SKI says (I think) that I should get the Blizzard Magnum 8.7 IQ Max, Kastle MX88, or Nordica HR Pro Helldiver CA, or maybe the Atomic Snoop, Rossi Phantom SC97, Nordica Enforcer, or Volkl Mantra. But, the little paragraphs and the fancy numbering scheme are not doing the trick for me.
I figure I would jump on the bandwagon of asking knowledgeable folks about what skis to get. Basically, what recommendations would people give me if I walked into their shop, or what recommendations would people who constantly do gear reviews give me based on their experience and exposure.
For the last five years or so, I have been skiing out west a handful of days each year and a number of days on a small hill in the east. I have been renting “demo” skis for the days out west, and that gives me some flexibility to adjust based on the conditions, but not much. Frankly, it is easier to travel without skis, expense wise it hasn’t been all that different, and I just haven’t been getting that many days at big hills. This year I am going to get some more days out west, and I think I can get some deals on skis. My predicament is that I really cannot demo skis before I buy. If I wait to demo, I can’t get the deals, so I won’t buy. So, I am soliciting input on skis for my western trips.
I am mid-thirties, 173 lbs, just about 5’11”, and have been skiing for 30 years. Once upon a time I was a level nine, or so, and now I ski somewhere near there. I ski primarily on short turny sticks back east, and, as stated, I ski on demo skis out west. My boots are Nordica Speedmachine 14 from ’07, which I have never moved off of the soft/GS bolt.
I haven’t been in the market for skis, as I expected to keep demoing whatever was available at the most convenient shop, so I haven’t focused too much on what I have been on. As for recent skis, in ‘07 at Whistler, I skied the Mantra and liked what I seem to recall was a ski that was stable and predictable on- and off-piste, but there was a fair amount of fresh snow the entire time we were at Whistler. In ’08, I went narrower and skied the Salomon X-Wing Fury (I think) and found it to be nice (I expect that for many folks here positive comments about Salomon lead to questions of my credibility), definitely turned more than the Mantra but not as stable. I also tried the K2 Recon (I think) and found it boring. In ‘09, I tried the Nordica Nitrous and thought it skied fine, but not fun. I also returned to the Salomon, which felt a little more lively. I was generally skiing all of the skis in the low to mid 170’s, primarily because I ski on sub 160s back east. I guess I really should be aiming for at least the upper 170’s with a new ski.
I spend some of my time on groomers with the family, and I do like to lay down some higher-speed carved turns. I absolutely want to be able to enjoy the bumps, understanding I am not getting a bump ski. My first focus, though, is something for steep off-piste. I am used to a ski with a short radius turn, so I definitely want the ski to like to turn. This is also related to the fact that I am somewhat more cautious than I used to be – I want a ski that I feel like I can rely on when it gets tight to help me get out of the fall line or make it through whatever needle I need to thread. I don't want to have to muscle it. Maybe something that is light would be good – though the Mantra certainly isn’t, and I liked that. Then again, I was skiing the Mantra in Whistler, and not in anything particularly tight. Gosh, was any of that helpful?
I have never skied a ton of powder, so a ski that makes powder easier would be great. But, since I rarely get fresh lines, I should probably be thinking more about crud and chopped up powder. If there were ever two feet of snow, I would probably demo a powder ski, but I don’t want to plan on always doing that.
I like to think I ski more with technique than brute force, but I sometimes have to muscle the ski if I get out of balance – remember, I don’t ski all that much anymore. I shy away from skis that people say one needs to stay in neutral for – whatever that means – as I don’t think it is uncommon for me to move across my skis and downhill and let my skis catch back (and even too often pass me). However, due to the time I spend on my turny sticks back east I probably also use a cross-under move a little too much. (And, no, I am not trying to start a discussion about why this is an outdated, confusing term, I am just using it as shorthand to describe something I do, maybe too much.)
I don’t go in the park out west, but I wouldn’t mind a ski that I could land switch when playing around, or ski backwards on with the family. That would be a nice addition, but certainly not a requirement or even a “want to have.”
I don’t get to pick and choose when I ski based on conditions. So, I want something for the average day. I expect most of my skiing out west in the next few years will be out of Denver and SLC, just based on the fact that they will be short trips and airfare and flight times work well. This year four days out of SLC and four likely in Steamboat.
So, what do the folks who think about this stuff way more than I do, think I should be thinking about? What skis should I consider as the one ski best suited for me? Should I just stick with whatever the shop at the bottom of the hill has to demo?