FairToMiddlin

Getting off the lift
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 8, 2015
Posts
253
Location
8300', CO
While looking toward SIA this year, many of us had a feeling of impending doom, thanks to an uncooperative gulfstream (or whatever was keeping snow away from Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico…). Would we be able to do justice to any review of wider, off-piste skis? Pleeeeease?

Yes, just. Copper has a couple of pitches that hoard snow, snatching it from elsewhere with help from accomplice-y winds, and then greedily shielding it from excessive sunlight. We got to test nearly the full spectrum of offerings, only the pow-iest of pow skis got left in the manufacturer's tents.

Atomic Vantage 86 Ti
Dimensions: 123-86-106.5*
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 165, 173, 181
Size tested: 181
Design: All New
*scaled sizing

This is the price-point (read: budget) NewVantage. It’s not as strong as the new 90 (that’s a good thing), which you can read about below, but it has the same "missing feel" that hamstrings all of next year’s Vantages. However, if all you want is a lighter ski with “Atomic” on the topsheet, you can buy one starting this fall. With excellent mid 80s price point skis out there like the Nordica Navigator 85, and the 2019 Rossignol Experience 84 (see below), Atomic has brought a knife to a gunfight.
  • Who is it for? Renters who want lightness.
  • Who is it not for? Renters and buyers who want more refinement.

Atomic Vantage 90 Ti

Dimensions: 127.5-90-114*
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 161, 169, 176, 185
Size tested: 185
Design: All New
*scaled sizing

Atomic is going in a different direction with these new Vantages -- it is bellying up to the Altar of Light. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like Atomic did its homework. The new 90 Ti is plenty light and plenty strong, but the shape isn’t very helpful. When I ski on an Atomic, I am accustomed to tipping on edge into the new turn, and the ski responds eagerly. This Atomic reminds me of the defunct Nordica NRGy: there is indifference in place of that old eagerness when changing direction.

Then there is the flex, and feel. When I said it is plenty strong, I meant very, very strong (more than it needs to be for most of us), but without the damp, smooth feeling that usually accompanies a strong ski. The 90 moves over the snow in a state of numbness, not communicating what is going on like a lot of the competition does, including its predecessor, the current 90 CTi. If the mission was to make a lighter ski, Atomic succeeded, but it has come at the cost of every other attribute.
  • Who is it for? If all you care about is light and strong, this has both.
  • Who is it not for? If you care about more than that, you won’t find it here.

Atomic Vantage 97 Ti
Dimensions: 131.5-97-120.5
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 172, 180, 188
Size tested: 188
Design: All New

Of the next-gen Vantages, this model is best use of the new construction. Here, the lack of smoothness and communication between snow and skier isn’t as noticeable as the 90, and the softer flex of the 97 gives it a more playful personality. It still lacks the feel of the outgoing Vantage CTi 100, however, and it still feels like a step backward, in the interest of appeasing the god of Lightness. Head (Kore) holds the adVantage in making a ski lighter yet retaining the sensation of a heavier, solid ski.
  • Who is it for? Skinners looking for a light backcountry tool.
  • Who is it not for? Inbounds folks who appreciate good snow feel.

Blizzard Firebird Competition
Dimensions: 121.5-70-104
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 154, 160, 166, 172, 178
Size tested: 172
Design: All New

With a 14ish-meter sidecut and an even flex, this 70mm frontside weapon makes me think of the 171cm Atomic S9 I tested last year. Strong, but calm and collected when the groom turns to chop. It also has energy similar to the Elan SLX I tested last year, the kind that fires you out of the old turn (in a weirdly reassuring way) and says “Ok, now let’s go there! And there! And over there, too!” Complementing all of these good vibrations is a tip shape that eagerly initiates that new turn; this rascal has all the right moves.

I also skied the 165cm SRC, but the WRC felt like the proper shape for this construction. I don’t have anything bad to say about the SRC, just that the WRC was a bit more satisfying. It’s possible the tune on the SRC was a bit off, but I can only test what they hand me.

I don’t know how some manufacturers pull off the magic trick of a strong slalom-y ski that still feels silky in the rough stuff; this WRC has it, Blossom (several of them) have it, as do the aforementioned Atomic S9 and Nordica's new Spitfire Pro. Even more puzzling are the manufacturers who make a recreational carver that doesn’t have it, and instead of going back to the drawing board, they just put it out there and hope nobody notices.
  • Who is it for? L3 candidates, seekers of the perfect frontside turn. Learn to carve on something like this.
  • Who is it not for? Not a carving kinda person? This isn’t for you.

Blizzard Rustler 9

Dimensions: 127.5-94-117
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 164, 172, 180
Size tested: 180
Design: All New

Pardon the backwardness, but please make sure you have a look at the review of the Rustler 10 before reading this lil’ guy.

All done?

OK, so the Rustler 9 is new for this year, 94 mm underfoot in the 180 (the widths are scaled to each length), and it feels like Blizzard was looking to shrink the 10, give it a bit longer wheelbase (bigger contact spot with the snow, slightly less rocker), and proceed to kill it in sales. It’s a bit quicker edge to edge than the 10, but other than that, the feel is much the same.

This might seem nitpicky or geeky, but it feels more like a narrower pow ski, and less like a wider all-mountain ski. For lighter skiers, this could be just the ticket, and it’s a ski some will appreciate and be thankful for. But it’s still sitting in that all-mountain part of your local ski shop’s rack. From 93-99 mm, the competition is brutal, and you can find a lot of accessible yet powerful skis that the Rustler 9’s bigger brothers don’t have to contend with.

If good float, decent stability, quick handling, and entertaining groomer performance are on your wish list for a mid-90s ski, seek this smallest Rustler out on a demo day: it is a well-executed mix of those attributes.
  • Who is it for? Lighter pow skiers, backcountry folks.
  • Who is it not for? If the Spitfire RB is your frontside ski, you might need more ski than this.

Blizzard Rustler 10
Dimensions: 133-102-112.5
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 164, 172, 180, 188
Size tested: 180
Design: Carryover/NGT

This is the best carving ski over 100mm underfoot I have been on, ever. Now, that’s (probably) not Blizzard’s goal with the thing, but it’s not a bad side effect, either. I don’t expect it to hold on boilerplate, but if I know that’s what the conditions are, I won’t be reaching for a ski like the Rustler 10 anyway. This is the kind of ski I would be on if I am reasonably optimistic for good off-piste lovin’ from Ullr.

So, off piste with the Rustler 10, then. It’s in the medium zone of the stiffness spectrum, definitely not just a wider and slightly sidecut-ier Bonafide. It’s quick and maneuverable, floats very well, and has a fun, playful attitude. And yet it is reasonably damp (more than I expected) and has a higher top speed through crud than other playful ~105s (Elan Ripstick 106, J Skis The Metal, Rossi Soul 7 come to mind). It isn’t limited to lightweight intermediate skiers who want to get an intro to pow (although it is well-mannered enough for that); you can get rowdy with the Rustler 10. Plus, on the runout back to the lift, you have that aforementioned carving prowess to supply the additional grins. Blizzard has a winner here.

Side note: I do wonder how the new Line Sakana compares to the Rustler 10 ....
  • Who is it for? Powderhounds who aren’t afraid of a little carve here and there.
  • Who is it not for? If you truly love to open the throttle off piste, there are more stable choices.

Head Supershape iRally

Dimensions: 136-77-115
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 156, 163, 170, 177
Size tested: 177
Design: Carryover/NGT

The current Supershapes from Head aren’t new, I think this is their third season. But they are fantastic, easily keeping the newer entries from other manufacturers at bay. The Rally offers an intuitive, aggressive tip shape that ushers in a new turn as fast as you can think about it, and "just right" flex that holds on firm snow but remains friendly all over the mountain. It’s at the top of my list for the narrow half of a two-ski quiver: great for groomer duty, but more versatile than a focused, pure carver.
  • Who is it for? If you carve but want a touch of versatility, try this ski.
  • Who is it not for? Windshield-wiper skiers will feel this ski fight them, trying to draw them into getting up on edge. (Could be a good thing, though....)

Nordica Spitfire Pro
Dimensions: 122-72-102
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 156, 162, 168, 174, 180
Size tested: 174
Design: All New

The Spitfire Pro is older-Kästle good (pretty much my highest praise) for less-than-new-Kästle money. This 16m ski is quick with speed-of-thought turn initiation, but smooth and refined: it doesn’t fight you or bite at you when you change your mind mid-turn. Like Blizzard’s WRC, it has a strength that doesn’t get unsettled when the end-of-the-day snow gets choppy. It is a bit more relaxed than the WRC, which is not surprising, given the easier radius. Easy zoomzoomzoomy, then.
  • Who is it for? The skilled but chilled carving aficionado wanting some zoom in their life while waiting for the next soft-snow day.
  • Who is it not for? Snowbikers, perhaps.

Nordica Spitfire RB
Dimensions:122-72-102
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 156, 162, 168, 174, 180
Size tested: 174
Design: All New

If you have ridden something like the WRC or the Spitfire Pro, or one of the current Head Supershapes, and thought “Yeah, that’s nice and all, but I’ve got quads the size of tree trunks, and those mere-mortal skis just don’t hold up to the forces I dish out.” You know if you’re that kind of skier, and the RB (no idea what it stands for) is the ski you want to be on.

The RB and the Pro share the same shape, but the RB is reinforced with the rare metal from Captain America’s shield (“Wheeeeeen, Captain America throws his mighty shieeeeeeld …”). Blizzard should have called it the Spitfire Vindaloo, as it would have more accurately communicated the experience waiting for us. It has the same active tipping speed of the Pro, but when the turn gets past that first whiff of initiation and physics start to happen, the Pro has you thinking, “Ah, I can take a moment to ponder where I want to end up,” whereas the RB is more “OhLordJeezus, I’ve got to get my weight on this NOW; wish I hadn’t skipped breakfast!”

It’s a lot of ski for most folks, but a minor-yet-mighty group of skiers will be glad Blizzard is making it.
  • Who is it for? The strong.
  • Who is it not for? The weak.

Rossignol Experience 84 AI

Dimensions: 126-84-116
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 152, 160, 168, 176, 184
Size tested: 176
Design: All New

I had no intention of testing this. For the last half decade or so, I have been underwhelmed by the Experience skis from Rossi; they didn’t have the excitement found in Head’s Revs and Monsters, or the balance and snow feel of Stöckli and (older) Kästles. @Drahtguy Kevin grabbed these while I was picking up the Hero Elites (I blame him for what happens next), leaving me with no choice but to try them at some point. He couldn’t even get them in a (longer) length that either of us wanted: it seemed as if it was going to be another ho-hum all-mountain-Rossi … experience.

I was wrong.


This time around, Rossi is making a "thoughtfully accessible" line of Experiences with legitimate skills. Shape: check. Tipping into the new turn is intuitive and immediate, and the sidecut brings you around toot sweet, but all of that is easy to modulate, nothing is scary or bite-y. Flex: check. This thing has good snow feel and doesn’t get ruffled in end-of-day chop; it wants to cling to the snow despite surface irregularities. The communication is there, not numb (or absent) like the Sollie Blast and QST, or the new Vantages from Atomic. The 84 is a good stick, and as a price-point model, it’s going to be a good value and tough competition for the equally good Nordica Navigator 85.
  • Who is it for? Intermediate/advanced folks who want to progress with their skills, and want a fun ski to do it with.
  • Who is it not for? If you want to rage on and off the trail, the 88 Ti might be more your speed.

Rossignol Hero Elite Plus Ti
Dimensions: 130-78-110
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 167, 174, 181
Size tested: 167
Design: All New

Congratulations to Rossignol for the willingness to make a ski nobody else is trying to make. Sure, this spirit doesn’t always pan out, but it is also the beginning of every Next Best Thing. And it really is aiming in a different direction: yes, you can scour other ski makers' catalogs and find some skis that are 167 cm, 78mm underfoot, with a 13m sidecut. But the others, all of them (near as I can tell, anyway), happen by accident, a byproduct of sizing down from the reference length. The 167 is Rossignol’s reference length, whatever comes after will be tweaks to the original, not the other way around. The rep I spoke to said it’s a ski for aging racers and instructors, who want the shape of a high-performing SL without the bite of one, just a fraction of a Mississippi more leisurely from edge to edge.

It’s an apt description: rather than the usual frenetic wired-straight-to-your-brain-stem response of an SL, there’s half a heartbeat between the synapses, and then that familiar turn in shows up, followed by whoomp! as the ski loads up in the belly of the turn. The construction feels strong, and with good materials inside; motor through chopped-up groomers bases flat or on edge, and the Elite feels composed, not too short or too squirrely (compared to my SL skis, straightlining is much less disconcerting). Rossi retailers may have to explain this one a bit, and skiers might need an open-er mind to give them a try, but it’s well executed, and worth considering.
  • Who is it for? Short-radius lovers who don’t need a feverish SL response time.
  • Who is it not for? You still got to want to make turns, though.

Rossignol Experience 94 Ti
Dimensions: 132-94-112
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 173, 180, 187
Size tested: 187
Design: All New

A year ago, I would have given you my best comedic, evil-villain laugh if you would tell me that Rossi is about to introduce an Experience that I would exchange my beloved Stormrider 95 for. The widest Experience never lacked power (E100, and certainly the OG E98 before it), but it had a bit of a frown, it wasn’t all that Fun. That would be OK if it were the smoothest stick in the 98ish category, but it wasn’t really that, either. I admired Rossignol's willingness to make what amounted to a very wide carver, but I never wanted to own one.

This new biggest E doesn’t feel like a wide carver anymore. It feels like an extension of my brain off piste, and yet it retains its carving heritage. Without feeling nervous or noodly, this ski is willing to change direction anywhere on the mountain. It felt eager to initiate on the groomed and downright playful in bumps mixed with crud -- not normally what the fatty Experience gets accused of. The stability is still there, but now it has an all-mountain performance envelope. It feels like what Atomic could have done with the replacement for the current Vantage 90 CTi, if its goal was to make a better ski, instead of a different ski.

One thing I didn’t understand is the stated turn radius between the 187 and 180. The 187 claims 19 m; the 180, 18.5; it almost seems like a typo, such a small difference seems too insignificant to give skiers much of a choice. Hopefully, I will be able to get on the 180 and see for myself.
  • Who is it for? Lots of people, with lots of different skill levels. Wanna feel like a hero off piste? Here you go.
  • Who is it not for? Hmmm, I'll have to get back to you on this.

Salomon QST 99
Dimensions: 138-99-120*
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 167, 174, 181,188
Size tested: 188
Construction: New Construction
*scaled sizing

I got on this because it was the only thing available to test the new Shift binding from Sollie/Atomic. Two years ago, Salomon replaced the beefy Q-Lab with the flax-y QST, and for next year, it will be selling this "QST 2.0." The result of its reengineering is a half solution. The first-gen QST felt brittle and vibrate-y, like a lot of other skis chasing the Soulless 7 sales bonanza. This version is more damp, more predictable in crud, less likely to be deflected when you punch it into something chunky -- and these are all good things. But the reluctance to initiate turns (one of the worst offenders of the test) makes this an irritating inbounds ski. Yes, it’s fun in the softer 3D snow, but elsewhere it is disappointing, and not as versatile as quite a few of its competitors that excel in a wider range of conditions. Salomon can’t just solve half the issue and stand shoulder to shoulder with the heavy hitters in this category.
  • Who is it for? Straightliners, I guess.
  • Who is it not for? Those who love the "Return of the Turn."

Salomon S/Max Blast

Dimensions: 121-72-106
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 165, 170, 175, 180
Size tested: 175
Design: All New

Imagine aliens wanting to clone a human and all they had to work with was a mannequin from Macy’s; the proportion would be ok, but the inside would be lacking a thing or two. The Blast feels like that. It has the shape of many great mid-70s carvers, but the flex and refinement feel off. It’s as if Sollie looked at a category that sells well, and wanted an entry for said category. So, they bought some of the popular, good-skiing models, and then reverse-engineered them to create the Blast without ever taking the time to ski them and see what makes them tick.


On a decent groomer, the Blast tips into the turn about right, and holds you to the snow about right. There is not a lot of communication, but it’ll get you to the bottom well enough. When you motor down a run that wasn’t groomed the night before, though, the chinks in the armor start to show. Whatever is in this ski isn’t fighting for you: it lacks the sophistication to smooth out the irregularities and give you the confidence to push harder. There are better, more versatile choices in the mid-70s category.
  • Who is it for? If you love Jim Beam, you’ll probably dig this.
  • Who is it not for? Basil Hayden fans.

Stöckli Stormrider 88

Dimensions: 128-88-114
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 168, 177, 186
Size tested: 177
Design: All New

For about four years now, Stöckli has been churning out a very refined, very easygoing SR 88. When it first came out, I thought it was one of those capable skis that nevertheless took it easy on you, not urging you to pour every ounce of oomph you have into each turn (unlike the potent Völkl RTM 86). If you can remember back another four or so years beyond that, the Stormrider name did not bring such easygoing thoughts to mind.

The rep in the tent hinted that Stöckli felt it had gone a bit too far, however, and sought to remedy that for 2019. What it ended up with was un-accessiblizing done right; the incoming SR 88 is stellar.

Compared to the current/outgoing SR 88, next year’s ski is more aggressive, responses to input are more immediate, there is more power in the ski underneath your feet. And yet it didn’t feel like there is an equal increase in its neediness. This is not a ski that will wear you down; you won’t be grunting like Monica Seles as you navigate through crud, bumps, or trees. Instead, almost anything feels possible: stuff it into unknown piles of snow with confidence, and make turn shapes bigger or smaller than its stated radius. So easy was the latter, I would have tried the next size up (if they had it). I bet it would have been a pleasure.
  • Who is it for? Anyone will feel like a rockstar on this.
  • Who is it not for? Non-rockstar-aspiring peeps.

Stöckli Stormrider 95

Dimensions: 131-95-120
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 157, 166, 175, 184
Size tested: 184
Design: New Construction (sort of; it went on sale this year, but nobody could get on the 184 at SIA last year…)

Darnit, Stöckli, what have you done?

This is a different ski from the SR 95 of two years ago, seemingly much more than the simple removal of the carbon-insert tip. The new tip feels less willing, less communicative. It is a reliable enough ski; there are no unpleasant surprises when you point it into 3D snow, but it doesn’t tell you what is going on (something the 2019 SR 88 does very well). Further, the response from the ski when you tip in to the new turn isn't what it used to be, it's not as immediate, it's kind of like standing at the counter of a coffee shop and having to wait for the cashier to finish a tweet before taking your order.

Compared to the previous generation SR 95, or the incoming Rossignol Experience 94, it feels like an aging athlete; still experienced, still smooth. It has lost a step, though, and no longer feels like the one to beat. It ain't as good as it once was. It is possible the tune is to blame, but the tune felt okay; the ski didn’t do anything unpredictable, just didn’t have the magic of other Stöcklis.
  • Who is it for? Folks who never got to try the previous SR 95.
  • Who is it not for? Folks who did.

Völkl Deacon 76
Dimensions: 122-76-103
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 171, 176, 181
Size tested: 176
Design: All New

I’m missing the point of this new Völkl. I’m not a Völkl hater, far from it. I own their current rec SL, and I both enjoy, and am quick to recommend the strong and smooth RTM 86. Three of my favorite skiers on earth will kill you if you try to take their 100Eights from them (only one of them is nice enough to let me use his; the other two are mean). Völkl is making solid choices for several flavors of skiing.

The Deacon feels heavy, which is a good start for a mid-70s frontside bruiser. It feels heavy enough that I was getting a really good vibe on the first chair ride up, as these beasts tugged on my boots. Maybe the dampest, most composed ski of the test, perhaps?

Somehow, no. It just keeps feeling heavy, without being particularly damp, and not as strong as some lighter-feeling skis in the test (RB). I can’t think of a thing to point to that makes me want to say, “Sure, it’s heavy, but that’s because it can do this!”
  • Who is it for? Maybe a rando racer who needs a heavy ski to train with?
  • Who is it not for? Anybody else.

Skis I Wanted To Try (but ran out of time for, or couldn’t get ahold of)

Elan Ripstick (the beefed-up version)
Last year I loved the shape of the (then) new Ripstick 96 and 106, but couldn’t get over the lack of strength in less-than-ideal snow; it just didn’t offer much when the going got tough. I hope to find out if this stronger Ripstick has the moves and the power; if so, it could be a serious contender in the ~100mm category.

Völkl Mantra M5
Strength with a good flex, and a big menu of turn shapes is the rumor; I’d like to find out for myself.

Kästle MX67 (and any Kästle with a testable tune)
It seems like Kästle is losing its way, but I am a longtime fan, and I’d like to think the 67 is a step in the right direction, enough that I would happily try a pair.

Stöckli’s Recreational SL
Whatever it’s called, it’s bound to be exciting.


Awards and Footnotes

What Have You Done for Me Lately? Even though it is only a year old, the magnificent Atomic Redster S9 was absent from the Atomic tent. Might be a good thing, as it could have spoiled the debut of any other narrow ski Atomic is introducing.

Reliably Unreliable. For three years running now, Kästle has showed up at SIA on-snow with poorly tuned skis, enough of them that it has been difficult not to end up on a dubious pair. Combine that with the absence of any MX67s to try, and for the first time ever, I just couldn’t drum up the interest to click into a Kästle. If you buy a pair of new Kästles, hand them to a shop you trust for a full tune before making your first turns.

Come Play With Me! Every year, one or two skis strike me as that friend who wants to go out and make some noise, maybe cause a little mischief. This year, it’s the Blizzard WRC for the frontside (the Nordica Spitfire Pro is not far behind), and Rossignol Experience 94 off piste, with the Blizzard Rustler 10 making a compelling argument as well. Skis that entice you to click in and have a go should not only be capable and rewarding in their natural environment, but also be at least a bit useful when you wander into parts of the mountain their makers didn’t have in mind. The WRC and E94 stand out this year, and are most liable to lighten my wallet in the next year or so.

Most Likely To Get Attached to the Wondrous Salomon/Atomic Shift Binding. This spot used to be held by the Head Kore line (any of them: I would have been happy with the 93, 105, and figured I would end up feeling the same way about the new 99), but it now goes to Blizzard's Rustler 10. The Kore feels a bit more refined than the Rustler, but the Rustler 10 steals a page from Head, giving you an extra dash of responsiveness, with enough beef to keep most folks feeling confident. Mate it with that Transformeresque Shift binding, and we’ve got that (allegedly) mystical combination of backcountry weapon that gives up nothing inbounds.
 
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Kent

Getting on the lift
Skier
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Posts
91
Location
Spokane, Washington
Nice reviews, FairToMiddlin. I am sorry to read your concerns regarding the Stöckli Stormrider 95 because this ski is/was on my wish list. Hopefully, they will take it back to where it was like they did with the Stormrider 88.
 

Viking9

Getting off the lift
Skier
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Posts
480
Location
SO CAL
Nice job FTM, just what I was hoping to hear, it’s gonna be hard not to think about THE 94 , a long time to the end of the year.
Oh and if anybody has to ask,,,,,DON’T,,,,,everybody should know there’s only ONE 94 this year.
Hand made by a Spaniard who I assume resides in France, yeah I’m not to proud of the France thing either all though Marvin is looking good this year!!!
 
Thread Starter
TS
FairToMiddlin

FairToMiddlin

Getting off the lift
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 8, 2015
Posts
253
Location
8300', CO
Nice reviews, FairToMiddlin. I am sorry to read your concerns regarding the Stöckli Stormrider 95 because this ski is/was on my wish list. Hopefully, they will take it back to where it was like they did with the Stormrider 88.
Thanks!

The 'new' 95 is a bummer, and I don't know how to put a shiny face on it, other than it still has the enduring feel that Stocklis are known for: Swiss skis that will power through unpredictable snow, and see you through. These 95s still do that, but with less agility than the previous generation. The incoming 88 (and 83) is special, and I hope that Stöckli has a quick turnaround on the 95, and infuses that magic into the next SR96/97/95/94/whatever very soon. I feel that the 90-something ski is important, the 88-98 is kind of the everyman One Ski Quiver, the travel ski, or truck ski, something we will have with us regardless. So, what we want this stick to do for us is be magical enough for us in pow (yep, my last-year 182cm SR95s were amazing in a surprise early season 16" pow day at Breck this year), but satisfying on a hard snow day, a versatile ski that leaves us thinking we are EverSoClever, something with which we can rail the groom with a Coke and smile, even though we were hoping for some freshies.

If you are a lighter skier, or a 'turnier' skier (that would be me, and I am 190#), the Rustler 9 and 10 are fantastic choices, they represent floaty off-piste skis that are fun to lay over and rip with. On the far side of the spectrum would be the Fischer MTN 95. That is a powerful beast that you can lay over and put down trenches, or point and shoot through enemy machine gun pillboxes, a burly ski that rewards that strong and the skilled.

@Philpug is a pioneer in pointing out that the lion's share of today's skis are Good, and that the trick is identifying personality, or Matchmaking, if you will. Do you prefer blonde, or brunette? :)
 
Thread Starter
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FairToMiddlin

FairToMiddlin

Getting off the lift
Pugski Ski Tester
Joined
Nov 8, 2015
Posts
253
Location
8300', CO
Nice job FTM, just what I was hoping to hear, it’s gonna be hard not to think about THE 94 , a long time to the end of the year.
Oh and if anybody has to ask,,,,,DON’T,,,,,everybody should know there’s only ONE 94 this year.
Hand made by a Spaniard who I assume resides in France, yeah I’m not to proud of the France thing either all though Marvin is looking good this year!!!
Thanks, I am grateful you enjoyed the ramblings of a skiing addict in the off-season.

@Viking9 I have to ask, what are you alluding to? Out with it, if there is a brilliant 90-something made with the tears of unicorns and brutally clubbed baby seals, I must have it! What are the stats and construction detail of this lil' feller?
 

fatbob

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
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I must admit that when I've skied Stöckli skis I've found them good skis (a a feeling of way above average build quality) but rather traditional in the way they behaved rather than game changingly progressive. Yet there seems to be a lot of love for them here. What's the special sauce?

Or is it (and I'm deliberately playing devil's advocate here) a way for skier's to signal their ability without directly bragging?
 

Philpug

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I must admit that when I've skied Stöckli skis I've found them good skis (a a feeling of way above average build quality) but rather traditional in the way they behaved rather than game changingly progressive. Yet there seems to be a lot of love for them here. What's the special sauce?

Or is it (and I'm deliberately playing devil's advocate here) a way for skier's to signal their ability without directly bragging?
I specifically like the Laser collection, to me they are the Stöckli's that are indeed special. I know the Stormriders have a loyal following but IMHO by constantly changing their constructions have left me a bit gun-shy. The Scale collection really have me baffled and just am not a fan of them at all.
 

Viking9

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FTM I told everybody, including you of course, YOU CANT ASK !!
Hand made by a Spaniard, sweet Burgundy color, they’ll go perfect with my lime green Allspeeds, what else could they be !!!
And Fat Bob , gotta write out that handle, STOKLLIS SHMOKLIS; of course don’t let SJ hear you say that',,,,,,,it probably wouldn’t end well.
 

SBrown

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I love my SR 95s but never skied the others ... kinda like what he said. I wouldn't worry too much about it?
 

Tony S

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Thanks, FTM. Good stuff as always. The big hole in my quiver is between 85 and 108, so it looks like I need to try that Rossi.
 

markojp

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Tony, try an Armada Tracer 98. Let me know what you think.
 

ski otter 2

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Thanks, @FairToMiddlin!
To me, you've given me three (at least) stand out skis to try, if I can - the Exp. 94, the Rustler 9 or 10 and the SR 88.

The other standout ski in that Rustler 10 size, for me, from recent and current years, was the 102 Faction Candide T. 2.0 in the 18x length, which I demoed twice two years ago and almost bought. Last year, I focused on demoing the Rustler 11 (in 180, 188 and 193) as the demo day was also a powder day. But I've heard that many liked the Rustler 10 even more. Their descriptions remind me of the C.T. 2.0, which was turny yet much better in crud/uneven than one might guess, highly versatile and fun, like the Rustler 10 seems to be. And the C.T. 3.0 108 is also a great ski, as is the Rustler 11.


To me, many Stocklis deserve their top reputation, at least the ones I've had. (I feel more mixed about many Kastles.) From your review, the drop-off of the new SR 95 this year confirms what a local Stöckli distributor warned me of last year, leading me to get one of the last '17 183 SR 95s still new - but much cheaper.

I can't really find Stocklis to demo often, so my experience is a bit limited; but the old SR XXL 80 has been my yardstick ski, and daily driver, for a frontside biased all mountain ski, surprisingly versatile, just amazing.

The Laser GS 180/18 is also wonderful. Day after day.

The '18 183 Laser AX 78s are great also - got to repeatedly demo that ski before buying it, and it is, to me, basically a lighter, updated version of my 08-09 XXLs (once mounted approx. +3 cm. forward, for me); in the way it feels and skis.
 
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FairToMiddlin

FairToMiddlin

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I specifically like the Laser collection, to me they are the Stöckli's that are indeed special. I know the Stormriders have a loyal following but IMHO by constantly changing their constructions have left me a bit gun-shy. The Scale collection really have me baffled and just am not a fan of them at all.
The whole Stöckli thing, for me, is all Philpug's fault. Years ago, he put me on a pair of Laser SXs, and that started me on my path to 'signal my ability without directly bragging'. Those SXs were amazing, I can still remember their snow feel, and maniacal commitment to staying connected with the snow, it was a revelation of what top shelf materials could achieve. I agree that the frontside Laser skis are the most consistent, the SRs have become a bit love/hate for me, Stöckli sometimes decides to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with them. Nevertheless, the SR88 (and 83) that are on the way are crazy good, I look forward to finding a good deal on this new-gen before they find a way to dork them up in a few years.
 

fatbob

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How do the Lasers shape up to a (at least cosumer version) full SLs and GSs?
 
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FairToMiddlin

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Thanks, FTM. Good stuff as always. The big hole in my quiver is between 85 and 108, so it looks like I need to try that Rossi.
@Tony S Thanks! I am curious to hear how it goes if you can get on the E94. But I would also recommend, especially for you, the Rustler 9. I would say the 9 is a little more easygoing in terms of what it asks of the skier, but the E94 is by no means difficult to maneuver. The E94 is a little burlier. Those two are a great example of personality being the deciding factor, and it would be neat to see your take. Take 'em both out to dinner, before you decide which one you want to take home.
 

Philpug

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How do the Lasers shape up to a (at least cosumer version) full SLs and GSs?
Every manufacturer has a rec race ski and their full bore models but honestly, the Laser SX/SC/MX/AX really share no resemblance to the FIS skis, they are more recreational oriented..and IMHO that is a good thing, they have their own personality and character, they are not a Nordica Dobermann RB or a Rossignol Elite MT or even a Head Supershape, they are more luxury then those.
 

QueueCT

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I test drove a FIS SX and a non-FIS SX consecutively. On the FIS ski I was just riding the sidecut until I registered enough speed (~40 mph) to get some g-force help. The non-FIS ski was much more playful and was simply a blast. Much more suited to my everyday ski needs. Keeping my eye open for a deal but can only find the 170 now whereas I would prefer the 177.
 

Tom K.

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Great reviews. First time in ages I've had a hankering for a Rossi, but the E94 has piqued my interest.
 

wallyk

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I specifically like the Laser collection, to me they are the Stöckli's that are indeed special. I know the Stormriders have a loyal following but IMHO by constantly changing their constructions have left me a bit gun-shy. The Scale collection really have me baffled and just am not a fan of them at all.
@Philpug ......am curious about your thoughts on the Scale collection. Why did they leave you "baffled"? Am looking for another ski to "round out" my quiver and could use your assistance. Have a Völkl Racetiger SL 172, MX74 in a 174, MX83 (too small), Stormrider 88 in 176. Mostly ski midwest and 10 days a year in CO or MT total 25 days +......aggressive and technically proficient skier with a penchant for short to medium radius (GS) turns. Not a super G type of skier. (used to ski at CBK and VT back east so I like skis that can hold) Am looking for a versatile ski, either a 78-84 or a 95ish with a penchant for Kästle and Stöckli. Boots are Lange RX 120, weight 185 and hight 5'11. Any thoughts???
 
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