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04-05 RaceCarve Reviews

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I just recently compared the following 2004-2005 skis on ultra-hardpacked eastern-type conditions (no noisy boilerplate...just squeeky-clean, ultra-fine grained re-groomed, re-groomed, weeks-of-cold weather PERFECT edge-tracking surface in wide-open, smooth terrain). All skis had demo bindings.

My stats:
185lbs. 5' 11" tall 45 year old Masters-racer/coaching type skier...craving clean arcs on groomed surfaces under pressure at speed.

Atomic SX-11 SuperCross
170cm (105-65-95 16m radius)

Stoeckli Laser Cross 170cm (not the Pro)
(111-67-93 17m radius)

Head iXRC 100 Chip SR2 "X-Frame" titanium jacket 170cm and 177cm
(116-68-100 15.6m radius@177cm)

Nordica Doberman Pro RC XBS
(110-65-98) 17m radius@176cm

Nordica Speedmachine 16 (2005-2006 model)
(114-67-100) 17m radius@178cm

Volkl SuperSpeed
(115-70-99) 17.6m radius@175cm

The Atomic SX-11 was indeed the muscle-car race-bred board with a rowdy kick in the tail at the end of the turns when prompted to "go". Excellent grip and quick. Tiring if you don't watch your touch, and definitely not happy in the crud off the groomers. Superb high-grip powerhouse not bothered by anything. Quick quick quick when driven hard...the more you put into it, the more it performs...no wonder they own skiercross titles...definitely a railing thoroughbred. Damp, but with that "high-tension carbon-wood-foamy" typical Atomic feel underfoot...lots of energy...don't get in the back seat! Could vary the turn radius quickly with the proper input. The ski seems to have a front-half and a back-half...the front is used to feed into the turns, then the tail is used for hookup and musclular acceleration. Wicked fun and endless power. Kinda ugly-but-cool-and-rowdy power graphics.

The Stoekli LaserCross was a different feel, typical germanic-euro wood-metal-fiberglass dampness and response underfoot. A very strong, very smooooooth carving tool. Somewhat more reluctant to start the carve than the other skis...took more effort to get it "on-line", but once hooked-up, produces a wonderfully smooth, perfect arc unfettered by changes in the surface conditions. No kick or rowdy tail acceleration, just smooth power for as long as you want to pressure it. Feels like a fine european automobile when carving hard...never distracting or surprising...fairly

versatile, able to make quick turns with the proper input. Happier off-piste than the Atomic Supercross...not as single-minded (the "Pro" version may be more like the SX-11...I didn't ski it). Beautiful, high-quality ride, but exciting. Very nice. Nice, clean, sophisticated graphic design colors. Very nice workmanship.

The Head i.XRC 1100 Chip SuperRailFlex 2 in 177cm was next. I immediately noticed these things RAILED. The instant I rolled an ankle in, the ski immediately went into slot-car mode on edge and wanted to follow its radius like it was being pulled on a string. It immediately wanted me to put more pressure on my uphill ski to create a matched pair of edge grips on the surface, then begged me to roll them both over, drag my hips on the inside, change direction and create a locked-down, slingshot, "slot-car" feel (it's the best description I can think of). Smooth and unfettered arcs across any surface irregularities. Really addictive edge grip and carving behavior. Endless, powerful pressure and kick in the tails if you wanted it, but it seemed to come from the whole ski instead of the tail like the Atomic SuperCross. The faster you rolled both skis from edge to edge, the faster they would change direction...short radius...long radius...it didn't matter. They wanted to be hooked-up and "on-radius" at all times. Not happy with any type of skidding turn...but handled off-piste crud very nicely without wanting constant muscle power to change direction. The 177cm was a high-speed cruising machine...beautiful. Not happy in short turns unless you really flexed it hard on-edge or had crud to float in. I switched to the 170cm version for a quick experiment. The 170cm had the same rail-to-rail slot-car feel, but would allow even tighter radius turns on edge. Still not happy with a sliding turn, and really does not want to do any turns on hard snow except on edge under power, but quick, quick, quick. You basically keep your hips in one place and your feet move from full-extension left to full-extention right on rails...fascinating. These skis reset my opinion on what a "carving ski" really does. Graphics are non-descript with basic lettering on black background...not fancy...not boring...no comment...I like the comment "This is a ski for those who wish to tear through groomed terrain, just to get on the lift to look back and see the tracks that you just left." from http://www.huckzone.com/equipmentreviews.php. A "10" for racecarve

The Nordica Doberman Pro RC XBS was indeed a true race-carve ski...a heart of a GS racer with an uncanny ability to carve really nice, deep arcs across any surface condition quietly and securely. You really couldn't overpower this ski, and it kept delivering race-ready grip and confidence. Feeds nicely into the turn without much input from the user...and just grips like crazy, taking whatever pressure you can dish out. Fast as you want from edge to edge, with a classic wood-fiberglass-metal resonance underfoot. Varies the turn shape nicely and is quiet and dominating on the snow...very nice. The more I skied it, the more I wanted it. Excellent non-FIS masters race ski. The only drawback was going off-piste, where it really didn't like crud and bumps...it muscled through just fine...but it really is a ski for haunting the groomed surfaces looking for prey. Awesome. A "10" for racecarve skis. This ski would allow a slightly skidded turn if you don't want to be hooked-up under constant edge pressure every turn...unlike the Head i.XRC 1100 chip
which did not want to do any drifting at all...wanting on-edge power for each turn on hard surfaces.

The Nordica SpeedMachine 16 (2005-2006 model of the '04-05 SpeedMachine 14 with slightly stiffer topsheet and 1mm wider tail?) was similar to the Doberman RC Pro, but more "carvy" at various speeds, quicker at slower speeds and much more versatile off-piste. Better slow-speed response than the RC Pro, with a "cheeky" kick (I read this description somewhere else and agreed!) in the tail if you want to get some serious acceleration at the end of your turns. Don't get in the back seat. Really, really fun and more adventurous than the RC Pro. The turns at high speed were simlarly quiet
and confident with great grip and power for any level of pressure, with the only drawback being a slight tendency to weaken its grip under really high-speed maximum leg power on the hardest boilerplate surfaces. This limit would only be reached under race-like conditions...not all-mountain powerhouse carving where the SpeedMachine 16 is targeted. A
powerhouse ski with real personality for raging around securely at any speed. A "9" for racecarve skis, and a "10" for all mountain expert hardware. Really really addictive.

The Volkl SuperSpeed was exactly as it was billed...a high-speed gripping machine for the groomed surfaces which can muscle its way through crud if the skier has the muscle. Superb hard-snow grip and confidence with a rock-solid high speed cruising ability with no speed limit. Required plenty of power to hold, but the more you can give it, the more it would hold at any speed. Very damp, never nervous and always secure. While it had all these qualities, it seemed to lack "personality" or spunk. Kind of a faceless speed tool. It did its high-speed gripping job perfectly, but never seemed eager or sporty. Kind of dull actually. I have loved Volkls for nearly 20 years, and loved the G3, 5 star and 6 star, but the SuperSpeed seemed to lack any particular feel. No real feedback from underfoot...just a dull death grip on the snow. It works as advertised, but didn't make me smile for some reason. Superb, but uninspired. Go figure...

Out of all these skis, I really liked the Nordicas and the Heads. The Heads have a wonderful carving addiction, but almost at the expense of versatile turn types. The Nordica line is very impressive....I can't decide !

Go try these skis.
post #2 of 2
Great reviews! Useful, valuable and readable at that.
Thanks for the effort!
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