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Review: Volkl 5 Star, AC3, K2 Recon, Rossignol Z9

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Skier Profile: strong intermediate skier (about PSIA Level 7), 6'2" and 210lbs, 38 year old male, just getting back into skiing this season after a 6 year layoff (kids!).

I knew I needed new skis so I bought a pair of Volkl 4 Star (175cm) off eBay in early December. I really like those skis, but wondered just how much better the 5 Star and other top-rated skis were, and if I'd even be able to tell the difference at my ability level. FWIW, I've taken a couple of lessons this year and am using decent modern technique, really working on maintaining my fore-aft balance and using a good two-footed carving style.

I managed to line up the Volkls I was interested in, and also got a chance to try out a couple of others. This was at Jiminy Peak in MA on Friday, conditions were fairly firm packed powder with some loose powder on the sides and crud on a few runs (from the snow guns). I like carving medium and long turns at medium speed, and pretty much stay on-piste; no bumps, trees etc. for me yet. Here's what I thought:

Volkl 5 Star (175cm): Loved it - everything from it's rebound energy, immediate response, turn initiation to carving on a rail-like feeling! What a blast, this ski can do short, medium or long turns effortlessly, whatever you want. Stay in the sweet spot and it will reward your effort - I loved the "pop" coming out of turns, this is the ski that put the biggest grin on my face!

Volkl Unlimited AC3 (177cm): Same phenomenal edge hold as the 5 Star, but with a little less of that rebound energy - also felt like it was a little more work to initiate varying turns. I did get going a little faster than I should have down one run, and this ski was unbelievably stable, what a great feeling In retrospect, I should've tried the 170cm version, that would be the ideal length for my ability and weight.

K2 Apache Recon (174cm): Tried this on the strong recommendation of the shop guy. I couldn't believe that a ski that was so much wider underfoot could turn this well - again, comfortable at varying radius turns and was the best in the crud. However, also lacked the liveliness of the 5 Star, and I felt it didn't have that unflappability of both Volkls. I later found out that this is an expert's ski, so it's entirely likely that I just wasn't skiing it to its potential.

Rossignol Zenith Z9 (170cm): I'd read quite a bit about this ski and was eager to try it. Turns on a dime, caught me off-guard at first - you barely have to think about turning, tip it ever so slightly and it is in a solid carve right away. Pretty easy to initiate turns, good edge grip and forgiving too. However, I really didn't like what I felt was it's "one-mindedness", it's like it only wanted to make certain types of turns and seemed to almost fight me when I wanted longer/faster GS turns. It felt too "turny", and didn't quite have the stability of the Volkls either.

To sum up, both Volkls had a wonderful solid feel and were amazingly stable. The 5 Star was the best for my kind of skiing, I absolutely loved its energy. The AC3 would be more versatile in the trees, etc. as would the Recon - I found these two fairly similar overall except for that unflappable feeling in favor of the AC3. The Rossignol Z9 wasn't the ski for me, mainly because of what I felt was less responsiveness to varying turns.

I've already got Volkl's new Supersport S5 (their 2006-2007 replacement for the 5 Star which is now 1mm wider throughout and has the same IPT binding as the Allstar) on order - should be here in a couple of weeks

Hope this helps someone considering these skis, especially from the viewpoint of an intermediate skier. And I'd definitely endorse the strong recommendation of others on this board - demo, demo, demo! Even an intermediate skier can feel some difference between skis.
post #2 of 3

Great Review

Hi Catul

Excellent Review! You may be an intermediate skier but you are clearly an advanced reviewer. It was well thought out and well written.


post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thanks Michael, glad you enjoyed my review! Hope this was helpful to others considering some of these skis as well ...
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › Review: Volkl 5 Star, AC3, K2 Recon, Rossignol Z9