I have shortlisted Fischer Watea 84, Kastle MX88, Nordica Hot Rod CA, Volkl Kendo. Am I looking at the right list? Others?
Need edge at speed but love responsiveness, am I better with 176cm or 184cm?
I've owned the Watea 84 and my buddy just got the Kendo. The Kendo skis pretty well but there is something about the sound it makes when on harder snow that I just don't like. I found the the Watea skis great when you stay on top of it but at the end of the day if you get tired/lazy it wants to skip across the snow. I replaced my Watea 84's with Dynastar Sultan 85's found that they were better in just about every way. I hear the Kastles are amazing but the price has kept me from taking a gamble and ordering a pair. I would definitely go to the longer length, especially if you end up with the Volkls. My Dyanstars are 178's which is fine for the time I spend in the Midwest but if I were out west I would definitely want them longer.
Not a fan of the Kendo in the trees and as a 50/50 ski, too stiff. It is great on the hardpack but not in the trees and bumps.
Check out SJ's Crazy 88 thread.. http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/96369/the-crazy-88s-revisited-2011-mini-reviews/150
Your list runs quite a gamut with some skis that are quite dissimilar. For example, the Kendo and Watea are sort of at opposite ends of the stiffness spectrum. For the versatility that you are axin' for.....you'll generally want to stay roughly in the middle of the stiffness range. As Phil pointed out, the Kendo is not that great in softer conditions. As has also been pointed out, the Sultan 85 is a very good call in this category and offers more versatility than either the Watea or the Kendo. FWIW.......the Motive 84 has pretty much become Fischers' best offering in this waist width and is certainly on par with the Sultan. The MX 88 is a great ski as well....no doubt about it.
The thread that Phil referenced can position several skis for you in this width range.
Good skis. I reviewed 3 of the 4 skis here:
I would also add the Elan Apex if you are thinking of the Kendo. It is my personal 50/50 fave, and does a whole lot of things really well. The MX88 is stellar of course, and our best seller so far this year. The Sultan 85 is a great choice, well reviewed, versatile and forgiving, yet can rip at speed (make sure you get a good tune, some of them are funky out of the wrapper). Motive 84 is the sleeper of the bunch, is as good as the others, especially if you like a lighter feel without sacrificing stability, and a great ski in the bumps. It has been awhile since I skied the Crimson Ti, but that always seemed very capable as well, along with the light and powerful feel Atomic is known for.