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2009 Watea 94 (178)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Ski tested: Fisher Watea 94, 178cm

Me: 6ft, 185lb, Expert level skier (but nothing crazy).  Current skis: MRs 178, L8K 178, Blower 185. 

Conditions: Hard icy groomed, boilerplate frozen crud on most slopes with some corn in a few sunny sports- in other words a perfect day to test a 94mm waited ski ;-)

 

 

This ski seems to be reviewed to death here, so I am not sure what I can add.  I was always intrigued by that ski, especially given the mostly positive writeup it gets here on Epic, so last weekend SierraJim set me up with a nice demo pair in 178 (Thanks, SJ!).   Sunday was cold and windy and the previous day was very sunny and warm, so everything that thawed on a previous day got frozen overnight and never thawed back. I met a ski instructor acquaintance midday and his whole family was on slalom racing skis, it was that kind of a day.  At the start of the day everything off-piste was glistening, so I stayed on the groomers, after a couple of hours the search for softer snow corn was on and I was able to find a few places that has good corn.

 

Impressions: This ski is a fun carver on the groomers, probably more fun than a 94mm waisted ski should be, it turns very quickly and almost feels like a slalom ski.  On a slightly softened up groomed slope I was matching the aforementioned instructor almost turn to turn, the Wateas were that quick and tight short turns with quick edge sets felt almost effortless.  Unfortunately, as the conditions got worse, the ski started to show its shortcomings.  On steep icy groomed slopes the ski was very disappointing- it had a definite speed limit- as soon as I picked up moderate speed, the ski started to chatter almost uncontrollably.  My MRs would have been almost unflappable on those slopes.    The corned-up East Bowl on KT22 was a sheer delight and Watea danced down it, but when I took them under the Funitel where the snow was turning to piles of slushy corn, the Watea tips got deflected all too easily.   I finished the day by going to the Red Dog Ridge area, which was all sunny, so I hoped to get some more corn- big mistake, it was all covered by a frozen crust.  That run was an exercise in caution- solid pole plants, turn-by-turn.  Wateas never gave up, but they felt so nervous that I didn’t feel that I had enough stability to actually let it run and link turns.

 

Other comments: This is definitely not a ski for jumping anything, they got this weird plasticky feel on a landing (and I am a very lousy cautious jumper by any resort’s standards, and especially by Squaw’s standards; all I ever do is a cautious foot or two off some lip).

 

Analysis:  My Mythic Rider has what feels to be a vary balanced stiffish flex, the Watea’s feel was all about the tail- it was snappy and really made the ski fun on the groomers and in moderate soft snow, but at the same time lack of oomph in the tip probably made them unstable in frozen crud and in the piles of soft mushy spring snow.  Going to a 186 would have helped a bit with those harder situations, but that would have sacrifices the quick turning feel of the 178 that I liked a lot.

 

Overall.   This could be a fun ski for a lighter expert who likes quick turning light ski.  In the conditions that it likes, it is a riot.  The price for this fun and playful feeling is a definite performance limit in a more challenging conditions.  I see harder snow at Squaw often enough that I would want to have a more stable ski for my daily driver, even if I had to sacrifice some fun factor.   For me, my MRs, or another 94mm ski that I recently tested, Head Mojo94 ( a heavier, damp, and stable ski) would be a much better daily driver for Tahoe. 

post #2 of 16

Yes, the Wateas are definitely not a ski to pick for hard snow conditions.  They ski well in powder/crud and on groomers, but on hard snow they lack the mass, stiffness, and damping to really hang on.  You probably could have stepped up to the 186cm to add some stability.  Because of the long tip and turned up tail, the Watea skis shorter than like-sized Mythics and Mojos (184 Mythic and 186 Watea both measure about 183cm linearly from tip to tail, but the Watea is a good 5-10cm shorter in running length because of the long tip and turned up tail).

 

I should note that I have skied my Wateas fast on hard chalky snow, and was able to overcome their limitations with very clean carving.  Basically, avoiding turn shapes that would induce skidding and chatter.  Not real versatile in that respect, but you can at least ski them in hardpack conditions with some finesse if you had to.

post #3 of 16

Hi Alex,

 

I agree with both you and Skier219. As much as I really loved the Watea94 (2010) model two weeks ago in 'fresh' and skied soft snow, they became a bit harder to deal with when things turned to hard crust as I found out at the top of Crystal last weekend. I also think that Skier219 is correct, I think you could easily go up to the 186cm and I think that the added length would make a big difference in the crud. I'm 6'2" 187 lbs and I found the 186 cm easy to ski and whip around. Also, I don't know if this is true, but the 2010 model might be a bit stiffer according to the rep. He said that Fischer maintains that they didn't add anything to the ski, but he insisted that it seemd to stick to the snow better and they must have added some glass or something to it in the right places.

 

I am really considering adding the 2010 model Watea94 to my quiver for a soft/deep/ back-country/side-country wide and light ski ( just haven't decided on the bindings yet). It definitely doesn't do as well on the crusty hardpack as my 8000s, but it isn't meant to. OTOH, even my 8000s were having a bit of trouble on the crust - or was it just me. I probably should have gone back to a bit sharper edges for a day like that.

 

Nick

post #4 of 16

I am 6'5" and 215 lbs. and ski 186  Watea 94s mounted with tele bindings.  I agree with Skier219 that tip and tail profiles take away quite a bit of effective length.  I took mine to Taos for spring skiing when unfortunately it never softened up, and consequently spent almost the entire day skiing frozen and often icey groomers. I noticed that they would hold very well at high speed doing tele turns because I never had my entire weight on one ski.  I have big stiff tele boots and when I skied them alpine style and tried to carve with all my weight on one they did not hold near as well.  I love these skis in all conditions for tele skiing, but for a big guy they definitely come up a little weak in the hard snow carving department as an alpine ski, and on rough hard snow their light feel does not inspire confidence.

post #5 of 16

Yeah Mudfoot,

 

That is probably the right explanation. When it gets steep and hardpack, I tend to go back to the old-school weighting the downhill ski fully to get it to carve and control my descent. This probably does not work as well on a wide modern ski, and I have to remember to weight both skis more evenly. Good suggestion even if that wasn't your intention in the post.

 

Nick

post #6 of 16

Nick, I think we are talking about slightly different things and my comments about carving a tele turn cannot be transferred to alpine.  Your are absolutely correct that when it gets steep and icey (and for turns in most other conditions) you need to put all your weight on the downhill ski to make it carve.  The Watea 94s are just not holding for us big guys in a high pressure turn on hard snow.  Backing off to a more equal weighted two ski skidding turn will work in that situation, but it shows that we really need a ski that is a little stiffer and has more dampening.  "WIde modern skis" should still hold an edge when you give them all your weight, if not then you probably need more ski under you.

post #7 of 16

You're right in some ways Mudfoot,

 

I have just found that it is easier to hold that edge with weight on downhill leg (without getting that grabby/letting-go alternating chatter etc) when I have been on a narrower ski. I probably  haven't ridden anything less than a 79 mm in years (ie modern advancement to wider skis) and hence my observation that old-style downhill ski weighting and holding just doesn't seem to work as well (at least for me) on these wider skis. But, on the other hand, having a longer ski seems to work better for me in those instances, and compensates a bit for that tendency. Which is a bit contrary in some respects to what I think would work.  For a given weight on a ski on ice, I would expect that the pressure would be greater per area of contact for the shorter edge than a longer, with the extreme being small areas of contact at the tail and tip - lots of pressure digging into the ice. OTOH, that may not be what really works since the smaller the area of contact the more likely that any perturbation in the snow/ice surface would be more likely to cause disengagement on the ice and the resulting chatter, slippage, etc.

 

But when you mentioned that not being able to hold an edge may indicate "need more ski under you", you might have been talking about a stiffer ski, though. Regardless, that may also work, ie more torsional stiffness, since that would be more likely to keep the given edge angle on the ice without letting go. A longer ski might also work due to higher overall stiffness. But once again, I really haven't seen proof, although alot of ancedotal evidence, that longer skis are always stiffened in a given model. I'm not sure which results in the better hold on ice - probably a combination of both torsional stiffness and length.

 

I am sure someone will respond that this doesn't make sense since real carvers and racers tend to be shorter in length for a given skier. My off-the-cuff explanation would be that works because they are generally narrower in width and have more shape to them thus increasing the pressure per edge contact area for a given weight AND more edge control.

 

These are some of my 'uneducated in ski science' thoughts, so I am sure I am probably wrong on various aspects.

 

Nick

 

Have a great day

post #8 of 16

Nick:

 

You are correct that when I said "more ski" I was referring to something stiffer and damper. As for your theory on longer skis and edge grip, I think your analysis is correct about getting more pressure on the edges with shorter skis, but that results in overload and skis chattering and losing grip.  Most skis will hold an edge with a light touch on them, but you find out how they really work when you load them up.  Unfortunately for us over 200 lbs. guys, the options are more limited for something that will perform well at high and low speeds, but I don't think width has a lot to do with edge hold.

 

Longer skis are not always stiffer in longer models.  Some use the same construction and therefore end up being effectively softer because of the longer lever factor, but you need to be careful because some skis make the longest length completely different for their pros to use.  An example is the old Rossi Bandit XXX, the longest ones were twice as stiff as all the other lengths.  Be wary of "pro model" skis because they may be signifcantly different that the rest of a company's line of skis.

post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

 This is a short follow-up to my review.  This weekend I skied my own ski, 178Mythic, in pretty much similar conditions on Saturday.  What a difference- almost no chatter on icy groomers, up to a pretty ridiculous speed (at least in my book, your definition may be different).  The ski was also nearly unflappable in crud; unlike the day I spent on Wateas I was actually seeking off-trail runs.  My friend who was on his Metron B5s actually had more problems in crud than I did, and his technique is pretty unflappable. Unlike the Wateas the Mythics were truly confidence-inspiring.  I was going off cornices onto a pretty hard snow without much hesitation, because I knew that the skis would hold.  

 

I don;t want to upset the Watea 94 fand, I am sure W94s can be made to avoid chatter with some kind of a clean carve, and I am also sure that L3 instructors can ski cleanly on a pair of logs from HomeDepot, but in my book Watea is just not versatile enough for Tahoe snow.  In the right conditions, it is tons of fun, when the conditions are wrong, the limits show.   In defense of my own technique I should say that some run at Squaw just cannot be skied with a clean carve- too steep, too narrow for a 21m ski, or both.

 

A little bit of the final technical observations:  Mythic wins in the tough conditions game because it is a stiffer and at the same time slightly narrower ski, so the edge hold is naturally better (although it is surprising that it is so much better).  I also find that stiffer forefront of the Mythic makes a huge difference;  it does not pull the ski into the turn just as quickly as the Watea, but the payoff is the tremendous crud-busting ability. 

 

 

 


Edited by alexzn - 4/7/2009 at 02:24 am
post #10 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

 In the right conditions, it is tons of fun, when the conditions are wrong, the limits show. 

 

I've demo'ed a bunch of skis this year, so I have a better frame of reference to compare my watea's to other stuff out there, and I have come to this same conclusion.  I still like them a lot, and they're one of my favorite skis I've tried, but they definitely struggle some when conditions get ugly.  I haven't tried the MR yet, so I can't compare that.

post #11 of 16

When there is ice crust, boiler, or huge piles of of heavy wet slush I stay on the groomers with my Wateas, or figure another activity entirely (beer drinking/sport watching).  But when it is remotely decent softer conditions I have a blast in just about everything on the Wateas.  That is pretty amazing how the MR can handle so much better in the crud/slush piles and ice than the Wateas though.  Hmmm? Maybe I'll try them someday and they'll make me want to ski in that crap

post #12 of 16

I've said it in other threads, but you have to look at the construction of the Wateas -- and then it should be obvious what their mission is.  The ski is lightweight wood/carbon with no metal or other damping materials.  It really is optimized for soft snow.  When you take any soft snow ski into hard or heavy snow, obviously you are getting outside of the envelope.  That said, I have found the Wateas do great on hard groomed snow if you have a clean carve.

 

The Mythic is much more of a one-ski quiver than the Watea can ever be, just because of the construction and design.  That could be a plus or minus, depending on your view.  The wider an envelope a ski has, the less focus/optimization it can have in specific areas.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaportrail View Post

 

When there is ice crust, boiler, or huge piles of of heavy wet slush I stay on the groomers with my Wateas, or figure another activity entirely (beer drinking/sport watching).  But when it is remotely decent softer conditions I have a blast in just about everything on the Wateas.  That is pretty amazing how the MR can handle so much better in the crud/slush piles and ice than the Wateas though.  Hmmm? Maybe I'll try them someday and they'll make me want to ski in that crap

 

Well, no ski will make crud feel like powder (you wish...), but I do find that some skis handle crud better than the others.  Your legs will still feel the crud, so the skis will just make the crud that much more manageable.  It is sort of interesting to me that Mythic makes it happen without metal in the ski.   Another ski that impressed me as a potential all-arounder is Head Mojo94- that one does have a metal layer in them, so they felt even smoother than the Mythic in our Tahoe crud.  

 

I have to defend the all-arounder skis here a little bit-  I find that here in Tahoe I hardly have a day when I don't encounter variable snow.  Top of the mountain sometimes feels very different from the bottom; one moment you are skiing an icy steep and then hitting piles of windblown snow at the apron, as the result I naturally gravitate to a wider-envelope ski.  Even my current powder ski, Blowers, is sort of an all-arounder, wide, but traditional camber and not that soft (not that it was truly intentional, but it worked out well;-).  I won't mind having something like an S7 around for the truly deep soft days, but at the rate we are getting those, it is hard to justify owning that kind of a ski.   Guys from other regions may have different opinions.   If I were skiing in Alta all the time, I would have most likely owned a Pontoon-ish rockered-reversecambered ski and on those truly hard-snow days I would have skied in the bar.

 

 

 

post #14 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by alexzn View Post

 

  It is sort of interesting to me that Mythic makes it happen without metal in the ski.   

 

 

It's not widely realized, but the Mythic *does* have a layer of metal, it's between the core and base material.  That is what gives it much of it's beef and dampness.  The confusion comes about because it's not the same dual layer sandwich used in other Legend models.

post #15 of 16
I hate to jump on someones thread but skier219 is correct, Dynastar has it in there 2010 add for the Mythic Rider does have a layer of metal..
post #16 of 16
Quote:

 

Other comments: This is definitely not a ski for jumping anything, they got this weird plasticky feel on a landing (and I am a very lousy cautious jumper by any resort’s standards, and especially by Squaw’s standards; all I ever do is a cautious foot or two off some lip).

 

FWIW, I had the same impression. Even on a little lip when re-entering a catwalk or a groomed section. I say planky, you say plasticky.  not good, thats for sure
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