When: April 24-25
Conditions: 3" of fresh on top of chunky refrozen irregular crust, in other words - craptastic
Who: 43 year old F, 5'5", 125lbs
Skis: 175 Armada Halo, 176 Rossignol BC 110, 164 Head Peak 88, 172 Kastle LX82, 164 Kastle LX82.
I've been fascinated by the shape of the Armada Alpha Two (now called Halo for 2011) for a while. It's got an 83 mm waist and a rockered, early taper tip. It is intended for the park, but I thought it might be the ultimate variable conditions ski for a lighter person. The narrow waist would keep it precise with good edge grip on the groomers, while the rockered, early taper tip would be great in pockets of powder.
Not so much. Possibly it had a bad tune, but it slid out on the groomers. It was adequate in the bumps and the trees. Over all, it felt utterly lightweight and unsubstantial. I had no confidence on the ski and couldn't wait to get rid of it. Note also that I am not a huge fan of heavy skis - for instance, I think the Dynafit Manaslu skis beautifully. But I think the Halo belongs to the flippy spinny crowd.
Rossignol BC 110:
I own the Rossignol S3 and love it. But occasionally I find myself wanting something a little longer, a little fatter, particularly in the deep. In the conditions that day at Whistler, I found myself getting tossed around when I hit the icy chunks underneath. And occasionally I'd sink a bit and lose speed unexpectedly in irregular windblown pockets of snow.
The BC 110 is very similar to the S7, but with a slightly narrower waist (110 vs 117 I believe). I tried the Roxy Mumbo Jumbo last year, which was the women's S7 at that time, and didn't like it. But the conditions at that time were much more crust than dust. In slightly more fresh snow, the ski really shone. It was like cheating, actually. From powder to crust and back again, the ski just ate it up. Stable in crud, agile and turny in the trees, and about as precise in the bumps as a 110 ski can be. I'm a believer now. And although I REALLY don't need another fat ski, I think I'm going to have to make room in the quiver for this one.
Head Peak 88:
I've got... way too many skis. Hey, some women collect shoes, I collect skis. But the one ski I don't have is a good groomer zoomer. I have the 162 K2 Burnin Luv and despise it. It feels unsubstantial and, paradoxically, stiff in all the wrong ways. I use my S3s on groomer days, but the truth of the matter is, they have a rockered tip and tail and therefore a short running length. For really bad days - off piste unskiable, with icy, poorly groomed runs littered with death cookies - I want something longer and more burly. But not too burly, given my weight.
The Head Peak 88 felt great. I was skiing runs right at freezing level, so they tended to thaw and refreeze all day long, creating ruts, ice chunks, and patches of hardpack/ice. The skis carved nicely, felt pretty stable at speed, and held an edge decently on the ice. I didn't really take them off piste, as that wouldn't be my intended use for them.
172 Kastle LX82:
I tried these on a whim, as a friend was talking about them. I knew the 172 was too long, but that's what they had, so I figured I'd try them. It took a few turns to get the hang of them, and then... BOOM!
Holy smokes, were these things fun! I was railing them down destroyed, steep, icy groomers and they just blasted through. They felt rock solid stable at mach schnell. They were actually quite easy to carve, but it was hard to resist the temptation to just point 'em. They were also surprisingly forgiving in the bumps. But, sadly, they really were too long for me.
164 Kastle LX82:
I was so impressed with the 172 Kastle 84, I thought I'd try them in the "right" length. Unfortunately, while the 164 was way more playful, it didn't have that rock solid railing feel of the 172's. I believe they come in a 168, but by that time the rep was packing up his gear.
One thing I noticed about the Kastles is that while the tips hook up nicely to carve, they aren't at all "hooky" - i.e. no unexpected edge catching. The Head Peak 88 was very hooky - on one occasion I got caught off guard on the cat track and nearly went down. Unclear how much of that is ski design, and how much is tune.
Edited by Acrophobia - 4/27/10 at 7:33am