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Update Volkl AC4

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm a flatlander that gets out to the mountains once in December for race training and once in Spring on a powder hunt.  I have the original Volkl AC4 and am looking for a new board that's a bit more powder and bump/tree friendly.  The Line 90 and 100 look interesting as do the Mantra, Watea, and Nordica's offering in this category.  I'm pushing 60, 170 lbs. 5' 9 and shrinking.  I race back home and like a precise carving ski.  I know, I want it all...doesn't everybody.  I'm leaning toward the 100 but don't know how well it'll handle the non-powder days.  Is it really as versatile as some folks seem to be saying.  Thoughts welcome re, ski, binding, size, mounting.


post #2 of 11

Are you going to replace the AC-4 or keep it and supplement it with this new choice?





post #3 of 11

skirazy, I have the 05-06 model AC-4 in a 170cm, used it for 2 years, loved it, wished I got it in 177 though. This year got the Watea 84 in 176 and to me it fits your description of a bit more powder and bump/tree friendly compared to AC-4, but won't handle the hardpack as precise as the AC. Really having a lot of fun with the Watea , it has handled lots of different terrain quite well, loves bumps.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks, snowbowler.  I've noticed that the Watea has a fairly long turning radius.  Is this really meaningful in terms of it's maneuverability in tighter terraine or does the ski just turn easily because of flex, sidecut dimensions...?

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Need to sell the AC to fund the new purchase.

post #6 of 11


Originally Posted by skirazy View Post


Thanks, snowbowler.  I've noticed that the Watea has a fairly long turning radius.  Is this really meaningful in terms of it's maneuverability in tighter terraine or does the ski just turn easily because of flex, sidecut dimensions...?

They are really light, turn very easily and with the soft flex they adapt to 3D terrain nicely. If you are skiing arc to arc they do have a long turn shape to them, but they maneuver thru bumps, tight trees easily.

post #7 of 11

OK.......So I'll assume that are keeping your racing skis. That'll handle the hard snow precision/carving thing. So what to do about the other ski?


First, understand that despite the advertising and brochures.............there is no free lunch. If you start with what you have as a target (82mm ski fairly stiff and especially torsionally) how do you improve the ski in soft and mixed conditions? Here's a road map for you.


(1) More width on your given platform will still grip very nicely and will help the situation a little in deeper snow but not necessarily in moguls or tighter spots. If fact, the wider versions of what you have might feel cumbersome and reluctant in the tight spots. I call these giant carvers and for my tastes they are pretty useless skis but YMMV. Examples (Mantra, Hellcat)


(2) Take the wider platform from (1) and soften up the flex a little. This will give you a little more help in the deepish stuff and the ski will feel more compliant in the tight spots. If you keep too much torsional stiffness though, the ski may still be a little grippy when you try to make a quick skiddy type direction change when a tree jumps in front of you. Examples (Helldiver, Enforcer)


(3) Take the ski from 1+2 and soften the torsion a little. Now you're starting to get a compliant ski that will float and flex in the deep stuff and feel snakey and fun in bumps and trees. This is the kind of structure that enables you to do emergency avoidance manuvers in the trees etc and will still carve reasonably well on firmish snow. Of course you will start to sacrifice a bit more of the precision thing on truly icy stuff, but remember, you have skis for that. Example (Watea)


(4) Take the ski from (3) and add a twin tip. This will shorten up the running surface some and will sacrifice a bit more grip and stability. BUT....you will gain even more on the manuverability/playfullness end. Examples (Prophets)


Soooo.........How far down the list you go will depend upon your tastes and goals. There are other factors but these are the main steps to think about. There are many other examples of each of the four types I mentioned and most are very good. I tried to keep within the brands and models that you asked about to minimize confusion.




post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks SJ,


Fine analysis and you've taken me to what I think is a logical conclusion. I had been thinking that I'd just pack either my 9s or 9x oversize for the frontside days and go with something like the Prophets given the characteristics you list and others also note.  Now the model issue.  90's or 100's?  Do I give up much maneuverability with the wider platform?  I'm also thinking I'd go with the 179. 


Thanks again for your analysis and any othe thoughts you have for me.



post #9 of 11

Now the model issue.  90's or 100's?

I don't think it's that critical. I have a lot of experience with Lines. Even though I was not a dealer this year, I will be again next year, and I had to make the model choice myself from a buyer's standpoint. I chose to carry the 100 and not the 90 b/c there was no notable advantage to the 90 except it's quickness on harder snow. Given that you have two good hard snow skis, I factor that in and go for the 100.



post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 


Thanks again.  Also checking out the Helldiver and Enforcer, two choices I hadn't considered.  If I go with the Lines, I agree that the 100's make the most sense.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thought I'd give some feedback about what ski I picked and what happened.  The question had been, what ski would give me more float and bump/tree versatility than my Volkl AC4's.


I decided on the Fischer Watea 94 in 178.  Spent 6 days at Whitefish with snow every day (total of about 67 cms).  Probably took about 6 runs on groomed the entire trip with the rest being trees, glades, powder, cut up powder, some heavy powder and bit of harder snow on the first day.  No truly hard or icy conditions.  The ski did exactly what I think it was designed to do, and did it very well.  Very easy to manage in all conditions.  Ran well on flats and traverses, pivoted extremely well when necessary-in fact, it was difficult to tell that this was a 94 cm board-floated great, lots of stability in the cut-up with virtually no tip-deflection.   The Watea also carves just fine on the softer groomed.  It's easy to vary turn radius. Great GS turns are a given but it's surprisingly easy to crank off relatively short turns. 


Being a flatlander with relatively limited steep/deep experience, this ski was a true helper.  The limited experience on the groomed and harder snow did show the Fischer to not be quite as much of a charger as my old Volkl AC4's.  The tip just isn't quite as beefy and the Volkl damping system is very effective.  This shows up only when going mach schnell. 


Overall, I'm more than pleased and happy to trade off the very high speed stability for the float, friendliness and amazing versatility.  Thanks again, all, for your input.



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