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Best All Mountain Ski - Intermediate/Advanced - Looking to improve

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 

I'll start off by saying that I'm so glad I found this site. It seems like a great community and I'm hoping I'll be able to find the advice I'm looking for.


I'm 22, 180lb, 5"8. I've been skiing since i was 6 on 2nd hand/hand me down skis and have been skiing on Rossignol Power Cut 10.6's for the past 6 years (170cm). I live out west in beautiful British Columbia and ski regularly on Whistler/Blackcomb.


I would say I'm an intermediate/advanced skiier, I can push myself down double blacks with a bit of difficulty, but also without falling. I spend about half my time on groomers and the rest doing everything else. I need a ski that can handle the groomers with ease, letting me get some good speed going, but will also work in the bumps, trees and powder (I know, I'm demanding :D).


The main reason I'm looking to purchase is that my brother recently purchased a pair of X Wing Fury's and, having the same boot size, I tried them out. I was amazed at how the skis pushed me to be a betters skiier. How noticable the difference was, and how much fun I was having.


Currently, I'm seriously considering: Salomon X Wing Fury's (172cm), Salomon X Wing Tornado's (170cm) and the Atomic Nomad Blackeye's.


Looking forwards to any and all suggestions.


Thank You,



post #2 of 57

Matt, take a look at the Head iM82 -- it's among the few skis I have demoed that can really cover the whole range fairly well, if you have to own just one ski.  And welcome to Epic!

post #3 of 57

Hi there and welcome to this site. You sound a lot like me. I've been skiing since I was about 5-6 years old, and been skiing in the canadian rockies since I was 14. I live in alberta, so I ski mostly places like Lake Louise and Sunshine if you've heard of them. I too have started to push myself (with some difficulty) on double black runs recently, and I used to spend about half the time on groomers too, but lately I've been trying to stay away from groomed runs.


My current main ski is a Nordica Enforcer in 177cm that I got about a month ago. I find that they carve well on groomed runs if you're aggressive and fast on them. This ski is also a lot of fun in powder.


For you, I would recommend one of the following ski's:


Volkl Mantra

Fischer Watea 84

Blizzard Magnum 8.7

Head Monster iM88

Dynastar Mythic Rider

Nordica Jet Fuel

Nordica Afterburner



If you're like me and like to go after the places that have powder like tree runs and powder bowls, but would like to have some carving ability when you happen to do a groomed run, I recommend taking a look at the Nordica Enforcer as well.


I'm 21, 180lb and 5' 10" by the way.


I too used to ski on 2nd hand/hand me downs and I've been skiing on Rossignol Power Carve 10.5 in 185cm since about 2002. I got a pair of Volkl AC30s about a year ago on sale, and skied those for most of this season. Just recently got my Nordica's which I'm very happy with.

Last thing I want to say is that judging from your description, you're looking for something that's in the middle in terms of flex and I'd say you should look at waist width somewhere around 85ish, turn radius around 18-21 and a length of 175ish. I believe the Head and Dynastar and Blizzard skis I listed earlier fit in that category .

post #4 of 57

Strike the iM88 if he's intermediate/advanced.  That is a beefy ski for strong level 8-10 skiers only. 

post #5 of 57
Thread Starter 

Wow, thanks for all the quick replies. I really appreciate the input. I'm going to be up in Whistler this weekend (Sat-Tue) and I have a friend working at one of the rental shops, so I will be trying a few different skis.


Skiier219: I've heard that the iM82 is more for true experts (though, this is just secondhand from a friend, so I could easily be mistaken about this). Is this accurate? Or would it be a solid ski to try to up my skill level on? I'll definitely be looking into it as my co-worker owns a pair. I'll see if I can try them out :D.


MustangSVT: I've been to both Sunshine and Lake Louise (Usually try to make at least 2 trips to LL each year, one in the summer and one in the winter, absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the great tips/suggestions, I'll be researching (and hopefully trying) several of the skis mentioned. A friend of mine actually mentioned the Nordica Enforcer's to me, with a second reccomendation I'll be giving them a serious look.


Thanks very much to both of you,



post #6 of 57

For some reason, people seem to think the iM82 is stiff and experts only, and that the iM78 is an easier ski.  But I have owned both, and the opposite is true.  


The 82 is meant to be more of a 70% off-piste / 30% on piste ski (according to Head), and is fairly forgiving.  The 78 is a 50/50 ski, and has an additional layer of metal.  I found it to be the stiffer, more demanding ski, and it has a higher speed limit than the 82 in the same size.  


I'd have no issues recommending the 82 to advanced intermediates up through experts, as it's a very approchable and forgiving ski with a big sweet spot.  It's not awesome at any particular thing, but is good across a wide range, making it versatile and good as a one-ski quiver.


Note that the iM88 is the real beefcake of the bunch, far stiffer and more demanding than all the other Monster skis combined!  I would only recommend the iM88 to strong, powerful skiers who can stay on top of the ski at all times.

post #7 of 57

I agree that the Head iM82 is a fun and pretty forgiving ride in all conditions (despite what some others may say). To be sure, here is a video link to me skiing on them in condtions of boilerplate ice sprinkled with frozen granular crystals (thinly sprinkled crystals in some spots and pushed into piles in other spots):


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I did not expect this ski to be so much fun and despite my initial thoughts, it has become my go-to ski this season. I even grabbed them this day a couple weeks ago fully expecting ice - and my nephews happened to take these video clips that day so I'm sharing the link to show these skis in action on less than optimal surface conditions.


I can't really speak to the iM78 as I haven't skied it (though hope to soon), but the Head web site calls both of these skis out as "expert" skis for skiers with excellent technique, and to me the iM82 seems to do everything better than my Top Fuels and be about as forgiving. It does not seem to ever want to buck me when I'm being goofy, and is always predictable. I do believe these "high level" skis really demand good fore/aft balance, a nice rounded turn shape and smooth edge modulation.

post #8 of 57
Thread Starter 

Just talked to a friend who is going to lend me a pair of Head 82's and I'm heading up to Whistler next Tuesday to give them a try. Really looking forward to it. Thanks for the recommendation, Skier219.


It's gotten high praise from almost everyone I've talked to. So, my hopes are high.


One other question I had was around length. I've always skiied on skis that are about as tall as I am (168-174 cm). I've always felt pretty comfortable with that. I'm wondering what is recommended, in terms of length, for an all mountain ski.


Those are nice videos, Chris. It looks like the skis didn't require much effort to make wide turns. Looked very stable.





post #9 of 57

I'd go nose height to head height on the iM82, for an expert level skier. 

post #10 of 57

I'm a Volkl person so I'd recomend the AC50 or the Mantra.  170 or 177 would work based on your height. 

post #11 of 57

I am a Volkl gut too, but based upon his description is think that the AC50 might be too much ski. Maybe the AC30 for him.

post #12 of 57

I'd much rather take a Mantra over the AC50. I usually hear that the AC50 is too stiff, but I've never tried it. The AC30 is sort of a 70/30 on/off-piste type ski I'd say, but of course, with the right skier, you can ski anywhere really. Don't let the ski itself limit your choice of terrain.

post #13 of 57
Thread Starter 

Sounds like around 170cm give or take would work best for me, which is what I have been skiing on for the past 6 years. I'll  take a look at the Mantra as well. It looks like it may be a little less expensive than the iM82.


Thanks for everyones input. I'm open to any and all opinions. I'm really looking forward to trying some high performance skis out this weekend.





post #14 of 57
Thread Starter 

Actually, I'm also looking for input on a solid binding. Where I only know a little about skis, I know absolutely nothing about bindings (having used hand me down/2nd hand bindings that came with the skis). Been looking at both the monster iM82's and the Mantra's, but I usually only seem them as just the ski.


Anybody have any thoughts, or can point me towards some good reading material on bindings. It would be much appreciated.





post #15 of 57


Originally Posted by MattH View Post


Actually, I'm also looking for input on a solid binding. Where I only know a little about skis, I know absolutely nothing about bindings (having used hand me down/2nd hand bindings that came with the skis). Been looking at both the monster iM82's and the Mantra's, but I usually only seem them as just the ski.


Anybody have any thoughts, or can point me towards some good reading material on bindings. It would be much appreciated.







Many good choices, just get the right brake width and go for the proper DIN range.  I like Tyrolia/Head LD-12, Peak-12, Mojo-12, Mojo-15, and Peak-15 bindings, as well as any of the Look PX-12 and PX-14 variants.  There are some bargains around right now.  You can get a good 12-din binding for $100-120.

post #16 of 57
Thread Starter 

Sounds good. From what I understand, the brake width should be just a bit more than the width. The im82's are 82 at the waist so I should be looking for about an 86-90 brake width?


Please, forgive my ignorance, purchasing skis is a whole new ball game for me. I really appreciate everyone's input.

post #17 of 57



On the lengths I am 5'10" 170lbs and am on the 161cm iM82, and love it. My usual length is 165cm (Dynastar Legend and Contact Series) but I went down with this ski rather than up because I view the Heads as skiing a bit longer than they measure, and my buddy is on the iM78 at 171cm and he is 3 or so inches taller than me, around 40 pounds heavier than me, and is a stronger skier than me (PSIA level 3). He loves them in that length, and with me not being as powerful a skier and being substantially lighter I went down to 161cm on the wider iM82. I have never felt that they weren't long enough for me, and as I said they're a Go-To ski for me in all conditions.


OTOH, I have Top Fuels in 170cm and feel they ski a bit shorter than their measured length.


Sorry to make this more confusing for you, but you can see how I ski less than perfect conditions in the video, and you should be able to make your own call whether your being only 10 pounds heavier than me you think you can go up - as seems to be the preceding conclusion.


BTW, I just bought a set of this year's iM78 in 165cm for $355 flat and in plastic, to mount up for next season and won't be skiing them the rest of this season (since we're well into spring conditions now). I am skiing this season (51 ski days so far) on a reconstructed ACL that I completely ruptured last season, so I happen to be skiing my iM82 with a pretty expensive binding on it that offers some higher degree of ACL protection than traditional bindings. I'll put a set of these on my iM78 as well, but I'm not saying that you should - I'm just being forthright and telling you what I'm doing. To be sure, my frame of reference is based on doing everything in my power to avoid a re-injury - as the last ACL injury sucked for me. - Chris

post #18 of 57

Just wanted to add that the new Marker Griffin and Jester bindings are well-regarded, in contrast to prior Marker offerings.


Also, not that it matters from a functional perspective, but Volkl & Marker are associated companies, just as Head & Tyrolia.  Look is associated with Dynastar & Rossignol.


Hey, sometimes matching is cool. :D

post #19 of 57


Originally Posted by MattH View Post


Sounds good. From what I understand, the brake width should be just a bit more than the width. The im82's are 82 at the waist so I should be looking for about an 86-90 brake width?


Please, forgive my ignorance, purchasing skis is a whole new ball game for me. I really appreciate everyone's input.


I'd look for a 90-95mm brake, give or take a couple mm.  I have put Tyrolia/Head bindings with 93mm and 97mm brakes on the iM82, and the fit was about perfect.

post #20 of 57

BTW, Head's website has a product advisor that will recommend the proper ski length if you punch in your stats.  Generally a 70/30 ski like the iM82 will spec out at nose to head height, which is correct in my experience. 

post #21 of 57
Thread Starter 

Chris: I'm borrowing 171cm im82's next Tuesday, so I'll see how they feel and if it feels like they are too powerful for me, or too heavy I'll probably see if I can find a shorter pair to try. Thank you for the information, though. I hope you're ACL heals quickly.


DtEW: I actually didn't know that the companies were associated like that. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll be looking more into bindings after choosing a ski :D.


Skier219: Awesome, thanks. This is all new to me, and there is so much information out there. I'm glad I've been able to get some clear and informed answers on this forum.

post #22 of 57
Thread Starter 

Skier219: I actually just went through the tool on the head website and it recommended 163cm skis for me. It is definitely worth considering. What are the advantages/disadvantages of having a shorter ski? Are they really that significant? My understanding is that, the shorter the ski, the easier it is to turn. But, a longer ski will go faster and float better on powder.


Update: Never mind on the tool... I had the wrong conversion to centimeters for my height. :). It says 170cm now :P.

post #23 of 57

Make sure you have gotten info specific to the iM82, as it only comes in 161, 172, 177, 183 cm.  But I think 172cm should be manageable for you.  I ski the 183, which is about forehead height, and find it nearly perfect -- never too long or too short.  The next size down, however, is too short for my tastes in this ski.


To answer your question, shorter skis can be easier to turn, but give up stability at speed and powder/crud capability.  A longer ski can smooth out variable snow and offer more support at speed.  Generally I know a ski is too short when it doesn't have enough straight-line stability at speed (feels like toothpicks underfoot), or when the tips over-react to powder/crud and variations in the snow.  A ski is too long when it feels unwieldy or takes too much effort to stay on top of.  Technique factors in quite a bit, which is why you see beginners on short skis and big-mountain experts on long skis.


BTW, here's my review on the 82s:



post #24 of 57



Thanks my ACL is all set - as you can see in the video, it's been 13 months since surgery and I've skied on it 51 days so far since surgery, so it's standing the test of time. I was using Looks when I tore it last year, but I happen to still like Looks better than Markers or Salomons which both pre-released on me a number of times while using them over many years. The Looks never pre-released on me but I was using them when I got surprised by a grooming mistake and got launched in the air, and just landed on my tails when it tore. This is unfortunately a pretty common injury and most of the serious skiers I ski with that ski over 50 days a year have been through it. It was just my turn in the tumbler as they put it when I was laid up. Anyway, I've been trying to break the chain by skiing on these new bindings but they have some minor kinks which I have been helping the company to sort out. It's all quite self-serving to me 'cuz I don't want to go back to see the surgeon, and I DO want to ski a lot.


IMHO, a shorter ski is quicker to turn and in this case still stable since it still has a pretty wide footprint. These skis are plenty fast enough in the length I'm using. - Chris

post #25 of 57


Originally Posted by CHRISfromRI View Post

IMHO, a shorter ski is quicker to turn and in this case still stable since it still has a pretty wide footprint. These skis are plenty fast enough in the length I'm using. - Chris

Chris, I'm confused and a little curious... how do you figure a wide footprint plays into stability?

post #26 of 57

IMO, it's all about surface area. If you go wider, a shorter ski has comparable surface area as what you're used to and will feel quite good and generally as stable. For example, I am using the iM82 in 161cm and fully expect it to feel similar to the iM78 in 165cm. This is why our old narrow straight skis had to be over 200cm to feel stable, and as we went to wider skis with more shaping we could go so dramatically shorter and still feel stable.


Thankfully we don't always ski on ice, and so we use quite a bit of the overall surface area in typical conditions. When skiing in softer snow a wider shorter ski will feel similar to a narrower longer ski, due to its similar overall surface area.

post #27 of 57

What makes newer skis stable in shorter lengths is the construction and improved axial and torsional stiffness.  If you built a short/wide ski with the technology of 25 years ago, it would be a noodle and not very good to ski.  Newer skis (of any length/width) are significantly more stiff torsionally, which gives them more stability and the ability to handle axial loads better.


When you look at raw stability in the sense of a dynamic system and interpret in the context of a ski, it scales with "L", where L is the ski length.  One way to look at it is to picture a ski going over disturbances in the snow, spaced D apart.  When L < D your ski will be reacting quite a bit.  When L > D, the ski will blow over the disturbances.  This is exactly why longer skis are better in crud.  If you hold width and everything else constant, a longer ski will be smoother and easier to ski in crud and powder.  It's really about moving tip "perturbations" as far away from the skier as possible.


I have heard people argue that width makes a ski more stable, but I do not agree.  It does have benefit in powder, since float depends on the surface area, but my own opinion is that length is as important there.  On hardpack, width does affect how much effort it takes to edge a ski (wider = more effort), but once up on edge, stability is totally related to length, and width doesn't factor in at all to the stability of an edged ski.


It is true that a 161cm iM82 is more stable than an old 205cm ski of similar specs, but a 183cm iM82 would be more stable than both.  I think the general idea in ski sizing is to go as long as you can for stability, but not go so long that you sacrifice maneuverability and fun.

post #28 of 57

219: I believe that the video I posted of me skiing on the 161cm im82 shows that I am very stable, despite the conditions being quite less than optimal, and I believe that yes a reason is the modern construction as you suggest but also as I suggested the width of this ski. This is the shortest ski I have spent a lot of time skiing on as a Go-To ski, and it is also the widest. This ski feels more stable to me than my Top Fuels in 170cm, so disproving any simple length formula. Furthermore, the old fashioned concept of using a skier's height to determine ski length is IMO faulty, as the key criteria are the weight of the skier and the power that the skier generates in their turns. A more powerful turn by a powerful skier will flex the ski more, and more determine the proper length than his/her nose height, etc. We have stocky muscular skiers and tall skinny skiers with very different body types, weights, and power. Clearly the skier's weight and power are key to the length of the ski and not the height of their nose, etc..

post #29 of 57

Weight is definitely a factor, so people that are either light or heavy for their height can step down or up, respectively, in ski length.  The general guidelines assume your weight is commensurate with your height.  Almost all of the manufacturer guidelines work that way, including Head's (they also factor in speed/power/technique in their web advisor, BTW).


Don't cloud the discussion by comparing different skis, as it's apples and oranges (as you noted when comparing modern skis to old skis).  I agree, I have had shorter skis that were more stable than different longer skis just because the shorter skis were stiffer or beefier.  What you really need to do is compare the same ski in different lengths, and there you will find that longer iM82s offer more stability than shorter ones, and longer Top Fuels offer more stability than shorter ones.  All else equal, stability scales with length.


I don't think there was much in your video that would demonstrate stability in the sense I am referring to.  You are turning smoothly and in control at low speed, but to really flush out stability, you need to drive the ski at high speeds.  When testing/demoing skis, that's the context in which people refer to finding a ski's "speed limit".  All skis have a speed limit, some higher than others.  The same theory that shows stability scaling up with length also shows it going down with velocity, so you can say a given ski will be less stable at higher speeds than it is a lower speeds.  I will try to dig out the math when I get a chance.

post #30 of 57

219: I will look forward to you posting video clips of you skiing and pushing your longer skis to their limit.


When the conditions allow I can tear it up on the 161cm iM82, and reach quite high speeds without any instability. That particular day the conditions were not optimal and while in some spots I'm skiing faster than the bulk of the people that were out at that time (as the vast majority had already run for the lodge whining about the ice and changing conditions) I'm also throttled back because of those changing conditions. In other spots I'm just having fun rather than complaining about conditions. It's just like I drive on a racetrack where I'm also out there in all conditions, and I simply go as fast as the conditions will allow me to finish.


I'm glad you agree with me that weight and power are more important than a person's height in determining ski length.

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