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Newbie Impressions: RX8, Crossfire, Contact 11, Speedwave, XRC1200 (long)

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi. I'm a newbie here -- and somewhat of a newbie to changes in skiing technology. Due to grad school, kids, etc, I've had a 15-yr hiatus from skiing. Our kids have been taking ski lessons and we're now pressing ahead full steam to get the whole family into skiing. This weekend I demo'd a few skis. I wanted to get some feedback/insight on my experience, and perhaps recommendations for other skis I might try -- and ultimately purchase.

Background: Used to ski a lot as a kid. Just about every weekend. Mostly out west -- Montana & Wyoming. During high school (early 80's), skied in Europe -- less frequently, but for longer vacations. Went to college on east coast. Surprised and horrified by icy conditions! However, during junior and senior years (1987, 1988), I'd ski about every other weekend. Then grad school, kids, etc. Skied maybe once or twice at the beginning of that period, but haven't skied (until recently) in the last 15 years.

I'm not sure what level I was back then (or now). I don't know if the same "levels" (1-10?) even existed. I could generally ski single black diamonds fairly well -- at the time meaning with skis parallel and close together. My technique generally went downhill (no pun intended) the larger the moguls and steeper the grade. I certainly had my limits. I distinctly remember one run in Germany that my sister and I had to hike off of because it was difficult for me and seriously dangerous for her (it was incredibly steep with monster moguls).

Current stats: 40 years old. 5'10". 175-182 lbs, depending on time of year, shoes, and amount of Mexican food recently consumed (love it!). Quite frankly, I'm a little out of shape -- one of the reasons I'd like to get back into skiing!

Two weekends ago, we went skiing at a small place (Swain) in western NY. After 15 years, my wife and I were a little anxious. We were worried that we wouldn't be able to turn, and that if we fell, all our bones would shatter. (They didn't!) What shocked me was how quickly everything came back and how nice the current shaped skis are (and these were rentals). After a few green and blue runs, I found that I could handle the black diamonds -- sometimes even gracefully. Conditions that day were pretty warm. Some hardpack and ice. Slushy as the day went on.

This weekend we went skiing at another local resort (Bristol Mountain), which has a demo center. After reading quite a bit on this forum and a few other sites, I thought a smaller waist ski would be more appropriate for eastern, mostly on-piste skiing.

Conditions: Cold, somewhat blustery day. Recent new snow, but none falling while skiing. Still quite a few icy patches, especially later in day as top layer was skied off. Because of colder temperatures, thicker snow did not turn slushy like previous weekend.

Impressions: Here are my impressions of the skis demo'd (listed in order of demo). I believe all of these were the most recent (06-07?) versions. Most went through 2-3 runs on blue and black diamond trails.

* Dynastar Contact 11. (165cm? 172cm?). Can't remember now if I tried these in 165 or 172. Didn't like these. Edge wouldn't hold. Didn't feel stable at any speed. Really made me work.

* K2 Apache Crossfire. 167cm. Liked these quite a bit. Could carve some nice turns. Quick turns. Held edge nicely on ice. Definitely felt more in control than with Contact 11's. Felt more stable than Contact 11's at faster speeds.

* Fischer RX8. 170cm. Went in really wanting to love these (based on all the reviews I've read). Thought they were fine. Definitely agile and in control while carving turns. Held edge nicely on ice. Felt less stable at faster speeds than Crossfires or Speedwave 14's did.

* Head XRC 1200. 170cm. Least favorite of the group. Edge wouldn't hold on ice. On the other hand, towards the end of turns, the tail seemed to catch all the time, which would throw me off.

* Fischer RX8. 165cm. Wanted to see if shorter length would better suit me. Turns out I liked the 170cm's more. The 165's had all the same characteristics as the 170's, but less stable skiing faster.

* Elan Speedwave 14. 168cm. Really impressed with these. Seemed to combine the agility of the RX8's with stability at faster speeds. Held edge very nicely. I hadn't done any research on these before and just decided to try them. On returning home, I was surprised to find that other reviewers commented that these skis make you work. I found exactly the opposite. I could carve nicely, maintaining control, with much less effort than just about any of the other skis, except perhaps the Crossfires. It was almost like these skis were on autopilot at times.

* Elan ???? rentals. 170cm. Certainly didn't have the agility of the Crossfire, RX8, or Speedwave 14. However, I could find an edge and control them a lot better than the Contact 11 or XRC 1200's.

Relative to each other (on a scale of 1-10) and purely in terms of how much I enjoyed skiing on them, I would rank these skis

* Speedwave 14 -- 9
* Crossfire -- 8.9?
* RX8 170cm -- 8
* RX8 165cm -- 7.5
* Rentals -- 6
* Contact 11 -- 3
* XRC 1200 -- 2

Further thoughts: There are so many confounding factors in trying to evaluate the relative merits of these skis. For example, I had no control over how well maintained the skis were. Was the inability of the Contact 11's or XRC 1200's to grab in ice inherent to the skis (relative to the others)? Or were the edges just dull from weeks of demoing? Secondly, snow conditions changed throughout the day, not just due to temperature, but also number of skiers on runs. How did this affect my experiences on the skis? Third, my legs certainly changed throughout the day. By the time I got on the XRC 1200's (about 1pm), my legs were pretty tired. Went to lunch afterwards and then, after eating and resting, tried the RX8's at 165cm. Had a much better experience on those than the XRC 1200's. On the other hand, my legs were also pretty worn out by the time I got to the Speedwave 14's, which is what impressed me so much about them -- I was tired, but could still ski well on them. Fourth, this was my second day skiing in 15 years!! I'm certain my abilities are outclassed by these skis. Finally, I didn't like my rental boots. They were comfortable enough. However, they flexed WAY to much, even when everything was securely fastened. I'm sure that affected my ability to control the various skis.

At this point, I'm thinking of taking advantage of end-of-season sales -- as well as my wife's enthusiasm for skiing! -- to purchase either Speedwave 14's or Crossfires, along with decent boots, of course. My first order of business next season will be to take lessons to improve my technique -- or just learn "modern" technique. I suppose I could put off purchasing skis until I do that. But again, there are the sales...

Ultimately, I'd like to find skis that (a) I enjoy right now and (b) I can grow into.

Two questions:

* Are there serious reasons why I shouldn't purchase Speedwave's or Crossfire's just yet?

* Given the above demo impressions, is there another ski that you are confident I would absolutely love? e.g., would the Speedwave 12 be a better ski for me? Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to demo it.

post #2 of 20
If you didn't like the RX-8's at higher speeds, it may be because the wider tip is more sensitive to sitting back. You might enjoy the RX-9 more, because it is a ski with a radius comparable to the skis you did like better.
post #3 of 20

RX8s good at speed

CSIG - Except that you're lighter than me, we seem to have similar credentials. I'm 43, 5' 9", 215#, skied on & off for the last 20 years. I do well-enough on-piste if there are no moguls. My last pair of skis were 191cm '97 Volkl Carvers which hold beautifully at high speeds on well-groomed steeps.

I picked up some 170cm RX8s for this season and spent some time getting used to the new technology. I had them at Elk Mountain PA a couple weeks ago. Conditions were somewhat hard-pack (PA packed powder ) with an inch of fresh on top. They have some very steep trails, and the RX8's handled them with aplomb. If I needed to turn-off some speed (which at times was considerable), they managed with no loss of control. Short, medium & long-radius turns were all relatively effortless.

With that said, thanks for the GREAT review of all those skis.

PLEASE keep posting.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback. Stopped by one of our local ski shops today and tried on various boots. Ended up leaving with some Tecnica diablo magnesiums. They were the "goldilocks" boots -- just seemed to fit right. Nice and snug without hurting anywhere. Got a good deal too.

post #5 of 20
The Heads you said didn't hold an edge are regarded by most as pit bulls on ice, and the Contact 11 is no slouch. My experience too. Don't want to rain on your parade, but it's possible that they didn't take to your style; they like new school, and in the case of the Heads, are pretty unforgiving. If you were catching the tails but washing out on ice, that probably means you were sitting back and keeping low edges with the skis close together.
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

I completely agree -- and am well aware that I have much to learn, given the changes in technology and skiing methods. With all the positive reviews of both the 1200's and Contact 11's, I was surprised that I disliked them so much. I chalked it up mostly to being outclassed by them (in terms of technique) and/or possibly poorly tuned edges.

The demoing exercise was enlightening not just because it allowed me to compare various skis, but also because it showed me how incomplete demoing actually is -- at least one day of demoing. As I noted in my post, there are so many confounding variables during the demoing, that its difficult to reach an accurate conclusion based on a single day's demoing. What I learned from that single day wasn't that the Head and Dynastar skis are "bad" skis -- or even necessarily bad for me -- but that (a) given their condition and (b) given the snow conditions and (c) given my ability, I didn't enjoy skiing on them that day. On the other hand, I learned that given (a), (b), and (c), I enjoyed skiing the Speedwaves, Crossfires, and RX8s. Since many people, who I assume are better skiers, seem to like these skis as well, it suggests to me that they are skis I can enjoy now, while improving my technique.

post #7 of 20
Bristol is selling their demo skis starting on Saturday 3/24 - 3/28. Silent auction or "buy it now". Just a thought.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I'll look into it.
post #9 of 20
Regarding Speedwave 14, all I can say is that it is excellent. I have the 168 and I have no problem working it. With 2 layers of metal, i think body weight has an effect on the amount of 'work" required on these skis. I am 185lbs.
post #10 of 20
I own the Head XRC1200's, with the sidewall construction they hold on anything. I also feel the ski is easy to stay centered on and is very agile to boot. The ski does need to be skied hard, skidding and slow speeds are not an option. I just bought a new pair of RX8's for more relaxed skiing, haven't tryed them yet.
post #11 of 20
Good reviews and welcome back to skiing. One caveat about demoing is that carving skis are much more sensitive to the need to be well tuned than "straight" skis are. Unfortunately, not all demo's are maintained as they should be. This can significantly affect your impression of a ski. Regular rentals tend see even more use between tunes.
post #12 of 20
If you liked the O6-07 Crossfire, you'll find next season's version even better. The tweaking has made the Crossfire an even better hard snow ski while also making it perform more comfortably in cut up stuff. I've been enjoying it in spring slush, conditions where I normally would have selected the Recon.
post #13 of 20
Coming back after 15 years to demo skis. You really belong at epic. But don't take your 1st impressions too seriously. You are demoing expert level skis on rental boots. Until you get on a real pair of boots that actualyl fit your feet it will be very hard drive the skis properly and to recieve the proper feedback and feel to evaluate the skis.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
I hear ya about the boots. Ironically, after doing a ton of research on skis, I went out and bought a pair of boots (see above) with almost no reading done on them. (I know, I know. Seems like a common mistake, from what I've now read.) Unfortunately, I went into the ski shop with a number of misconceptions due to a previous pair of ill-fitting boots I owned. Add to that an inexperienced kid who just wanted to sell me a pair of boots and get me out of there.

Once I got home with the boots, I did some more reading here on epic. Realized that the boots were likely too big (surprise, surprise). Went back the next day and talked to one of the shop's more experienced bootfitters. based on what I've read here, the new bootfitter did everything right. I ended up with a full size smaller. he also did a little work on the shell to get rid of a slight pressure point. the boot is VERY snug right now (new), but doesn't hurt anywhere.

slowly, but surely, I'm learning....

post #15 of 20

Next Years Crossfire?

You mentioned next years will be even better, Where can I find info on '08 crossfire? Thanks..

I'm deciding between Crossfire, Fischer progessor and Stockli laser cross,
6'1" 225lbs, athletic 8+ skier, like to go fast. Any suggestions?

I currently ski volkl superstar and I'm looking for a change to something with better edge grip and stability, skiing mostly stowe and mad river. Previously I has k2 ModX Pro and liked the damp/stable feel.

post #16 of 20


www.sportive.co.nz Has whole 08 k2 range
post #17 of 20
08 crossfire is a totally new ski .Recon unchanged except graphics
post #18 of 20

08 Crossfire

I can't wait to try these. Looks like 2cm fatter and dims tweaked. Should be schweet
post #19 of 20
Just catching up on my threads. Bluewaterpro, I've owned a lot of Volkls, ski in NE, always found them to have outstanding grip, even on transparent ice. And the 6* is a freight train. Wonder if you are skiing them too short.

IMO, of the skis you mention, the Laser Cross will have the best grip and stability - Stockli's are famous for both - and their build will really work for a big guy like you. Fischers are also known for being ice skates - but not as stable as Stocklis or Volkls, especially for heavier guys. And I've never found K2's to be especially grippy, although the fatter models like the Outlaw are plenty stable. Maybe it's the dampness/smoothness you like? If so, try the Laser Cross before settling on a K2.
post #20 of 20
Originally Posted by Bluewaterpro View Post
You mentioned next years will be even better, Where can I find info on '08 crossfire? Thanks..

I'm deciding between Crossfire, Fischer progessor and Stockli laser cross,
6'1" 225lbs, athletic 8+ skier, like to go fast. Any suggestions?

I currently ski volkl superstar and I'm looking for a change to something with better edge grip and stability, skiing mostly stowe and mad river. Previously I has k2 ModX Pro and liked the damp/stable feel.

The renewed Crossfire's differences are that it has a vertical sidewall instead of the more caplike earlier design, which improves edge bite significantly. To counter the extra stiffness from the sidewall change, they reduced the stiffness from the layers of titanal by increasing the size of the perforations. If you look at old and new crossfires side by side, you can see that the holes in the top sheet of metal visible in the earlier design are smaller than in the newer one. They also extended the dampning feature farther ahead from the binding mounting point.

The extra width and other changes combine to retain the relative quickness of the original Crossfire while giving it better performance in variable snow and cut-up stuff. As I said in March, I was enjoying the new Crossfire in conditions that normally would lead me to ski my Recons. The Recon is the updated replacement for the ModX Pros you liked before. For next season, the Recon remains the same as last year, when it grew a bit fatter.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › Newbie Impressions: RX8, Crossfire, Contact 11, Speedwave, XRC1200 (long)