Conditions: Early Season, Dust on Crust, Ice, Some Soft Snow
Ski: 2006 Dynamic VR-17
Stats: 165 cm 119-65-103 r 11m
Binding: 2007 Neox 6:14
Boots: Lange Comp 120
Skier: 6'3" 225 lbs. aggressive
Price: $ 377 at Garts with binders included (retail $ 900)
General Impressions: This is supposedly atomic's slighty detuned version of the sl:11 with less metal in the power channels, but still FIS legal. It has sort of beta lobes in the front but not in the back, but the tails are still stiffer than the tips. It's supposed to be, and is, a recreational slalom ski. Other similar skis that I have demoed included the atomic SL:11 and the Fischer Worldcup SL, both not race stock. I was generally pretty happy with the VR-17's, but at higher speeds in sloppier conditions I had the sense that I was perhaps sometimes overpowering them.
Hard Pack: 10 out of 10. Very quick edge to edge but maybe not quite as quick or powerful as the Fischers or Atomics. I was skiing with ssh on his metron b:5's and had the definite sense that when I was working a balanced stance the VR-17's were "turnier" than the b:5's despite having roughly the same sidecut. Excellent short turn performance without too much kick/snap on the return.
Bumps: 10 out of 10. Took these a few runs through the bumps and was thoroughly satisified with the performance. Very easy for short turns, tips seemed somewhat softer than the comparable Fischers and Atomics, definitely less work. Once I get them completely dialed in I think they will work very well here.
Crud and Softer: 8 out of 10. Here is where some of my concerns start to show up with the softer tips. At higher speeds (30 mph plus) it seemed like the tips were getting knocked around. Nothing serious, and they would definitely go fast. But no where near as stable as my Atomic GS:11's, it was more work getting them to stay in track. There is a definite upper end to these things at my weight and ability in these conditions.
Powder: Did not have huge powder on the days tested, but on one day we had 2-3" which were not a problem. I think given the shape and the slightly softer nose that they would be ok in anything up to 5-6". After that, I would definitely want something fatter underfoot.
Pipe and Park: Not rated for obvious reasons.
Work Factor: 9 out of 10. These carved really well and were yet were somewhat forgiving when it came to staying on top. Definitely less of a ski you need to stay on top of compared to the Fischers and Atomics but still very quick edge to edge.
Cool Factor: 9 out of 10. Got lots of comments on the lifts, so these definitely qualify for the cool factor. Not surprisingly, many were fans of the old VR-17's of lore with the VCE. Surprisingly, many were younger commenters with no knowledge of aforesaid race history, who tended to like the shape and/or graphics. I was somewhat surprised by the number of comments.
Overall: 9 out of 10. I really liked these skis, they performed just about the way I expected. I need to get them out again on better groomed slopes for some high speed runs before I can complete the rating. But they were definitely not as stable as ssh's metrons in the crud and softer snow at high speeds. Of course the metrons are a lot heavier with lots of metal layers, so maybe this is not surprising. I was looking at these potentially as a bargain pair of Atomics that were slightly more forgiving for free skiing short turns, but unless I can convince myself on the stability at speed I may be turning them over to my daughter and going for the real thing. If I were 30lbs lighter and 3 inches shorter these could be the perfect short carver.