I recently bought the Elan 777's in 176cm length from Scott (dawcatching) with the goal of transitioning from my old 200cm straight Volants into something modern and hopefully more fun. My perspective is very limited, I haven't spent time on many different skis and I don't ski frequently. I didn't ski at all last year, mainly because I missed packing the boots on the last trip made resulting in renting the whole package including shaped skis, I was no longer an ignorant savage blissfully ignoring the advances in technology. The reason for writing this impression is just add a little more information for someone in a similar situation looking to make the leap.
I'm 6' 1/2", 164 Lbs and over 50. I do road cycle a lot, so the legs are in reasonable shape but I've never been a black run skier. I was at Mt Hood Meadows yesterday, the temperature at the base was 45 degrees at the start of the day and the snow was soft and groomed.
I made a few runs just to get the general feel of the skis and on the 5th run went down the Two Bowl black run. It's big and wide and was not too chewed up. As said I've never spent time on the blacks so to be confident enough to attempt a black run with 2 years between ski trips and only 4 runs under my belt says much about the Elans. I'm not saying I made the run with style and grace but I made it down without falling and did it twice more just to prove it wasn't a fluke. More importantly I didn't have the fear of the run that would have been present with the Volants.
The rest of the morning was spent getting better acquainted with the Ski's. The snow over on parts of Cascade Express was very soft to the point of grabbing and letting go of the bases and I struggled to find the best stance for the circumstances. I was either setting back on the tail with less control or leaning forward with the shovel trying to catch an edge. After much experimentation it seemed the best stance was to flex slightly forward while putting weight in the center of the boot. Tightening up the boots helped too, while earlier in the morning a little more flex seemed better.
I found run variants with still very soft but non grabby snow and made a number of runs downs. What impressed me about the Elans at this time was the forgiveness of the skis. I was trying all the various things I might normally do, or that might just happen on straight skis, putting them on edge, either by leaning or rotating the knees out, weight forward, sink and rise, one ski forward of the other, weight on one ski, weight on both skis, linked turns, skid turns and the Elans tolerated it all. I wasn't skiing well at this point but I was doing OK.
I headed over to Shooting Star and the groomed intermediate terrain was in better shape, not quite so soft and not grabby. There were very few people on the runs and it gave a chance to experiment with speed. I started with linked carved turns, which worked OK, added more weight and unweighting which quickened and shortened the width of the turns and that worked even better. The kicker was when I figured out that from a pretty upright position I could do a minor weight and unweight while shifting the edges under foot. I wouldn't even call it a turn, just a minor change in direction but it put me in full control and every subsequent run was faster without ever feeling that I couldn't reign in as needed. It was a blast and more control than I had ever experienced on the Volants.
I did a little off piste but again the snow was very soft and I can't say that I enjoyed it. I only encountered a few icy spots and the edge hold didn't seem magnificent but control was not a problem. There wasn't enough ice for any real judgment.
The Elans blasted though the crud and the soft snow better than the Volants could ever think about and I stayed till closing instead of going home at 1 PM because the snow was too soft. For the day I made 30 runs and the legs were still in reasonable shape, they would have been burnt on the Volants. The Elans did not take nearly as much out of me.
For what I do, a limited amount of skiing, mainly in the spring and on groomed conditions the 777's were a fine choice. Thanks for the great advice Scott.
Edited by GeneT - 4/23/2009 at 02:59 am GMT