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How do you rank midfats in terms of ice and variable performance?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Curious about opinions on which skis in the 80 to 100 best range handle ice and scraped off crust with piles of artificial or recrystallized. Yeah, I know this is the province of race-carvers, or beer-league 70-somethings, and I know a lot of ice performance is about tuning and driver technique. But increasingly I end up dealing with day to day variable snow on a midfat. Not worth going back to the car for a 70 mm carver at 2 pm. And this is a forum about gear, not technique. So to kick off, here are my initial ideas:

1) IME, there are two different design outcomes that handle ice and variable with ice well. First I might call the ice skate feel: Lots of edge feedback, very clearly defined sense of metal biting well into a surface. Very surgical. I'd put the Blizzard Magnums and the Atlas at the head of this list, with Atomic Nomads a close second. Volkls like the AC50 and in a stretch the Mantra still belong, although the former's lost some of the feedback by becoming overly beefy, and the latter is getting too wide to really excel. Maybe neither fish nor fowl. Nordica Jet Fuels and Hellcats also belong in here, although they're more substantial feeling and not quite as much diamond cutters. But they still have that snowfeel. Would Enforcers belong here?

Then, there is the GS approach: Less snowfeel, very damp and smooth, less of a clearly defined groove being created, but more rock solid stability. I'd put Kastle MX's at the top of this group (although FX's may bridge gap between first and second group), also have to include Head iM's (can't speak to new Peaks). Stocklis can't not, although I've never found the middies to be as superlative on ice as the Lasers. Cannot think of any others that scream for membership, although Elans might fit. Not enough experience with middies. 

2) I admire other skis that I can't in good faith say I found to be ice picks. Over 80 mm Dynastars, recent Rossis like the Avenger and (maybe) Elan 82's come to mind. As do Fischer Wateas for sure. Doesn't mean you can't tune them to handle ice pretty well, just that it's not their happy place.

3) Other skis just do not seem to want to be on ice, regardless of tune or driver effort. K2 Explorers and Outlaws or PE/Extremes come to mind, as do Salomons and Rossi SC's. These may rock in softer snow, but can be scary at speed on real ice. 

4) I'm ignoring indies because in all honesty, the few <100's I've skied did not blow me away with their edge grip. (See 2)

What am I missing, delusional about, will be wrong when the new ones come out, or just cosmically, utterly wrong on? And if you had to pick one ski for this mission, what would it be? 
post #2 of 11
I know way less about skis than most of you guys, but here's a thought. Seems like the skis that perform well in these conditions tend to come from (wait for it) the German-speaking world, or at least have Austrian bloodlines (Nordica).
post #3 of 11
I tend to lump mid-fats into two categories; Giant Carvers and All Mountain Mids. Skis in the first group prioritize hard snow grip and dampening but are less nimble and less adaptable in mixed conditions. The really great ones on my list are all system skis and the Blizzards and the Nordicas are tops IMO. The AC 50 certainly grips well enough but IMO it's less damp than the others and so stiff underfoot that it's just too much work to get a sweet arc out of it. The Atomic Crimson Ti has also been very good in this category and close to the Blizzi-Nordica level. The Rossi SC 80 is on the low side of the width range but is pretty darned good. IMO, the Mantra, Enforcer and Atlas don't make the cut here nor do the Kastles.

Upcoming stuff that could crack this list would be the M-Power from Blizzard (new chart topper IMO) and the Solly Enduro (yeah, yeah, yeah......but these ain't yer old X-Screams). The incoming Fischer Motive 84 is good but not good enough to crack this rather specialized lineup. Same for the Nordica Firearrow which is the first dissapointing Nordica that I've been on. The Volkl Kendo is better than the Mantra in that it is more nimble and compliant but the level of grip is just not quite there and it lacks the dampening necessary to compete with the best on the list.

OTH....I personally think the skis that can't quite make it in the Giant Carver category are far more versatile skis. That's why I call those guys All Mountain and not the GC's. But then, you weren't axing about versatlity.

post #4 of 11
 I like the 8.7 alot, it holds on the hardest snow but doesnt really let me down in soft snow. Its no rocker but the skis more than makes up for it with hard snow grip and zippiness.

It will be the skinniest non race ski I own next year. I dont see any point to anything skinny that isnt a race ski for me because ultimately all mountain for me means LOTS of off trail even on 'groomer" days. 

IMO the only ski I dont like like at all is the Atomic, I couldnt smear turns on it at all and it made it very hard to ski in tight places. The blizzard seems to do whatever I want it to with a 1/3 edge. The Volkl is really stiff, to stiff for lighter weight like me, and the Nordica I havent triend and the Kastle is just better for lack of better word but its not 3 times better since i got my 8.7 for 300. bucks. 
post #5 of 11
 I would also put the Blizzard Magnums at, or near, the top of the list. 

This past season, K2 Outlaws were my everyday ski, and they behaved 'acceptably' in these conditions.  They're a previous seasons model, 88 waist, so I think a little less underfoot than the '09-'10 model. Although on more 'icy' days, I did switch to my K2 Recons if I had enough forethought to do so. I don't think they're as bad as you suggest, but the Blizzard Magnums are definitely much more precise on the ice.  I'm not an accomplished ice skier, however, I do play hockey once a week, so I do think that the ability initiate and hold an edge on ice is a 'transferable skill', as I know what a good grippy edge 'feels' like.  Than again, this is not a technique post.
post #6 of 11
My Nodica Top Fuel which is 78 under foot holds like a mother.  I bet the Jet Fuel would too.
post #7 of 11

It wasn't my plan when I bought them, but my Monster 78's are my everyday ski. Doing most of my skiing in the East, I see plenty of hard snow days. While they aren't an ice skate like my old Atomic SX's, they hold their own well enough for the Atomics to only see the light of day once in the past two years. It's unlikely I'll ever own anything much narrower than 80 again.

On the other hand, my Mythic Riders also grip real well on the hard stuff, but don't have the dampening to be any fun in these conditions.


post #8 of 11
Originally Posted by SierraJim View Post

I tend to lump mid-fats into two categories; Giant Carvers and All Mountain Mids. 

That's really interesting! I'd agree. A few weeks ago a friend was out here. He was on Atomic Nomads, and I was on my Salomon X-Wing 10s (old ones--supposedly they've been renamed to something else now. Tornado?). We swapped mid-day just for kicks. It really put the X-Wing 10 into perspective. The 10's definitely felt like more of a giant carver, where the nomad's an all mountain mid. Very cool.

post #9 of 11

I have two skis in this category, the Dynastar Mythic Rider 178 and the Nordica Jet Fuel 170.  The Jet Fuel is way better on hard snow than the Mythic although the Mythic is not bad.  I have skied both of these in a lot of different conditions and they are both good 1 quiver skis.  I would call the Jet Fuel a wide carver and the Mythic an all mountain mid.  Overall I like the Mythic more than the Jet Fuel.  This is unfortunate as I have to return the Mythics in a few weeks and I own the Jet Fuels.  It's not all bad though... next year I'm asking for a pair of S7s.

post #10 of 11

I demoed a bunch of skis in this category at the end of this season and ended up buying Nordica Enforcers to complement my race skis (08-09 Rossi WC GS and SLs).  Of what I tried (and I'm sure some of this comes down to tune):


The Salomon Xwing Fury (around 85 at the waist) seemed the most frontside oriented - definitely liked to get on edge and carve a variety of medium radius turns, handed speed nicely.


The Mantra reminded me of a big GS ski - longer radius, fairly damp, not a ton of rebound or quickness, slower edge to edge but pretty solid once you get there.


The Enforcer was turnier and livelier than the Mantra.  I thought this ski offered a great balance between being pretty fat (almost 100mm underfoot) and retaining a nice balance of edge to edge quickness and the ability to grip on some big fast long-radius turns on hardpack that didn't make me miss my race skis too much!  Hence why I bought it.


I disagree with your categorizatio of the Atomic Nomads - they are fairly turny as far as radius and give you plenty of feedback, but I think you are confusing quickness and grip.  The Nomads did not feel confident setting and edge and bringing that ski across the hill in a high speed carve on a steep hardpack pitch.  Rossi SC87 was more oriented towards these types of turns as well but felt a bit damper (not surprising for Rossi) and more composed to me.


In summary, I thought the two best for hard-charging frontside skiing with turns of a variety of radii were the XWing and the Enforcer.

post #11 of 11

Anyone has experience with Nordica Helldiver (side cut 132-90-118)? I just bought one at $420 with coupon code "GETDOWN".


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