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Powder ski rec for a relative lightweight

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
You guys steered me in the right direction last year and I picked up a pair of 165cm Fischer RX8s. Great skis! Now, I'm hoping you guys will be able to point me in the right direction for a powder ski to replace my 12 year old 175cm Salomon X-Mountains. These are the only skis I own.

43 years old
5' 10"
155-160 lbs (recently dropped 15 lbs, and I'm at my fighting weight now)
Skier lever: 8-9
Ski mostly Tahoe and weekly trips to other big western mountains

I love powder skiing and try to plan trips to maximize chances of new snow. I like the X-Mountains. Nice and soft, even flex, good performance in powder. But they are not wide by today's standards.
I'm sure today's skis would make powder skiing even more fun!

On the finesse/power scale, I would put myself slightly toward the finesse. I have difficulty turning big, beefy skis. I demoed a pair of Volkl mid-fats a couple years ago (sorry, I forget the model), and didn't like it. Too heavy and too stiff. On the other hand, the ski should be substantial enough to handle the thick powder and crud that Tahoe is known for.

So what skis should I plan to demo this year? Volkl Karma, Mantra, Head 88, Atomic Sugar Daddy, Rossi B4, Dynastar 8800 are some names I'm familiar with. Are there others? Can you guys narrow it down for me?

Finally, what would be the right length for me for this type of ski? 175-180? 180-185?

post #2 of 19
I'm 5'11' and 185.

I own both the Karma and Mantra in a 177.

For a powder ski, I would lean more toward the Mantra. I used that on trips to Alta, Brighton, Solitude, Breckinridge, Keystone, and Jackson Hole last year and skied it quite a bit in the spring/summer both at Tahoe and Mammoth. I like it fine. I only ended up skiing my Karmas on hardpack and very, very, very light post storm powder days (when the snow only came up to your ankle). I consider this much more of a frontside ski than the Mantra.

If you didn't cotton to the other Volkls you tried, however, it might not be your cup of tea. To this end I would suggest demoing the Rossi B3. I skied it on a light powder day at Alpine and loved it. Nimble, responsive ski. I would recommend you demo it.

As for the iM88? I skied that also at a mild storm day at Alpine. HATED IT. I found it a bear to get on top of and steer. I'm 30 pounds heavier than you and I felt like I needed to be at least 210 to work it. When I told this to the Head dealer here in the Bay Area he chuckled (he's considerably bigger than me, too) and said that he wasn't suprised in the least. He then suggested that I should have tried the iM77. So, I would steer clear of the iM88, given your weight.

Two other suggestions:

AK King Salmon: http://www.akski-usa.com/products.html
The waist on this ski is a 94 (same as the Mantra).
I personally haven't skied it, but I own their All Mountain model the No Ka Oi and like it fine. The ski is only available for demo at Kirkwood. However, AK is pretty good about customer relations. For example, last season I emailed them about their skis and they set me up with free demos. The fact that Kirkwood is a solid mountain and you might be able to demo the ski for free is worth contacting them/considering the ski.

PM Gear Bro: http://www.pmgear.com/
They make a 179 length model that is 99mm underfoot.
Again, I haven't personally skied it (hope to this season), but pretty much every one who has, seems to fall in love with them. They have a HUGE following on the TGR forums and several posters here (Alpinedad, chief amongst them) will swear by these skis. Tyrone Shoelaces, who works for PM, posts here occassionally, and is only too happy to answer any questions about the skis. I am actually leaning toward picking up a pair of the 179 soft models. Hopefully somebody who owns a pair will chime in and give you a testimonial.

Both of these are worth checking out in my opinon. Toss in the Mantra and B3 and you've got a decent grouping to pick from.
post #3 of 19
Normally, I'd suggest that you go right for a fairly soft ski like a Salomon 1080 Gun or a Mid-Flex like an 8800 or Sugar Daddy. However, since you have the chance to demo I'd choose one from each category to demo. Here a few of many.

Soft/Easy.....1080 gun, Armada ARV
Mid....Dynastar 8800 or Big Trouble, K2 Seth, Atomic SD, 4FRNT VCT
Stiff....Volkl Mantra, Head iM88

I probably wouldn't agonize too much over demoing everything out there. Folks worry a lot about powder skis when generally, anything within a given flex and width parameter will have reasonably similar characteristics.

In other words, they all work well.......

post #4 of 19
Jim is much more knowledgeable about skis than I am, but I am intrigued by his groupings.

I found the Mantra far more manageable (and less stiff) than the iM88, which was a great deal too rigid for my taste.

Similarly, I own a pair of Armada AR5's and found them to be really noodly (so much so that I am trying to unload them). I never tried their ARV series, though, so they might be different.

Jim's shop is on the way to Tahoe and is pretty convenient in terms of on/off access from 80. I'm not sure what he has available for demo, but worth checking out.

Really, at the end of the day, it's all gonna be about what feels good to you, so demo a few different suggestions if you can.

post #5 of 19
If you get a chance, try the Fischer Atua. I would consider it a midflex ski. I demoed it and I wanted to take it with me for keeps. My stats 5' 9.5", 146 lbs.

If anyone knows of one available for a great price, please let me know.
post #6 of 19
Don't underestimate the Solomans. A lot of people disparage them here, but a lot of people here ski heavy Northwest snow. I skied 175 Pocket Rockets in Utah for years and loved them. I'm about your weight and ski half assed well. They were a Powder ski, of course, and not a GS race ski. If you want something that does that too, try the Head Monster 88 or Dynastar Legend Pro, which comes in a 176 this year. But from your post, I don't think that's what you want. I'm skiing the Volkl Mantra(177) for powder this year because it's- drum roll- quick and light as a Soloman but stable as a Volkl...
Sollie has The Sandstorm, Fury (wood core) and Gun Lab that are all stiffer than the venerable Blue Noodle and have been reviewed by the press as quick, light and very forgiving. I haven't skiied them personally, but they sound like signiture Soloman- think turn and they go. They'll blow away the X-mountain (all of the new pow boards will) which was quick and precise in it's day, but IMHO, boring because of the lifeless foam core. The Sollie Spaceframe design goes a long way toward making the foam cores feel snappy- again, in my opinion. Worth a demo, for sure.
In the meantime, I ordered a pair of Soft Bros in 179 for hiking our back bowls and stuff. Judging by what people like MTT have said, they will rock. But we'll see when they get here...
post #7 of 19
Mr Crab:

I am going to jack this phrase from you to describe how I ski from now on: "and ski half assed well." That pretty much sums up my ability to a "T".

I, too, rock the Mantras, and have found them to be suprisingly nimble.

I will be interested to hear how you like the 179 soft Bros. I'm interested in snagging a pair for myself, but am on the fence. All the accolades I've read on these forums and TGR are enticing, but I do like to try before I buy. Keep us posted on your thoughts after they arrive.
post #8 of 19
I'm pacing a hole in the floor, I hear they ship at the end of the month! Meantime, we got dust on the mountaintops here and it gets colder and nastier every storm.
post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
I found the Mantra far more manageable (and less stiff) than the iM88, which was a great deal too rigid for my taste.
I agree about the 88 vs. the Mantra, but I feel the Mantra is too stiff to go in with the mid-flexes. Mebbe I should oughta call it a softer stiffie or something.....:

I just invent these terms and groupings anyway 'cuz I have to have some way or other of narrowing choices between the 70 or so models of unsex skis and 30 models of women's that I carry.

post #10 of 19
I hear ya Jim!

I actually have a hard time determining flex unless they're really stiff or really noodly.

For example, I don't detect much flex difference between my Karma and my Titan 8. The Mantra seems a touch softer than both. Then my AK is pretty stiff. So actually, perhaps I can detect slight flex difference...

I'm all for the new categories for describing flex, though (but then I'm a writer, so I'm always gung-ho for new descriptions of things!)
post #11 of 19
Jim; Thanks for your sage input- we're comparing apples to apples most of the time. It comes down to ski personality and user preference. Both are pretty firm, I found the Mantra to be more cheerful in short turns than the 88, which is bomber in big turns and on hard snow. Both excel in powder...
It will be interesting to see how the Sollies perform this year- I didn't really consider them because of the wierd lengths offered.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the input!

You guys are awesome. Thanks in particular for the groupings Jim. That's exactly the kind of info I was looking for so I know where to start. I don't want anything noodley, but I'll try a couple from the mid-flex and I have to try the Mantras, given how much everyone loves them. I now recall the Volkl mid-fats were the 724 EXPs. (does that sound right? they were from 2-3 years ago and mostly black with some vertical stripes).

Mr. Crab, thanks for confirming my thoughts on the X-Mountains and how they compare with the new pow boards available.

I'm really looking forward to this season and trying some fatties!
post #13 of 19
It seems that there ar a few Mantra lovers in this thread and I have a question for you guys.
I am about the same size and weight than dookey67 (5'10" and 185 lbs).
I am wondering if the Mantra he uses in 177 provide enough float and stability?
I was ready to pull the trigger on a pair of Mantras in 184, but as I am more inetersted by steep terrain and trees than speeding in open fields, I was wondering if the 177 might be a better choice than the 184?
If stability is not an issue, I guess it would flex and turn more easily in 177 as well.
(I am skiing on K2 Axis XT and Elan 666 in 176 for the front side).
post #14 of 19
I'm also light (165), have found that Fischers are a nice blend of lightness and moderate-stiff flex. Since you like the RX8, you might look at the Atua, for instance. The Mantra is also surprisingly easy to handle, but absolutely crushes crud and chop. I ski it in 177, have no problems with float, tradeoff is a bit of deflection at speed in chop. I've hear good stuff about Snoop and Sugar Daddy's, which also fit the bill.

I owned the old PR, found it light and remarkably easy to move around, but lacking the stiffness for handling groomed or chop on the way to and from the powder. OTOH, the new 1080 Guns are supposed to be a bit stiffer, so they may be worth a demo in 174.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks beyond

Yup. I think I am honed in ~175cm length. I hope to try out some combination of Mantra, Snoop Daddy, 1080 Gun, Atua, Mojo 90 and Dynastar 8800.
post #16 of 19
Originally Posted by dookey67 View Post
PM Gear Bro: http://www.pmgear.com/
They make a 179 length model that is 99mm underfoot.
Again, I haven't personally skied it (hope to this season), but pretty much every one who has, seems to fall in love with them. They have a HUGE following on the TGR forums and several posters here (Alpinedad, chief amongst them) will swear by these skis.
I dunno that I'm chief, but the 188s were my one-ski Sierra quiver for all but the firmest days last season, on which I broke out my 200 GS boards.

I have not skied the 179s.

A budget and shorter option would be the 163 Atomic Teledaddies (same ski as the Helidaddy, different topsheet, 121/99/113) at Sierra Trading Post for $299 before whatever coupons or other discounts you can scare up. Not quite the deal they were earlier this summer, when they were $200 less a 15% coupon discount, but still quite good.
post #17 of 19
How about the K2 Apache Chief? That's one on my list to demo.
post #18 of 19
Haven't skied it, but the Chief is supposed to be a good ski. I believe it is considerably heavier than the Bro, and probably heavier than the Teledaddy as well. If I understand correctly, though, the Chief and Seth are fairly similar skis, except that the Seth has a twin, has sidewalls rather than caps, and IMHO has better graphics.
post #19 of 19
The Chief and the Seth are pretty different. The Seth does not use the Mod dampening layer which adds quite a bit of weight to the Chief. The Seth uses a progressive sidecut (like the outlaw) wheras the Chief is a conventional sidecut. The result is that the Seth has a much lighter and more nimble feel than the Chief.

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