Demo Day at Loon, Nh/Dynastar Legend 8000
Sorry in advance for the length of this post.
Yesterday, I finally got out to a demo day at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, NH and tried 10 or so different skies. I'm a lightweight at 150 lbs. and 5'9" and am an advanced+ skier (I guess a 7 on the 9 scale). I've been skiing for 30 years (started when I was 6). This is my first season back after 7 years in Illinois (I now live in NH) and I was surprised to find significant differences between skis these days. Of course, all of the changes are great from my old straight K2s.
Prior to the demo day, I had read all the ski magazines, read many posts on this forum and was ready with my long list of skies to try. To my dismay, Atomic did not show up as there were too many demo days at neighboring mountains, so I didn't get to try the famed Atomic B5 or the M:11 (probably too much ski for my frame anyway). But at the end of the day, I didn't care because I fell in love with the Dynastar 8000s.
The Dynastar was great in all conditions we had yesterday which included early morning corduroy (what ski isn't good there?), small to medium bumps, deeper snow near the bottom of the run (probably 4 to 6 inches deep) and, of course, some classic afternoon sheets of ice.
Here are my comments on the different skis I tried:
Dynastar Legend 8000
Great grip on the ice (which surprised me considering the hefty waist), quick ski under the feet in all conditions, with the ability to do short and med rad turns. Loads of fun around the bumps (I'm not talking mogul fields here, just bumps forming throughout the day). The place where they blew every other ski away was in the deeper snow. I felt like I floated right across the top of the stuff. I was able to snap the tail through the turns without breaking my legs and had an absolute blast. This was not powder, but it didn't seem like crud either. I'm not familiar with all the terminology, but this was just man-made snow pushed to the side of the slope which I was seeking out to test the skis (it was not wet and there weren't chunks of ice either). The ski was so much fun that I went straight from the slope and bought a pair of the 165 cm 8000s with Look P10 bindings. My 230 pound, level 9 father-in-law loved this ski too. It was his favorite for all-mountain, though he love the Volkl 5 Star for carving.
Dynastar Legend 4800
Nice ski that I would highly recommend. One of the Loon ski instructors bought it after he demoed it. Like the 8000, it had great edge grip and was easy to turn, but it didn't seem to do anything better than the 8000, and was not as good in the deeper stuff. My father-in-law didn't like this ski at all. His experience was very different, we think in part b/c of his size and power (230 lbs at 6'). The ski didn't edge well for him (he was in the 178cm). This was his least favorite ski of the day. It makes you realize how important demoing skis can be.
Head Monster iM 75 Chip
They only had this in the 163cm (no 170cm). This was my second pick of the day. Grip on the ice was great. I disagree with Ski Mag that "short turns [are] nearly impossible," but that's probably b/c this was such a short ski. I thought it turned very quickly and easily and was a lot of fun, but in the thicker stuff, it just wasn't as exciting as the 8000. The tails got caught up a little bit too much.
Elan Fusion M666
Great ski in the heavier stuff, but thumbs down everywhere else for me. It wasn't quite as much as fun as the Dynastar 8000 in the thick stuff b/c it got weighted down a little more. On other conditions, I was able to do some decent medium rad turns, but it just didn't grip well on the ice at all. This prevented me from even trying shorter turns b/c I was struggling to keep control in the icier conditions. My father-in-law, a level 9 skier, tried the 176 cm and felt the same way. Neither of us were happy with this ski (except in heavier stuff). It could have been that the skis needed tuning. As a note, the Dynastar rep was constantly tuning every ski as it came in, but no other rep was.
K2 Apache Crossfire
They didn't have any recon's short enough for me (I think 181cm was the shortest). Nevertheless, the Crossfire was a nice ski. It sank in the deep stuff, but carved great and was a good ski. Of course, this ski is really in a different category than what I was looking for (an all mountain take me anywhere ski). The one disappointment was that it was somewhat boring. I used to love K2s and have read great things about the skis. There wasn't much "wow" factor here.
Volkl 5 Star
162 cm (or 163?)
I wanted to try the 724 Exps, but they didn't have any short enough. The 168cm in the 5 star was out and I didn't want to wait, so I went with the 162. I was only trying this ski b/c my wife, another level 9 skier, loved it. Wow!!! I agreed. This ski was a blast. So much power in this ski, the grip was awesome and I was able to just snap out short turns all the way down the mountain. In the heavy snow, it was rough, but this is a carver, so it was expected. If I had the money, I would have bought these skis along with the Dynastar 8000s.
My wife's two cents on this ski are as follows: "They accelerate through a turn and have great edge grip even on ice. They get caught in the wet stuff, but performed beautifully in everything else on piste. They can take you either through a slalom or gs course easily." She demoed the 168cm at Killington on December 8th of this year...a snowy, but wet day. I demoed the Rossignol Bandit B1's that day and was exhausted at the end of the day trying to turn them through the wet, heavy snow.
Nordica SUV 12
Lots of fun carving down the mountain with nice edge grip. It had some good zip to it, but this, I don't think, is really an all mountain ski. It performed poorly for me in the heavier snow....quite a bit of work to get the tails to pull through the turns. All in all a decent ski.
Salomon Scrambler 8 Pilot
I had some high expectations about this ski based on what I had read. My one run on this ski didn't meet any. I couldn't wait to get them off and move on. What a boring ski! I don't consider myself a fantastic skier, but this was just not enough ski for me (and I'm a lightweight). It gripped well and the short turns were easy, but not exciting. No real accelleration though the turns worth mentioning. And in the heavier snow, it was only ok. Of all the skis I tried, this was the only one that had some chatter at moderate speeds. For me, this ski was a big thumbs down !
There were a lot of other skis I would have liked to try, but they didn't have them. I didn't take the time to try the Rossi B2 b/c I disliked the B1 from an earlier experience (see Volkl 5 Star para. above). Just too boring.
In my opinion, if you are looking for an all mountain ski, you can't go wrong with the Dynastar 8000. It's just so much fun. My only regret is still Atomic. Why weren't they there?! Oh well, I'll be at Sunapee this Sunday, Bretton Woods over New Years and Sugarloaf in early February having a blast on my new 8000s and won't be looking back. I hope this post helps those of you who aren't able to get out on some demos this year.