EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › 2009 Part 2 86mm and up ski reviews: Huge Trouble, Czar, Grizzly, Enforcer, Mantra, HellDiver
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2009 Part 2 86mm and up ski reviews: Huge Trouble, Czar, Grizzly, Enforcer, Mantra, HellDiver

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
2009 ski reviews, part 2: 86mm and wider skis:

Skis reviewed:
Dynastar Huge Trouble (185cm?)
Salomon Czar 182cm
Volkl Grizzly 170cm
Nordica Enforcer 177cm
Volkl Mantra 177cm
Nordica HellDiver 170cm


Conditions: frozen chop, some soft snow, about 4-8” new in spots. Groomers were pretty firm for local conditions. I took these on a similar loop: short groomer down to the lift, traverse out to a barely-skied chute, which opened onto a big bowl, then a few trees down lower. Testing was done at Mission Ridge in Washington, a great hill. The place has dry snow, lots of sun compared to the other Cascade resorts, and challenging terrain: steeps, bowls, and tight chutes. Their grooming is second to none. I would trade Bachelor for this mountain in a heartbeat!

Skier info: 5 foot 9, 155lbs, ski 30-50 days per year, low level 9 according to others, technically improving.

Dynastar Huge Trouble 185cm?: this ski has no camber, is 115mm underfoot, and features a 33m turn radius. White with red graphics.

Review: I wish I could have tried this last week at Snowbasin. It has a floaty, surfy feel in soft snow, and absolutely eats up broken snow with it’s big platform. Stability is great in most instances. Not a quick turning ski, and slow edge-to-edge, especially in tighter spaces like chutes. It definitely likes to run straight, and preferably in lots of snow. The lack of camber means that it really pivots well, whereas other, more traditional skis like to carve. Off-piste, the ski felt close to normal, but was easier to get going in the other direction when compared to a reverse-camber ski. On groomers, this feeling took some getting used to. You had to ski it with minimal edge angle and keep the skis under the hips. Too much angulation, and it felt like the skis wanted to suddenly diverge. And, they were very grabby: the skis would want to slide and pivot, and they all of the sudden hook up and lurch. But that isn’t exactly their intended purpose in life. They would probably be a great ski for West Coasters who need lots of float for heavy snow, and don’t want something too turny. I would consider owning it, especially for my home hill. If you are looking at only 1 ski in this range, the new Pro Rider is more versatile, but the HT will be a better ski in the truly deep (and heavy) stuff. A ski this wide would have no point where we were testing skis though, even on the deepest day. It doesn't snow much there (a huge dump is 10" for Mission Ridge).

Salomon Czar 182cm: rockered tip, 107mm underfoot, new for 2009.

Review: I didn’t know much about the new Salomon line before stopping by their booth. They recommended trying both the new Lord (85mm under foot, reviewed in my other thread) and the Czar. The Sandstorm is dead. The Czar felt like a Salomon: light and relatively edgy, more of the new-school feel than the Fury’s X-wing construction. This ski was interesting, to say the least. I felt the stability wasn’t really there in the chop. It was stable in a straight line, but on edge, this ski was quite unpredictable in the crud and had a real on/off edge engagement. It wasn’t either easy nor did it have the sweet spot of the Huge Trouble. I had some issues getting it to engage, and with the rockered tip, it really didn’t want to turn. I suppose that is okay for really deep snow, but according to the rep, this is an “everyday” ski, which I wouldn’t agree with. It was slow edge-to-edge, and not exactly confidence-inspiring in the steeps. I am sure it would have been great in deep snow, but in variable conditions, I wasn’t too impressed. On groomers, it wasn’t dis-similar to the Huge Trouble: likes to pivot, the edge engages suddenly, and doesn’t like to carve with any sort of angles. I almost likened it to a ski that is base high, but with a minimal base bevel. Slides around, then wham, it engages. This ski wasn’t all that impressive, and not the last word in versatility.

Volkl Grizzly 170cm: 89mm underfoot, 17m radius, 3 position switch. Basically a wider version of the Tigershark 12.

Review: I thought highly of the Tigershark 12, and figured to like this ski as well. It was skied mostly at the Dynamic position, which is middle stiffness. I also tried the Power position (stiff) and the Cruise position. First off, the switch seemed to make little difference in the performance of the ski. I couldn’t tell a difference between Cruise and Dynamic, and the Power position was only slightly stiffer. The TS12 is a very versatile ski, stiff enough to be great on groomers, while versatile and stable in the crud. The Grizzly felt exactly the same: really a wide carver that is fairly stiff. I think it works better in the TS12 than it does here, as the ski was slower edge-to-edge than an 80mm ski, and not as carvy. Performance on the groomers was decent, but it wasn’t the powerhouse that the TS12 is. Off-piste, the ski was a little stiff for broken up snow and variable conditions. It didn’t have a great flex pattern for off-piste performance, and was too stiff for the bumps. Due to the stiffness of the ski, I had to ski the 170, which limits performance in the crud. At 89mm underfoot, skis are typically skied longer for the normal crud and broken snow performance, so this ski was a little short and a big hard to handle. It turned very easily, and carved well for a ski of this width in the easy-to-ski stuff, but didn’t handle the tough conditions as well as the other, more dedicated hard-snow skis. Flex-wise, it was almost the same as the TS12. Overall, it was okay, but not my cup of tea. For off-piste performance, the Mantra has it beat hands-down, and the AC50 was the better versatile frontside ski. If you are looking for a stiff, wide carver, this might be the ticket, though.

Nordica HellDiver 170cm: non-metal version of the HellCat, 90mm underfoot, 17m radius.

Review: this ski suffered from the same problems as the Grizzly. Wide, but a carver, and much stiffer than the average off-piste ski. It tended to be aggressive and hard to ski in the really rough snow. Again, lacking the length that makes a great off-piste ski. It was fun on groomers, but had less edgehold than the standard 80-85mm ski underfoot. In the trees, it turned quite easily, and was decent edge-to-edge. The weaknesses were mostly present at speed in wide-open, hard to ski crud, and also in bumps. This ski was a wider version of an Afterburner, so it gains a bit of float off-piste, but still retains the hard-snow characteristics. It was standard Nordica: relatively stiff, damp, not a ton of energy, very muscular. Again, not my cup of tea. The Watea 94, for example, is so much better off-piste, without giving up a whole lot on the groomers. This is really a wide, wide carver, and is maybe the answer to the question that no one was asking. The market for these 90mm carvers has to be limited, as I would expect that the 50/50 skier will get something around 80-85mm underfoot, and the off-piste guy will get something longer in a bigger turn radius (like an iM88) or step up to something 20m turn radius or larger in a 90-100mm platform.

Volkl Mantra 177cm: unchanged for 2009.

Review: very solid ski, great in crud and at speed. It handles the broken-up snow with ease, and is very predictable. Width is a great choice for any and all off-piste skiing: not too slow edge-to-edge, wide enough to float over questionable snow. In the tight spots, it is relatively easy edge-to-edge. Overall feel is fairly damp, wood core, and smooth. Not a ton of energy, and feels a little less lively and versatile than the Watea 94, but great in the broken-up snow, as an all-mountain, off-piste tool. Pretty sluggish on the groomers, but that isn’t really what it was made for. Very, very predictable. Definitely my favorite Volkl tested here.

Nordica Enforcer: 177cm, 98mm underfoot, 19m radius, new for 2009 (twin tip is gone). Ski is a laminate, light in weight, with titanium and wood core.

Review: I had no history with this ski, and didn’t know what to expect. Flex is similar to the Watea 94: softer than the HellDiver, not a noodle though. On groomers, I was pleasantly surprised: it was slow onto edge, but once, there, held very, very well, better than I expected. It had the characteristics of a big GS, but with a bit of energy. A speed limit really wasn’t present: this ski wanted to go. I expected a big, burly ski in the trees, but that wasn’t what I got. Instead, this ski changed edge with almost no effort, and carved up the snow in the trees. Stability was amazing for this level of forgiveness. The Enforcer has a huge sweet spot. It was about perfect width-wise for broken up, cruddy snow, and was equally at home on edge or going straight. The overall feel was a bit more of a damp wood core, but still light like the Watea, and lighter than the Mantra. This ski actually reminded me of an Elan race ski more than the typical Nordica burly flex of the Hot-Rod series. Float was great in the new snow I could find, and this ski made off-piste conditions easy. It did want a bit of speed to get rolling, but was very forgiving. Overall, my favorite off-piste ski tested here, and by a good margin. I didn’t get a chance to compare it side-by-side to the Watea 94, but it would be a good comparison. Nordica has a winner here.

Head Mojo 94 180cm: new for 2009, I didn’t get the specs, but believe it is somewhere around a 20m radius, with a 94mm waist. Not a Monster, as it is lacking the Intelligence fibers, and has a small twin tip.

Review: This ski felt a bit different than the Monster series. For better or worse, it is a fairly stiff laminate, wood core ski that is smooth, damp and stable. In other words, it skis like a typical Head laminate. No surprises here. I felt that the ski was lacking a bit of energy that the Enforcer had, and a bit of maneuverability as well. In crud, the Head blasted through at any speed, no sweat. It was moderately quick edge-to-edge in steeps, quite forgiving, and had a large sweet spot. On groomers, the ski was more of a big cruiser feel, as it lacked the energy and bit of excitement than the Watea and Enforcer gave me. Any type of crudbusting was made easy on this ski: and it really felt like a point and shoot type of ski, which was very confidence-inspiring when skiing fast in tricky snow. When comparing this to the Monster iM88, I would say that the Mojo 94 seems to be not just a wider iM88, but definitely built for a different purpose. The 88 seems to have a bit of carve-ability, a bit more energy, and a feel that makes it fun in most spots. The 94 is definitely an off-piste ski, more stable and with a bigger sweet spot in the crud than the 88, but not as much fun elsewhere. This is perhaps why they made this a Mojo, not a Monster, as it is not quite the same feel as the rest of the iM78/82/88 series. The Mojo 94 is a very high performer, and feels somewhat similar to the Mantra, although perhaps a touch more stable and a little more damp, maybe a little lighter as well.
post #2 of 29
I was trying to find your comments on the Salomon Lord but could not despite searching.
post #3 of 29
Dawg, is the Watea 94 the fav out of the bunch in this range?
post #4 of 29
Watea's rule MAX! Sorry for butting in but in addition to all the rave reviews here, they are a hit everywhere I am going. This is the new leader in mids and no wonder Head counters with a Mojo94. More versitile than the old king; the Mantra. Even the 84 was all over Steamboat last week. A very popular demo/rental ski.
post #5 of 29
Finn, have you skied the Mojo 94?
post #6 of 29
nope, currently in love with the original 94..... heads in general are just too damp and jsut as Dawg states, not exciting, not enough energy and pop. I sold my 78's after 2 runs on them for the same reasons. I would be very interested in demoing the Head94 but can't imagine they improved the original.
post #7 of 29
Nice in depth review.

Re: the Mantra's. Suprising, but I find them anything but sluggish on the groomers. I was incredibly surprised at how well they held an edge and carved.. not what i was expecting. Also, i didn't reach the speed limit of these skis, unbelievably stable at high speed.

I'm 5'9", 175lb. Aggressive and technical skier. Also on the 177cm.

The only department this ski doesn't deliver in is the bumps, but that's not it's purpose.
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
heads in general are just too damp and jsut as Dawg states, not exciting, not enough energy and pop.
Sorry, but Heads, in general, have plenty of energy and pop. That comes from a guy that has a quiver full of skis from Head, Fischer, and Atomic.
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
Sorry, but Heads, in general, have plenty of energy and pop. That comes from a guy that has a quiver full of skis from Head, Fischer, and Atomic.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by barrettscv View Post
Sorry but had to offer a correction to Finn's prior post.
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by allan o'neil View Post
I was trying to find your comments on the Salomon Lord but could not despite searching.
It will be in the other review I am currently writing.
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brumos View Post
Nice in depth review.

Re: the Mantra's. Suprising, but I find them anything but sluggish on the groomers. I was incredibly surprised at how well they held an edge and carved.. not what i was expecting. Also, i didn't reach the speed limit of these skis, unbelievably stable at high speed.

I'm 5'9", 175lb. Aggressive and technical skier. Also on the 177cm.

The only department this ski doesn't deliver in is the bumps, but that's not it's purpose.
The Mantras didn't have a speed limit, but they felt a little bit more edgy in really cruddy snow at high speed than the Mojo. But, it wasn't a big deal: I wasn't close to the actual speed limit. The Mantra and Mojo seemed equally sluggish on the groomers, which isn't surprising, but both the Watea and Enforcer seemed better for me there. Not that I am all that worried about groomer performance: I have other skis for that. I would own any one of these 4 skis, but the Watea and Enforcer are my 2 personal faves. YMWV. FWIW, all skis are laminates, and have pretty close to a "real" ski (as in race ski) dampness and overall sense to them. This is the case for the majority of the skis I have liked recently. Many of the skis I didn't like were some sort of variation on a cap ski, which never seems to live up to the promised benefits, IMO.
post #13 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
Sorry, but Heads, in general, have plenty of energy and pop. That comes from a guy that has a quiver full of skis from Head, Fischer, and Atomic.
Not for everyone. My observations agree with Finn's, so it's clear that -- as is often the case -- different skiers will experience different sensations on different skis.

For me, the Heads seem to go "dead" just about the time I expect them to "come alive". One reason I tend to not enjoy skiing them very much. I keep trying to find one that I like, but so far, I haven't. I tend to prefer the feel of the Fischers, Elans, Atomics, Nordicas, and the like.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
I tend to prefer the feel of the Fischers, Elans, Atomics, Nordicas, and the like.
That's interesting because Heads, Fischers, and Elans tend to feel more similar in feel to my admittedly non pro skiing style. Atomics and Nordicas feel totally different to me. I think it takes more skill to get pop and energy out of the Heads.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
That's interesting because Heads, Fischers, and Elans tend to feel more similar in feel to my admittedly non pro skiing style. Atomics and Nordicas feel totally different to me. I think it takes more skill to get pop and energy out of the Heads.
It's all a spectrum. Rossis feel more different. The Sterling, too.

And I don't think it's a question of skill. More work? Probably. That's kinda the point. I didn't say it couldn't be gotten. Only that it was more work. And I'd prefer to put my energy into other aspects of my skiing than loading up a ski that's being stingy in giving it back.

Heck, the Sterling was absolutely rock solid. Damp and yet full of energy. It was an addicting combination. I'm interested in the Kastles to see if they have some of those characteristics... especially since it sounds like they might.
post #16 of 29
The first time I demoed im88s I was skiing on sun cups in the nastar course back in December 2006 in PA. They made it feel like a groomer. Heads can feel dead on pristine groomers at moderate speeds, but they take some bad conditions and make them feel much more manageable.
post #17 of 29
Damp shouldn't be confused with lack of energy or pop. If you lay a head over it gives plenty back and it does it with style and grace.
post #18 of 29
Dawg, you are on fire. Thanks for the review.
post #19 of 29
nice review dawg..

just want to add to anyone skiing these big(110mm plus) normal sidecut skis should try this.

skiing them like old straight ski and REALLY laying into the inside edge of the outski will yield much better preformance on groomers. My thugs do the same weird diverage skis thing untill you just put 99 percent of your balance on your outside ski.At which point its still awkward but alot more managable.

Just want to add that I got to ski the huge trouble as well and its big step in the right direction for dynastar and the graphic kick ass as well.

best way I could describe it is its like a thug only shorter and stiffer. I didnt notice the 'grabiness' at all maybe a weird turn on your skis?
post #20 of 29
Great reviews dawgcatching, you're talking about skis that I like.

I hate to be picky, but can you do a side-by-side comparison of these 3 skis, describing them relative to each other? -- Nordica Enforcer, Fischer Watea 94, Volkl Mantra.
post #21 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
nice review dawg..

just want to add to anyone skiing these big(110mm plus) normal sidecut skis should try this.

skiing them like old straight ski and REALLY laying into the inside edge of the outski will yield much better preformance on groomers. My thugs do the same weird diverage skis thing untill you just put 99 percent of your balance on your outside ski.At which point its still awkward but alot more managable.

Just want to add that I got to ski the huge trouble as well and its big step in the right direction for dynastar and the graphic kick ass as well.

best way I could describe it is its like a thug only shorter and stiffer. I didnt notice the 'grabiness' at all maybe a weird turn on your skis?
The grabbiness was on rock-hard groomers. It had rained 2 days prior. The upper off-piste stuff was relatively soft, however. The Czar had the same feel on the groomers, so I figured it had something to do with the width and maybe lateral flex in the shovel. I know what you are talking about regarding angulation: It is tough to ski it on hard snow normally. Not to worry though, I wouldn't ski these on ice at any rate I would, however, buy a pair for my local hill, where we get a ton of wet, heavy snow and a mountain that completely lacks pitch. Not sure that I would want a pair for drier snow and a steeper mountain though; I would probably prefer the Pro Rider for the stuff we were skiing in Utah last week. It really depends.
post #22 of 29
I saw the Enforcer and almost demoed it in SB. I was really intrigued by it. You see this big ski and think, Nordica, 98mm? Gotta be a iron I-beam right? Nope, just as Dawg said, light weight and I think a bit more flex in the shovel than the Watea94 then gets progressively stiffer. Didn't "fit" the Nordica mold. very interesting ski.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max_501 View Post
That's interesting because Heads, Fischers, and Elans tend to feel more similar in feel to my admittedly non pro skiing style. Atomics and Nordicas feel totally different to me. I think it takes more skill to get pop and energy out of the Heads.
style has little to do with it. The new Fischer soft snow line like the Watea's (not the Heat) are much different skis than a Head. Next time they are available, demo one.

more work? yes, well maybe, skill? So you need more skill to make a ski good? Tell me again why I want to work more to get pop and energy from a ski when I have a ski now that you don't have to work hard on but gives great energy & pop? I tend to think that Dawg's skills are more than suffecient to validate the perfromance of the ski; I know he's a much better skier than myself. No offense to Head fans but I think they need to re-look at thier off-piste/soft snow skis. I am a fan of their groomer and race skis but they lack when it comes to off-piste conditions.

Now back to our regular program....

Yes, it would be very cool to line up the 3 and test them back to back.
post #24 of 29
Agree that it isn't about skill as much as ski design. I've owned several of each: Rec Fischers are really light, have tails that load and release energy nicely, comparatively soft front ends to get into things. Many Heads like the iM82 or 88 are stiffer and heavier, take more force (from either M or A) to bend into a turn.

But that said, it's off-base to claim Head needs to rethink their soft snow skis. The Monsters are for crud at speed more than pure powder, and they rule crud at speed better than anything except a Stockli or LP. OTOH, the Mojo 90 rocks in soft snow, is relatively light, has a very easy entry, nice energy past 3 o'clock, super versatile. Skipressworld's review has it about right IMO. The Supermojo 105 is fairly stiff compared to say a Goat or Gun, but not to a Watea 101, according to the flex data; and people who ski it tend to like it a lot. Finally, folks around here and TGR who can handle it rave about the 103. So what's to rethink exactly? Do all skis have to be built like Fischers?
post #25 of 29
No, Actually, your points are good. I just think a softer flexing ski with a bit more energy would be good. I own the mojo90. I like it a lot, I think It could be better by making the tip flex a touch softer. I haven't demoed the 103 so I can't say but my understanding was that it was a stiff big mountain ski that's not very nimble. Maybe I'm wrong.
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
style has little to do with it. The new Fischer soft snow line like the Watea's (not the Heat) are much different skis than a Head. Next time they are available, demo one.
I've skied it. I like it. My point wasn't about the Watea it was about your blanket statement about Head's which I disagreed with. Honestly, I can't see how anyone could make a statement that Head skis lack pop and energy.
post #27 of 29

Has Edge Grip Improved Much?

Dawg:
Thanks for your thorough reviews.

I have a pair of 6 year old K2 AK Launchers (90mm waist) that I love so much that I am reluctant to replace them (even though they starting to lose their life). Their downsides are that they ski like lunch-trays on hard pack (not that I intentionally ski them in these conditions...), and start to get bogged down when the snow gets real deep (i.e., 18"+ on top of an unpacked base).

Anyway, have these new wide (powder) skis really improved in their edge-grip in the last few years (without losing their powder prowess) to the point that putting my K2's out to pasture sooner would be worth it? If so, do you think that the even wider skis (about 100mm waist) would improve deep snow capabilities without giving up this improved edge grip?

Thanks!
post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski-ra View Post
Dawg:
Thanks for your thorough reviews.

I have a pair of 6 year old K2 AK Launchers (90mm waist) that I love so much that I am reluctant to replace them (even though they starting to lose their life). Their downsides are that they ski like lunch-trays on hard pack (not that I intentionally ski them in these conditions...), and start to get bogged down when the snow gets real deep (i.e., 18"+ on top of an unpacked base).

Anyway, have these new wide (powder) skis really improved in their edge-grip in the last few years (without losing their powder prowess) to the point that putting my K2's out to pasture sooner would be worth it? If so, do you think that the even wider skis (about 100mm waist) would improve deep snow capabilities without giving up this improved edge grip?

Thanks!
Probably, yes. The Launcher wasn't the most laterally-rigid ski, bu then again, it wasn't intended to be. Some of the newer pow/crud skis are OK on hardpack, even pretty decent (the Dynastar LP is no slouch, at least the old 186 wasn't) and the PM Gear BRO is reputed to be laterally stiff as well, as are Stockli's. The Watea 94's hold pretty well on hardpack: I was skiing them on pretty firm snow last week and they were solid, but lacking an aggressive or racy feel of a narrower ski. The 2009 Enforcer is probably the best ski around 100mm underfoot I have tried in hardpack: It felt like a narrower ski, something I can't say about most skis in this range. But, the answer overall is yes, I think you will see an improved edge grip. It won't match a 70-82mm ski underfoot though, no way, but if you don't ski groomers exc

Some of the wider skis like edge angle, some don't.
post #29 of 29

? for dawgcatching

Have you tried both the HellDiver and the HellCat? If so, what did you think?

I demoed the HellCat last year and fell in love except that the energy it required to get the most from it left me exhausted in a very short amount of time. Will the metalless HellDiver be my dream ski, or did the lack of metal significantly change the skiing characteristics?
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Member Gear Reviews › 2009 Part 2 86mm and up ski reviews: Huge Trouble, Czar, Grizzly, Enforcer, Mantra, HellDiver