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Best ski for improving intermediate?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for help with my previous questions. I recently bought some boots (Dalbello V-12 demos), and they have been great (I now realize what a difference a properly fitted boot can make!). I'm in the process of hunting for skis and seeking the sage advice of this forum . I have recently demo'd the Atomic C9, Dynastar Skicross 9, and Volkl 5 Star, and liked them all. I was skiing with my 7 year old son, though, and so I wasn't able to push them as hard as I might otherwise. (I'm sure by next year he'll pass me up, though

I'm an intermediate skier. I typically ski all the blue runs, and perhaps an easier black run. I have thus far been skiing only groomed runs (I suppose this could change as I improve), and I ski in New England, so I need something that can handle icy terrain.

My kids have recently taken up the sport, so I'm planning to ski more frequently from this point on. Thus, I'd like a ski that is forgiving of my imperfect technique at this stage, yet with significant upside/room for improvement. For the foreseeable future, I'll have a one-ski quiver, and I want it to last me several years.

I'm 5'11", 168 lbs., male, and 37 years old.

I had been leaning heavily toward the Atomic C9 based on the great reviews it's gotten and the fun I had on it when I demo'd it. But, of course, I've made the mistake of doing more research and found that there may be other good options as well.

My budget is tight, so I'd be willing to wait until the end of the season (even late summer/early fall) or buy a prior year's model if I can save a lot. If anyone knows of any great deals on an appropriate ski, please do let me know!

Here's an incomplete list of skis that look like they might be good:

Atomic C:9 (seems like a good fit, though some people hate their bindings -- no problems for me on my demo day)
Dynastar Skicross 9
Dynastar Skicross 66 (the old version of the 10, perhaps still available on the cheap)
Fischer WC SC (perhaps too demanding?)
Fischer RX6 or RX8 (I don't know much about these skis -- are they forgiving enough for an intermediate?)
K2 Escape 5500
Volkl 724 AX2 or AX3

Does anyone have any opinions on these skis for someone in my situation? Or recommendations for others that I have missed? Finally, any size recommendations for a particular ski (I have been assuming a 170 for most models).

post #2 of 23
You've started on the only right way to buy skis. Demo brands, models, and sizes. Ask around to find a demo day where many skis will be available for you.

A $19 subscription to http://www.techsupportforskiers.com/ might be well worthwhile...I like his ski reviews a lot. Use his reviews plus comments here for a list of skis for you to demo.

Some ski shops are selling new skis on eBay for very good prices now. Check them out. In some cases, they'll offer various sizes at the eBay price if you telephone or email them.

post #3 of 23
I've become a Dynastar and Fischer nut, so you probably know where this is headed, but I'll say that all of the skis you've listed are great skis. I started skiing last year on a K2 5500 and found it to be a great learning ski. Smooth and easy, but I think you're beyond that ski.

I just recently purchased both the Dynastar SkiCross 10 and the Fischer RX8. Both fantastic skis and I don't think anyone would not love the pop that these skis give you coming out of turns, or the stability they provide. Neither strike me as over demanding.

The SkiCross 9 and Rx6 are also great skis, less stiff and also a little less demanding, but also very lively. Also, Cupolo's (ebay) has the SC 9 in a package deal with bindings for $399 which is a great deal.

Be careful when comparing previous year's SC 10 to this years. Different skis entirely in terms of dimensions and tail shape. Previous years models are also known to be much more demanding. Not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, but they are different.

In summary, sense forgiveness is one of your requirements, I would recommend either the RX 6 or SC 9, or the slightly more demanding RX 8 or SC 10. I think you would love any of these skis. Hope this helps.
post #4 of 23
Cross off the Fischer Worldcup SC. Much too demanding for an intermediate, no matter whether he/she is improving. Refined modern technique is a prerequisite for these skis.

K2 Axis XR is more likely to be intermediate-friendly. So is the Fischer RX6 or RX4.
post #5 of 23
The 5 star and Ski Cross (and other skis like them) are more versatile than the C9. The C9's seem to really only like groomers, the others open up whole other areas of the mountain to you.
post #6 of 23
Head Super Railflex iC160. End of story.
post #7 of 23
Just this season I switched from the Atomic 9.18 (older C9) to the Fischer Rx8 with Railflex binding. All I can say is I have never had so much confidence and fun in my 5 years of skiing. I too consider myself an advanced intermediate. The Rx8 are so predictable I am going down steeper and bumpier runs that in past years I would go around.

I started out looking at the Rx6, but because of my weight (240) and height (6') I was recommended the Rx8. Depending on your spec's the I am sure one of the two would be a great fit.

A good guy to recah out to on the forum is RustyGuy. He is a rep for Fischer but will play you straight all the way around. He helped me immensely and everything he said was spot on.

Good luck.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the helpful replies! Hmmmm.....you've got me thinking that perhaps I should be looking more at these:

Volkl 4 Star (from reviews, it sounds more forgiving than the 5 Star)
Head Cyber iC 160 with railflex
Fischer RX6 (more forgiving than the RX8, given my weight)

How do those choices sound? Would any of those be better than others for my needs?

(btw, I have been in touch with Rusty on the Fischers -- thanks for the tip!)
post #9 of 23
I own the 2004 Volkl Supersport 4 Star in 168 cm and the Fisher WC SC in 155. The WC SC is every bit as easy to ski as the Volkl and I love them both. The 4 Star for cruising and the WC for FUN FUN FUN.

I find this new "crossunder" technique to be much like skiing in bottomless powder. Quite easy to learn. I think the key to both these skis for me is a totally neutral stance with just a tad of pressure on the ball of my foot.

I am 5' 10" 170 pounds and a few years past middle age LOL.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

If you had only one ski, which would you choose of those two?


Edit: Perhaps I should clarify. If you had only one pair of skis.....

[ February 05, 2004, 06:22 AM: Message edited by: bostoneel ]
post #11 of 23
I sent you a PM but I'll chime in on your last question to LT. At this point in your learning curve, I would stay away from the WC SC. It is a fantastic ski BUT for someone still learning to Carve, this would not be a good ski to learn on. This is a ski that you want to lay over and let them rip. They are fast and stable and require some very good carving skills. They will not allow you to make many mistakes or you will end up on your but. The 4 star is a lot more forgiving and I think considered a more all mountain ski. It's softer allowing for some good bump learning and is wide enogh to handle boot high powder. They are very easy to initate turns EVEN at very slow speeds. Once you get the hang of it you will love the feeling of leaving railroad type tracks behind you. Just my opinion.
post #12 of 23
My wife, 6" 175 , tried the Volkl 4 star, and found the tips way too soft. Unfortunately, she did not try the Dynastar SC9. She ended up buying the Dynastar Omecarve 10. I skied that too, and it is a very fun ski. She is just learning to carve and it's working great for her. You may consider it, but it's more expensve.

Since you're looking for a 1 quiver ski on a budget I'd pick the Dynastar SC9. I did try it, but only on hardpacked groomers. It's a pretty fast ski, and though it has a fairly strong tail, it should not buck you off. It's softer shovel is courtesy of the autodrive which really works - which makes for easy turn initiation. Goes through skied out piles of chop without deflecting. Good stable ski.

The Skicross 66 is far stiffer. Faster and I think way less forgiving. I've not tried it, but heard that it's so stiff it ski's better at longer lengths. However, I do own it's brother, the Speed Carve 63, and if the 66 is anything like the speed carve that is a very believable thing. I would not suggest it to you.

You may also want to put the Elan S-8 on your short list. Very easy to ski.
post #13 of 23
I'd stay away from both the RX 4 and the 4 star, both are way to soft. The WC SC may be a little too demanding, but the upside of this is it insists on good technique as Gonzo has stated. I skied both the 5 and 6 stars before I purchased my RX 8's. Good skis, but I felt like I had to work harder to get the same performance I get from the RX 8's.

There are so many great skis that you can drive yourself nuts hunting for the perfect ski. If I was you, I'd demo the RX 6 and the SC 9 and pick one. I'd give the RX 6 the edge on Eastern hardpack, but give the SC 9 the edge in versatility.

Or...better yet, you could use the method I used for deciding between the RX 8 and the SC 10. I like them both...so I bought both.
post #14 of 23
Atomic C9 in a 170cm
Head C160 170cm. appprox, odd sizing
Atomic R9 170cm if you want a mid-fat type ski
Salomon Crossmax 8 165cm or 175cm
Salomon Scream 8 165 or 175cm
post #15 of 23
Something that isn't often considered is a skis resale value. If you plan on changing skis next season, or even two years from now, certain brands/skis hold their value a lot better than others. The Volkl 5 stars from last year still sell for a lot on ebay. The Atomic C line and the Dynastars don't have very good resale at all. Fischer makes good skis, but the public doesn't know it yet - resale will be lousy. The Volkl 5 and 6 stars are the cool ski to have right now. Opposite side to this argument is that you'll likely find the 5 stars to be the most expensive with few deals to be had.

As far as performance goes, I think you couldn't go wrong with the Volkl 5 stars. Its a great high performance ski that is still fairly forgiving. If you want more forgiving than a 5 star, you need to start looking at stuff like the K2 5500 and Axis X or Dynastar Intuitiv 71's. They won't have near the performance of the 5 stars.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 

What do you think about the 4 stars?
post #17 of 23
Forgive me in advance for how long this reply became, a testament to why I don't post much. You want a forgiving ski that will help you learn, but with a lot of headroom so you don't learn yourself right out of their league for years to come, if ever. You want them for New England skiing implying icey conditions.

Be careful though about the emphasis on edge grip. A lot of what constitutes edge grip is technique that must be learned. Skis like Volkl, that outshine their competitors when it comes to edge grip, may present a steeper learning curve for the accompanying technique because of their stiffness. They may feel grippier, but if you demo them back to back with skis rated merely above average, on the same slick hardpack, I'll bet you find they both wash out on you at the same centrifugal force. More importantly, you may find them reluctant to turn in tight spaces, or to go slower than very fast.

What you also want is a huge smile on your face every time you ski on them, and I'm guessing you haven't found that yet or your search would already be over. The smile will be because you can feel yourself getting better, learning from the skis, on all kinds of terrain. If the terrain is nothing but ice after a thaw-freeze cycle you won't smile much no matter what you're on.

Take Cannon on Wednesday, hardpack with 5" of new snow. The high traffic groomers were hardpack and ice with generous patches dusted with loose snow, i.e. average New England conditions. The less travelled windswept groomers like Vista Way had generous patches of loose snow up to your boot tops, requiring you to be able to turn within the deeper snow and to transition in and out of it. Taft Slalom and Upper Hardscrabble had small piles of loose snow that required the beginnings of bump technique. And Middle Hardscrabble had loose, deep, cut up snow wall to wall (except for the part where the rocks always show , requiring crud skiing technique. Quite unlike a typical day out West.

You want skis that will make you smile as you rapidly improve in handling all of these conditions, perhaps on the same day. None of these conditions are inherently frustrating unless your skis are inappropriate for them. The ice wasn't prevalent, the loose snow wasn't up to your knees, etc. So with the right skis and a minimum of technique, out comes the smile!

Ok, here's my pitch. Demo the Rossi B1 in 170 cm and see if this isn't heading in the right direction. If it is, find a pair of last year's Rossi Bandit X 170 cm and buy them. For this year they changed the shape of the tip and tail, dampened them, and basically turned them into intermediate only skis. The B1 was to replace them, but they are noticably softer and lack some of the powerful, zippy feel that makes high end Rossis such crowd pleasers. Like Toyota says, ask someone who has them. I have heard nothing but gushing positives out of the several very good skiers I know who own them. It's impossible to find insightful reviews on them unfortunately. Everyone talks about the Bandit XX and B2, which are great as long as it snows a lot.

Last year's Bandit X is a great all around New England ski. Totally acceptable edge grip unless there's nothing but steep ice, very quick edge to edge, great in short turns, great in long turns or no turns at all, will never suck you into a turn or refuse to let you out of one, great in bumps, great in trees, very easy to handle in transitions in and out of deeper snow without forcing a major adjustment out of you, very stable at speed on either smooth or uneven surfaces, has that lively Rossi style of power that lets you really jump on them and ski them very aggressively, and on the other hand feels wonderful just cruising along without worrying about suddenly finding yourself going splat because you let your guard down.

Somebody here (rvwink?) mentioned that people who like Volkls typically don't like Rossis and vice versa. I agree, and it's obvious where I stand. You, and anyone like you who reads this, should give Bandit X a try, and see where you stand. It will narrow your choices (and perhaps widen your smile) a lot.

Just to put this all in perspective, I'm an advanced mostly level 8 skier, everything but chutes, speed in the woods, and hard bumps, 6', 200 lb. I bought last year's Bandit X 177 cm new on super sale in Dec without even a demo based on cudos from my friends. Wednesday at Cannon I rented the Atomic R11 170 cm and switched back and forth several times, comparing them turn for turn in exactly the same spots. The Atomics felt grippier, but when push came to shove they washed out at exactly the same stress level as the Bandits. They also had comparable stability at speed. But much more importantly, the Atomics were far less maneuverable and far less forgiving, so they sacrificed important capabilities without providing comparables in return. The Atomics were powerful, capable, but restrictive in a stern, muscular way. The Bandits were almost as powerful, for me more capable, and certainly less restrictive for New England skiing in a vibrant, snappy way.
post #18 of 23
Originally posted by Matter:
[QB]Something that isn't often considered is a skis resale value. If you plan on changing skis next season, or even two years from now, certain brands/skis hold their value a lot better than others. The Volkl 5 stars from last year still sell for a lot on ebay. The Atomic C line and the Dynastars don't have very good resale at all. Fischer makes good skis, but the public doesn't know it yet - resale will be lousy. The Volkl 5 and 6 stars are the cool ski to have right now. Opposite side to this argument is that you'll likely find the 5 stars to be the most expensive with few deals to be had.
Heck, I'm a CPA, if we're giving financial advice you came to the right place. Skip the 5 stars a put the approx. $800 towards a high yield, tax free municipal bond and you're all set. You'll have all of your initial investment, make a little more, and get a tax break to boot.

In all seriousness, I agree about the resale of the 5 star but the bottom line is you'll get back about 2/3's of what you overpaid to start with. They're all great skis and we've given you lots of opinions, demo and pick the one YOU like the best. I wouldn't sweat the price or buy something that's not your top pick just because it's a good deal. Like I keep telling the wife, it's only a good deal if you still want it when you get it home.
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for all the great information and advice. In direct contradiction to Coach's advice (doh!), I bought a pair of Head Cyber iC 160s today b/c I had heard such good things about them and they were a good deal at a sale at a local ski shop. I haven't been able to find a place to demo them, but if I don't like them I guess I can always put them on ebay .
post #20 of 23
Very, very insightful post from X-Mountain Man!

Sir, you have hit the nail on the head. In fact, you may have convinced me NOT to sell my Rossi Bandit X's. The only time I definitely find them lacking is in difficult snow such as crud or wind slab - and at that point, skis like the Bandit XX or other mid-fats save the day.

Being a mid-fatter at heart, I'd rather ski conditions where they shine. When they don't, the X is a very friendly ski with great grip.

Having returned just recently from EpicSki Gathering IV at Jackson Hole with a side trip to Grand Targhee, I am definitely torn between two lovers - east and west. If I were in the west always, I would not consider the X - but in the east, their utility and fun cannot be gainsaid.
post #21 of 23
So now it'll be the Updated Oboe Collection (UOC) rather than the " New... ". :
The "X" certainly is a versatile ski. Have you tried Fischer's BigStx 7.6 as an alternative to the "XX"?
Do we have enough new skis to try as of 2/8 : :

[ February 08, 2004, 11:54 AM: Message edited by: HaveSkisWillClimb ]
post #22 of 23
Alright, HaveSkis, here's the scoop:

I MAY keep the Bandit X (w/ Rossi Pivot Bindings), but I'm also willing to sell it and try something else.

Also for sale:

Bandit XX in 170 cm w/Rossi pivot bindings

Head iM 70 Monster in 170 cm w/Tyrolia Super Railflex bindings

Rossi (original) T-Power in 160 cm w/ Rossi pivot bindings

Rossi Jr Race boots 25.5 w/ZipFit heat reformable liners

e-mail: bg@vtlink.net

As my posts on this website may amply demonstrate, I'm a lousy skier but an active gear whore - I just like to try new stuff.
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Too bad I didn't know about Oboe's inventory before I bought my skis!
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