EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › Ski Reviews day 1: Cool Heat, AC40, Fury, iM82, Watea 94, Mantra
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Ski Reviews day 1: Cool Heat, AC40, Fury, iM82, Watea 94, Mantra

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Gear Reviews Day 1: Fischer Cold Heat, Volkl AC40, Salomon Fury, Head iM82, Fischer Watea 94, Volkl Mantra

I had a chance to ski the above 6 skis today. Tomorrow I will get on some others. Conditions were good: a bit of everything! Nice snow overnight (up to 10” in places that stayed mostly uncut all day), some soft groomers, a few icy bumps, some beat-up crud, and some blue ice. And, of course, the very rare (for January) sunny day.

Skier Specs: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, 30 y/o, improving (probably somewhere low level 8), ski 35-50 days/year.
All skis are 2008 models, and reviewed in the order skied.

170cm Fischer Cold Heat: so, I have reviewed this ski before, but since I own a pair, it has become my reference ski, more or less. It is smooth in the crud, very stable, a great carver with a nice kick to it, while retaining a very steady, damp, yet powerful feel (think Head, only a tad livelier). This is a 17m ski, and does everything at least moderately well. It rocks in crud at speed, has enough snap to be a very fun ski on groomers (little more pop in the tail, fairly damp, wood-core like ski), holds very well for an 82mm underfoot ski, can do bumps adequately, and is very stable.

170cm Volkl AC40: this ski, as far as I know, has been updated this year. It is carvier than the Cold Heat (15m radius?) and is 82mm underfoot. It is a much lighter ski as well.

I was excited to try this, as I didn’t get a good demo on it last year. My first impression in a rough crud run was that it was very aggressive with a small sweet spot, and the ski felt smaller than the Cold Heat. I really had to stay balanced. The AC40 seemed to have a ton of stiffness, both laterally and along the length of the ski, and as such, wanted to go side-to-side in the crud, and was hard to stay on top of. It was very light, not really damp and smooth, and tended not to follow the terrain as well as the others. In the bumps, I had a hard time, as the ski just didn’t absorb the terrain well.. On groomers, it was very snappy, laterally aggressive, and hooked up nearly like a race ski. It almost felt like an Atomic GS12 with more sidecut: light, and laterally stiff. Definitely a lot of fun. Back on the crud at speed, this ski was a handful, and I really had to work to stay on it. This is more of a “wide carver” than an all-mountain ski, IMO. It was a lot of fun on the groomers (although I prefer the bit more damp, smooth, powerful feel that other skis display) but this ski just didn’t have the all-mountain performance I was looking for. Sure, I could ski it in the crud, but it was more work than it should have been for an 82mm ski. Easily my least favorite of the day.

Salomon Fury 172cm: this has been updated for 2008, with a bit of metal added, if I heard right. It is 85mm underfoot, and is also aimed at the 1-ski-quiver market, or an everyday ski for the Western skier.

This ski was along the same line as the AC40 in terms of lightness and feel, with a lighter, more aggressive character than the Fischer and Head stuff. But, it was toned down over the AC40, and it resulted in a much more versatile ride. It was steadier in crud than the AC40, but not quite the smooth feel of the Fischer. In bumps, it was moderate: a little stiff, but workable and controllable. I didn’t feel like I was bouncing around, but I didn’t feel as if the ski was totally absorbing the bump, either. Float was very nice, snow feel was a little more damp and snow-hugging than the AC40, and groomer performance was on par with the Cold Heat: laterally aggressive, but not overly so, and could be smeared as well as carve it up at high angles. It was nearly as stable as the Cold Heat and iM82 in crud (not enough difference to really mean much, but it wasn’t quite as stable) and forgiveness was around the same level as the Cold Heat as well. It was a really nice ski, something that I could be happy with as a one-ski quiver. Definitely beefed up from last year’s Fury (now the Hurricane, I understand).

Head iM82 172cm: 17m ski, similar dimension to the Cold Heat.

This ski has been one of my favorites in the past. It has a very smooth, damp, and stable feel at speed, with a large sweet spot. The iM82 doesn’t blow you away with energy, but it is powerful, and has a big GS feel to it. Stability in crud was first in the 80-85mm group, just edging out the Cold Heat and Fury. Energy was probably the lowest of the group, and it feels the most GS of any of these skis. In crud, it hugged the snow very well, was smooth, and so predictable. I could ski bumps, but it was a little tougher than on the Cold Heat, and about the same as the Fury. The ski seemed like it needed a little more input to turn: it wanted to track fairly straight until told to turn, but once it gets some input, it is on autopilot. To sum it up, this is a smooth, powerful ride, much more GS than the iM78, and quicker edge-to-edge than the iM88. A great midfat that prefers longer turns, and really comes alive at speed.

Fischer Watea 94 178cm: 20m radius, 94mm underfoot, mounted with Raiflex:

I have been skiing this on and off, but this was the first day I was able to compare it to others. It seemed like a good ski to take up today. At speed, in new and uncut snow, this ski is unshakable. I doubt that the stability is greater than the iM82 and Cold Heat, but the extra length and wider tip just keeps you up on top of the snow, not fighting to keep the tip above water as is the case at speed on a 170cm ski. Just run big GS turns and let-er rip! It has a bit larger, GS feel to it, and although it feels soft when hand-flexing it: don’t be fooled. This is a strong ski, with a fairly small sweet spot, that is moderately aggressive laterally and doesn’t like to be skied from the tail. It will do any turn radius, and I could ski it slow or fast. It came alive just a bit at speed, though. With regards to snowfeel: It was fairly damp, a little stiffer over rough snow than the Cold Heat or iM78, and it felt like a bit heavier, wider, more damp Fury more than anything else. In bumps, I didn’t have much success. A better skier could make it work, but not myself. On groomers, it is quite laterally stiff for a wide ski and hooks up early, pulling you into the turn. Or, it can go straight, but I don’t think that running straight is this ski’s strong suit. It likes to be on edge, and carves very well. In really rough snow, I found the sweet spot to be smaller than the Cold Heat, and I found that I got bounced around if I wasn’t balanced and skiing well. It is a strong ski, and not for the less-skilled. I would give a big edge to the Legend Pro 176 in terms of ease of use, but the Watea is the higher-performing ride, with better stability, a better carver, and is much more powerful.

Volkl Mantra 177cm: I didn’t check the specs on this ski, but I believe it is similar to the Watea 94. Binding was a Marker demo.

This and the Fischer are very different in feel, considering their similarity in terms of specs. I am assuming the Volkl is a pressed wood-core ski, whereas the Fischer is a carbon/wood laminate. With regards to the Mantra, it is smooth, damp, and stable. This ski is a powerful crudbuster, and felt a bit stiffer yet than the Watea. It is very good when run flat or at a minimal edge angle at speed, and it also seemed to want to “move” a bit more to get going. I found the Mantra to be very snow-hugging, and predictable, yet mostly devoid of energy or surprises. In the beat-up crud, the Mantra felt equally as smooth as the Fischer, but with a heavier, slightly quieter feel that hugged the snow a bit more than just skimming over it. The Watea wanted a bit more from me in terms of input, and was looking for energy from the skier, and as such, was a bit happier on edge. The Mantra had a reasonably large sweet spot. On groomers, the Mantra was smooth, a reasonably good carver (snow was soft) but the Watea was a much more energetic and fun ride here. In bumps, the Mantra was a bit cumbersome and long, and not really a bump ski. I didn’t have the same luck that I had with the Legend Pro in the bumps.

If I were looking at these two skis: I would choose the Mantra if I wanted a damp, smooth, predictable, powerful crudbuster with minimal energy input needed. I would choose the Watea if I planned on skiing with energy, aggressively transitioning and turning with more angulation, and wanted more coming out of the ski, or if I was looking to a ski that was a bit more fun on soft groomers. Both skis were fun, and I really didn’t have a favorite or a preference. They each had their merits.

I will ski more skis tomorrow. Oddly enough, in the moderate 6-8” of new snow and crud, I preferred the narrower 82mm skis than either the Watea or Mantra. The shorter, narrower skis were quicker edge-to-edge, easier to control in the steeps and in the bumps, as well as when I took them into the trees. The longer, wider skis needed more speed to come alive, and didn’t roll over onto their new edges as quickly or with as little effort. I skied much better in those conditions on the shorter skis. Out of the 80-85mm group, here is how I would rate them:

Stability in crud:
1.Head iM82
2.Fischer Cold Heat
3.Salomon Fury
4.Volkl AC40

  • Fischer Cold Heat
  • Salomon Fury
  • Head iM82
  • Volkl AC40
  • Volkl AC40
  • Salomon Fury
  • Fischer Cold Heat
  • Head iM82
  • Fischer Cold Heat
  • Salomon Fury
  • Head iM82
  • Volkl AC40
Groomer Performance
  • Fischer Cold Heat, Volkl AC40
  • Head iM82, Salomon Fury

Overall ease of use:
  • Fischer Cold Heat
  • Salomon Fury (tie), Head iM82
  • Volkl AC40
post #2 of 11

Nice notes about the Watea 94

My 186s showed up via Fed-Ex today, and look great (thanks to dawg for a great deal and super-quick service; he got the skis mounted, tuned, and shipped to me in about 3 business days ).

They are currently parked in my office, but I plan to ski them at Alta for three days next week and will do a full review. They are rather soft and light when hand flexed, but the structure has a lot of beef. I really like the combination of width and sidecut on these skis, I can already tell they will be nimbler than a 94mm waist ski would typically be.
post #3 of 11

Nice skis!

What size Watea 94 did you get? Weight, ability, etc. The guy at my local shop checked out the ski (where they're being mounted) and said what are these?? Checked the flex and said, "these are soft - these will be easy for you to ski". I got the 186 cm on sale for 525.00 at Alpine Sports Outlet (but I think they're sold out now) and found Look px 14 for 200.00 at some other ski shop that ships. I'll give a report in about a week.
post #4 of 11
186cm for me. I'm 6'1", 195lb, level 8-ish.
post #5 of 11
Met up with Dawg last week and he graciously offered me a chance to ride his personal pair of Watea 94 in a 178cm. What a great ski. I agree with everything he said above. For my weight (170lbs) I wouldn't want to go any longer, however, the ski did not feel long at 178cm, it felt just right. Generally I'm not a big fan of the midfat range as they don't offer much more stability over my 170cm SuperShapes and tend to be less maneuverable. The Watea surprised me both in terms of maneuverability for a 94mm waisted ski and stability. Might be the perfect PNW crud ski. If I owned it I'd probably bring it out at 10+ inches of fresh and then at 8+" after the snow has setup.

BTW, Dawg is a great skier with an uncanny knack to describe ski feel down to a minute level. He talks about things I don't even notice until pointed out. From what I saw, he rips equally well on groomed and off piste so when he says a ski is a good at XYZ, he means it.
post #6 of 11
Thanks for the reviews dawg and for outstanding service from your shop guys. BTW-Humble estimate of your skill.
post #7 of 11
Great reviews-

Dawg (or max if you've tried both),

I was looking to pick up a bigger ski to compliment my Head im88 (175cm).

The Head is a great east coast powder, crud ski (yes, there is such a thing as east coast powder crud!) and tree ski. But on west coast trips I've thought about getting a floatier, bigger ski (but not necesssarily a heli-skiing powder ski). Originally I was thinking either a coomba or Gotamma-but reading the watea reviews--and, especially Holiday's Watea/ Coomba reviews-I'm really thinking this might be the right ski (and maybe in a longer length 186cm-but 178 could work too). Or, would I be getting too uch over lap with the head 88?

Any opinions from those who've used both are greatly appreciated!


post #8 of 11
Dawg again nailed the comparison between the Mantra and the 94. I described it that way last week, just not as eloquently. I love that ski. It's my go to ski for steamboat as long as there's soft stuff around. It's really capable of almost any shape turn and very stable at speed, (I am not the fastest guy) Fun, easily layed over and lots of energy. Length wise, the 178 is easily controlled and feels shorter. I am 6' 175ish you could go longer but I like the control in trees, bumps and the TR.
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by Liam View Post
Great reviews-

Dawg (or max if you've tried both),

I was looking to pick up a bigger ski to compliment my Head im88 (175cm).
I'd take the Watea over the IM88 without hesitation. But if you are looking for lots of float you need to go wider under the foot.
post #10 of 11
I skied the Watea 94s at Alta today for the first time, and they are great skis. They handled the 15" of new snow like a champ, charged through the cut up stuff and bumps, and totally impressed me on groomers. I did find that I need to make more effort to stay on the tips on the groomers else they would shimmy a bit (haven't measured yet, but I bet the mount position is farther aft of BOF than I am used to). And I also found that less tip lead made the skis carve better, which was a simple adjustment once I figured it out. It started snowing after lunch, resulting in 4-5" on some of the groomers by the end of the day, and those trails were pure gold with the Wateas (that ended up being the best skiing of the day for me, despite being very tired by that point).

I do think the Wateas ask for your A-game. They were fairly easy to figure out, and after a couple hours I was very comfortable on them, BUT they are not forgiving of sloppy skiing and they want some strong input. I made the mistake of hitting a couple of black trails with huge (albeit soft) moguls, and it was obvious better skiing was needed. Some of my other skis are a lot more forgiving in those situations.
post #11 of 11

Good review!

I hope to get out on my 186's tomorrow fo the first time.: They sound fun! My ball of foot center happens to be near exactly on the center of the running length of the ski (or middle of contact points). I have size 10 feet (or 317mm boot) and had the bindings mounted as normal - on the line. I've read that some people really prefer having their Ball of foot center on the mid point of the running length of the ski, and since your boot is larger than mine your ball of foot is probably a little ahead of running length center. I read about Ball Of Foot stuff on TGR. It might be worth exploring moving back a cm, but I really don't know how much difference that would make?
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › Ski Reviews day 1: Cool Heat, AC40, Fury, iM82, Watea 94, Mantra