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Alta Demo Day Impressions--Head, Elan, Fischer, Volkl

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Alta held its annual demo day yesterday under clear skys and warming temperatures. The snow was very firm early and stayed firm where groomed and protected from the sun until about 2:30 or so. I took a fairly systematic approach by skiing approximately the same run every time which started with off trail crud to a groomer to a face with progressively softer spring conditions and a few bumps and ended in a steeper groomed section to the bottom (Baldy Shoulder to Main Street to Schuss Gully). I took two runs with most skis. My main goal in going was to try some Head and Elan product since I have heard/read so many positive reviews. I was most dissapointed that I did not get around to the Nordica tent before they finished up around 2pm because I have liked them in the past and I wanted to compare them side-by-side to some of those that I did ski.

Me: 6' 4", 215 lbs. Have skied about 30 years and tend to ski with more power than finesse. My quiver: Atomic Metron B5 172cm, Rossignol 9X Oversize 181, Volkl Gotama 190 (which is phasing out my old Volant Chubb 190s).

HEAD im78--I skied these in both 170 and 177 and would have liked to try a longer model but they were always out. This ski made a very favorable first impression which never faded. Since I skied two sizes I had more runs on this ski than any other. It had a good balance of energy and predictability and handled every situation well. I would chose the longer length for me but was surprised how well the 170 skied for someone of my size and did not notice a big difference between the two. Good edge grip, good quickness, good stability, good everything.

Head Supershape (170)--I liked this ski but would not pick this over the im78 for anything except shorter radius turns on hard snow. It was fun and certainly delivered a great short to medium radius turn with pop.

Elan Magfire 12 (176?)--I skied these back to back with the im78 and they delivered a fairly similar ride. The main difference was in the turning radius (17ish vs 14-15ish) and the im 78 felt a little quicker edge to edge. It also felt slightly less energetic and may have had slightly better edge grip. For me, the Head won by a nose but this was another winner.

Atomic Nomad Crimson (181ish)--If you like the Metrons but want a wider ride with a longer turning radius, you should definitely give these a try. Softer than my B5s with what felt like a more even flex pattern. A little less quick than either the Elan or the Head (likely due to the width) they did still make a good short radius turn but required a little more effort to do so. Superior (and familiar to me) Atomic edge grip led the pack of all the skis tested. This ski is a real winner. I would love to see how it handles mid winter conditions.

Fischer Cool Heat (170)--I only skied this one run because it felt too short for me (unlike my experience with the im78). More of a finesse ski than the other skis I tested (but still responds to power).

Fischer Atua (186)--Not really the same type of ski than the others (freeride) so comparing it is probably not fair to the ski, particularly with the conditions of the day. Notwithstanding, I liked the ski and, like the other Fischer, it was more of a finesse ski than the others tested (or my own Gotamas). It was also clear that it like the vibration absorption of the others. Good ski, wrong conditions.

Volkl Tigershark 10--The Tigershark 12s and the AC40s were out so I ended up on this. While I liked the ski I wished that it had more pop coming out of the turn, particularly for a rather narrow waisted ski. Good edge grip.

Overall: I liked all the skis and could happily live with any of them if I had to. My recent demo experiences suggest that most higher end skis built these days are pretty darn good at what they are supposed to do. That being said the Head im78, the Atomic Nomad Crimson, and the Elan Magfire 12 were my clear favorites. I would give the nod to either the Head or the Atomic but could not tell without further testing. The Atomic would probably fit into my quiver better if I were in the market for skis now (trying to hold out until at least next spring). The Elan was close enough that I would probably go with it if I could get it for a better price.
post #2 of 12
Great reviews, Thanks

Michael
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the confusion but the second Fischer I skied was the new Watea 84 rather than the Atua.

Also, since I am taking the time, I might note that the day before the Alta demo day I was skiing Deer Valley under fairly firm spring conditions that lasted until late in the day. I brought my full quiver and started on my Rossi 9X Oversizes until it started to soften a little. I then went to my Jeep to get my barely one month old Gotamas which I had never skied in these types of conditions (only on powder/crud days). Frankly, I would have never tried them on a day like that had I not read some of the posts on this forum extolling the carving virtues of wide skis generally and the Gotama specifically. I was blown away at what a great job the Gotamas did on big arc carving. They gave up very little to the race carver I had been skiing on earlier in the day. Edge grip was similar (partly due I am sure to the fact that they are newer and the edges are probably in better condition). The vibration absorption really amounted to the main difference in big, long arcs where quickness is a non-factor. I would not have believed it unless I had experienced it. Thanks to the many on this forum who pushed this point.
post #4 of 12
I am waiting for more time on the new Magfire 12, but my initial impressions were that it was fairly similiar in feel to the iM78, and that sounds like your assessment as well. I will be excited to try the Mag12 a bit more in variable conditions, as it should have a bit more float in crud than the iM78. I am curious if it will seem as versatile though, with the larger turn radius and bit longer length (I would ski it in a 176).
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
I am waiting for more time on the new Magfire 12, but my initial impressions were that it was fairly similiar in feel to the iM78, and that sounds like your assessment as well.
Yes--in fact I probably underrepresented this point in my original post. If the names were obscured and I did not know what I was skiing, I would not have been surprised to find out they were different models of the same brand or that they came from the same factory. Without a doubt, the most similar of the skis I tested--even more so than the two Heads or the two Fischers. Of course my experience is still limited to only a few runs, so more pronounced differences could appear with more time or under different conditions.
post #6 of 12
I also tested a bunch of skis at Alta Saturday. I ski the 194 LP as my everyday and the 1st generation Big Daddies as my powder ride. I rode 1st tram with the BD's and mineral was already soft at 9:15.

I started with Elan.

888 - Nice all mountain ski, but a little too turny for the soft conditions.

999- Good ski, much stiffer than the old model. 3rd place.

1111- Behemoth, this ski is huge. It would be good on a super big day, but with all that surface area the flats were SLOW!

Dynastar

XXL - Favorite ski of the day by a long shot and not much more work than my LP's. They held well on the harder snow on Great Scott, but still floated the mash potatoes in mineral with ease. Slightly softer tip and tail that the LP's. I think these could easily be an everyday ski for soft snow areas.

Head

105 Mojo - I was starting to get tired and the 191 was a bit of work. The rep skis the 181 and suggested them. The short ski was much easier to handle and a lot of fun out on West Rustler. The 181 would be my 2nd choice by a hair over the 999, but my BD's were just as good.
post #7 of 12
I really want to test out the XL and XXL, but need some more suitable conditions. I think the XL needs to be ordered as a shop demo soon :-)
post #8 of 12

Xl?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
I really want to test out the XL and XXL, but need some more suitable conditions. I think the XL needs to be ordered as a shop demo soon :-)
Hi Dawg:

What is the XL?

Is it a new version of the Dynastar XXL?
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post
I started with Elan.

888 - Nice all mountain ski, but a little too turny for the soft conditions.

999- Good ski, much stiffer than the old model. 3rd place.
Dawg and I found that about the 888 too, until we moved the binding back that it was much better.

Have you ever skied a Seth? I am thinking about replacing my Seths with the 999.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SB77 View Post
Me: 6' 4", 215 lbs. Have skied about 30 years and tend to ski with more power than finesse. My quiver: Atomic Metron B5 172cm, Rossignol 9X Oversize 181, Volkl Gotama 190 (which is phasing out my old Volant Chubb 190s).

Elan Magfire 12 (176?)--I skied these back to back with the im78 and they delivered a fairly similar ride. The main difference was in the turning radius (17ish vs 14-15ish) and the im 78 felt a little quicker edge to edge. It also felt slightly less energetic and may have had slightly better edge grip. For me, the Head won by a nose but this was another winner.

Overall: I liked all the skis and could happily live with any of them if I had to. My recent demo experiences suggest that most higher end skis built these days are pretty darn good at what they are supposed to do. That being said the Head im78, the Atomic Nomad Crimson, and the Elan Magfire 12 were my clear favorites. I would give the nod to either the Head or the Atomic but could not tell without further testing. The Atomic would probably fit into my quiver better if I were in the market for skis now (trying to hold out until at least next spring). The Elan was close enough that I would probably go with it if I could get it for a better price.
I recently got on the 2008 Elan Wave Spice Which is the Women Specific version of the Elan Magfire 12.
As you said, the top end skis are great for their specific purpose, and the Wave Spice is no different! I'd really like to get my husband to try the Magfire 12.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
Dawg and I found that about the 888 too, until we moved the binding back that it was much better.

Have you ever skied a Seth? I am thinking about replacing my Seths with the 999.
I could tell I would like the 888; I just didn't get a chance to play around with it.


I've never skied a Seth, so I have no point of reference. But the 999 skied really well in all the conditions that I encountered.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotama View Post
Hi Dawg:

What is the XL?

Is it a new version of the Dynastar XXL?
Maybe The Stockli Stormrider XL & XXL? I have the XL & am looking at getting the XXL as an AT ski. Interested in any feedback.
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