I skied on several new Head models and my wife did as well. Snowbasin - just like the rest of the intermountain west - hasn't had any significant snowfall in a few weeks, so we were skiing old snow. We skied primarily groomers but we did do quite a bit of off-piste skiing. The off-piste was mostly firm, chalky snow with some nice chicken-heads scattered around the south-facing slopes. It wasn't a great day for trying out powder skis but it was excellent for carving skis and some crud skiing.
Head skis are really starting to be a presence. The Head booth was very busy and there's a lot of buzz about the line. Part of this is DEFINITELY due to Bode being on the skis, but a lot of it is that Head is making very good, very distinctive skis.
Also, this show is kind of a hectic process and I tried to get as much info as I could on these various models, but I may have written a few things down incorrectly. I'll try to correct any errors as more information comes in.
So, here are my reviews:
Me: 6'1", 195#, pretty good skier who is still learning a lot. I've been at it for over 30 years. I'm best at skiing powder and crud but I've really caught the bug on carving and using the whole ski. I do most of my skiing at Jackson Hole, all over the mountain. My two favorite all-around skis right now are the Head SuperShape and the Head iM88.
1. Head Xenon 9.0. 170cm, 11m turn radius, 120-75-114. Green and white cosmetics. Cap construction, I'm fairly sure.
This was a really fun ski. I think it's aimed at the do-it-all market and it works pretty well at that. It's very quick, as the 11m radius would suggest, but I felt I could make a pretty long turn on it without too much trouble. It carves well and felt very good in the small-to-medium bumps I skied. The Head guys told me that it skis powder very well because of fairly soft tip, but of course I didn't have any powder to try.
2. SuperShape Chip. 170cm, 13.5m turn radius, 121-71-107. Mostly black cosmetics with a little red accent. Sandwich construction.
This is the intelligence chip version of the SuperShape Magnum (see below). This was a very cool ski. The chip must actually do something because there was a distinct difference in feel between this ski and the SS Magnum. The geometry for both the SS Chip and the SS Magnum is essentially a slightly wider version of the classic SuperShape. Head feels this might make the new skis appeal to a somewhat wider market segment that looks at the classic SS as too narrow underfoot. If that philosophy gets more people to try what I think is a great group of skis, so much the better.
This ski was SMOOOOOTH. The regular SS is a pretty smooth ski anyway, but the SS Chip is that in spades. It felt silky but really powerful. I was still able to make pretty similar turns to what I'm used to on the SS, but with maybe a bit more "authority". The Chip is probably a better crud ski than the standard SS, due to both the chip and the somewhat wider profile. This ski doesn't have a lot of what you would call "snap", but it sure gives you a nice ride.
3. SuperShape Magnum. 170cm. 13.5m turn radius, 121-71-107. Black/white/green cosmetics, sandwich construction.
I guess I would say the difference between this SS and the Chip version is livliness. It makes the same turns, it just gives you a little more feedback from the snow. This ski was getting really great reviews from many people who were coming in off the hill. I really enjoyed the ski and feel it is probably a slightly better choice than the traditional SS for a skier who's looking for a bit more versatility. The extra width does make the Magnum a bit more of an all-around ski for crud and light powder. I still love my traditional SS for anything short of boot-top powder/crud, but the Magnum probably extends that soft-snow performance metric enough to merit really serious consideration.
4. iM95. 171cm. 17.3m turn radius, 128-93-118. Red/black cosmetics, fairly low-upturn tip. NEW ski for Head. Cap construction, I believe.
Well. This is an interesting ski. I was very surprised at how easily this ski turned compared to all the short-radius skis I was trying. This is a VERY light-weight ski. It had demo bindings on it but it still felt like a feather. There was obviously no powder, but it bowled through the crud I skied much better than I would have expected for a ski so light. I would love to ski it again in some serious junk, but right now it feels like a very good candidate for a backcountry board.
5. Mojo 90. 186cm. 20.2m turn radius, 124-89-117. Cap construction. New cosmetics for '08 - a kind of whitish/sky blue color scheme.
This ski is essentially unchanged except for the cosmetics. I like this ski a lot and I don't know why I don't own a pair. It skis "shorter" than the listed length, and works really well as an all-around ski, especially for someone who spends any time in the park or pipe.
6. SuperMojo 105. 191cm. 34.5m turn radius, 131-105-122. Also new cosmetics for 2008. White/blue similar to the Mojo 90. Cap construction I think.
This just wasn't the right kind of day for this ski. I feel like this is a great ski for powder and crud and going flat-out on big slopes, but those just weren't the conditions we had. If this is your kind of ski, you probably already know it.
And now for some women's skis:
My wife is 5'7", 130# and a strong skier. She loves powder, junk, and crud, makes moderately carved turns on groomers, but isn't really into high speed skiing. Her two favorite skis right now are the Head XRC 1400 and the K2 Axis AK.
1. Every Thang. 156cm. 11m radius, 122-72-106. Muted cosmetics with some black, gray, and green in it. New ski for 08, cap construction.
Neither my wife nor her friend were very excited about this ski. It's the women's version of the Xenon 9.0 that I reviewed above. I'm not sure my wife is ready yet for the mental leap to come "down" to a ski this short and with this short a turn radius. Both she and her friend felt it was a little "bouncy" at speed. They just weren't thrilled with this ski.
2. Wild Thang. 161cm. 15.4m turn radius, 121-81-107. Redesigned ski for 2008 with grayish/blackish cosmetics. Sandwich construction.
Well, she (and her friend) liked this one. She's ready to replace her K2's with this ski. She said it was smooth, stable, easy to ski, and felt "like a truck" in plowing through the crud sections that we skied. The geometry is just about perfect for what she likes in a crud ski, so it wasn't too surprising that she felt good about this one.
3. Power Thang. 163cm. 14.2m turn radius, 111-66-97. Cap construction. New ski for 2008. Blackish/grayish color scheme.
Four turns into her first run on these, she shouted out that she was in love. She had a big grin on her face and was making much more high-angle turns on the groomers than she ever does. You could tell that she just trusted this ski completely. We did crud, bumps, and groomers, and she raved about it. I can tell that there'll be a pair of these in her locker before too much longer.
4. Roxy (no, not HEAD) Joyrider. 162cm. 13m turn radius, 126-74-105. Kind of a psychedelic greenish/bluish/whitish color scheme. I'm not sure about the construction.
As my wife was trading out Head skis, she and her friend were being given a good-natured hard time by the girls at the neighboring Roxy tent. The two of them decided to try a pair and ended up on the Joyriders. They both liked the ski a lot and felt it would be a very nice all-mountain ski at Jackson Hole. Luckily for me, my wife wasn't *quite* as thrilled with them as she was with the Heads. Really nice skis, though.
Okay... that's the reviews.
There will, however, one more reivew coming up but that one needs its own topic. I got to ski on a REAL world cup slalom ski. Whoa, doggies!