Got a chance this past Saturday to ski some of the upcoming Head skis.
Weight: 155 lbs
Skiing style: Technical, race-derived, finesse over pure power
Certifications: CSIA 3, CSCF 2
Current equipment: Boots: Head Raptor 130 RD; Skis: Head Supershape Magnum 170cm
Note: While I am not directly sponsored or affiliated with Head, I do receive excellent deals on their products, however I do my best to present unbiased views and opinions.
Ontario spring day, started off with some frozen grippy corduroy, slush on hardpack/ice after a couple hours
Peak 78 - 171cm, 124-78-110, 14.6m
As many here may know, the Peak line is a replacement for the popular Monster line, maintaining the general dimensions, but softening the construction somewhat. A 78mm ski isn't usually the sort of ski I would choose for myself, preferring narrower carvers or bigger stuff for off-piste action, but I liked these more than I expected I would.
I started with these on a pretty hard surface, and they actually had pretty surprising carving performance. I was able to carve these much tighter than the radius would indicate, thanks to the reduction in metal, but they still held as well as anyone could expect from this sort of ski. However there wasn't a ton of rebound or energy to them. In the softer stuff they fared well, but I would say there is probably a speed limit in really heavy chop, at least for bigger or more aggressive skiers.
+: Surprising hard pack ability
-: Lack of energy, not mach 10 crud busters
Recommended for anyone wanting a front-side biased one ski quiver without wanting a ton of rebound/energy from a ski.
Chip 78, 171cm, 124-78-110, 14.6m
This is the Peak 78 with the Intelligence Chip added. Similar maneuvering characteristics, but I found that once I put them on edge, they didn't want to release as easily as I would expect, which meant fine edge control throughout the turn became a little more of a chore. High speed performance was definitely notched up from the Peak 78, but I still felt like the energy wasn't there, even when bending them into tighter arcs. Never really felt like I dialed this one in perfectly, so others may have different opinions.
+: Solid variable terrain performance, even at speed
-: Edges don't release as well as they engage, still lacking rebound
Recommended for someone that wants a smooth ski for cruising in ungroomed and variable conditions
Icon TT 80.0, 170cm, 118-66-102, 13.4m
The Icon is a new Head line intended as an "all-mountain carver" with "Torque Tuning Technology," which is just another means of increasing torsional stiffness (for better edge grip) without giving skis a super stiff flex longitudinally. The 80.0 is the top of the line ski, with a sandwich laminate construction, the lower end models have a cap construction.
Right off the bat I'll say that this is definitely not an all-mountain ski. Maybe in 2000, but not 2010, as evidenced by the dimensions. In slush and crud it performs decently, but certainly not where it shines. The edge grip is definitely fairly impressive, but that's about the best I can say for this ski. It turns nicely, but there's nothing that really stood out to me. Not great in choppy conditions or at high speed. Not a bad ski, but not a standout either. I was hoping when the XRC and Xenon lines got canned that Head would go for something a little different and go for a strong 70-80 waisted true "all-mountain carver" line, but it's not the case.
+: strong edge grip
-: lack of power, versatility
Recommended for people straddling the intermediate-advanced gap who want a strong carving ski but aren't ready for something with more energy. Others should move up to something in the Supershape line, or go wider if you want true all-mountain capability.
Worldcup iSpeed, 180cm, 112-66-94, 18m
This was the highlight of the test for me. I didn't get a chance to demo the current model, but there's no difference between the two, save for some minor topsheet details. This is a serious performer, very solid platform, no real speed limit (in Ontario at least), and busts through big piles of crud and slush like they're untouched corduroy. At the same time, it's not a tough ski to turn, even in lower performance situations. The lineage between this and Head's race dept. GS skis are quite evident, very similar feel, with the major difference being that the iSpeed is a little easier to steer into a turn, and the GS RD has that much more of a sold platform feel (i.e. unshakeable freight train on rails).
+: best performance, edge hold and speed limit you can find without a true FIS GS ski, and with added maneuverability
-: Probably not the best choice for true all mountain skiing
Recommended for anyone who wants race stock like feel, without some of the limitations of a real race ski