Last week we were down at Bachelor during my son's mid-winter break. I'd been thinking about a new pair of skis, and I had been in contact with Dawg/Scott and he had recommended several that he thought I should try.
Me: 5' 7", ~150 lbs, 55 year old male, level 6 skier looking to get better, ski around 15-20 days a year in the Northwest. For the last five years or so I've been skiing on a Atomic Beta Ride 9.22, 170 cm.
I was looking for an all-mountain ski that could help me ski off the groomed better but that also would be comfortable for cruising with the family - the mythical 50/50 ski.
Scott's crew hooked me up with three skis to demo - the Fischer Watea 78 in a 167, Head Monster im 78 in a 171, and the Elan Magfire 12 in a 168. Due to a recent hospital episode I was under doctor's advice to take it easy, but since I also was shepherding three eleven-year-old boys who are quite good skiers it didn't end up being all that easy.
Unlike up here in Washington, Bachelor had received a couple of feet of new snow in the week before we arrived. The first two days were mid-20s with a 3-4 inches of new each day. The last day there was no new, but it was a brilliant sunny day in the low 30s.
I started the first day on the Wateas, cruising some groomers and playing some in the softer snow around the edges. The skis felt good, quite stable underfoot. They seemed to like longer turns more than short ones, and the more I got off the corduroy into the softer stuff the more comfortable they felt.
After a few runs on those I switched over to the Heads. Wow! What a difference! While the Fischers had felt ok, the Monsters seemed positively eager. You know that kind of dog that's not nervous but is always up for the next adventure and gives you that look that seems to say "what are we doing today"? That's what these skis felt like to me. They were up for anything - long turns, short turns, groomed snow, soft snow, some moderate bumps even (that's about the extent of the bump skiing I tried). I stayed on the Heads for the rest of the day, following the boys through some tree runs, and then bombing the groomed black runs off the Outback chair. I was thinking 165 was the right length for me, but the 171s felt perfectly manageable. I really liked the way these skis seemed perfectly happy going slow if I wanted to take it easy, but were stable and secure up to any speed I felt comfortable moving.
The second morning I started on the Magfires. These were the plain Magfire - not the Ti version. The Magfires felt very comfortable and versatile - not too different from the Monsters. I spent most of the morning skiing the trees off of Boomerang with the boys (which I don't do very well) and we had a blast. The Elans might be a touch softer than the Heads - they didn't feel quite as comfortable at speed on the groomed, but were maybe a hair easier in the soft bumps we tried. Scott didn't have a pair of the Tis in my size to try, so I didn't get to try those out.
In the afternoon I decided I should give the Wateas another try - I had read such good reviews of them I thought it was worth skiing them when I was more warmed up. The second try confirmed my initial impressions - very comfortable and stable, especially in softer snow, but to my mind at least, not as fun as either the Heads or Elans.
The third day I went back to the Monsters. The Summit finally opened and we spent the morning playing around in the soft cut-up snow off the east side of summit leading down to the top of the Rainbow chair. The Heads were far more capable in that snow than I was, but it sure was fun! That was the only conditions of the week that I was thinking a wider ride might have helped, but I think it's more lack of pilot skill than anything about the skis.
After some deliberation and discussion with Scott on the phone (we never actually did meet f2f) I bought the Monster 78s and am delighted with my purchase! The demos I was skiing were the only pair of 171s that Scott had in stock, so he gave me a very decent price on them. I can't say enough about how great it was to deal with Scott, Shane, Kevin, and Brance (who even sent me home with Sun River yo-yos for the boys). Mt. Bachelor is a great family resort, and the whole family looks forward to getting back there again.