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Contact 4x4; Contact Cross Ti; Progressor 9+; Mach 3

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I've been demoing some skis lately to replace my '09 Supershape Speeds.  Now, don't get me wrong....these are great skis, but they are 170 in length and thus a little on the short side for my height and weight (6'2", 220 lbs).  I really would like something in the 175 to 180 length which will give me a longer platform for greater stability.  I also find this version of the Speeds to have a pretty small sweet spot, and would prefer a ski on which I feel more balanced in tricky conditions (bumps, crud, broken snow....you get the picture....something more forgiving, versatile, but that still performs at a high level).  BTW, the second pair in my 2-ski quiver, the soft snow ski, is the Mythic Rider, which has a huge sweet spot and has spoiled me by never making me feel off-kilter in any condition.  Love those skis! Knowing how good that feels has made me seek out something better for my hard snow eastern groomer ski.

This past weekend I was out west and got a couple of days in at Lake Louise, where I rented the Dynastars and clicked into my friend's Nordicas too.  Conditions were refrozen corduroy in the morning; soft spring snow in the afternoon -- great to test the skis under a variety of snow conditions.

Dynastar Contact 4x4, 178:  Skied these for a full day at Louise.  I had been warned by the shop guy that the 4x4s in this length would be heavy and cumbersome, and that the 172 would be better.  Disregarding this advice with the reasoning that if this ski in this length were not suitable, then I would choose a different ski (I really do want a longer ski than 172), so I took them anyway.  Well, the shop fellow was partly correct.  At slow to moderate speeds, I found this ski to be exactly as he said it would be -- ponderous, demanding, heavy underfoot, grabby, lacking agility.  Float over the soft afternoon snow was not as good as I expected it would be at those speeds, for a ski of that width.  Edge grip was impressive, and they were very stable, had a big sweet spot and great fore-aft balance (just what I am looking for).  On the other hand, at higher speeds they really came alive, and I got the energy, liveliness and power that I was missing at slower speeds.  Wind 'em up, and they felt fantastic -- super stable, smooth running, quiet, amazing edge grip, blast through crud and soft mushy bumps without a twitch.  Short, medium, long turns, they handled all with aplomb.  They were surprisingly agile at speed, when I could get some muscle and power into the turn.  In the end, though, these would not be right for me, as I don't want to rip at high speed all day long.  I love to go fast, and do so frequently, but I also enjoy relaxing and just soaking up a great ski day with great scenery and fun people to ski with.  I need a more versatile ski that I can be on all day with my kids and friends/family, some of whom just aren't that fast.  At slow to moderate speeds, these are just too tiring and totally lacking in spark and energy (at least in this length).

Dynastar Contact Cross Ti, 178:  Also skied these for a full day (day 2) at Louise.  I have read some good reviews on these in the print and online press, as well as some positive words here, and I was really looking forward to trying them, expecting a lighter, less-demanding, more agile version of the 4x4s.  Well, they were pretty much as advertised.  Edge grip was impressive, agility and quickness was very good at all speeds, short to long turns were all handled well, they were smooth and quiet, lighter underfoot than the 4x4s, big sweet spot and great fore-aft balance (really hard to get into the back seat on these, and on the 4x4s too).  I also found these to be very stable, except at higher speeds when they started to get somewhat unsettled and shaky, but not enough to be unnerving.  We got a few centimeters of fresh snow that afternoon, which got pushed around in spots by the boarders, and the skis just floated over it or blew through it without complaint.  Nice.  I was on them all day and still had plenty of gas left in my tank -- not bad considering I skied longer and harder than the previous day on the 4x4s.  The only negative things I would say about these is there was that slight lack of stability at speed, and that they were missing a bit of the spark and energy that I look for in a fun ski.  If I were lighter in weight, these faults would probably disappear and I would likely have found them to be excellent all-around.  I guess I like the typical Dynastar feel that I read about here -- smooth, stable, damp-but-not-lifeless, even flex, good energy but not overpowering.  A very good ski, all things considered.

[As a side comment, on past Dynastars that I've rented/demoed, I have found the factory and/or shop tune to be a turn-off.  They seem to be tuned with an almost flat base bevel, which makes getting them on edge feel less fluid than I prefer.  Both of the above seemed to be tuned the same way.  When I first got my Mythics they were tuned that way too.  I set all my own skis to a 1-degree B-B, and the difference is noticeable]

Nordica Speedmachine Mach 3, 178:  These belong to a friend with whom I skied on Day 2 at Louise, and who just happens to have the same BSL as I do (ain't it nice when that works out?).  Note:  these are not the Mach 3 Power, which have metal in the layup; they are the Mach 3 carbon, non-metal.  We swapped skis for a couple of runs, so I only got a very brief impression of the feel of these.  By this time it was afternoon softer snow, with the few centimeters of fresh on top.  Based on the two (albeit long) runs, I was very impressed.  These felt very similar to the Contact Cross -- smooth, damp but not dead, stable, unshakable in crud, light underfoot, agile, short turns required more input, but medium and long turns were effortless.  They tracked perfectly through the bumped up afternoon snow, and never got deflected.  These had a super smooth silky feel to them that could get totally addictive.  Good energy, but not jittery or demanding.  I could see myself having a lot of fun on these.  They didn't feel too soft for my weight, even without any metal, and held a high speed edge without problem and without losing any stability.  I might rent these next time I go out there again, and get a full day on them to really get to know them (I will update here if I do).

Fisher Progressor 9+, 175:  I demoed these for 2 hours at Bristol Mtn. near Rochester, NY, a couple of weeks ago.  No lift lines meant I could get a lot of runs in.  Conditions were soft spring snow, but still firm enough in the early to mid-morning for good carving and high speed cruising.  In short....WOW! These are excellent skis.  So versatile.  Short turns were a cinch -- just pressure the tips a bit and whoosh, 'round they came. Long series of snappy short turns on narrow trails were a breeze and a real hoot -- big grins.  No less impressive were big high speed GS turns on wide runs.  No inclination to make you want to turn all the time, they could run straight with ease.  These seem to have no speed limit -- totally stable, smooth and unflappable at scary-fast velocities.  Excellent edge grip; could easily vary the turn shape in mid-turn; and tracked perfectly through soft mounds and crud without deflection.  They had surprisingly good float through the soft spring snow -- no issues with trenching or grabby edges (interestingly, I asked the shop about their tune, and they said it was 1 base, 2 side -- just the way I like it).  Light feeling underfoot, yet stable; big sweet spot, never felt off-balance; great energy and rebound.  I could relax on these too, and did not have to be on top of them at all times like on the 4x4s. Could probably ski these all day, fast or slow, and not feel thrashed.  Compared to the Nordicas and both Dynastars, these were much more lively and less damp.  Not to the point of being nervous or jittery, just more "alive", if you know what I mean....more feedback from the snow; felt like a more direct connection with the snow.  An interesting sensation, and one that I am not used to, coming off the smooth-running Supershapes and Mythics.  I liked it.  Overall, totally impressive...an outstanding ski.  Big "Fun-Factor", and ain't that what this sport is all about?

Summary:  for my tastes, skiing style and needs, the Fishers were clearly superior.  They had the best edge grip, great stability, and were the most versatile in terms of turn shape, as well as fast or slow skiing, and being able to relax one minute and just letting 'em fly the next.

Next Steps:  if possible, I would like to demo the Nordica Spitfires and compare them to the Progressors.  They have the same dual-radius construction, if I recall correctly -- SL tip and GS tail -- which really seems to work.  If they have the magic combination of that silky-smooth feel on the snow that the Mach 3's seemed to have, together with the versatility, edge grip and energy of the Progressors, they may just be the perfect ski for me.  Demoing may be wishful thinking this late in the season, but I will be back near Banff again in a few weeks (they have a long season there, esp. at Sunshine Mtn.) and will look for a shop that may have them.  If anyone has compared these two skis side-to-side, please drop a line here and let me know your impressions. 

Cheers.....
Edited by SGN - 3/31/10 at 5:12am
post #2 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SGN View Post

Next Steps:  if possible, I would like to demo the Nordica Spitfires and compare them to the Progressors.  They have the same dual-radius construction, if I recall correctly -- SL tip and GS tail -- which really seems to work.  If they have the magic combination of that silky-smooth feel on the snow that the Mach 3's seemed to have, together with the versatility, edge grip and energy of the Progressors, they may just be the perfect ski for me.  Demoing may be wishful thinking this late in the season, but I will be back near Banff again in a few weeks (they have a long season there, esp. at Sunshine Mtn.) and will look for a shop that may have them.  If anyone has compared these two skis side-to-side, please drop a line here and let me know your impressions. 

Cheers.....
I found the Spitfire to be more of an aggressive edge to edge carver, whereas the Progressor was a little bit less active, more of a typical GS smooth power feel.  I also found the Progressor to be far superior in bumps, whereas the Spitfire had more of a slalom feel to it: it wants to be on edge, and is quite stiff for uneven snow. It was fun, but I would choose the Progressor as my daily hard snow ski, as it just seemed more versatile but still with wicked edge hold.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks Scott.  That is excellent feedback, and exactly the kind of insight I was looking for.  As you gathered, I was quite taken with the Progressor, and it would take an exceptional ski to knock it off my personal podium .   Its versatility would be very hard to beat.  For example, I was pleasantly surprised at how it handled the soft spring snow on the demo day.  My Supershapes would have been a handful in those conditions.  I've got some more demoing coming up (trip back to Banff area soon), and I will try a few more skis, but I have a pretty strong hunch that the Progressor will be my next ski.
post #4 of 19

SGN, your reviews and what you are looking for in a ski are a mirror image of what I'm looking for. Plus we are about the same size, I'm 6'1, 210 lbs. I have owned both the Dynastar 4x4 as well as the Cross Ti, both in a 178, and your reviews of each couldn't be more spot on if I had written them myself. Makes me think I should take a look at the Progressor 9. I was at a ski shop last weekend on my way home from Sugarloaf. I told the shop guy that I was looking for a versatile hard snow carver, and he suggested that I look at the Progressor 9, which was not even on my radar. Didn't give it a second thought, but considering how closely your opinions of the two Dynastars parallel mine, then maybe it's time to give them a second look.

post #5 of 19

SGN:

 

Kudos, on an excellent series of detailed, well-thought out, and informative reviews! Thank you! By the way, do you happen to know the difference between the Nordica Mach 3 and the Mach 1?

 


Edited by studio460 - 5/8/10 at 2:42pm
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the kind feedback on my reviews.  Glad to put in my two-bits worth here.

 

Studio:  All I know about the Mach line is that the higher the number the stiffer and higher performance the ski.  I am really not that familiar with Nordica skis of any kind, and the Mach 3 was my first experience on one.  I was impressed, and was looking forward to trying others and having more time on the Mach 3.  From my few runs on it, there seemed to be a lot of performance in there, and my impressions were that it was smoother, more agile, lighter feeling than the Cross Ti, but otherwise had similar character.  I see a LOT of really good skiers here in Canada skiing Nordicas -- the Doberman and Speedmachines in the East, and a lot of the Hot Rod line in the West.  They must know something that I don't (yet....).

 

Mac, I seem to remember reading a review that you wrote on the Cross Ti (?).  Since I wrote the above reviews, I have purchased a pair of Progressors.  There was nothing else that I have skied before or since, that could match them for overall versatility in a hard snow ski.  For my weight, skiing style and ability, and the terrain that I will use them on (mostly eastern Canada and US) they were simply the best that I have tried.  A wonderful balance and combination of strengths -- turn shape, stability, liveliness vs. dampness, soft snow (surprisingly good), hard snow....they had it all.  And they were FUN! Which is always a clincher for me -- if a ski isn't fun to be on, no matter how good they are at other things, they're not for me.  So the Progressor 9 is replacing my Supershape Speeds, and I will be selling those.

 

In the meantime, I skied the Head iM78 (same as current Peak 78) last weekend (yes, I skied in May!!! Wonderful!) at Sunshine Mountain, Banff, and also really liked it.  My experience was damped by a poor tune on the ski (base bevels seemed flat, causing the skis to rail and catch their edges -- most annoying).  But the qualities of a really great ski could still be found, and if I were skiing more soft snow and wanted a more versatile all-mountain type of ski, or looking for a one-ski quiver for the east, these would be at the top of my hit list.  But they are too close in dimension to my Mythic Riders, that they just didn't make sense in my 2-ski quiver.  But, great skis nevertheless, and lots of reviews to be found on those here.  The only other comments I will make is that they worked well for my weight and skiing style/ability.  Nice combination of energy, power, dampness, edge hold, and smoothness.  Lots of fun!  Something to consider if you want a slightly wider ski that will work in light powder and soft snow.  Very agile and quick too....

 

Good luck, and update here if you ski the Progressor.  Would be interesting to hear how you like it.

post #7 of 19

I ended up selling the Dynastar 4x4 for exactly the same reason that you didn't buy them. Great ski for going all out, but I also tend to ski a lot with family and friends who don't want to ski that aggressively. Liked the feel of the Dynastars, so I bought the Cross Ti thinking it would be a more relaxed version of the 4x4. And that's pretty much what it is. Excellent ski with really no weaknesses, it does everything well. But some of the friends that I ski with really like to turn up the speed, and when I do, I can sense that slight level of instability come into play on harder snow. Probably a 180 lb. guy wouldn't even notice it. I also notice that certain lack of zip that you refered to. But then again, I think that can be attributed to the ski just being better suited for a lighter person. I think this ski would be more appropriate for someone in the 150-190 lb range. But all in all, an excellent ski. 

Oddly enough, the Supershape Speed that you were previously skiing was on my radar, my thinking being that it would be just a touch more stable at higher speeds, while still retaining some all mountain versatility. But I haven't had any luck finding a pair. Which may have been a good thing, as from what you said, it might not have been as versatile as what I had thought.

And even more of a coincidence, I had just bought a pair of the new Peak 78's that you refered to. Use them as my soft snow/all mountain/western/spring skiing ski. Absolutley love them. Mine came through with a fairly bland tune from the factory, probably a 1&1. Haven't had them tuned yet, haven't needed to, have only about 6 days on them, all in soft snow. But when I do, I'll have them put a 1&2 on them. And you're right, could very well use them as an eastern one ski quiver. Spent four days skiing in Summit County on them in the middle of April. Excellent ski to travel with, especially in the spring. Can handle the frozen stuff in the morning equally as well as the mashed potatoes in the afternoon. But for everyday skiing in the east, I'd prefer to have a more hard snow specific ski to hammer on the hardpack. Starting to sound like the Progressor might be a good candidate to fill out my two ski quiver.

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Mac, that really is a coincidence, you buying the Peak 78.  Good one! We seem to have very much the same taste in skis.

 

My guess is that the Progressor 9 will have better edge hold on ice and re-frozen spring snow than will the Peak 78.  I haven't tried either ski in those conditions, but the P9s (and most Fischers) are known for their tenacious edge grip.  This was certainly noticeable when I tested the P9s -- they felt like they would cling onto a vertical wall of ice!  ....Well, not really ...but they held an edge better than anything I've skied on....very confidence inspiring when tackling steep terrain, knowing the skis will be there for me.  For Eastern Canada where I do the majority of my skiing, these really are the answer.  If I spent more time out west, or wanted (as you said) a one-ski quiver for the east, the Peak 78 would be ideal.

 

And I too really like the feel of Dynastar skis -- very forgiving, huge sweet spot, great sense of balance, stable, damp-but-not-dead, great build quality.  If they made a ski somewhere in between and blending the best qualities of the 4x4 and the Cross Ti, I'd be sold.  The 4x4 was not versatile enough (full speed ahead only); and the Cross Ti was just not quite enough ski for my weight. Too bad.

 

The 1&2 tune on your Peaks should work very well for you.  I use that on all our skis except the Fischers (which come with a 1&3 from the factory) and it feels just right.  Good choice. 

 

The Supershape Speeds...? Well, if I had bought them in a 177, I might just be keeping them, although I have heard that the 177 length in this ski is very heavy and stiff...quite demanding.  But, mine are too short for me in a 170.  Otherwise they are a great ski, and I have really enjoyed them.  Other than being too short, I find the sweet spot a little small, making it hard at times to achieve good balance, esp. in broken and very uneven snow (could be a length issue?).  But on smooth groomers, they are an absolute blast! Very stable, smooth, great energy in the tail, more lively and fun than the SS Magnum, agile and quick when you snap them, solid and "there for you" in long high speed arcs. 

 

Re. balance and sweet spot --- by contrast, my Mythic Riders make me feel like I can never be off-balance....great skis, and highly recommended if you are looking for something at the wider end of a two-ski quiver.  Very playful and fun, too.

 

Cheers!

post #9 of 19

The Peak 78 is pretty much what Head claims it to be, a 50/50 ski. That's what I like about it, it's hard to beat that kind of versatility, especially when I'm traveling and taking two skis is not that practical. I usually take about two trips to either Colorado or Utah every season. I've made quite a few trips out west where we haven't hit any new snow, and these work fine on the groomers, too. I'm more of a technical skier, and I just don't like skiing the fat skis on groomers all day. I have a wider pair, but I find I just don't use them very much. And as I said, the 78 really make a good choice for spring conditions. They can handle the hard morning stuff as well as the slop in the afternoon. And skiing in soft spring snow usually means skiing in slush bumps, and they really excell in those. They're still narrow enough to manuver through them without much problem. 

But the majority of my ski days are on New England hardpack. I need a ski that can rail on the groomers but still be versatile enough to hop into the bumps or trees from time to time, while still being user friendly enough to ski with the wife and kids. That's a tall order for any ski, but from what I've heard, the P9 comes about as close as I'm going to find.

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

Yeah, the Peak 78 is a great ski -- hang on to it for a good while, though, as I've heard that Head really softened the tip of the 2011 model.  Not sure why, but it will probably seriously degrade the performance of the new models.  Crying shame! It's not like it is overly stiff in its present form.  What are they thinking?

 

I think the P9 will answer your needs very well.  I could ski fast or slow, short turns or long, soft snow or hard....didn't matter, it could handle it all.  Exceedingly versatile.  I could relax and take it easy if I wanted.  I suppose one could go to a less aggressive edge tune to make it more user-friendly....like a 1&2 rather than the factory 1&3?

 

Comparing to the Supershape Speed, the SS is more damp, smoother feeling, less feedback from the snow, has more punch in the tail, can be skidded more easily.  The P9 is livelier overall, has better edge grip, more stability at speed, slightly easier to do short turns, better balance and bigger sweet spot.  Both are easy to vary turn shape in mid-turn (essential for bumps and trees), easy to release at the end of a turn.

 

FYI, Fischer is bringing in a Progressor 10+ for next year, which seems to be a slightly wider version of the P9 -- 73mm waist, same layup and bindings, also dual-radius sidecut.  Should be like a stiffer, more high performance version of the P8.  Looks like it might be a winner....can you wait that long?

 

post #11 of 19

(Quote) "Yeah, the Peak 78 is a great ski -- hang on to it for a good while, though, as I've heard that Head really softened the tip of the 2011 model.  Not sure why, but it will probably seriously degrade the performance of the new models.  Crying shame! It's not like it is overly stiff in its present form.  What are they thinking?"

 

That is precisely why I bought them when I did. I was tipped off that changes were coming, and not necessarily for the better, so I grabbed a pair while I still could. And yes, I plan on holding on to it for a while, it just fills that postion in my quiver as well as anything else I'm going to find.

I actually just ordered a pair of the P9's. I don't see much sense in waiting till next year for something that may or may not be any better than this year's version (and having to pay near retail for them.) For what I ended up paying for these it was a no brainer, a no lose situation. At least if I don't like them, I won't end up taking a bath if I have to sell them. Besides, it will give me something to look forward to all summer. I won't have a chance to ski them this season, but I'll do a follow up as soon as next season rolls around. Thanks for all the information.

Take care

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Mac - Congrats on your new Progressors! I'm sure you will love them.  Post back here next winter and let me know your impressions.  By then I will have had a few days on mine and will get to know them better too.  But....if you just HAVE to ski them now, I know for a fact that Sunshine Mtn, Banff, is still open until May 24.  I was there on May 1, and the conditions were fantastic -- great hard snow all the way down until the last 200 ft. vertical.  Just a teaser.....

post #13 of 19

Yes, I know, there is always some place that is open just to tempt me, but it's time for me to hang them up. I got to ski in May this year, plus I got four good days in at Summit County in the middle of April, so I ended the season on a high note. I've got a lot of work to do around the house, and the summer is the only time I can get to do it. Plus, my wife is very understanding when it comes to my ski habit, so I don't want to press my luck. Besides, my cycling season is starting to kick into gear, so that will keep me busy (and in shape) until the snow flies again. I used to sit there after the season was over and cross the days off the calendar till it was time to ski again. But the older I get, the faster the years seem to go by. So maybe I'll just kick back, enjoy the summer, and throw some wax on my new skis from time to time. The next season will be here before you know it.

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac View Post

(Quote) "Yeah, the Peak 78 is a great ski -- hang on to it for a good while, though, as I've heard that Head really softened the tip of the 2011 model.  Not sure why, but it will probably seriously degrade the performance of the new models.  Crying shame! It's not like it is overly stiff in its present form.  What are they thinking?"

 

That is precisely why I bought them when I did. I was tipped off that changes were coming, and not necessarily for the better, so I grabbed a pair while I still could. And yes, I plan on holding on to it for a while, it just fills that postion in my quiver as well as anything else I'm going to find.

I actually just ordered a pair of the P9's. I don't see much sense in waiting till next year for something that may or may not be any better than this year's version (and having to pay near retail for them.) For what I ended up paying for these it was a no brainer, a no lose situation. At least if I don't like them, I won't end up taking a bath if I have to sell them. Besides, it will give me something to look forward to all summer. I won't have a chance to ski them this season, but I'll do a follow up as soon as next season rolls around. Thanks for all the information.

Take care


Any hints on where to score a good deal on the P9s?  At 6 foot 175lb im thinking about the 180s myself

post #15 of 19

SGN might be better able to advise you on length, but I bought the 175. I suppose if you're just going to be doing high speed cruising, than the 180 might make sense. I got mine from Ski-Depot in Maine (ski-depot.com, phone # 8667543376) $599 w/bindings, incl. shipping. Here's the link to the Fischer's I bought:

 http://www.ski-depot.com/miva/merchant.mvc?

Screen=PROD&Product_Code=920939&Category_Code=fischerskis2010&Product_Count=7

It says that they still have both the 175 and 180, but I'm thinking that the 175 is going to be a more versatile length for you.

Good luck

post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kbuzz View Post
At 6 foot 175lb im thinking about the 180s myself


Where do you ski? I would say that if you ski in the west - big mountains, long wide runs, fast cruising - then the 180 could work for you.  OTOH, if you ski the smaller hills in the east, you may want a shorter, lighter, more agile ski. Likewise if you ski trees and bumps, you will appreciate the quickness.

 

I chose the 175, and found it to be a good stable platform at my height and weight (6'2", 220 lbs) that I had no stability or balance problems, esp. at higher speeds on broken snow and crud.  For where I do most of my skiing (Eastern Canada), this was a good choice, balancing stability and quickness/agility. 

 

Hope this helps.....

post #17 of 19

thank you both for the recommendations re length. Yes the P9 would be for my east coast daily hard pack ski.  Looking to replace my Volkl 168cm  allstars with something a bit longer and lighter.

 

I have other stuff for the west coast....

post #18 of 19

Kbuzz, FWIW I'm same height, 10 lbs lighter than you, ski plenty in the east, and owned RX8's, far as I can tell P's are similar but a bit stiffer. Even in that milder incarnation, my 170's seemed about right. Tend to turn a lot, could have enjoyed 175's for larger arcs/higher speeds. 180's, woulda run out of mountain in all directions...

post #19 of 19

I love my Progressor's; ski 'em in a 170. Absolutely mint for the backside of Sugarloaf after that 5+ foot dumping...and everything in between.

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