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Ski Reviews 2007: Carving/all-mountain skis (69-72mm underfoot)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
2007 Ski Reviews: Carving/All-Mountain.

Skier Specs:
Height/weight: 5 foot 9, 150lbs
Skier ability: high 8/racer
Days/year: 50
Skiing style: fairly aggressive, like to be on edge, enjoy carving hard snow as much as blasting crud/pow.
Runs: 1 run top to bottom, Snowbasin: a cruddy steep pitch, followed by soft mogul field, fast wide-open crud at speed, followed by soft/rough groomers. I was able to adjust to each ski within the space of a few turns for each section; second runs were unnecessary, as they just confirmed what was felt on the first run.

Reviews arranged in order tested.

This list will be updated after the next demo (in 2 weeks) when I have tried more models.

-Nordica Mach 3 (carbon version) 170cm: 72mm underfoot, designed as an all-mountain/do everything ski for the hard-snow enthusiast who wants versatility. These will essentially be replacing the Speedmachine series, although the latter will be produced in 2007.

I skied this immediately after the Top Fuel/Jet Fuel skis, and was more impressed by this ski, even though it isn’t marketed as a real all-mountain design. I was able to do practically anything on this ski! It handled crud with the best skis I tried (ones with significantly wider waists), was smooth, absorbed terrain, was stable at practically any speed. On groomers, it was quite powerful yet forgiving. I could relax, or be aggressive, and it responded well to both inputs. It had much in common with both the Allstar and iM77 in terms of feel and performance. Powerful, smooth, forgiving, capable of just about anything. I really didn’t need any more ski than the Mach 3 gave me. A top choice for people who want no sacrifice in hard-snow performance on a ski that can do anything. Maybe if I was heavier I would want something wider, but this ski seemed to have a perfect flex for floating through crap, whereas the Top Fuel just seemed to bounce around on top of it, not work with the terrain. Interestingly-enough, one of the PNW reps (his home mountain is Stevens) skis this most of the time, and finds it be his favorite do-everything Nordica.

-Head iXRC 1200 170cm: new for 2007, 69mm waist, vertical sidewall, more forgiving than the old iXRC 1200 SW (now the SuperSpeed). I wish Head would stop changing names each season-it confuses everyone, even the reps.

This is a beefy, powerful ski. No fooling around: this ski is a very close cousin to the old iXRC 1200 SW, with a little added versatility. The main differences are: 1) the ski seems to have more energy: similar sidecut, but a little more pop out of the turn, and a little more carver-like, 2) a bit softer tail gives some forgiveness in the crud and crap. The most stable of the 4 skis I tested. The 170cm felt noticeably longer in the Head than it did in the 168 Volkl and Elan, and 170cm Nordica. It was a lot of ski-I wouldn’t want a 177. Not quick, not really a bump ski (but passable in the bumps). Crud performance was good-the ski wasn’t noticeably deflected, and sailed through most anything. Forgiveness was the lowest in this group. Carving performance was thrilling, to say the least. Power, energy, no speed limit. Feels straight-up like a race ski, without being demanding. Great radius for a carver. Overall, the most stable and powerful ski in the group, and the least forgiving. Probably the best on hard snow for all turn radiuses (SL to GS), and the most demanding off-piste. I loved it, but it wouldn’t be my only ski locally (PNW). The 1400 is supposedly even more stable and a bit quieter.

-Volkl Allstar 168cm: supposedly unchanged for 2007. This ski has received a ton of press, and for good reason. The prototypical do-everything carver.

The Allstar was a great do-everything ski, in my opinion. It handled the bumps and crud with ease, and was not demanding at all in these situations. I could carve my line through the bumps as if in snow motion, with no worries. Crud performance was excellent, as the ski was stable and true. Groomer performance wasn’t as thrilling as the XRC 1200, but was still powerful and fun. A little softer torsionally, it felt like. The race-ski acceleration underfoot wasn’t quite there, but all-mountain versatility was. Forgiveness was very, very high: I felt that I could likely ski it hard in the morning, relax in the afternoon, and the ski would go along with what I wanted to do, not the other way around. It was very similar to the Nordica, in terms of forgiveness, versatility, feel, and power, with the Nordica maybe a smidge smoother and the Volkl with a little more energy. A high-end everyman’s ski, for most any condition.

-Elan SpeedWave 14 168cm: new for 2007, replaces the S series. 2 sheet of titanium, full vertical sidewall, SpeedWave top sheet.

The SpeedWave 14 in a 168cm deviates quite a bit from the S-series. Whereas the S12 was a smooth, fairly damp, extremely stable all-mountain carver, the SpeedWave is more of a pure carver. More energy than the S12, more power, a bit more demanding-it may be the most energetic Elan non-race ski I have been on (it feels a lot more like the SLX than, say, a 666). It is much more of a small-to-medium radius carver than the S12 was (that ski excelled in medium to long radius turns, short turns weren‘t it‘s forte). Think of the SpeedWave 14 as a souped-up Fischer RX8. This ski was very, very exciting, to say the least. I felt like I was on a long race slalom bred as a do-it-all carving ski. So powerful, and energetic, and had that slalom nimbleness, as the expense of some big-arc stability (that is what the RipStick is for, according to Elan). The 168cm felt significantly shorter than the other skis, which translated into more fun on the groomers, and more work off piste. This ski really didn’t excel in the crud, and was pretty stiff in the bumps. You couldn’t camp out on the tail, and really needed to focus on staying centered and rolling cleanly. Torsionally very, very stiff. It turns quick but is a stiff ski with 2 sheets of titanium. You could lay it way, way over, and feel that the ski was there for you. Easily the best pure carver of the test, probably the worst off-piste. Good comparisons to this ski would be a Fischer WC SC and Head Supershape (although I think this is even more powerful than a Supershape). Those seeking more versatility should see the SpeedWave 12 (1 sheet of titanium) where as this is the full-on race-like carver that won’t kill you off-piste.

Conclusion: all great skis! Nordica and Volkl most versatile, Head most stable and race-like in arcs big and small, Elan most energetic and the best pure carver. If we were talking cars here, the Nordica and Volkl would be the sporty SUV (Porsche Cayenne), the Head a BMW 6-series, and the Elan a Porsche 911 tweaked a bit so that it can go off-road. A little different in each application, but I couldn’t say that one was better than another. I would happily own any of these skis, but would choose depending on where I lived and if I was putting together a quiver or not.

Skis tested 2/14 and 2/15 (all 2007 models):

Elan SpeedWave 12 168cm
Elan SpeedWave 14 176cm
Dynastar Contact 11 172cm
Rossi Multix 175cm w/LR Arms
Nordica Mach3 Titanium version 170cm
Head iXRC 1200 170cm
Head iXRC 1400 170cm
Blizzard GSR iQ 177cm
K2 Burnin Luv 160cm
Fischer Worldcup SC 165cm
Fischer RX8 160cm
Fischer RX8 170cm
Volkl RaceTiger race carver 163cm

Conditions: 1st day: hard snow, up to 1" of fluff on top, fast and hard. Snow was a bit cut-up by mid-day and really gave me a sense of the ski's stability. 2nd day: fast and smooth all day. Snow was like glass. EVERY ski felt stable today, the conditions were near perfect for a carving ski. Unfortunatley, not as demanding as the 1st-days' conditions (no rough snow bouncing the ski around), so it made the skis look better. I still was able to get a feel for how they felt. Our testing group consisted of myself; an ex-racer; a solid level 8 skier, and an older level 6 who skis at moderate to somewhat fast speeds (not everyone tested every ski) Skis listed in order reviewed:

Head iXRC 1200: as reviewed above, I wanted to start with something somewhat familiar. Everything I said above works for this review as well. Incredibly stable, relatively forgiving when included in this group, a great power carver than can do everything from SL to GS. Superb edge hold, even though the sidewall is a bit more tapered than the vert. sidewall of the current XRC 1200 (now the Supershape Speed). NOTE: I wasn't able to test the standard Supershape in 165 or 170: they only had 160's this year. This was a "top 3" ski of everyone in the group: clearly a great ski.

Head iXRC 1400 Chip: same as the new 1200: near vert. sidewall, laminate construction, but with a Chip and in jet black instead of yellow. A tad more stable, a bit more damp, but basically the same ski. I could feel the difference, but it was very, very minor. Someone looking at a more damp ski should check this ski out-the skier who wants a bit more energetic ski would like the 1200 better. Stability is basically the same on both models.

Elan Speedwave 12 168cm: This ski wasn't anywhere as beefy as the SpeedWave 14 tested earlier. Much less demanding: very similiar in feel to the RX8. I loved this ski in bumps and tight spaces: a great on-trail and all-mountain ski for the person who wants a high performance ski that can still function at low speeds and in bumps. This feels like a rippin' ski for up to 6" of snow. Very versatile-a similiar ski to the AllStar, with a bit shorter radius and more energy. The level 6 of the group felt that this was a bit too much ski for him: he liked the SpeedWave 10 very much.

Elan SpeedWave 14 176cm: much beefier and more of a go-fast ski than the SpeedWave 14 168cm tested above. The former is a slalom feel for myself, the 176cm is a no speed limit all-radius carver and GS ski (not quite as damp as the RipStick: a little more life even than that ski). The 176 would be an everyday length for me, the 168 definitely more of a fall-line and small-hill choice. Again, no reasonable speed limit: a real powerhouse. Probably not the most versatile of the group, but a great ski at speed!

Nordica Mach3 Titanium 170cm: a stiff power carver/GS with shape. Personally too stiff for myself: I just couldn't bend it or get much energy out of the thing. Obviously a powerful, stable at any speed ski. Great carver. I just couldn't get the ski to come to life: this is definitely set up flex-wise for a big guy. If I pack on 40lbs, I am going to think this is a kick-butt ski. A great ski, but the stiffest, burliest ski of the test. Lighter skiers should check out the Carbon version, no matter how fast they ski. Ski testing has definitely shown me that not only is skier ability and desired performance important when choosing a ski, so is skier weight. Some skis are stiff, some are softer. It is important to get a ski that works well with your weight as well as skiing style.

Blizzard GSR iQ 177cm: A very stable carver-the most GS-like race ski damp feel in the test. Alot of fun at big speed, but not much energy in the 177 for me. I would go 170cm with this ski (not available for test). It skied long, even for a 177cm. Others tried the CMX (their power carver line) and everybody loved them. Blizzard makes great skis.

Dynastar Contact 11 172cm: This was definitely a top-3 ski for me. 72mm underfoot, but felt similiar to the 68mm skis. A big, stable, powerful carver at any speed. Typical Dynastar smoothnes, but livelier than I expected for a ski that felt this way: a perfect blend of power, stability, smoothness, and energy. As stable as any ski in the test-more stable than most. I felt that I could do anything on this ski, at least from a hard-snow standpoint. Relax or really drive the ski-it did it all. Interestingly enough, this ski has no metal (save from the binding interface-titanium plate).

Fischer Worldcup SC 165cm: Stiffer, more powerful ski than most skis in this test. It felt like a true SL race ski. Sure, it was a tad more forgiving, but definitely a go fast ski for people who can put their skis up on edge and want to carve arcs. I also felt this was a little stiff in 165 for myself: I wasn't getting the rebound that I expected. A bigger guy would. Not relaxing: a race ski for good freeskiers. A good choice for a small-hill carver.

K2 Burnin Luv 160cm: This ski was a pleasant ride. I found the speed limit, but didn't overpower the ski. I could put it up on edge and rely it to hold well. It had a nice verstaile turn radius, and wasn't overly damp like some K2's. A nice, comfortable, nimble carver. Many men would do well on this ski, and of course the 125lb women this ski was build for.

Rossignol Multix 175cm w/LR arms:

The new ski from Rossignol with the adjustable turn radius (13m to 17m in this case) via LR or SR arms (included with purchase). Ironically, it felt quite similiar to the Contact 11 from Dynastar (who woulda guessed?). I thought the Dynastar was a tad more energetic (it could have been the slightly shorter length) but stability and power felt the same, as did smoothness/dampness. Unless you need the extra adjustability of the arms, the Dynastar is the better buy (the Rossi is $1300!).

Fischer RX8 160cm: This is a fun ski. I would say it compares with the SpeedWave 12 quite well. Quite energetic, quite light underfoot, fairly powerful, fairly stable. A pretty easy carver in this length. I enjoyed it, but could find the speed limit. The Level 6 guy in the group loved the RX8-said it was very forgiving for the performance.

Fischer RX8 170cm: this was a great end-of-day ski for me. Nowhere as stiff, and not as powerful as some in the group, but still with lots of performance. Again, a nice mid-radius carver, which could run well at speed. Light underfoot, energetic, capable of any turn radius. Not as stable or high-performance as the beefiest skis in the group, but a good choice for everyone but a high 8/9 level skier who likes to ski fast-the latter group may overpower or find the speed limit on this ski. I was really pleased with it: I was tired, and ski was not punishing whatsoever. It was an easy, performance-oriented carver. I would ski this in a 170, as the 165 would be a bit squirrley if I was skiing big GS arcs on it (typical groomer big-mountain skiing for me). Stability was toward the bottom of the group (not that it was bad, there are some muscular skis tested here), forgiveness was amongst the highest. A great ski for many people on this board-I was very impressed with the level of ease that this ski provides.

Volkl RaceTiger 163cm (racecarver): Last ski of the day, and felt like a race-constructed ski. A big step up in both performance and demandingness over the RX8. I couldn't relax, and had to catch up to the ski a couple of times. I could rail turns of any radius, and the flex felt like a great choice for a light skier such as myself. Given the short length, I was very, very impressed with the stability of the ski. I wish I had been fresher: this ski was capable of some serious performance at speed and up on edge. Lots of energy and a powerful carving sensation when up on edge. It seemed similiar in feel to the XRC 1200 and the Blizzard GSR iQ.

Overall, these skis started to blur together! They are all great, great skis: not a bad one in the bunch. The burliest, highest-performance in the group were probably the Head 1200/1400, the Elan Speedwave 14, Fischer WC SC, Nordica Mach3, Dynastar Contact 11, Rossi Multix, Blizzard GSR iQ, Volkl RaceTiger. Shorter length power carvers are the Speedwave 14 (in a short length) and Fischer WC SC. Relaxing skis for the Level 6/7/8 skis are the K2 Burning Luv, Fischer RX8 and Speedwave 12. Personal faves for everyday skiing (for myself) would be the Head iXRC 1200, Elan Speedwave 14, Dynastar Contact 11, and Volkl RaceTiger: I could leasily live with any of these 4 as part of my quiver. Hope this helps!
post #2 of 10


Great job Dawg,

You are confirming what I have been yapping about for a couple of months here ad nauseum....the Volkl Allstar is an awesome all mountain ride, at least here in the east. Needlessly feared and well within the grasp of any strong intermediate skier....I can't understand why so many are afraid of it. A very forgiving ride indeed....but up the energy and zoom !!!

Thanks for validating my point!!! It is an awesome ski. :

Any change on the graphics for 2007?
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by hrstrat57

Any change on the graphics for 2007?
The 07' was grey with red graphics I believe. I didn't really pay that much attention, to tell you the truth. Sorry!
post #4 of 10
I have the the 1100 sw's from a few years back, how do this and next year's editions compare to the original in terms of flex and forgiveness?
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Basically the same skis. Updated with Liquidmetal, a change in name (the Superspeed for 2007) but that is about it!
post #6 of 10
Another thread stated the allstar was completely changed - 2 sheets of Ti replacing steel. I would think it would be less forgiving with that construction - very different. I owned the 6 star in 168 last season: other than carving it was unforgiving. I skied the allstar in 175 today and I would echo your review. I'm thinking of buying this ski so need to know if it hasn't changed - can get a better deal on '06 model.

This is off the subject a bit, but I was planning to buy the '07 AC3 assuming it is stiffer than the current version. Is this ski really getting all of the upgrades posted in the other thread?
post #7 of 10
I verified the new construction of the new Volkl models as stated in the other thread. I talked to a Volkl rep today who stated the models are improved with the new construction but are in no way less accessible/forgiving than the previous models.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by NCskier
I verified the new construction of the new Volkl models as stated in the other thread. I talked to a Volkl rep today who stated the models are improved with the new construction but are in no way less accessible/forgiving than the previous models.
I can't comment, as I didn't ski the '06 Volkls, just the '07's. Of course, from what I know about ski construction in general, I would expect the ski to be slightly less forgiving as a trade off in performance. It is virtually impossible to have your cake and eat it too, at least with my past experience testing skis. I found them quite easy to ski (except for the AC3, which wasn't the right length). The forgiveness, across the board with basically every ski I tested, was inversely proportional to the performance. The Allstar was very approachable, but didn't quite have the power or stability of the Head. The Head was more demanding than the Allstar. It really depends on what trade-offs you want to make: there are going to be a few, no matter what ski you are looking at. The good news is that every ski I tested was very, very good. Not a single dog in the group.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Bump: a bunch more skis reviewed in the 1st post of the thread.
post #10 of 10
I have to agree with you and hrstrat57's assessment of the Allstar... it is a very easy ride. Not demanding at all IMO. I've never had a scary moment... or a dull one for that matter. Definitely a happy medium between power and forgiveness. Great for all turn types and shapes along with working well most conditions other than deep pow. Not the quickest, most powerful or fastest but as good or better than most skis that are quick, powerful and fast doing it all at once.

I couldn't be happier with the Allstar. Now if I can nail down a freeride ski that works equally well... hopefully the im88 I just purchased from you will do the trick.

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