Location: Castle Mountain, Alberta
Conditions: Mostly firm-ish scraped off cruddy bumps, that softened a up a bit towards the end of the day. Some groomers, some soft wind-sift in places. Pretty ideal for this spot in my quiver.
Relevant Resort Quiver: 190cm Elan Boomerang (powder), 186cm Rossignol Sickle (daily driver).
Skier: 5'7", ~165 right now (usually ~155), used to be more aggressive and better shape than now. I used to spend more of my time powering turns and have started taking a less aggressive and more measured approach... but I still like to go reasonably fast and powerfully.
Blizzard Bonafide, 180cm:
Pretty stiff, not super forgiving, particularly in the tail. Likes to go fast and carves quite well on the groomers. I felt like the tip didn't engage very intuitively at times. Too demanding for what I want a ski in this spot to do.... wasn't a huge fan.
Blizzard Peacemaker, 179cm:
Still stiff, but only 1 sheet of metal under the binding area rather than 3 sheets in the bonafide. Pretty reactive, more agile than the bonafide. Still has a strong tail but more forgiving than the bonafide. I found myself going faster on this than the bonafide. I think the slightly more forgiving flex and shape meant I wasn't getting punished when my form slipped, which had me keeping the speed and aggressiveness up. I liked it better than the bonafide, but I still felt like the tip didn't always engage intuitively.
Salomon Q98, 180cm:
Fair amount of camber and very little tail rocker. I found this ski to be surprisingly damp, which I tend to prefer. Sometimes (probably due to pilot error) I would feel a bit of an over-engagement of the tip, and sometimes I would feel a bit more locked in to the tail than I was expecting. I'm thinking that's because of the increased camber compared to the others, and the fact that I was going quite fast over pretty marginal conditions on this ski because it felt so damp and relaxed. It might have been interesting to try the mount at +1 here.
Salomon Rocker2 100, 178cm:
Less camber and more tail rocker than the Q98, tip rocker was pretty similar but maybe a bit more. This ski felt intuitive the minute I put it on my feet, in every way. I went into terrain I hadn't taken the other skis first... Desperado is a long fall line with a firm and chalky base with some pockets of a few inches of wind-sift... starts steep and the run out flattens out. On the chalk, these skis were less chattery and more forgiving than similar snow on either Blizzard ski, and a little better than the Q98. When I hit the wind sift I could carve in it or do huge drifts and high speed... awesome and a bit of a surprise for this skis shape!
They felt so good I had to take a second run and go back into areas I had tried the other skis. Hit the same scraped off and cruddy bumps from earlier in the morning and I liked everything better about how these skied than any others I'd had in there. Very intuitive to initiate turns, forgiving flex and tail support, damp... I was going faster than I had all day, on probably the softest ski of the bunch. I was popping of features and generally just playing around... which is exactly what I want out of a ski like this. Still very good carving and hold on groomers, though maybe not as powerful as the others.
K2 Coomback 104, 180-ish:
This ski had a bit of tail rocker and splay that I was not expecting because the last time I had seen the ski was the flat tail version days. Took it back to Desperado to compare with the Rocker2 and while looser than I remember the old coomback to be, it's still a more directional and less playful ski. Also didn't engage and edge as intuitively as the Salomons. Didn't bother with the cruddy bumps because this felt more similar to the Blizzard skis and I was running out of time. It was decent but didn't blow me away.
Peacemaker, round 2:
I wondered if I had just liked the Rocker2 more because I was warmed up and skiing better, so I decided to take another round on the Peacemaker, taking it over to Desperado. As I remembered and confirmed from the morning, this ski is more (re-)active, more chattery when trying to skid it on edge, and not always intuitive on how it engaged a turn. I still like this ski second best in the group, but not nearly as much as the Rocker2 100.
I have a good feeling I know why the non-Salomon options didn't engage a turn intuitively, and I think it has a lot to do with where the rocker/camber/rocker profile sits relative to the rocker profile. Too many manufacturers are just throwing rocker in without thinking about this, and if the rocker starts to far behind the widest point the skier is not always sure how much edge they're going to engage when laid on edge. Both Salomon skis, and especially the rocker2 100 seem to have this dialed... I was never surprised by how much edge I got.
The rep explained to me that a lot of the dampness of the Salomon skis has to do with the honeycomb tips... I don't really care where it comes from, it's a great feeling for how I like to ski. The light weight in the tips was noticeable (in a good way) in everything from skating to lifts, to popping of little features, to whipping the skis around in the bumps. I usually find lightweight skis to be too reactive and un-forgiving and generally don't like them, but these have opened my eyes.
The Rocker2 100 is one of the most intuitive skis I've put on my feet in many years, but benefits from things you can do on modern shapes as well. I liked it so much I just bought a pair at full retail. I never pay full retail. I highly recommend trying this ski if you can.