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Review: 2007 All-Mountain (midfat and crudbuster) skis

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Thread Starter 
Ski Reviews: 2007 Mid-fat/all mountain crud/all-mountain carver

About me: 5 foot 9, 154lbs, ski 30-50 days per year currently, solid level 8 skier

Testing conditions: tested over a period of 3 weeks, only on new-snow or recent-snow days.

Testing procedure: I start each day by skiing a reference ski that I know well (typically the Elan Magfire 12 or Head iM82) to get a feel for that day’s snow conditions. Without a warmup on a reference ski to get myself calibrated, I find that testing skis I am not familiar with is much less useful. Once warmed up, I take 3 runs per ski: one ski on a steep groomer, one off-piste in beat-up crud, and one in fairly new/untouched snow. I ski mid-week, so there is typically virgin snow to be had. Even though each ski day isn’t exactly identical to the last, I chose similar days to test on, and by using the reference ski, I can still get a palpable feel for each ski’s performance. For those of you who have never skied in the PNW, we get typically heavy snow at least every other day. Most days, it snows 3-6”, sometimes up to 12” overnight, and with the constantly-present wind, skiers can always find decent testing conditions.

Conditions tested in: 6-16” of crud, cut-up groomers, slightly-packed groomers, and on two occasions, very light, uncut snow. The other days had a bit heavier, yet still skiable, uncut snow. I also tested most of these skis last spring on a sunny, slightly more hardpacked day, so I received a bit different feedback at that time.

Grouping of skis: these skis fall into 3 main categories: All-mountain traditional “midfat” (skis with greater than a 16m radius, 82mm or under waist), new-wave all-mountain carvers (typically closer to 15m radius skis, still 75-85mm underfoot) and all-mountain crudbuster skis (82-88mm underfoot, larger turn radius (greater than 18m). They each have their pluses and minuses, I found. The traditional midfat (examples: Legend 8000, Recon ect.) is typically more of a GS feeling-ski and does very well in big arcs, and in crud. Not as quick on the frontside, typically they don’t ski with too much energy, but smooth and fast. They are typically designed as 50 on/50 off skis. The new-wave all-mountain carver (examples: Salomon X-Wing Fury, Volkl AC4 ect.) typically has more sidecut, a larger tip and tail, and skis with more energy and pop on groomers. They tend to get hooky in high speed crud runs and are overly eager to turn in those conditions. Also designed as 50 on/50 off skis, but with a different feel. The third category is the all-mountain crudbuster (examples Legend 8800, Snoop Daddy) that typically are very, very good in crud, a little slow edge-to-edge on piste (but stable in big arcs) and don’t ski with much energy. They give up the snap and slalom-like feel of other skis on piste for ultimate stability, float, and confidence off-piste.

Each of these categories has their benefits and drawbacks. Choosing one category really depends on your skiing style, ability, local mountain, other mountains you may travel to, and other skis (or lack thereof) in your quiver. There isn’t any one ski that does everything “well”, so don’t let somebody tell you otherwise. No matter what skis you choose, there will be some drawbacks. For ultimate versatility, a quiver of 2 skis is recommended, but if you can’t afford 2 pair, then pick a category (rather than a brand) of ski type and start looking at models that would suit you best. I have found that skis in the same category, in the same proper length for the skier, will be much more similar than 2 different models of the same brand. There are a lot of good skis out there, so don’t limit yourself by saying “I always ski Brand X, therefore I won’t consider Brand Y-I have never even heard of Brand Y’s model!. It wasn’t tested in Ski Magazine, therefore it must not be any good.”

Disclaimer: I do my best to remain neutral when testing skis, but I do sell several models that are reviewed here, and occasionally, I will give them a positive rating. This isn’t because I want to inflate the ski’s reputation: rather, it is because I only stock models and brands that I feel offer great performance and/or value for the money. If I carry a ski, it is typically due to the fact that it is a great ski and I feel comfortable selling it! As a shop, we encourage demos and don’t start selling skis until Christmastime, therefore if a ski sucks, it is not likely to sell, and/or I am not likely to get repeat business! And, just because I don’t carry it doesn’t mean it isn’t a great ski. If possible, I would carry every brand and pick the best skis from each line, but we have exclusive dealer territories in this area, therefore carrying every brand isn’t possible.

As always, call or PM me if you want more info or input on these skis. I tried to be as thorough as possible with these reviews. Sorry if they sound a little dry.

Elan Magfire 12 176cm: very slightly changed construction for 2007, using a multiple-density wood to enhance lateral stiffness while not stiffening up the ski along it’s length. 76mm underfoot, dual titanium, their top midfat.

Review: this is a ski I know very well, and was one of my reference skis for this review. I skied both the 2006 and 2007 versions, and there is a slight difference. The ’07 was more stable and felt a little more laterally stiff: slightly higher performance and less forgiving. It does most everything well, except for bumps. A versatile ski that can be skied short (10cm under head height) as a high-speed carver/short all-mountain ski, or longer (head height) for crudbusting and higher-speed, bigger mountain skiing. I ski it in the longer length, my brother (a solid level 7) likes the 168cm. It has a damp, smooth, and powerful feel underfoot, with a bit of a GS feel. It holds fine in the racecourse, and really could be used as a cheater GS by somebody looking for a freeski that is passable in gates. There is a lot of energy in the tail. It is very stiff laterally, and holds like a race ski on hard snow. I can take the 176cm anywhere on the mountain, except for bumps (it is too stiff in those conditions). Very stable at speed: one of the most stable in the test. It reminded me a lot of the Volkl AC3, but with a bit more ease and a tad more stability (although the AC3 was very close in feel). It has more of a GS feel than the other midfats tested here. The overall feel of the 777 is very similar, although the 777 was much better in the deep stuff (better float) whereas stability between the two models was similar. I found the Magfire 12 to be quicker edge-to-edge and more fun on hardpack or on those days with 6” of new in the morning and cut-up groomers that are tough to ski in the afternoon. It would be right at the top of my list if I could only own one ski. Strong advanced-level skiers to experts will like this ski best: it can be overpowering for less skilled or slower-speed skiers.

Volkl AC3: Volkl’s classic “midfat” that has been going strong for in various forms for several years. I used to own the G3, and this is the direct descendant. A beefy ski with less of a turny sidecut than the AC4.

Review 170cm: This ski really reminded me overall in feel of the Allstar (tested in another thread) and the Elan Magfire 12. I was able to ski these back to back on a pretty cruddy day. The Volkl feels like a classic Volkl: smooth and damp, but not overly so, and fairly stiff, with some energy. It really had no speed limit and sucked up the terrain. It felt like a power ski, even moreso than the AC4, and liked bigger turns and speed. Not for bumps, but a great ski at speed, on groomers, in crud, and on the harder snow. It seemed more steady in the crud than the AC4, although the AC4 was a tighter-turning ski on hardpack. This is one of the classic midfat skis around. If you don’t need short-turn
capacity, this is a great choice: a AC3/Mantra quiver would cover everything except bumps. The AC3 felt very similar to the Magfire 12, but I felt the Mag12 was a touch more stable and a hair easier to ski. Part of that may have been the Mag 12’s slightly longer length (it measures about 174cm, so just a touch longer than the AC3). Overall, they are very close in feel and performance. I skied the AC3 in 177cm last year, and it was too long for my size. Best to go down 5cm from head-height on this one. A very good midfat choice, and definitely for advanced to expert-level skiers.

Salomon X-Wing Fury 172cm: 85mm underfoot with a tight turn radius. Designed (IMO) to compete in the “wide all-mountain carver” category, with the Volkl AC4, Head iM77, Nordica Jet Fuel.

Review: This is the first Salomon I had tried in a couple of years. The Fury is near or at the top of the line, so it was a good place to start. This ski has a lot of sidecut for an 85mm waist ski, which will make it better in certain situations (quicker on the groomers) and worse in others (not as stable in crud). The flex overall was fairly soft and non-aggressive, and I feel that it could be enjoyed by a wide range of skiers. As one person noted: “a great resort ski”. It was easy to ski, and could be operated at slow speeds. Forgiveness was moderate: not terribly easy, but not excessively demanding. It was fairly smooth and retained a light feel underfoot. It reminded me of the Fischer AMC79, but with a tighter turn radius. I could bring this ski around very quickly! It was negotiable in bumps, due to the moderate flex, and could be flicked around in trees. The downside is that I found the speed limit pretty quickly in deep crud: it was one of the less stable skis in the test. Overall stability was similar to the Legend 8000, although the Legend was a bit less hook in crud. I would recommend this ski to the advanced skier looking for a wide 50/50 ski: something that can be skied on piste at moderate to fairly fast speeds, and that does well off-piste at moderate speeds and has good float. The expert skier will probably overpower it. A good entry from Salomon.

Head Monster iM77 (2007) 170/177cm:

New for 2007, this ski uses a re-designed titanium Full Metal Jacket instead of the laminate that was found on the 2006 iM77 Chip. FMJ was used on the older World Cup carver series and some of the softer race skis. 77mm underfoot, 16m radius in 170cm. Designed to compete with some of the other all-mountain carvers (Top Fuel, AC4 ect. rather than the crudbuster, less-sidecut skis. Probably Head’s most versatile model.

Review 170cm: I first had a chance to ski this last season, and was impressed then (I skied it back to back to the Nitrous and slightly preferred the Monster in some choppy, heavy crud). I have since had a chance to get more time on this ski over a few days. I found this ski to be smooth, stiff, and have a bulldozer feel to it. Compared to the Chip for 2006, the newest model is a tad smoother and more stable. The overall flex hasn’t changed much, and it has a beefy tail. The overall feel is different than the race-laminate skis like the 82/88 and iGS or Supershape Speed. The iM77 is a little carvier, more forgiving, and a touch livelier. It was right at the top of the list as far as stability goes, besting out the AC4 and Mag 12 by a whisker in rough snow. The iM77 wasn’t really quick: it wanted to be on edge, blasting through crud or carving up groomers. And, it wasn’t light underfoot like the Legend 8000, or Fury. Not a ski for bumps, but great for the top-end skiers. I thought that the iM77 and AC4 had very similar performance characteristics, with the AC4 getting the nod as far as float in deeper snow, and the iM77 preferred as far as stability in rough crud. Also similar were the Nitrous/Top Fuel. Forgiving enough for a good skier, moreso than one would think. It is actually smoother and easier to ski than the 2006 iM77 Chip. But, not a ski for intermediates. FWIW, this has easily been the shop’s most popular demo for advanced to expert skiers this season, and our most popular ski sales-wise. The only bad (depending on one’s persepective) word I have heard would be “likes to go fast”, with which I would have to agree with.

177cm: tried this for 2 runs, and it was too long. Stiff and unresponsive: the ski was stable in crud, but with no energy or liveliness. I would size down 5-10cm below head height on the iM77 (I am 175cm tall).

Volkl AC4 170cm:

82mm underfoot ski, designed as an all-mountain carver with a fairly tight turn radius. Great one-quiver ski for the West-Coast skier that wants a ski for practically every condition. Stiffened up for 2007.

Review: I also skied this the past spring before the more recent test. It is a great ski, one of the top 3 or 4 that I tested. It has great liveliness, power, and stability for a ski of this girth. It floated well in the soft stuff, as expected. Smooth and stable: this ski was comparable to the Monster iM77, in that it felt more powerful than the typical Volkl, more like the traditional Austrian ski feel (Nordica/Head/Atomic). It packed a punch at the tail and could either be driven by sidecut or with more aggressive technique. It wasn’t a skidders ski, and forgiveness was fine, provided your technique is clean. I liked it best in either deep snow or on hardpack: it was a little hooky in crud and not quite as stable as some of the others tested, but that is a compromise that has to be made for a ski this turny. On the hard snow, the ski felt almost as solid as a high-end hard snow carver, although didn’t have the edge hold underfoot that one would see on a sub-70mm race ski.. I would liken it in performance to the Monster iM77, Nordica Top Fuel and Nitrous/Afterburner. I wouldn’t recommend it in tight spaces or bumps. Overall, a great one-ski quiver choice for the advanced to expert skier who typically skis at speed. Another ski with many strengths and only a few minor quibbles.

Nordica Top Fuel 170cm

Same as 2006: lots of metal, stiff, and beefy underfoot. 78mm, Nordicas take on the modern, high-end midfat/all-mountain carver.

This ski is stiff! I just can’t get it to do what I want: this ski skis me, not the other way around. I did have some success on hard snow, but off-piste, the ski was so stiff that it didn’t seem to absorb the terrain. I hung on for dear life at speed, and it felt like I was skiing 2x4’s at speed. I mentioned it in another review, but I think that Nordica’s line is weight-specific more than skill-specific. No doubt a great ski, just not for a 150lb skier!

Nordica Nitrous 170cm: same as the Top Fuel, just without all of the metal. Technically the ski for the “advanced” skier, while the Top Fuel is the “expert” ski in the line.

Review: I liked this ski much better! It was smoother and more stable, while the flex was optimized for someone of my weight. It just sucked up the rough crud and kept going. It didn’t have the “speed limit doesn’t apply” feel as the 777, but was nearly as stable as it’s beefier counterparts, the AC4 and iM77. On the groomers, it’s grip was solid, and the ski was energetic, with a mid-flex stiffness. It was a little more nimble and forgiving than the AC4 and iM77, but with a bit lower speed limit. Overall, a great choice for advancing all-mountain skiers who want a one-quiver ride. I wouldn’t recommend it to the fastest-skiing expert though: I think there are slightly better skis meant for top speeds. I found the speed limit just a touch too easily, but the tradeoff is outstanding tight-space performance. If you are looking at the AC4 or iM77 but want just a little less beef, check out the Nitrous.

Nordica Jet Fuel 170cm:

84mm underfoot, similar construction to the Top Fuel. Designed more as an all-mountain, wide carver rather than a traditional deep snow ski.

Too stiff for me. It skied almost exactly the same as the Top Fuel: demanding and hard to control at my weight. Not a good match for lightweight skiers, IMO. Check out the Afterburner!

Nordica Afterburner 170cm:

84mm underfoot, but softer carbon-based construction instead of the beefy titanium layup on the Jet Fuel.

Awesome ski. It was every bit as good as the other players in this category. I felt that the added girth gave this ski a touch more stability in the rough crud at speed. Very smooth, reminded me of the Head iM77 in terms of feel, but not quite as stable. Close though. This one floated a tad bit better, although at my weight, I don’t typically need anything wider than 80mm in nearly any snow condition. It reminded me of the Mach 3, but wider and more stable in the cut-up stuff. I didn’t feel that the 84mm width underfoot would likely be a hinerance when compared to the 78mm girth, but I admit that I didn’t try it on a hard-snow day. Then again, I wouldn’t choose a ski like this on a hard-snow day unless I had to: power carvers are superior in those conditions, no matter what the marketing ad says. With regard to all-mountain, mid-energy midfats, I thoroughly enjoyed the Afterburner, Mag12, iM82, AC4, and iM77. They were all top-notch skis, and I would be extremely pleased to own any of them. I liked the stability of this model over the Nitrous, so it would probably be my choice if I was to buy one ski from Nordica.

Elan 777 176cm:
Same ski as the 2006 version: laminate construction, dense wood, very stiff laterally with 2 sheets of titanium. Less sidecut than the typical 85mm underfoot ski, a crudbuster and GS feeling ski.

Another awesome ski. This was my overall favorite for the cruddy conditions I encountered. It was absolutely rock solid in rough crud at speed. This ski just doesn’t get deflected in the crud: it is beefier than the iM88 and iM82 and a touch more stable. It has a more damp feel than either of those skis, as well as the livelier all-mountain carvers like the AC4/Jet Fuel/iM77. Smoothness and confidence at speed are the hallmarks of this ski. The stability of the 777 was unsurpassed in the test, although I bet the DP Pro from Stockli is a stronger ski. Do note that the 777 is a different ski than many in this test and really can’t be compared directly to the AC4 ect. It has much less sidecut (21.4m in 176, ~23.5 in 184cm) which gives it a huge extra dose of stability in crud. Carvier skis that have tight sidecuts tend to get hooky in crud, and a compromise is made between energy on the groomed and deeper snow performance. The upside to a ski with less sidecut is that it does exactly what you tell it to, and nothing more. Downside is that better skill is required: if you don’t have clean initiation technique, it doesn’t want to turn. When I first skied the 777 several years ago, I didn’t have the skills I do know, and got pushed around. Now, I consider my current favorite amongst the 85mm-90mm skis. The 777 definitely falls onto the deep snow side of things, yet it is a solid high-speed carver on hard snow at speed, but with a GS feel. There is even a bit of energy in the tail. I recently skied this on a very good snow day (12 inches on top of boilerplate) and the 777 was incredibly confidence-inspiring at big speeds. The flex seems perfect for me: soft enough to float with minimal hassle, stiff enough to handle power at speed. And, it also ripped on the groomers. I have yet to find a better ski made for these purposes (I have yet to ski a Mantra, but a friend who owns a pair says the 777 and Mantra are comparable but different: Mantra for the deepest snow, 777 for high-speed crudbusting) The 777 is a skiers ski: it may not be a sexy ski, but I have yet to find a better crudbusting tool. You may want to mount a little toward the rear for best deep snow performance, but then again, that is a personal preference. A new employee at the shop (ex-racer, 6 foot 1, 190lbs) considers this to be the best ski he has yet tried for crud days.

Dynastar Legend 8000 172cm:

The venerable Legend 8000 has been a staple for years now. It is a great example of the “everymans” ski, in that it can be skied with a wide range of skiers and be enjoyed. Damp and smooth, trademark “French” ski.

Review: I have skied this in the past, but this was the first time to test it in some real challenging conditions. I liked it, and can see why it has been so popular over the years. This ski is very smooth and predictable. The 19m turn radius isn’t overly turny for crud, and doesn’t as hooky as some of the other all-mountain carvers. It is a smooth, big turn machine. Stability was not as good as the best skis in the test, but more along the lines of the X-Wing Fury or a Fischer AMC79, which are both high performing skis with a large dose of forgiveness. The Legend feels a little more snow hugging and heavier than either of those two, however, but not in a stiff, powerful way like the Head im82. Forgiveness is very high with this ski, and I think it would give the Recon a run for its money if more people would try it. I found forgiveness to be very high, and a wide range of skiers can enjoy it. Surprisingly, due to the moderate flex, I was able to get the ski to come around very quickly in tight spaces and even negotiate some moderate, soft bumps. The only downside to this ski was the upper speed limit. I was able to find the top end pretty easily in rough snow, and it was about 5mph less than the iM77 and AC4, by my estimate. Still, it should be more than enough speed limit for most of us. A bit higher stability than the Recon, a bit better snow feel as well. Less-aggressive experts, as well as advanced-level skiers, will really like this ski if they are looking for high-performance, smoothness, and a forgiving ride.

Dynastar Legend 8800 178cm

Similar to the 8000, but a bit wider underfoot. Along the same vein as the Apache Outlaw, but has been around longer, and has a larger turn radius.

Again, a very nice ski. I liked the feel (smooth, damp, and predictable) and forgiveness (very easy to ski). It was easy to carve in and out of the trees, and had great float and snow feel in the crud. Again, not the highest speed limit, but a very effortless, everyman’s ski. Most of what I wrote about the 8000 applies here as well. I think this could be enjoyed by a wide range of skiers, and all but the very top experts skiing fast would think this was a great ski. Even those people could be just fine on it, but there might be better options available. I thought the Outlaw and 8800 were very comparable in terms of feel and speed limit, although the 8800 maybe had a touch more energy and a bit more refined feel. I thought the Outlaw was a touch more stable.

K2 Apache Recon 174cm:

Direct descendant of the Axis XP, former All-American (now All-China) ski. Very popular with a wide range of skiers. Almost anyone can enjoy it. Unchanged for 2007.

I have reviewed this ski in the past, and it really hasn’t changed much (if at all) in the past 3 seasons. It is a very quiet, smooth, damp ski that is nice and forgiving at moderate speeds. I think “crusier”is an apt term for the feeling of this ski. Some would say steady, others would say unexciting. I found the speed limit more easily with this ski than any other in the test: it just doesn’t like to go fast in the crud. I could easily overpower it in rough terrain. It was smooth on the groomers, and the speed limit was a bit higher there. Extremely forgiving, perhaps more than any other ski in the test. Fairly nimble edge to edge, and the flex pattern is nice in the deeper stuff. Almost no energy in the tail. Definitely not a no-holds-barred expert level ski: best for advanced skier who aren’t pushing themselves too hard. It wouldn’t be my personal choice, but shop experience has shown me that the over 50, Volant-crowd really enjoys the K2 feel, whereas some of the stiffer skis can push them around. Easy and forgiving!

K2 Apache Outlaw 174cm:

Wider version of the Recon at 88mm underfoot, designed more for crudbusting, with a 19m turn radius (same as the iM88). A great one-quiver ski for the person who only skis on new snow days, as well as a deep snow ski for the advanced to expert skier. Unchanged for 2007.

Review: I still think this is K2’s best all-mountain ski. Stability is much higher than the Recon, and it is very smooth and stable in the crud. I would say that the stability is probably 15% more than the Recon, due almost exclusively to the wider profile of this ski. Same smooth, damp feel, which is more suited to a crudbuster-type ski than an all-mountain design, IMO. Whereas energy in a mid-radius midfat is a good thing, crudbuster-type skis should be predictable above all else, and this ski gets it done. Stability is about 95% of the iM88. Snow feel is very damp and snow-hugging. Again, no energy, but not much of a liability here. On the harder stuff, it was a little slow to bring up onto edge, but held well once there. I didn’t try it on boilerplate though, but I doubt it would be as good as the laterally stiffer skis tested here. This is a very forgiving ski: I have seen terminal intermediates on this ski off-piste. Skis like this introduce lower-end skiers to off-piste skiing, which tracks out the good stuff in 2 hours instead of a day! Still, this is a forgiving ski with a wide performance envelope. Recommended for that skier who wants a lot of performance but not a ski that punishes them for mistakes they may make.

Head iM88 175cm:

Unchanged for 2007. Vertical sidewall laminate ski, similar construction to the race-stock Head iGS ski, as well as the iSupershape Speed. 88mm underfoot, 19m turn radius in 175cm.

Review: As noted last season, this is a great ski for a lot of people. Forgiving enough for a wide range of skiers, but a bit higher speed limit than the Outlaw or 8800, and with better edge hold and a bit more snap underfoot. It feels mid-weight and flex is perhaps a bit on the stiff side. Power can be generated from this ski, but it isn’t lively like some of the Elan product. Very smooth, extremely stable, and snow hugging is how I would characterize it. The speed limit is very high, only outdone by the Elan 777 in this test. And, it does GS turns on hardpack well. It feels like a big GS. Not quick, and bumps are no good on this ski (not good on any 80mm ski, IMO). It also feels fairly light and nimble, not quite as damp as the K2 stuff. The 88 is a great feeling-ski all around. I would have no trouble recommending it to most any semi-skilled skier as a crud and new snow ski. I found this ski to be a little more predictable

Atomic Snoop Daddy 174cm

20.5m turn radius in 174cm, 88mm underfoot. New for 2007. Fairly light weight, fairly stiff flex.

I skied this right after getting some great runs on the 777. It was a great comparison. The Snoop is a fairly-stiff flexing ski, and feels completely different than the 777. I have owned Atomics in the past (the GS11, SL11) and skied some of the other product over the years. They typically have a fairly distinctive feel: somewhat light underfoot, torsionally stiff, and fairly stiff flex-wise. They are typically great performers.

With regards to the Snoop, it felt quite a bit like other Atomics I had tried in the past. I was surprised at how light the ski was! The flex was quite stiff. In the fresh stuff, the float wasn’t really what I expected, and didn’t feel as “floaty” as the 777 did for me. I think stiffness had something to do with it-this ski had little flex, and just didn’t stay on top of the snow as well. I was able to get several runs on it over a variety of conditions: on the cut-up groomers, it was close in stability to the 777, but not quite. Stability was probably about 10% less in the deeper crud. It liked sweeper GS turns for sure, and is not a short turner (if you need a bump ski, then any 85mm ski is a poor choice, IMO). The stability was about average for this test: I would put it above the Fury, similar to the iM88, but below the 777. The 777 just sucked up the terrain, while the Snoop tended to get bounced around, resulting in lack of stability in comparison. I doubt this will be an issue for heavier skiers, but it was for me. It had a fairly aggressive lateral flex, and I bet it will hook up and carve on hard snow. This is not an especially forgiving ski: it really needs to be skied by somebody who knows what they are doing. I would say that a strong advanced to Expert skier, maybe over 180lbs, would enjoy this best. I think that stiffness may have had something to do with the lack of stability I encountered (I had the same experiences on the Jet Fuel/Top Fuel w/regards to stiffness). It wasn’t bad by any means, but I felt that the 777 outperformed it for my weight and ability (the 777 is a really special ski, though, so it isn’t a slam on the Snoop). I actually thought that the Atomic felt like some of the AMC Fischer skis I skied last year, but with a stiffer flex and a bit beefier feeling.
post #2 of 28
Thread Starter 
Post Continued:

Rossignol B3 168cm:
83mm underfoot, a good compromise ski. Turn radius is about 18m or so. Quick enough to ski most of the mountain, except for bumps.

Review: I skied this after the Snoop and 777. I would rather have been on the next size up, but this was the only length available. I would describe this ski as “solid”. It was very damp and smooth, with a predictable character. There weren’t any surprises built into this ski. It did what was asked of it without hesitation and without attitude. It ran straight fairly easily, especially considering that it was being skied short. Stability was middle-of-the-road when compared to other skis in this category. The B3 did lack any real energy: it was a very forgiving ski, provided you like to cruise and ski medium to large radius turns in everything from groomers to crud and deeper snow. The float was quite good off-piste. I can see this ski being in demand by people who prefer a smooth, damp ski for their all-mountain travels. I felt it to be a bit stiffer and a touch more demanding than the Outlaw. And, this ski wasn’t quick, so don’t expect a fall-line carver. It just didn’t like to move laterally very quickly. Overall, it is a good choice, and would have the Outlaw and 8800 as it’s obvious competition. This is another ski that can bring the masses off piste without sending them into a tree should they make a mistake. I enjoyed it, but would prefer a ski with a bit more stability and energy.

Head iM82 172cm:

New for 2007, this is similar to the iM88, but only 82mm underfoot, with a 17m radius. Maintains the same race-room construction, and should be very comparable. Narrower ski should theoretically be more versatile. ~17.5 turn radius at 172cm.

Review: I reviewed this last season in my 2007 ski preview. This is a great choice for the person looking for something a bit wider than the typical midfat (a lot of manufacturers are settling on 82mm as a standard midfat width; I am not sure that it is better than 75mm for most people, but it seems to be the trend, if not for function but just to have something “new”. Ski width will depend more on where you live and what you ski than what the ski companies decide what to push as the “latest and greatest”). Back to the iM82 review!

At 82mm underfoot, this ski doesn’t feel as quick edge-to-edge as something in the 75mm waist range, nor quite as nimble. It is much more versatile than your average 88mm ski though. The iM82 wasn’t really designed as an “all-mountain carver” like the AC4, Jet Fuel, iM77, or X-wave Fury. Rather, it is a crudbuster-type of ski, with a smooth flex, fairly minimal sidecut when compared to others in this category, and a definite GS feel to it. This ski doesn’t feel light and lively. Rather, it feels smooth, stable, powerful, and somewhat beefy. Basically, it feels more or less like a race GS, and has those overall characteristics. Whereas the all-mountain carver type of ski tends to be turnier and spunkier, delivering a tighter and easier carve on the groomed, this ski tends to run straighter, have a big GS feel on the groomed, and be much more stable in crud-like conditions. It is nearly unshakable in crud at speed, and has as much stability as most of the 88mm skis in the test. Not at all hooky like the turnier 82mm skis (AC4/X-wave Fury) in those conditions. On the other hand, it doesn’t have their energy on the groomed, but still has power underfoot, but more in the mold of a GS. This was one of the very top skis I tested in crud, and float off-piste was very good. Perhaps not as good as skis that were a bit wider, but fine for any conditions we are likely to get locally (up to 16” of new). I felt that forgiveness was pretty good for a ski of this caliber: it wouldn’t destroy the skier if they got behind the ski, or were tired at the end of the day. Stability was pretty darn good: in crud, it beat all but the 777, and matched the iM88. On groomers, it was similar to the Magfire 12, AC4, iM77, and Jet Fuel. If you were looking for a carvier wide ski, you may prefer the AC4, but that ski does get hooky in deep snow, whereas the iM82 doesn’t. For a carver, I would personally choose something narrower anyways (75mm or under) and go with a pure crudubsting ski for new snow days.

Side note: Feedback at the shop is that many of the less skilled skiers prefer the narrower-sidecut wide skis, so that the ski will turn easily in deep snow and on the groomers. The more-skilled skiers and those looking for a better crud ski are getting the 18+meter sidecut skis. These skiers can turn the ski and don’t need help, and don’t want to give up high-speed stability.

Other skis I will review shortly (I will update the thread when I have skied them):

Head Mojo 90
Volkl Mantra

Other skis I have skied in the past and liked, although it was long enough ago that I can’t review them in depth with any accuracy:

Atomic B5
Atomic M11
Elan Magfire 10
Head iM72

If I do get on the above skis in the next few days, I will add them to the review as well.


There were many stellar skis in this test. I will rank them by “did I personally enjoy this ski”, but avoid a performance ranking, as the highest-performing skis in the test would not be the best choice for less-than-expert skiers, and therefore performance is a very subjective term. Not to mention the skier weight factors that likely kept me from enjoying the Snoop Daddy and Top/Jet Fuel. If you read the reviews, it will give you an idea if it is something you ought to look into.

All-Mountain Carvers and midfat:

1) tie Nordica Nitrous: a little softer and less stable than the others, but extremely fun ski! Very versatile too! Damp, powerful.
1) tie Elan Magfire 12: smoother, bigger arcing ski with stability and power. A little more forgiving and stable than the AC3
1) tie Head iM77: a more forgiving than the AC4, almost as stable, smoother and more forgiving than last year’s Chip.
1) tie Volkl AC4: the most powerful of the three: stable, powerful, and exciting on hard snow. A little less confident off-piste than the Head and Nordica.
5) Volkl AC3: almost the same performance as the Mag 12, not qute as stable. Demanding, and needs to be skied at speed. High performance envelope.
6) Dynastar Legend 8000: nice snow feel, smooth, relatively stable, easy to ski. Almost as good as the above, more forgiving.
7) Nordica Top Fuel: obviously the performance is there on this ski, but it was too stiff for my tastes
8) Salomon X-wing Fury: not quite as good of top end as the others: very forgiving, and will please a wide range of skiers.
9) K2 Apache Recon: too damp for my tastes, not that stable when compared to others in this group. Not an expert-level ski, IMO. Very forgiving.

.All-Mountain “Crudbuster”:
1) Elan 777: the most pleasing ski I tested. No speed limit, smooth, and powerful. Made me feel like a hero.
2) Head iM82: big-time crudbuster and big-arc ski. More versatile than others in this category. Could be in the other category with the midfats.
3) (tie) Head iM88: similar to the iM82, but with better float, and slower edge-to-edge
3) (tie) Nordica Afterburner: An easier ski than some of the others, high speed limit, forgiving and smooth.
5) (tie) Dynastar Legend 8800: smooth, forgiving, great deep-snow float. Not as powerful as some of the others
5) (tie) K2 Apache Outlaw: A smooth ski that is also stable and forgiving. May be too damp for some
7) Atomic Snoop Daddy: was a bit stiff and light feeling for my tastes. A heavier skier may have more luck with it though. Pretty demanding.
8) (tie) Rossignol B3: a very smooth and relatively stable feel. Extremely damp ski that didn’t appeal to me.
9) Nordica Jet Fuel: Too stiff for my preferences. Was hard to control off-piste, but little in the way of a speed limit for the bigger skier.
post #3 of 28
Thats some topnotch stuff there dawgcatching youre a real asset to those who are looking at new skis.
post #4 of 28

You are the man when it comes to ski reviews here at Epic!
post #5 of 28
Echo all above, thanks for the reviews Dawg.
post #6 of 28
As usual - great reviews !!!!

I'm looking forward to your Mantra review as it's the ski I'm most familiar with although I've skied the Recon & Outlaw and agree with your assessments. The Outlaw is a higher performing ski than Recon for sure.
post #7 of 28
Thanks Dawg, great stuff.

Maybe I'll hold on to my 8000s a bit longer. It's too easy to get caught up in newer is better. Thanks.
post #8 of 28
I love reading your reviews for several reasons.
One, your stats are close to mine.
Two, you constantly compare and contrast to other skis so I get an idea of the relative differences.
Three, you mention other skis that I have skied, so I can match your opinions with mine (they are very, very close).
Fourth, you are always skiing models I am interested in.

Thanks a bunch. Now, if we can only arrange it so I can help you demo everything (which is a problem since I live in Indiana).

Keep it up!
post #9 of 28
Wow! Great stuff. I just recently demoed maybe 4 of those on your list(Recon, Nitrous, Dyn 8000, AC3) and your perceptions are identical to mine. You're just able to put it in words. I"ll probably pick up a pair of Nitrous when I'm back in Vail next week. Thanks for the info.
post #10 of 28
Hold does the new Mag 12 compare to the m666 fusion? Still pretty much the same or have they changed things?
post #11 of 28
Fabulous reviews, Dawg. Thanks for putting such effort into your reviews!
post #12 of 28
Great reviews Scott. I have the same question as Squeaky - how does the new Mag 12 compare to the m666 fusion?
post #13 of 28

Thanks for the education!

Hi Dawg,

I appreciate all the work you do and the information you share. People like you and the other good reviewers on this board put the ski mags to shame!



I can't wait to read your review of the Volkl Mantra!
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by The Squeaky Wheel View Post
Hold does the new Mag 12 compare to the m666 fusion? Still pretty much the same or have they changed things?
They are pretty much the same: the new Mag 12 is only slightly stiffer-feeling laterally, and I haven't skied the 2007 666, but it shares construction, so it should have the same improvements. They were small improvements though, I had to ski them back-to-back to feel a difference.

I just found out that I have a new Magma on the way. I will post a report when I have some time on it.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by The Squeaky Wheel View Post
Hold does the new Mag 12 compare to the m666 fusion? Still pretty much the same or have they changed things?
They are pretty much the same: the new Mag 12 is only slightly stiffer-feeling laterally, and I haven't skied the 2007 666, but it shares construction, so it should have the same improvements. They were small improvements though, I had to ski them back-to-back to feel a difference.
post #16 of 28
Scott,, get the Magfire 14 up there as soon as you can!!!!!
post #17 of 28
Wow, thanks for the reviews !
post #18 of 28
Dgudaitis mentions “constant comparison” as one of the elements he found beneficial in the read of your review. I also found your review had a narrative pace and flow so as you don’t have to constantly “flip back”. This review aside from the obvious content value really enabled me to quickly grasp your findings. A great job and much appreciation for your work!
post #19 of 28
Awesome review! Thanks.

Looking forward to what you think of the mojo 90 and the mantra. I'm about 10 lbs. heavier and the mojo 90 has worked well in a 186.
post #20 of 28
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
Scott,, get the Magfire 14 up there as soon as you can!!!!!
I agree!!! I can't wait for your "previews" of the 2008 skis.

As always, phenomenally good reviews and a real asset for anyone who doesn't get the chance to demo.
post #21 of 28

Outlaws and Ultrawaves

Great reviews.
I was amused that he Nordica was at the bottom of your list. I am not familar with that ski, but have some older lime green (think Kawasaki) Nordica Ultrawaves in about 198-200. This ski picks up where the Outlaw leaves off in the NW crud. I am a heavier skier and the ultrawave skis very similar to my old school Atomic 220 SGs, and work good well when cutting loose.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ski-2-fly View Post
Great reviews.
I was amused that he Nordica was at the bottom of your list. I am not familar with that ski, but have some older lime green (think Kawasaki) Nordica Ultrawaves in about 198-200. This ski picks up where the Outlaw leaves off in the NW crud. I am a heavier skier and the ultrawave skis very similar to my old school Atomic 220 SGs, and work good well when cutting loose.
I really like the Nordica product, and rated their softer skis very highly. I can't flex the stiffer titanium skis though. I had never skied a Nordica/Kastle before last season.
post #23 of 28
WOW awesome review. Man my brain hurts from all that info.

great thread for someone looking for some new sticks in that catagory.

post #24 of 28
Great stuff. I demo'd the Legend 8000 at Alta last week (among others) as replacements for my old Dynastar ATV 4x4s. You describe them perfectly. Hope to be able to buy a pair.
post #25 of 28

Excellent, timely review!


Thanks for the great review. It's helping me in my search for a one ski quiver for the PNW. Today I demoed of the Elan Magfire 12 176 at Hood and loved it. Powerful and confidence inspiring, especially for my first day on shaped skis. I've started my own review thread... would you mind providing any comments / insight / help on what to demo next?

post #26 of 28
Boy all these ski reviews, looks like somebody has to much time on there hands. I'm jealous.

Thanks you dawg
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 

Ski Tested: 2008 Elan Magfire Magma 176cm: This ski is 82mm underfoot, and has a 17m turn radius. Bindings are ELD12's (Tyrolia RFD12's mounted for the Fusion system). The flex feels much stiffer than the 666/Magfire 12 that it is essentially replacing. The new Magfire 12 for 2007 will have 1 sheet of metal, whereas the Magma has 2 sheets.

Conditions were less than ideal for testing all-mountain skis. We haven't seen snow in 2 weeks, and it has been warm and sunny since. The groomers are fairly solid (a little soft, with firm hero-snow underneath) whereas off-piste conditions are horrible (glazed-over refreeze that won't thaw in January on a North-facing mountain, no matter how warm the temps are). This was the end of the day, so there were snow clumps all over the steeper runs. Conditions were fairly demanding as far as groomers go.

I skied the current Magfire 12 before getting onto the new Magma. The Magma was straight out of the wrapper, except for base-bevel check I did on it, and also getting the edges sharp to 1 degree.

The Magfire 12 was exactly how I remember it: extremely stable in these conditions, with no real speed limit. Alot of energy in the tail, especially when loaded up under a powerful carve. And, wicked edge hold. Quick edge-to-edge for an all-mountain weapon, and I would say, a 50/50 ski or maybe even slightly biased toward the groomers. It reminds me of the Elan GSX stock race ski, only a but more forgiving.

Once I got warmed up on that ski, it was time to try the Magma. As I noted earlier, the ski seems stiffer in flex than any Elan I have skied, save for the Speedwave 14. Therefore, I really didn't know what to expect. And, it didn't ski really like previous Elan's I have tried. The energy of the Magfire 12 or 777 wasn't there, but was replaced by a smooth, very solid and stout-feeling ski underfoot. The speed limit was the same as the Magfire 12, if not a little higher. The ski was actually more forgiving: I could cruise on it with less energy required, and the tail would release a little more predictably. With that said, I could get some big arcs at speed on this ski. It wasn't as quick edge-to-edge, but once there, it held like glue. The energy in the tail was there, but doesn't seem to be a springboard like the the Magfire 12. It has more of a powerful, big-ski, no speed limit feel. On the hard stuff, it felt like a truckin' GS. Forget small-radius turns. And, it felt comparable to other 82mm skis I have tried on hard snow: a little slow edge-to-edge, with decent energy, but not a replacement for a dedicated hard-snow ski like a Speedwave/Supershape/Mach3. This ski, like every other ski I have tried that is 82mm underfoot, just doesn't have the same juice or excitement underfoot as the narrower skis on the market. But, it is more than passable, as are the other contenders in this category. Don't let some high-school kid working at the shop convince you otherwise-if you live back East, I would look at a versatile narrower ski first, and buy a wider ski as a quiver component, unless you do most of your skiing out West on vacation.

I didn't have other skis to test that day, but if I were pressed to compare it, I would speculate that it is much more comparable to the Nordica Jet Fuel and Afterburner than any of Elan's previous offerings. It felt stiffer and more stable than the Afterburner, but not as stiff as the Jet Fuel. The overall feel of both of those skis (as I remember them) was present in the Magma. I thought it was a little more heavy-feeling than the Head iM82 and had a touch more energy. Definitely more of a big-turn ski than the AC4, for better or worse.

Unfortunately, I couldn't test this ski where it belongs, in the crud. It is impossible to say how this ski will do in those conditions, although I have no reason to believe it won't do very well there also. Therefore, LARGE DISCLAIMER until I get it into some better conditions. But, as it stands now, I really had fun on it. If it falls into that realm between the Afterburner and Jet Fuel, I will be very happy indeed (my complaint about the Afterburner was that I could find the speed limit, and the Jet Fuel was too stiff). I wouldn't say, though, that it is an upgrade over the current Magfire 12, merely a different ski that has it's own pluses and minuses. I would choose the Magfire 12 if I was skiing hard snow alot of the time, as it was quicker edge-to-edge and has more energy. I fully expect the Magma to have the edge in deeper snow.
post #28 of 28
Dawg - Your reviews are very thorough. Thanks.

I do have a question. You are not the only reviewer who has referred to "energy" in a ski ... or in its tail. Could you please describe what you mean by such phrases? I have an idea (More like how slalom skis used to be stiffer in the tail, and they'd kinda force back into the Front Seat if you got too far back.) but I'm not sure you mean the same thing I'm thinking....


- KK
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