Demoed the following at Alpental, WA on Sunday-
Me: 6'2", 185 lbs naked, level 7.75-9 depending on time of day
Conditions: Light to heavy traffic on slope; snowing all day, mostly broken up moderate weight powder 4-16", with some refreshing of fresh stuff throughout the day. Lots of soft moguls and piles of snow with a few hard large ones in certain areas.
Current ski: '08 Legend 8000 (178 cm)
Boots : Old pair of Tecnica Icons DPXR (or something like that) with 3-band Booster Strap
Skis demoed in the following order with 3-5 runs on each.
186 cm 09/10 Watea94 (the new hull tip), demo binding
First of all, this is the widest ski I have ever been on; previously, the widest ski I have ever tried was the Mythic Rider. I could definitely tell the Wateas were a wide ski, but they looked wider than they felt. I was crossing my tails a bit, but more in the lift line or walking than while skiing (I am a bit duck-footed). While skiing, they felt amazingly light and nimble for such a long and wide ski. They were fast and I could easily turn them by either using old-school technique or ankling. In terms of turning, I would say that initiation was not any slower than my own 8ks, more likely faster, and I was able to shape the turn without much thought. They would either blast through piles of snow or go over them, depending on your weight balance. The tip would bounce around perpendicular to the snow when going through the mixed terrain, but it would never deflect you in terms of your progress or direction. It seemed to me that there was a bit more flex in the overall ski than my own 8K's, but the added length gave it a nice stability. I found that the soft moguls were a pleasure to ski with these, with the skis easily absorbing going over them or around them. I did find myself occasionally in the back seat (a bad-habit of mine), but once I concentrated on keeping my hips forward rather than leaning into my boots, things went much better. To reiterate, I was amazed how easily they turned, but yet were quite stable. I don't know how these would do on hard moguls, though, and I might start feeling the width and length on those. Talking to the tech/rep, he said that although Fischer denied making this newer model stiffer, comparing last year's to this model, he felt that the newer iteration "stuck" to the snow better and thought they must have added some more 'glass" or something to it. As I said, I have never had such a wide ski, but I would seriously consider this as an addition to my stable of 1. I also intend to try the Gotamas in the next week or so. I really would have liked to try the older model of the 94s for comparison, but they didn't have them
186cm 08/09 Watea84 with demo binding
I was really looking forward to trying this ski, possibly as a softer version of my 8K's and something I could use in lighter powder or such. After my experience with the 94s above, I had high expectations of this being even quicker and more fun in the conditions. But when I tried them, I was a bit disappointed. I didn't feel like they were any quicker in turn initiation or more 'flexible' in turn shaping. They also didn't seem to have the stability going over the pile-ups. I had more difficulty doing a zipper line in the moguls than I did with the 94s. I was totally surprised by this result. I really wanted to like this ski, and I totally expected to. Perhaps I was a bit tired already, but this ski definitely was not as playful as the one above. If conditions were different, ie hard moguls or steeper sections, perhaps I would appreciate this model more. I will have to try it again at another time.
183cm 08/09 im82 with demo binding
This is a bit shorter in length than the Wateas, but I think it is the longest in the series. These skis had a totally different feel than the Wateas above. They really stuck to the snow and were unflappable in the conditions. The front half of the skis seemed much stiffer than the Wateas, but you would not feel thrown about by them. They were really really SMOOTH - a very very specific character. Even though they seemed to be stiff when flexing, turn initiation was very quick and turn shaping was surprisingly modifiable. Soft moguls seemed easier to ski than with the 84s above. I really really liked these skis even though they were very much different than the 94s above. Comparing the two, even though they are completely different in the intended use, I would say that the 94s are more like a high performance dune-buggy on some sand dunes while the im82s are more life a Formula 1 car in Monaco. I would really love to try these on some hard snow and mogul conditions. My thoughts might change but I don't know. One thing that I found a bit disconcerting, but not a reflection on the skis ability, is that the tip slope is quite shallow. That combined with the front of the ski being fairly stiff and having a tendency to stay really on the snow often made me feel like I was going to ram into a pile of snow and get thrown forward. It never happened, but it took a while to get used to.
One last thing about these skis. I noted that it was really easy for me to stay balanced on this ski - I never ever fell into the back seat. Maybe that is part of the reason the front end stays put on the snow. When I looked at the demo binding, I noticed that the heel piece is on a significant ramp. I mean this literally, ie. sliding the heel backwards to accommodate longer sole lengths significantly raises the heel above the ski. I've never noticed this on any other ski. Perhaps the skis performance is more related to that setup than the skis. Has anyone else noticed this? I also wonder if the 177cm length in this ski would be even more appropriate and fun for me.
178cm 07/08 Legend 8000s
Did a few runs on my own skis. I really love my skis and have found them to be great in all kind of conditions. BUT, and this is a big but, after skiing the 94s, and the im82s, I really found myself missing them, ie. the playfulness and utility of the 94s and the quickness and stability of the im82s.This is not to say that the 8ks weren't as good, they were just different - probably more a compromised mix of the good aspects of the other two skis. OTOH, it was the end of the day, so I might have just been tired. I will need to try this all again in the reverse order.
If I could have a two-ski quiver, I could do alot worse than the combination of the Watea94 and the im82. Hmmmm..... maybe I should sell some furniture.;-)
Edited by BigNick - 3/18/2009 at 08:50 pm