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Question re sizes for IM88 - should i go 186 or 175?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I found this forum when i started researching new skis a few weeks ago - what a great resource! I demoed a pair of Elan 888s (177s) against a pair of IM88s (175s) at Mt. Hood Meadows on Tuesday - had 5-7 inches or so of fresh concrete to put these skis to the test. The Elans were livelier in the lighter snow higher on the mountain, but I found the Heads to be better at plowing through heavy, deep, choppy crud without deflection, and almost as good in the lighter snow - i'm therefore considering a purchase of the Heads.

Here's my issue - i'm 6 feet tall, 210 pounds, level 8, and wish there were a size available between 175 and 186. I liked the 175s just fine for everything except going fast in deep, heavy crud. In those conditions, they felt too short - I had to watch my fore/aft balance pretty closely. I ski mostly in Oregon (with one trip to the rockies a year), and therefore spend a lot of time in deep, heavy crud. Thus, i'm very close to buying the 186s without demoing. However, from what i've read on this forum, the 186s are a completely different ski than the 175s. Is there anyone out there who is about my weight and ability that can compare the 175s and 186s for me? All of the feedback i've seen on this site are from lighter or heavier skiers Also, as an in-between ski, would the IM82 in the 183 length perform similarly, or is the float in crud (or the performance on hardpack) noticeably different?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
post #2 of 11
I'm 6', 225 and also a level 8. I have the 175s and absoulutely love them. They handle my weight and relatively aggressive skiing style no problem. I just got back from JH and the 175s were perfect in the deep snow that hit there in the last week..... I only demo'd the 175 length so I can't really help you compare. The only thing I would say is: on this ski you'll gain much more in maneurverablity with the shorter length then you'll lose in stability.
post #3 of 11
Matt_H - Welcome to EPIC!!

I am 6'1", 190 and a level 8-9 who skis primarily in Utah. I too was looking at the IM88, but couldn't decide between the 175 and 186. However, after talking with the guys at the shop who have skied both lengths, I ended up with the 186. And although I didn't get to demo the 175 I'm pretty sure that I would have been disappointed with the shorter length. The 186 busts through the chop and cut-up crud like its not there, and is soooo nice in untracked. Even in the trees it can work the line as easy as my shorter (175) Elan's.

Since I have not skied the 175, I cannot provide a contrast. However, my opinion of the 186 is that it skis a bit shorter since it has a slightly turned up tail (not twip) which allows it to release the turn a bit easier than a square tail.
post #4 of 11
Hi, Matt.

I weigh about 15# less than you and have spent quite a bit of time on both lengths. I'm also the on-mountain rep for Head here at Jackson Hole.

I'm not sure I have a good answer for you. I think a lot of it depends on how fast you go on average. The higher your average speed, the more you're going to like the 186.

It sounds like your only quibble with the 175 was the fore/aft thing in deeper crud and junk. I really think that if you were to ski that 175 for several days in those kinds of conditions, you would very quickly figure out how to stay over the middle of the ski. I think that length can handle junky snow very well. I also liked that length better for skiing bumps and trees.

The 186, on the other hand, is just an absolute all-terrain-assault-vehicle when you're running it at speed through nasty conditions. The extra length does "smooth out" some of the irregularities in the snow and the base underneath. That's where the 186 shines, but it takes a few more consistent mph to make it really come alive.

It's not that the 186 can't be skied comfortably in trees and narrow spots - it can. It's just that it's more in its element when you have a little more room and you're going a little faster.

If the majority of your skiing is bumps, chutes, and trees, you would probably like the 175 better. If most of your skiing is out in the open, however, go with the 186.

Good luck with the choice.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Bob, NeedToSki and Gaff - thanks to all of you for your input - you've given me some good data points. Basically, it sounds like either choice would be good. I do like skiing fast through crud, which is why I was considering the longer skis. If i didn't travel and ski outside of oregon, the 186s would be a no-brainer, as i spend almost all of my time here in the trees and crud, and for whatever reason, there just isn't that much bump skiing here. However, when i travel other places, much of the terrain i like to ski tends to fill with bumps once the powder is skied out, and i really enjoy skiing bumped-out trees and chutes.

If i knew that the 186s would be good in bumpy, gladed terrain and if i knew i could bring them around quickly in steep, narrow chutes, i'd buy those. However, i know that the 175s will be fine in the bumps and chutes, and it sounds like those of you who have skied the 175s have had no complaints about lack of float, so i'm leaning toward those. It's a tough choice (and I'm a one-ski-quiver skier who tends to keep skis 7-8 years before upgrading, which makes the choice even tougher...). Thanks again, and i'd be interested in hearing any further input about the 186s in the bumps.

post #6 of 11
Originally Posted by Matt_H View Post
... and i'd be interested in hearing any further input about the 186s in the bumps.

Matt - I don't specifically seek out bumps, but I do like to ski bumps as long as they are soft. If the bumps are the least bit firm, especially between storms or from the freeze/thaw cycle, I will avoid them and choose either a groomed run or off piste/trees to get around. That said, I find the 186 will handle the "soft" bumps as well or better than my narrower/shorter carving skis. However, I bet I would prefer the 175's if I skied bumps more often.

Still glad I got the 186's as I prefer fast skiing in the crud, chop, pow, and especially laying tracks on the groomers. The 186's rock for this!!
post #7 of 11
It sounds like u have already made up your mind. go for the 186's. at 210#s, u should have no problems flexing the ski into all sorts of weird shapes. plus u will have added float w the longer length. I also ski in the pnw, so I know crud performance & float are priority.

having said that, I ski the im88's in a 164 ;D but then I'm 75#s lighter than u, so my advice may not be relevant
post #8 of 11
175 if your ok with staying at level 8, 186 if you ever want to get better.
post #9 of 11
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
175 if your ok with staying at level 8, 186 if you ever want to get better.
brevity rules.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Following up on my earlier inquiry, i ended up purchasing the 186s instead of the 175s. Yesterday i finally had the chance to try them out at Mt. Hood Meadows. The conditions were great - sunny skies and a good amount of new, medium-heavy snow (2 days old, but initially untracked, as much of the good terrain had been closed the prior day). It felt like 4-6 inches when i was skiing, but during a rest stop i planted a pole all the way to the grip without trying... I was able to test the skis in untracked, moderaltey tracked, and completely cut-up snow, as well as in spring slush at the bottom of the mountain late in the day.

I'm pleased to report that the 186s were the right choice for me. I was looking for more stability in deep crud compared to my prior skis (Volant Ti Power, ~192-193cm or so I think), and the 186s outperformed the 175s in this category. I'm 210lbs, and for my weight the 186 had a very large sweet spot. The 175s required me to focus on my front/back balance fairly closely or the tips would dive during aggressive turns. The 186s had no such issue - they were remarkably stable and strong when skiing through deep cut-up crud at speed. They really enabled me to focus on working the terrain instead of watching my balance. My friend remarked partway through the day that "you are skiing faster than you used to" - the skis really like to move!

In the trees and soft bumps, i found the 186s to perform well. They didn't swing around quite as quickly as the 175s and required a little more input, but i was able to turn them plenty fast to maintain a good line in what few bumps are allowed to build at this resort. They also were also fun to GS at speed over smaller bumps. And they were a sheer pleasure on the steeps (i tested them on some of the pitches in upper Heather Canyon) - the skis were sure-footed and agile.

In conclusion, for someone around my weight, i wouldn't hesitate to recommend the longer size of this ski. I found much of the feedback on this site to be accurate - the longer ski definitely performs better at speed and is not for a slower skier. However, it is more than capable of making short radius turns and being driven through the bumps, so i found there is no need to go shorter for such terrain - the longer ski performs admirably, albeit differently, in tighter situations.

Thanks again for all of the feedback - it did help sway me to the longer size.

post #11 of 11
I'm about you size (a bit lighter) and have no problem skiing the 186 im88 in east coast bumps when I have to...
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › Ski Gear Discussion › Question re sizes for IM88 - should i go 186 or 175?