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Like jaobrien6 said, Demo Day at Crystal Mountain had hard groomers all morning, a few slightly soft off-piste areas on high north-facing slopes, and some sloppy crud in the afternoon sun.


You can't quite bank on my descriptions here-- I only had a couple of runs on each ski, and conditions changed significantly over the day.



Peak 88 FlowRide, 180cm by 88mm:  Head has changed the Peak 88 so much that they should have given them another name.  They no longer have that even flex, but rather a really soft tip and tail (to show me, the rep grabbed the tip and easily flapped about 12 inches of the ski back and forth).  So it's no surprise that I didn't feel the whole length of the ski biting hard snow, but the middle portion primarily (like some other skis lately).  It's also no surprise that they were very quick and maneuverable in crud and very forgiving everywhere.


They don't bite nor track quite as well as the Monster 88 that they evolved from.  This pair also had a plate under the binding, which presumably added some stiffness in the middle.



Blizzard MNX Ti 8.7, 174cm by 87mm:  Terrific carvers.  A round flex, with the entire edge contributing to their hold.  Somewhat stiff-- too stiff for being good off-piste.



Volkl Unlimited AC 50, 177mm by 85mm: A round flex, medium-stiff, and great edge grip, as they have long been known for.  Can ski them in crud, but one of the more demanding and less forgiving skis in that department.  I'm looking for a damper, softer ski for the middle of my quiver.



Dynastar Sultan 85, 177mm by 85mm: Like the Peaks, this ski, too, is somewhat stiff under foot with a softer tip and tail.  The middle portion grips tenaciously during carved turns, yet the tip and tail are engaged as well.  During carved turns on hard-pack I had the odd sensation that the edges stuck down a little bit, as if the bottoms were slightly concave.  Great grip, though, and pretty smooth and damp.


Off piste that softer tip and tail made them pretty quick and forgiving in tight spaces and tough turns.


One my favorites in the all-mountain category.



Volkl Kendo, 177cm by 88(?)mm: Somewhat soft, and even flex.  They are agreeable, slightly damp, have good edge grip, and are quite comfortable in crud.  Maybe I'd like them even better in the 184mm length, which hasn't come off the production line yet.



Rossignol S86 (same as 2010's SC87), 178mm by 86mm: Like the Peak and Sultan, stiffer under foot with soft tip and tail, but to a lesser degree, or so they felt to me.


On the groomed they were quicker-turning than any of the other skis, and only the middle portion of the ski had much bite.  In carved hard snow turns I didn't like their feel all that much, but the edge grip was good.


In the crud they were the best ski of the day. They seemed to have a perfect flex and I ripped through some tough areas with more speed and ease than any other ski.  Maybe I'd like a stiffer tail.



I wish there had been Kastle's and Elans available.


I'm back in the market to replace the middle ski in my quiver, Monster 82's.  At 183cm, they're too much ski for me some days (I am getting old, after all).  But no ski hugs the snow  better, and no ski is better at high-speed, purely steered, round turns in crud.


I don't know what I'll buy.  I haven't given up on Peaks entirely-- maybe the ones with FlowRide, or maybe 2010's Peak 88 with the more even flex.  I want to try Sultans 85's again.  Or maybe I'll buy another pair of Monster 82's, but in the 177mm length (or Peak 82's, which are the same ski).


Hats off to Sturtevant's for making Demo Day happen!