Originally Posted by Dauntless
I am an East coast skier coming off race-carvers onto brand new leftover 177cm AC40's which I recently purchased. I had read all the reviews concerning the AC40's ability to carve and "rail like a race ski". Given my predisposition towards carving type skis I thought the AC40 would be an easy addition to my quiver as an all mountain ski. The 82mm waist would allow greater flotation an the occasional Vermont powder day and its reviewed carving ability would be helpful on ice.
I skied them for the first time this past weekend on manmade granular, which as the day progressed, became skied off revealing some ice. The AC40's held relatively well on ice but were not even close to my race carvers. They certainly did not "rail like a race ski." The AC40's like speed and like to be pressured, but for me were a disappointment in their carving ability on icy slopes. With my race carvers Eastern ice is not even an issue. Even the Volkl Tigersharks I demoed last season held very well on ice (maybe I should have purchased the Tigershark 12).
Since you have had the AC40 and you now have the AC50, is the AC50 that much better? Am I expecting to much in the expected carving ability of an all mountain ski?
As SJ also said, no way will the AC50 be a top-flight carver. Not a bad carver for the width, and pretty versatile, but they aren't hard snow skis. I spent some time on the AC40, a few runs on the AC50, a bunch of time on the Cold Heat and a bunch of time on the iM82. They all are OK carvers, but not anything close to a race ski, and definitely not the best tool for hard snow use. They are very fun on soft groomers, but as the snow gets firm, the less exciting they become. The better your technique and the stronger you are (especially when coming off of race skis) the more likely you are to be very disappointed if these are your replacement for your race carvers. I guess you have to consider the source: I have seen people raving about how well Gotamas carve on hardpack, when I know first-hand (and have seen other second-hand) that it simply isn't true. But, if that Gotama reviewer's "other ski" is a Praxis, then sure, it carves well.
A good example of the difference between the skis is last year, when I was testing a bunch of skis on manmade snow very early. I was on the Cold Heat, AC40, and Magfire 12, all 82mm and GS-radius skis. They did well: held a decent edge, rolled onto edge fairly quickly, and had a bit of pop. Then, I stepped down in width to the Cool Heat (76mm underfoot). A huge increase in edgehold, edge-to-edge quickness, and power. The sweet spot shrunk (it is a more demanding ski) but the payoff was more power and rebound. Edgehold seemed infinitely better. The iM78 from Head provided me with a similar feel, but without all of the power (more forgiving). These were still considered "all-mountain" skis, but once I was on that Cool Heat, the 82mm skis didn't seem all that desirable. In fact, if I skied manmade snow most of the time (obviously not the case for someone who lives in the PNW, fortunately) I would never consider a ski 82mm underfoot for an everyday ski. And, that doesn't factor in the Progressor, which I mounted up shortly afterward: that ski is MADE for the conditions you describe. That ski absolutely rips on the morning April boilerplate. It pretty much comes down to physics: a wider ski will put more of a Moment (F*D) onto the edge, causing it to break loose earlier than a narrower ski. Also, all-mountain skis, by definition, need a larger sweet spot to accommodate the skier getting bucked around in crud and bumps. Which reduces power and rebound.
I would stick with the race-bred skis, of if that is not an option, something around 75mm underfoot with a heavy frontside bias (Cool Heat, Tigershark 12, 4x4). They will all be superior tools to anything you find 80-85mm for hard-snow use.