from my memory of the old version. It's similar to the Q-Lab and the Variant, but deflects less in the tip and holds a line better. It's less stable feeling in the belly of a turn than the Invictus, Q-Lab and Variant, but it has no issues with deflection. It zipperlined and aired through moguls well.

 

188 Armada Invictus
Similar tip rocker and camber to the Ranger, but nearly a flat tail with a twin. Definintely stiffer than the 188 Armada ARV Ti that I demo'd last year - it doesn't have the large amounts of energy or pop that the ARV Ti has. It felt like a slightly more stable Cochise, with similar dampness - perhaps a little more (would need to spend more time on each). It also reminds me a lot of the DPS Wailer 105 T2 that I reviewed last year.

 

184 Head Monster 98
Very traditional camber and rocker profile - essentially no rocker and a decent amount of camber. This ski is very similar to the old Monster series, and my Head m103. Obviously a shorter turn radius, but just as stable, heavy and damp. Great ski. It's still very traditionally mounted, and you can definintely feel that when airing or zipperlining moguls. That tip is way out there and doesn't want to flex out of the way. I didn't really check, but the mount felt similiar to my old Katanas and old Wrenegades, especially in the moguls. Good luck with the swing weight. This thing was a beast to throw into a twist and get back in time.

 

184 Kastle MX98
Very traditional camber and rocker profile - essentially no rocker and a decent amount of camber - a little less camber than the Monster. Very similar feeling to the Monster. Apparantly these are made by Head. This ski, however, weighs noticeably less and feels less demanding. Dampness is similar, but the Monster feels more planted. The mount point definitely feels more forward than on the Monster. Basically, it's a more refined version of the same ski. I'd have to get it into steep chalk to really determine if this ski has the same top end as the Monster, or my old Monster m103. Does a noticeably better job airing and zipperlining moguls than the Monster. Feels like a more serious hard-snow specific version of the Invictus 108.

 

190 Salomon Q-Lab
A rocker profile that's similar to the Cochise, but a bit deeper in the tip. Nice stable and damp ski. As some reviews have mentioned, the tip definitely feels like part of a different ski. You feel pretty disconnected from it, which makes turn initiation feel a little bizarre. The Variant felt similar in this respect, but to a significantly lesser degree. Very heavy ski, even with the honeycomb tips, it was also a beast to throw into a twist and get back in time. While the tip issues exist when charging, they weren't as much of a problem as they were with the Variant. Overall, on roughed up groomers, it felt more composed. I'd be curious to see how this plays out when charging in chop and powder.

 

188 Atomic Vantage 100 CTI
Similar tip rocker and camber profile to the Invictus, but with the tail rocker of the Ranger. This ski was noticeably stable and could be charged hard. However, it had the least damp feeling out of all the skis tested. It had lots of resonance and you could really feel the undulations in the snow. Overall a good ski, but not my preference at all. It aired and zipperlined well in moguls and had a noticeably low swing weight. I'd be curious to see how this ski feels when charging in chop and powder. Great for someone who loves lots of snow feel but still charges hard.

 

185 Nordica Enforcer
Similar rocker profile to the Fischer Ranger, but a little less splay, and a little deeper run. This ski is a groomer zoomer zinger. It loves short playful slalom turns and generates a TON of energy. It's got a nice damp feel to it, but the energy it throws at you out of a turn is pretty intense. Not my style at all, but I could see EC (and Midwest) skiers loving this as a one-ski quiver. The rocker profile would lend itself well to decent float, and the slalom-esque energy and turn radius would be very much at home on the shorter and narrower runs. A real star in this particular slot, in a category otherwise dominated by big-mountain-feeling skis. No problems zipperlining or airing through mogul fields.

 

179 Libery Variant 113
Similar tip rocker profile to the Enforcer (a little less splay and deeper run than the Ranger), very little camber, and a slight kick in the tail. Like the Salomon Q-Lab, I felt a bit disconnected from the tip. Definitely less so, and better turn initiation, but it also deflected more than the Q-Lab. My guess is that this is related to the length. Unfortunately, Libery sold out of the 186 length before the demo day, and didn't have any to bring. It had a decently damp feel to it. It didn't feel as planted as the Q-Lab, MX98, Monster, or Invictus. Close to the Cochise in this regard. Based on the differences in how the tips behaved, I have a feeling that this would be slightly worse in deep snow, but slightly better in chop than the Q-Lab. No problems zipperlining or airing through mogul fields. Good swingweight for a larger ski. I REALLY want to try the 186 version of the ski and am disappointed I didn't get that opportunity. I feel like my impressions would definitely change some, and I love the rocker profile.

 

184 4FRNT Devestator
More reverse camber than the Volkl Katana. More washyness too, but it wasn't as bad as my old Katana, which makes me think the conditions weren't quite right for determining how washy reverse camber skis can be. Needed a better tune on the ski - the edges weren't as sharp as they were on the other skis. Perhaps thats the reverse camber, but I don't really notice this problem on my Kusalas nor on my Katanas. This ski was very damp and stable. Next in line after the MX98 and Monster in dampness. Similar stability and top-end. More damp than the Invictus. It felt similar planted to the Invictus. You could definitely feel the more center mount on the swingweight, though I think the MX98 did better on the twists going over the roller - I can't say for sure though, since there were quite a few skis I demo'd in between each. I would love to have this ski in a 190 (and 111 underfoot). Perhaps a longer turn radius and mellower reverse camber as well? Great ski though, just a bit short for me in powder and chop, while the 194 is likely too long.

post #3 of 7

Nice reviews, really like the effort to discuss feel, which can be elusive. Curious how you heard that the M98's "...these are made by Head," in that a) all Kastles are made in the Head factory using Head technicians and computers, AFAIK, although not dead sure about the LX and TX lines, and b) I owned the first generation, also 184, which was definitely made by Kastle (first model they ever released, I believe), and folks who have skied the current iteration say that the two feel fairly similar. And have design and technology nothing at all like Heads. :dunno Which I also admire greatly. 

 

Which leads me to my next question: A lot of reviews have mentioned how agile and comparatively light the Monster 98's are, while retaining the brand dampness and beef. You seemed to have a very different experience. Do you think these are more sensitive to length than some brands? Not sure of your size, know you are a technically solid skier, but when I skied Monsters, previous iteration, the longest were reserved for NFL defensive ends...

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

Nice reviews, really like the effort to discuss feel, which can be elusive. Curious how you heard that the M98's "...these are made by Head," in that a) all Kastles are made in the Head factory using Head technicians and computers, AFAIK, although not dead sure about the LX and TX lines, and b) I owned the first generation, also 184, which was definitely made by Kastle (first model they ever released, I believe), and folks who have skied the current iteration say that the two feel fairly similar. And have design and technology nothing at all like Heads. :dunno Which I also admire greatly. 

 

Which leads me to my next question: A lot of reviews have mentioned how agile and comparatively light the Monster 98's are, while retaining the brand dampness and beef. You seemed to have a very different experience. Do you think these are more sensitive to length than some brands? Not sure of your size, know you are a technically solid skier, but when I skied Monsters, previous iteration, the longest were reserved for NFL defensive ends...

 

A friend of mine was the Rockies rep for about a decade. He told me this the other day, when I came back from the demo and told him about the skis I had tested. He said he wasn't surprised that the Kastle MX series and the Monster series felt similar, and that they were built in the same Head factory with a lot of the same materials (but yes, there are construction differences).

 

I would definitely not call the Monster 98s light. They are extremely heavy - not too far off from the 190 Salomon Q Lab. As for agility, the flex does vary with length, that and a longer length is always less agile. Looking at the Evo ski weight chart, the 184 definitely weighs a lot more than the 177. The difference between the 184 and 177 was measured at 250g per ski, the difference between the 177 and 172 was measured at 100g per ski. So there's definitely a lot going on in the 184:

http://www.evo.com/ski-weight-chart-for-alpine-backcountry-skis.aspx

post #5 of 7

Thanks, useful data points. Your friend's comment suggests some other Kastles are not now made in the Head factory, which is interesting. And quite possible, will have to check. 

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

Thanks, useful data points. Your friend's comment suggests some other Kastles are not now made in the Head factory, which is interesting. And quite possible, will have to check. 

 

I think they bought their own factory to scale up production! 

post #7 of 7

What a huge amount of knowledge :) Thank you guys  - I like to be up to date with gear :)

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