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Any benefits to upgrading a ~10 year old race carver?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

So I’ve had for ~8-10 years now a few different race carver skis that have been truly excellent... are well used and have been well taken care of, used for general east coast skiing.  For context, I’m 30 / 185 lbs / L2 instructor... After a ~8 seasons away from skiing regularly, I have been getting back into it and hope to work towards the L3 over the next few years.  The vast majority of skiing that I do on my own time is hard carving, a mixture of short and medium radius turns.


I'm used to (and have been skiing on) a 2004 Rossi RPM 100 (167cm, r= 15) and the 2008 Rossi 9S Oversize Ti (165cm, r = 13) for ages.  These I find pretty forgiving (in general terms), whether sliding quick short radius or charging short or medium radius carved turns.  Great skis to allow a decent combination of both types, including mixed beginner/intermediate teaching.  Then, looking for a bit more flexibility for all conditions and a bit longer turn radius, I found a good deal on limited mileage pair of 2009 Rossi CX80’s (170cm, r = 16.5)... I find these incredible by comparison... much more rewarding than the other Rossi's... can still slide them short radius (a bit more work to do it) but way more grip / stable at speed... a stiffer ski that feels like it has a lot more energy out of each turn.  Unsure if this is because it has seen limited recreational use and is less tired... or if its perhaps just the construction difference that I’m feeling?


I haven’t demo’d skis recently at all, but am wondering... with the technology that’s changed over the last ~8+ years, for an SL or GS carver for an ‘expert’ skier (say within the 'cheater' ski realm), is there an advantage to be had by trading up for something newer (and not just new to me)?  Pretty happy with what I’m used to, but not sure if I may be missing something... There are so many 165-170cm skis out there with a 13-16m radius, has anything revolutionary happened to these types of skis or changed them to make it a no-brainer to update? (i.e. Head Supershape Magnum, Volkl SL or SC UVO, tons of other options, etc)



post #2 of 5
I think you will find newer skis to be lighter, easier to ski, and perform better. I woukd say a lot has changed even in the last 5 years. Try demoing some skis and see how you feel.
post #3 of 5

I dont have a deep historical knowledge to answer your question but 2 recent carvers that I've used and they are noticeably distinct than the previous are the Atomic D2 SL and Rossignol Hero ST TI. I find them significantly different (in a better way) than past short radius racing skis I've tried. So I would say yeah there are things to be seen in the newest skis.


And I'm comparing them with previous short turn skis I've used that are much more recent than the ones you've mentioned (say some Elan Amphibios, Volkl Racetigers, Fischer RC4, etc)


In general lines, as clink83 said, compared to the generation you've mentioned (pre tip rocker, lets say), the skis now are lighter, a bit of tip rocker. It would be more forgiving in low speeds (but still no speed limit) and they tolerate better some non ideal conditions (Im looking at slushy bumps, for example)


Get a demo and see if it works for you, but me I am usually excited about new skis :)

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Ok, thanks very much for the insight... sounds like I probably am missing something and will make a point to demo a few different options this season!

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Wow, was I ever missing something!  Took advantage of your advice and made a point to demo a number of skis this past winter, and so glad that I did!  Quite surprised that a lot of demos (in Quebec especially) were no-charge at a few of the hills, and it was so quiet during two mid-week days that I was able to switch back and forth with a friend between the Volkl’s and Nordica’s all day long – fantastic!

In total, was able to try out the following:


Head Supershape Magnum (170) – 128/72/106, R13.1

Head Supershape Rally (170) – 131/76/109, R13.6

Volkl Racetiger SC UVO (165 & 170) – 122/72/105, R14 & R16

Volkl Racetiger Speedwall SL UVO (165) – 123/68/104, R12.7

Nordica Dobermann SLR (165) – 121/70/106, R12.5



Perhaps not a technical review, though wanted to share my experience/some of my thoughts on comparing these skis relative to each other.  Generally speaking, all were much more lively than my old skis – night and day in terms of performance and feeling much lighter and more agile.  Was actually blown away at the performance differences relative to my old skis.


Conditions were similar for all tests of the first batch of skis - cold (~ -20C) and lucked out to have clear blue sky and hardpack groomers – really no ice.


Started with the Volkl SC (165) and absolutely loved it (at first).  A huge improvement over my old skis.  The SC felt the lightest to me (of the Volkl SL and Nordica SLR), with the lightest swing weight, and had great energy.  A big step up over my old 9S skis.  The SCs held very well for fast carved turns and was very compliant for sliding quick short radius on steep runs.  Switched over to the Volkl Speedwall SL (165) next, and went back and fourth between the SC and SL over the remainder of the day.  I found the SL by comparison to be heavier, stiffer (less forgiving overall) and it took more energy to really enjoy skiing it - whether in short carved turns or quick short radius slides  But, the extra effort was totally worth it.  Found the SL to hook up noticeably better than the SC, despite both having a fresh tune, and the sandwich layup on the SL felt sooo much more smooth and damp at carving at higher speeds (relatively speaking: chatter free with significantly less vibration).  Also more stable.  The energy/fun-factor rewards out of tight carved turns on the SL seemed night and day more rewarding over the SC as I got more comfortable and could push the speed limit with both.  Going back to the SC over the day, the lighter weight was immediately noticeable over the SL, which I thought may serve as an advantage for teaching/course drills, but as the speed picked up the rewards were noticeably not as inspiring compared to the SL.   Before the end of the day, the SL becomes the frontrunner, hands down.


A Dobermann SLR was also available, and decided to try this the following day on a friends’ recommendation.  Very glad I did – this was a unique experience.  In my mind, and switching again between the Volkl SL and Nordica SLR throughout half of day 2, the Nordica (full sandwich as well) seemed to pack the same stability, energy and rewards as the SL (really couldn’t decide whether one had the ‘edge’ over the other charging tight carved turns) – but with a lightness somewhere inbetween that of the Volkl SL and Volkl SC.  Lucky to have another stellar day of conditions on the hill, my friend and I chased each other with quick short radius on the steeps and tight, short carves on single black cruisers, usually switching skis after 2 runs.  After two iterations of switching, it was clear that the Volkl SL rider was always the one recommending a ski switch to get back on the Nordica.  The lighter weight/swing weight of the Nordica became very apparent and its performance was right with the Volkl SL’s.  Seeming a bit more forgiving than the Volkl SL for sliding turns in the sense that (though not an ideal bump ski of course) it was seemingly lighter and quicker with less effort required on a few bump runs) and at least equal rewards when carving as hard and tight as we could – the Nordica SLR now becomes the clear frontrunner, despite the higher price in the pro shop.  Way more fun to spend a full day, or ski week charging on.  Couldn’t believe how the same stability and performance could be wrapped up in a package almost as light (anecdotal anyway) and easy to move on as the Volkl SC.


Next up, and at a different hill, I was able to try the Head Rally and lucky that it also had a fresh tune.  Was able to try this with another Volkl SC of the same length (170cm) as the Rally.  The Rally was unbelievable.  For slower to medium turns – what a great ski.  And compared to the Volkl with a seemingly similar swing weight – the Rally was much more stable (I’m sure the wider profile helped), damp, and plain more fun!  Also felt that it seemed to ski shorter than the same length SC.  Easy turn initiation, great control throughout the turns – easier to feather for short radius and excelled over the SC in faster carving (upper end of medium speed).  At the upper end of my speed limit and into longer radius turns, and through some thicker afternoon crud, the Rally seemed to make some interesting noises (sort of like a flopping, seemingly from the front half of the ski).  Felt to me like it was smoothing out the ride, but working its heart out to absorb the bumps and chop over the groomed base.   It did deliver a more damp ride over the Volkl SC, but this was a bit weird - perhaps I found the speed limit of the Rally – where the Volkl SC felt more consistent throughout the speed range.  Energy from the Rally at the higher end of its speed limit seemed subtle.  It was a softer snow day, but the Volkl SC seemed to offer more energy out of a carved turn at speed, and reward more at the higher end.  In my opinion the Rally would be a perfect choice for an advanced skier looking to have a great frontside allrounder for the east, especially as a teaching ski or pursuing a new level.  It was my favourite of the day but I wasn’t sure about what I had experienced at the higher end of my speed limit (with not a lot of energy up there) compared to everything else I’d tried so far.


An opportunity then came up, end of this season, to try the Head Magnum.  I’d done some research and browsed posts about this ski earlier in the season, and expected it to be so close to the Rally that I wouldn’t notice a difference. I was surprised that I did notice a difference.  The Head website seems to paint the Supershape line as skis for “speed-focused riding” with the “heart of a racer.”  I found the Head’s to both be great – but compared to the Volkl SL and Nordica SLR (and even the Volkl SC at higher speeds) (ok – these other skis are probably closer to Head’s race lineup than the supershape lineup)  but the supershapes did not seem to offer the same performance/reward at speed.  Overall – my impression of the Magnum vs. Rally was that they were fairly similar in performance.  Although upper end (speed limit) wasn’t as stable nor rewarding as the others to me, the slower to medium speed (quick cruising pace) forgiveness of the ski was absolutely top drawer – especially in the thicker snow (~3-4 inches of loose stuff tossed about on a groomed base).  If I had to choose one of these one, it would be the Rally - no question.  The (slightly) wider profile I thought noticeably provided a bit more ease and stability blasting through some of the thicker stuff on groomed runs, with the same/similar performance characteristics as the Magnum.  Rally was looking to be a winner for sure, but still couldn’t shake the more hard-snow specific performance/lightness memories of the Nordica SLR.


Looking at post season deals, and considering a Nordica product more similar in shape to the Head Rally (Fire Arrow 76, perhaps), I ended up stumbling across and then purchasing a Nordica Dobermann (more hard snow specific) with a sandwich construction similar to that of the SLR, but with a profile (and waist) more similar to that of the Head Rally.  Looking forward to making turns on the Spitfire PRO (126/74/109, R14) this season!





Thanks for the kick to get out there and demo!

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