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All-Mountain Ski Search Result: Stockli Snake BC Review

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
For what it is worth, I recently went through the (mission impossible) search for an all-mountain ski that does everything. I demo'd quite a few skis and finally bought a pair of Stockli Snake BCs. A lot of people seem interested in searching for that magic ski that covers the whole mountain and while I have skied better GS skis and better bump skis, I felt like the Snake did better at more than anything else I have skied.

About me: 27, male, 6'4", 210lbs, skier level: 10 (aggressive expert). Ski tastes: I spend 1/3 of my time at Stowe & Killington seeking bumps and trees. The tighter, icier and ruttier the bumps the better. I spend 1/3 of my time out west (Jackson, Vail) trying to find chutes, steeps, powder, trees, etc... to charge down and 1/3 of my time I'm skiing and there are no bumps or steeps and I'm arcing GS turns downhill as fast as I possibly can until my eyes water. In other words, powder/steeps, tight bumps and GS turns. A tough request for a single ski.

In general, I don't have exotic taste in skis. I am pretty happy with skis that Ski Magazine and others like. I tried the Volkl AC4, the Salomon Foil, the K2 Apache Recon, Public Enemy and Outlaw and the Volkl Karma. I do not like really big skis. Philosophically I prefer to go shorter to reduce swing weight, increase maneuverability, etc... I'm definitely not a guy who refuses to go under 190 based on some ego-driven principle even if at my height and weight I probably could.

Anyway, to get to the point, in the end I bought a pair of Stockli Snake BC skis in 188 length after skiing them today at Jackson Hole.

GS: Started my day with them on Sundance and Gros Venture under the Gondola. Yesterday it was 50 degrees then 20 overnight so frozen snow. The snowcats groomed these trails and they were bulletproof before slowly softening up. Not exposed New Hampshire-like green ice, but as icy and hard as a groomed trail will be. For a ski that does not have a wood core, the Snakes were surprisingly damp (2 layers of metal) and skied long hard GS arcs better than any of the others that I had tried except for maybe the Volkl AC4 (and way better than a softer Public Enemy or Foil). This ski flexed a lot in the store but really felt a lot bigger and stiffer when I skied it. I read a review online by someone who claimed to be 120lbs and didn't like their Snakes because they were soft and chattered. Bull. I weight 210lbs and drive HARD onto the ski and they weren't solid like a racing stokli or volkl, but they bit in and did not chatter. That person's problem is that they don't weigh enough. This ski is not as soft as you might think and at 120lbs, they clearly couldn't get enough weight on the ski to flex and ski it. When it came to shorter slalom turns however, the Snake was just okay. Compared to something like the AC4 or the K2 Apache Recon, the Snake was not a 'turny' ski. It is straighter with a longer turning radius. For example, as a drill, turning on the outside edge of your inside ski is not easy and is likely to catch an edge (ex: turning on the right edge of your right ski when turning right). It is better at short turns than the K2 Outlaw however and about the same as the Karma.

Bumps: Started in the Bivouac Woods off of the Sublette chair where the bumps were icy, uneven and full of trees, reminding me of ugly east coast bumps. The Snakes were fair. They were not as easy to turn and race down as the K2 Apache Recons were, not surprising given that the Recons have a 78mm waist. When I really, really pushed forward on the ski, they started to ski a bit hotter in the bumps. With a tip this wide (122) you just need to stay forward. If you ski bumps hard, they will be fine, but if you are lazy or fatigued, they won't bail you out like the K2s or a narrower ski might. Later I moved to some softer bumps in Laramie bowl and softer but still crusty Thunder bumps. The Snake was better here than in the tighter trees but clearly it is not a dedicated bump ski. However, with a softer tail, it is more than capable. In softer snow at a mountain with better lines in the bumps, I think that these would have ripped more but they felt good and I was smiling and skiing the bumps fast. Felt better than the Karma, Outlaw, worse than the Recon, AC4 in quick bumps... but somewhat better than those 2 skis in situations where you need to skid into an icy bump and absorb it and want a burlier ski.

Powder: None on this mountain, but here I would imagine that given the dimensions, that the Snake BC would outski the rest of the all-mountain pack except for the Outlaw which I think is inferior on hard ice or in bumps. Gotta take that one on speculation though... probably comparable to the Karma...

Other: Skied a couple of steeper chutes and the ski was very good. Felt very stable and secure under foot on steeps. Also felt very maneuverable in the air and solid on landing.

Anyway, that is it, I tried a bunch of other skis, but by no means every ski out there. In the end, the Snake was a really, really fun ski and that is what matters the most to me. It beat enough recommended skis in enough areas to make me believe that it was a great choice to do everything for me for the next couple of years... although by trying lots of skis, I learned that there are a LOT of great skis out there now, any one of which I would be happy with. It skied fast GS better than I expected, short slalom and bumps capably, steeps and air well and I expect that it will ski all but super-deep powder well. It also had a somewhat 'burlier' feel to it than the other skis which is something that I appreciated as it gives me confidence when I need to just point them downhill and ride out a hairy patch...

Other things to note:

Have not owned Stockli skis before but they are "handmade" in Switzerland and seem to have a great reputation for quality. When I asked some of the guys in the shops that I visited to compare Stockli to K2 or Salomon, (in shops that carried those brands) they mostly laughed and dismissed the comparison as not even close (in Stockli's favor). I

got the Stockli in 188. Comparing to my old Salomons (195), the Stocklis appear about 7cm shorter. However, comparing to the K2s that I tried (181), the Stockli were only maybe 2-3cm longer. This is because Stockli measures tip to tail while K2 measures only their estimated skiable surface. The lesson? Ski lengths given by manufacturers are approximations and only a guideline to go by.

Given that the Stockli also have a twin tip, for a somewhat bigger all-mountain ski (dimensions are 122/88/111), they ski a bit shorter than their 188 length. However, these are fast skis and will really accelerate if you don't stay far forward on them.

The color is flourescent yellow fading to orange with a large snake graphic on the tips and snakeskin detailing on the topsheet. I feel like I have outgrown, um, neon snake graphics, but for what it is, the graphic isn't bad and I guess I sort of like skiing something that everyone else on the mountain isn't skiing as well.

Both the tips and tails have small metal caps on them which I like (hopefully reduces the chance of a tip delamination.

Stocklis are pretty expensive skis, but I saw this ski at quite a few shops available for purchase as a demo. The pair that I got had only been skied 3 times and I got them for $325 (after saving $75 by removing the demo bindings). I think that this is a ski that is likely still available at Stockli dealers.

I have heard that Stockli uses foam in their high end skis for vibration dampening properties, not to be cheap. Not sure if that is true, but I found it believable after skiing on wood core skis since 1994 and then skiing this ski today and not "missing" any rebound or something...

The ski is not super light, but is on the light-side of things.

Just my $.02 on my new skis.
post #2 of 5
Great review. I always wondered how the BC's ski. I have the Snakes (not BC) in size 170, I'm 6' 185# - I bought it for mid atlantic skiing (since I moved from Boston to DC), bumps and park, and I love them. I feel like I could have gone with a 180 instead of 170 but for what I use them for they are perfect. They are light, and ski incredibly stiff compared to how they hand flex, and hold an edge like no other twin I have been on. I can make almost any radius turn on them without a problem and haven't found a speed limit yet. I'm sold on Stockli quality and only wish they made a ski 100+mm underfoot that would be the replacement for my 183 gotamas. Congrats on your purchase
post #3 of 5
thanks for that review. I too hunt for the perfect do-everthing ski (and currently am using some old K2 Phat Luvs for this!). I eyed the Snakes when they first came out, and am still eyeing them. The mad graphics are just the Swiss being silly. I have a cupboard full of Stocklis and I'm glad they are finally branching out with the graphics!

Once you've Stocklied, you won't go back. I'm hoping the new XXLs will be "the" ski, but I might give the Snakes a poke too.
post #4 of 5
Again, thanks for the great review. I've been skiing the SCs (158) for three years and love them (my first modern ski), but picked up a used pair of 170 original snakes over at TGR just before my first trip west in February (Alta/Snowbird). I had been thinking of a wider ski for a while, and was amazed to find out that an 80mm waist is really not considered fat anymore. Never-the less, after somewhat getting the hang of powder skiing, I'm thinking of getting something even fatter primarily for eastern tree skiing. I want to stick with Stockli, and am trying to decide between the Snake BC and the Stormrider TT. Of course next years Snake Coral had to arrive just to confuse matters! Any opinions from the Stockli afficciandos out there to help me solve this dilemma?

I'm pretty much a midget at 5'2" and 140 lbs. and am thinking of the shorter lengths.

By the way, I raced a skiercross race last weekend and the snakes were unbelievably fast and stable. I think the medal I got was just a consolation prize for being twice as old as the next oldest nut out there!

Off to MRG in a few hours to try out the Snakes in Paradise!
post #5 of 5
Thanks for your review and just in time as my Snake BC's should be here this week. I'm sure I'll enjoy them all over the mountain.
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