I've been pouring through posts (especially Sierra Jim's Crazy 88 Thread) and subscribed to the expertskier.com review site. But I'm at the point I need some guidance that is specific to me.
So, about me: male, 38 y.o., 6'0", 170 lbs., reasonably athletic. Ski the west exclusively. Probably considered an upper intermediate (love steep groomed trails, playing in bumps, picked my way down my first Double Black under Weems' tutelage last season, suck in deep powder for the few days I've had a shot at it). Right now, I probably ski groomers 85% of the time, but I want to advance and improve off-piste, so I want a ski that can help me improve there while still being loads of fun on the groomers. I like to ski very fast (relative term I know) on the groomers when conditions, crowds, etc. allow for that.
I bought gear when I started skiing 3 seasons ago, and I feel I've now topped out at its maximum performance level which is why I'm in search of new skis. I've been skiing Atomic Hawx 80 boots with custom footbeds, but I just upgraded to a 2011 version Hawx in a 110 flex for this season. I found the 80 was too soft last season.
I've been skiing 2008 Atomic Nomad Whiteouts in a 171 length. I'm basically still pretty happy with this ski for most things I do - except 2 important areas: 1) they now feel unstable when I open things up on the groomers, so I have reached their speed limit and 2) they get deflected a lot in late day chopped up conditions. I do like how easy they ski and how they have great edge hold.
With that said, I'm looking for a ski that is close to the forgiving/fun characteristics of the Whiteouts, while offering more stability at speed and crud busting. I want it to be conducive to improving in bumps. I'm not as concerned about deep snow performance because I figure I can always rent some wide boards if I'm lucky enough to get a big dump (I only ski about 10 days a year in 2 trips).
My first upgrade path was to go with Atomic's 2011 Blackeye Ti in a 174 length. I have a good deal on Atomic gear, so price/improvement wise this seemed to be the way to go. Plus, I like how my Whiteouts ski, so this met my improvement goals while hopefully keeping me in a familiar feeling ski. Unfortunately, the 174's are not available, so my only option in the Blackeye Ti's is in the 181 length. I'm worried that adding 10cm of length may take away the fun/forgiveness aspects. Am I right on with this concern or would some here say go for the 181's? I'm not sure if any 174's will come back available this season.
I considered the '11 Crimsons, but they seem too off-piste biased for what I am currently doing. Again, would anyone steer me towards the Crimsons over the Blackeyes?
The main non-Atomic skis I'm considering are the Dynastar Sultan 85 and the Rossi S86. Any opinions on these skis for me? What length would you recommend for me? My starting point is 171 which I currently ski, but I understand that some skis ski shorter than others.
Finally, are there any skis that anyone would recommend for my particular situation that I have not mentioned?
Thanks so much for any help the group can provide!
Edited by cliffk - 12/21/10 at 11:35pm