Comparison Review AmyPJ's 2018-19 Ski Reviews

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews and Comparisons' started by AmyPJ, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    3,003
    Location:
    Ogden, UT
    Background on me: I am a 49-year-old female advanced intermediate/advanced skier who is a perfectionist hellbent on technique and possesses a high level of fear partly due to a past tibial plateau fracture. I am 5'5", 127+ lb, and an avid mountain biker in the off-season. I skied 97 days last season, and have been skiing consistently for four seasons now. My home mountain is Snowbasin, which is also where most of these skis were tested; a few were tested at Beaver Mountain in fresh snow while it was snowing (read: cut-up crud that was filling in). Conditions at Snowbasin were a mixed bag and not particularly easy on Day 1. Day 2 was better with sunshine and some fresh.

    Atomic Vantage 90 Ti W

    Dimensions: 122.5-90-111
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 153, 161, 169
    Size tested: 169
    Design: All New

    Let me start by saying this ski was long for me and I really didn't like it. (I’m on shorter skis this year, with my daily driver at 159 and my powder ski at 164.) It felt really planky, like I was skiing on 2x4s. I just had nothing really positive to say about them.
    • Who is it for? I honestly don’t know.
    • Who is it not for? An intermediate skier who wants a ski that bends into the turn.

    Blizzard Black Pearl 88
    Dimensions: 126-88-110
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 152, 159, 166, 173
    Size tested: 159
    Design: Carryover

    Caveat: I own this ski. I tested it last season and bought it immediately after. I love this ski in just about any condition. I suppose I can see someone who is heavier than me or a bit stronger maybe overpowering it, but honestly, this is the Mazda CX-5 of skis, with a zippier engine. User-friendly, jack-of-all-trades, fun fun FUN! Yes, tip engagement is still a bit vague compared to other skis in this category with a wider tip, but it makes up for it in spades in variable snow, crud, light powder, and soft groomers. This ski is just that much easier and more fun in those conditions than others in this category.
    • Who is it for? An all-mountain ripper who never knows what the day will bring; a cautious intermediate who wants a ski that will grow with her. Instructors at my mountain love this ski.
    • Who is it not for? Someone who might overpower it.

    Blizzard Black Pearl 98
    Dimensions: 135-98-119
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 152, 159, 166, 173
    Size tested: 159
    Design: Carryover

    I’d been wanting to get out on these since last season. I’m so glad I did! They truly do feel like their little sister, the Black Pearl 88, in a wider, more stable platform. They are much more playful than their predecessor, the Samba (which I owned). I could own these skis as my “powder day leftovers” ski (read: almost any powder day in Utah, where the freshies get tracked out in a hurry).
    • Who is it for? An all-mountain ripper who skis off-piste more than on who likes a playful ski, who wants a bit wider platform than 88 underfoot.
    • Who is it not for? I am not sure; I think this ski is accessible to a wide variety of skiers.

    Blizzard Sheeva 9
    Dimensions: 124-92-114
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 148, 156, 164, 172
    Size tested: 164
    Design: All New

    At 92 mm underfoot, the Sheeva 9 is very similar to the 102mm Sheeva 10 (which I own): playful, easy to turn, easy to ski. I skied it on two separate days and loved it both times. It is just a really fun, friendly ski that can handle a wide range of conditions. I could easily make this ski my go-to for a “normal” Utah winter, when we have fresh snow regularly. They do ski short, which puts them in an odd place lengthwise for me, with the 172 being too long and the 164 leaving me wanting another couple centimeters. These things do rip the groomers, just like their big sisters.
    • Who is it for? Someone who wants a narrower all-mountain ski that can tackle powder with greater ease than a Black Pearl and that also has some metal in it for dampening.
    • Who is it not for? A lower intermediate might struggle on these a bit.

    Fischer My Pro MTN 86
    Dimensions: 127-86-114
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 147, 154, 161, 168
    Size tested: 161
    Design: All New

    I really liked this ski. It was smooth (as I’ve encountered on other Fischers before) and very easy to ski. The square tail still would skid and release easily. I could own this ski, and wish I had gotten out on it for another run or two.
    • Who is it for? Someone who wants a solid, smooth all-mountain ski that won’t kick their butts.
    • Who is it not for? I think it could be overpowered by a top-end skier.

    K2 Luv Machine 72 Ti

    Dimensions: 125-72-104
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 146, 153, 160, 167
    Size tested: 160
    Design: All New

    I’m not sure why, but I was at first intimidated by the addition of Titanal in these skis. There was nothing to be intimidated about at all, as they are just as easy to ski as the Luv Machine 74, with the added smoothness and ease that comes with Titanal. I really like these skis and could easily own a pair as my dedicated frontside carving skis.
    • Who is it for? An intermediate to expert who wants a really nice frontside ski that can rip if they want.
    • Who is it not for? A beginner to lower intermediate who skis slowly.

    K2 Luv Machine 74
    Dimensions: 128-74-108
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 146, 153, 160, 167
    Size tested: 160
    Design: All New

    All of the K2s I skied were very nice skis. This was the first pair I took out, and they are easy to ski, have great edge grip (thanks, K2, for having good tunes on your skis), and feel smooth yet solid. I was yearning for a bit more oomph and dampness, though, which I found with the Luv Machine 72 Ti.
    • Who is it for? An East Coast advancing intermediate who wants an easy, smooth ski to grow into.
    • Who is it not for? A higher-level or heavier skier could overpower it.

    K2 Tough Luv 82
    Dimensions: 129-82-111
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 146, 153, 160, 167
    Size tested: 160
    Design: All New

    This ski felt a bit like a combo of the two Luv Machines I tested, which is a good thing! Really nice, smooth, and easy to ski. They didn’t WOW me like some others in this category, as they don't feel quite as zippy or playful, which might make them a really nice ski for an advancing intermediate who prefers a bit more dampness in their skis.
    • Who is it for? Advanced intermediates who are cautious and want a ski to grow on.
    • Who is it not for? Hard chargers might overpower this ski.

    Kästle FX85
    Dimensions: 119-85-105
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 157, 165, 173, 181
    Size tested: 157
    Design: Carryover

    I’m not sure if it was the short length, but these skis felt anything but stable and smooth to me, which has not been my experience on my own personal Kästles. I also found the tips, and therefore turn initiation, to be a bit of a mystery. They are VERY easy to initiate turns on, but I still never felt I could actually find the tips of the skis, if that makes sense. I’d like to say it makes them feel playful, but in reality, it makes them feel a bit squirrelly.
    • Who is it for? Someone who does not care for a squared tip or tail on their skis.
    • Who is it not for? Someone who appreciates a ski that locks into and holds a turn.

    Nordica Astral 88

    Dimensions: 124-88-109
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 151, 158, 165, 171
    Size tested: 165
    Design: Carryover/NGT

    I’ve typically liked the feel of Nordica, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this ski. To be fair, since I’ve gone to a shorter ski for myself this season, it’s possible the 165 length is more than I’m used to, which makes it feel slow edge to edge and cumbersome. It is easy to initiate turns on, but it just takes the ski longer than I like to get it there.
    • Who is it for? An advanced intermediate/advanced skier who wants a true all-mountain machine and isn’t enamored of the Black Pearl.
    • Who is it not for? A Black Pearl lover.

    Renoun Z-90
    Dimensions: 136-90-124
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 157, 165, 174, 180
    Size tested: 157
    Design: Carryover

    Maybe I was tired, maybe the wax was too slow, but these skis KICKED MY ASS. I have a tendency to rush my turns if conditions are a bit challenging or if I’m feeling a bit nervous on a ski, and these skis do not tolerate that at all. The only thing I can assess fairly is that I could definitely feel the dampening technology at work, and it is pretty amazing. Other than that, if you are a lighter-weight intermediate who sometimes skis cautiously, these might not work for you. I’d be curious to try them in the longer length, which seems counterintuitive. I just can’t figure out why I can get out on so many skis in two days and do just fine, then get on these and feel like I don’t know how to ski.
    • Who is it for? Someone who wants a premium ski who skis with very good technique.
    • Who is it not for? Me.

    Rossignol Experience 84 Ti W
    Dimensions: 126-84-116
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 144, 152, 160, 168
    Size tested: 160
    Design: All New

    This was the first ski I took out for the day, and I’m glad I chose it first. My comments: “Stupid easy to ski!” I took them in some crud and also encountered ungroomed manmade “powder,” and they are much more user-friendly in variable conditions than the previous iteration. They are not particularly damp or stable, but fun, easy, and playful, instead.
    • Who is it for? An advancing intermediate who wants a ski to grow with them and start playing around off-piste on.
    • Who is it not for? A hard charger.

    Stöckli Laser MX
    Dimensions: 119-65-100
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 144, 150, 156, 162
    Size tested: 156
    Design: All New

    Holy moly, what a friendly little sports car! I was really nervous to ski these, because they just LOOK like a supercharged race ski. Well, they are in a way, but they are also a barrel o’ fun and really easy to ski! If Santa or some elves brought me a pair, I’d be a happy lady. They are just so easy to turn, and smooth like nothing I’ve ever skied on. SUPER confidence-inspiring! I want a pair!
    • Who is it for? You, me, and everyone else. Someone who desires the feel of a premium carving ski, and has the budget to purchase said premium carving ski.
    • Who is it not for? A powder snob who only skis on powder days.

    Stöckli Stormrider Motion 85
    Dimensions: 129-85-113
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 153, 161, 168
    Size tested: 161
    Design: New Construction

    Color me another Stöckli fan. These felt a little slow edge to edge at first, but DUH, I’d just skied a 65mm sports car (aka the Stöckli Laser MX mentioned previously). Once I relaxed on these and let them cruise, I really liked them. Smooth and easy to turn, with a serious yet relaxed side to them. I’d love to ski these back to back with my Black Pearls, which are more playful yet not as smooth.
    • Who is it for? An intermediate to advanced skier who wants a ski that is friendly, smooth, and crud-busting.
    • Who is it not for? Those on a budget.
    Völkl Secret
    Dimensions: 130-92-113
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 149, 156, 163, 170
    Size tested: 163
    Design: All New

    I really liked this ski. It is typical Völkl with metal to smooth it out. It is easy to ski, smooth, and very stable. I would liked to have gotten it into some powder as I think it would have been a blast there.
    • Who is it for? An upper intermediate to expert skier who wants to rip the whole mountain in variable conditions.
    • Who is it not for? Someone who doesn’t want their ski to ski them: as with all Völkls I’ve been on, you need a decent skill set to make it work for you.

    Völkl Yumi
    Dimensions: 123-84-104
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 147, 154, 161, 168
    Size tested: 161
    Design: Carryover/NGT

    So, I skied this ski three times, because the first day, I really loved it. It was easy to turn, absorbed lumpy bumpy snow and poorly formed bumps. It was really easy to ski on the man-made “powder” that I was skiing all day. But on the second and third days, it felt stiff and planky, which was surprising for a Yumi. Völkl added metal under the foot, which changed the character of the ski, I think. Visibility was also quite poor on Days 2 and 3, which meant I was skiing more defensively aka slowly. It’s possible I just wasn’t able to drive the ski in those conditions, which is a dealbreaker for me. I need a ski that gives me confidence in poor light and does not punish me for skiing more slowly. This ski wants to go fast. The other factor might be that I should have tried a longer length.
    • Who is it for? Someone who wants a ski that plows through anything, and also likes to ski fast.
    • Who is it not for? A lighter-weight, more cautious skier.
     
    laine, whitefeathers, VickiK and 5 others like this.
  2. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Posts:
    2,506
    Location:
    Connecticut but I'm really a Vermont girl
    Great reviews. I'm curious about the MX and the Secret. I just bought the Yumi and am looking forward to next season with it.
     
    AmyPJ likes this.
  3. VickieH

    VickieH Out on the slopes Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Posts:
    476
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Love your reviews! Stormrider sounds really interesting. Maybe you should do a Cage Match of the Stormrider and BP. ;)
     
    VickiK and AmyPJ like this.
  4. pete

    pete not peace but 2 Beers! Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2015
    Posts:
    644
    Location:
    Iowa
    @AmyPJ ... nice.

    kills me the CX-5 tie, seems if I picked one at random for my spouse or kids, this a easy default. Actually they were a few yrs back but I picked up Fisher KOA for spouse. Lucky for me she loves em ..
     
    AmyPJ likes this.
  5. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    3,003
    Location:
    Ogden, UT
    Hmmm, a cagematch with the Stormrider vs. BP...that would require me to get my hands on another SR. I would love that! Two quite different skis, for sure. If I had to do a mini comparison, I'd say the SR was smoother and more stable, but also more work, or I made it more work. Less playful than the BP (by quite a lot, if I recall correctly.) But the smoothness of it made up for that. I'd say definitely had more crud busting chops. The Black Pearl is just a tough one to unseat from my personal throne because it's sporty and compliant, yet not a whimpy ski by any stretch.

    One thing I wish is that I could take all of these skis out with a consistent tune on them (meaning, a tune done by my better half, who is a pro ski tuner.) Some had suspect tunes for sure, but just for consistency's sake for comparison reasons, I'd like them all to have the same tune.
     
    VickieH likes this.


  6. pete

    pete not peace but 2 Beers! Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2015
    Posts:
    644
    Location:
    Iowa
    Interesting the Stormrider and BP comparison, if i pegged the referenced skis correctly, the SR profile is more pronounced but larger radius, which to me imply the BP is softer .. ??? possibly why the SR was a crud buster but less playful?

    ah well, my spouse had some really stiff Dynastar Legends she really liked simply for busting through crud .. the Fishers as soft but since she's running more off piste enjoys the flex far more.
     
  7. AmyPJ

    AmyPJ Let's go! Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    3,003
    Location:
    Ogden, UT
    Can't answer the question about the construction differences, but I too prefer a bit of a softer ski for my daily driver, I think.
     
  8. Philpug

    Philpug The season is over when we say it's over. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Posts:
    15,860
    Location:
    Reno, eNVy
    At your size (I watch how I say that ;) that makes sense, you just have the mass to bend a stiffer ski.
     
  9. VickiK

    VickiK Getting on the lift Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    233
    Location:
    So. Calif.
    Talking of size and mass (like @Philpug, I watch how I say that), maybe I do overpower a softer ski. I do still have fun on my old Black Pearls. My 2013 Blizzard Viva 80s are reliable. Thanks for the reviews, Amy. I wonder what ski is next for me. Boots first though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  10. laine

    laine I ski like a girl. Fast. Skier

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Posts:
    190
    Location:
    Oakland
    How do you get in on one of these mass demo days? Are they listed somewhere? I'd love to participate in one next year or the year after, depending on location and timing. On mountain and local demo shops often don't have much in my size, so the idea of testing this many skis over 2-3 days seems awesome.
    @AmyPJ, @Tricia, @Philpug?
     
  11. Philpug

    Philpug The season is over when we say it's over. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Posts:
    15,860
    Location:
    Reno, eNVy
    These are industry demos for ski shop buyers and media. Every year we bring an intermediate skier for the additinal perspective to the test, @AmyPJ has been our women's testers and we have had a few on the mens side like @Stephen who grew out of the role by getting better and @Andy Mink this past season. I will say you would also run into the same issue with finding skis in your size at these events too. We are testing early production gear for the following season and they usually have just the "core" sizes, which is usually the two middle sizes in a four size collection. @SkiNurse our 4' 13 1/2" tall tester usually has limited options to get on and gets skunked more often than not. These are not intended for consumers to try to figure out what thier next ski is. I will say I feel your pain, consumer demos in the west are tough and few and far between, in the east they were much more prevalent.
     
    laine likes this.
  12. Jim McDonald

    Jim McDonald My Sunset View Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2015
    Posts:
    935
    Location:
    Tokyo
    The Snowbasin demo day in March 2017 had plenty of choices for my wife. As I recall she got on Salomon, Blizzard, Elan, Fischer and at least one more.
    Not a lot of help if you're looking to demo for buying a ski for the coming season, but just FYI.
     
    laine and VickiK like this.
  13. Tricia

    Tricia The Velvet Hammer Admin Pugski Ski Tester

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Posts:
    8,892
    Location:
    Tahoe
    The KOA was a great ski. The new Fischer MyMountain is the updated version that skis really great.
     

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