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Nordica Afterburner and Fischer AMC79 (long)

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Me: 46 year old, 6', 180 lb, former racer (too long ago to count), been skiing since I was 3, can't rate myself but I ski fast and hard and will only shy away from big air entries. I ski mainly in the east, but I skied these 2 skis on consecutive days in the Tahoe area (Squaw and Sugar Bowl).
My usual gear: I usually ski on Dynamic VR17 Slalom and Fischer RC4 WC RC skis. Narrow waisted scalpels for our conditions back east. My boots are 2002 vintage Tecnica Icon XT17's sculpted by the great folks at GMOL - I bought them brand new in 2005.

I visited SierraJim at his ski shop when I arrived in Sacramento on Friday afternoon. Our main mission was to get my brother-in-law into a pair of ski boots. As Jim discovered, he has funky feet and with his late season stockage levels, didn't have the right boot. To Jim's inestimable credit, he said he wouldn't sell my brother-in-law a boot he wouldn't be happy with. As all who have dealt with him would agree, Jim is solid.

So I asked him for a recommendation on a ski to demo. Jim said he was pretty happy with the Nordica Hot Rod AfterBurner. He had a demo pair in 178cm so I took the hook.

We arrived at Squaw at 9am Saturday morning and set about discovering the mountain. Our first run was in Siberia Bowl, a pretty steep open bowl that had been groomed. It was firm, but not icy. My first impression was, "Whoa, 84mm is A LOT wider than 65mm!" It took me 2 runs to learn to be patient when getting from one edge to the other. Certainly not as precise as my racing skis, but no speed limit that I could find and I could really lay down some RR tracks once I got used to them. On smooth slopes, I didn't have too much trouble bending them and they felt solid, heavy and ultra-smooth...bullet-proof. I felt I looked like Tyrone! We spent 3 runs trying to teach my brother-in-law how to ski with his feet apart (he hasn't skied much in the last 10 years and never on modern skis). He was getting bored with the instruction so we moved on. We skied down to the Headwall Express chair and skied its namesake trail. By now the sun had started to do its magic and the bumps were glorious corn. My first thought was that these skis would be too stiff to ski in moguls...wrong again, Boy Wonder. These things just plowed through the soft, big bumps. Headwall is a steep trail, but the Nordis made me feel like a superhero. We dropped down to the KT-22 chair and skied a bunch of named runs off of it. We skied one run in the GS bowl area, but there were some sketchy bits there so we thought we'd try the other side. Getting to the trails skiers right of the chair required taking the skis off and walking over some gravel bits, but the runs near the Olympic Lady chair were sweet. The sun was really doing a job on the snow, but the Nordi's just kept pushing me to ski harder and faster. I didn't even hesitate on some pretty hairy drop-ins - they made me feel that confident. We headed over to the Granite Chief area to try to find some more westerly facing exposures and were rewarded with some more great steep moguls in relatively firm spring snow. I began to think I was really good. Couldn't be the skis....I magically became Glen Plake on the plane ride to Sacramento! Read on.

We headed back to Sacramento (through some heavy rain - this will be important later) and stopped in to talk to SierraJim again. I told him I wanted to try a different pair of skis. His question should have made me pause: "What about the Nordica's didn't you like?" he asked. I told him I just wanted to try a different pair of skis to see if they were as good or better. Noting my professed love of Fischers, Jim pointed me to a pair of AMC79's in 176cm. He also made a strong recommendation for heading to Sugar Bowl on Sunday.

We arrived at Sugar Bowl at 8:30 and set out exploring the mountain. We headed for Mount Disney first as it's east facing runs were already getting blasted by the glorious sun and we thought there would be some corn to be harvested. It was glop on the East Face that we tried first and the Fischers were not in their element. The tips were really getting deflected by the heavy snow and I wasn't feeling so Plake-like. We tried one more run off the Disney summit and ended up in Sugar Bowl seeking a more neutral sun exposure. More glop and another run on which I didn't feel so strong. Must be the snow....We headed up the Mt Lincoln express and did a quick run down Rhalves' Run. The Fischers were much better on the groomed bits and I started liking them better. We headed back up Mt Lincoln and looked for the most sheltered exposure we could find. Our quest led us to the Silver Belt area. The snow was pretty firm up top and the traverse was a hoot. We headed down and rapidly discovered that the rain we drove through the previous night must have hit Sugar Bowl pretty hard and the area we were in was covered in a 1/4" of ice that was not breakable unless you really stomped on it. It was pretty unskiable and the exposed rocks really caused me to feel pretty cautious. It took too long and too much energy to negotiate the area we had to pass through. Not sure if the Nordicas would have made me feel better, but I was starting to dislike the Fischers a lot. I couldn't seem to keep the 2 of them going in the same direction.: : : We took a break for lunch to build back my energy and confidence. We skied the Fuller's Folly area extensively after lunch and skied the many gullies and ravines in the Sisters area. I was feeling better, but the skis were feeling worse. I crossed the tips on more than one occasion and they were getting thrown around quite a bit. I dropped more than a couple of F-bombs as I experienced considerable shin bang in moguls that should not have induced it. We finished the day skiing a run on Strawberry Field and although it went well, I just didn't like the way the Fischers were working for me.

I can't condemn the Fischers. A lousy carpenter often blames his hammer. But what I can do is tell everybody that the Nordica Hot Rod AfterBurners made me ski better than I usually do and the Fischer AMC79s made me ski a bit worse. In their defense, we met up with SierraJim late in our day at Sugar Bowl and he said the conditions sucked...I thought they were pretty typical for skiing in April - my east coast bias was showing. For Tahoe skiing (and probably the PNW) the Nordi's were outstanding. I was able to carve, bomb, smear, scarve, and swivel these skis on wide open bowls, narrow connector trails and heavily moguled chutes and scary steep pitches. I would pick the Fischer's as a more east coast biased ski for those that want a ski that can sort of carve on firm snow and still work great for the occasional epic day in the woods at Jay or MRG as long as the snow stays on the light side.
post #2 of 3
Nice review, and I agree that the Afterburner gives back surprising stability and a nice confident feeling. So, why didn't you return home with a pair at 50% off?
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Visions of the wife with a rolling pin in hand danced through my head....

Seriously, for the amount of skiing that I do in the conditions that the AB shined in, I couldn't justify. I already have a 12m and 16m ski for the icefields back here.
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