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.