Me: 39y/o male, 6ft, 187lb. Expert skier, ~L8 on a good day, ski at Tahoe for 10 yrs, last 6 yrs exclusively at Squaw Valley. Skis I liked/owned previously: Dynastar Legend 8000 and MR, Dynastar HugeTrouble, Salomon XScream, Head Mojo 94. Skis I didn’t like: Blower, Mantra, Watea 94. Current quiver: HT, Mojo 94, MR.
Conditions: Squaw, the day after a powder day. The previous day the mountain had a layer of gorgeous windpacked powder all over the place, which got cut up by the end of the day. Today some of it got smoothed again, but the wind also opened some sheets of pure ice. The weather got progressively worse during the day, with some whiteout periods by the end of the day; not surprisingly, the snow got progressively better.
Background and physical dimensions: I own and love the Mythic Rider- supposedly the previous incarnation of this ski, it is a rock solid ski that busts through any snow anytime. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the lack of sidecut and the 88mm width. So I was excited to hear that Dynastar is bringing out the 94mm Mythic replacement with the less than 20m sidecut. I also think that the mid-90 is the ideal width for a western daily driver ski.
Compared to the Mythic Rider: Sultan is also a pretty substantial ski, quite heavy, full vertical sidewall (instead of a hybrid on the MRs), also conventional camber. Dynastar claims to have some tiny rocker on the Sultan94, I don’t think it amounts to much, if you put the Mythic and Sultan side by side and squeeze, you can see a bit of a difference, but not much. The running length is a few mm more than the Mythic (same 178 length). The major difference is stiffness: Sultan is noticeably softer. The flex is pretty even throughout the ski.
Compared to Mojo 94 (my all-mountain ski): These skis have a pretty similar flex (Mojo may be a tiny bit softer), and a very similar dimensions; Sultan is a few mm wider in the tip and the Sultan’s sidecut is 18m as opposed to 19m for the Mojo. Mojo is a twin tip, Sultan has a raised conventional tail.
Other notes: I was not sure what the tune was on that ski, (Starthaus-tuned skis usually have a label) so I suspect that it was a factory tune.
Skiing impressions: (I am giving the names of the runs so people familiar with Squaw could understand the terrain).
I ski with a friend who is a Squaw instructor, and he does not waste time on silly things like warmup runs, so we did our first run on the Red Dog chair through the trees. This is a pretty steep run and the trees are pretty closely spaced, so I was concentrating on waking up and trying not to hit anything hard and immobile. My first impression was that the Sultan was tracking through the snow very well, but took some work getting to carve a clean turn. We then heard that the Granite Chief lift was open so we did a few runs there before it shut down for the rest of the day. On the Split Tree run the Sultan was making fairly tight turns in a tight space as long as I kept my weight forward and skied it aggressively. That ski does not tolerate backseat driving. We all say that a ski punishes the backseat driving, but Sultan just does not work in the backseat on anything difficult. If you remember to drive it properly, the initiation of the turn is super-quick, you blink and the ski has already come around under you. It is definitely a slicer, as it was going through the snow, not over it. The ski skied fairly neutral, I didn’t notice any preference for short turns or long turns, it is very competent all-around and it does everything you ask it to do fairly well.
The defining feature of the Mythic Rider was its rock solid stability, sadly that trait is not there. Still the trademark Dynastar firmness is there, it is not a whimpy ski. However, when the snow was rough, I felt almost every bump; rough snow does not quite deflect the ski, but you definitely feel it, which made me nervous. On the Corkscrew I was sideslipping very carefully near an exposed area and at some point I just thought that on the Mythic I would have been a lot more relaxed and bold. Blame it on the new ski.
We went back to the base area through some the windbuffed bowls and more trees. Again the turns were solid and neutral, the snow feel was very good, but a bit on the nervous side. I almost hooked up the tip a couple of times, which I blame on the 18m sidecut. I only did one run on the groomers, as expected it is a solid groomer ski, but nothing spectacular, which is expected for a mid-90 ski. The turn initialtion is good, the transition is also good and the finish is neutral, but it does not quite launch you into the next turn. If you rip groomers all day, you need a different set of boards.
I then decided to focus on the skis a bit more and did a few runs alone on KT22 and Red Dog areas. I usually look for a “wow” moment in the skis that I demo, my wow moment on the Sultan came on a run through a forested area in between the loops of the Champs’Elisee run (steep densely forested area). I was practically flying through those trees, I could point the skis and they would turn faster than I could think about it. Pretty impressive. On the runs in the Olympic Lady chair area (steep rolling terrain, some sparse trees), again the Sultan did a very good job, but it was not begging me to go faster. This is probably not the best ski for hard-charging the big bowls. The weather got worse, so the visibility deteriorated. I had to hop-turn the Diagonal Chute (yeah, I am a whimp), again very competent behavior, surprising given the weight. Last run I did on the Sultans was Nose-to-Alternates on KT22 which involved some moguls on top, then a steep-ish chute that spitted me out on wide wind-packed apron. I am not the best bump skier in the world, so for me bump performance at the top of the run was just adequate. I noticed that the tip was too stiff to just stuff the tips into the bumps, I had to pick my line very carefully. The chute was excellent, quick turns, no problem. On the apron I was making big sweeping arcs, but I was again somewhat bothered by a lot of snow feedback.
I switched to my Mojo 94 and did the same couple of runs on them. First impression was that someone just turned on the suspension, compared to Sultans Mojo is super-damp. My turns were a bit more sluggish but also more round, felt cleaner and had better flow. Bump skiing was much, much better. I did notice that I missed the nimbleness of the Sultans in the trees and in the chutes. The Sultan seems to have a bit higher top end, but for the normal expert skiing, Mojo gives it a good run and bests it in some pretty significant areas.
Conclusion: I have to split it in two parts:
For Mythis Rider fans: It ain’t the new Mythic. The Sultan is a substantially quicker and a much more all-around neutral ski, but the bulldozer feel that made Mythic famous is largely gone.
For everyone else: This is a very good ski that would fit a very large number of skiers, although intermediates should not apply. Sultan does everything very confidently, is very solid, and is a good candidate for a one-ski-quiver. To me its biggest strength was in quick turns in tight spaces. If I had my wish list, I would ask for a little bit more damping and a bit less sidecut. If you “shred gnar” all day, this is probably not a good ski for you either, it is pretty solid but not damp enough. This ski will be a big hit for Dynastar, it is much less of a polarizing ski than Mythic was, and is good enough to be on a demo shortlist of everyone who is looking for a mid-90 wester all-arounder.
Superficial thoughts: The new graphics will work well for a lot of people, and won't turn off anyone, although I personally think that it is worse than the current Legend series generation, a number of people told me that Sultan 94 looked boring. My personal gripe is the Sultan name- I thought that the Rider name served the Legend series very well; somehow Dynastar think it is cool to change the series names every few years. Trouble, then Six Sense, Intuitive, Rider, Sultan... I am sure there is a method to this madness, but it confuses a lot of people... Volkl has been making different skis under the Gotama name for many years now?
Edited by alexzn - 4/7/10 at 11:38am