Originally Posted by MATT_SKI
I am looking for a new pair of boards to take to Tahoe this February. I live in Australia, but don't ski here, preferring N. America as my playground even if it is for less days per year. Favourite resorts - Alta, Big White, Whitewater BC ;)
A bit of info about me: 5'8" / 160lb athletic skier 25yrs + experience - grew up on longboard skis like Dynamic VR27's, Dynastar S9's etc, so always free skied on race skis. I had some Dynastar Intuitiv 74's 175 which I found "short". OK off piste, and a bit average on piste, but not brilliant at much of anything.
If there's powder, I am in the trees + bowls hunting for fresh tracks... otherwise I like to pretend I can still rip the groomers, despite it being a very long time since i've raced.
So my list is a bit confused + was hoping for some good advice here to help sort it out:
Fischer Progressor 9+ 170cm
Dynastar Contact 4x4 178cm
Head im78 178cm
Atomic Crimson Ti 178cm ?
Thanks in advance
ps I used some Bandit B3's at Whistler a few years ago - found then way too soft for my liking.
Since it sounds like you are looking for a preference for race-like groomer performance with some versatility, it looks like your list of:
Elan M888 / 178cm
Dynastar Mythic Rider
Head Monster IM88 (or maybe 82?)
Is right in the ballpark. Could you go narrower or wider? Sure, but if you go narrower and are sticking with a real high-end performer, you may find the ski to be more demanding off-piste than you really want. Since you grew up on race skis and are used to skiing them everywhere, and likely have the skills to go with it, I doubt it will be a problem in your case. But, you could still get more than adequate, if not race-like groomer performance with the above skis. The first skis you had mentioned (the 4x4 list) are definitely more groomer oriented and getting close to being more forgiving cousins of race skis, but won't quite have the all-mountain ease of the wider 85-90mm skis. If you go much wider than that, there are very few skis that offer race-like
performance on hard snow, which is what I think you mentioned when we spoke. The three that stick out are the Nordica Enforcer, Kastle MX98 and Stockli DP Pro+, which are serious boards; full laminate construction, fairly aggressive flex, and overall race-like characteristics and quality. Most of the wider 90-100mm skis are adequate
on groomers, but nobody with a race background would call them race-like. If that is your priority, and you don't necessarily have the cash for a really special ski like the MX98, then something a bit narrower may be your best bet, as in your list above. Also, the weather is going to play a big role in the ski you choose for a place like Tahoe. If it hasn't snowed in a few days, a ski like the 888 would be my choice at any rate: it skis much better than a wider, stiffer board in bumps, and is also more fun in general if there isn't any snow. If it dumps, you might as well rent a big board for the day, rather than compromise by getting something really wide and lacking the precision you are looking for on hard snow. Those have been my personal observations on various trips to Tahoe: I am on something like either a Head Peak 78, 82 or Elan 888 most of the time, and am on a much bigger ski when a storm shows up. Just last week, I ran into this dilemma: the first day after the storm, my 1010's were the perfect ski, but the second day, the MX98 I borrowed was a better choice; chutes were bumping up and the wide-open skiing of the first day was reduced. By the 4th day after the storm, a ski around 85mm underfoot would have been plenty (although the MX98 is pretty special, and more versatile and race-like at it's width than any other ski I am aware of, so it probably would work nearly any day out there). But, I wouldn't be as excited to ski, say an older 100mm Gotama as a daily driver: too soft and too weak on the firmer snow, and a wimpy groomer ski. Which is the typical trade-off when you get to wider skis and groomers: the very thing that makes them great in soft snow (big sweet spot, soft or rockered tip, long length, lack of grabbiness and very predictable, slowly engaging edge) makes them lousy groomer skis for those coming from a race background and expecting an exciting ride.
It all depends on what trade-offs you are willing to make, and where you are coming from. I know of VERY good skiers in Squaw who ski nothing wider than 85mm, and other VERY good skiers who ski 110mm every day. They are each looking for a certain feel in their skis and are willing to make trade-offs elsewhere to get that feel.