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good slalom/ hard pack ski

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
 Hey everyone,
                   As ski season approaches I have been considering buying a new pair of skis. I already own a pair of HS Freerides at 179cm and feel like I could use a ski for those hardpack days when it hasn't snowed in a while. I will also be trying out for my competitive ski club and would like to be able to use my skis for that as well. I have tried looking up some reviews but everyone seems to  be concerned with powder skis and all mountain. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 8
Did you mean slalom? If so, most of the best slalom skis are one trick ponies geared to the race market. Atomic, Volkl, Head etc, all have their devotees. Obviously demo is the preferred course. If you haven't skied them, one of the biggest features of slalom skis is the relative lack of a tail. Slalom skis are generally meant to be driven hard rather than ridden. If you are not forward pressing hard all the time, the geometry tends to put you in the backseat. However, you will notice that because of the ski shape and lack of tail, there is no backseat. Depending on how technically oriented you are about you skiing and technique, you will either like this challenge or hate it. There is almost no category of ski that is more distinct from a freeride than a slalom. If you want a somewhat less demanding ski, Rossignol and Elan make excellent hybrids - kind of a middle ski between slalom and gs. These can be good (or ideal depending on the course set)  for Nastar  but are not usually best for higher level racing. Unless you are actually racing, probably best to avoid the FIS skis as they maximize all of the twitchy characteristics of slalom skis. 
post #3 of 8
There are real slalom skis and then there are high end carver type skis. Both types of ski are good for what you described but the real deal race skis are the tip of the spear. Any review of a real FIS caliber slalom ski will always contain the words stiff, quick, high energy, great edge grip. They are fairly similar in that they all have those characteristics. But within the category there are some differences. We sell several hundred slalom race skis each year and get a lot of feedback from the racers, their coaches, and those non racers that regularly ride such gear. Heck, I'll even ski on one myself once in a while..............just not for very long.

Generalizations based on 2009 product in 165 cm. but in most cases, the 2010's are similar. There are successful racers in our region on all these skis so there is no best......just preferences.

Nordica, Head, = Stiff, beefy, burly, really aggressive.
Fischer, Blizzard, Atomic = Very aggressive but slightly less so than the above.
Volkl, Rossi, Dynastar = Good strong skis but a little easier going than the others.

Two notes: Dynastar has two SL skis with the Course being the softer of the two. Atomic has a new ski for 2010 and it is significantly different in feel than the '09.

This oughta get you started.

post #4 of 8
I'm not a ton of help on specific models, as I'm not very up-to-date, but I'll throw in word to say there's nothing wrong with the basic idea.

With the balkanization of ski categories - plus the increased public availability of some slightly esoteric products - choosing a ski is a bit of a rococco exercise from the get-go, but essentially there are three categories that sound like they're what you're interested in: (i) a slalom-based "race carver," (ii) a basic slalom race ski, or (iii) a race-stock slalom ski. From your description, it sounds like the order of preference would be as I've listed them above: but don't treat the categories as absolutes. There's a lot of variation among makes and models within a category.

There's a bit of clash between the desire for a fun quick-turns-on-hardpack freeskiing ski and a race ski, but maybe not a horrible amount, at least if you're not super-competitive as a racer. You would go a bit longer (and softer, more balanced in flex between tip and tail) for a freeskiing ski than you would for a race ski. You'd probably do fine with a race carver as both a freeskiing and fun racing ski, so long as you stay pretty short (like 160 or so).

I actually have both a slalom race carver and a slalom race ski (my quiver might fairly be termed a little crowded in that area, for historical reasons), but both are non-current models: Atomic SL9 @ 170 for freeskiing; Atomic SL11 race stock @ 155 cm racing. For pure hardpack skiing, if you just rail turns, they actually don't ski dramatically differently. Their sidecut radius is very similar (it just runs out to a much wider tip on the SL9), and the race-stock ski isn't super-stiff, as it's a women's length, and thus intended for a user who carries a a lot lower weight than me (as well as lot lower points profile).

As a result, for pure hardpack skiing, if you just rail turns, they actually don't ski dramatically differently. Then again, if you start skiing through bumps, choppy snow and the like, the race ski gets pretty unforgiving and tricky. Going the other way, the race carver is a fight to get through a slalom course, thanks to the length (and resultant ungainly-wide tips), though a racer who's capable of laying down arcs at every gate would have an easier time with it than I do. I think they're both fun to ski outside of gates, though the race carver is more versatile.

One at least to look at might be the Fischer RC4 SC, which is their slalom-based race carver. While it's a bit of a leap, I have the RC4 RC (GS-based race carver) and am quite pleased with it.
Edited by sjjohnston - 8/21/09 at 12:29am
post #5 of 8
 Not knowing where you are going to be racing, I maybe off-base here, but... you probably don't want a slalom ski. You'd probably be better off with a "race carver". A race stock slalom sounds like it might be too much ski for you(and is not ideal for citizen's type racing anyway), and a slalom carver usually has an even smaller turn radius, and while it would be fun, it would be slow in the course.

I'd say look for a "race carver", "consumer GS", or even a "fall-mountain" ski like a Volkl AC30.
post #6 of 8
I'm not up to date, but I'm very happy with my Fischer WC SCs in 165 (I also weigh 165 lbs).  I think Head SS in about the same length would be good too.

The above are good for short turns.  If it's just hard-pack and not SL-sized turns you are looking at, then you might want to go for a gs ski or something like the Head SS Speed.  You really shouldn't be going GS or SG speeds on a 13-m ski, and it's too tempting (at least for me) not to give in to the need for speed.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
 I found a pair of 2006 head ixrc 1400 for $169 and am strongly considering purchasing them. Anyone have an opinion on them? Will it be too much ski for recreation. I really want a ski that will force me to ski wiht good technique to use on the hardpack and groomed trails.
post #8 of 8
that is really a detuned cheater GS...........go for the iChip SL if that is what you want
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