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2008 AC40 Carbon & Tigershark 12; 2008 Head XRC1200 & i.Supershape Magnum

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
2 Skiers:

Skier 1
Age: 19
Ability: High Level 8
Conditions: Warm slush, bumps, groomers, crud
Height/weight: 5' 8"; 160lbs
Boots: Nordica Dobermann Pro 130

Skier 2
Age: 24
Ability: Level 9/Racer
Conditions: Warm slush, bumps, groomers, crud
Height/weight: 5' 7"; 160lbs
Boots: Nordica Dobermann WC 150

2008 Volkl AC40 Carbon [177cm]

I now know why everyone raves about this ski. At 82mm in the waist it is wide enough to get through most conditions. Compared to the race skis that I normally ski on these skis felt very light. I skied these on soft, rough groomers, and bumps. I found them to be very nimble for being a modern midfat that is really more at home in bigger turns. I was able to carve them into GS and even SL (yes SL) turns. The problem that I had with the ski was that it didn't wow me on any aspect of it's performance. My brother (who was the other skier) felt the same way. The skis really ski quite well, but they do not seem to excel at anything - except for maybe the ability to make ACTUAL slalom turns (brother's comment after he saw me doing that was, "wow I didn't know those skis could do that"). My brother really seemed to enjoy the AC40 when he skied on it but after he skied the Tigershark he was not as enthusiastic about the AC40... and those were my thoughts as well, but we will get to that. My gripe is that they did not feel 'powerful' like some have claimed, and got kicked around more easily than I was expecting... but then my two "over 70mm skis" are Machete FB's and Stockli DP's, so I might be comparing apples to oranges in the stability category.

2008 Volkl Tigershark 12 (79mm waist one) [175cm]
The only reason I tried this ski is that I was very skeptical of it's performance and especially the little gizmo that changes the flex of the ski. First I skied the ski on the ski without the gizmo engaged. Pretty much I hated it. They carved alright on the soft setting and probably would have skied bumps very well, but they weren't at home at speed. The next run I immediately flipped the switch on the tails (very easy to do btw), and it was literally like someone... well... flipped a switch. The skis stiffen up a lot. They actually felt stiff. The sidecut actually runs up the tip similr to a race ski, so the tips engage very aggressively in comparison to the AC40. After the first set of turns down the headwall on these skis (after skiing the AC40) my brothers comments were "I like these skis a lot better." I felt the same way actually. I can say that these are probably not for everyone. They are very stiff, and quite demending on their stiffer setting. If I had a choice between the AC40 and the Tigershark I would opt for the Tigershark. The 79mm waist really does not give up much to the AC40's 82mm waist in choppy conditions and you can soften them up if you have to. The Tigershark and AC40 didn't really wow me however. My brother really enjoyed the Tigershark and I think was his second favorite of the day. I liked it, but I didn't find anything that it excelled at - despite it's stiffness. It did make long and short radius turns nicely on both the stiff and soft settings though. On the soft setting the skis were left wanting for stability and edgehold. On the stiff setting they just wanted more input and actually skied fairly nicely (what you would expect from a ski of this caliber) when you got them going.

2008 Head i.Supershape Magnum

This was the favorite of the day for both my brother and I. If the rep had not wanted them back to send out to other people I probably would have spent the whole day on them. They are exactly the same as the current i.Supershape accept the waist is 71mm, and it is green instead of red. The snow was pretty soft due to the warm weather and these skis just blasted short turns through just about anything. They had enough surface area to be able to ski on the slushy snow without submarining like slalom skis usually do. These skis do not have a ton of energy compared to race stock slalom skis, but they are much easier to ski on. I skied them back to back with my SLR's and these were much easier to pilot, and admittedly much more fun given the conditions. These seemed to really hook up on the harder snow - so you could tell that they liked to ski hard snow. They were also rewarding of more modern technique, and using modern slalom technique. You have to be on the outside ski though and be ver aware of not leaning into the turn - two footed skiing did not work so well with them... so essentially they ski more like a race ski, without the need to be aggressive with them. I liked them a lot, and am considering getting these skis or the regular supershape for my father to ski on next season. There is also another version of this ski called the Chip (or supershape chip, or magnum chip, or something like that) that is the same ski with the Head intelligence chip. The rep said that the chip dampens the ski a lot, and he actually preferred the version without the chip. He did say that the chip version was better for the older, ex-racer crowd who wanted an aggressive ride but didn't want to have to worry about handling the rebound.

2008 Head XRC 1200

I was skeptical about this ski at first because my brother skied it an did not like it at all. He couldn't make it work. He actually had his first bad fall of the season on these from getting too far inside the turn. He is used to a ski that will hook up for you if you get inside the turn. These don't. In fact if you don't ski them they don't do much of anything. They really rewarded good technique - and by good technique I mean not banking carved turns. He took two runs on these and had enough. I got on them shortly after that and had a blast. They weren't in the same league as the supershape, but for being in the category they are in, they really skied well. I foudn that if you weren't on the outside ski they didn't do much of anything. they were also really damp. Scarily, the i.(?)XRC 1400 is the same ski with the intelligence chip added to it, that is supposed to make it MORE damp. This ski is already VERY damp and smooth, so I can't imagine it being more damp. I figured out why my brother didn't like it after a few runs. It doesn't release or transition the turns for you - you have to do it. With proper technique they are quite versitile and made short and long turns very nicely. They take off when you are skiing them properly though. I was able to make very solid medium and short radius arcs on them though, BUT they had more of a GSy feel to them versus a slalom feel (I think that is the idea though). I wouldn't buy these, but they are fun. They aren't easy to ski on either, so if you are thinking about a cruiser you might want to look elsewhere because they definitely reward good technique and punnish the lack of it.

Overall, we enjoyed the i.Supershape the most. I liked the XRC 1200 more than my brother (who thought it was useless). My brother liked the Volkl Tigershark quite a bit (as did I), but neither of us would rush out and buy a pair. The idea behind them is very interesting and would be great for someone who didn't want to work that hard all the time (as the stiff setting). If you need a groomer ski for out west, the AC40 would be great. I don't think there are any conditions out west that you could encounter on a normal day that these couldn't handle. If I was buying them I'd get a 184 because the 177 wasn't very stable, but they might loose their ability to carve slalom turns at that point. Overall, I give the thumbs-up to Head. The Volkls didn't wow me on any level, although they were good skis - just kind of planky feeling without a lot of personality - they do what you ask of them and not a lot more.


post #2 of 2
Nice review Greg. I got on a SS Magnum this morning, but only for a short run, hopefully will be able to get in more time with it tomorrow. If so I'll put up a full review, but so far I definitely think Head's got another winner.
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