The kids (16 and 10) and I got in four days of skiing up here at Stowe. (Note to self: four days is not enough.) I demo'ed the entire time, since at the moment I don't own skis (I gave mine to my son). I came here wanting to try three skis: the Volkl Kendo, Rossi S86, and Atomic Crimson Ti. I got to try 2 out of the 3, plus one from left field recommended by the demo place (Pinnacle Ski).
Stats: 5'9", 150 lbs, 57 going on 37. Here at Stowe we skied everything from interesting blues (Cliff Trail) to single blacks (Upper Smugglers) to double blacks (Liftline). We also tried glades, but the snow depth was not enough (IMO), to really cover all the underbrush enough to make it worthwhile.
1. I can't do demo reports -- or, rather, I can do them about as well as I can describe a good wine ("It was good wine"). Makes me appreciate more the expertise of those like SJ, Dawg, etc., who can analyze a ski in a way that makes sense for the rest of us.
2. In addition to not having the vocabulary, I find it hard to isolate the ski variables from the non-ski variables. First day: horrendous wind, and friggin' cold; third day: quads burning -- you get the idea.
Day 1: I skied the Kendo. We skied mixed snow trails, but not a lot of bumps. It was fine; I can't remember anything bad about it. It held an edge quite well on icy steeps. But that's all I remember -- it was friggin' cold out (see caveat #2 above).
Day 2: Demo place didn't have either the Rossi or the Atomic in my size. We went through a half dozen or so skis, pro and con, until the light went on for one of the guys there, who said I really should try the Volkl Bridge -- "just try it til lunch" he says. I'm thinking, yeh, just what I need: a 95 waist park ski! But when he brought it out, my 10-year-old daughter saw it and said "cool, Dad, you'll ski like a young guy!" (I think they slipped her a five). Took me a couple runs to get the hang of it, but it really grew on me. We did a lot of bumps that day, as well as the typical Stowe hard-to-tell-if-it's-been-groomed trails. The Bridge was like a freight train -- nothing stopped it. Very stable, and considering that it's 95 mm waist and rockered, I was blown away on how well it held an edge on steep hardpack.
Day 3: Just as I was returning the Bridge, another guy brought back the Atomic Crimson he had demo'ed that day, so I was in luck. It too was fine. The problems were: (a) I had just skied the Bridge the day before, so this seemed like a lightweight by comparison; (b) this was the day we tried the glades, and I did not do well in them (OK, I sucked). So, I have a less favorable impression of the Crimson: it carved extremely well, but seemed to bounce me around relatively more in the mixed snow. Notwithstanding my less favorable impression, the whole time I was skiing it I had the idea that if I was a better skier (more finesse, more control) I'd probably like the Crimson more.
Day 4: On both days 2 and 3 I asked for the Rossi S86 -- not in. On day 4, I pleaded with the guys at Pinnacle ("check your records, call that SOB and tell him to bring them back!). No luck. I drove down to Skier Shop (met Whiteroom), drove down to AJ's -- nada. Went back to Pinnacle and, seemingly streaming my inner 17-year-old, re-upped with the Bridge. It's a fun ski.
Conclusions: They made me a nice offer on the Bridge and I was tempted, but for me, it's too early to choose one. I still want to demo the Rossi S86, and probably will have to retest both the Kendo and the Crimson.