Nordica SUV 14 XBS versus Volkl SupersportsAfter trying the earlier Volkl 5 Star (glossy finish topskins) I thought that although it's very forgiving and versatile for a narrower ski, it seemed like a hard snow carving width and shape but an off piste all-around flex; a bit soft for true hard snow, and a bit narrow for off-piste. On the other hand, after skiing the Volkl 6 Star in the 182 cm length for 2 seasons, it's a bit much most of the time; what I call a 90-10 ski; about 90% GS ski, widened about 10%. The 6 is terrific on hard snow but takes effort - very technically proper effort - to really flex it in soft snow and is balky in tight spots where most of us need to slow down. Not to mention the trouble with 2 pair of the Piston Motion plates wearing, loosening up and eventually vibrating badly enough to spit the toe binding off at speed.
Last spring I demoed the 2005 Nordica SUV 14 XBS and realized immediately that it's the right ski for me. It's marked 180 cm but measures 178, a nice in-between length; short enough to be nimble on piste and in bumps, but enough length to afford some stability in shallow crud. It seems almost as stiff as the 6 Star, but with less metal; the flex is right in between the 5 Star and 6 Star; more or less equivalent to about a "5.5" Star. The XBS is a lighter, simpler, and probably more durable version of the piston dampening integration system.
If anything, the SUV 14's overall performance, including hard snow, seems at least as good as the 6 Star, maybe slightly better just because for me, it's more skiable, and almost as forgiving as the 5 Star. Really been digging it, very satisfied.
It might be more than a coincidence that the 2006 model Allstar not only has different rails from the previous 2 years, but has also been widened 2 mm to almost match the dimensions of the SUV 14.
See you on the hill...