Stats: 5'9" 135 lb, most-used ski is a 177 Volkl Aura with Salomon z10ti bindings; I also have some Head iM77s in 164 and Volkl Queen Attivas in 172, but my go-to ski is the Aura (women's version of the Mantra)
I went up to Loveland yesterday and skied the Auras in the morning, switched out to the S7s after lunch. They are last year's model, the Caballero, 176 length mounted with Salomon z12ti bindings a little bit in front of boot center, but I'm not sure how much. I'll have to measure. I bought them used and had to remount bindings, so the tech was to put them as close as he could to boot center. They aren't center mounted, but they are awfully close.
Conditions weren't bad, I skied mostly off of Chair 8, and the snow was soft and there was even enough wind deposit to get quite a few "fresh" tracks. Of course, this meant the snow was fairly variable, since you were going from loose to mildly set-up chunks and back all over again. (But hey, this year, I'm not complaining. I actually SUNK INTO some snow deeper than my edges.)
It was snowing and blowing, and much of Loveland is up above treeline, so it's kinda like skiing in Europe: ie, you can't see scheisse. So that will require another review installment, because I was in survival mode for most of the open bowl skiing I did.
Anyhoo, they looked awfully big, but they didn't feel it at all. It didn't take a huge adjustment to ski them. They were easy to turn, and for some reason they made me want to go really fast. Which I could do in some places, but couldn't in others just because, uh, I couldn't see scheisse.
Groomed: Strangely enough, railing on the groomers was the absolute most fun thing I did with these. I mean, it was unbelievable. You just tipped em on edge and with the rocker, they just turn. They have a 14.8 m turn radius compared to my Auras' 20.3 m, say no more. I took a couple runs under the lift just so I could ride back up and look at the trenches I was making. Unbelievably easy. Now, the snow was soft, definitely hero snow. Not sure how they would do on hardpack, but that's not what they are for.
Trees: I didn't take a ton of runs in the trees, but as expected, since they ski so short and turn so quick, it was super easy to navigate.
Moguls: final verdict is not in. I did seek out bumps at the end of the day, when it was all but impossible to ski up top due to weather. Shallower moguls on less steep slopes were a piece of cake, but then I went to Chair 1, where it's steep and tight. They were easy to pivot, but after a few bumps, I found myself going too fast, which isn't usually a problem. I think will need to figure out some adjustments to my technique here -- it might have to do with the greater length of the tail than I'm used to. It's a pin tail, so they weren't hanging up or anything. Not really sure here, but it shouldn't be a huge issue. I didn't buy these as bump skis, after all. ;-)
Crud: I skied two runs off Chair 9, and I really literally couldn't see the ground for the first 100 meters or so. I couldn't tell how steep it was until I picked up some speed, or made a turn and ended up farther down the hill than I expected. The snow was loose and deep* and heavy, so it wasn't really ideal conditions for being unable to see, lol. But I didn't feel like a complete tool, and I didn't fall, so I guess I have to give a thumbs up to the skis.
In other sections of the mountain, they floated through pretty well. You can't blast straight through it, though, on these skis. The tips are too wide and soft, and if you are going straight, they get deflected. The only time I noticed this is when I was on flatter sections and trying to keep up speed. I think keeping them a bit on edge is the way to go.
Air: Yes, I did take a few little pops with these. Little bitty air, not big air. But with the huge platform and more centered mount, landing was a piece of cake. I can see where these are perfect "backcountry jib" skis, as they are advertised. I, however, am not a bc jibber, nor do I think I will become one, but I imagine I will hop off a few more things with my kids.
So, I am definitely looking forward to skiing them more -- tomorrow, most likely. I could even picture liking the next bigger size, believe it or not. I know they ski short and all, but I just can't wrap my mind around buying a 188. But ... we'll see. I'll have to get them out in some better open situations with deep snow and see what I think. I like the shortness for trees and chutes and bumps. They need to add, like, a 181. Just for me. :-)
*Colorado Front Range 2009/2010 deep, not DEEP
Edited by segbrown - 2/13/10 at 12:33pm