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06-07 Head i.SL VIST Slalom 166

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I guess I got sucked in when I demoed the Dynastar WC Slalom ski. So, I did some shopping, found a pair of Head WC Slaloms and they came in today. I managed to ski them on the local 300' vertical tonight. So I thought I'd do a little write up.

I am a 6', 240lb, level 7-8 skier who is 53 years old. I'm in Nordica Speedmachine 14 boots 27.5 and my primary ski is the Head Supershape in a 170. Conditions were groomed, firm man-made, air temp was 3 degrees. Skis were right out of the wrapper with a quick hot wax to protect the bases.

First off, these skis weigh a good 1/3 more than the Supershapes and they are an order of magnitude stiffer. Pretty comparable to the Dynastars. Since I had skied the Dynastars, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. As I expected, both skis were similar.

At slow speeds, the ski feels stiff and bulky. At about 20 mph, it comes alive and completely changes character. Loaded properly, the ski explodes into the next turn at release. Be ready to keep up or chase it. I kept trying to explore the limit of the ski; however, I didn't find it. More like I found my limits.

Compared to the Dynastar, I think the Head ski is a little more forgiving. However, there were differences in the snow conditions and in the tune. (More on that later) The sweet spot is pretty tight compared to the Supershape (which has a much narrower sweet spot than other high end skis I have demoed) So I think I did the right thing getting this ski as a training ski to work on for aft balance. You absolutely cannot get behind this ski because it will get away from you fast.

I also got to swap skis with a race coach. He was on a Fischer FIS SL ski. I thought the Fischer was a tad more forgiving to ski than the Head with not as much pop.

One caveat with reviewing these skis is I believe the state of tune plays a huge roll in how these ski react. Much more so than non-race skis. I discovered this with the Supershapes when they needed a base grind and structure. I had been skiing this ski at ~1 base (how it came out of the wrapper) and 3 side. After the base grind I set it up at .5 base 3 side. It's a completely different ski. It's great for carving, but, overall, it's quite a bit less forgiving. Having said that, I will do a followup on the Head SLs after I set the side bevels and get the skis waxed properly. I bet it makes a difference.
post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

Follow-up

Now that the ski has been tuned and waxed I can say that it reacts the same as before. I think it glides a little better since I waxed the ski though. Edge grip is essentually the same.

I only turned the side bevels to 3*. I left the base bevels (~1*) alone. I would expect a .7 base bevel to hook up sooner. Right now I'm having a blast on this ski. Even with the double heel ejection I had the other night.

I was haullin' the mail, carving deep RR track on fresh groomed and the snow was deeper and softer than I expected. I got a little too much forward pressure in the skis in the fall line at big edge angles, the tips dug in, the skis stopped and I launched. Oops!:
post #3 of 10
I can't ski these expert skis but it's a very interesting review, an expert category. So now we need a long term reviews of the two skis. Thanks for the review.
post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by SrMike View Post
I also got to swap skis with a race coach. He was on a Fischer FIS SL ski. I thought the Fischer was a tad more forgiving to ski than the Head with not as much pop.
Were the Fischers brand new skis as well? If not, that may account for the difference in forgiveness feel.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Max - the Fischers were not new and he said they probably needed a tune. It would be interesting to ski the Head SLs and the Fischer SLs side by side on firm conditions with equivalent fresh tunes and wax.

I've got a little more time on on the Heads now and I finally got to ski them on ice. I was at Perfect last night and initially the snow was pretty soft. However, the temps dropped below freezing and it got really firm. I was skiing on the SLs and the Supershapes for a comparison.

I found even in the soft snow the SLs skis have more grip and pop than the Supershapes, while the SS is more versatile in this condition. When it iced up, the difference was magnified by at least an order of magnitude. I could carve on the ice with the Supershapes, but I had to be careful with how quickly I pressured the ski. With the SLs, the edge grip was right there. It was nearly as strong as it was in the soft snow earlier.

I am getting to really like skiing the slalom skis. It's a workout, but I think even in the short time I have on these skis, it's made a positive difference in my skiing. BTW, that was the reason for getting the ski. I've spent a few runs in the gates with this ski and I want to get a more time in the gates with it. It's interesting , but it feels like I'm skiing SL at speeds that 25 years ago were GS speeds. I got to get used to that. I don't have any armor (yet), so 2 - 3 passes a day is all the bruising this old bod needs.

One thing I did notice when I was tuning the skis. I believe the edges are a different steel that what is on the Supershapes. I believe I can get a better edge on the SLs, but I noticed the edge pits easier. It cleaned right up with a few passes with the Moonflex stones though. It would not surprise me for a high performance ski like this to be also require a little more maintenance too.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
Were the Fischers brand new skis as well? If not, that may account for the difference in forgiveness feel.
Yes, how many hours they have on them can make a huge difference, on ice especially.

dt
post #7 of 10
I own the 06-07 i.SL Rd vist in a 166 & have skied the Fischer race Stock Sl a couple of years back. I found the fischer to much more demanding, much stiffer underfoot and much less smooth. In fact had I skied the Fischer all day, I am not sure I would have any filings left in my teeth!

I have found the Head much smoother with more even flex pattern.
post #8 of 10
I raced a season on the 04-05 Head i.SL RD. I'm currently on the 06-07 Fischer. The Head was certainly smooth and damp. Actually it was too damp... into the realm of feeling dead and lacking snowfeel. Then again, when the snow ices up, I kinda like feeling the course through my bones. I guess that's why I'm on Fischer.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voltron View Post
I raced a season on the 04-05 Head i.SL RD. I'm currently on the 06-07 Fischer. The Head was certainly smooth and damp. Actually it was too damp... into the realm of feeling dead and lacking snowfeel. Then again, when the snow ices up, I kinda like feeling the course through my bones. I guess that's why I'm on Fischer.
I thought I had heard somewhere the newer Fischer was a less stiff in the mid section then the version i skied on.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomicman View Post
I thought I had heard somewhere the newer Fischer was a less stiff in the mid section then the version i skied on.
Compared to the 166 from last year, I think it is less stiff. Though, I skied the skis 6 months apart and never tried the 161, so I may not have the greatest comparison.
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