Hi everyone. I could really use some advice to help me break free from my “analysis paralysis.” I’ve been looking for a new pair of skis for about three years (my son rolls his eyes and says it’s been five), and am overwhelmed.
First, about me: 6’2”, 180 pounds, 53 years old. Live in Bozeman, MT, and ski about 30-35 days a year – 90% at Bridger Bowl, with a little Big Sky thrown in here and there. I’m a pretty athletic/active guy – hard to live in Bozeman and not be. I truly do ski the whole mountain, but prefer trees, side country, bumps, and some steeps now and again. Groomers are what you carve fast GS turns down on the way back to the chair – only until you see a break in the trees to slip into or some structure at the margins to go bounce around in.
For years I’ve been skiing an Atomic R:EX in a 184 (the D$ model). It has been a really fun, snappy ski, but you have to work your tail off to drive it – and I’m over being tired in just a few hours. Besides, after this many years, it’d be nice to try something different. And I could never get the darn things to ski moguls well. Yeah, I know this is largely a skill thing, but they just want to go fast and straight, and I’ve always had a hard time getting them down a mogul field with any sort of style when the bumps are large. Smaller bumps are not a problem - very fun, actually.
What I’ve tried: I long ago arrived at the idea that I wanted a mid-fat ski, 100-ish. That is not based on any hard and fast knowledge or experience, just a lot of reading coupled with the notion that it straddles the line between a little too fat and a little too thin. (To that, a friend who uses the Squad 7 as his daily driver says “go big or go home.” That doesn’t help). Anyway, a few years ago I tried the Mantra – back when it was still the Mantra. It was very fun. Really loved the responsiveness and the way you could drive it. But it also seemed like just a fatter version of the R:EX, defeating the notion of trying something new. So one day, two or three years ago, I demoed the Soul 7. Wow – suddenly I could ski bumps and make crazy fast turns. It felt like I was a better skier. However, it also felt like a noodle. Way too soft. But it opened my eyes to the possibilities. Then I tried the Super 7. It was a little better. I could ski it well and had fun on it, but it felt too wide for a daily, all-mountain driver. Tried the Nrgy 100. It was fun, but didn’t shake my world. Tried the Line Supernatural 108. Totally lacked in performance. To be fair, it was a warm day, the snow was sticky, the ski clearly had no wax, and it probably had a lousy tune. But right after that, I got on the 14/15 Cochise. Dang! That was a hoot. But I got to thinking that was going to take too much work to ski and be a bit tough in bumps, trees, and side country (need to try that again). So I tried the 14/15 Bonafide (just last week). That was hugely fun, too. Quick and energetic. Not too much work, and seemed like it could do anything (they aren't demoing the 15/16 Bonafide or Cochise this year, unfortunately). Immediately after the Bonafide I tried the Supernatural 100. Ironically, it had the same tune problem the SN108 had that I described above. That being said, it felt like a slightly heavier Bonafide, but seemed to be smoother, perhaps a bit more buttery in turns, but at the expense of feeling a little less energetic (could also have been me; was getting a bit tired by then). It would be interesting to A/B the Bonafide and SN100 for a day. For grins, I also tried the Solomon Q-Lab. It was a 190 and 109 under foot. Hated those things. They were turny and damp, but it felt like I had super-heavy telephone poles on my feet. Tried a bunch of other things over the years, but can’t remember anything specific.
My real goal in demoing skis this last week was to try the Nordica Enforcer, but they weren’t letting it out that day. I’m hoping to take that out tomorrow, but it’s gotten a bit warm here and I think the snow is going to be crappy until we get some good snow, so it may not be a fair test.
In the middle of all this, some (young) guys at the local ski shops said “Dude! The ON3P Wrenegade 112 is the way to go. Anything under 110 is pointless up here!” Similar stories from other shop guys for the Atomic Vantage 100cti, the Atomic Automatic 109, and the Sick Day 110.
I’m lucky in that two of the local shops have a free demo day every Thursday, right on the hill, and I’m able to play a little hooky from work to try a bunch of skis. But geez, I think it makes it worse. The paradox of choice.
What am I looking for? Believe it or not, I’m not searching for the ultimate one ski quiver, but for half of a two ski quiver – the non-powder half. Frankly, it’s pretty rare that I’m skiing in much more than 6-10 inches. (Big dumps seem only to come on week days when I’m at work.) So I’m looking for an all-mountain, fun and playful ski that I can drive when I want to, good at crud-busting, but can also cruise when I want to dial it down, that will be fun in bumps and trees, with a tail I can slarve around when desired, and good for, oh, up to 6-8” of powder.
I get that I should probably stick with a rocker/camber/rocker format, but should I stay in the 100-ish range, or bump up to something near 110? Am I right in staying in the Bonafide/Enforcer crowd, or should I bump it up to something in the Cochise/Wrenegade range? Too many scattered thoughts from too many ski shop conversations, Epic and Blister reviews, and hordes of demo skis.
Any advice would be truly appreciated!