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Help buying all-mountain skis [mostly Mt. Rose]

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 

I am a guy, 6'1, 190 lbs, mid age. This will be my first pair of skis, after skiing 2 years, about 20 days a season, US West Coast (mostly Mt Rose in Tahoe and a week in the spring in Deer Valley). I am of the aggressive type, between intermediate and advanced for all i can tell (and I do take advanced-intermediate runs top to bottom, when snow quality is good). I took a few lessons, and will continue to do so over the next few years. My physical build is on the muscular/athletic side.

 

My goals this year are to improve carving and generally speaking technique, and to move into steeper terrain. I got to the point where the beginner rentals were a limiting factor (they get stuck or sink in the crud/slush, they are not stable at speed, etc). My last rentals were 20cm longer than the very first one, but at 175cm with a 72cm waist were a disaster in variable snow. 

 

So, I want a one-ski quiver that allows me to cut through crud, float in pow and slush, and carve on piste. Bumps, I wouldn't mind surviving them :) We (my family and I) love Mt Rose in many ways, so we have season passes again this year. One of the drawbacks is that the runs are far from manicured. My estimate is that I'm only skiing 50% or less of the time in manicured groomers, and the rest on chopped up snow on groomers, or slush, etc.I am shooting to spend USD500 or less. 

 

I got some help from some of you on a post where the OP had similar requirements: http://www.epicski.com/t/147162/ski-recommendations-intermediate-tall-first-purchase-after-renting . Now I want to finalize things and buy the skis.

 

Long story short: even though the redesigned Volkl Mantra has been fairly controversial in this forum (because of the full rocker), expert reviews tend to put it at the very top, because it keeps most of the legendary stability and speed, and adds ease of use because it pivots more easily (keep in mind, i am not an expert, and sadly, will probably never be one). This meta score puts it at first if you filter by "men", "85-100mm waist", "advanced": http://skis.gearsuite.com/

 

Also, these folks seem to produce a very comprehensive list of skis, and they also rate it at top, mostly because it seems to do very well at most things: http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Skis-Reviews/Ratings

 

At this point, the Mantra is my top contender. My main question would be the size. Given that this one is tapered at both ends with a full rocker, I would think that the 184cm should be great for me, at this stage. But (a) this ski has a long turning radius, and (b) reviewers tend to agree that it doesn't ski "short", so they don't encourage you to go crazy with length on the Mantra. This review in particular is really thorough: http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2014-2015-volkl-mantra-2 ; the reviewer prefers the 177cm vs the 184, even though he normally rides longer skis. He is shorter (3 inches) and lighter (10lbs) than I am, but he skis much better, so I am thinking I probably would also prefer the 177? 

 

Fwiw, if I don't get these planks, my fallback would be the K2 Annex 98, which can still be found new, online, and costs very little (about USD200). It would be a nice upgrade anyways, and give my time to demo something. The biggest issue is that these don't seem to be strong carvers,and I want to improve my carving, pretty badly :)

 

Thank you for any thoughts!

- Mendieta

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 60

If you really have your heart set on the Mantra, at 6'/1", #190 with 40 days life time - definitely the 177. 

post #3 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post

If you really have your heart set on the Mantra, at 6'/1", #190 with 40 days life time - definitely the 177. 

Thanks for confirming my hunch! Do you think it's too much of a stretch for me? You don't sound very convinced smile.gif
post #4 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post
 

If you really have your heart set on the Mantra, at 6'/1", #190 with 40 days life time - definitely the 177. 

I concur.

 

Speaking of Volkl, you might also consider the 90Eight, with a bit more bias toward all mountain/pow/crud. Powder 7 is having a dog days sale. Good outfit.  http://www.powder7.com/Volkl-90Eight-Skis-177cm-Used-2016/for-sale

 

And their Mantra page:  http://www.powder7.com/Volkl-Mantra-Skis-177cm-Used-2016/for-sale

post #5 of 60

I've skied the 184 rockered Mantra a couple of seasons and love it. I am about your size and also not an expert with what for most on this site are minimal skiing days and skills. I'd recommend the 177 if you want to bias towards ease of skiing in bumps and tight trees and the 184 if you will be doing more wide open high speed skiing. They really encourage irresponsible behavior as far as speed goes but are super easy to pivot around on when playing with the kids.  If you haven't skied a rockered ski before you might want to try it out before buying one. I had not as I grew up skiing before anyone thought to take camber out.  Rocker makes it very easy to pivot but is a little unnerving running bases flat and takes a little getting used to on run outs to the lifts. You have to be pressuring the tips even when running towards the lifts on the flat or they'll be wiggling around a little bit which neither of my skis with camber would ever do. As evidenced by other reviews and comments some people really don't like that wiggling....

 

I find the ski to be a honey badger about snow conditions.  It really don't care and I've had it in everything except deep powder because the universe hates me. 184 is a handful in bumps for me, but I have crap bump technique.

post #6 of 60

Disclaimer: I know nothing about picking skis for other people.  Just throwing this out there, but the Mantra is a super stiff ski according to the data I've seen. Maybe others on here that sell skis can comment on how appropriate it is for a skier with 40 days total?  I've had 2 different pairs of Mantras (non-rockered) that I've been skiing for 10 years and you really need to be firm with your inputs at times due to the stiffness.  Yes, they cut through everything but that ability doesn't come for free on skis.  Get lazy and it will throw you.

post #7 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post
 

I concur.

 

Speaking of Volkl, you might also consider the 90Eight, with a bit more bias toward all mountain/pow/crud. 

 

Thank you, @cosmoliu - I did look into those, and my bias is towards improving my technique overall, particularly carving on piste, which is exactly why I focused more on the Mantras.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by OldnSlow View Post
 

I've skied the 184 rockered Mantra a couple of seasons and love it. I am about your size and also not an expert with what for most on this site are minimal skiing days and skills. I'd recommend the 177 if you want to bias towards ease of skiing in bumps and tight trees and the 184 if you will be doing more wide open high speed skiing. They really encourage irresponsible behavior as far as speed goes but are super easy to pivot around on when playing with the kids.  If you haven't skied a rockered ski before you might want to try it out before buying one. I had not as I grew up skiing before anyone thought to take camber out.  Rocker makes it very easy to pivot but is a little unnerving running bases flat and takes a little getting used to on run outs to the lifts. You have to be pressuring the tips even when running towards the lifts on the flat or they'll be wiggling around a little bit which neither of my skis with camber would ever do. As evidenced by other reviews and comments some people really don't like that wiggling....

 

I find the ski to be a honey badger about snow conditions.  It really don't care and I've had it in everything except deep powder because the universe hates me. 184 is a handful in bumps for me, but I have crap bump technique.

 

Thanks for all the info, @OldnSlow ; it really helps me a lot and summarizes so many things I picked up about them, both here in the forums and in expert reviews. I appreciate the tip for cruising towards the lifts on these. My last rentals were terrible for cruising as well (without being rockered) and I had to do that, or simply do a bit of edging all the time, even on flat areas, to keep them focused.

 

How about the turn radius, does the long radius bother you? Do you use some skidding/pivoting to adjust the ratio, say, if you are in a narrow run? I've read expert reviews saying that they carved all sorts of curves, from short to long. They must be mostly pivoting the shorter runs. All in all, this might be another reason for me to pick the 177.

 

Very many thanks for all contributions to the discussion ...

post #8 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinorthamerica View Post
 

Disclaimer: I know nothing about picking skis for other people.  Just throwing this out there, but the Mantra is a super stiff ski according to the data I've seen. Maybe others on here that sell skis can comment on how appropriate it is for a skier with 40 days total?  I've had 2 different pairs of Mantras (non-rockered) that I've been skiing for 10 years and you really need to be firm with your inputs at times due to the stiffness.  Yes, they cut through everything but that ability doesn't come for free on skis.  Get lazy and it will throw you.

 

Thanks, great tip! Yes, I do fear a bit on the stiffness (I definitely wouldn't put the old Volkls on, at this stage). But it seems like for the 2014/2015 season they dialed back a bit on stiffness. That, plus the rocker, made it a lot more accessible for suckers like me ;). They compromised on crud/carving but made it easier, more forgiving and more nimble. Well, that's the theory, but there is a reason I am asking people with a lot more experience/knowledge. 

post #9 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mendieta View Post
Thanks for confirming my hunch! Do you think it's too much of a stretch for me? You don't sound very convinced smile.gif

 

They took the camber out of the new gen of Mantra, softened it somewhat and gave it tip and tail rocker. It’s definitely not your father’s Mantra. The 14/15 Mantra was my DD last season. One of my favorite of all time. Gone thru 2 pairs of older Mantra previously (2005, 2011). So I’m fairly conversant with the Mantra line. The new Mantra is great in the bump but a bit lazy on the groomers, unless it’s being skied hard. I’m way too old and slow to ski hard. :cool  :D

 

With 40 days lifetime, you are still working on technical skill development as you mentioned in the opening post. Cosmoliu’s rec on the Volkl 90Eight is a good one. More front side oriented and quicker edge to edge. My rec for skill development is maybe even go a bit narrower (88/90 cm) and stay on the short side. The narrower and shorter skis will allow you to be more sensitive to balance issues.       

I also noticed Mt. Rose is your local area. I spent a season at Squaw (2012/13) so I’m familiar with the snow condition in Lake Tahoe area. You want/need a ski that has more beef than float for most days. A good 88/90 mm ski is the new Kendo. A slight camber to track better on the groom and tip and tail rockers to drift in the bumps.

 

Have fun on your decision. Thumbs Up 

post #10 of 60

The turn radius doesn't bother me at all, but I like to make big turns going fast first and foremost.  I'm sure experts can carve just about anything with most skis that most manufacturers are producing but I wouldn't say that these are short turn carving machines.   I also have no business telling anyone what ski to buy/ride (besides my kids, who can't talk back and must suffer with my ignorance) I thought I would let you know my experience since I'm a mid intermediate skier about your same size that bought mantras after about ten years of not skiing to replace some very skinny worn out atomic beta rides.  I think they're great, but after trying a couple of different pairs of skis the last couple of seasons since I started I would say that going from being used to skiing rentals to current flagship model all mountains of almost any manufacturer, you are going to have a smile on your face.  As long as you don't have to pay 1k. Then probably just a wry grin.

post #11 of 60

I hope this doesn't sound like it's off topic - but speaking of mantras, here is an old but still most important one: boots that have been fitted by a great bootfitter will have a lot more impact on your skiing than skis will. If you haven't already done this, you are in for a nice surprise when you do. I learned from my own mistakes :-)

post #12 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by green26 View Post
 

I hope this doesn't sound like it's off topic - but speaking of mantras, here is an old but still most important one: boots that have been fitted by a great bootfitter will have a lot more impact on your skiing than skis will. If you haven't already done this, you are in for a nice surprise when you do. I learned from my own mistakes :-)

 

Absolutely! I did get a good pair of  fitted boots before the 2015/16 season, I should have mentioned that in the OP, sorry. I didn't get to find a great boot-fitter, but I am pretty much set with the boots, for at least another couple of seasons ... cheers!

post #13 of 60

177. and here is why http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2014-2015-volkl-mantra-2

 

OOOPS... I haven't realized that you already read this review .... (ignore my post)

 

btw, I would suggest also Bonafide in 180.

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Skis-Reviews/compare?gearid_array%5B%5D=53247&gearid_array%5B%5D=53115

 

outdoorgearlab doesn't compare size ski, 

Bonafide 180 runs with Mantra 177 and Bonafide 187 runs with Mantra 184


Edited by Oleg S - 8/8/16 at 2:36pm
post #14 of 60

No one thinks that a 100mm, fully rockered ski is a bad choice for someone who has skied 2 years/40 days and had "a couple of lessons"? Someone who's "goal this year is to improve carving and generally speaking technique"??? Really? No one??

post #15 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
 

No one thinks that a 100mm, fully rockered ski is a bad choice for someone who has skied 2 years/40 days and had "a couple of lessons"? Someone who's "goal this year is to improve carving and generally speaking technique"??? Really? No one??

 

Shhhhhh, we are trying to be kinder and gentler here. It's a new thing for me.  

post #16 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post
 

 

Shhhhhh, we are trying to be kinder and gentler here. It's a new thing for me.  

 

You are doing quite well at this new thing, my friend :)

post #17 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post

 

With 40 days lifetime, you are still working on technical skill development as you mentioned in the opening post. Cosmoliu’s rec on the Volkl 90Eight is a good one. More front side oriented and quicker edge to edge. My rec for skill development is maybe even go a bit narrower (88/90 cm) and stay on the short side. The narrower and shorter skis will allow you to be more sensitive to balance issues.       

 

Thank you, yes, I looked in the 90-100mm range for that reason. OTOH, my biggest goal is to enjoy my days in the snow, with the kids. Given my 190 lbs (yes, i could trim a little weight), I tend to sink in slush and softer spring snow, and that makes me miserable. I am trying to remove "miserable" from my experience :) It seems to me that OldnSlow hit the nail on the head. All skis being discussed in this thread will make me a really really happy camper, with different compromises. If I do go for the 177 Mantra, I'll need to wait a bit before I move into steeps, which is fine with me. I wont improve my carving as optimally as with a narrower front mountain oriented ski, but I will feel more confident in the bad snow that so often I encounter. 

 

But all the insight you guys give me helps. I also read older threads now and then, of course. Cheers!

post #18 of 60

While the thought about a wider ski supporting weight better and perhaps staying on top of slush is not without merit, it should be emphasized that Whiteroom's point is that all the skis mentioned above are pretty demanding. Sinking into slush and spring snow is the nature of that kind of snow. A better ski won't solve that problem. More skills will. True, the new Mantra is more user friendly than previous incarnations, but it is still demanding nonetheless. Heck, I tried the Mantra about 10 years ago, with 20 years under my belt and passed on it.  We all remember being at that 2 year/40 day stage and thinking we owned the entire mountain. Been there, done that. It took some years and much more experience for me to understand that I didn't know jack sh#* at that stage. It really is true that we cannot know what we do not know, simply because we don't have the experience or insight to know what needs to be known. (Was that a little too circular?)  The skis listed above are all great skis. But they also can really take you for a ride if given imprecise instructions. You might do just fine. Or maybe not.  I had actually started to compose a reply to KG's Kendo recommendation earlier and deleted it, because it seemed to be raining on the parade a bit. I do think that something like the Kendo would be more appropriate. It would be a better ski to learn carving on. Less width to horse around. That's why KG mentioned it. It wouldn't float in pow as well, though. Even the Kendo is a bit more ski than most instructors would recommend as a first ski. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

post #19 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post
 

While the thought about a wider ski supporting weight better and perhaps staying on top of slush is not without merit, it should be emphasized that Whiteroom's point is that all the skis mentioned above are pretty demanding. Sinking into slush and spring snow is the nature of that kind of snow. A better ski won't solve that problem. More skills will. True, the new Mantra is more user friendly than previous incarnations, but it is still demanding nonetheless. Heck, I tried the Mantra about 10 years ago, with 20 years under my belt and passed on it.  We all remember being at that 2 year/40 day stage and thinking we owned the entire mountain. Been there, done that. It took some years and much more experience for me to understand that I didn't know jack sh#* at that stage. It really is true that we cannot know what we do not know, simply because we don't have the experience or insight to know what needs to be known. (Was that a little too circular?)  The skis listed above are all great skis. But they also can really take you for a ride if given imprecise instructions. You might do just fine. Or maybe not.  I had actually started to compose a reply to KG's Kendo recommendation earlier and deleted it, because it seemed to be raining on the parade a bit. I do think that something like the Kendo would be more appropriate. It would be a better ski to learn carving on. Less width to horse around. That's why KG mentioned it. It wouldn't float in pow as well, though. Even the Kendo is a bit more ski than most instructors would recommend as a first ski. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

 

Great points, thank you for spending the time to explain, cosmoliu. For the record: I see a TON of things to learn on my side. I am considering the Mantra mostly because I read a few snobby opinions despising it for being easy enough for suckers like me :) But your points are well taken. I'll go back to a drawing board and see what Evo offers in the intermediate-advanced range (rather than advanced-expert, like most of the top rated skis). Cheers!

post #20 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mendieta View Post

 

Great points, thank you for spending the time to explain, cosmoliu. For the record: I see a TON of things to learn on my side. I am considering the Mantra mostly because I read a few snobby opinions despising it for being easy enough for suckers like me :) But your points are well taken. I'll go back to a drawing board and see what Evo offers in the intermediate-advanced range (rather than advanced-expert, like most of the top rated skis). Cheers!

 

Thumbs UpThumbs Up

post #21 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
 

No one thinks that a 100mm, fully rockered ski is a bad choice for someone who has skied 2 years/40 days and had "a couple of lessons"? Someone who's "goal this year is to improve carving and generally speaking technique"??? Really? No one??

Billy Goat's then?

post #22 of 60

The Mantras can indeed be quite demanding. And even though I think the OP's size shouldn't be a problem, I have the feeling that (lack of) prpoer technique will make the mantras more of a handful than skis hav to be. Don't get me wrong: I think you should have a stable ski to support you and leave room to grow into, but some other models might be better suited for and intermediate skier looking to improve - focussing on technique rather than physical performance only (which the mantra would force you to).

 

In the 90-100 mm category I can imagine the 2014-15 Fischer Ranger 96 TI (soft snow-biased) could be a contender, as well as the Fischer Motive 95. I like Fischer for their stable skis that hold very well as you improve and your speed and power increases. But my pick would be the 'old' Nordica Hell & Back, if you can still find them...

post #23 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post

While the thought about a wider ski supporting weight better and perhaps staying on top of slush is not without merit, it should be emphasized that Whiteroom's point is that all the skis mentioned above are pretty demanding. Sinking into slush and spring snow is the nature of that kind of snow. A better ski won't solve that problem. More skills will. True, the new Mantra is more user friendly than previous incarnations, but it is still demanding nonetheless. Heck, I tried the Mantra about 10 years ago, with 20 years under my belt and passed on it.  We all remember being at that 2 year/40 day stage and thinking we owned the entire mountain. Been there, done that. It took some years and much more experience for me to understand that I didn't know jack sh#* at that stage. It really is true that we cannot know what we do not know, simply because we don't have the experience or insight to know what needs to be known. (Was that a little too circular?)  The skis listed above are all great skis. But they also can really take you for a ride if given imprecise instructions. You might do just fine. Or maybe not.  I had actually started to compose a reply to KG's Kendo recommendation earlier and deleted it, because it seemed to be raining on the parade a bit. I do think that something like the Kendo would be more appropriate. It would be a better ski to learn carving on. Less width to horse around. That's why KG mentioned it. It wouldn't float in pow as well, though. Even the Kendo is a bit more ski than most instructors would recommend as a first ski. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
+1
post #24 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheizz View Post
 

The Mantras can indeed be quite demanding. And even though I think the OP's size shouldn't be a problem, I have the feeling that (lack of) prpoer technique will make the mantras more of a handful than skis hav to be. Don't get me wrong: I think you should have a stable ski to support you and leave room to grow into, but some other models might be better suited for and intermediate skier looking to improve - focussing on technique rather than physical performance only (which the mantra would force you to).

 

In the 90-100 mm category I can imagine the 2014-15 Fischer Ranger 96 TI (soft snow-biased) could be a contender, as well as the Fischer Motive 95. I like Fischer for their stable skis that hold very well as you improve and your speed and power increases. But my pick would be the 'old' Nordica Hell & Back, if you can still find them...


Much appreciated, Cheizz. The mid 90's Fischers (Motive and Rangers) were also suggested on an earlier thread where the OP had a similar profile as me. I'll shop around; at the moment I see the slightly narrower Fischer 90 Ti 2016 (at a great price, $300) on EVO.

 

How about the Kendo's? Do you have the feeling they would be an impediment for technique improvement? EVO lists them as intermediate/advanced, and they seem to be a bit narrower than I was shooting for, but they seem to cut through crud easily. But Cosmoliu thinks that, even though better for me than the Mantras, they might be a bit hard.

post #25 of 60
Thread Starter 

Maybe I lucked out? L9 has the Fischer Motive 95 both in 174cm and 180cm (they are probably both ok?) And they could mount the Tyrollia LX 12 on them ... I guess it's coming down to these vs the Kendos @ 177 

 

I can't emphasize how much I appreciate all the input. Hope I can buy some of you a beer at Deer Valley or Mt Rose!

post #26 of 60

I would go for the Motive in 180, given your size. I personally don't know that binding, but on paper it seems just fine. Maybe others can give some more input on that.

 

Which Kendo are we talking about? I ask this, because there is quite a difference between last year's Kendo and the older models. The older versions are a bit less playful and can be a handfull as well. If it is last year's model (2015-2016), than it might be a great option. The more recent version is much nicer, handling-wize. Like that ski very much.

post #27 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheizz View Post
 

I would go for the Motive in 180, given your size. I personally don't know that binding, but on paper it seems just fine. Maybe others can give some more input on that.

 

Which Kendo are we talking about? I ask this, because there is quite a difference between last year's Kendo and the older models. The older versions are a bit less playful and can be a handfull as well. If it is last year's model (2015-2016), than it might be a great option. The more recent version is much nicer, handling-wize. Like that ski very much.

 

Thanks again - Yes, it would be the 2015/2016 Kendo @ 177. It seems like I would be a similar type of sk as the Motive 95i, a little more focused on carving, and a little better overall (expert review seem to agree on that), The biggest reason for choosing the Motive seems to be the price (it doesn't seem to be any easier/more forgiving than the 15/16 Volkl according to the reviews I've seen).

post #28 of 60

The Motive 95 is more forgiving than the 2015/16 Kendo.

 

I have skied the Motive 95. Nice ski but not my cup of tea.  

IMHO, the Kendo have a much more sensitive feel to it but much more edge. You'll have to be on your toes most of the time and it'll improve your skiing or you'll be miserable.  

It's one of those polarizing skis - Love or Hate. It all depends on chemistry.

Some reviewer termed it as a 10/10 ski while the Motive 95 is a 9/10 ski.

 

If you want to loaf and cruise, go with the Motive 95. If you want to push it a bit more, go for the Kendo.     

 

BTW, I'm on my fourth pair of Kendo since 2011. They are some of my favorite skis of all time.

But that does not make it the right choice for you. You know yourself best. .    

post #29 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post
 

The Motive 95 is more forgiving than the 2015/16 Kendo.

 

I have skied the Motive 95. Nice ski but not my cup of tea.  

IMHO, the Kendo have a much more sensitive feel to it but much more edge. 

 

Good to know! Sorry for my ignorance, but what does edge mean in this context? Thank you!

post #30 of 60

Sorry, I meant edgy. 

 

The Kendo is more reactive than the Motive 95. 

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