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Nordica Jet Fuel review from a Volkl fan

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
My first impressions of the Jet Fuel which has just replaced my Volkl AC4 2006 models due to unrepairable damage.

Skier: 42 yr old male, 5'8", 150lbs, advanced, all terrain, CO, UT, Whistler/BC
Current skis: 2006 Volkl AC4 with motion system bindings 170 cm, 2009 Volkl Gotamas 176 cm.

Jet Fuels are Ti model, 170 cm length.
 
Conditions: Copper Mtn, 3"-6" fresh in morning, spring conditions in afternoon.

Ski feel:
Jet Fuels feel heavy when shouldered, but feel surprisingly light under foot.  The binding system creates an excellent interface between boot and ski, better than that of the AC4.  Huge balance sweet spot....seems to cover almost the length of the ski, which is quite different than either of the above Volkl models.  This makes the Jet Fuels feel longer and much more stable than the AC4.  I eventually tried to get off balance, but never felt out of control whether too far forward or back.  I never felt in the "back seat" all day.  On the Volkls, I often feel I'm fighting to stay forward, especially in variable terrain and moguls.  Not unlike the Volkls, the Jet Fuels are very damp....very little vibrations are transmitted to the skier.

Turn characteristics:
The Jet Fuel prefers a larger turn radius than the AC4.  Short turns require more skier input, and the Jet Fuel seems slower edge to edge than the Volkl.  Perhaps this is due to the increase in width from 82mm to 84mm.  Once on edge, however, the JFs have tenacious grip and are very rewarding when allowed to finish a turn.  There is reasonable energy in the tails, but I never felt launched unexpectedly (unlike the Volkls).

Terrain responses:
The JFs felt equally in their element on both the front and back sides of the mountain.  They easily floated in the 6" untracked powder, plowed through skied out crud, and carved easily on both fresh groomers and end of day front-side runs.  Almost as much float as the Gotamas and a similar ability to pivot turn and smear turns in tight spots.  Lack of tip deflection allowed the JFs to hold their line at speed in bowl terrain....the AC4s are more easily deflected in similar situations.  I had a little less confidence in firm moguls with the Jet Fuels compared to the AC4s due to the initial slower edge response, but soon altered my technique to use a combination of pivoting and tail steering.  Softer moguls were as easy to charge the fall line as previously experienced with the AC4s.  Both of these skis are much more enjoyable here than the Gotamas.

Overall impressions:
The Jet Fuels are expected to be a great replacement for the destroyed AC4s.  While the Volkls have been a bit more "playful" ski, they are quick to bite you if you get off balance.  I never experienced that while skiing the Jet Fuels....I don't know what their limits are yet, but they certainly seem higher than the Volkls.  After today, I conclude the Jet Fuels possess the best characteristics of the AC4 and Gotama models for days with 6" or less of fresh snow.  I am interested to see how they perform in deeper conditions and therefore determine how much I will use the Gotamas in the future.
post #2 of 13
 I'm glad you like your new skis!  I think it's funny that we both have a 170 JF and a 176 09 Gotama.  I tend to prefer the Gotama to the JF and hadn't skied the JF for almost 2 seasons after buying the Gotama early last January.  I've been on the JF for about 4 days this past week and do like them a lot, but will go back to the Gotama if we get some real snow that covers the crunchy stuff underneath.  Good luck with your new boards.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your comments.  I suspect the Gotamas will still rule in soft deep snow.  Unfortunately, I have only gotten to ski them in those conditions once this entire season.  Hoping for more late season snow in the Colorado mtns.

post #4 of 13

Nice review. 

We sound pretty similar, and last spring I demo'd a bunch of mid-80's "all mountain" skis primarily looking for something that would feel really stable in a mix of crappy snow conditions without feeling dead or overdamped.  Unfortunately, I always seem to be working on those bluebird mornings after it's dumped 1-2 feet of fresh powder, so I wanted a ski for the resort that can plow through or over heavier snow, in tracked-out conditions when there hasn't been fresh snow in days/weeks without getting tossed around too much. 

It's not the most lively or versatile mid-fat, sometimes kicks my ass in the bumps, and obviously doesn't float as well in deep, soft powder as a wider powder-oriented ski.  But the Jet Fuel seemed to have the best balance of unshakeable stability, carvability & edgehold, and liveliness of the the mid-80mm "all-mtn" skis I demo'd.  

I got a super deal on new-old-stock '07 170 Jet Fuels w/ integrated binding last spring (my understanding is that there have been no changes in the Jet Fuel's dimensions or laminated woodcore w/ 2 sheets of metal construction between '06 & current '10 "Ti" model; the "CA" carbon model is new for '09-'10), and have been really happy w/ it as my "narrow" frontside ski. 

Me:  45 y/o, 5' 8", 155lbs, good athlete in good shape; advanced skier but by no means "expert". 
Local Mtn:  Mammoth, CA (moved here in mid '08-'09 season); prefer to ski the ungroomed runs off chairs 23, 22, 25 & upper gondola.   
Conds:  I've skied these (along w/ other skis in my quiver) since I got them last spring in pretty much every condition Mammoth has to offer from fresh powder to late season slush, and everything in between--combinations of old powder, windbuff, packed, firm, chalk, crust, dust on crust, crud, boilerplate, etc, off-piste and on groomed runs. 
 

Other similar 2009 skis I demo'd last season: 

  • Volkl AC 50 177cm 128-85-112
  • Salomon XW Fury 177cm 128-85-111
  • Fischer Watea 84 176cm 126-84-112
  • K2 Xplorer 170cm 128-84-112
  • Dynastar Mythic Rider 172cm 122-88-110
  • Nordica Afterburner (same dimensions as Jet Fuel, but without the 2 sheets of metal) 170cm 126-84-112
  • Nordica Top Fuel (same layup as Jet Fuel but narrower dimensions) 170cm 123-78-108


After reading tons of online reviews, I was really interested in skiing Volkl's AC50, and thought that would be "the one".  But for my weight and ability, the AC50 in the 177 size (no 170's to demo) felt a little too stiff, damp, and unforgiving.  I really had to stay on them to get them to work for me, and realize I don't have the size or the juice for this ski.  But for the bigger, stronger/more aggressive skier, the AC50 would probably at the top of the list.  I really wanted to compare the AC50 to the AC40, but that one wasn't available. 

For me, the Watea 84 and XW Fury felt very similar--they were responsive, lively, and fun to ski all over the frontside--and were demo'd on days when there was either no fresh snow, or just a light amount of softer snow (< 6 inches).  Of the mid-80's skis I demo'd last year, the Fury was the most fun and most responsive all over the mountain with a nice carvy feel, while the Watea was very similar, but a bit less lively and more damp.  But both gave me the impression that they'd get tossed offline fairly easily in anything heavy or tracked out.  

I heard good things about both the K2's Recon and Xplorer, and demo'd the slightly wider mid-80 width Xplorer.  It did everything well--turned on command, was stable at speed, and skied well all over the mountain on both ungroomed runs and groomers.  But it didn't leave me with much of an impression of fun or liveliness and felt surprisingly heavy, dead and overdamp.  

I demo'd Nordica's Top Fuel & Afterburner, and Volkl's AC50 on the same day in warm spring conditions.  The Top Fuel has the same laminate wood core construction with 2 sheets of metal (Ti??) as the Jet Fuel, but with a narrower 78mm waist.  I liked this ski a lot, and thought it was just as stable at speed as the AC50, but much easier to ski overall--easy to edge, held its edge anywhere, and was very stable and confidence inspiring at speed  (on groomers).  Nordica's Afterburner is essentially the same ski as the Jet Fuel, sans metal, but compared to the AC50 and Top Fuel, the Afterburner got thrown around way more in the heavier spring snow, and chattered at speed on groomers (no chatter from Top Fuel or AC50). 

I skied Dynastar's Legend Mythic Rider in heavier older snow (sometimes up above my boot cuffs) on a cold early spring day in flat light, and really liked it.  I thought it was stable, held a line really well without getting deflected, and was fairly forgiving.  I don't think these were as lively as the Furys or Wateas, but they seemed more stable and confidence inspiring.  As an advanced (but not expert) skier, the Mythic Riders seemed to work very well for me all over the mountain, in exactly the kind of variable, old-snow conditions that I tend to ski most frequently.  From my limited 1 day on these, I think the Jet Fuels are stiffer, heavier, and damper feeling, but the Mythics might be more versatile.  
 
Overall, I've been really happy with my Jet Fuels--they're very stable at speed on groomers with zero chatter, hold an edge really well on boilerplate, and have a relatively quick feel w/ their 17m radius (though I've never skied racing skis since my oldschoool skinny 195cm slalom skis from 20 years ago).  Although they're definitely not powder or bump skis, I've had fun sessions on them in the bumps as well as in fresh powder above my boot cuffs.  But given the choice, I'd choose a ski much more suited for powder or bumps if that was my main objective.   


 

post #5 of 13
EXCELLENT reviews of many mainstream skis for smaller skiers, eg. <175lbs

Sounds like the JF would be a good 1-quiver ski for Mammoth, and a fat powder ski rental for BIG dumps.

I'm about the same weight and height, but 100 years older , and use a Head iM 78,177 for all-mtn harder snow use and an older 176 Dynastar LP Rider for days after powder and soft snow/crud at Tahoe...
I could use the LP Rider as a daily driver, but the iM78 is funner and easier when the snow is hardpacked. 

BTW...You could sell the Gotamas and use the $$s to buy your next year's season pass.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by nfp158 View Post

EXCELLENT reviews of many mainstream skis for smaller skiers, eg. <175lbs

Sounds like the JF would be a good 1-quiver ski for Mammoth, and a fat powder ski rental for BIG dumps.

I'm about the same weight and height, but 100 years older , and use a Head iM 78,177 for all-mtn harder snow use and an older 176 Dynastar LP Rider for days after powder and soft snow/crud at Tahoe...
I could use the LP Rider as a daily driver, but the iM78 is funner and easier when the snow is hardpacked. 

BTW...You could sell the Gotamas and use the $$s to buy your next year's season pass.
 

I just wanted to give props to the Jet Fuel, because I think it's a great ski within it's class, but I don't think too many people know about it (not sure why, because I'm guessing the mid-80mm "all-mtn" ski category is probably one of the bigger sales niches within the industry, Nordica is a major player, and the JF/TF really made an impression compared to other similar skis I demo'd, and I definitely don't have 'buyer's remorse" since buying this a year ago). 

I don't mean to hijack this thread from the original poster, but I thought I'd throw more of my $0.02 out there: 
I think recommendations for a 1-ski quiver are really personal, even for the same mountain/resort, depending on what/where/how you like to ski. 

So I don't know if I'd recommend the JF to someone as their only ski for Mammoth--I think it should be definitely be considered if you primarily want a on-piste-oriented ski that feels rock solid stable at higher speeds while still having the ability to do OK in bumps (e.g. those runs parallel to/just under chair 22 that tend to get bumped up) compared to a stiffer ski w/ larger radius side-cut, while also have a bit more float for shallow soft snow (whether soft & heavy or soft & light) compared to a narrower "carving" ski. 

And nfp158's point is well taken--if you go the JF/mid-80s route, you could always rent or demo a fat pow-specific ski for the really deep fresh pow days.  But if your bias runs differently, and you're lucky enough to get out during or just after every storm or you know where all the secret pow stashes stashes lay hidden from the tourists, then I think you'd probably want a wider, soft-snow oriented 1-ski quiver.  I see way more skiers w/ Gots & Mantras than ~85mm all-mtn skis on the gondola to the top.  

FWIW, one of the bigger and more respected Mammoth shops that carries Nordica highly recommended the similarly constructed (wood core w/ 2 sheets of metal) but much wider Nordica Enforcer (98mm underfoot) as being on their shortlist for a 1-ski Mammoth quiver. 
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nfp158 View Post

EXCELLENT reviews of many mainstream skis for smaller skiers, eg. <175lbs

Sounds like the JF would be a good 1-quiver ski for Mammoth, and a fat powder ski rental for BIG dumps.

I'm about the same weight and height, but 100 years older , and use a Head iM 78,177 for all-mtn harder snow use and an older 176 Dynastar LP Rider for days after powder and soft snow/crud at Tahoe...
I could use the LP Rider as a daily driver, but the iM78 is funner and easier when the snow is hardpacked. 

BTW...You could sell the Gotamas and use the $$s to buy your next year's season pass.

 

Are you making me an offer?????
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SLOwrider View Post




I just wanted to give props to the Jet Fuel, because I think it's a great ski within it's class, but I don't think too many people know about it (not sure why, because I'm guessing the mid-80mm "all-mtn" ski category is probably one of the bigger sales niches within the industry, Nordica is a major player, and the JF/TF really made an impression compared to other similar skis I demo'd, and I definitely don't have 'buyer's remorse" since buying this a year ago). 

I don't mean to hijack this thread from the original poster, but I thought I'd throw more of my $0.02 out there: 
I think recommendations for a 1-ski quiver are really personal, even for the same mountain/resort, depending on what/where/how you like to ski. 

So I don't know if I'd recommend the JF to someone as their only ski for Mammoth--I think it should be definitely be considered if you primarily want a on-piste-oriented ski that feels rock solid stable at higher speeds while still having the ability to do OK in bumps (e.g. those runs parallel to/just under chair 22 that tend to get bumped up) compared to a stiffer ski w/ larger radius side-cut, while also have a bit more float for shallow soft snow (whether soft & heavy or soft & light) compared to a narrower "carving" ski. 

And nfp158's point is well taken--if you go the JF/mid-80s route, you could always rent or demo a fat pow-specific ski for the really deep fresh pow days.  But if your bias runs differently, and you're lucky enough to get out during or just after every storm or you know where all the secret pow stashes stashes lay hidden from the tourists, then I think you'd probably want a wider, soft-snow oriented 1-ski quiver.  I see way more skiers w/ Gots & Mantras than ~85mm all-mtn skis on the gondola to the top.  

FWIW, one of the bigger and more respected Mammoth shops that carries Nordica highly recommended the similarly constructed (wood core w/ 2 sheets of metal) but much wider Nordica Enforcer (98mm underfoot) as being on their shortlist for a 1-ski Mammoth quiver. 

 

Thanks for your input.  No hickjack at all.  Your views pretty much mirror how I feel about these skis for Colorado use also.
post #9 of 13
The previous Volkl/Nordica comparisons are interesting because the former head designer for Volkl now designs for Nordica. So it is no surprise that I find that my 3 year old JF seems to track like a classic Volkl ride.

I do most of my skiing at Sun Peaks where typical snowfalls are 6" to 10" and very dry snow, arguably the driest snow in Canada, so the JF has no problem handling this easy to ski ego powder. And in the afternoon of a powder day the JF with its heavy weight and stiff flex just dominates the cut up snow.

I'm pretty confident that the double torsion box core and top metal sheet will make the JF and TF very long lasting skis.

BTW I'm 5'8", 215lbs, 62yrs, advanced but not expert, 80 day a year skier. My Jet fuels are 176cm or 178cm (not quite sure of the length.)
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

The previous Volkl/Nordica comparisons are interesting because the former head designer for Volkl now designs for Nordica. 
 

Truth? Between Blizzard and Nordica, are there any Volkl designers left working for Volkl?
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post




Truth? Between Blizzard and Nordica, are there any Volkl designers left working for Volkl?

Some of the stories about this Volkl guy and that Volkl guy etc....may be apocryphal.

However, Nordica and Blizzard are both owned by the Tecnica group which is still controlled by the original family ownership of Tecnica. I do beleive that a fair number of employees left Volkl to go there when the consolidation by the Jardin group became imminent.

Regardless of whether they formerly worked for Volkl or not, the design guys there are purty danged good. The Nordies and Blizzis are mostly made in the same factory and IMO are some of the finest skis on the market.

SJ
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post

 The Nordies and Blizzis are mostly made in the same factory and IMO are some of the finest skis on the market.
 

Didn't know this either. Interesting in view of Kastle and Head. Wonder if a look at which brands share factories would show some "relatedness" in terms of QC, materials, and maybe philosophy (or business plan). Obviously Blizzard and Nordies have different design parameters, but IMO besides strong QC, they both share a kind of lightness and snowfeel that could reflect shared construction basics or shared goals. And I think Head and Kastle definitely have some common attributes, this time say heft and smoothness, even though Kastles are more limited production and IMO more refined. Do the Amer/Atomic/Salomon group share facilities now? Maybe the different brand designers have lunch together... 
post #13 of 13
Good observations ^^^ IMO, the goals and feel of Nordies and Blizzis are somewhat different but the execution of both are superb. I think the two brands have somewhat different areas of expertise and each builds ski that could be considered "best in class" but usually those skis tend to fall in different categories. 

This trend will have to continue in order for these companies to survive and prosper. Dynastar and Rossi have some skis that are quite similar in overall feel with minor detail differences. Of course they still have some skis that are substantially different. Volkl and K2 seem to be slowly blending at least as far as corporate goals and philosophy although many of their skis are still markedly different. There are certainly similarities between Heads and Kastles as well but I agree that the execution of the Kastles is far superior (albeit at a very high price). I don't know where the Amer group falls into this but certainly Atomic is slowly morphing their Nomad skis closer to the "Wing" series from Solly (Savage = Fury for example) while both brands seem to be maintaining separate identities in their freeride models.

On it goes................

SJ
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