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2008 Ski reviews: 71mm or narrower skis (hard-snow bias)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
2008 Hard Snow Ski Reviews

Skis Reviewed:

Head Supershape Magnum 170
Fischer Progressor 170
Elan GSX WC w/VIST plate 182
Elan GSX Fusion Pro 178
Atomic GS12 181
K2 Apache Crossfire 167
Volkl Tigershark 73 168
Nordica Mach 3 170
Nordica Mach 3 Power 170

I skied these all last month at Mission Ridge. The conditions were primarily hardpack but grippy snow. Groomers were buffed out. I also took most of these skis off-piste (somewhat icy bumps) to test them out, and in some old crud. I also ran gates on a few.

About me: 5 foot 9, 150lbs, level 8 skier, ski 30-45 days/year, trying to improve!

Opinions: these skis tend to get overlooked, but the narrower skis are money if you primarily ski in a hardpack area (East of the Mississippi) which means more than half of us! They are versatile in that they can ski up to 8” of new snow, ski bumps well (all but the stiffest skis, anyway), hold like glue, often have a bit tighter turn radius (so you aren’t 3 turns to the chair on a Midwest ski hill), promote good technique, and are easy to practice good skills with. Buy one of these for your normal day, and get a wide ski for the occasional trip out west or powder day. For us Western skiers, narrower skis are a hoot when we haven’t had snow in awhile (all too common) and also for spring conditions. I spent about ½ of my time on carvers this season, and that ratio will go up during spring skiing.

K2 Apache Crossfire 167cm: this is new for 2007/08, with a revamped construction (sidewall) and new dimensions. I think it goes up to 71 underfoot. This is a much needed ski in K2’s lineup (IMO) for that expert skier who likes the K2 feel but found the old Crossfire a bit too soft and friendly. K2 just needs to make the Recon like this and they would be in business!

Review: I really liked this ski. It retained the traditional K2 dampness, but stability was a bit higher, and the ski held like glue on the steeps. Gone was the soft, forgiving, slow edge engagement of the old Crossfire: replacing it was a much laterally-stiffer ski that felt more race-like underfoot. Still damp and smooth, but with a bit higher speed limit. Still not a lot of energy, but much more like the old Contact 11 in feel, maybe a bit more laterally stiff. Also pretty versatile. This could be a great east-coast choice for the all-day skier who is looking for some versatility. I would ski it, whereas I wouldn’t have probably purchased the old Crossfire.

Head Supershape Magnum 170cm: new for 2008, based off the Supershape Speed (2006 iXRC 1200), but 71mm underfoot for added versatility. NOT a wider version of the standard Supershape: the Magnum shares nothing in common with the standard Supershape. This has the race construction, race structure and base, and uses a CP13 plate I believe.

This ski, for better or worse, skis like a wider version of the 2007 Supershape Speed, or the 2006 iXRC 1200, or the 2005 iXRC 1100 SW. It is powerful, fairly enegetic in the tail, a little on the damp side in bigger arcs, and very, very stable. Definitely a powerhouse of a ski, not to be taken lightly. The bigger dude who was skiing with us loved it (he said that this ski rocked, it was like a slalom built into GS stability, and he could do anything on it. He didn’t care for the standard Supershape-no stability at speed, too soft, he said, and that this was much better for the expert skier). I found the Magnum to be great on hard snow, but a little stiff off piste, and pretty demanding there. I had to be balanced to get some good turns in, otherwise I got jacked around. But, on groomers, it ripped, and if I was heavier, I probably would have appreciated it everywhere. If you like the Supershape Speed, you will like this ski: if not, then don’t consider buying it.

Nordica Mach 3 170cm: Unchanged for 2008, this was a really popular hard-snow ski for 2007. It is 71mm underfoot and very versatile.

This ski is really nice for the skier looking for a versatile ski that excels on hard snow yet can do pretty much everything on the mountain. I am still a really big fan of this ski from a versatility standpoint: it should be considered by the all-mountain skier the same way that a “midfat” is. It can do bumps, soft crud, and other variable conditions well. It is also great as a mid-radius carver. The only downside of this ski is a tad bit of loss in stability compared to the stouter, more powerful skis. It has a damp, stable, yet powerful feel underfoot, and feels like a slightly detuned, yet race-bred ski. Great snow-hugging qualities as well.

Nordica Mach 3 Power 170cm: also unchanged for 2008, essential a beefed up version of the Mach 3.

I skied this again just for fun, to see if it was any different than earlier this season. Our shop tech also skied it. We both agreed: it is way too stiff and powerful for either of us. This is a burly, powerhouse of a ski that really takes commitment and skill to enjoy. I could ski it, but couldn’t flex it at all. Our shop tech also didn’t have any luck on it: he felt a bit behind it at times, and neither of us considered this ski “versatile”. But, for the right skier, with the right skill set, this could be the best hard-snow ride around. I would consider it a slightly wider GS race ski, and every bit as stiff.

Volkl Tigershark 10ft (73 underfoot) 168cm: the new all-mountain ski from Volkl that is a bit biased for the frontside and shorter-turn skier. I think it will prove to be more versatile than the AC30.

I really enjoyed this ski: it was one of my test favorites. I don’t agree with others on the forum that this ski is limited in performance or less of a ski than either the AC30 and AC40. In fact, I would argue that they are more versatile, just as high-performing, and no more of a “resort” ski than the AC30 or AC40. The Tigershark 10 held really well on hard groomers, and was carvy when up on edge. Yet, it really wasn’t overly aggressive or locked into one turn shape, and didn’t have the excessive amount of energy than can be seen in some of the really burly carvers. It was damp and snow-hugging, yet had a moderate amount of energy in the tail. It really let you ease into the turn without aggressively pulling you in, yet remained engaging enough for me to really have fun on. In bumps, this ski was very good, as the flex was about right, and again, it wasn’t too hooky for pivoting. I also liked it in moderate crud. Obviously not the best choice for the backside skier, but gives the Eastern skier another one-ski quiver option for skiing most, if not all, days locally, and is also a great choice for the Western skier looking for a powerful, fun, yet friendly frontside ski.

Elan GSX Fusion Pro 178cm: basically unchanged for 2008, this is a GS racecarver version of the GSX race stock (reviewed later). It has an 18m radius and the Fusion Pro binding (fixed heel, Fusion toe).

I skied this 3 seasons ago, and was very impressed with the stability, power underfoot, and incredible forgiveness of this ski. This time around, at the suggestion of the rep, I skied it 3cm behind centerline. He said this is the mounting position for “good” skiers. I have to say, it really blew my mind how good this ski was. I was could rip almost any size of arc from medium to long, at any speed. It was the most stable ski I tried, and that includes some pretty high-end skis. It really reminded me of the 777 in terms of stability and feel: smooth and super-stable, with a moderate amount of energy, and great snow feel. Even the other people I was skiing with commented that I was pulling some really tight arcs for a long GS racecarver. Since this is the RIPstick with one extra layer of metal, it was no surprise that it skied like it, just with more stability and a stouter feel. Definitely the best big-arc ski I have yet tried, and a superb racecarver as well as a highspeed freeski.

Fischer Progressor 170cm: The new Fischer ski, somewhat of a hybrid of the WC RC and WC SC, with the Flowflex plate. The turn radius is somewhere in the middle for this ski (maybe 14-15m, I can’t remember).

I skied this ski right after lunch, and wow, right off, it surprised me. I was fairly excited to ski it beforehand, and simply expected a larger radius, wider version of the WC SC. But, it was much more than that. In small arcs, a ton of energy existed, and the ski was really sending me from edge to edge. In medium arcs, the ski was a smooth ripper with lots of energy. In large arcs, the ski was easy to initiate and not overly aggressive. I could relax without problems. It had energy, yet remained semi-damp and nowhere near overly aggressive. I would characterize it as a slightly beefier, yet not overpowering, RX8, with a more authentic wood-core feel that was heavier and smoother than the RX8. Forgiveness was very high, and the Progressor although the ski was not too high on stability, it was still more than enough for most skiers. I suspect the 175 will be a bit more stable while retaining some energy. This ski could really do it all: bounce me from turn to turn in the fall line, carve big arcs at fairly high speeds, and be adequate all over the mountain. A slightly more energetic Mach 3 is a good way to characterize it.

Atomic GS 12 181cm (19m version): I don’t know that much about Atomic, but I think this ski is unchanged for 2008. It is their retail race ski, suitable for most good GS skiers and good freeskiers.

To me, this felt like a typical Atomic: fairly light underfoot, very laterally stiff and aggressive, with a stout flex. It was a strong ski, and I had to get it up to speed to bend it. The stability was good, but not the equal of the Elan race product. More like the Head Magnum in terms of stability, and a bit better than the Tigershark and Progressor. It was very aggressive, with a lot of power in the release. It hooked up pretty violently, and came up onto edge quick. Just be ready for it. Not exactly smooth or damp. It is a powerhouse, and definitely a ski to be “on” when skiing it, rather than relaxing and cruising. If you relax too much, the ski can turn you upside down pretty quick. I ran a NASTAR set on this ski, and it was solid and predictable when tucking at speed. I liked it, but preferred the smoothness and stability, as well as the softer flex, of the GSX Fusion Pro.

Elan GSX Race Stock with VIST WC plate 182cm:
I think the dimensions on this have been tweaked to accomidate the new WC regulations. This ski is big, and has a 24m radius. The VIST plate is pretty burly as well.

I own the GSX 182cm mounted with a Railflex plate, and it is a superb ski. I wanted to compare it to the “real” WC version, which is basically identical except for the much stiffer VIST setup. As expected, it was a totally different ski. The stability was the same on both skis, but the VIST plate added a ton of stiffness to the ski. It really meant that I had to be skiing very aggressively (lots of edge angle) and really fast before I could get the ski to do anything. Any speed short of GS race speed is not adequate, and the skier will only ski the sidecut, nothing more. Also, the ski is very aggressive laterally, and reacts super-quick to any input. I grabbed a tuck from top to bottom of Mission on this ski, and it was very solid, but midway through I cruised over a trail merge area with some snow piled up, and I nearly ate it at high speed. The GSX stock is a powerhouse that is a very serious ski for a racer, but mostly worthless as a free ski. I wouldn’t ski it, even on an empty midweek day, as it is simply too demanding and unresponsive at anything less than race speed. The GSX without the VIST is a much better high speed freeski and just as stable.

Other skis still on the market that I previously reviewed:

Elan Speedwave 12
Elan Speedwave 14
Dynastar Contact 11 (now the Contact Ltd., essentially unchanged)
Head Supershape Speed
Head Supershape
Head iXRC 1200
Fischer RX8 (new name for 2008)
These reviews can be found here: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...wave+crossfire
I wasn’t able to ski many of the skis from the 2007 review on the same day as the 2008 product (due to time constraints) but I did form an opinion as to how they compare the skis reviewed here. The skis listed above are all carryovers to 2008, so a comparison is relevant. Feel free to post here if you would like my thoughts on specific comparisons between ski A and ski B.


This is a very fun group of skis, although overlooked at times by some of the wider stuff on the market. My overall favorite was the Elan GSX Fusion Pro: it was an incredible hard-snow, high-speed freeski that had no speed limit but felt extremely carvy and energetic without being demanding. The Progressor was awesome as well: it had energy of a slalom ski, but was much more stable than a slalom ski in big arcs and was surprisingly versatile. The new Crossfire was classic K2 damp but more powerful and stable: a close cousin to their laminate race skis that were offered until recently. SS Magnum was a powerhouse of a ski that could still arc short turns; the Tigershark 73 was a versatile, fun little carver (think of a bit more powerful, more damp RX8); the Mach 3 was a damp, smooth ski at speed that was easy to handle; the GS12 a race-like GS that was very aggressive and powerful; the GSX WC a real race-stock powerhouse that was neither easy nor fun to ski, but had tons of power under the hood; and the Mach 3 Power a stiff race ski that is a little more versatile underfoot, but too much ski for me. I hope this helps.

FWIW, I am purchasing the GSX Fusion Pro and perhaps the Progressor for next year. I am not sure I need a short carver though, with the iM78 actually filling that role pretty well these days. The GSX Fusion Pro is definitely a must-have ski for me next year.
post #2 of 7
Could you elaborate on the stability issues you found with the Fischer Progressor. For reference, I have a pair of WC SC in 165 which might be described having a case of directional ADHD at speed (especially if you try to go straight with them), but are still stable in the vibrational sense and will go where they are told at any speed below about 120 kph.
post #3 of 7
Dawg, curious if you've tried the GS or SL Pro from Elan. They consider those their race trainers, the GSX Pro/SLX Pro their racers lite. (Think that the X's have one more sheet of titanium, unclear on performance diffs.)
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Could you elaborate on the stability issues you found with the Fischer Progressor. For reference, I have a pair of WC SC in 165 which might be described having a case of directional ADHD at speed (especially if you try to go straight with them), but are still stable in the vibrational sense and will go where they are told at any speed below about 120 kph.
Stability on the Progressor is much better when flat than the SC, but it still likes to be on edge more than the RC. To me, the Progressor felt like it took most of the energy from the SC and a bit of the stability from the RC into one package. It is still a bit more SL than GS in feel, but much better for an all-around carver than the SC, which is more or less a turning machine. If straight run stability on the SC is a 4 and the RC is an 8 (out of a possible 10, 10 being a race-stock GS) I would give the Progressor a 6 or so. It wasn't as stable in bigger arcs as the Supershape Magnum or the Crossfire, or the Head iM78, but moreso than your typical carver. It probably matches up better with the Speedwave 14 in terms of stability, although the Progressor is easier to ski, and the SW14 more powerful underfoot. For anyone who is considering somewhat detuned all-mountain carvers like the Supershape, Contact 11/Ltd., Mach 3, the Progressor offers a very forgiving, energetic, and surprisingly forgiving feel.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
Dawg, curious if you've tried the GS or SL Pro from Elan. They consider those their race trainers, the GSX Pro/SLX Pro their racers lite. (Think that the X's have one more sheet of titanium, unclear on performance diffs.)
Based on the specs, the GS Pro (with one layer of less metal) is the RIPstick, which also by definition is the GSX Pro with one less layer of metal. Which means it is a great ski, but more of a high-octane freeski than a race ski. I have only been on the SLX Pro, which is pretty darn close to real race stock, and a higher performing ski than almost anyone is putting out in their "retail" line. I would expect the SL Pro to be much more like a soft SL ski similiar to a Head iSL Chip, Speedwave 12, Head Supershape ect.
post #6 of 7

Progressor Verses SS Magnum

For a bigger more aggressive skiier would you recommend the SS Magnum or the Progressor? I own the Worldcup RC in both 175 and 180cm and love them. I'm looking for something similar in feel and stability with a tighter turn radius to compliment them without being overly demanding. I owned this years Supershape in 170cm and agreed with your bigger friends review, unstable at speed and too soft (didn't like them and have sold). I very much liked the 07 Head XRC1200 in 177cm but still not a short turner. I recently bought a pair of RX8's in 175cm but was unable to try them before the season here in the mid-west ended. I prefer the feel of sandwich construction and vertical sidewalls. I'm going to buy either the magnum or the progressor but won't be able to demo prior, your recommendation would be much appreciated. At 215lbs ,it sounds like I would probably need to stick with 175cm radius?
post #7 of 7
Thanks for your reviews Dawg. Always appreciate them.......I had a chance to demo the Progressor's in a 170 (r15) back in March and came up with the same conclusion. A beefier RX8 seems to sum it up. Although quite a bit heavier than the RX8 IMO, it is smoother with a lot more energy. I have a review somewhere on this site and I will be purchasing these for 08. I just need to demo the 175 for comparrison.
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