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Atomic Balanze 11 / Fischer AMC73 / Volkl AC3

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone. I'm pretty new here, but hope you don't mind sharing your wisdom. I quite fancy the idea of some new skis although technically I probably don't need them

I am:
5' 6"
67kg (147? lb)
Current ski: Salomon Crossmax 8 in a 160 (previous ski Salomon Verse 4? in a 140)

Experience: Started skiing in 2001, never skied on straight skis. Ski about 25-30 days per season on average. Take 4 x 2 hour 1:2 private lessons each week when we're in Courchevel.

What I ski: Green, blue and red runs are in my comfort zone, I'm happy on black runs that I know (have done before) but am still a little leery of new ones - I just worry that I might encouter a sheet ice vertical wall! By comfort zone I mean I'm not comfortable with getting down slopes just any old how and say I can "do" them just because I reached the bottom in one piece. I'm not comfortable until I can do them with confidence and solid technique. Can't bear being out of control.
I'm technically strong, but a bit cautious, like the odd burst of speed but far from the fastest person on the mountain. It's all a mental game with me - I would prefer to ski a red run that's steeper than a black, than a run that's marked black because I know I can do the red because I can ski blacks, if you follow me Technically I can ski pretty much anything on-piste (when my mind catches up with my technique), but the Grand Couloir and Vallee Blanche are definitely not on the agenda!
I've done a very little bit of off-piste a couple of years ago, I didn't feel ready for it then but I do now.
I'm very wary of other people, especially on blues and popular "easy" reds because we get a lot of overambitious people skiing (and particularly boarding) where they shouldn't. To prove my point, I also have a nicely sliced pair of ski trousers from where some &*$*&$^$% poseur last year decided to use me as a turning point, and it's not unusual (especially in Courchevel) to get people skiing over the back or front of your skis.
I also don't like to have to work too hard

Where we ski: Swiss alps (Hoch-Ybrig, Flims-Laax, Hasliberg Meiringen for those who know them) plus 2 weeks a season in Courchevel. Conditions tend to be a mix of boilerplate (weather combined with bad snowboarders ) and piles of powder - often on the same run and on different sides of the same point of the same run. After heavy snowfalls in Courchevel you can often get up to a foot or more of powder on the runs they haven't managed to groom.

Goals for 05/06 season: bring blacks into my comfort zone and start learning some off-piste. Not interested in chest-deep virgin fields of snow at this stage (if ever), but quite fancy ankle-deep exploration, going through trees etc.

My current Crossmax 8s have about 80-90 days on them so far, they are 02-03 model. I'm looking for a ski that will handle both boilerplate and up to a foot or so of powder. Probably about a 70/30 ratio. Good edge hold on ice is essential, ability not to just sink at the first sign of powder highly desirable! The Crossmax handles both OK, but it doesn't give me 100% confidence on ice (or maybe that's me or maybe I just need to get my edges sharpened more often)

I've been doing some research and I have mentally narrowed things down to a longlist of 5 that I would like to demo and a shortlist of 3. However, I have no basis for comparison since I've only ever skied on Salomons, so terms like damp and lively mean nothing to me.

Atomic Balanze 11 Metron. (157 length?)
Fischer AMC73 (158?)
Volkl AC3 (wouldn't know whether to go as short as 156 or up to 163)
Salomon Siam 10 (158?)
Stoeckli - poss Stormrider AT? (narrowest version)

The shortlist is the first three of those, the Salomon is on the long list to give a basis for comparison, and the Stoeckli is there because our local ski shop and hire shop is Stoeckli, I can get any model in any length just like that, and it would be daft not to even try them.

Availability is a bit of a problem though and I have the reverse problem to most of you Not surprisingly the Swiss prefer racing skis and the only skis above intermediate level that I have found here so far are the slalom type ones or true fatties. The closest I found to my shortlist were Volkl AC2, Attiva 4*, unisex 5*, Fischer RX8 and a Fischer Vision Onyx. I can buy almost any of my list easily from Germany for good prices, but no chance to demo.

I don't mind a ski that bites back occasionally, but I don't want to have to be fighting it all the way home on the last run when I'm tired. And anything that weighs less than the Crossmax would be appreciated (ski weight is not a showstopper, but I would prefer not to be knackered before I even start skiing!)

So to the questions:
1. Does my long/shortlist sound appropriate for my abilities and ambitions (with room to improve)?
2. Can you describe how any of the above would compare with my current Crossmax 8s?
3. Any other skis I should consider and why?
4. What are the merits of women's skis now? Are the differences from men's more than just cosmetic now?
5. Is there actually sufficient difference from the Crossmax's to warrant changing or would I be better saving my money and sticking with the Crossmax's until they're totally knackered? i.e. is there any benefit to me in a change?
6. Is it worth buying a new everyday ski and keeping the Crossmax's for conditions with bare patches? Or try and flog them?
7. Does anyone know of anywhere in Eastern Switzerland (or even Western Austria) that stocks the above skis so I could demo them?

Sorry for the length, any advice would be much appreciated!
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

There's nothing I hate worse than a pushy newbie - and here I am doing precisely that I do apologise, but some opinions would be much appreciated, especially on the comparison with the Crossmax. I have an opportunity to go into the city tomorrow to see if the metropolis has better availability and I'm very impressed with the knowledgability shown on this forum.

Thanks ever so!
post #3 of 9
Hi E C,

Both the Atomic and Fischer are great choices and a good fit for your description. The Atomic provides great versatility and high performance, but are a little heavy to carry, if that matters.

Is it possible to demonstrate either model before buying?


post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
That's the idea, Barrett. Thanks for the reply. Since the "all mountain" skis seem to be in short supply, I feel I would have move leverage with the shops with a list of 2 than one of 4.

On paper both the Atomic and the Fischer seem to fit the bill. The Atomic scores because it's a woman's ski (is that of benefit?), has a shorter radius which I like, and I like the idea of the Metron principle (with the carving strength). The Fischer seems to do absolutely everything and is lightweight to boot.

Any thoughts on how they compare with the Salomon Crossmax? What differences should I expect (if I can lay my hands on them to demo)?

If I decide to shell out (and it is still if at the moment) and I can't demo, do you have a feeling on which way I should go?
post #5 of 9
I wouldn't describe the Balanze 11 with the device bindings are being a heavy ski. The metron B5 is another story.
post #6 of 9
I purchased the Fischer Big Stix 7.2 for my daughters this summer. This ski is the predecessor to the AMC 73. The Fischer is said to be very versatile in all conditions from ice to moderately deep snow.

The Atomic gets very good reviews. This ski is also very versatile. The Atomic will carve short turns with ease and will float in deep snow. Possibly the Atomic is more demanding since the wide shovel will respond to both the snow and the skier more eagerly. I expect that a little more effort is required with the Atomic and the ski is more difficult to relax on.

I use a Salomon Supermountain and I would predict that the Fischer and Salomon will both feel softer than the Atomic. A bit more playful in bumps and softer spring conditions. The Atomic will feel a more solid on ice.

Wish I could say more,

post #7 of 9
All of those skis should give you tons more grip than what you're on. The Atomic will feel solid and smooth, the fisher will be responsive and a little livelier, but still well controlled. I'm guessing the volkl will feel in between the two.

Another consideration is the Head Wild thang.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ghost
All of those skis should give you tons more grip than what you're on.
Brilliant! That alone actually makes it worth changing. I hate ice - I don't think it's my technique. The best way I can describe it is, you know that plastic stuff they put down for indoor ice skating that has no real grip, especially compared with real ice in an ice rink? That's how icy pistes feel to me and I'm sure more grip should be possible.
The Atomic will feel solid and smooth, the fisher will be responsive and a little livelier, but still well controlled. I'm guessing the volkl will feel in between the two.
Sounds to me like it's down to the Atomic and the Fischer, see if I can find them to try and just get whichever I prefer.
Another consideration is the Head Wild thang.
Yep, thought about that, but I think it's got a little more off-piste bias than I'm after. Actually not that even, but reading the reviews I think it's more a case that the others handle ice better.... But worth bearing in mind if I don't like either the Atomic or the Fischer.Thanks for the comments! BtW I've cross-posted on Snowheads, just to get a range of opinions.
post #9 of 9
Also Fast thang, Ativa 5*, Burning luv, stockli laser cross, rx8.

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