- Age 39
- Level 8-ish skier
- Height: 6'1" Weight: 195lb
- Ski 25+ days per year
- 28.0 Salomon Xwave 9 boots, 325mm sole length
- 183cm Head Monster iM82 skis with Head (Tyrolia) LD12 bindings mounted on ski's center mark (results in -2cm from a true BOF/ski-center mount)
Snow conditions included:
- Untracked powder 4-12" deep
- Cut powder and crud
- Groomed and skier-packed powder
- Groomed frozen manmade snow
Some of my other skis: Head Monster iM77, Fischer RX-9, Fischer Watea 94, Fischer Watea 84, K2 PE
I had briefly demoed these skis last year and liked them, so I nabbed a pair from Tramdock a couple weeks ago for about $340. When Snowshoe WV moved their opening day up to November 21 after 32" of snow fell this week, I quickly mounted up the 82s and gave them a wax; the day's expected conditions very closely matched my mental specs for the 82. It turned out to be a great pairing.
My first impression of the iM82s was that they felt light in hand compared to some of my other skis, including my shorter iM77s (to be fair, the 77s have a RailFlex binding setup that adds a few ounces). It's best described as a qualitative lightness -- holding the iM82, flexing it, and giving it a few taps lends the impression that this is a structurally efficient ski -- it almost feels like the ski is all shell with a very light core. But coupled with this light feel is an unmistakable sense of strength. If you've ever held a mechanical part made out of titanium, you know the feel I am describing.
On the snow, this combination of lightness and strength is immediately apparent. The iM82s have the same light feel I like in my Fischer Watea 84 skis, but unlike the Wateas, the 82s possess good damping and great grip on hardpack. Whereas the Wateas offer distinct tip and tail engagement feel (what I would describe as a two-part "bite" on the snow), the iM82s have that classic Head feel I can only describe as one big unified edge. It's smooth, smooth, smooth. In the context of smooth, the 82s do offer a lot more feedback from the snow than my iM77s. So it's an improved version of the Head feel I have come to recognize.
One great aspect of the 82 is the versatility to take on a wide range of turn shapes and feel like they are all at the design turn radius of the ski. Of course the 82s can crank out big GS turns at speed, but if you stand on the edge, the iM8s will rip off short slalom turns -- pretty much turning on a dime -- without feeling like the tails are skidding. It's quite impressive.
There weren't any moguls on the hill yesterday, but there were a few isolated bumps here and there, enough to feel out the ability of the 82s to make quick pivot/skid turns. Among the many skis I have tried in recent years, I got the feeling that the 82s were going to be some of the better 82-87mm waist skis in the bumps. The tails come around nicely, without any fuss, and the skis feel narrower and shorter underfoot than specs suggest. At times, the 82s felt more like a 75mm waist / 175cm length ski. Since I frequently try out skis that become unwieldy and seem to add clumsiness in quick skid turns, it's nice to run across skis that make these types of turns easier.
In powder, I found the iM82s surprisingly decent. They clearly do not offer the flex and feel I get out of the Wateas (which are more dedicated to soft snow), and you can only expect so much float out of an 82mm waist ski. But I am glad to report that the 82s were not tanks in powder like some skis in this category. Often, "all mountain" skis tend to look for the bottom in 10-12" of powder, so it was nice to find a ski that was playful and had at least some float. Credit the light feel for this.
Overall, I would say that the iM82 is as close as I have come to finding a real all-mountain "50/50" ski. Most of us feel that such a ski doesn't exist, but if I had to rate the iM82 in a bunch of categories, I would give it an average to very good ranking in all of them. That, coupled with the fact that the 82 doesn't rate below average in any category (which is a first for me -- I usually always find some aspect of a ski to nitpick), makes it a good candidate in the 50/50 all-mountain range. This ski has strong groomer performance, it's nimble turn characteristics make it versatile in a variety of on and off-piste scenarios, and it's light feel endows it with enough grace that it skis powder pretty well. You can't go wrong with this ski.