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2007 Hard Snow/70mm ski reviews

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
2007 Hard Snow/All Mountain Carver Ski Review

Skis reviewed:

Volkl Allstar
Nordica Mach 3
Nordica Mach 3 Power
Head iXRC 1200
Head iSupershape
Head iSupershape Speed
Fischer RX8
K2 Apache Crossfire
Elan Speedwave 12
Elan Speedwave 14
Elan RIPStick


2007 Skis reviewed last spring that I will mention and draw comparisons with:
Dynastar Contact 11
Rossignol Zenith Z9
Rossignol Mutix
Blizzard GSR IQ (no longer available)

Over the past week, I have been using the local early season/hard snow conditions to test out as many all mountain carver and detuned race skis as possible. I haven’t had time to test out every ski on my list (no Salomons or Atomics have been available to me yet) but I have been on a fairly comprehensive list of skis. I skied several of these models the past spring and was able to get a quick feel for them, but the past week has allowed myself to spend more time on each model and test the skis more thoroughly than was possible last spring.

About me:
5 foot 9, 150lbs
Ski 40-60 days/year
Fitness: currently moderate (I am a Cat3 road racer, upgrading to 2 next season, so I have base fitness in my legs from riding 250-400 miles per week in the summer)
Ski skill level: 8
Terrain preferred: most everything
Tuning: these skis were either perfectly tuned by the regional rep (at the industry demo) or I tuned them before skiing them. They all have a factory base bevel of 1 degree, while side bevels range from 1-3 degrees. All skis were flat, with good wax and a winter structure. Most of these were skied out of the wrapper, with a mini-tune to make sure the base bevel was on and side bevel was sharp, and with a coat of all-temp wax added (the same procedure we use when we sell a pair of skis). Nothing out of the wrapper required a grind and re-tune, but all required a touch up and wax.
Testing method: Skis skied over the past couple of weeks, 3-4 runs each, on similar terrain. 1 warm-up, slow speed run, one fast, steeper groomer run on hard snow, one run on a variable-snow steep blue. If tested last spring, it was tested in heavy, new snow (crud and groomers) at Snowbasin, then re-tested on hard cordouroy and icy bumps a few weeks later. I wasn’t able to ski every single ski out there, but did my best to get a real feel for these 15 skis.

Feel free to disagree with my ratings. If you have 50 FIS points and are 220lbs, don’t expect to agree with my rankings. Likewise, if you are out of shape, ski 4 times/year, and are currently skiing on Rossi 4s skis, don’t expect to agree with me. Ski testing is quite subjective-that is what makes it fun! If you have any questions about my impressions or want to pick my brain some more, feel free to call me at the shop at 541-593-2453.

Ski Reviews

(in order of skis tested)

Head iSupershape 170cm
Ski description: versatile design from Head, for the frontside skier who wants performance and versatility, and something more than a standard detuned race ski.

Review: I finally got a chance to get on the 170cm iSupershape. I have been on the 165cm and 160cm, and while I always liked those skis, I found them to be more in the hard-snow carver genre. The 160cm was really soft and lacking power, the 165cm was a turning machine but unstable at higher speeds in larger arcs. Great ski for a small hill, but wouldn’t be my choice for our larger 1500 vertical foot runs, unless I was up there just to crank out SL turns (I have race slaloms (Elan SLX) for that). Neither were as stiff laterally as a race ski.

The 170cm was different-it had the versatility that the others lacked. And, that is versatile with a capital V. For a narrow-waisted ski, it really ripped on and off piste in moderately-deep (6”) of crud, was quick enough for bumps, and could do long GS arcs or shorter SL turns with equal ease. Whereas the 165cm would get deflected in tough conditions, the 170cm stayed true and tracked much better. Ski energy was somewhere between an SL and GS: perfect for frontside freesking, IMO. Stability was really high: not as good as the iXRC 1200 or RIPstick, but excellent for such a mid-weight ski that likes to turn. Snow feel was a bit more damp than some, which resulted in a sense of ease, but with a bit of pop at the finish. It is a confidence-inspiring ski at nearly any speed and in any condition. It reminded me a ton of my old Head Cyber World Cups in 175cm from 2002: that was a great ski, with a high speed limit that was extremely forgiving.

If I had to nitpick, I would say that power and aggressiveness doesn’t match that of a race-stock ski, but then again, neither does forgiveness, which makes it a perfect all-day ski. My experience has been that a more powerful ski is generally a less forgiving one, and there really aren’t large exceptions to this rule that I am aware of.

Elan Speedwave 14 168cm
Ski description: a frontside carver with 2 sheets of metal and the brand new Speedwave technology. It supposedly allows the ski to be stiffer laterally without increasing the longitudional flex. Ski it shorter for a SL feel, longer for a bigger, GS type ski.

Review: As this ski features 2 sheets of metal, I expected it to be similar in feel to my Mag12/666’s, and the S12 that I skied a few years ago. Instead, I got a powerhouse of a ski that was as close to a Ferrari as any ski in the test. This thing was full speed ahead, the whole time. Tons of rebound, incredible edge hold, very powerful in the top of the turn. The ski still had the trademark Elan smoothness, and quiet feel, but rebound was as good as the SLX. To me, this felt like an SLX in consumer clothing. The ski sucked me into the turn and exploded me out, almost like I was riding a bucking bronco. I was on some choppy terrain (death cookies) and there was little forgiveness-edge the ski and it will turn, make a mistake and it will react. Smooth, more powerful than any other ski tested, incredible edge hold, yet not much time to relax. When I skied it last spring, I was more fit from a skiing standpoint, and I found it a bit more forgiving, but definitely not a ski to make mistakes on.

I loved it, but even I thought it was on the high side of performance, meaning that you had better come prepared to ski it, at least if you weigh 150lbs like I do. One could relax a bit on this ski if the terrain was smooth (early-morning corudoroy) but later in the day, things may get challenging if you aren’t ready! It is a solid step above the Mag 12 and S12 in terms of performance and ability required to ski it. This ski fits squarely at the top of the performance heap! My brother, who is a low level , got pushed around on the SW 14, but loved the 12 last spring.

From what I gathered about this ski and the Speedwave 12, Elan has been able to produce an extremely stiff ski laterally that can be flexed by people that don’t weigh 220lbs. Even though this was right up there with any race ski in terms of lateral stiffness, I had no trouble de-cambering it and generating rebound, which isn’t the case with many beefy skis such as this. Other laterally stiff skis such as the Mach 3 from Nordica and Head iGS RD I just can’t flex and get much out of.

Elan Speedwave 12 168cm:
Similar ski to the SW 14, but with 1 sheet of metal.

Review: Overall, similar to the SW 14 above. Stability was almost as good, energy was just as good, edgehold on ice was very good as well when compared to the SW 14. Still fairly damp with a lot of energy in the tail-it wants to turn, and it wants to be skied well with a modern stance. I have been working on my technique, and when I clean up mistakes, these skis immediately reward me. The 12 would run flat easier, and was much more relaxing than the 14. The big thing for me was the ease in which this ski did everything that I asked, but didn’t pull me along whether I wanted to go or not. 90% of the performance while 40% less demanding than the 14.. Also, this model was much more versatile. I could carve icy bumps and ski through some hard, cruddy snow without complaints. It still had a slalom character to it, so if you are looking for more of a GS feel, this isn’t it. But, if you want a slalom carver with energy that can be relaxed on, this could be your ski. It stood out in this test.

Elan RIPStick 170cm
Billed as a do-it-all frontside ripper. Based very closely on the superb GSX Fusion Pro cheater GS, same dimensions, but with one layer of titanium and a bit different feel

Review: I hadn't been on the RIPStick since middle of last winter. Once I got my GSX 182cm's mounted up, I had been skiing them almost exclusively on hard snow days. So, it was nice to get out and refresh my memory with them again.

The RIPStick is a mid-weight ski in the traditional Elan mold. It is quite smooth but packs a punch. I would say that they feel more like a finesse ski than a power ski (if you ski Volkl, you know what I am talking about). You can ski it with a very light touch, and the ski will be very reactive. It doesn't need brute force to be skied. I can float along during the transition and then tip/relax my inside leg and get the ski up onto edge with angulation with ease. The ski almost seems to "slow it down" for me: I can really set up properly for the next turn without being hurried or bullied. Then, once I am ready, I can get the skis up onto edge and do what I want them to do. The ski doesn't have a mind of it's own.

Stability-wise, I would rate this ahead of the all-mountain slalom-based carvers, but below the big GS skis like the i-Supershape Speed, iXRC 1200, and Mach 3 Power. It is nearly as stable as those mentioned above, but loses a little bit in straight runs or at extreme speed. Fine up on edge though, and not deflected in the least. It is more lively than a typical GS, smoother and more relaxing than a typical slalom, and has a unique feel, in that it is fairly damp yet has ample energy in the tail.. It is just a great frontside ski. It wasn't that bad in crud, as the moderate flex didn't dive like stiffer skis, but not for bumps. One nice thing about the RIPStick is that you can have a 1-ski quiver in 170cm, use 178cm for high-speed cruising and cheater GS, and go 164cm for a snappy, yet not overly-slalom like ride. Forgiveness wasn't bad, although I wouldn't want to camp out on the tail for too long.

Fischer RX8 165cm
Same ski as in 2006: foam core with carbon stringer. Designed as an all-mountain, versatile frontside carver that can do it all.

I have skied this several times, so I knew what to expect. Fischer has a great ski here. It is fairly light underfoot, and has the snappy feel of a slalom. But, the skier can relax and motor at speed in GS arcs if they so choose. The ski isn’t demanding whatsoever. Stability is solid, although not that of some of the beefier skis tested here. Then again, those skis don’t have the forgiveness of the RX8.

The RX8 is pefect for the skier who isn’t skiing full-on all day long, but wants a performance ski that can be relaxed on from time to time. Even high intermediates can enjoy it, all the way up to the less-aggressive expert. It was solid in bumps, with a fairly lively yet controlled feel on the groomers. It likes to change edge if you ask it to, but isn’t always hooking up, trying to turn. Great in moderate crud, it’s forgiving nature allows it be skied in most conditions. It does have a speed limit , but it won’t be found by most level 7 skiers. A racer or hard-charging expert may want more ski (and those skis are available). It can be skied slow or fast, and would be a great teaching ski.

The RX8 is suitable for a wide range of skiers, and for that reason, it is one of the most recommended skis on Epic.

Volkl Allstar 168cm
Billed as the everyman’s ski for frontside use, this is a versatile, do-everything machine with the classic Volkl feel.

Review: I found the Allstar to be a very pleasing ski, versatile and forgiving. It was smooth, somewhat damp, yet powerful in the Volkl/Elan tradition (for those of you who have read my reviews in the past, you may know that I consider Volkl and Elan to be very similar in feel and performance). It is a step down from the old Superspeed, which was too beefy for many of Volkl’s customers. The Allstar was comfortable at fairly high speeds, although I did find the speed limit to be close to that of the RX8, maybe a little higher. It was soft enough for crud and bumps, and one of the most versatile skis in the test. If I made a mistake, the ski would offer very little punishment Flex was medium: I could generate some power out of it if I wanted to. It had more of a cruiser, mid-weight GS feel for me, and wasn’t really a snappy power carver. It was very confidence-inspiring in the same way the RX8 was, but with a different overall feel.

I would peg this ski as a great choice for a technically skilled or improving skier that wants a ski capable of high performance, yet not punishing. It is a ski that can grow with the skier, and handle just about any conditions. Not the best choice for the racer or hard-charger: they may feel this ski is a bit too friendly for their needs. A friend of mine who manages the Volkl shop skis the Superspeed and Mantra: he feels that the Allstar, although a great ski for many people, doesn’t meet his needs as an expert who is on the hill 75 days/year. The Racetiger stuff would also be great for those folks.

Head iXRC 1200 (new for 2007)
This is Head’s “no speed limit” all mountain cruiser, at 69mm underfoot. It doesn’t replace the old iXRC 1200 (now the iSupershape Speed) but is aimed at a high-end recreational skier.

Review: Head is producing tons of high-end hard snow skis these days: the iSupershape and Supershape Speed, the new 1200, the 1400 Chip, the iSL Chip, the iSL, in addition the race stock stuff. I have skied the 2007 iXRC 1200 three times: once in soft snow last spring, for a few runs in courdoroy, and recently on hard snow in early-season conditions. My first impression is that this ski feels vintage Head: smooth, stable, fairly damp, powerful, and meant to be skied. I wouldn’t say that it isn’t forgiving: I felt that the iXRC was relaxing at speeds, maybe more than any other ski in the test. It doesn’t feel nervous whatsoever. It likes to run, but I could get it to function at most any speed. I did crank out some SL turns on it, and it handled the radius fine. This is a GS platform, so don’t expect a ton of rebound or energy though. But, it blasts through the crud without a hiccup. Not a bump ski: it is stiff with a lot of metal. It could be compared to a beefed-up Allstar: higher speed limit with a real GS feel, but without nimbleness in tight spaces.

Perfect for the skier who likes to blast groomers at top speeds, aren’t really interested in tight-space or slalom characteristics, and want a relaxing, top-level carver. This was a favorite of two other testers last spring as well.

Nordica Mach 3 (carbon) 170cm:

An interesting ski that is a little wider in the waist (72mm) but still biased for frontside use. It doesn’t seem to be marketed as such, but probably a great example of an all-mountain ski that can handle most anything (for some reason, all-mountain seems to have become synonomous with “wide”, whereas I would say a do-everything, jack-of-all-trades ski is probably between 70-80mm in width). This is the carbon, non-titanium version (Nordica does this throughout the line this season).

Review: I skied this in variable conditions last spring, and again had a chance to spend some quality time on it. This is a very balanced ski. It really seems to do many things well. I would characterize the feel more of a smooth GS feel than a snappy slalom, although it does have some power in the tail if you push it. It isn’t fatiguing or demanding in rough snow, and smoothes out death cookies without getting bounced around. A little unwieldy in short turns. I felt that it was of the more forgiving skis I tried, in that it could go anywhere and not complain if the skier got bounced around, such as in crud. Certainly more forgiving than the performance would indicate. Stability was high: not quite as much so as the iXRC 1200, but close. I would compare this ski to the Allstar, but with a more favorable flex pattern for the lighter skier, and with the ability to generate more pop out of the turn. It simply felt more race-like, but without being excessively demanding. Check out this model if you are a lightweight like me.

Nordica Mach 3 Power:

Same design as the standard Mach 3, but with a titanium laminate instead of the carbon. Based off the serious Dobermann race ski, which certainly isn’t a ski for lightweights or wimps.

Review: Mirrors what I said last spring. I loved it on hardpack, but had real trouble flexing it. It really felt like I was skiing the sidecut, not flexing the ski and generating much out of it. It was as stable as the Mach 3 for my weight, but not moreso. I actually felt that I was getting bounced around a bit more on this ski, which probably has something to do with the stiff flex. The standard Mach 3 was smoother for myself and seemed to follow the terrain better. On groomers, I could just roll it into the turn and hang on. It enters with ease, but not overly aggressive at the top of the turn. Definitely more of a GS feel. Off piste, I had trouble controlling it. In those conditions, at my weight, it definitely isn’t a versatile ride. The ski wanted to dive, just like a race ski. I would liken it to a beefier Head iSupershape Speed. I don’t generate a lot of energy from the iSupershape Speed, and even less from the Mach 3 Power. I wouldn’t say that the standard Mach 3 is any less of a ski than the Mach 3 Power, but I would say that the ski you choose will be based on your weight, not so much your skill.

Head iSupershape Speed 170cm

Same ski as in 2006 (then called the iXRC 1200 SW). Head is confusing the hell out of me by changing their ski names around constantly! Equipped with the race base and CP13 plate.

I have skied this a few times over the past few years, and it is basically a shaped version of my old iGS RD (the 21m version). Very smooth, stable, easy entry into the turn. Not a ton of energy, more of a smooth, snow-hugging, stable at any speed GS feel. It makes a great cheater GS or a high-speed free ski for those who want a bit smaller turn radius. Skiing it off-piste was a challenge: it can handle crud somewhat, but is a little on the stiff side. No bumps. I would keep it as a hard-snow ski. The Supershape is more versatile and packs more pop in the tail, the Speed has the top-end stability and smoothness one expects out of a GS ski.

K2 Apache Crossfire 167cm:
K2’s bias frontside ski, with versatility. Target skiers are anyone from people who ski aggressively 70% on piste/30% off, to crusiers who want a stable ski at speed.

This ski is pretty much unchanged for the past few years. It is moderately stable, and very smooth. I couldn’t coax much energy out of it, and at speed it could get a little spooky. Very forgiving though, along the lines of the RX8. It is tough to make a mistake on this ski, and tough to find a customer who feels overpowered by it (the Crossfire is one of our top demos). Almost anyone can ski it and have a fun day. Easy for the performance, and great for the person who wants a Recon but, in reality, doesn’t ski off piste more than a few runs a day (which is most people). With this logic, the Crossfire should outsell the Recon, but it doesn’t quite work that way. The Crossfire defines the term “damp, snow-hugging” moreso than anything else in the test, save for the Rossi stuff. Definitely feels more along the lines of a GS ski in terms of energy and rebound, more of a crusier feel to it. Volant-lovers will like this ski, and in our shop, the over-55 set really seems to dig K2. Everyone else seems to get a perkier ski though. Just my observations!


2007 Skis tested last spring (a quick review), not as detailed as the above reviews.

Dynastar Contact 11
Volkl Racetiger SL 165cm
Blizzard GSR IQ
Rossignol Multix
Rossignol Z9

Dynastar Contact 11 172cm
72mm ski meant for all-mountain use, bias frontside. New for 2007, not the same as the older Contact 11 st.

Recap: I really liked this ski. It is smooth in the GS tradition, feels similar to a Legend 8000. Very stable at speed, the sidecut really likes to pull you into the turn upon initiation. I couldn’t find a real-world speed limit on it. Somewhat damp, but not dead like some skis out there. I could generate a bit of energy in the tail for the GS design, and I felt it to be more of a hybrid than a straight GS board. It is a power ski, and held like glue on the harder snow of the day. Forgiveness was about average. I didn’t get it off-piste, but due to the overall feel, I bet it would be fine in crud. Not a tight-space ski though.

Volkl Racetiger SL 165cm:
Slightly “detuned” SL ski along the lines of the Fischer WC SC. Suitable for Masters racing or high-performance frontside use.

This was a fun ski! Powerful, fairly demanding in 165cm length. It had a bit of power in the tail and was really stable on the icy steeps when up on edge. Not the last word in rebound energy, with more of a smooth, mid-weight feel for a slalom ski. It would be very suitable for hard snow all-around use in a longer length (170cm). I found it to be more demanding than comparable slalom “freeskis”, but that is what one would expect. This is a race-derived ski!

Blizzard GSR IQ (pretty sure it was 170cm?):

High-end race-bred crusier/Masters GS.

This ski didn’t make much of an impression on me. It was smooth and stable, but didn’t have the rebound and power of my old GSR Magnesium GS ski (which was a great 21m ski for the lighter skier-it had a VIST plate and a great flex pattern). It felt like a high-speed GS cruiser, but didn’t have the “wow” factor of some of the other skis listed above. I can’t really put my finger on the “wow” factor, but if I had to guess, it would be that a “wow” ski is very stable, powerful, and confidence-inspiring at speed, yet can really be driven hard for rebound and energy if desired, all while not being overly sketchy or demanding. Needless to say, there aren’t a ton of these skis around!

Rossi Multix (long arms) 170cm?

Short and long arms make this a turn-radius versatile frontside carver. Rossis most advanced frontside ski.

Fun ski that remided me of the Contact 11. Not quite as stable, but pretty smooth. Rebound left something to be desired, and didn’t seem quite as high performance as the top cruiser skis tested here. I didn’t get a chance to try the short arms. Not sure if I agree with the concept, as the arms may change the radius of the ski, but will they change the overall feel? I personally would like a 13m trench-carver to feel much differently than an 17m high-speed crusier.

Rossi Zenith Z9: 170cm

High-end carver from Rossi, made for versatile frontside use. Would be a good all-mountain choice

This was in the same performance league as the RX8, although with a much different feel. Smooth, damp, pretty stable, very friendly overall. Not much rebound or power. It was a nice, easy ski, and would be suitable for high-intermediates on upward. FWIW, I rode the lift with a guy the other day who had just purchased a pair of Z9’s. I asked him what else he had demoed, and there were a laundry list of high-end skis. He said he really didn’t care for anything except this ski. He was definitely a high-intermediate, not an expert, and the other skis were probably just too strong for him, based on his comments. The Z9 would be great for the improving technical skier, but not a top-performance machine. I found it to be lacking the top-end performance of the Contact 11.

After testing both of those skis, I determined that I am not a Rossi guy. Sorry.

Summary

In this section, I will do my best to attempt a ranking of skis. Certain skis do one thing well, others are strong in another area. This isn’t an overall ranking (skiers should determine what they are looking for in a ski to choose the “best” ski for them) but it is a relative ranking of characteristics between skis.

Stability at Speed: basically the ability to handle speed, especially in challenging conditions such as crud. IMO, many skis that are relatively stable on smooth snow fall apart in rough terrain. Some of the skis lower on the list are of a slalom sidecut and are plenty stable, as long as they are up on edge. GS-type skis will be ranked higher.

1)Head iXRC 1200
2)Nordica Mach 3 Power
3)Dynastar Contact 11
4)Head iSupershape Speed
5)Elan RipStick
6)Blizzard GSR IQ
7)Nordica Mach 3
8)Volkl Racetiger SL
9)Head iSupershape
10)Volkl Allstar
11)Elan Speedwave 14
12)Rossi Multix
13)Elan Speedwave 12
14)Apache Crossfire
15)Fischer RX8
16)Rossi Z9

Forgiveness: the ability to make mistakes without punishing the skier. Also includes the ability to relax on the ski. In general, less forgiving skis will be capable of higher-performance, much the same way that it is easier for a driver with lower skills to handle a Subaru over a Ferrari.

1)Fischer RX8
2)Rossi Z9
3)Apache Crossfire
4)Nordica Mach 3
5)Elan Speedwave 12
6)Head iSupershape
7)Dynastar Contact 11
8)Blizzard GSR IQ
9)Volkl Racetiger SL
10)Rossi Multix
11)Elan RIPStick
12)Volkl Allstar
13)Elan Speedwave 14
14)Head iXRC 1200
15)Head iSupershape Speed
16)Nordica Mach 3 Power

Energy: The amount of power that can be generated from the ski. Typically, higher-energy skis are more in a slalom category than a GS one, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Often, a ski with more energy is also more demanding, but again, not always the case. GS skis are often more predicatable, lower-energy affairs.

1)Elan Speedwave 14
2)Volkl Racetiger SL
3)Elan Speedwave 12
4)Head iSupershape
5)Fischer RX8
6)Elan RIPStick
7)Nordica Mach 3
8)Volkl Allstar
9)Head iXRC 1200
10)Head iSupershape Speed
11)Nordica Mach 3 Power
12)Dynastar Contact 11
13)Blizzard GSR IQ
14)Rossi Multix
15)K2 Crossfire
16)Rossi Z9

Versatility: whether a ski can handle all turn shapes and sizes, or whether it is limited to certain terrain. More versatile skis will be okay in moderate crud and new snow, soft snow, and on ice. Less versatile skis (in this category) will be limited to hard snow use. Also, less-versatile skis may be limited in terms of turn shape, while more versatile skis can handle any shape.

1)Head iSupershape
2)Fischer RX8
3)Elan Speedwave 12
4)Nordica Mach 3
5)K2 Crossfire
6)Volkl Allstar
7)Dynastar Contact 11
8)Rossi Z9
9)Elan Speedwave 14
10)Rossi Multix
11)Head iXRC 1200
12)Volkl Racetiger SL
13)Blizzard GSR IQ
14)Elan RIPStick
15)Head iSupershape Speed
16)Nordica Mach 3 Power


Fun: This is a subjective category. For me, it shows me how the ski ties its respective characteristics into one package and makes it a “fun” ski, for lack of a better term. Would I want to ski this ski? Is it enjoyable, or a bit blah? This isn’t so much a ranking of “what is the best ski?” as it is “what do I appreciate in this ski, and does this ski give me what I appreciate?”


1)Head iSupershape (just fun in all turn radius, in most every condition. A ski I kept coming back to)
2)Elan Speedwave 12 (more energy than the iSupershape, not as good in big arcs, fun everywhere).
3)Elan RIPStick (lots of energy for a GS-type ski, fun in most turn shapes)
4)Volkl Racetiger SL (power, stability, rebound, forgiveness. A great ski)
5)Nordica Mach 3 (smooth, stable, versatile, good energy)
6)Dynastar Contact 11 (same as Nordica Mach 3, a bit beefier for high-speed use)
7)Fischer RX8: (versatile, stable, and has lots of energy. You get out what you put into it)
8)Elan Speedwave 14 (high-energy ski that is all power from turn to turn-fit skiers only)
9)Nordica Mach 3 Power (I would love it if I could flex it! Hard snow only for myself)
10)Head iXRC 1200 (smooth, awesome stability, not as much pop or versatility as the Supershape)
11)Volkl Allstar (fun ski in longer turn radius, versatile, stable, but not as exciting as some others)
12)Head iSupershape Speed (a big-turn, high-speed machine. If fast cruising is your thing, you will love it).
13)Rossi Multix (Smooth, stable Rossi, but not particularly exciting)
14)K2 Crossfire (more an easy, stable cruiser that is very versatile. I prefer more energy).
15)Blizzard GSR IQ (high-speed ski that was stable, but just didn’t leave an impression on me. Maybe I was just tired at the end of the day)
16)Rossi Z9 (see Crossfire description, although the Z9 seemed a little less stable).
post #2 of 44
dawg, great reviews, as always! In what length did you try the Mach 3 Power? Do you think shorter would lead to a different result? Clearly, at 25 lbs more than you, I have found the Mach 3 Power quite a different ski than you have.

I'm also thinking that I might get out on the iSuperShape longer than I have skied in the past. So far, though, I have yet to find a Head ski that I enjoy skiing...

As you mention, all proof that it's very personal...
post #3 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
2007 Hard Snow/All Mountain Carver Ski Review.
Ok, that was one of the best (if not the best) reviews I've ever read.
post #4 of 44
Hi Dawg,

Great reviews. So much data, I'll need to digest for a while...

Cheers,

Michael
post #5 of 44

wow

dawg,

I hereby pronounce you the best ski reviewer on the internet. What a nice job

couple comments

I have ski'd RX 8 extensively in 165 and I own the 170....and await delivery of some 175's. I plan to post a same day review of all 3 lengths. I found the 165 ridiculously easy to ski and stable up to maybe about 20mph at my wt(180) just a fun forgiving ski for intermediate and up....same take as you.

However the 170 RX 8 is a different beast, and I like it much much better, still forgiving but more versatile, not fussy about favoring shortswing turns and I haven't found a speed limit yet - she can make gs, super g turns all day long. The 5 cm diff I found amazing....thus my theory that the 175 will be another even different beast.....


I would like to have you jump on a 170 as well and compare notes.....

Re the Allstar, as you know I own the 2006(all these impressions I discussed at length in 2 threads last season .....I thought about updating the Allstar graphics and going 2007....glad I didn't, it appears the ski has been tamed a bit..I think for next season I might set my sights on the 165 volkl racetiger.

Keep up the great work, you are an epicski treasure:...and folks like me are paying attention
post #6 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
dawg, great reviews, as always! In what length did you try the Mach 3 Power? Do you think shorter would lead to a different result? Clearly, at 25 lbs more than you, I have found the Mach 3 Power quite a different ski than you have.

I'm also thinking that I might get out on the iSuperShape longer than I have skied in the past. So far, though, I have yet to find a Head ski that I enjoy skiing...

As you mention, all proof that it's very personal...
SSH,

I was on the Mach 3 Power in a 170cm. First time around, I was in cruddy conditions, and I couldn't handle the ski. It bounced me around, like it was too stiff and not following the terrain. I haven't had that feeling with any other ski, but that day, both top-end Nordicas (the Mach3 and Jet Fuel) gave me that sensation. The standard Mach 3 was actually much more stable in those conditions. Wierd, but that was my impression. There might have been an issue with my light weight and the flex-even the rep told me "yeah, at your weight, I figured the Power wouldn't agree with you like the standard version". On hard snow this fall, I enjoyed the Mach 3 Power, but couldn't flex it and was more or less skiing the sidecut. I could get a bit of energy, but as a result of skiing the standard Mach 3, I knew what the Power was likely capable of under the right skier.

Regarding the iSupershape: ski it in a 170 if you can. Much more versatile than the 165, and just as much fun, if not moreso. The 165 is a little soft for SL ripping, and not that stable in crud, or in big arcs. The 170 was much better in crud and in big arcs, while retaining a good slalom pop out of the turn. It is one of our shop demos that seems to have taken up permanent residence in my car's trunk. But, if you don't like Head, then it may not work for you. They felt like an updated version of my old Head Cyber WC's, which was a great ski back in its day.
post #7 of 44
dawg, I wonder what you'd think of the 162 Mach 3 Power.

I'll see if I can find a pair of the iSupershapes in the 170. I'd be interested to see how my experience would compare with yours.
post #8 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hrstrat57 View Post
dawg,

I hereby pronounce you the best ski reviewer on the internet. What a nice job

couple comments

I have ski'd RX 8 extensively in 165 and I own the 170....and await delivery of some 175's. I plan to post a same day review of all 3 lengths. I found the 165 ridiculously easy to ski and stable up to maybe about 20mph at my wt(180) just a fun forgiving ski for intermediate and up....same take as you.

However the 170 RX 8 is a different beast, and I like it much much better, still forgiving but more versatile, not fussy about favoring shortswing turns and I haven't found a speed limit yet - she can make gs, super g turns all day long. The 5 cm diff I found amazing....thus my theory that the 175 will be another even different beast.....


I would like to have you jump on a 170 as well and compare notes.....

Re the Allstar, as you know I own the 2006(all these impressions I discussed at length in 2 threads last season .....I thought about updating the Allstar graphics and going 2007....glad I didn't, it appears the ski has been tamed a bit..I think for next season I might set my sights on the 165 volkl racetiger.

Keep up the great work, you are an epicski treasure:...and folks like me are paying attention
hrstrat57,

Thanks for the kind words. I skied the RX8 in 170cm the winter of 2003, when first released, and I really liked it at the time (I even ordered a pair). Then, I got my hands on a set of Sceneo 500's for free and sold the RX8's without ever skiing them. I will get a pair mounted up and try to do a comparison.

I thought the Allstar was a fairly tame ski, and pretty forgiving, falling more into the RX8 camp, but with a different feel. It would be a great high-speed cruiser for a wide range of skiers. The Racetiger was a step up, and a real powerhouse without being too demanding. I aslo skied the Elan SX Pro in a 160 at the same time (no longer available in that version), and the SX was a little snappier and a lot more demanding. The Racetiger was a friendlier ski with little loss of performance, and was one of my favorites.
post #9 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
dawg, I wonder what you'd think of the 162 Mach 3 Power.

I'll see if I can find a pair of the iSupershapes in the 170. I'd be interested to see how my experience would compare with yours.
I would be all over a Mach 3 Power 162cm if one was available to try-that would be a great ski, with the combination of GS stability and quickness underfoot. Nobody has a demo that short around here, unfortunately.
post #10 of 44
Great reviews, but can anyone who bikes 400 miles a week and considers their conditoning as moderate really be trusted? Seriously I think SJ and Dawg gve the best insight into ski performance available.
post #11 of 44
I had the opportunity to try the Dynastar Contact 11 today at Loon. I must say I was very impressed with this ski. It seemed to do everything I asked it to do with very little effort. Powerful edge grip, easy turn iniation. This will be my go to east coast firm snow ski.
I enjoyed it more than the Rossi, Volkl, and fischer version.
post #12 of 44
Fantastic review, dawg.



I think this should almost go up as a sticky, it's so wide-ranging and thorough.

I also want to echo how much we appreciate having your expertise (as well as SierraJim's) available to us here on Epic.

Two points really come through in your review for anyone thinking about buying skis:

1. Demo if you can. No one skis exactly like you do and what feels good to me might - legitimately - feel like crap to you.

2. If you're going to demo, try a couple of lengths in the same ski. If you've narrowed down your interest to a few models, don't just try them in what you think is the "right" length for you. Try a little shorter or a little longer if you can. dawg's experience with the iSuperShape is a great example. SSH's suggestion about dropping one notch in length for the Mach 3 Power is another.

Anyway, dawg, thanks again. That's an invaluable reference tool for our members.
post #13 of 44
Great reviews You do an excellent job of reviewing every aspect of the skis you test.
post #14 of 44
Fantastic reviews as usual. I'm pretty much on the same page with you for all of the skis I'm familiar with. I envy your ability to get on all these skis with "good" tunes - nice to not be at the mercy of the reps.

One question though - you said that you tested all of these skis over the span of a week (or so). Were the conditions pretty much the same every day?
post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noodler View Post
\
One question though - you said that you tested all of these skis over the span of a week (or so). Were the conditions pretty much the same every day?
Yes, we had a run of pretty solid weather. A few feet of snow fell over the Thanksgiving holiday, and as soon as it cleared up the following Tuesday, I had the next few days off, so I was on the hill. The weather gave me solid groomers and some crud. Since the hill was empty, the crud stayed relatively similiar over the few days I tested (I wrapped it up within 2 days, but did some follow-up skiing later in the week-by then it was getting very icy). Since we have high-speed lifts, and I can park my car 6 feet from the edge of the run, I can easily test a pair of skis an hour.

(Edit) I hope your leg is feeling better! I thought about your accident the other day when I dove a tip into a soft bump and my ski didn't release immediately-I was thinking "oh S***" when it finally popped off.
post #16 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post
Great reviews, but can anyone who bikes 400 miles a week and considers their conditoning as moderate really be trusted?

That was during the summer-my fitness has tailed off considerably since then! :-( It does help to ride a bike when coming into the ski season though, at least for me. I don't spend the first month of the season feeling like I am totally out of shape.
post #17 of 44
Thanks for great reviews again - one question by someone who is perhaps a bit behind the times: you mention the term frontside quite often when describing a ski. Frontside to me is a waterman's term meaning facing the wave. In skiing does it describe those runs at an area directly facing the parking lot or is there something more to the term?

- Fossil
post #18 of 44
FF: "Frontside" typically means groomed terrain. "Backside" typically means ungroomed. I have no idea the genesis of the terms, but it sounds like Vail.
post #19 of 44
I’m always impressed by you and others here who take the time to share such beneficial information. Tremendous work. Thank you.
post #20 of 44

RX8 v Z9

Dawg -

First off, thanks for the time you put in to share that wealth of info. I skied the Oversized Z9 in 176 yesterday at Hood on a packed powder day. I really enjoyed the ski and it was the first modern carver I have skied as I have been mostly on fatter skis the past few years. I am in the market for a front side carver and would love to hear the differences between the RX8 and Z9.

Regarding the Z9 - I liked it at speed and laid over some deep carves on really nice snow. On the steeper pitches, where I like to make short turns, I never seemed to push the Z9 into the tighter arcs without some scarving.

Is the RX8 easier to make short turns with? Have you skied the Z5?

I'm a fairly powerful skier at 6'2/220 - solid level 8. I spend most my time looking for soft snow with a bigger ski, but if I had a good carver I would enjoy the front side a great deal and I still enjoy working on technique. Thanks
post #21 of 44

Top notch reviews!

Mr. Dawg,

Very impressive skills, analysis and writing. I also appreciate how much you add to the community by sharing your advanced knowledge. Thanks for your time and effort!

Michael
post #22 of 44

Alternatives?

I'm curious how you'd compare the Head IM 72 and the Fischer AMC 73 to this mix? The waists are comparable. Is performance a step down in comparison?
post #23 of 44
If your looking for a high performance ski with a 72mm waist consider the Dynastar Contact 11.

Two loyal Head owners I ski with have owned the Monster iM 72 but were disappointed. One now has the Supershape & Monster iM 82 as a quiver.

Its very difficult for a 72mm wide ski to ski like a more specialized hard-snow racer-carver while offering the added versatility. The Contact 11 does it IMO. A few other skis also do provide this kind of versatility under the right skier. The Supershape skis well in soft snow for a narrow waited ski and the better Metron models carve hardpack well for a wider ski. The Nordica Mach 3 also fits in this group.

Cheers,

Michael
post #24 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JHSki View Post
I'm curious how you'd compare the Head IM 72 and the Fischer AMC 73 to this mix? The waists are comparable. Is performance a step down in comparison?

The Monster 72 is really more in the mold of a classic cruiser "midfat" than a high-performance ski. Don't get me wrong: it is a nice ski, but not a top-end model for experts. The 72 is targeted more at the improving intermediate to advanced-level skier who is improving (or just skiing statically, for that matter) and who isn't going to be going faster than 20/25mph. For those people, it is a great ski. I would put in the same category as the Fischer RX6 performance-wise, along with maybe the M10 (Atomic) and K2 Apache X/Stryker. Definitely a step down from the top-end offerings. Head's high-end "midfat" would be considered the iM77. I was skiing that in the past week and it was very, very confidence-inspiring at speed. The 82 is a little more of a crudbuster with a bigger turn radius and laminate construction.
post #25 of 44
dawgcatching..what do you think of the Dynastar Contact 9?
post #26 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tchpdx View Post
Dawg -

First off, thanks for the time you put in to share that wealth of info. I skied the Oversized Z9 in 176 yesterday at Hood on a packed powder day. I really enjoyed the ski and it was the first modern carver I have skied as I have been mostly on fatter skis the past few years. I am in the market for a front side carver and would love to hear the differences between the RX8 and Z9.

Regarding the Z9 - I liked it at speed and laid over some deep carves on really nice snow. On the steeper pitches, where I like to make short turns, I never seemed to push the Z9 into the tighter arcs without some scarving.

Is the RX8 easier to make short turns with? Have you skied the Z5?

I'm a fairly powerful skier at 6'2/220 - solid level 8. I spend most my time looking for soft snow with a bigger ski, but if I had a good carver I would enjoy the front side a great deal and I still enjoy working on technique. Thanks
I haven't skied the Z5. I felt that the Z9 and RX8 were comparable as far as targteted skier and performance level, but with a different feel. The Z9 is a bit smoother, more damp Rossi feel, while the RX8 is a little livelier without being demanding or overly-energetic. Turn-shape wise, they felt about the same. The Z9 should hold reasonably well on any turn surface: if you feel the ski scarving, you may not be entering the turn aggressively enough or getting enough edge angle for the terrain. But, I am not an instructor: if you post some pics of your technique on the instruction forum, I am sure you will get some positive feedback.

If I were you, I would try out a couple more top-end carvers and see what you think. Maybe try something a bit more high-performance and see if it agrees with you. The first time I skied a "carver" (K2 Mach S) I was in love, as I had really nothing to compare it to. Then I tried a more aggressive carver (Volkl P40 SL) and liked that much better. Once I had tried a few skis, I had a bit of perspective on what worked for me.

If you are ever skiing at Bachelor, come by the shop and I can hook you up with a few demo pair. If you were to try, say the RX8, Crossfire, Speedwave 14, and Supershape back-to-back, you would surely be able to narrow down the search and figure out what you are looking for in a ski. A short-radius carver is a very useful ski, even here in the PNW. The spring is often prime conditions for a hard-snow ski, and we often get those mid-winter breaks of a week of sun, which makes the snow firm.
post #27 of 44
Dawg,

As usual, awesome reviews!

Could you please compare and contrast the Head Supershape to the Atomic B5.

Thanks much.
post #28 of 44
Nice reviews dawgcatching. I can see why you prefer the 170cm i.Supershapes at speed. I bought the 165cm version since I am into short turns and lots of carving. Coming from a 154cm Elan HCX SL ski, I thought a 165cm SL ski would be too long for me. Wrong! But I still love them.
post #29 of 44
Thread Starter 
One thing I forgot to mention about the Elan Speedwaves: the mounting point is very far forward (when skiing this ski from the center, it feels shorter than normal, like you are more on the tip and carving easily). It is 2.5cm forward of the Magfire 12 168cm mounting point, and 3.3cm forward of the Head iSupershape 170cm mounting point. I believe that if I bump the mounting point back on the Speewave (easy to do with the Fusion binding: just move the toepiece back, then adjust the heelpiece's foward pressure tab accordingly) I will get a much different feel. I expect the ski to be less aggressive. When I get a chance to try it out, I will follow up.
post #30 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quick update:

I moved the toepiece backward on the Speedwave 14 (I have a 291mm bootsole, so I move the Fusion setup back to 280mm, and moved the heelpiece back 2 clicks (lift the heelpiece tab and slide the binding back, checking forward pressure to make sure it is correct).

This made a huge difference. I can't believe how much different the ski feels. It is much easier to control, with rapid yet not overpowering initiation. Forgiveness is much improved (I am not on the tip of the ski, with every little movement causing a turn initiation) and I took it off piste into challenging ice/dusting of snow conditions without trouble. Stability now feels improved (the ski ends up smoother at speed, as I have more of it in front of me). Personally, the mounting point was too far forward on as recommended at the factory (2.5cm further forward than the Supershape) and moving it back 1cm just brought the ski out to it's true performance potential. I am now skiing it more than the 170cm Supershape, as the SW 14 has more energy, equal stability, and a tad more thrilling feel at the top of the turn. It performs like a race ski but without the red-line, implosion imminent feel of some race-stock slaloms. Wow!
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