More reviews and updates to come later; this is all I could get in during 1 session, and no new snow is on the horizon. I will try to post some video of us skiing these in the upcoming (near) future.
Conditions: packed pow, uncut pow up to 8” deep, lots of loose crud, some semi-packed crud, soft bumps, and soft groomers. Temps in the 20’s, sunny day, basically a 9/10 conditions wise. These weren’t ideal wide-ski conditions, but along that break-even point where it may or may not make sense to bust out the wide boards. All ratings based on a scale of 1-10 (10 is best)
Reviewer info: 32 y/o, 5 foot 9, 154lbs, ski 50+ days a year, probably low level 9 skill wise, improving fairly rapidly, USCF Cat 2 road cyclist. I like to ski all terrain, most fun is big, open terrain in big arcs, and steeps.
Skis reviewed: Elan 1010, Dynastar Sixth Sense Huge, Dynastar Pro Rider, Blizzard Argos 2009, Blizzard Argos 2010, Elan Boomerang, Rossi S7
I was able to get about 4 runs on each ski. A little of everything.
Elan 1010 183cm: minimal camber, 25m radius, big early rise tip, fairly soft for a big-mountain ski, 111mm underfoot.
Review: I loved this ski last spring, and didn’t find anything to change my opinion here. Supremely versatile: it was super solid and stable in cut-up crud, and the float in the crummier stuff was excellent. Due to the shape and lack of camber, the ski would slide, pivot, or carve; all depending on the input I gave it. This ski just surfs on top of the snow, and release is as easy as any ski I tested; it might be due to the softer than average tip. I felt no dis-advantage in softer snow in comparison to the rockered stuff, and a few advantages (namely, stability and ease of use in the more packed stuff) This ski was easy, but I could charge on it as well. It performed well in bumps; good flex, easy to release, and when up on edge in more packed conditions, performed admirably. It felt like a normal ski, but wasn’t locked into a carve like some of the narrower, more cambered skis tested; it was more playful and just super versatile. Provided I wasn’t planning on skiing groomers all day, the 1010 was a very good choice for 6-8” of new snowfall, resort skiing. This ski is a home run, IMO. Also, at my weight, plenty of float and a great compromise on a wide ski that can be skied all day with very few trade-offs. This ski is smooth, in coffee terms, a good Costa Rican; with a tangerine front end and smooth vanilla and butter finish . Stability: 8.75; on-piste performace: 5; off-piste peroformance: 9; ease of use: 8; versatility: 8.5; energy: 5; sweet spot: pretty large; category: 80% off piste/ 20% on piste
Dynastar Sixth Sense Huge 185cm: unchanged as far as I know for 2010. Skied behind the recommended mount point, on par with the 178cm Mythic Rider’s mount position. Flat camber, big 30m radius, all-mountain twin, 115mm underfoot.
Review: This is another great ski: just a powerhouse. It has more of a “blast through the snow” whereas the 1010 is more of a float on top, bit less muscular but just as stable feel. Probably due to the weight of the Huge: at least 1lb more than the 1010. It is a stiffer ski, with a bit shorter running surface, and feels a bit stouter. Not as nimble, more of a big-turn ski above treeline. Loves speed. Not quite as home on-piste as the 1010, definitely not nimble or a bump ski. The Huge needs a bit more new snow and crud to really come alive; it likes to run, whereas the 1010 is kind of in the middle between big arcs and medium arcs. This is a very good ski, although it might be a bit more ski in terms of how it needs to be skied and skill level to make it really come alive. Best under the feet of a good skier who likes to ski fast all day; this is a skiers ski. Great choice for deeper snow and crud, not the last word as an everyday wider ski. In coffee terms: more of a Kenyan: unique roast beef and tomato flavors, a bit funky but fun. Stability: 8.75; on-piste performace: 3; off-piste peroformance: 9; ease of use: 6; versatility: 6; energy: 5; sweet spot: small to medium; category: 90% off piste/ 10% on piste
2010 Dynastar Pro Rider 184cm: 26m radius, fairly stiff flex, 100mm or so underfoot. The classic wide, fairly stiff power board for all-mountain and backside use.
Review: another good ski. Definitely narrower in feel, and with quite a bit of camber so it doesn’t release as well as some of the other skis here, at least not in really crappy crud. Supremely stable, very powerful, a fair amount of energy for a big board. Decent groomer ski, not really it’s forte, though. Surprisingly good in bumps for what it is, not really a good bump ski though. Really comes alive at speed in crud; just so stable, it almost seems to float over the crud without touching it, at least as big speeds. This ski does need some speed to really be effective, but isn’t a total brusier. The sweet spot is decently sized for a ski of this performance. In uncut snow, it just rips, but again, not quite as “easy” in crud, at least to release, but probably the smoothest ski at speed that I tested, and easy enough to ski if you have skills. A great day-in/day-out ski for western skiers, especially if they don’t care too much about groomer performance, and aren’t wild about bumps, but do like to ski fast and are skilled. I have skied this in up to 18” of fresh at other times, and the float is very good in all but the heaviest snow. It is most at home in variable snow; a bit of everything, and rough conditions that throw most skis around. In coffee terms, more of a Guatemalan: nice citrus front end with a smooth chocolate finish. Stability: 9.25; on-piste performace: 5.5; off-piste peroformance: 8; ease of use: 5; versatility: 6; energy: 6; sweet spot: small to medium; category: 75% off piste/ 25% on piste
2009 Blizzard Argos 180cm: fairly stiff, all-mountain twin design, 101mm underfoot, lots of camber, 26.5m radius.
Review: This is another powerhouse, although one step up from the Pro Rider. Even though it feels relatively soft when flexing it by hand, it is more like a 2x4 underfoot. It needed serious speed to come alive, and to get it to turn. It felt more like a big boy ski than any other ski I tried. Very powerful, no real speed limit, but terrible in bumps; just too stiff. This is not a subtle ski; it needs power and precision to roll. Huge arcs are no problem for this ski, and it is more big-turn open-bowl ski than nimble tree ski. I would probably recommend this to bigger skiers; it was the one ski I felt that wasn’t really suited well to someone of my weight. A powerhouse carver too, great edgehold, and lots of energy. Blasting crud is probably where this ski is most at home at: float wasn’t actually that great, as the ski is so stiff that I had a bit of trouble getting it to release. Once the snow gets junky, the Argos definitely doesn’t get rattled; it is a confidence inspiring, pro-level ride. Coffee analogy: definitely Sumatran: powerful, strong, unmistakable. Stability: 9.25; on-piste performace: 6; off-piste peroformance: 8; ease of use: 4; versatility: 5; energy: 6; sweet spot: pretty small; category: 75% off piste/ 25% on piste
2010 Blizzard Argos: 105mm underfoot, no camber, a bit softer than the 2009 version. Smaller radius at 25m.
Review: a whole different ski than the 2009 version. It is less pro-freeride ski, and a bit more suited to off-piste skiing. Wider, a bit softer, and with no camber: it is a much better at finishing the turn and releasing in crappy snow than the 2009. Float is also improved, and since the ski is now flat, it tends not to see the tip dive as much. Perhaps a bit of stability lost in cruddy snow, and not quite the powerhouse or beast (depending on your perspective) that last year’s ski was. More friendly, a bit of a loss in top-end performance in the rough snow. Similarly poor in bumps. It felt a bit more like the 1010, although with a smaller sweet spot and stiffer. This still may be a big-boy ski, but not quite so much as last year’s. Having no camber, it was a bit floppy on groomers. Sweet ski, a very strong ski that likes speed and has a definite "Austrian" feel, but a bit more suited to off-piste snow than last year’s. Coffee terms; I like Sumatran for this one as well. Stability: 8.75; on-piste performace: 4.5; off-piste peroformance: 8.5; ease of use: 5; versatility: 5; energy: 5; sweet spot: small to medium; category: 85% off piste/ 15% on piste
Elan Boomerang 190cm: rockered ski tip and tail, camber and shape underfoot. The tip is 27cm long (10cm of rocker up front) with a 40cm tail (30cm of which is rockered). 122cm flat running length, slight camber underfoot (68cm of that running length is cambered). 140/120/130 dimensions.
Review: This is a pretty big ski, the widest ski I tried that day. There is more rocker in the tail than the tip. It skis big, and with a short running surface. Definitely a different feel than the rest of the skis (with the exception of the S7) tested here. It didn’t like to be pushed hard: I could ski it pretty well at moderate speeds and low edge angles. Release was super easy, and I could ski, slarve, or moderately carve it. In mostly uncut snow, it just surfed and floated from turn to turn; really fun, and very fast skiing, as the snow wasn’t holding me back . In crud when skiing slow, it was easy to turn and had great float. At speed, the float was there, but the ski became very unstable and was bouncing around all over the place. It doesn’t like aggressive edge angles or too much input from the skier. Releases were super easy, and I can see why some skiers love their rockered skis for everyday use when it hasn’t snowed much; they take very little energy or skill to pilot., and are pretty forgiving of pretty much any technique flaws. I, on the other hand, felt like I had to either keep the brakes on, or have terrific core tension, as the ski was just not predictable in semi-packed crud. I could survive, but not thrive, on this ski. It was OK in bumps, and released very well, although the shape was a bit funky. Definitely not cut out for groomers. When skiing packed pow, I was essentially skiing a 150mm length ski, which accounts for much of the unstable feel; even in crud, the tip and tail is getting bounced around. This ski really needs some deeper, mostly uncut snow to come alive: it isn’t a crud blaster; since it is made to float, it needs the snow to do so. Definitely a ski for a big storm, and from what I could tell in the less than ideal testing conditions (for this ski) it would rock in those conditions. But, this is not a ski for mixed conditions. It needs 12” minimum to be skied well, and more would better. In coffee terms, this one would be a blend. Stability (deeper snow) 8, (packed snow) 5; on-piste performace: 1.5; off-piste performance: 7; ease of use: 8; versatility: 2; energy: 7; sweet spot: medium to large; category: 95% off piste/5% on piste.
Rossi S7: 115mm waist, 17m underfoot, reverse sidecut tip and tail. I didn’t have a tape measure or a bench at the mountain, so I wasn’t able to measure running length or camber length.
Review: this ski was pretty interesting. Felt a bit more versatile in mixed conditions than the Boomerang, as it had a bit more sidecut and was narrower and a bit more nimble. The Boomerang likely had better float, but since I was only skiing 6-8” new, it was impossible to say (boomerang has more surface area in terms of width). Again, somewhat limited running length, and a loss of stability in the packed pow and softer snow. It didn’t like aggressive input in those conditions, and preferred to be very slowly rolled onto edge. Not really a groomer ski, but felt significantly more stable than the Boomerang, although worse than the other skis by a good margin. Basically enough to get back to the lift without having to ride on the brakes; and not that bad at low edge angles. Ride GS-race ski edge angles though, and the ski might toss you into a 360: tough to ski aggressively on firmer snow. The cut-up crud with a few tracks here and there presented a challenge: it did get bounced, but had more of the 1010 float, skim and release feel than the Huge or Pro Rider’s crudbuster feel to it. Releases were extremely easy; along the lines of the Boomerang and the 1010 (I would say that all 3 were equally as easy to release in crappy snow, the 3 best skis of the test. They each felt a bit different releasing, but all were so easy: just any relaxing at the end of the turn and letting the hips move down the hill had the skis come right up). You could tell that the S7, along the lines of the Booomerang, really needed more snow to come alive; again, 12+ inches is where it would be at. There was a bit more ease and stability, and higher versatility than the boomerang had, but probably at the cost of a bit of float when the going gets deep and heavy. This ski is classic Rossi smooth, and will suit a wide range of skiing styles. Definitely not a day-in/day-out ski for me, but a ski that I could look forward to skiing 5-10 days a year when we get dumps. Very nice ride. Again, in coffee terms, probably a blend of a couple of different beans. Very intersting and hard to pin down. Stability: 8.25; on-piste performace: 3.5; off-piste peroformance: 8.5; ease of use: 6.5; versatility: 4; energy: 5; sweet spot: Medium; category: 90% off piste/ 10% on piste
Conclusion: lots of nice skis, as usual. There are 3 different types of skis here: the 100m crudbuster do-every thing ski, the bit wider, primarily soft snow ski with minimal or no camber (105-110mm) and traditional sidecut, and the partially rockered and or reverse cambered ski. Despite marketing claims, my results were pretty much as one would expect: the narrower skis are more versatile, the mid-width minimally cambered skis are a bit more suited to soft snow, and the rockered skis are best kept to deep and/or really heavy snow. I need to ski in a big, deep, heavy day to see how much of an advantage rockered skis are over a traditional ski: on that day, and other times I have tried them, I was a better skier on my Huge or my 1010. No matter what the ski design, there are going to be trade-offs, and which you would choose would just depend on what trade-offs you are willing to make.
For fun, I also skied my Sultan 85 at the end of the day. It was quicker edge to edge, more powerful (the only time I really skied some groomers all day and had lots of fun, most of the others were more work when up on edge) and didn’t float nor release anywhere as easily in the crud. Was good in bumps, more work off-piste, and a good 50/50 candidate. I would personally choose something wider for those conditions, but could happily ski the Sultan and have a fun day. It just didn’t make me a better skier off-piste like some of the skis did.