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Kastle, Head, Blizzard..........more crazy 88's

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Got a call Tuesday from another dealer inviting me along on a demo he had set up with a variety of suppliers. I took the opportunity to steal a morning to ski a couple of skis I've missed in this year's test sequence.

 

3-18-09.....Sugar Bowl......AM-noon = classic spring conditions.

 

Kastle:

 

I admit to not having this brand on my radar at all so I had never skied a Kastle model. I started on the 88mm version (178) and the rat pack headed up the mountain to the top of Lincoln. The best off trail spots were not open due to icy conditions so we basically lapped the groomers switching out among the retailers and reps. The first thing I noted about the Kastle was the light weight. It is much lighter than I expected for a double layer metal ski. On the first pitch, some short turns were advisable to keep from stacking into the trees and the Kastle was surprisingly nimble for a biggish metal ski. Down lower, when the pitch allowed a little higher speeds, I laid it over on the hardest stretch I could find. The Mx88 was smooth, damp and had very good grip. Dropping out of the gee-essy stretch, this ski transitioned back into short quick turns very well. On the last pitch before the chair, I darted off the run for taste of refrozen corn snow. Here the Kastle was smoother than expected but the squarish tail hung up a tad in the refrozen ruts.

 

After a repeat run, I switched off to the Mx78 (176). Surprisingly, the general feel of initiation and edge to edge was about the same as the 88. Due to the expected usage of this width, I expected a grippier ski than the 88 but actually they were about the same. The 78 was quicker in transition and just as stable on the GS section. Down on the lower stretch in the refrozen crapola snow, the 78 was more nimble with less tail hang up. The dampening was about the same. The 78 had quite a bit more pop when the edge was released and particularly so when coming out of a GS stretch and bending it into the transition turn.

 

Mt overall take on the Kastles is that they have balanced grip and precision very nicely into ease and accesability. I suppose that I expected an "Uber Stockli" or something but that's not at all what I felt. This is certainly the most damp light weight ski that I have been on. Justifying the price of the ski alone is a little difficult although when coupled with their Jester binding package, it comes into the range of other highest end skis.

 

Blizzard Mag 8.7 (181)

 

This is a ski (174) that I have been on much of the year and have commented on often. I won't dwell too much except to say that is sort of the "control" for this day. The 181 is long for my tastes on this ski but it was manuverable enough to compete with the shorter skis in short radius turns. On the stretch where GS turns were the thing, the tip was not as damp as the Kastle but the grip and underfoot stability was the best of the day. In the refrozen crud, the tail exhibited no hang ups and exited and transitioned smoothly. This is a great ski and my favorite of this day although I'll stick with the 174.

 

Head Peak 88 (175)

 

I have skied on the Monster 88 in the past and have always felt it to be a rather stiff, tanklike ski. While there are various and conflicting stories about the layup of this ski, I don't really care about that at all. This new version skis rather differently to me than the previous models. The head 88 has never felt very nimble to me, but this new version feels somewhat better in that regard. In short radius turns on the steepest pitches, the Peak was competitive with the other skis. Down on the gee essy stretch, the Peak was very smooth, damp and compliant and had good edge grip. Turn exit was not a real high energy experience and transitions back into quick turns were slower than the other skis. Down on the lower pitch with the still crisp refrozen ruts, the Peak 88 was very nice, quiet and predictable. Based upon my prior experiences with the iM 88, I'd say this ski will be a fit for a wider audience, but may disappoint a few devotees of the previous version.

 

I think that this width range is super versatile for the western expert either as a 1SQ or the middle ski in a 3SQ. These three will fit the skier whose preferences lie toward a 50/50 split between hard and soft snow capability. For my own tastes of 20/80 hard/soft capability, I'll still choose a softer ski. The Kastle could be there as it's an exceptional ski but the price is probably a tough nut for most.

 

A very fun morning before work. My thanks go Greg from California Ski Company in Berserkly for the invite.

 

SJ


Edited by SierraJim - 3/19/2009 at 07:42 pm


Edited by SierraJim - 3/19/2009 at 07:42 pm
post #2 of 15

Jim-  Did you have a chance to hop on the Mojo94 (or whatever silly buddy name Head is calling it next year)?   I am interested in your impression.  Demo people at Squaw liked it a lot, and said that it is kind of a better Mantra. 


Alex

 

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

 

Jim-  Did you have a chance to hop on the Mojo94 (or whatever silly buddy name Head is calling it next year)?   I am interested in your impression.  Demo people at Squaw liked it a lot, and said that it is kind of a better Mantra. 


Alex

 

 

I did. I skied it at Mammoth in ideal conditions (shin deep windblown crud and chalky groomers. The uhhhhh "John" (???) (or maybe the jimmie joebob) is very nice but has nothing to offer over the Watea 94. Both are very good anti-Mantras. I already sell Fischer so I'm not looking to Head b/c of this model.

 

SJ

post #4 of 15

Thanks for the reviews, most excellent! 

post #5 of 15

Glad to hear about the Kastle.  Sounds like a nice normal ski.

post #6 of 15

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post

 

Glad to hear about the Kastle.  Sounds like a nice normal ski.

They are a very very nice normal ski. 

post #7 of 15

Understood   One additional clarification to ask (disclaimer: I am basing the question on hearsay): according to the reports at this group W94 and Mojo have very different personalities- W94 is quick, light, and springy and Mojo is stable, quiet, damp and unassuming.   My own experience on the Head validates it, obviously I have no opinion on Wateas (maybe you can outfit me with a demo at some point).   Do you have any comments on the relative merits of these two "anti-Mantras" as applied specifically to Tahoe?  

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post

 

 

They are a very very nice normal ski. 

 

Yes it is. In fact, this is as well balanced a ski as I have skied on. I know I said I preferred the mag 8.7 on this day, (and I did) however, the Kastle is really a superb ski with impeccable build quality that skis exceptionally well. I'm not sure that there is such a light ski with this level of grip and dampening anywhere in the marketplace.

 

The problem is the price.

 

A Blizzi w/slider or other fine quality flat ski with sell for about $699-$799 next year. The Kastle will add maybe  $400 to that price tag. The chances are that there won't be much dramatic discounting on the Kastles (although probably the same can be said of the Blizzis) While superb quality and skiability is a great sales story, I suspect that outside of Aspen, Vail, DV and the Beav, there may not be enough consumers for this concept.

 

SJ

 

 

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:

stable, quiet, damp and unassuming.

 

Personally, I'd use the same phrase to describe the Watea as well. At this time, I would have no preference between the two, both are quite good.

 

I suppose if I really worked at it, I could come with some reason or other to prefer one over the other, but.....life's too short for kinda hair splitting.

 

I'll have some 2010 Fischer demos in a week or two and still have (I think) both of my current ones.

 

SJ

post #10 of 15

Haven't skied the MX78 but bought the MX88 this fall, reviewed it here a while back. SJ's evaluation is very close to my own experience. Would add that it handles a foot of pow and chop very nicely in the steeps; that light tip comes right up but doesn't get knocked around. Cannot speak to how it would do in Sierra Cement.  

post #11 of 15

Thanks!  This is what I thought, but it is nice to hear from someone who had done the tests.  I will have to stop by the famous Starthaus kinda soon (footbeds...).

Alex

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

I don't think you have been in since the expansion. We knocked out the wall to the west and added about 50% more space to the retail side. It's not done yet but it allows a lot more space for speed suits, armor, and other assorted soft goods. We also get a real office, shipping and receiving space and much more storage for speed skis, race boots, etc than we've had in the past.

 

It's a whole new place.....................

 

Uhhhh..........just won't be finished until the early summer.......

 

SJ

 

post #13 of 15

No, I have not been in since the expansion, I have been quietly skiing with my friends and my kids;-)  I should try to stop by next weekend (I'm skipping this one ).  Look forward to seeing the new Starthaus...

post #14 of 15

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post

 

 

Personally, I'd use the same phrase to describe the Watea as well. At this time, I would have no preference between the two, both are quite good.

 

I suppose if I really worked at it, I could come with some reason or other to prefer one over the other, but.....life's too short for kinda hair splitting.

 

I'll have some 2010 Fischer demos in a week or two and still have (I think) both of my current ones.

 

SJ

 

 

Since I have both the Mojo and Watea in my quiver and ski them both quite a bit, let me split some hairs.

 

Dimensions are nearly identical, so they have very similar turn/float characteristics.  The Mojo is a little wider in waist in the 187cm length -- maybe 96mm instead of the spec'd 94.  With a little more in the tip and tail, that does buy it a teeny bit more float.

 

Watea has the classic Fischer feel -- light, snappy -- with distinct tip and tail engagement.  This is consistent with the wood/carbon construction.  I'd say damping is fairly low -- on ice, you will get the beginnings of chatter if you don't carve perfectly.

 

The Mojo has the classic Head feel -- smooth, damped, somewhat leaden -- with smooth continuous edge feel the whole length of the ski.  Feel is consistent with the wood/metal construction and rubber inserts in the tip and tail (Monsters share this attribute).  The Mojos are heavily damped.  On ice, they feel like a freight train full of butter.  They don't grip as well as the Wateas, but they are a lot more benign at the chatter limit, and simply slide when you push them too far.

 

For two similar skis, they both have a place in my quiver because they are so different.  I skied the Mojos in heavy spring snow/slush today, and they rocked -- easily displacing the K2 PE as my favorite spring ski.  The Mojos are really great in spring conditions.

post #15 of 15

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post

 

 

Personally, I'd use the same phrase to describe the Watea as well. At this time, I would have no preference between the two, both are quite good.

 

I suppose if I really worked at it, I could come with some reason or other to prefer one over the other, but.....life's too short for kinda hair splitting.

 

I'll have some 2010 Fischer demos in a week or two and still have (I think) both of my current ones.

 

SJ

 

SJ - Looking forward to your impression of the 182 cm Watea 101.

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