Philpug

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Just as the report of Mark Twain's death was exaggerated, so were the rumors of the demise of frontside, hard-snow-biased skis. I for one was writing their obituary well before it was due: yes, I thought this popular segment would go the way of the mid-priced sedan in the face of the SUV. Admittedly, I was wrong. Instead, it is seeing a double-barreled attack with many new skis from almost every manufacturer; if it wasn’t new this year, it was introduced last year. Let's go through the new additions brand by brand.


Atomic Vantage 82 Ti
Dimensions: 122.5-82-109
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 159, 167, 174, 181
Size tested: 174
Design: All New

The outgoing Vantage X 83 was one of my favorite skis. I had it as a Steals & Deals winner due to its performance and binding combination (Warden 13 Demo). The new Vantage is a more modern and versatile shape, making it a much better ski off piste with hardly any sacrifice on the groomers. The more gradual tip design and overall shape are brought down from its wider siblings, and the design translates to a very good frontside-biased option.
  • Who is it for? Stronger skiers will get the most out of the new Vantage 83 Ti.
  • Who is it not for? Lighter-weight finesse skiers could get bounced around.
  • Insider tip: Nothing unusual here, just ski’ em.

Blizzard Brahma 82
Dimensions: 121-82-105
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 166, 173, 180, 187
Size tested: 173
Design: All New

Thin is in, and Blizzard is aware of the trend by offering a narrower Brahma (and Black Pearl) in an 82mm width. Sure you say, Phil, didn’t Blizzard offer the 78mm Latigo and Cheyenne (later to be called Black Pearl 78)? Well, yes, but even though the Latigo had a following here, Google search was not its friend; just try to search it and see how many times "Latino" comes up. Blizzard did not do its homework.

Enough history, the new Brahma 82 definitely has a good hard-snow feel and will match up well against this category's reference ski, the Head Monster 83. The Brahma 82 skis surprisingly long: where I would normally ski the 88 in a 189, I preferred the 82 in the shorter 173 for its intended purpose as a hard-snow ski.
  • Who is it for? This is a strong ski and skis powerfully, so it needs a qualified driver; those who have binding loyalties and do not want a system binding.
  • Who is it not for? Those who thought the Latigo was the bull’s balls; this is a different animal.
  • Insider tip: Size down.

Dynastar Speedzone 4x4 82 Pro
Dimensions: 130-82-110
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 164, 171, 179, 185
Size tested: 179
Design: All New

I have loved the Speed Zone construction since it was introduced a few years ago. The rubber dampening between the sidewall and core really does keep the ski smooth on the snow. Speaking of the on-snow feel, that was tough with this ski. I have not been on too many skis of late that have this much pop. The 4x4 has more camber than I can recall on any ski in recent memory, and that camber gives a solid connection to the snow. When it is on, it really wants to launch across the hill. If camber is king, this ski is the king of kings.
  • Who is it for? Those who like an energetic ski.
  • Who is it not for? Slow skiers, the 4x4 wants to scoot.
  • Insider tip: I would hate to meet the guy who needs the 185 in a dark alley.

Elan Wingman 82 CTi
Dimensions: 129-82-112
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 166, 172, 178, 184
Size tested: 178
Design: All New

Of the Wingman skis, the 82 CTi was the surprise for me, but I didn’t know why until I read the dimensions. The tip at 129 mm is about the same as the wider 86 CTi, and that equates to a quicker turn in and a more playful ski. I find the Wingman 82 CTi to be a “big-toe ski": it favors skiers who really push on the downhill ski and allow the inside ski to come along for the ride. Once you get used to the Amphibio design, it's like having power steering.
  • Who is it for? Those who pressure the outside ski.
  • Who is it not for? Skiers with a big quiver.
  • Insider tip: You can get the Wingman flat; stronger/bigger skiers should consider an adjustable binding and rearward mount.

Elan Wingman 86 CTi

Dimensions: 130-86-115
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 166, 172, 178, 184
Size tested: 178
Design: All New

The all-new Wingman 86 CTi is the wide, long-turning charger to the 82 CTi's narrower-waisted, short-turning fun machine -- and I say this in context. Yes, the 86 CTi wants to run, but the Amphibio design lets the ski ease into a turn. Think of it as an SUV with four-wheel steering.
  • Who is it for? Big-toe skiers; the Amphibio design lends itself to pressuring the downhill ski.
  • Who is it not for? Two-footed bump skiers.
  • Insider tip: These are also available flat.

Elan Wingman 86 Ti
Dimensions: 130-86-115
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 166, 172, 178, 184
Size tested: 178
Design: All New

The Wingman 86 Ti is the version for moderate-speed skiers who like to make a rounder turn; without the carbon to add strength, the 86 Ti is much more relaxed than its bigger brother.
  • Who is it for? Moderate skiers who like to make a rounder turn.
  • Who is it not for? For those who pressure the inside ski, the Amphibio design can be a bit vague.
  • Insider tip: A good ski to go with a demo binding.

Fischer RC One GT 86
See Long-Term Review.


Salomon S/Force Bold
See Long-Term Review.


Nordica Enforcer 88
Dimensions: 119-88-107
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 165, 172, 179, 186
Size tested: 179
Design: All New

Nordica is doubling down on all things Enforcer for the coming season with the addition of the Enforcer 104 Free and the Enforcer 88 that we are talking about here. At first I wondered, Why an Enforcer 88 when there is already the very successful 93mm version? Well honestly, the 88 skis and creates more separation between this and the reference Enforcer, the 100. The Enforcer 88 is a very playful ski in the crowded 88-90mm category. We often get the question, “What’s a good all-mountain ski that works well in the bumps?” Well, here is your answer. Now, bumps are not the only thing the Enforcer 88 is good at, it can also lay out some nice carves; cut-up crud doesn’t bother it either.
  • Who is it for? Someone looking for a soft-snow-biased ski that still has some power.
  • Who is it not for? You already have a narrow carver; go wider.
  • Insider tip: How many Enforcers are there now? Too many, IMHO.

Stöckli Laser AR
Dimensions: 130-83-112
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 154, 161, 168, 175, 182
Size tested: 175
Design: All New

This is a resurrection of a Stöckli letter combo that once was a mainstay in the Laser line.The current AX was previously referred to as the AR; now the AR moniker has returned with an all-new shape. Is the Stöckli Laser AR the love child of the AX and Stormrider 88, as some think it is? Kinda sorta but not really. If by love child you mean “quietly powerful and somewhat versatile?" I would say, Yes. The AR has neither the precision of the AX nor the playfulness of the SR 88. It is more its own ski with a solid, heavy connection to the snow, a bit more serious than the Stormrider.
  • Who is it for? Bigger chargers; the AR has more beef than the AX.
  • Who is it not for? Those looking for a replacement for their Laser AX; this is a different animal.
  • Insider tip: It isn't the quiver killer you might expect, but it is a good wide charger. Available flat or with a system binding.

Völkl Deacon 84
Dimensions: 132-84-115
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 162, 167, 172, 177, 182
Size tested: 172
Design: All New

The Deacon goes back to its roots à la the old 724 Pro and AC50. This is a no-compromise ski, very powerful and precise. Of all the skis offered in this category, the Deacon 84 is one of the strongest for sure. Where some of the 16m skis in this class can ski shorter, the Deacon 84 skis its full radius and is happy to stretch that out even more, making it the most GS-like in on-snow feel.
  • Who is it for? Those who like to let ‘er rip.
  • Who is it not for? Are you afraid of losing your pass? If so, look elsewhere.
  • Insider tip: Note the 5cm increments; err on the shorter of two sizes.

Völkl Kendo 88
Dimensions: 129-88-111
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 163, 170, 177, 184
Size tested: 177
Design: All New

I will preface this review with the statement that I never really warmed up to previous generations of the Kendo. This does not mean it was a bad ski, not at all; I just never liked its attributes. There are members here such as @KingGrump who loved the skis and have owned numerous pairs, but me? I was more of a Brahma guy.

With that said, I really like the new Kendo 88. It isn’t just the new construction, but a new shape (shared with the Mantra 102) with an elliptical sidecut gives it a feel unlike anything I have experienced from Völkl in this class. The Kendo 88’s playfulness and ease is far different from the outgoing model to the point when asked by @KingGrump what I thought about the new Kendo, I replied that he wouldn’t like it. He asked “Why?” I said “Because I like it.”
  • Who is it for? Those looking for a playful charger without a limit.
  • Who is it not for? The lightest finesse skiers might get overpowered.
  • Insider tip: Still runs true to size.
 

Daves not here

Getting on the lift
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Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
383
Location
Coeur d Alene, Idaho
@Philpug nice reviews. How would you compare the Monster 83 and the Brahma 82. I really liked the Brahma 82 when I took it out for a demo - felt very familiar to my Bonafide in many ways. Both in the 180 length. I never got in the Monster 83 - only the 88.

Looking to invest in this segment for next season. Thanks in advance!
 

MasterHero

Booting up
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Joined
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Posts
17
Location
Italy
Am I wrong or you aren't enthusiastic about Stockli AR? ? ?

I never tried it but friends, after the test,
they immediately ordered it. . .
 
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Philpug

Philpug

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@Philpug nice reviews. How would you compare the Monster 83 and the Brahma 82. I really liked the Brahma 82 when I took it out for a demo - felt very familiar to my Bonafide in many ways. Both in the 180 length. I never got in the Monster 83 - only the 88.

Looking to invest in this segment for next season. Thanks in advance!
I like them both. The Monster has a tad more purpose with it's shape where the Brahma 82 is a bit more relaxed. I would ski both in a 170 where their 88mm siblings I would want in a size up.
 
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Philpug

Philpug

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Am I wrong or you aren't enthusiastic about Stockli AR? ? ?

I never tried it but friends, after the test,
they immediately ordered it. . .
It is good, I expected to be wow'ed but was unimpressed...reall nice but IMHO a answer to the question "What is the love child of a AX and SR88?" This ski is...but I am not sure the question needed to be asked.
 

Tony S

thread drift a specialty
Skier
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Posts
4,086
Location
Maine
I find the Wingman 82 CTi to be a “big-toe ski": it favors skiers who really push on the downhill ski and allow the inside ski to come along for the ride.
Interesting observation. Plausible. Maybe that's me and I never thought of it that way.

Once you get used to the Amphibio design, it's like having power steering.
That's pretty much how I perceived it too, to my surprise. Good analogy.
 

Daves not here

Getting on the lift
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Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
383
Location
Coeur d Alene, Idaho
I like them both. The Monster has a tad more purpose with it's shape where the Brahma 82 is a bit more relaxed. I would ski both in a 170 where their 88mm siblings I would want in a size up.
The 173 for the Brahma seemed a little short. The 177 in the Monster is probably a perfect length for the purpose. I did not think the 180 Brahma was too long for what I am skiing but a 177 would have been ideal. Hmmm ... decisions.
 

Jim McDonald

愛スキー
Skier
Joined
Nov 15, 2015
Posts
1,582
Location
Tokyo
Hmmm, Phil's take on the Stockli AR is almost exactly what I thought/felt when I demo'd in March, really nice but probably a bit too much for my 72kg in 175 whereas the 175 AX was just right. I'm going to take this to mean my skiing has advanced even more than I thought!
 

Ken_R

Living the Dream
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Joined
Feb 10, 2016
Posts
3,902
Location
Denver, CO
The 173 for the Brahma seemed a little short. The 177 in the Monster is probably a perfect length for the purpose. I did not think the 180 Brahma was too long for what I am skiing but a 177 would have been ideal. Hmmm ... decisions.
Yep, the 177cm Monster is the sweetspot length. I loved it and im used to the 184cm Monster 88. Ditto with the Evolv90 179cm.
 

Michael Kane

Kano
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Nov 12, 2015
Posts
309
Phil, how about I put you on the spot. If you had to choose between the Fischer or Salomon, what would you pick?
 

Scotty I.

Getting off the lift
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Posts
274
Location
Evergreen, Colorado
Yep, the 177cm Monster is the sweetspot length. I loved it and im used to the 184cm Monster 88. Ditto with the Evolv90 179cm.
@Ken_R Very glad to hear you say that about the Monster 88 @ 177cm. I just bought the '18/'19 model in the 177cm length and, as usual, I was a little unsure whether or not to size up.
 
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Philpug

Philpug

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Phil, how about I put you on the spot. If you had to choose between the Fischer or Salomon, what would you pick?
Fortuantely, I don't have choose. :P But expect an upcoming Cagematch.
 

ski otter 2

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Posts
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How would you compare the Deacon 84 to the Monster 83 - and to the Deacon 74, for reference?

I loved the 178 Volkl Deacon 74 (haven't yet tried the Deacon Pro). It was my favorite in that class of around 175-178/r 17 narrower skis, one I'd like to own.

I also loved the Monster 83 (in 177 and 184), but didn't get it, figuring it had too much overlap with skis I have, or wish I had.
 

Heath DuPrat

At the base lodge
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Posts
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Location
Vermont
Just as the report of Mark Twain's death was exaggerated, so were the rumors of the demise of frontside, hard-snow-biased skis. I for one was writing their obituary well before it was due: yes, I thought this popular segment would go the way of the mid-priced sedan in the face of the SUV. Admittedly, I was wrong. Instead, it is seeing a double-barreled attack with many new skis from almost every manufacturer; if it wasn’t new this year, it was introduced last year. Let's go through the new additions brand by brand.


Atomic Vantage 82 Ti
Dimensions: 122.5-82-109
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 159, 167, 174, 181
Size tested: 174
Design: All New

The outgoing Vantage X 83 was one of my favorite skis. I had it as a Steals & Deals winner due to its performance and binding combination (Warden 13 Demo). The new Vantage is a more modern and versatile shape, making it a much better ski off piste with hardly any sacrifice on the groomers. The more gradual tip design and overall shape are brought down from its wider siblings, and the design translates to a very good frontside-biased option.
  • Who is it for? Stronger skiers will get the most out of the new Vantage 83 Ti.
  • Who is it not for? Lighter-weight finesse skiers could get bounced around.
  • Insider tip: Nothing unusual here, just ski’ em.

Blizzard Brahma 82
Dimensions: 121-82-105
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 166, 173, 180, 187
Size tested: 173
Design: All New

Thin is in, and Blizzard is aware of the trend by offering a narrower Brahma (and Black Pearl) in an 82mm width. Sure you say, Phil, didn’t Blizzard offer the 78mm Latigo and Cheyenne (later to be called Black Pearl 78)? Well, yes, but even though the Latigo had a following here, Google search was not its friend; just try to search it and see how many times "Latino" comes up. Blizzard did not do its homework.

Enough history, the new Brahma 82 definitely has a good hard-snow feel and will match up well against this category's reference ski, the Head Monster 83. The Brahma 82 skis surprisingly long: where I would normally ski the 88 in a 189, I preferred the 82 in the shorter 173 for its intended purpose as a hard-snow ski.
  • Who is it for? This is a strong ski and skis powerfully, so it needs a qualified driver; those who have binding loyalties and do not want a system binding.
  • Who is it not for? Those who thought the Latigo was the bull’s balls; this is a different animal.
  • Insider tip: Size down.

Dynastar Speedzone 4x4 82 Pro
Dimensions: 130-82-110
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 164, 171, 179, 185
Size tested: 179
Design: All New

I have loved the Speed Zone construction since it was introduced a few years ago. The rubber dampening between the sidewall and core really does keep the ski smooth on the snow. Speaking of the on-snow feel, that was tough with this ski. I have not been on too many skis of late that have this much pop. The 4x4 has more camber than I can recall on any ski in recent memory, and that camber gives a solid connection to the snow. When it is on, it really wants to launch across the hill. If camber is king, this ski is the king of kings.
  • Who is it for? Those who like an energetic ski.
  • Who is it not for? Slow skiers, the 4x4 wants to scoot.
  • Insider tip: I would hate to meet the guy who needs the 185 in a dark alley.

Elan Wingman 82 CTi
Dimensions: 129-82-112
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 166, 172, 178, 184
Size tested: 178
Design: All New

Of the Wingman skis, the 82 CTi was the surprise for me, but I didn’t know why until I read the dimensions. The tip at 129 mm is about the same as the wider 86 CTi, and that equates to a quicker turn in and a more playful ski. I find the Wingman 82 CTi to be a “big-toe ski": it favors skiers who really push on the downhill ski and allow the inside ski to come along for the ride. Once you get used to the Amphibio design, it's like having power steering.
  • Who is it for? Those who pressure the outside ski.
  • Who is it not for? Skiers with a big quiver.
  • Insider tip: You can get the Wingman flat; stronger/bigger skiers should consider an adjustable binding and rearward mount.

Elan Wingman 86 CTi

Dimensions: 130-86-115
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 166, 172, 178, 184
Size tested: 178
Design: All New

The all-new Wingman 86 CTi is the wide, long-turning charger to the 82 CTi's narrower-waisted, short-turning fun machine -- and I say this in context. Yes, the 86 CTi wants to run, but the Amphibio design lets the ski ease into a turn. Think of it as an SUV with four-wheel steering.
  • Who is it for? Big-toe skiers; the Amphibio design lends itself to pressuring the downhill ski.
  • Who is it not for? Two-footed bump skiers.
  • Insider tip: These are also available flat.

Elan Wingman 86 Ti
Dimensions: 130-86-115
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 160, 166, 172, 178, 184
Size tested: 178
Design: All New

The Wingman 86 Ti is the version for moderate-speed skiers who like to make a rounder turn; without the carbon to add strength, the 86 Ti is much more relaxed than its bigger brother.
  • Who is it for? Moderate skiers who like to make a rounder turn.
  • Who is it not for? For those who pressure the inside ski, the Amphibio design can be a bit vague.
  • Insider tip: A good ski to go with a demo binding.

Fischer RC One GT 86
See Long-Term Review.


Salomon S/Force Bold
See Long-Term Review.


Nordica Enforcer 88
Dimensions: 119-88-107
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 165, 172, 179, 186
Size tested: 179
Design: All New

Nordica is doubling down on all things Enforcer for the coming season with the addition of the Enforcer 104 Free and the Enforcer 88 that we are talking about here. At first I wondered, Why an Enforcer 88 when there is already the very successful 93mm version? Well honestly, the 88 skis and creates more separation between this and the reference Enforcer, the 100. The Enforcer 88 is a very playful ski in the crowded 88-90mm category. We often get the question, “What’s a good all-mountain ski that works well in the bumps?” Well, here is your answer. Now, bumps are not the only thing the Enforcer 88 is good at, it can also lay out some nice carves; cut-up crud doesn’t bother it either.
  • Who is it for? Someone looking for a soft-snow-biased ski that still has some power.
  • Who is it not for? You already have a narrow carver; go wider.
  • Insider tip: How many Enforcers are there now? Too many, IMHO.

Stöckli Laser AR
Dimensions: 130-83-112
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 154, 161, 168, 175, 182
Size tested: 175
Design: All New

This is a resurrection of a Stöckli letter combo that once was a mainstay in the Laser line.The current AX was previously referred to as the AR; now the AR moniker has returned with an all-new shape. Is the Stöckli Laser AR the love child of the AX and Stormrider 88, as some think it is? Kinda sorta but not really. If by love child you mean “quietly powerful and somewhat versatile?" I would say, Yes. The AR has neither the precision of the AX nor the playfulness of the SR 88. It is more its own ski with a solid, heavy connection to the snow, a bit more serious than the Stormrider.
  • Who is it for? Bigger chargers; the AR has more beef than the AX.
  • Who is it not for? Those looking for a replacement for their Laser AX; this is a different animal.
  • Insider tip: It isn't the quiver killer you might expect, but it is a good wide charger. Available flat or with a system binding.

Völkl Deacon 84
Dimensions: 132-84-115
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 162, 167, 172, 177, 182
Size tested: 172
Design: All New

The Deacon goes back to its roots à la the old 724 Pro and AC50. This is a no-compromise ski, very powerful and precise. Of all the skis offered in this category, the Deacon 84 is one of the strongest for sure. Where some of the 16m skis in this class can ski shorter, the Deacon 84 skis its full radius and is happy to stretch that out even more, making it the most GS-like in on-snow feel.
  • Who is it for? Those who like to let ‘er rip.
  • Who is it not for? Are you afraid of losing your pass? If so, look elsewhere.
  • Insider tip: Note the 5cm increments; err on the shorter of two sizes.

Völkl Kendo 88
Dimensions: 129-88-111
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 163, 170, 177, 184
Size tested: 177
Design: All New

I will preface this review with the statement that I never really warmed up to previous generations of the Kendo. This does not mean it was a bad ski, not at all; I just never liked its attributes. There are members here such as @KingGrump who loved the skis and have owned numerous pairs, but me? I was more of a Brahma guy.

With that said, I really like the new Kendo 88. It isn’t just the new construction, but a new shape (shared with the Mantra 102) with an elliptical sidecut gives it a feel unlike anything I have experienced from Völkl in this class. The Kendo 88’s playfulness and ease is far different from the outgoing model to the point when asked by @KingGrump what I thought about the new Kendo, I replied that he wouldn’t like it. He asked “Why?” I said “Because I like it.”
  • Who is it for? Those looking for a playful charger without a limit.
  • Who is it not for? The lightest finesse skiers might get overpowered.
  • Insider tip: Still runs true to size.
Great reviews. How would you compare the Enforcer 88 to the Navigator 90?
 
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Philpug

Philpug

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Great reviews. How would you compare the Enforcer 88 to the Navigator 90?
The Navigator 90 has a stronger tail. Between these two, if you are looking for a 60/40 on piste, the Nav 90...ig you are looking 60/40 off piste, the upcoming Enforcer 88. They really are more similar than different. If you can score a deal on a Nav 90...I'd say grab it.
 

Susie

PSIA - Alpine II
Skier
Joined
Nov 13, 2015
Posts
44
Location
Truckee, CA
@Philpug The Volkl Kendo generally shares a lot of attributes with the Volkl Kenja. I loved the Kenja, until the 2016-17 version. Is the 2019-20 version of the Kendo go back a bit to its roots, or is it an update the model of the past two seasons? What about length... I have always preferred Volkl's more powerful skis shorter, when between two sizes. I felt the 2016-17 Kenja needed to be skied longer for stability, 7-10cm longer than the earlier models. How about the 2019-20 model you reviewed? Appreciate the thoughts... I'm looking for a one-ski ski that I can stash over at Alpine Meadows in the coming season that has enough power and hold to truly carve a turn at speed and yet can skid with ease in a teaching environment or crud. I love my Head Wild Joy and thought about just purchasing a second pair. It is awesome for personal skiing but doesn't "under ski" so well, especially in a skidding environment which I would be likely to encounter in Adaptive teaching. I've also thought about picking up a Kastle LX85 on sale, since they always ski amazing range.
 

FairToMiddlin

Getting off the lift
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Posts
253
Location
8300', CO
I like them both. The Monster has a tad more purpose with it's shape where the Brahma 82 is a bit more relaxed. I would ski both in a 170 where their 88mm siblings I would want in a size up.
So, how about Monster 83 vs Wingman 82CTi, particularly in the 170-172 'easy SL' region vis a vis personality? I love to hate the Amphibio's dedicated left/right ski silliness, but Elan is making some seriously talented skis, darn them.

Speaking of the Brahma 82, I miss not being able to slide down the mountain atop a pair of smooth, brown Latinos...

Darn you, autocorrect!
 

Tricia

The Velvet Hammer
Admin
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Posts
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Location
Tahoe
So, how about Monster 83 vs Wingman 82CTi, particularly in the 170-172 'easy SL' region vis a vis personality? I love to hate the Amphibio's dedicated left/right ski silliness, but Elan is making some seriously talented skis, darn them.

Speaking of the Brahma 82, I miss not being able to slide down the mountain atop a pair of smooth, brown Latinos...

Darn you, autocorrect!
I know where there is a pair of 177's for sale ;)
 

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