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Supershape Magnum, Watea 84, Fischer Race SC - Demo Notes

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Date: March 13, 2009

Location: Sugarloaf, Maine

Weather: sunny, teens – low 20s

Conditions: 60% firm groomed with boilerplate patches, 40% soft groomer crud, up to 3 or 4 inches deep. No bumps, trees, powder, or corn.

Skis Tested: 08/09 Fisher Race SC, 165cm; 08/09 Head Supershape Magnum, 163cm; 08/09 Fisher Watea 84, 176cm.

Me: 5’ 7”, 130lbs, 46yo, level 8

 

Background: Obviously the first two skis have some similarities, and the third is totally different. The Race SC and the Magnum are candidates to replace my Fisher World Cup RCs, which are too stiff for me under most conditions, with a softer, turnier ski. The Watea I tried just because I felt like it.

 

Notes on format: I ski differently depending more or less on the pitch of the slope. On greens and the easier blues, I like to make clean arcs of different sizes. I tend to ski very fast here when slope traffic allows. At Sugarloaf, this basically means anything on the lower part of the mountain, plus the Timberline area. On blacks and the steeper blues – upper mountain at the Loaf – I ski much more slowly, make short radius turns, and introduce varying degrees of “brush” into the turn. (I’m not strong or quick or fearless enough to sustain pure arcs on these pitches for any length of time.)  Therefore I have broken out the reviews accordingly.

 

 

clean arcs on greens / blues

 

Fisher Race SC 165cm: Turny. Definitely more of a slalom style ski than the “combi” personality that the marketing blurbs imply. Very clean, crisp, and solid feeling on edge – I had absolute confidence in it. Excellent grip on boilerplate. Up to a point, easy to vary radius depending on degree of angulation, but too tempting to lean it way over. When you do this, watch out! If you are not totally on top of the turn you will get launched. In short, a total blast in these conditions, but almost too responsive.

 

Head Supershape Magnum 163cm: First impression of this ski is that is insanely easy to initiate a turn on. This impression was totally positive for me; I could tell from the first couple of turns that its flex was much more suited to my size and style (i.e., pretty soft). On the easiest hardpack runs this ski was a joy. Not quite as crisp as the Fischer, but noticeably more “comfortable” for me. It needs to be at a higher angle before it really locks in on the carve, but turn radius is still nicely adjustable. Has a distinctly damper, smoother feel that the Fischer, not quite as prone to launching me unawares if I put too much oomph into the turn. On the middling blue sections, where I was still carving it up at speed - with a bit more energy and power due to the pitch - this ski started to let me down slightly compared with the Fischer: At high edge angles (short radius arcs), it was fine as long as I could hold on. But when I tried to open it up into more GS turns, the associated lower edge angle compromised grip a bit and I felt some disconcerting slippage and chatter here and there.

 

Fischer Watea 84 176cm: The longer turn radius of this ski was more like that of the skis I’m used to, so I had no trouble figuring out how to open up the throttle and carve some big honking GS turns. Under these circumstances it was very nice to be able to hit some minor piles of soft snow and have them be absorbed seamlessly – something neither the skis I own nor the others I demo’d was very good at – instead of jarring me. But this benefit was not worth the down side: there was no comparison with either of the more race-oriented Fischers (either my RCs or the Race SCs I demo’d) or with the Head Magnum in terms of hardpack grip. It wasn’t horrible, it just was not anything that would give any dyed-in-the-wool New Englander a warm fuzzy feeling. Grip was noticeably weaker even than that of my Legend 4800s, which are not known as an ice ski. No reason to use this ski on a day like this on these runs. Note: longish length (for me) was a non-issue in this context.

 

 

brushed turns on blacks

 

Fisher Race SC 165cm: These skis have some of the same issues that I run into with the RCs: the tips are just too stiff for my weight. Initiating arc’d turns at speed on hard snow is not a problem, but in brushed turns, and/or in softer snow, the tips just do not deflect sufficiently. Instead they just plow ahead rigidly in a straight line. The turn does not initiate quickly enough and I end up resorting to rotary movements, and/or over pressuring the front of the ski in an effort to get the turn started, resulting in a subsequent tail washout. This behavior pretty much rules this ski out for me.

 

Head Supershape Magnum 163cm: With its softer tip and slightly wider waist, this ski was distinctly better in brushed turns through small piles of soft groomer crud mixed with boilerplate than the Race SC. Way more to my liking. However, once I picked up the speed a bit from quite slow to motoring steadily, the tendency to chatter at moderate edge angles that I mentioned above became radically more pronounced. I’m sure there is a technique flaw on my part at the root of this, but it was a big downer with a ski that otherwise seemed really close to exactly what I’m looking for. In reviewing some of my past experiences with shorter skis, including the 165 version of my Dynastars, and a 160cm pair of Atomics I had a while back, I am thinking that there is a very good chance I would have been happier with the 170cm version of this ski. Something about my turning style just works better with a slightly longer ski. The 170 was available, but I did not make room for that test in my afternoon. In retrospect, that was a mistake.

 

Fischer Watea 84 176cm: There was quite a bit of thick groomer residue on Gondi Line, Spillway, and Haulback. I mostly stuck to these trails while testing this ski. It was very fun surfing through this stuff on the Watea. Even this little bit of soft snow showcases the likeability of a softer, wider ski compared with the others I tested. I’m pretty sure I would have liked the experience even better on the 167, but they didn’t have one of those to try. (I just think it would have been a bit quicker and even more forgiving at that length.) In any case I would have liked them even better on the steeper slopes if they were a bit turnier. In addition to the so-so hard snow performance of this ski (see above), the deal killer on this one for me was the loud resonant noise coming from the tips as I plowed through the coarse-grained chop. There is enough noise in my world; I don’t need more coming from my skis! Based on this experience I’d be interested in testing the Watea 78 and the Head Monster 78, on the premise that these skis might be a bit turnier – and potentially better on hard snow - but otherwise retain a similar personality. (The Watea 78 has a different core construction from the 84 – maybe not so loud.)

post #2 of 13

All very different skis, but good report.  From your description, the Head Magnum would be a great ski for your weight and skill.  I found it easy to ski yet rewarding of good technique.

post #3 of 13

If you get a chance, try the Fischer Progressor 8. It falls somewhere in between the RaceRC and the Magnums. Stiffer than the Magnums but softer than the RaceRC, exceptional grip and stable at high speeds. It prefers quick, short radius turns but can still carve out GS turns. Terrific in the bumps.

 

post #4 of 13

At your weight the 170 magnum would be a nice ripper but more forgiving than the fischer.  Head's have notoriously poor base bevels from the factory.  My magnums were all over the place - probably form 1-4+ degrees.  That needs to be fixed.  Take a look at the last big thread on the magnums I think it was started by richie-rich.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brumos View Post

 

If you get a chance, try the Fischer Progressor 8. It falls somewhere in between the RaceRC and the Magnums. Stiffer than the Magnums but softer than the RaceRC, exceptional grip and stable at high speeds. It prefers quick, short radius turns but can still carve out GS turns. Terrific in the bumps.

 

 

Okay. Good tip. Kind of interesting that 170 is the LONGEST length for this ski. I'd think I'd want to be on a 165 or 170. Normally - except for slalom skis - that puts me on the short-middle end of a carving ski's length range. At my size, I've never even considered buying the longest length. Whats with that? If you don't mind my asking, what's your weight and what length 8 are are you basing your experience on? Thanks.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

 

At your weight the 170 magnum would be a nice ripper but more forgiving than the fischer.  Head's have notoriously poor base bevels from the factory.  My magnums were all over the place - probably form 1-4+ degrees.  That needs to be fixed.  Take a look at the last big thread on the magnums I think it was started by richie-rich.

 

Cool. What you are saying jibes with my intuition and experience (with the 163). The whole ski length / body weight equation (or non-equation) can be so confusing, though. I read through the really long thread you reference, and notice that there are all kinds of people almost twice my size on the 170. Huh? Normally that would tell me that the 170 would be too stiff for me. If I can assume that it's not much stiffer than the 163, I'll be happy. If not, not. Comments?

post #7 of 13

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

Cool. What you are saying jibes with my intuition and experience (with the 163). The whole ski length / body weight equation (or non-equation) can be so confusing, though.

 

I read through the really long thread you reference, and notice that there are all kinds of people almost twice my size on the 170. Huh? Normally that would tell me that the 170 would be too stiff for me. If I can assume that it's not much stiffer than the 163, I'll be happy. If not, not. Comments?

Yes, well to each his own I guess. This is what makes direct recommendations a little tough. 

A lot depends on how you ski - how agressive you like to be, do you ski with high edge angles etc.

 

The magnum is a soft ski. Really, just go flex it in the store.  Don't listen to any sales talk of "it's a lot of ski". I really don't know where that came from - I guess a memo from Head as they tried to place a very expensive ski in their lineup. 

 

I suppose the technology does work because I doubt that without it such a soft ski with so much side cut would work for me over such a range of speeds/conditions. I will tell you that last week I was skiing spring wet snow at pretty high speeds. This is not the optimal ski at all for that. (In fact I bet a lot would say it's terrible) It was definitely a flopaholic in those conditions but at least a friendly one. It was a rather fun experience even if I was at times wondering if it was a bad idea. For you though at almost 70 lbs less it would be a different story most likely. In general, for me I'd probably prefer the 177cm although I'd miss the shorter on a lot of eastern stuff. Note I am not bothering to take this out west again to Big Sky.  It's too short and too soft for me.

 

I should note that the 'new' version - I guess this years is slightly different. I believe it's a touch stiffer, at least that's what it feels like. This is a good thing. (I'd like it even stiffer for me though). I only know because I got a replacement on warranty.  This years (or next?) has darker green stripes (slightly) but the easiest way to tell is by that 'Intelligence' aluminum plaque.  The new one looks polished and has a micro pattern in it if you look closely. The old was brushed aluminum. The most obvious difference is the plate.  The new one is a flat rectangle with black pieces where the toe/heel pieces are and silver in the middle.

 

Oddly, I experienced some tip flopping at fairly high speeds(but not really fast).  I never got that with the old one.  I'm wondering if it wasn't my boot/binding interface even though I had it adjusted at a shop.

 

I will say that this ski continues to have a unique feel. In some conditions it felt as if i could feel the snow from the very tip of the contact point - especially the inside ski.  I'm not sure I've ever felt subtle feedback quite like that. (That's  a good reason to make sure some old school bonehead doesn't dull the edge in the contact zone near the tip.)

I think that type of feedback can make you a better skier. It also makes the ski interesting.

 

If you like to ski real fast than the fischer would most likely be more to your liking.  The magnum though has a good range just not into the mach schnelling category, although at your weight that would raise the speed considerably.  Let's face it it's a tough call.

 

I guess if I had to call it for you from what you've posted I'd go with the 170cm.In fact you're almost a perfect candidate for it. Hey, you just deal with a little flopping at speed if it happens.  If you really get tired of it you replace it.  It's not like you're getting married to it. I think you'll really get to like it though, even if it has it's flawed areas.

I mean let's face it, I really like it and the flawed areas are way broader.

 

Just make sure to get the base flattened before base edge beveling (one degree base is good, 3 deg. side edge) because they can be a disaster and it really affects the performance unless you're always in soft snow.

 

post #8 of 13

I just picked up the Progressor 8+ in 170 and got out on them once before our season ended here in PA.  At your size I think you could probably go either 165 or 170 in the 8+.  I'm 6' 185lbs, level 7 and it's plenty of ski for me.  Overall it's very user friendly, good at speed, good edge hold, and likes to turn.  The dual radius actually seems to work and it's easy to do small to medium radius turns on this ski.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

 

 

 

Okay. Good tip. Kind of interesting that 170 is the LONGEST length for this ski. I'd think I'd want to be on a 165 or 170. Normally - except for slalom skis - that puts me on the short-middle end of a carving ski's length range. At my size, I've never even considered buying the longest length. Whats with that? If you don't mind my asking, what's your weight and what length 8 are are you basing your experience on? Thanks.


 

post #9 of 13

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

 

 

 

Okay. Good tip. Kind of interesting that 170 is the LONGEST length for this ski. I'd think I'd want to be on a 165 or 170. Normally - except for slalom skis - that puts me on the short-middle end of a carving ski's length range. At my size, I've never even considered buying the longest length. Whats with that? If you don't mind my asking, what's your weight and what length 8 are are you basing your experience on? Thanks.

 

 

Yeah, you might want to go for the 165 considering your weight. I just picked up a pair of 170s, I'm 5'9" 175lbs. I wish this ski was available in a 175cm, but i suppose that might change the characteristics of the ski.

I demo'd several skis all season including the Magnum (170), the Fischer Progressor 9 (175) and Volkl RaceTiger SC (170). One ski which I really wanted to try was the Head Supershape Speed but just couldn't find a pair anywhere. I think that'll be my GS ski next year.

 

Alright back to the original topic, of all of those i preferred the Progressor 9 but it was too stiff for any off-piste, bumps, crud, etc and that is why i went with the Progressor 8. It has the same amazing edge hold/grip but it's softer (doesn't have the medal running the length of the ski) which makes it more versatile. It's also a quicker turning ski and much more 'snappy' compared to the 9.

I consider the 8 closer to a slolam ski and the 9 a GS ski.  

 

I'll also add that the 8 is not a difficult ski to 'ski'. A lot has to do with your own skill and ability but since you're a level 8 you should be fine. Give them a try, i think you might be pleasantly surprised.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

This thread is continued (kind of) here.

post #11 of 13
I demo'd the Head Super Shape Magnum yesterday at Mt. Wachusett (MA).  I think I skied it in a 170cm. I'm 6'4", 230 lbs. Level 8/9.  I agree with your assessment: very easy to initiate a carve with solid edge hold at low to moderate speed.  Can't comment on how they'd be in the steep & fast as that's not possible at Wachusett .  I don't generally like skis with a radius this small, but found the SS Magnum was not as insistent as most that you ski only short radius turns.  This has sparked my interest in what Head has to offer in a longer radius ski.
post #12 of 13
I've been on the Head SS Magnum most of this season.  Here's one thing I can say about the chatter reported.  I find that you get going, you can get a bit of floppiest where you feel like you don't have as much control but part of it is technique.  I found the ski really likes to be on the snow all the time.  Also, you do not want to completely let up on the pressure at any time between turns.  Some skis like to be, or at least will tolerate being, popped between turns.  The SS Magnum just doesn't like it.  When I leave mine on the snow all the time, they do just fine in medium-long radius faster turns.  I'm sure if you had a habit of up un-weighting, these skis would not be happy.

Supposedly Head as some type of technology that allows the ski to be softer when you start to bend it but it stiffens up as you bend it more.  Whether that's true or just marketing, I don't know.  But it seems if that were the case, you would always want to keep some load on the ski.
post #13 of 13
Nice review Qcanoe!

I own both the Race SC as my primary driver in the East and the Watea 84 for softer snow days, so I was interested to read your take on the skis.

I'm a bit taller and heavier than you, so the stiffer tips on the Race SC aren't a problem for me.  I would 2nd the recommendation to check out the Progressor line.  The dual radius makes for quick turn initiation but allows the tails to release a bit easier .. it's a really versatile ski.  8+ is probably the right call for you.  I also might take a look at the RX8. Although it no longer holds the top spot in Fischer's "performance carver" line, it's still a great ski.  A bit softer than the Race SC with roughly the same dimensions. Great edgehold and a fun, lively carver in a quick, slalom radius.
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