Featured Individual Review Andy Mink’s Intermediate Look at 2019 Skis

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews and Comparisons' started by Andy Mink, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. Andy Mink

    Andy Mink I am a half fast skier. Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,274
    Location:
    Reno
    About me: I am a 54-year-old returning skier into my second season after many years off. I went from sucking wind every few hundred feet on the first day back to 77 days last year. I am 5'10", 225 lb, and an advancing intermediate learning to ski again on equipment that wasn't even thought of the last time I skied. I am most comfortable on groomers from hard blue to black but have enjoyed venturing into the trees, bumps, and powder when my legs can match the conditions. All skis were tested at Mammoth Mountain on two bluebird days in March 2018.


    Armada Tracer 98

    Dimensions: 132-98-123
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 164, 172, 180, 188
    Size tested: 180
    Design: Carryover/NGT

    As someone who gravitates toward narrower on-piste skis more at home on hardpack groomers, the move toward wider all-mountain skis has been interesting. One ski that really impressed is the Armada Tracer 98. At 98 under foot, I expected the ski to be a little slow from edge to edge and, perhaps, not a very good carver.

    Surprise! The Tracer turned out to be much quicker than anticipated with the bonus of great edge hold. The wider footprint also lends itself to exploring in shallow powder and other softer conditions. A very easy-to-ski personality made for some fun runs. I wouldn't hesitate to use the Tracer as a daily driver when conditions change rapidly from early-morning cruisers to sun-softened bumps.
    • Who is it for? The intermediate to advanced skier looking for something a little wider to move more off-piste but still be fun on the groomers.
    • Who is it not for? Those skiers who dig the full-on float of a bigger, wider ski for regular use in off-piste terrain or deep snow.
    • Intermediate tip: You may think you're uncomfortable with wider skis, but don't pass up a chance on this one.

    Atomic Redster X7

    Dimensions: 115.5-70-102.5
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 156, 163, 168, 175
    Size tested: 175
    Design: Carryover/NGT

    Much like the Dynastar Speed Zone 12, the Redster X7 is a ski that wants to live, literally, on the edge. It wants to turn. It was made to turn. The more it's laid over, the more it turns -- and not in the nervous, twitchy way, but the dug-in-and-holding-on way.

    The X7 is a great choice for the advanced intermediate looking to take thier newly found love of laying trenches to the next level by several degrees.
    • Who is it for? This would be a great ski for the advancing intermediate to dip their toes in beer league racing.
    • Who is it not for? The skier looking for one ski that does everything equally adequately.
    • Intermediate tip: If you like tearing up the night crew's hard work, this may be the ski for you.

    Dynastar Legend X88
    Dimensions: 125-88-106
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 166, 173, 180, 186
    Size tested: 180
    Design: Carryover

    As all-mountain skis become more and more popular, manufacturers are getting better and better at dialing their skis in, and the Legend X88 certainly proves that. Solid, stable, and tenacious edge hold made this mid-width a fast, fun groomer runner with enough width to play around in shallow 3D snow. I found it very easy to ski, and it didn't make me pay for my occasional faux pas.
    • Who is it for? The intermediate to advanced skier who skis mostly frontside groomers but wants to venture onto the edges.
    • Who is it not for? The strong groomer skier who demands near-race turns; see the Dynastar Speed Zone 12.
    • Intermediate tip: If you're looking for a one-ski quiver for mostly frontside use, the X88 should be in the running.

    Dynastar Speed Zone 12
    Dimensions: 121-72-106
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 158, 166, 174, 182
    Size tested: 174
    Design: Carryover/NGT

    Honesty in advertising: we all want it. Dynastar wasn't lying when it slapped the "Speed Zone" moniker on the topsheet. You could ski this all day and have a great time, but it really does want your attention. Lay it over, and it just keeps grinding the snow. Get off it and it still wants to turn, even if you're not paying attention. For those who want to be able to relax occasionally, there are other skis that come close to the Speed Zone's carving ability but are less demanding. That said, the SZ should be in the running for those who want to become more technical or just love to turn. All. The. Time.
    • Who is it for? The turnaholic.
    • Who is it not for? The skier who wants to turn but is more relaxed about the day.
    • Intermediate tip: Get on, snap in, hold on, and TURN!

    Fischer RC4 The Curv GT

    Dimensions: 129-80-112
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 168, 175, 182
    Size tested: 175
    Design: Carryover/NGT

    The Curve proved to be stable but didn't carve as well for me as its shape would suggest. As an intermediate skier without as much experience as some other reviewers, I hesitate to dismiss a ski after just a few runs. I'd like to give this one another chance, but it wouldn't be at the top of my list after limited demoing. I didn't find it as comfortable as other skis in the category.
    • Who is it for? I'm not sure -- maybe a stronger skier who likes a ski that needs to be worked?
    • Who is it not for? The intermediate skier looking for a ski that is fun and comfortable from the first turn.
    • Intermediate tip: If you're looking for a carving ski, give it a chance, but don't be surprised if it's harder to make work well than other skis in its category.

    Head Supershape iRally

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

    There’s a reason the Supershape iRally is so popular: it flat out rips on groomers, from soft and chalky through recycled hard pack. Unchanged for 2019, the Rally boasts width underfoot between 74 and 77 mm depending on length. All lengths have a turn radius less than 15 m. What does this mean for the intermediate to advanced skier? You can lay track for Union Pacific! The wide shovel pulls you into the turn. The farther you lay the ski over, the more the tip engages.

    While the Rally doesn’t demand that you ski hard, it prefers that you do. It will tolerate intermediate-level mistakes, but not big ones. This is a ski at the edge of advanced/expert level. If you desire to ski hard and fast with lots of turning on the groomers, this is definitely a ski to consider.
    • Who is it for? The skier willing to go at least 8/10 all day.
    • Who is it not for? The cruiser who likes to grab a few trenches now and then but is happy just being on the hill.
    • Intermediate tip: If you want to save some money and aren’t planning on skiing hard all the time, take a look at the Head V8 or V10.

    Head V-Shape V8

    Dimensions: 130-75-112
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 149, 156, 163, 170, 177
    Size tested: 170
    Design: All New

    The all-new Head V8 should be a force in the intermediate to advanced market. With a shape similar to the very successful Supershape series, the V8 is a carving machine; at the same time, it is not as demanding as its iBrethren. It is one of those skis capable of giving more when pressed, but it doesn’t need to be skied hard to perform well. It easily makes tight or wide turns and, with a little tail and tip rise, can be pushed around as the snow softens. The rounded tail will not beat you up in the bumps.

    Filling the next-to-top spot in the V-Shape series (V2 through V10), the V8 will appeal to those advancing skiers who stay mainly on the groomers but may venture a little onto the shoulders of the runs. Like the omnipotent V8 engine, this V8 can be used to cruise or rip, your choice.
    • Who is it for? Intermediate to advanced skiers looking for near-iPerformance at a friendlier price point.
    • Who is it not for? The skier who spends most of the day in the bumps, trees, or pow.
    • Intermediate tip: The V8 is a great ski for those who want to hone their carving skills but don't want to carve all the time.

    Liberty VMT V76
    Dimensions: 126-76-106
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 165, 172, 179
    Size Tested: 179
    Design: All New

    I have a soft spot for smaller ski companies making headway in a tough industry. There are quite a few out there that, more and more, deserve a look by not only local fan boys (and girls) but anyone looking for a great ride, and Liberty fits the bill. Its VMT 76 is SO fun! It carves easily and teases you to tip it just a bit farther. It is an easy, forgiving ski but doesn't give up higher-speed stability. It's also not afraid to poke its nose in the chunks and piles that grow just off the groomed. It has the backbone to do so without much complaint. To top it off, literally, the VMT 76 boasts really nice graphics. Hop aboard, you won't regret it!
    • Who is it for? The advancing intermediate or expert looking for a frontside-biased, more traditionally narrow ski that can run close to the purpose-built carvers but has a more playful soul.
    • Who is it not for? Those who live their entire ski lives off-piste. I can't think of anyone else who wouldn't have fun on this ski.
    • Intermediate tip: Just try it.

    Liberty VMT V82
    Dimensions: 129-82-110
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 165, 172, 179, 186
    Size tested: 179
    Design: All New

    Much like its narrower sibling, the VMT 82 is a very solid, very fun ski. It wants you to enjoy doing what you want to do. What it gives up in edge-to-edge quickness to the 76 (which isn't much!), it gives back with a little more capability in softer, chunkier, or other sometimes more challenging conditions. Even though there is only 6mm difference under foot, it makes enough difference to notice. Can't decide? Get them both!
    • Who is it for? The intermediate to advanced skier looking for a bit wider narrow ski for the bottom end of the quiver.
    • Who is it not for? A stronger, heavier skier may overpower this ski, but I doubt it.
    • Intermediate tip: If you like the VTM 76 but may need a bit more float for those light powder on groomer days, this may be the ski for you.

    Nordica Enforcer 93

    Dimensions: 126-93-114
    Radius: [email protected]
    Sizes: 169, 177, 185, 191
    Size tested: 177
    Design: Carryover/NGT

    With an industry pedigree like Nordica's, one shouldn't be at all surprised that the Enforcer 93 is a very capable entry into the 90-95mm category. The 93 is everything an advancing intermediate wants: it is stable, it carves, it slips -- and it forgives our little bobbles. It would make an excellent daily driver for the intermediate skier who is proficient on harder blues or groomed blacks and wants to start exploring where the groomers can't go.
    • Who is it for? Another great choice for a one-ski quiver, the Enforcer 93 does everything an advancing intermediate needs a ski to do.
    • Who is it not for? Stronger, more aggressive skiers may find this ski a bit "washy" under pressure that lighter or less aggressive skiers can't produce.
    • Intermediate tip: Looking for a narrower all-mountain, easy-to-enjoy ski? Add this to your short list.

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

    This truly is an aptly named ski. It is another fine intermediate to advanced ski that will grow with the quickly advancing skier. The Blast is happy up on edge or just pushing the tails around on a lazy post-lunch warm-back-up run. The Blast is quite stable at higher speeds but doesn't demand them to turn; it is just as stable at lower speeds or when working on technique.
    • Who is it for? This is a fine ski for the advancing intermediate who wants to chill on a ski that can also ramp it up when asked.
    • Who is it not for? A stronger skier looking for a more single-purpose ride.
    • Intermediate tip: Just a really fun all-around ski, the Blast is fully capable of being worked hard but doesn't need to be to have a great time.
     
    Craig Scott, Tricia, RJS and 9 others like this.
  2. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, newbie Subaru driver and winter lover Skier

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Posts:
    2,998
    Location:
    Soon to be part time Vermont resident
    Thanks for these reviews. It's always nice to read reviews from a fellow intermediate. I used to own the Atomic Redster XTI and I think the X7 is the newer reiteration of that ski. That was one of the easiest turning skis I'd ever been on and it gripped the hard snow like a rabid dog. I miss it a lot and will probably pick up another one day. I haven't been overly impressed by anything Dynastar until I got on the slalom offerings. I liked the Speed zone 10 and in a couple weeks will be picking up the Omeglass Speed X ti which is the version before the speedzone series. I definitely think dynastar does slalom like skis VERY WELL. I really enjoyed your reviews. I second the Head Rally. I love this ski, almost as much as I love my cats and that's a lot :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
    1chris5 and Mendieta like this.
  3. Thread Starter
    TS
    Andy Mink

    Andy Mink I am a half fast skier. Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,274
    Location:
    Reno
    Thank you! So many good skis...
     
    surfsnowgirl likes this.
  4. Bad Bob

    Bad Bob old n' slow Skier

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2015
    Posts:
    917
    Location:
    in desert looking down at a river and up at MT's
    Nice test reports Andy. Did you give the Enforcer 100 a go? Just curious, that is my daily driver, use as a personal baseline ski.
     
  5. Thread Starter
    TS
    Andy Mink

    Andy Mink I am a half fast skier. Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,274
    Location:
    Reno
    I didn't get on the Enforcer 100. The widest I skied that day was the Tracer 98. I did ski the Dynastar Legend 106 on a different day. It was super crowded and I only got one run and not in the conditions I hoped for.
     


  6. Jim McDonald

    Jim McDonald My Sunset View Skier

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2015
    Posts:
    1,078
    Location:
    Tokyo
    Andy, I think at your size the Enforcer 93 at 185 would've worked better.
    I (165#) skied the Enforcer 100 at 177 and was overpowering it; the E93 was great at 185, and I now have the E100 at 185 and really like it.
     
    Bad Bob and Andy Mink like this.
  7. Thread Starter
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    Andy Mink

    Andy Mink I am a half fast skier. Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,274
    Location:
    Reno
    As I got further into the year I found that I was advancing enough to feel more comfortable on the longer skis, especially the ones with more tip rise that tend to ski a bit shorter. Hopefully this year I'll get a chance to try the longer boards of several models.
     
  8. sinbad7

    sinbad7 Getting on the lift Skier

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2016
    Posts:
    182
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I attended a demo weekend on 21 July. Of the skis you mention I was on the Speed Zone 12 (174cm), the Kore 99 (189cm) and the Fischer RC4 Curv (175cm).

    I'm a huge fan of the Speed Zone 12. Last year I was on the 182 and this year the 174 (short for me). It's a wonderful mixture of strong carving chops and smooth forgiveness over choppy terrain. It's easy to carve up a storm on the morning corduroy, but that ski may need swapping out once the groomers get chopped up by mid-morning. That's not the case with the Speed Zone 12. Up your game to the 14 or 16 if you need, but for Thredbo the 12 has almost a perfect blend for all day carving.

    I first tried the Kore 93 in 180cm. Such a light weight for what it is, but too short. The ski didn't seem to like me being on it, and I expect I was trying to turn it too tightly for what it's designed to do. The rep said I should be on the longer length anyway and said 'take out the 99'. So I tried a couple of laps on the Kore 99 in 189cm and it was so much better. It smoothed everything out in that 'battlestar' kind of way. The short turns weren't there, but everything else just came naturally to the longer ski. You just needed to plot a course ...

    Fischer's The Curv was a very capable carver with that slightly lighter, more lively feel that Fischers tend to have (at least versus the Kastle/Head skis that I tend to gravitate towards). It didn't Wow! me, although I was demoing it in a length shorter than I might purchase, which is often my lot in life. It's worth a look as many people don't like the heavier feel of what are traditional Austrian designs like the Head and the Kastle.

    Speaking of traditional Austrian designs, I demoed a Czech ski called the Lusti CWR 84 (182cm) and it's a very good thing. Very traditional design; full wood core, double titanal layers, full sidewall, available as a flat ski or with bindings. The demo skis came with Vist demo bindings. They were pretty darned good in that smooth, damp Kastle kind of way. Not *quite* the longitudinal stiffness of a MX83 perhaps (not far off though) but more forgiving for that. Terrific skis that I'm happy to recommend.

    cold 4.jpg
     
    Philpug, Jim McDonald and Andy Mink like this.
  9. CharlieM

    CharlieM Booting up Skier

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2017
    Posts:
    6
    Andy, thanks for the ski reviews. It's good to have an intermediate skier do equipment reviews. I always had trouble relating to the reviews done by the experts.
     
    Tricia, surfsnowgirl and Philpug like this.
  10. Thread Starter
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    Andy Mink

    Andy Mink I am a half fast skier. Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2015
    Posts:
    1,274
    Location:
    Reno
    Thanks @CharlieM. @Philpug and @Tricia thought it would be a good idea since most reviews are by, um, more experienced skiers. What they may love or dislike about a ski may be what an intermediate may find helpful or fun. There should be a few more reviews hitting in the near future. Also see the reviews by brand located at 2019 Ski Reviews are in!
     
    surfsnowgirl likes this.

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