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Latest Issues - Ski Previews & Buyer's Guides

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
I just received my September Issues of Ski and Powder with all the gear info. I know that the opinions in there are unreliable, but it sure is exciting to see all the new gear and start my "want to demo" list! I was happy to see that Ski Mag even tested a few real fat skis in their "Freerider" section, instead of the usual 70-mm waist sticks. In contrast to that, the folks at Powder are already calling skis like the 10EX (now R-EX) a midfat! I love it! Anyhow, go and check your mailboxes to see if the postman left you a little bit of winter, too.

[ August 09, 2002, 03:56 PM: Message edited by: Bandit Man ]
post #2 of 45
Bandit, thanks for the heads-up that the fall issues are on the way!

FWIW, I have seen it said quite a few times before that a 10ex is more of a midfat than a traditional fat ski. After skiing a pair of 184 10ex's for the past season, I'm starting to think they may have a point.

There are a few things behind this feeling:

1) The swing weight of the 10ex is considerably less than one might expect given its dimensions. Thus, when you swivel turns in moguls on it, it feels closer to a midfat than to most powder boards.

2) I can ski a groomer on my 10ex's and hardly have to adjust my technique to get them to carve just like a 70 mm ski. OTOH, if I try to do the same on my Explosivs, a pretty significant "attitude adjustment" is required with respect to carving. Thus, the 10ex again acts more like a midfat than a traditional powder ski.

3) As an example, the footprint area of a 190 Volkl Explosiv is about 12% more than that of a 190 10ex. In deep powder, that's equivalent to a 170 lb skier carrying an extra 20 lbs in his backpack. Of course, people will easily feel a this difference in flotation, and once again, the 10ex simply doesn't feel like a traditional powder board.

Personally, I wouldn't simply term either the 10ex or g4 a midfat. Maybe we should invent some new category name for it like "beefy midfats" or "light fats", etc. etc.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM
post #3 of 45
I don't really think of the 10.EX as a powder ski either. But it certainly isn't a midfat. I think the terms mid-fat and fat are going to go away in the next few years. Theres going to be a major change in thought regarding ski shapes. What exactly do you label the Volkl T50s with shapes like 111/68/98 and lengths below 180. Is it a slalom or a midfat? Whatever it is, it seemed one of the highest ranked skis in the SKI all-mtn expert category.

I think K2's lineup this year says it best. Instead of a bunch of mid-fat Axis skis of the same shape, they now have the western expert skier Axis XP and the eastern expert Axis XR. Suddenly western skiers want a ski that is wider than the basic 107/70/97 ski, and they can look toward the 115/78/105 XP. Eastern skiers are realizing they dont need a 107/70/97 ski either, and are going with the new slaloms like the Axis XR (Mach S of last year) 106/64/95.

The Axis X is the tweener all around advanced board with the regular Axis just below it.

The SKI buyers guide is going to surprise a lot of people. The All-Mtn Expert category winners are mostly skiercross type skis, a few slaloms, and a midfat here and there. The oddball in the bunch is the K2 Axis XP being way wider than anything else, but still hanging with the others. The Freeride category is dominated by pure fat skis (R-EX, Pocket and AK Rockets, Monsters, etc.) and wider mids like the Rossi XX and K2 XP. The exceptions here are the Rossi X and Volkl Vertigo G3 motion.

There is no K2 Axis X or Salomon X-Scream Series anywhere in either the All-mtn expert categories or the Freeride categories. They're in the cruiser category now. Thats a giant change in thought just from a year ago.
post #4 of 45
It's so nice to hear the The marketing gurus Have been so hard at work this Summer.Dispite The questionable reveiws I'll be buying my copy of ski mag soon. Like Bandit said It's nice to take a look at all the new toys.Besides The gear reveiw mags are just one more sign That Yes Ski Season is on The Way!!!!!!!!!!
post #5 of 45
At first I thought the same thing Utah. They decided to market their old established skis (which they've already sold a ton) to a new market, and hope the people already on the Series and X decide to "upgrade."

But then I took a closer look. It seems more than anything the magazine mostly redefined the categories. The All-Mtn Expert category now seems to be leaning toward power and hard snow performance. Volkl T50's, Salomon Crossmax, Rossi RPM, Atomic R11. I wouldn't group the Axis X and Series with these skis either.

The Freeride category seems to value float and power more than years past. Its mostly all fats and wider midfats. I wouldn't group the Axis X and Series with these either. The Bandit X showing up in this category is questionable, but I think its here because it scored best overall in bumps.

So after thinking it over, I think its more than marketing. SKI seems to have redefined its categories. Overall, the reviews aren't too bad. The only review I disagree with is the Bandit XX. I dont have the magazine with me now, but it said something like "short turns are work." The XX I skied last year was a breeze in short turns....
post #6 of 45
mine just came too. I have a 8 hour flight to Alaska on Tuesday, need something to read on the plane.
post #7 of 45
Matter, I'll second that emotion. I really loved the Dynastar Intuitiv 71, but the Bandit XX did all the same things, got more float, AND is the snakiest short turner and edge-to-edger I've been on in a while. It was the edge-to-edge liveliness that sold them to me.

The Volkl T50 was a fun ski, but it did not appear to me to be as versatile as the Rossi Bandit XX. Also, I thought that Volkls were wood core skis, and these T50's do have "some wood", in the form of wood strips, I was told by the Volkl folks. I'm not sold that wood is the only durable core. Some foam is injected, but some is milled, like wood, and I understand it's not too shabby.

[ August 10, 2002, 08:13 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #8 of 45
Thread Starter 
I love the debates! I always take the reviews with a grain of salt, but the skis are tried by real skiers, with very subjective opinions. Rather than questioning the results of testing, I look to the categorizing of skis to be suspect. I agree with Matter that Ski Mag has changed their View of the categories, but they seem to be the slowest of the mags to respond to changes in the ski tech scene. Anyhow, concerning my category suspicions...How is it that a Salomon Pocket Rocket gets to be in the Ski mag test as a "Freeride" ski (with a 90-mm waist) under last year's test, with most of the other skis in that category being 70-mm in the wasit, while the R.EX (10.EX) or G-4 or XXX only have a faint showing after many years of existence? It seems that certain manufacturers have influence to get producted tested and reported on. I guess that only "gold medal" winning skis get listed and a R.EX (10.EX) recently under went some change to make it suddenly become a winner? I'm confused.

Anyone wish to respond?
post #9 of 45
You have very luck!Here (Andorra), Ski Mag and Powder don't arrive!!!
post #10 of 45
Good point Bandit Man.

SKI needs to relook at their categorization. Why bother separating AME and Freerider categories when they are going to lump the 195 cm new AK against Dynastar's Intuiv 74 all within the "Freeride" category? That is confusing and misleading.

I read all of these mag reviews with healthy skepticism anyway, but I did like SKIING's categories last year much better (i.e. using subsets within the "freerider" title to segregate between the skier's skill / terrain preference). Their superhero category (doesn't that stroke the ego) lumped all the 84-90 mm waisted skis together and then left the "traditional" midfats in separate category for those experts who emphasize frontside skiing as much, if not more, than backside skiing.

I found that format much more useful when I was deciding on a new pair of skis last year (ultimately choosing the 10.EX).
post #11 of 45
What BigHarvey said. Skiing's reports are more useful than Ski's because of [among other things] the categorization of models. I'm mindful of the tough job ALL magazines have in testing so many models of skis. In two days at Stratton last year, it was simply impossible to test everything. Sometimes, it was impossibe to test a particular model in a length which would have been appropriate - frequently, they weren't available, and we had to take what was there, regardless of length. I understand that the ski mags receive, from the manufacturers, either one or two lengths of each ski tested - and considering that, and the numbers of models to be tested, it's not easy to come up with a report.

After the Stratton on snow trade show, I continued during the season to test models that had caught my interest, whether at Stratton or elsewhere, in a variety of lengths. Only in that continued search have I been able to refine reports to be more descriptive of performance than the short blurbs publshed in the ski mags. Of course, this would be vitually impossible, as a practical matter, for the ski mags to do.

This is not to say that the ski mags don't do a good job as far as they can, or that their reports are not useful - I feel that they ARE useful. Rather, I think there is a need for places like this web site for continued reporting on more in depth tests - in depth meaning on appropriate lengths [appropriate for the tester], and many different conditions, and over more of the season.
post #12 of 45
I dont know what I would do If my issues of SKI and SKIING didn't come in the mail. I was starting to pull my hair out.

$0.02 for OBOE: while true that their organization and presentation is generally a little better than SKI's SKIING will always suffer from one major drawback in my mind. They dont have the Warren Miller cloumn.

So hard to decide which is really a "Better" ski mag so I just subscribed to both. Between the two, I get my ski fix...
post #13 of 45
BTW, Hi to Freak'N'Do. Welcome to the forum!
post #14 of 45
I think Oboe has alluded to something that may clear up the confusion about which ski belongs where in terms of catagory and performance characteristics.

Frankly, since they [ Ski and Skiing ] are both published by the same company in the same Boulder Col. location, they have a real difficult time creating two seperate magazine identities.

So I will wait for my issue of Skiing, and then maybe it will be less confusing. I also get Ski Canada, which seems to do a good job of catagorizing and performance evaluations. Unfortunately, as a US citizen, it seems that my issues arrive a few weeks after the Canadian subscribers.
post #15 of 45

let's remember that the "category" is an arbitrary marketing feature.

what matters are the performance differences.

I don't care if they call the fatter skis "freeride" or "deep snow" or "stupid hucker with damaged carcass" skis. I'm going to try them regardless of their "category," and regardless of what SKI or SKIING or ANYONE else says about them.

gosh, have we become a nation of pigeonholers?
post #16 of 45
The fact is, Gonz, that if no one ever "said" anything about them, you and I wouldn't have as good a chance to KNOW that they are there to be tried. Although I and you and several others here have a strong interest in the technical and performance aspects of equipment, many others don't - and they'd like some idea where to start looking for their next pair of skis, so the marketing is a help.

Since the magazines sort of "rank" skis within a category, it does make a difference whether they're comparing skis based on the ability of the skier ["All Mountain Expert, Player"] or on the intended use for the ski ["Expert Freeride, Intermediate Freeride"]. Market positioning is IMPORTANT, both for the consumer and the manuacturers/vendors.

As for trying skis "no matter what anyone says about them", it just doesn't work that way. I spent a few days on the hill with manufacturers' reps and retailers. My first expectation was to "try all of them no matter what anyone else says about them," to borrow your phrase. Couldn't do it! Humanly impossible! There were just too, too many models and lengths to try them all. So, as it turned out, my conversations with manufacturers' reps and retailers - what they said - helped, and in fact was necessary, to make the experience at all useful. The techies sure did THEIR part: After a miserable time on the Rossi Bandit XX in 177 cm, the techie urged me to try the 170 cm - and the rest,as they say, is history! I fell in love with the Bandit XX's, and I've been enjoying a torrid affair them ever since!

[ August 19, 2002, 04:19 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #17 of 45
This discussion about ski categories and performance qualities largely misses the point. What matters is the graphics (and to a lesser extent whether they are single or twin tipped or have "Freeride" "X" or "Cross-something" in their name). Come on, let's get our priorities straight.
post #18 of 45
Soooooooo Lostboy, after that post your new handle should be......"Savedagain."

Seriously, I do agree with your post, and it is about marketing [gonzostrike's post] just like the auto guys and the new cars that we "must" buy or lease each year.

Update Aug.22: After a late evening but light dinner last night, my wife insisted that we go into Branes and Noble. Then as I walked by the magazine rack, the Sept '02 issue of "Powder" called out: "Better buy me NOW before they are all gone." yep, only three left !

[ August 22, 2002, 08:03 AM: Message edited by: wink ]
post #19 of 45
What gonzostrike may be so hyper about is that may be we listen too much to what the other guys say, when we need to decide for oursleves.

The best way to do that is of course to demo.

Problem is it would be easy to want to demo 20 or more skis.

I beleive the ski mags help me to develop that short list of 3-5 skis worthy of my time and effort to demo. Nothing more.

Well...except last year, I bought those 180 T3 Power Volants mounted with the Marker Titanium 1200 Piston bindings. You know the ones with that gold anodized look top skin. That's right, I admit it..... I didn't demo and took a chance on possibly misspending more than $800.00 for skis and bindings. The top skin while brillant to look at....the ski is more than I ever expected !

Ok.... I love the ski, and can't see skiing anything else until spring, or when I go out west again. As to my 193 PK's, well they are just too big and too slow with to little pop.

My 190 Chubbs, those will be for Crud, Gunk, and POW.

Now I am on the search for the ski that can do it all, in a 170-175 length. I wonder if the new Volants will evolve into anything?

Ok! Let the hunt begin!

So far for consideration to be possibly be placed on my short list:

Salomon Pocket Rocket
Head Monster i.M 85
Kneisel Flexon Tanker [ though it may be too much ski]
K2 AK Enemy

That's already four skis. I want to see what Skiing and SkiCanada think about those skis, and some others that i am still thinking about.

Then I will probably will need to go out west if I want to demo them all. In the midwest, most ski shops and ski areas carry very few of the wide boards.

Bottom line to all of the above. The ski mags can be very useful in developing a short list of skis to demo.

Beyond that, to make a buying decision without trying the ski first is taking a chance. Frankly, the chance I took above was based, in part on more than 5 years of skiing Volant products, so I had a pretty good feeling those skis would work.

Until I actually skied them for three runs, I did have some serious doubts.

[ August 22, 2002, 08:43 AM: Message edited by: wink ]
post #20 of 45
After seeing the Skiing buyers guide yesterday, it made me think of this thread again. Apparently Skiing decided to set their guide up just like SKI. They got rid of the format they've used the past few years. They have an expert all-mtn category, fat category, hard snow, and some intermediate all-mtn and cruiser categories. The big change is only the "Editors Choice" skis appear, and everything else is absent. Pretty much the same format that SKI uses.

One other thing I noticed in the threads here since I last posted. Theres a common sentiment that these guides are worthless. While I don't put a lot of faith in them, they are pretty solid generalizations. The guides are also highly responsible for the hot selling skis each year. For example, the Atomic 10.EX 2 years ago was a great ski that had only modest reviews in magazines. It sold just OK. Then last year the same ski got rave reviews when the magazine tested shorter lengths. Suddenly the 10.EX starts selling like mad. I'll make this prediction for this year. I bet the K2 Axis X doesn't get nearly the sales this year as last year. The Axis X didn't even make the Skiing buyers guide this year(no Editors Choice) and only placed in the Cruiser category in SKI. Even though its the exact same ski that was well-liked last year, it will not get nearly the amount of attention this year.
post #21 of 45
Length! That's the key! The ski mags do not get or test all the lengths - one, maybe two lengths is what they get to test in the models provided. That considered, they don't do all that badly, but . . . LENGTH! Try Model XYZ out in 184 and you get one impression - try the same model in 170 and you get another impression. When a consumer has zeroed in on one or two or three models to explore, the consumer is better served by trying each model in two or even three different lengths.

By the way, last season, the Rossignol Bandit XX sold out like hot cakes. Me? I think the ski sold itself, the magazines played a minor role. In the right length, the XX will serve just about anybody well, from true intermediate up to true expert.
post #22 of 45
Matter hit the nail directly on the head.

For better or worse, this industry is so keyed on what the major magazines report are the "best" skis that almost nothing else gets shelf space or demo space at major retailers.

If you talk to almost anyone with a fair amount of experience in the ski business, they'll *all* tell you that practically every ski made today is outstanding. Even the "lowest of the low" intermediate skis are magnitudes better than the full-boat racing skis of ten years ago.

Still, only a few models receive the rave reviews that build buzz in the ski shops. The shops could put demos of great skis by lesser-known manufacturers on their racks and those skis would just sit and gather dust all winter. Meanwhile, the Gold Medal winners (or equivalent) are flying off the shelves.

This is why we should all demo more and demand more choices. Just because Rossi or Salomon or Volkl do *all* the advertising in the mags doesn't mean they have the best skis out there. If I want to demo a Fischer short slalom ski or a Head mid-fat or a Dynamic GS ski, I'll probably have to call or visit dozens or shops before I find what I'm after. OTOH, if I want to demo a Rossi Bandit XX or a Salomon Pocket Rocket, I'll probably find them at the first shop I walk into.

We as consumers have to look beyond the advertisement-dollar-driven reviews in major magazines and start doing a little serious research. There are bunches of great skis out there and it's time we started looking beyond the obvious.


okay, rant over
post #23 of 45
The link between reviews and sales is evidence that most people don't have a clue about skis and will just buy what the magazines tell them to. Try talking sidecut radius, taper angle, and binding elasticity on the chair and you get noting but a blank stare back at you. But even those who just follow the magazines are more informed than those who walk into a shop and buy whatever the salesperson recommends - which is usually just the ski they are trying to get rid of. But then most skiers couldn't tell much difference between the skis even if they did demo them.

Oh well. - I'm off skiing now.
post #24 of 45
Disappointed. Very. Just finished my second review of the Skiing reviews. Oh, sure, the Rossignol Bandit XX was there, and damn well it SHOULD be. But the Salomon Crossmax 10 Pilot was missing. The Dyastar Intuitive 71 was missing. And although the quantification of caharcteristics may have been accurate [who knows], the reviews in Skiing this year were less useful than in the past. Someone, somehow, will need to come up with something better - more useful to the consumer.

How many consumers are Olympians, world famous extreme skiers, whatever? Real reactions from really average skiers - not in the ski mags.

[ September 14, 2002, 01:39 PM: Message edited by: oboe ]
post #25 of 45
oboe, SKIING tried that a few years ago. What they found was that those "average" skiers were not really using the skis properly! In one instance, an intermediate declared a GS race ski as his favorite, because it skidded best. As opposed to some easy turning skis that he said were too "noodly", because they would flutter and chatter when skidded. Obviously, the manufacturers were not pleased. Although it wasn't of much value in ski selection, I would say it was one of their finest pieces of journalism! It almost opened a real pandora's box on the value of demoing skis before they stopped testing that way.
post #26 of 45
Actually Oboe, the main complaint I've heard the past few years about magazine reviews is how dumbed down they are for the masses. Go over to powdermag.com and ask them what they think of the SKI/Skiing reviews. [img]smile.gif[/img] For once, it was nice to see Gordy Peifer and Chris Davenport on the test team.

We had a lot of years there where the magazines definition of expert was based on the 15 day a year Vail vacationer. This year, for the first time in memory, the magazine tests seemed to reward skis that were designed more for power. The forgiving all-mtn skis that have done so well in the past (Axis X, Axis, X-Scream, Crossmax, 9.22) were not rewarded as much this year. K2's Axis X and Axis are almost completely absent.

I think the reason we're seeing this is because the high end "power skis" are becoming more and more forgiving. You and your XX's are the perfect example of this. The XX was the best all-around do everything ski I tried last year. It was also one of the most forgiving. In fact, the K2 Axis XP is the only other ski this year I'd rank next to it. Both the XX and XP are pretty forgiving skis. If you ski in the west and are advanced and above, I dont know why you'd want a Bandit X or Axis X. If you live in the east, why not go for the Axis XR or Rossi Viper carvers. I think this is the magazine test's reasoning as well.
post #27 of 45
Milesb, I talked to those guys about that and got the same report - but they did it wrong! Of COURSE you can't take a handful - and that's what they had, a handful - of "average" skiers and expect a useful result. What you CAN do is forego the drama of a one-time ski test, use ski shop personnel and a LOT of "average" skiers over a LONGER time, and you'll get some useful reporting, IF the reporting is done by a professional ski journalist. The closest we come to that these days - that is, the closest we come in an available and useful format - is Peter Keelty's reports. Peter does not use world champions to test his skis, although he himself is familiar with them. His tests, and some of the thoughtful tests on this site, are pretty damned useful.

Another useful approach, though rare, is this: I talked to a retailer at the Stratton trade show [to be at Killington this year] who has a slope-side shop at another area. The sales person actually goes out and skis with the customer before making a recomendation for demoing. Cooooool!!!

Also, rather than providing ONE and ONLY one blurb about the ski, it would be useful to have some varying views published - including the reaction of an "average" skier for whom the ski would be generally suitable. I'm convinced that we have not yet reached the ultimate model for this process, and I sure would like to see some progress made toward it - especially in SKI and SKIING. Again, the limited choice of lengths provided to the ski mags [an , for that matter, the on-snow trade shows] for testing seriously skews the results of the tests.
post #28 of 45
I havn't seen the reviews from Skiing mag yet, but I have read the ones in powder mag and Ski mag. Both were lacking in many areas. If i only read powder i would think that all skis with a waist less then 80 would be a poor ski. Ski Magizines reveiw told me vary little about any of the skis. As we are all avid skiers we tend to read between the lines and take thses reviews with a grain of salt.Yes based on the reviews and where they place the skis in categories You would think The K2 Axis X was just a ski for Sunday Skiers.
Matter and Bob have both made vary good points.It is hard to find a really bad ski today. However it's harder to find demo skis from some of the lesser known comanys. And harder still to find one in the right size to demo. volant use to sell a lot of thier skis by going to resorts and having big demo days. It's an expensive way to sell skis.
Last season I could only find a demo in the Fisher bigstick in a 186 a 180 would have been better for me. same with the 10ex I demoed a184 but felt for me a 177 would have been a better size.
We are lucky that here we have some vary good reviews by other bears and by a link to Peter Keelty's site. Peter I have found gives a vary honest review. I like his new format. IMHO You can glean more info from Keelty on how a ski will proform Then all the other reviews combined.
post #29 of 45
Thanks for the extra info, oboe. I especially like the sales guy skiing with the customer. Some instructors have recommended taking a lesson while demoing, but I think that the price of that would be prohibitive.
However, I think that if the magazines employed only level 3 certs (or international equivalents) to do the tests, they would be almost perfect (maybe not for the race skis), as they should be able to mimic the experiences of most levels of skiers, and make a good judgement on which skis will help each level skier improve, while still being useful for everyday skiing.
post #30 of 45
milesb, while I still think that there can be more rigorous and useful testing than the level III's, I agree that their feedback could be more useful than that of world class skiers - but that still would be more interesting when put alongside a larger number of interviews of truly average skiers.
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