Me: 165 lbs, 6', middle aged, advanced, like to turn, currently learning rec racing back east
Skis I like: Blizzard Supersonic, 8.1, 8.7, Cronus; Elan Ripstick; Head SS, 1200SW, iM88; Goats, Mantras
The ski: 178 cm MX88, mounted at line with RF's, 1.5 cm forward at moment. Thanks to Whiteroom and Chris for the ski and later, the mount.
Conditions: Telluride, everything from 6" of light fresh to ice, hard and soft bumps, lot of chop and crud
Review: Imagine the child of a Stockli SS 178 and a Rossi B78. Has the smoothness, stability, and relatively easy tail release of the Stockli, but lighter, more forgiving, quicker, and weirdly easy to initiate. Just tip and turn. I took a few runs to get used the general characteristics, discovered that the MX's are happy doing most any kind of turn: lazy ankle rolls, serious racing steering with inside ski or rotation, pivots or smears in bumps, scarves, you name it.
Then decided to test a claimed weakness: The light tip gets knocked around in crud. Found a suitable double blue, covered with 4-6" of fresh crud and chop, stationed some friends above and below with cells, and did a very amateur GS through it. The tip feels like it should be getting shoved around, it's that light. But it doesn't. Zero tip displacement. No nervousness. But this ski changes character at speed. At an easy pace, it just does what you ask, very low key and undemanding as long as you pay attention to basics. But it wakes up at speed. At the end of the SG stretch, ski basically was saying, "Is that all you got?" Next, I tried 6" of untracked pow. Smooth, tip stays up on its own, likes to run straight or turn, your choice. Last, was an ice skate on patches of exposed ice further down the mountain.
Can't locate any glaring weaknesses. Some niggles: May be light in front and easy in back, but this is built like a racing ski, and 3/4 of it is very stiff. Especially at 178 for me at 165 lbs. Easy to turn does not equal forgiving. So it demands serious attention in firmer bumps, not its natural environment. While it's more forgiving than most Stocklis, it still listens pretty closely to where your CM is, and you do not want ever to get in the backseat with that big square tail, or you're off to the races. Last, its feel may not be for everyone. Very damp and smooth, has decent snowfeel but doesn't transmit every nuance of the surface like a Fischer or Blizzard. And while it initiates easily and finishes smoothly, it feels bigger and likes to run bigger turns than a same width ski like the Magnum 8.7 or the iM88. May be the 20m radius, or the construction.
So I'm thinking this is the best all mountain western ski I've ever used, and I'm really happy with the length. But not for everyone, and I suspect the 168 would be better for folks under 180 in the east or maybe even in the west if you favor medium radius turns and/or like bumps and trees.