Last week at Beaver Creek I demo-ed four skis in five days. FWIW, here are my observations:
Me: 5'9", 148#, in good shape.
My skiing: I follow my kids through trees, moguls, blacks, double blacks, and sometime blues to rest.
My current skis: Blizzard Bushwackers (173), which I've had two seasons. They're great in bumps, fine in trees (I'd prefer a tad shorter), but leave a bit to be desired (for me) in choppy snow and steeps.
My demo objectives: My plan for demo-ing this week was to stay more or less in the 90 width and 170 length range, if possible.
Skis I demo-ed:
Volkl Kendo (170) -- I skied these on Day #1. My legs were at their freshest, although this was my first day on skis in the new season. I've demo-ed the old Kendos probably every year for the past 4 years, and they always seem to come in second place for me. This time, with the new design, I loved them! They are no longer just a carving ski, IMV, but are also quite playful for darting through trees, etc. While I've found the previous versions to be a lot of work in moguls, this current version worked well. I was frankly surprised by how much I liked them, given my past history with the current model's predecessors, and the somewhat mixed reviews the Kendo have gotten here on Epic. I kept these for Day #1 and most of Day #2.
Salomon X-Drive 8.8 (172) -- I had demo-ed these last January at Whitetail and, if you check some of my posts from back then, I raved about them. This year, I thought they were fine, but not much more. They were damp, but not as much play in them as I had remembered. After a few runs, I swapped them for my third demo ski.
Atomic Vantage 90 CTi (169) -- I skied these all day on Day #3, when we had over 5 inches of new snow. They probably had the longest tip rise of the four skis I demo-ed. They were great in new mounded snow, including new snow over old moguls. However, I found them to be a bit imprecise -- at least relative to the Kendo or the X-Drive -- for carving down steep, scraped out slopes. It's not that it was a real problem, but I could feel the trade-off. When I was at the demo place to get these, the guy helping me said that his colleague there loves these, but had suggested that I ski them in the next length up, 176. Perhaps if I had taken his advice, I would not have noticed any relative diminution in "grip" compared to the other skis.
Armada Invictus 95Ti (167) -- I skied these the afternoon of Day #4 and all of Day #5. Amazing stability. The width did not noticeably affect their carving ability nor their flexibility in trees or on bumps. The funny thing was, I had asked for the Invictus, thinking the 89. They brought me the 95 (for the length I had, the width is actually 93). Since I didn't know the graphics of the two, I skied them all afternoon on Day #4, thinking they looked a bit wide, but skied fine. It wasn't until I looked them up that evening that I realized I had the 95s. Even with that knowledge, I skied them all of Day #5 and thought they were great. The relatively short length did not compromise their ability to hold on for steeps; I thought that the next length up, 176, would be too long for me.
If someone told me they'd give me one pair of these skis for free, I'm not sure which one I'd take. Before deciding, I would like to ski the Volkl and the Armada back to back. I would also like to ski the Invictus 89 (which comes in 171 length). I might even want to demo the Atomic in 176.