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.