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My two ski quiver - Elan M666 and Ripsticks

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Friends, since I have benefited over the years from reviews posted by generous members, I thought I would share some thoughts on these two very fine skis.
Me: 50 years old/35 years skier. 5'9 165lbs very fit (body builder for years). Gave up skiing for a bit in the 90's just in time to miss the advent of shaped skis. Back into it about four years ago. And now, too much into it (got my wife hooked - bless her heart). Was previously a Volkl man so bought a pair of Supersport 6* in 175cm as my first shaped skis. Big and expensive mistake. I had no clue how to ski them, and even after some lessons, discovered that they were so stiff for my weight I could not flatten them. Quad spasms on the lift convinced me that I needed something more agreeable for my transition to shaped skiing. Began to read everything on the board and was all set to pull the trigger on a pair of RX 8's when I came across a $220 deal for a pair of Elan M666's. Bought them in 168cm and put a pair of Look Pivot 10's on them. For those of you who may be where I was last year, this is a wonderful ski for those transitioning from straight ski technique. It can be skied in the old way without punishment. With a soft tail, you can skid this ski to your heart's content. But when you are ready to carve, they are ready as well. With proper technique (which I am learning), they will hook up early and solidly. I hope I am using the proper jargon when I say that they have a large sweet spot for carving and will respond to pressure whether engaged from the big/little toe down to the heel. Frankly, they may be even a bit too forgiving in this regard. Until I ripped out the heel lifts and rear spoiler out of my Tecnica XT 17's, I was a serious back seat driver. The 666's actually let you carve a turn by pressuring the heel. While the "park and ride" sensation is intoxicating for us new carvers, it is not good form, and has definite consequences when skiing the steeps or in moguls. Once the turn is engaged, the M666 is unflappable. Perhaps its best attribute is its ability to transition seamlessly among different snow surfaces. It holds well on hardpacked and blows right through crud with little need for adjustment. The downside to this extradinary stability is a certain amount dampening. If I am using the term correctly, there is sometimes a disconnect with the ski absorbing and not transmitting surface changes to the feet. Nevertherless, while not a pure carver, it does hold a line very well but requires the rider to constantly provide enough pressure to hold the edge. In steeps, the ski is too solid and ponderous. It takes a great amount of effort to make quick fall line turns because there is little rebound energy. This is my impression on hard or packed pow. Where this ski really shines is in the deep. I live in Maine, and (except for the huge dump last week), a "powder day" is usually a 6"-10" drop. I had these conditions over the MLK weekend. This is the M666's element. They float and plow through anything with grace. I can not imagine a more agreeable ride in these conditions. In short, this is a great all around ski. It is a creditable carver, though it may not help to improve your skills because it is so forgiving. But when there is acccumulated snow or crud mixed with hard, this ski is like a sno cat. Highly recommended for skiers in transition from straight skis as well. I would have thought them the perfect ski, if not for its agitated brother - the Ripstick.
I just got a pair of these in 164cm from Dawgcatching. I was looking for a true carver. While the 666's were love at first run, these weren't. They rather reminded me of the 6*- stiff and with a mind of their own, especially when compared to the 666's. I would try to engage them with my heel pressure technique and they would balk or "catch" in the tails. They were certainly fast enough, and like their sibling, would run flat. I had demoed a pair of RX 9's and felt they were needy - always needing to be turning or on edge. After a few runs on the Rips, I went back to the 666's like an old friend that humors you. Before getting on the Rips again, I began to read a great deal about my backseat driving problem, thinking that might be an issue. Ultimately, I ripped out my heel lifts and removed the rear spoiler. Even before getting back on the boards, I felt so much more balanced. I was upright and my ankles were not already considerably pre-flexed. I got on the Rips yesterday in beautiful hardpacked conditions. What a difference - like a totally different pair of skis. Like a wild horse that was still spirited but absolutely controllable. First, these skis carver like a scalpel. But the sweet spot is far narrower than the 666's. Simply, they demand proper technique - hands up and forward, shins pressed against cuffs, turn initiated from big/little toe. Do this, and the ski will dig in and carve far better than the 666 which is a bit more fincky to keep on edge. The coolest thing about the Rips is the ability to instantly transition from a wide carved trajectory to medium or quick fall line turns. I now understand (I think) what rebound energy is, and these skis have it. With pressure built under foot, they will pop you into the next turn. I like to ski steep flat groomers, usually on the trail edge. I was able to link short turns so closely together that I could literally crawl down the fall line. Mind you, these were not carved, but skarved/skidded turns. These skis are fast (and not just because of the great tune Dawg did before shipping). My wife commented that I was faster than on the 666's. Funny thing is that these ski feel "safer" because they are so dependable and controllable - no lag, no turn limit, not fuss, no attitude. And no quad pain. They also transmit surface irregularites better than the mid fats, which keeps you more viscerally connected to the slope and surface conditions. I skied hard for four hours straight on these without any fatigue. After a few hours on them, I strapped on the 666's. Hate to say how clumsy they felt. Soft, somwhat awkward and ponderous. Still stable as can be, but always trying to keep up with what I was doing. I had to slow down for them - almost dummy down technique that I had used to get on top of the Rips. Too agreeable. Back on the Rips and whoohoo. Every run just got better. Simply, these are great skis. A definite move up the food chain from the 666's, at least with the packed powder conditions yesterday. I am greatful for the 666's. They made it easy to get into carving technique and they will be my ride when we go to Banff in the spring because they will plow through anything - and that is what I am hoping to find there. But one fine day on the Rips has made me be a better skier - and rewards you when you get it right. Highly recommended.
post #2 of 2

Agreed on the M666s!

Nice lengthy review on these guys.

With help from some on the boards, I bought a pair of these last year at the same price and mounted them flat with whatever $99 binding was on GearTrade (some high-end Tyrolia)...

For Western snow, I can't imagine a ski that does everything so well, and I do disagree about the "little rebound" comment. I think (maybe related to the vertical sidewalls?) the ski carves great for a 76mm waisted ski and the rebound is fantastic, but it needs to be on edge and skied agressively to get the feedback. Yes, it's more work than an under 70mm ski, but who really skis those anymore, especially out West...

I couldn't be more happy, and I'm an advanced-expert. My intermediate learning ski was an Atomic 9.17 (best-selling of all time, I believe, for whatever that's worth) and was a good all around ski, but just too narrow for out West. The Elan's damp, forgiving, communicates well, carves great when on edge, and even handles moguls decently. Certainly not great.

It's a tremendous crudbuster and carving first tracks up at Breck earlier this year in the Bowls was a joy - not wide enough for that, but they showed what they can do (and what the limits are). They float well to a point.

It's unfortunate that Elan may be ditching this ski for next year (if I understand correctly, or maybe it continues as a Magfire integrated system ski?). In any case, I've never seen one at Mammoth or out in CO, and it's nice to have something that's far less common than a Rossi/K2/younameit but that arguably outdoes them in most regards.

I couldn't be happier, and at 5'11 145lbs should be on a 176 (I think). I got the 168 because it was the last pair.

Great ski, great price, great feel, great fun. The only people who might be disappointed would be people who only ski groomers all day or those who want feedback, and lots of it, all the time. It's smooth and stable, but it'll run with a high speed limit if you let it. I'd be hard pressed to find a better ski in the mid 70mms that does everything so well. It is, I think, one of the most ignored (and probably underdistributed) skis in the U.S. Those of us lucky to have them will keep em!

I know when I move up to a 90+mm one of these days that the Elans will not be sold...
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