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Nordica Hellcat vs. Volkl AC40

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
This past weekend at Killington I had a chance to demo the 178 Nordica Hellcat (132-90-118) and compare to my 177 Volkl AC40 (125-82-110). Snow conditions were 5” heavy powder with both smooth and chopped surfaces. The groomed trails varied from soft to firm, as were the moguls. Outer Limits had snow guns blasting additional “heavy” powder, which was knee deep in some sections.

About me – 6’, 220 lbs, level 8, 32 years on the slopes, Dabello Krypton Cross boots and enjoy a mix of groomed, chopped, “powder” bumps, “appropriately” spaced trees, steeps & snorkel deep “Utah” powder!!!!! My style best described as aggressive.

First the Nordicas. A very heavy ski compared to any that I have owned or demoed, BUT, underfoot I did not notice the weight and found the skis easy to turn with a large sweet spot needing little energy to connect continuous, medium radius turns. STABILTY was EXCELLENT at speed on both the groomers and in chopped powder. In the chop they responded as on the groomed trails with little or no bounce or tip deflection. On Outer Limits in the deep, heavy snow gun mix the skis stayed on top and provide smooth, stable turns – definitely a sweet ride. On the groomed trials the edge hold was good on the firm snow but not outstanding. Not especially fast turning but outstanding at mach + speeds. Fun on the soft bumps but definitely not friendly = bounced around when they became icy. Overall a fun ski with great performance in many different conditions and one, which I will probably add to next season’s quiver.

In comparison, my AC40 were quicker turning on both the groomers and in the bumps. Close, but not as stable at speed. Definitely better edge hold on firm, icy snow. In the chop they had significantly more bounce/tip deflection and required more effort to keep pointed. The sweet spot was noticeably smaller and less forgiving of pilot error. In the heavy powder did not have as much float and needed to ski more in the fall line and at higher speed to truly enjoy. BUT – definitely fun in those conditions and if not afraid to point them downhill !!!!

IMOP the Nordicas would defiantly be a better western ski with the Volkls better suited to the “firmer” snow found in the east. Both are stiff skis and probably more suited for a heavier skier. I enjoy the quickness of my Volkls but was VERY impressed with the high-speed stability of the Hellcats and performance in heavy/chopped snow.
post #2 of 25
Thanks for the review.
[OT]
Is it me or Nordica is naming its skis after the WWII allied airplane fighters?
-Hellcat (F6F)
-Spitfire
What next...
Thunderbolt? Lightning? Corsair ? Bearcat? Typhoon? Tempest? Hurricane?
[/OT]
;-) Ehehe.
post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post
Thanks for the review.
[OT]
Is it me or Nordica is naming its skis after the WWII allied airplane fighters?
-Hellcat (F6F)
-Spitfire
What next...
Thunderbolt? Lightning? Corsair ? Bearcat? Typhoon? Tempest? Hurricane?
[/OT]
;-) Ehehe.
Next is the Helldiver, the Hellcat with out the medal. Like the Jet Fuel is to the Afterburner, the Top Fuel is to the Nitrous. You know the deal.

Great review Falcon, I love my Hellcats. On "firm" snow days I ski the Mach 3 Powers.
post #4 of 25
thanks for the great review! Those were the two skis I have meaning to demo! I ski the Nordica SpeedMachines now (Love Them). After your review I will be demoing the Hellcat first.
post #5 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by falcon_o View Post
[font=Times New Roman][size=3][font=Times New Roman][size=3]In comparison, my AC40 were quicker turning on both the groomers and in the bumps. Close, but not as stable at speed. Definitely better edge hold on firm, icy snow. In the chop they had significantly more bounce/tip deflection and required more effort to keep pointed. The sweet spot was noticeably smaller and less forgiving of pilot error. In the heavy powder did not have as much float and needed to ski more in the fall line and at higher speed to truly enjoy. BUT – definitely fun in those conditions and if not afraid to point them downhill !!!!

IMOP the Nordicas would defiantly be a better western ski with the Volkls better suited to the “firmer” snow found in the east. Both are stiff skis and probably more suited for a heavier skier. I enjoy the quickness of my Volkls but was VERY impressed with the high-speed stability of the Hellcats and performance in heavy/chopped snow.

Have you skied the AC40's in 184? Vs the 177's I found them more stable at speed, better float in powder but most of all I found they had dramatically less tip deflection in the chop/crud. At 220 lbs and level 8 you might have considered going longer on these. All personal preference of course but I think the AC40's are a better ski skied longer..
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Treewell View Post
Have you skied the AC40's in 184? Vs the 177's I found them more stable at speed, better float in powder but most of all I found they had dramatically less tip deflection in the chop/crud. At 220 lbs and level 8 you might have considered going longer on these. All personal preference of course but I think the AC40's are a better ski skied longer..
I haven't skied the 184's but plan to demo the longer length this season. I already have several friends interested in my 177's and thus may switch to 184's next season. BUT - still seriously considering 178 Hellcats for my next ski.
post #7 of 25
Treewell, you ski in the West, right. 184 for east coast skiing would be long considering the tight trees and the prevalence of hard bumps. If you want a fast crusier along these lines, maybe the Jet Fuel.

Good review Falcon. How's Killington been treating you?
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post
Treewell, you ski in the West, right. 184 for east coast skiing would be long considering the tight trees and the prevalence of hard bumps. If you want a fast crusier along these lines, maybe the Jet Fuel.

Good review Falcon. How's Killington been treating you?
From the Volkl site, the turning radius for the 184 AC40 vs the 177 is 19.5 vs. 17.8. For tight trees and hard bumps the 177 should be better but I believe the sacrifice would be small and worth performance improvement in chopped/crud conditions. At Whistler I was on a 184 Mantra with a 22.5 radius which worked very well for their "soft" bumps and "wider" trees.

No matter, I'm still high on the Hellcats and feel they would be a great western ski and very good eastern ski.

Falcon_O

PS - Have had some excellent days and ski days from hell this season at K - 13 total. Heading back this weekend for another taste.
post #9 of 25
I'm a 6-7 level skier weighing about 215 pounds. I ski fast with large arcing turns (GS) I usualy get about 20-30 days a year in (Tahoe mainly). Currently I ski 170 Nordica SpeedMachines (love them). I do however want to get a wide pair of skis to complete my two ski quiver. I have been batteling with whether to get the helcats in a 177 or 184. Any suggestions or pro's and con's of each?

Thanks
post #10 of 25
I've never ridden the Hellcat, as posted in your other thread, WorldSkier... but noticing that you often ride tahoe, I would suggest going wider than the hellcat to compliment your carving sticks. JMHO.
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WorldSkier#1 View Post
I'm a 6-7 level skier weighing about 215 pounds. I ski fast with large arcing turns (GS) I usualy get about 20-30 days a year in (Tahoe mainly). Currently I ski 170 Nordica SpeedMachines (love them). I do however want to get a wide pair of skis to complete my two ski quiver. I have been batteling with whether to get the helcats in a 177 or 184. Any suggestions or pro's and con's of each?

Thanks
I am 220 lbs, level 8 and the Hellcats I demoed were the 178. I found the float in a mix of knee deep (fresh powder + man made) to be excellent. The stability in chopped/crud snow was also excellent. A 184 will give you better powder/crud performance but will not be as nimble in trees and bumps. That being said, if I were to buy this primarily for skiing in the east but also to take on a yearly western trip, I would get the 178. However, if I was using this as an everyday western ski, I would go with the 184. As Tahoe is your main mtn., I would get the 184. As Samurai said, there are wider boards which would work well at Tahoe. Demo a mix if you can.

I hope this is helpful.

Falcon_O
post #12 of 25
What makes western skiing more suited for longer lengths?
post #13 of 25
In general, bigger mountains, wider spacing in trees and softer, more frequent snow although all these can vary depending on when, where and how you ski...
post #14 of 25
you should wait for the Volkl AC50 to come out and compare those 2
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai
I've never ridden the Hellcat, as posted in your other thread, WorldSkier... but noticing that you often ride tahoe, I would suggest going wider than the hellcat to compliment your carving sticks. JMHO.
If WorldSkier isn't being unnecessarily modest with the 6-7 skier thing, than I'd have to say that a ski that is narrow enough it can still be easily tipped with enough shape that it will still come around easily (i.e. the Hellcat) is a pretty good plan, imho. Making fatter and straighter stuff work with a semblance of style has a steeper learning curve, methinks.

I'm with Treewell on the length. There is a weird tendency to sell competent, big guys skis that are awkwardly short in the East. I'm not exactly foreign to the concept of picking through eastern trees, and I'd agree with the idea that AC40s and many similar skis are better skied longer. Back when skiing trees in the East was mostly illicit bushwhacking we used to somehow make do on 190s and 200s without turned up tails...184 isn't going to kill you and for a 220lb dude it will probably ski a bunch better. There are some skis that are skied well very short, but I don't think skis in this shape/width range are really the best examples...
post #16 of 25
Haven't skied the Hellcat, but agree that the AC series work well in longer lengths (I demoed both 170 and 177, preferred latter even at 165 lbs), so unclear why anyone who's over 200 lbs is on 170-somethings at all.

But also unclear why anyone would want a second ski for Tahoe to be in the 80-90 mm waist range. Even my Mantras got seriously bogged down/knocked around in open Sierra cement, although they rocked in the trees. I'd think about a beefy ski with decent edges in the high 90-low 100 range, forget both the AC's and the Hellcats.
post #17 of 25

Have a pair of AC4's 2005 model in 177cm and

got a
pair of 2006 model in 184. There was a very little learning curve going
to 184cm and if you enjoy skiing on GS race skis you would enjoy the
AC4 or perhaps AC50 (current model) in a 184 length. Still good high
speed stability in the 177cm though.
post #18 of 25

Would anyone know how the AC4/50

skis compaired to the Top Fuel as the Top Fuel is 84mil under
foot which is closer to the AC4/50 than the HellCat
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassina View Post
skis compaired to the Top Fuel as the Top Fuel is 84mil under
foot which is closer to the AC4/50 than the HellCat
Top Fuel is 78 under foot.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
I'm with Treewell on the length. There is a weird tendency to sell competent, big guys skis that are awkwardly short in the East. .... Back when skiing trees in the East was mostly illicit bushwhacking we used to somehow make do on 190s and 200s without turned up tails...
.. There are some skis that are skied well very short, but I don't think skis in this shape/width range are really the best examples...
No need to "make due", get the right size. Nordica is sold and purchased in smaller sizes often. A level 6-7 on a Hellcat 184 "may well" be too much ski. I would go so far as to say the Hellcat is not a good choice for a 6-7 skier.

As far as East Coast/West Coast ski lengths. Eastern skiing is either groomer or hard bumps/woods. Serious woods skiing in the East is going to be "tight". A stiff ski with metal makes it more challenging to ski those conditions. Bumps in the East tend to be less forgiving.
post #21 of 25
AC 50 is one really stiff ski!!!
post #22 of 25
Wow, old post. Yup, I still feel pretty much the same way about all of it.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
you should wait for the Volkl AC50 to come out and compare those 2
Exactly the evaluation/comparison I'm hoping someone has already made.

New poster back in the market after a couple of years off due to the loss of a dear friend (my right ACL) during a skiing accident. Want to get off my old skis (6 year old x-screams, 187s), which I now view as cursed, and into something a bit wider and shorter with more float. Given my current condition and my desire to get on something new to start the season, will likely get new skis without actually having the opportunity for demos.

I'm 6'2", 190, and was somewhere between an advanced/expert skier pre-accident. While I'm reasonably athletic, I'm still working my way back after surgery (exactly 10 months out as of today), but should be ready to hit the slopes after 2 more months of my rehab.

I ski outside of Seattle, with occasional trips to Whistler and Idaho. Like a fast ski on the groomers but, again, need something more capable off piste or when we get some of that heavy PNW snow.

Great deals out there on last year's Hellcats (mid-$600s). Looks like I can get AC50s for a bit more than $800.

Weighing the pros/cons of the different waist sizes of the HCs (90) or the 50s (84), especially given the jump in width it will be coming from my old skis (which I believe have a width of 67).

Thoughts on HCs or 50s? Thanks in advance.
post #24 of 25
I rode the hellcats last winter and deem them a very versatile ski. I wouldn't like it in fresh pow (too stiff) but crud and mank would be fun. I thought that ski buttered and carved astonishingly well. I ride it's little brother- Jet Fuel (84) and see no reason to go that narrow ever again aside from designated gs planks.

for an all-n-one... I think it's probably one of the top 3 in its genre.

But... I'd be wary of the binding. You'll never be able to mount it on another ski.
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post

Thanks for the review.
[OT]
Is it me or Nordica is naming its skis after the WWII allied airplane fighters?
-Hellcat (F6F)
-Spitfire
What next...
Thunderbolt? Lightning? Corsair ? Bearcat? Typhoon? Tempest? Hurricane?
[/OT]
;-) Ehehe.


I know how old this is, but a recent search brought up this thread, and I saw this.  I just think its hilarious that he actually guessed the tempest!

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