Demo Day at Alpental, Saturday, March 12.
I’m interested to find a new middle ski for my quiver, in the 85 - 90 range. I love damp skis that have camber, a little tip rocker, medium stiffness, and a round flex (as opposed to the common freeride design that has softer tips and tails, or rockered tips and tails, such as the Head Venturi 95, Rossignol Soul 7, Atomic Alibi, Blizzard Cochise, etc.).
I’m 5-10 and 155 pounds. And being over 60 now, I’m not able to drive skis as strongly as I used to.
Having really liked the Fischer Motive 95’s last year, I was looking forward to testing the Motive 86 (which Blister think is tops for this category of ski), but there were no Fischers. The other skis that sounded best for me would be from manufacturers with a history of making the dampest skis: Stockli, Head and Kastle.
The conditions were pretty poor for demo-ing. Fog kept the speeds down and the groomers were too mushy for me to get a good read on the skis’ carving capabilities. At least I was able to find some heavy, rough crud on skier’s right of Lower International. These are only quick impressions— I only took one long run on each model.
Blizzard Brahma, 180cm: These remind me of narrower Cochises. Stiff in the middle with the relief of tip and tail rocker. That rocker allows them to assume the curved shape and turn in crud without too much effort, and the stiff middle provides strong carving ability. I expect that when laying them way over on piste (which I never got a chance to do), they’ll feel like the whole ski engages the snow, rather than just the middle two-thirds. Overall, too stiff for me and not my favorite flex pattern.
Kastle FX 85HP, 181cm: Having been impressed in years past with the super dampness of the FX 94 and MX 88, I’m amazed that that this model doesn’t feel like a Kastle. Light, easy and nimble. They aren’t very damp and it feels like I could ski them at a longer length. (Which I’d like to do— a longer, softer ski gives a smoother ride in rough snow than a shorter, stiffer ski.) A lot of people will probably like them.
Line Supernatural 86, 179cm : I’m a big fan of the wide all-mountain charger Supernatural 100 (even though they’re a little stiffer than I like). Similarly, these 86’s are fairly damp and have good edge grip. They have classic full camber, a little tip rocker, and it always feels like the whole ski is engaging the snow. On a couple of turns I felt the tails hang up, which I’ve read about in ski reviews, but never experienced before. These felt longer than any of the other skis, and a little stiffer than I’d like. I’d call them medium-plus in stiffness. I’d probably have loved them when I was stronger.
K2 I-Konic 85ti, 177cm: The rep said they’re a completely different design than previous K2’s, and I agree: they weren’t very damp and were quite light. They were easy to maneuver in the tough crud and carved nicely, but I felt a little bit of suddenness in the turns on piste. I might like them in a longer length.
Head Monster 88, 177cm: Wow, classic Head dampness. The only very damp ski of the day (Brahmas were second, and the two felt like the heaviest as well). So smooth through the crud and the smoothest carving as well. They are medium stiff and the whole ski engages in each turn, not just the middle portion. They feel like they steer more evenly than any other, both off piste and in carved on-piste turns. Like a soft and wide GS racing ski, but well-mannered. I’d be happy to have these replace my very damp, very turny Salomon Enduro 850XT’s. They’ll give me a smoother ride at higher speeds than anything I’ve skied on in this middle width.
Salomon 92 QST, 177(?) cm: Very easy carving and in the crud. Very light. Nimble. Like the Kastles, it felt like they used only about 2/3s of the ski to engage the snow on piste. I’d like to try them in a longer length.
Nordica Enforcer 92, 177(?) cm: These feel just like the Salomons. Amiable, good performing, not very damp. Light. And I’d like to try them in a longer length.
Overall, it’s amazing how skis keep getting better. These Kastles, K2s, Salomons and Nordicas all do so much and they do it so easily. They will please a very wide swath of skiers.
How well you are able to ski is related to how hard you are willing to fall.