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All-mountain skis: brilliant or B.S.?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I was on the Atomic web site this morning checking out the Metron M:9s, about which the copy waxes rhapsodic. It's breathlessly described as a "one-ski quiver."

So, let me ask you fine ladies and gentlemen: is there really such a thing as a ski that can do everything really well, or is it more likely that an all-mountain ski is nothing more than a Swiss Army knife -- plenty of tools, but not one of them is nearly as good as an independent tool. A third possibility is this: the ski does one thing really well, and other things sorta okay.

What's your opinion? Is a one-ski quiver really possible or is it all a bunch of marketing hooey?
post #2 of 28
If "everything" includes snow that would be up to your neck if you tried to walk in it and DH racing speeds on ice and hardpack as well as 5-m carved turns at 10 mph, then there is no one-ski quiver. No ski will be as good at a particular thing as a specially designed ski for that purpose. However, if your lookin for a ski that does almost everything well, then I think there are a lot of skis to look at.
post #3 of 28
Dennis,

Are you looking for one Ski that does it all?
post #4 of 28

One Ski Quiver

The term "All Mountain" is regularly dissed around here; however, if you are limited to one set of skis and you ski a variety of conditions, it is the way to go. No they are not great on a race course, nor will they float in neck deep powder, but you can ski the groomers, some ice, the crud, bumps, and a bit of pow.

I have three kids on skis, in addition to the bride and myself, so needless to say I can't afford more than one pair, nor would I have the room to carry more than one pair. I am on Volkl 724 AX3.

They rip the groomers, especially hardpack with great hold on ice, BUT they are not as quick edge to edge as a a carving ski or SL ski.

They are decent in the bumps, BUT not as soft as a freeride ski.

They are great in the crud. Period

They are good in 6 inches of freshies, BUT they would not match a fattie in deep powder.

Get the idea.

I ski mostly groomers and love tight carved turns at high speed. A good slalom ski would suit 85% of my skiing. BUT that ski would suck in the crud and would not be great in the bumps. So you make a trade off and settle for a balance. Within the category of all mountain, some skis lean one way or another, find one that best suits your needs if you are limited to one set of skis by budget or practicality.

post #5 of 28
I have a pair of Atomic REXs (84 mm waist) with Atomic bindings that easily adjust forward and back, and they work very well in everything from hardpack, bumps, crud, slush, to powder. By using the forward position for steep bumps and the rear position for everything else I feel comfortable using them in any condition. I own a lot of skis, including specialty bump skis and fat powder skis, but my REXs will do it all without feeling like I am really comprimising much. The problem with owning a lot of skis is that you always end up feeling you are on the wrong one at some part of the day, but I don't really miss my other boards when I'm on my REXs unless I am pushing some extreme conditions like lots of big hard bumps or real deep snow.

I think the all-mountain ski is finally coming of age. The problem is that you have to be an all-mountain skier to make them work, which is a lot harder than buying the right ski.
post #6 of 28
Mostly what you get with an all-mountain ski is a ski that isn't really good at much of anything. They get better and better every year - meaning wider skis have better edgehold than the skis with the same width a few years back, and of course then get better floatation... etc. having one ski that does everything as well as a specialty ski does not exist. Excluding speed events, you still cannot find a ski that scores highly in ALL categories.

If I were to choose two skis to ski on (one in the east all the time, and one in the west all the time) they would probably be Stocklis. The Stockli Laser Cross Pro (east), and Scott Schmidt Limited (west) would be my choices. I would stay toward a narrow ski for the east because I ski in Western NY... Vermont snow just doesnt happen here. The SS is burly enough to handle anything that a western mountain will dish out, plus be able to carve home on the groomers. As only a 160lb guy I don't need a 110mm waist to float well in powder.

Pretty much you have to choose a ski based on what you ski the most, and realize it will handle other conditions if they are presented to you.

Later

GREG
post #7 of 28
The Metron is as close to a one ski quiver as I have found. Now I have a bunch of skis in my quiver past my Metrons.
post #8 of 28

One SkiI

I have 6 pairs of ski's and the best ski I have "for almost anything" is the Atomic Metron B5. Yes some of my other skis are better at flat out speed racing etc.but the B5 will ski anywhere and any type of turn. I ski and teach at Silver Mountain Idaho and our ski area (except for last year) has great powder skiing and you can virtually jump off almost any run into the trees/powder etc. and once winter is here and the snows dropping the powder doesn't settle into Sierra Tapioca pudding or glaze over into an icy crust. The B5's are very versatile. There is a lot to chatter on epic knocking this ski but I'm an old fart and was really and still am impressed by how easy this ski is to ski. Fun is ok with me.
The best advice is go demo them; take them on groomed and gturn them short, med and long, go into crud, ice, moguls, steeps etc and check them out. Sure my GS skis go faster and make really nice GS and SG turns but they suck in the moguls, crud and tight rock bordered chutes. Have a great winter skiing - on any ski - its the engine that counts!Pete
post #9 of 28
These days, all-mountain skis really don't cut corners on performance anywhere except the extremes of conditions (hard/snow+ice at speed,; and deep, deep snow). Basically, there are 3 general types of skis: race skis, all-mountain skis, and deep snow skis, with many models fitting in 2 categories. Most people ski in "all-mountain" conditions nearly, if not all of the time. Some time on the groomers, maybe a bit of steep ice, some crud off the backside, maybe 8" of fresh on the first 2 runs. In these conditions, where people find them skiing nearly all of the time, all-mountain skis are typically the best tools for the job. And, the skis will preform adequately, even at the extremes of conditions. The trick is to find the all-mountain design that works for your type of local terrain. Out west that may be an all-mountain slalom with wide waist (Metron M:11, Elan Magfire 10), all-mountain GS with anywhere from a 75 to 88 mm waist (Elan 666, Head iM77 Chip or iM88, Dynastar Legend 8000, Volkl AC3). If you live back east, you get something narrower in the waist like a Fischer RX8 or Elan S12, Atomic SX10. But, you can ski those "Eastern" skis in nearly all conditons out West without skipping a beat, and those wider western skis still work on ice and boilerplate.

Personally, I can get away with a bit narrower ski everywhere, as I don't weigh much, and don't really benefit from the extra float of a big-waist ski in deep pow. I have skied 2-feet deep stuff on 75mm-waisted skis (and I used to ski it on straight Salomon 8100's) so I really don't need anything wider (although it would be nice at times). If I could pick one ski, it would probably be something 75-80mm underfoot, or maybe a Monster iM88. If I could add another, I would keep that ski and add a top-end racecarver, like a Stockli Laser Cross (as Greg mentioned) or Elan Ripstick/Head 1200 SW in 170. Maybe a super-wide powder ski after that, but it wouldn't get used much.

Try some all-mountain skis. You will be shocked at the versatility they offer!
post #10 of 28

Dawgcatching I like the above post

I concur with Dawgcatching.

I think it depends alot on your sking style as to what defines your All-Mountain ski, but all-Mountain one ski for everything is comming back. For me its a high performance stiff FATTIE. It does everything I want it to do, It does not do some things well, I don't do those things.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot
I think the all-mountain ski is finally coming of age. The problem is that you have to be an all-mountain skier to make them work, which is a lot harder than buying the right ski.
Well put mudfoot.
post #12 of 28
Nice analysis Dawg -Thumbs UP
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carbonissimo
Dennis,

Are you looking for one Ski that does it all?
Carbonissimo,

My original question was both meant to get some idea if I'm sniffing up the right tree by looking at the Metron 9s and to stimulate conversation.

I'm a solid intermediate and ski fast without great form. I bought a pair of Dynastar Omesofts about 25 years ago, and am now (finally) going to retire them. From all the stuff I've read and heard from shop employees, the M:9s seem like an appropriate ski for my level.

Part of the reason I asked the question was that, 25 years ago, all-mountain skis weren't considered very good at anything. It's nice to know that serious skiers like you guys are now endorsing them. My shop is very high on the Metron 9s, so I'll likely see if I can demo those.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MTT
I concur with Dawgcatching.
Ditto for me. There are some real good all mountain skis out there these days.
post #15 of 28
So, what are you proposing to ski instaid of an all mountain ski? A race ski?

Freeskiing a race ski is an exercise in futility, if you ask me, so I won't go into that.

Even if you have an extensive quiver, you still need one ski that is your "everyday" ski, for normal all around resort skiing. You need to have a look at what your normal all around skiing consists of. Do you ski a 300 ice hill? A big western resort? Do you ski bumps and packed out trees constantly? Do you rip groomers at 40 mph?

There is no such thing as a one ski quiver. What one person considers a good all around ski, another will consider to be a very limiting ski. You simply need to chose the ski that is right for you.

For example: I'm a 180, 6'1" agressive expert. I like to ski fast and make longer turns. I go looking for softer snow. I prefer a heavier damper ski with a race construction. I ski mostly at killington, but other places around the northeast. Thus, my main freeskiing ski is going to be a 186 head IM88 with P18's this year. Big enough to float if needed, heavy enough to knife crud, not too unweildy in the trees, but still carveable on ice....but I know it's going to suck in bumps. My other all around ski is a 188 dynastar big (80mm waist), this is my main rock ski, for skiing trees with shitty cover, some bumps. It's a little lighter in the tip and tail, and straighter...so it's better in bumps.

Get the idea?
post #16 of 28
If you look at usage, the term "all-mountain" is being mutated into "equally good at everything," and it's being applied to all skill ranges. Hmm. IMO, while AM skis have improved their range of talents dramatically, the latest crop remains basically fatter, detuned SL's that reward advanced skills. As a result, the genre tend to be near-great at carving on hardpack and handling speed, but taxing when swallowing bumps or ripping a foot of wet powder. Which is fine, because most folks who spend a lot of time in bumps or back bowls tend to have more than one pair of skis.
post #17 of 28
Skis are getting so much better that the majority of them handle many more conditions than skis could a few years ago. Whether it's the much-touted Volkl Mantra in everything from powder and bumps to hardpack or the Metron from hardpack to powder and bumps, skis are crossing the traditional boundaries.

I've whittled my quiver down to one pair of Metrons, since they will really do all that I need and want them to do. If we get a bottomless day at Snowbird (at the ESA), I'll demo a pair of fatties. If they're out, the Metrons will be fine.

But, that's me. I had two pair last year (the M:b5s and the Fischer RX8s), but decided that I'd just as soon be on the Metrons every day.
post #18 of 28
In my opinion...................

Everybody wants an all mountain ski but it actually means different things to different people. For example, when a potential customer looks at my ski wall and sees 8 conventional brands and 75 models (42 unisex, 33 womens specific) plus the twin specific brands, they can get overwhelmed. The way I break it down for them is as follows. (I make it clear that the following breakdown is arbitrary but offers a good starting point)

FWIW: I usually refer to these as "everyday skis" rather than start a debate about a 70mm ski not fitting somebodys definition of all mountain.

#1 priority is terrain preference.

90% groomed 10% off trail: (~~67-72mm) They may occasionally ski bowls and chutes but don't chase deep snow very often. Maybe 4-6" or so is about their usual interest level.

70%-30%: (~~73-76mm) This skier is willing to give up a little in ultimate groomer performance in return for a little better performance in deeper snow (say 8-12") but they still prioritze packed snow.

50%-50%: (~~77-84mm) This skier willingly gives up some quickness, energy, and grip in return for a significant improvement in the crud and the pow, (maybe up to 24" or so)

Whichever rough grouping they feel best fits them provides some focus to the process. We can then discuss agressiveness etc. and refine the candidates down to just a few.

This process works very well for the average retail customer who is not well educated in the market and has just heard the term "all mountain" which sounds really good to them.

SJ
post #19 of 28
SJ, nice breakdown...

I think it also depends on the locale of the skier. For example, 24" at Tahoe is different than 24" in Colorado, both in terms of frequency and characteristics. Furthermore, typical snow surfaces in different regions are (obviously) very different, so that can change the bias, as well.
post #20 of 28
SJ: I really like your analysis. I completely agree with your width recommendations, but my impression of the people on this fourm (not necessarily this thread) is that they tend to be almost 10 mm wider than your formula. I may be wrong but it seems there are a lot of people claiming to use 90+ mm waisted skis for all mountain everyday boards, which seems ridiculous to me because no matter how hard you try you are going to end up on hardpack and bumps sometimes.
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim
In my opinion...................

Everybody wants an all mountain ski but it actually means different things to different people. For example, when a potential customer looks at my ski wall and sees 8 conventional brands and 75 models (42 unisex, 33 womens specific) plus the twin specific brands, they can get overwhelmed. The way I break it down for them is as follows. (I make it clear that the following breakdown is arbitrary but offers a good starting point)

FWIW: I usually refer to these as "everyday skis" rather than start a debate about a 70mm ski not fitting somebodys definition of all mountain.

#1 priority is terrain preference.

90% groomed 10% off trail: (~~67-72mm) They may occasionally ski bowls and chutes but don't chase deep snow very often. Maybe 4-6" or so is about their usual interest level.

70%-30%: (~~73-76mm) This skier is willing to give up a little in ultimate groomer performance in return for a little better performance in deeper snow (say 8-12") but they still prioritze packed snow.

50%-50%: (~~77-84mm) This skier willingly gives up some quickness, energy, and grip in return for a significant improvement in the crud and the pow, (maybe up to 24" or so)

Whichever rough grouping they feel best fits them provides some focus to the process. We can then discuss agressiveness etc. and refine the candidates down to just a few.

This process works very well for the average retail customer who is not well educated in the market and has just heard the term "all mountain" which sounds really good to them.

SJ
Interesting. This is how all of the Christy shops I've been to this season have organized their skis. On the other hand CS&G claims that the manufacturers want them to keep all of their skis together (and underneath the flat panel display that the manufacturer bought for the store!).
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim
In my opinion...................

Everybody wants an all mountain ski but it actually means different things to different people. For example, when a potential customer looks at my ski wall and sees 8 conventional brands and 75 models (42 unisex, 33 womens specific) plus the twin specific brands, they can get overwhelmed. The way I break it down for them is as follows. (I make it clear that the following breakdown is arbitrary but offers a good starting point)

FWIW: I usually refer to these as "everyday skis" rather than start a debate about a 70mm ski not fitting somebodys definition of all mountain.

#1 priority is terrain preference.

90% groomed 10% off trail: (~~67-72mm) They may occasionally ski bowls and chutes but don't chase deep snow very often. Maybe 4-6" or so is about their usual interest level.

70%-30%: (~~73-76mm) This skier is willing to give up a little in ultimate groomer performance in return for a little better performance in deeper snow (say 8-12") but they still prioritze packed snow.

50%-50%: (~~77-84mm) This skier willingly gives up some quickness, energy, and grip in return for a significant improvement in the crud and the pow, (maybe up to 24" or so)

Whichever rough grouping they feel best fits them provides some focus to the process. We can then discuss agressiveness etc. and refine the candidates down to just a few.

This process works very well for the average retail customer who is not well educated in the market and has just heard the term "all mountain" which sounds really good to them.

SJ
I would agree with the above, but I would add 10mm to the width in all catagories if your are picking a ski for a high-advanced or expert skier. I would also add mogul specific skis as an all mountain choice, if you ski bumps and steeps all the time.
post #23 of 28

This is me

Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot
SJ: I really like your analysis. I completely agree with your width recommendations, but my impression of the people on this fourm (not necessarily this thread) is that they tend to be almost 10 mm wider than your formula. I may be wrong but it seems there are a lot of people claiming to use 90+ mm waisted skis for all mountain everyday boards, which seems ridiculous to me because no matter how hard you try you are going to end up on hardpack and bumps sometimes.
My new everyday ski is the Dynastar Legend Pro @186. I can assure you that using them on packed snow groomed or bumps is (For Me) not ridiculous.

Understand that I’m not an average skier, and am not advocating that this type ski is right for everyone. But for me and those whose skiing interests and abilities are similar to mine?? Well, a big stiff FAT ski is a perfect all mountain ski. Trust me I don't suffer an equipment mismatch in any terrain that can be accessed from a ski lift.
post #24 of 28
MTT: If you can ski a 90+ mm waisted ski in big bumps and on hard snow and not seriously wish you were on a different ski, you are definitely a better man than me. I've tried it and it was far from the right tool for the job in my humble opinion.
post #25 of 28
Y'all

Interesting comments and not unpredictable. Keep in mind the context of my breakdown and who it is intended for. The average skier has heard the term all mountain and it sounds good to him (heck, why not?). But in fact, he is as often as not, that 90-10 skier and not a real expert by most realistic criteria.

So..........................

Why would Joe average weekend warrior buy a ski that excells at something that he seldom does. Why would he not choose something that will lend some excitement to his everyday experience.

For those of us that tip 'em up, and love big turns, (me for one) the extra width is not an issue, but for the vast majority who have an element of skid, slide, & butt toss, in their skiing, a wider ski can slow down the response and actually inhibit the edge grip and control.

I agree that a few skiers can ski 90+ skis everyday, but that is not reality for most. When it has not snowed in a week, I can ski my S-daddies, I'd much rather have my SM 16 or an RX 9 on my feet because they are more fun on that day.

Perfect example:

Last week a guy came in asking for a B2. I talked to him for a while and among other things, he said that "Oh, I never ski off the runs because I hate moguls and powder. I'm just on the groomers and like to go fast once in awhile" Turns out that he just asked about the B2 because he had heard about it from somebody.

So, I suggested an SUV 12 and that's what he got. I'm confident, that he got the right tool for his day on the hill.

I don't knock wider skis at all. I just don't think that they are the best tool for most skiers.

SJ
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim
For those of us that tip 'em up, and love big turns, (me for one) the extra width is not an issue, but for the vast majority who have an element of skid, slide, & butt toss, in their skiing, a wider ski can slow down the response and actually inhibit the edge grip and control.

I agree that a few skiers can ski 90+ skis everyday, but that is not reality for most. When it has not snowed in a week, I can ski my S-daddies, I'd much rather have my SM 16 or an RX 9 on my feet because they are more fun on that day.
SJ
I am an intermediate skier who just bought a pair of Nordicas with a 92 waist. I found it to be a demanding ski, but thats fine with me. I can easily see myself using it as an everyday ski. I'll do what I have to do, money for a second pair being the issue. I have alot of the aforementioned elements in my skiing and was grateful that the wider ski made them more noticeable. Now I can work on eliminating them. I will not be skiing bumps with these skis, but will ski them everywhere else. I did notice that my legs tired far faster, but some of that may be due to it being early in the season. I must say that compared to what I was skiing these are heaven.
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by james
I am an intermediate skier who just bought a pair of Nordicas with a 92 waist. I found it to be a demanding ski, but thats fine with me. I can easily see myself using it as an everyday ski. I'll do what I have to do, money for a second pair being the issue. I have alot of the aforementioned elements in my skiing and was grateful that the wider ski made them more noticeable. Now I can work on eliminating them. I will not be skiing bumps with these skis, but will ski them everywhere else. I did notice that my legs tired far faster, but some of that may be due to it being early in the season. I must say that compared to what I was skiing these are heaven.
You've obviously already made your ski selection and you don't have the funds to add to your quiver, but in my opinion you've done yourself a huge disservice with these skis and their ability to help you progress with your skiing. 90mm+ skis are barely an every day ski for an expert let alone a progressing intermediate. Wide burly big mountain skis aren't going to help you learn how to use the shape of the ski to carve dynamic turns. They are going to work against you in learning some critical skills. Narrower (and preferably softer) more "shapely" skis allow you to get on edge and feel the ski response without requiring a huge commitment to the turn and high edge angles.

You should at least scrape some cash together and buy an older used pair of 70-80mm waisted skis with a sidecut radius of less than 16m to help you with your skills.
post #28 of 28

The third way

This kind of discussion always seems to get into the fat or carver dichotomy (East ice, West powder), but I wonder if there are other amateur skiers like me who while enjoying carving, get a little bored with it and want to master the steep bumps or the deep snow off piste among the trees (which here in Japan often feeds into or off of the bump fields). That is where I always seem to spend 80% of the day (struggling and happy).

I have a carver, which is okay in those places too, but wonder if the right ski for those places is the so-called all-mountain ski. I remember hiring an intuitiv 74 a few years ago which seemed pretty good for that job. People keep saying that Mantras and so on are not good in the bumps. But everything I read about bumps emphasizes fine edge control, so a ski that gets on a rail and sticks there doesn't seem right either.
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