09/10 skis demoed today (in the order I tried them): Movement Flyswatter, Movement Source, Volkl Kuro, Vist Cross 03, Salomon Czar
Me: 6', 200 lbs, ski fairly aggressively, like off-piste more than on-piste but do enjoy leaving high speed railroad tracks on groomers if there isn't any fresh to be had.
Each ski given two runs at Keystone today except the Czar which only got one. Almost all groomed runs, with a couple little stashes found in the trees. Obviously, these aren't the primary conditions meant for the fatter skis above, however they do at least claim some design elements meant to help hardpack performance, so I was interested to test those claims.
Movement Flyswatter (185cm length IIRC): I had seen pictures of these online and thought they looked rediculous (massive tip/tail rocker). So, I wanted to check them out in real life and see... On groomers, they railed...I was stunned. I felt completely comfortable even at speed cranking fairly high-g turns. They never led me to feel any lack of confidence in them. I was impressed. The center of the ski has reasonably stiff sidewall construction and has traditional camber...this, along with the fairly short radius side-cut in the center (the tip and tail looked to be reverse/reverse) seems to make this ski really hook up well. I find I like short radius skis...they are easier for me to choose turn shape on. I can crank down or let it fly...and this ski was happy either way.
I showed it some bumps and was again surprised that it was pretty happy there too. I had fun in the bumps on this big flapping ski (it's not called Flyswatter for nothing)...who would have expected? The people I was skiing with remarked that as they saw me approach a reasonably tight bump line they were thinking, "What is he doing? Moron!" But when they saw how it handled the bumps and were impressed (not by my skiing of course...but by the fact that the ski was happy in the bumps). Given that I am not a particularly good bump skier, I think this is pretty impressive too.
I found a tiny bit of slightly soft snow (mabe a couple inches deep)...not surprisingly, the ski was fun in soft and you could tell it was pretty floaty. How it would handle bottomless, I can't say, but I would think that would be its strong point.
Movement Source (again a little hazy what the length was...somewhere mid 170s I think): I have demoed the Giant Sluff before and found it to be too much ski for me. It threw me around in ways I didn't like. The Source was a much nicer (for me) version of the Sluff. Not surprisingly, it rails on the groomed...pretty much just like the Sluff. We found a nice little stash (boot deep maybe, and a little steeper) and skied some trees. I liked how the Source handled in the trees and was quite happy with it on the steeper boot-deep snow as well. Bumps: it was quick enough (for me) edge-to-edge and didn't force me to carve. If I were starting all over again, I'd be tempted to buy this ski as my "no new snow lately" ski although I might be tempted by something with a somewhat shorter radius side-cut so higher-g turns would be more easily available.
Volkl Kuro (185cm): This ski has no flat part to it at all...a rocker picture would show the two skis touching eachother just at the center. I'm not sure what all has been done to make it skiable on groomers, but it was definitely skiable and could be made to carve some pretty large radius turns. It did lose it's edge a couple times on some of the harder hardpack (the stuff some people call ice but it really isn't ice). Although it wasn't a catastrophic failure to hold, it did catch my attention and drop my level of confidence a bit. In a bit steeper terrain with some bumps around, the ski was handlable but didn't perform in a way that made me want to show it more. While it was skiable, it was clearly not in its preferred terrain. I took it back to our little steepish stash and it clearly was very happy there. Good float, confident turning. In the trees, it was a bit more ski that I wanted...I could get through and have fun, but not quite go exactly where I wanted to all the time and I caught a few little trees that spun me around. I think this ski would be quite happy in open terrain or sparse trees with big lines in soft snow available. But we all knew that just looking at it...
For a skier like me, I'd pick the Flyswatter over the Kuro...although it might be a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison since the Kuro is in the 130s under foot and the Flyswatter is in the 120s. I'm not sure when or how often you'd need the extra float of those extra 10mm unless you're in Alaska...and the Flyswatter was much more versatile.
Vist Cross 03 (at least I think that's what was called...skied it in a 170cm, that was the longest they had there): Clearly a completely different ski, but I've been kind of interested to see if these more expensive skis really deliver anything special. Also, it's been a long time since I've been on a ski that's basically a pure on-piste ski...so wanted to see how it compared to the on-piste abilities of the behemoths I'd just been on. At 84mm under foot, I was told this is the fattest ski they sell (although I did see some fatties in the back that they said were prototypes or something). My usual go-to ski for "no new snow" days is the Nordica Afterburner (178cm, 84mm under foot). The Vist was clearly more of an on-piste performer than any of the other skis mentioned above. The edge hold was tenacious...I heard a new sound, the sound of an edge driving straight through that "icy" hardpack. Even on 170s, the confidence was high enough to crank some turns with enough g's to get my hand down...I think with a couple more runs, a hip down would have been doable. My second run on them was on the bumps under Montezuma chair...decent sized but not massively steep. They seemed quite happy in those bumps and I doubt I've ever bashed bumps with better style...it was fun. If I were an east-coast type of skier (i.e. mostly groomers), these skis would be a great choice...except for the price tag.
Salomon Czar (182cm): I didn't get a chance to get to my stash of soft snow on these skis...it would have been nice to see how they handled trees and softish snow. On the groomed, they handled better and with more confidence than the Kuros, but not as well as the Flyswatters. In the little bit of steeper and bumpier terrain I skied these, I was also happier than I had been on the Kuros, but again, not as good as the Flyswatters. I was in a hurry to go meet my ride, so I didn't note down their width...but I think it was just over 100...so I'm guessing that these skis are kind of in a dead zone where for non-floaty days it is outperformed by the Flyswatter and on floaty days, it's outperformed by both the Flyswatter and the Kuro.
Anyway...it was a fun day trying some of the new skis coming to market...I just wish there had been some more fresh snow around to see how some of these skis handled in their native environments. What would I have walked away with if I had had a quiver to build? Of the skis I skied...probably the Flyswatter and the Source.