Comparison Review Some 2020/2021 Skis - @ Two Day SIA Demo, February 3rd & 4th, Winter Park, Colorado

ski otter 2

Out on the slopes
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Nov 20, 2015
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Location
Front Range, Colorado
Summer Covid days, 2020
I’ve been putting away skis, with some waxing, some tuning.
Trips to hike mountains and alongside streams have replaced skiing, for now. But I miss it.

Three and a half more months until ski season starts!

These days, not much happening on the ski gear review front.

Thought I’d post some '20/'21 reviews early - or late - just for the heck of it.


Among my favorite ski days this past season were the two spent demoing next year’s skis at Winter Park at the start of February.


SIA Demo, February, 2020
Winter Park, Colorado
February 3 and 4, Monday and Tuesday

Notes: I've omitted a few skis because of tunes.
Negative comments on other skis were included, for the most part, when folks I was skiing with
(those were the days!) - or the techs or reps - had confirming or similar experiences.

(in the order skied)


First Day: 2/03/20
(skis liked most in bold)
Stöckli AR 175
Stöckli WRT ST 172 with non-race plate binding
Fischer RC One GT 86 175 & 182
(I own the 19/20 182)
Fischer 102 Free
Kästle MX98
Nordica Enforcer 104 Free (2nd time)
Nordica Enforcer 88
Nordica Enforcer 100

Blizzard Bonafide, new for ‘20
Blizzard Firebird HRC 76/174
Augment All Mountain 77/175 flex 10
Augment GS Pro 185/25 flex 7


Second Day: 2/04/20
Kore 117/189 @ -1
Dynastar [formerly Factory] M Free 118/189
(2nd time)
Dynastar M Free 108 (2nd time)
K2 Reckoner 112
K2 Mindbender 108 ti 186 (white) @ 0, +0.7, +1.4, +2.1 (2nd time - I now own the 19/20, same ski except yellow.)
K2 Disruption 84 184/r25
Stöckli 95 179
Stöckli 95 184
Rossignol Sender Squad 112 192
(2nd time)
Stöckli WRT ST 172 with race plate binding


SIA, First Day, Monday 2/03/20

Conditions: Bluebird and partly cloudy, light but old snow and near perfect groomers, well-covered and great texture.
(Not skied off or iced-up until late in the day.)


(For the most part, skis unchanged except for graphics for 20/21 unless noted.)

1) Stöckli AR. TRT. 175
166, 175
19/20 specs:
154 (r. 12.3), 161 (13.7), 168 (r. 15.1), 175 (r. 16.5), 182 (r. 17.9)
130/83/112 (all lengths).
(Largely unchanged for 20/21?)
Great ski, great first ski for a “warm up,” as the Stöckli regional rep, Jay, suggested. Wide tips and tails, great carve, an “in between” ski:
distinctively super on groomers, very dialed in there, but also in some crud and bumps, with those tips floating some and not getting
caught up. (My ARs initially required a slight extra effort at the tips to engage (perhaps a small change to the tune @ the tip might help?),
but after a few turns, no problem, an easy inner adjustment. 3-4 runs. 4 ½ to 5 stars. Yes.

This ski reminds me of the Blossom Whiteout, in both shape and intended use. Comparing the two, albeit with only AR first impressions,
the AR is slightly more a carver and race-like, while the Whiteout (with the tune on mine, at least) is slightly more forgiving, and yet excels
at fall line skiing, a very dialed in “cheater” for upper body separation while turning/carving well there, facing down the fall line.

For me, so far, the AR is a bit of a more dramatic, precise performer (than the Whiteout), but the Whiteout grows on the right skier, and is
likewise good on edge. I hope to ski the AR again to see more fully how it does in crud and soft snow bumps. Surprisingly, the Whiteout
really is strong there, a proven friend. Not sure about the AR in similar off piste conditions. I’d have to ski them back to back on a chop/crud
day to compare more completely. (I own the Whiteout, in 176 length.)

2) Stöckli WRT ST 172
SRT 12 binding (red) w. SRT Speed plate (non-race)
162, 172
118/66/100 (both lengths)
r. 14.8 (172); r. 13.0 (162)
3,690 gm (172); 3,540 gm (162)
(The more all purpose binding of two options.)
(A true race ski design: WRT)
(A carryover from previous year, I believe, except with added CSC tech, from Viktoria Rebensburg’s skis:
Carbon Steering Control, a strip of carbon up the middle, front end to tip, that allows the ski to flex upward and to carve, but not bow downward.
Causes less chatter. May behave something like the Atomic G9 rod.)

Just an astonishing ski, race ski precision combined with some versatility, especially with turn size. Great fun. Up a notch from other skis of
this general, non-FIS type I’ve been on. Heck, these are up a notch from most FIS skis. 3-4 runs. 5 to 5+ stars. A big yes. I’d like to own. (Very expensive.)

More of a race ski feel and performance than the AR, but still somewhat playful and versatile, on this binding setup, in turn type, shape and handling -
works also in a bit uneven terrain, mild bumps and some crud, but, again, somewhat limited off piste.
A treat, and surprisingly relaxing because it is so strong. What a ski.

3) Fischer RC1 GT 86 Multiflex 175.
161, 168, 175, 182
130/86/116; r. 17 @ 175
2450 gm (175)
Needs tuning, little to no edgehold; then, when left and right ski were switched, much better but not there yet. Disappointing. I couldn’t tell, for sure,
just how good this 175 ski might be when properly tuned, sorry. 1 run. No stars, but guessing 4-5 stars, once fixed.

Having said that, I can still tell that this 175 length will probably handle more easily, feel lighter weight, with more quick response and shorter turns,
than does the next length up, the 182, which I own and like a lot. Also, I can tell that the 175 has retained enough character to compare well to the 182,
and probably be the better length for most skiers; unlike, for me, the 175 Stöckli Laser AX, which to me has a rebound that doesn’t quite sync with its flex,
for working that ski optimally; and in that way lacks what might be called character compared to the 182/183.


Again, I own this Fischer RC One GT 86 Multiflex ski in 182. 5 - 5+ stars, In that length, it skis a bit heavy but incredibly - a very good, bombproof “cheater” in a between GS/SL ski turn, but really more a GS feel, for me. This 182 ski just holds more powerfully, unlike any ski of this type I’ve been on, with both GS turns and shorter turns, even near-slalom turns (having three radius lengths in one ski). The “heaviness” I mentioned feels like more work, but the ease of strong, effortless carving and edgehold, with so much less overall effort, and the dependability with that, make up for most of the heaviness, for the most part. (I’ll have to play with the base flatness and/or base bevels a bit to see if I can get that extra “heaviness” to go away. We shall see.)

I think it’s the three different built-in radii that make this ski have equally incredible, but distinctly different, mid-long turn and mid-short turn feels. A treat.

Follow up: from extended use, I’ve noticed something else, perhaps from slightly dialing in the tune: this 182 version has a different but wonderful on edge response to two different styles of turn: the first type of turn, the more obvious one, for me, is to go from edge to uphill edge early and carve/flex the ski through its turn, GS race style. This type of turn is very dialed in, with a distinctly satisfying result and feel. The ski gives back support and stability in this type of turn in an unusually strong way - uniquely, actually.

The second type of turn, as best as I can describe it, is to use the ski almost spear or lance-like: drive/groove the ski downhill and just lean slightly into and along the “shaft” of the ski to one side or the other, into the turn more directly than to go edge to edge and flex it. This more direct way (no slarve involved), just leaning while “aiming” forward, results in a very different but successful turn for this ski, just so dialed in also, a real corker. And with it the heaviness goes away, pretty much. (I may be naive about this turn, and it may have been there all along with many skis, don’t know: but this ski taught me how to do it, had this distinctive turn to offer. Thanks, Fischer.)

4) Fischer 102 Free 184.
170,177, 184
138/102.5/128 (184)
R. 19 (184)
C. 2100 gm ((184)
Pink (or baby blue). For me, not damp enough. Great carve and feel otherwise, though. Feels too light weight. 2 runs. 3 to 3½ stars. Sort of “yes.”.

5) Kästle MX98 178.
(A new design)
With early rise. Flaps and makes an odd noise. Disappointing. Blah.
Much less stiff or performance-oriented than the MX99 it replaced, I gather. I’d wanted to demo the MX99, but that ski is discontinued. Shucks.
1 run. 2-2½ stars. No.

6) Nordica Enforcer 104 Free 186.
165, 172, 179, 186, 191
136.5/104/126.5 (186)
r. 18.5 @186
C. 2245 gm @186
This was my second time on this ski, the last time being on an afternoon skied off groomer day at Loveland, with some crud and soft snow around the edges. On that day, good. This time, not as good, not sure why. Skied almost back to back with the Fischer 102 Free, this ski felt better - damper, more solid, but a bit sluggish, heavy and imprecise. Especially on this harder old snow, the Enforcer 104 was not as much of a standout this day. In better conditions, and in softer with traces of powder snow, this ski did shine. But not today, a day when other skis just were wonderful. I’d still like to try these in full on powder, but so many other skis too. 2 runs. 3 to 3 ½ stars. This time, mostly a “yes.”

7) Nordica Enforcer 88 179.
165, 172, 179, 186
Pull length c. 185
122/87.5/109 (179)
2100 gm. (179)
(A new Enforcer model for 20/21)
These felt dialed in and good for an all mountain ski on old snow, a versatile ski. These ski balanced between being on groomers and off piste, very versatile. But for me, my old Stöckli XXLs and Atomic Crimson Ti in similar lengths handle just as well or better, all around. 2 runs. 4 stars. For many, a strong “yes.” For me, relatively speaking, still a “yes.” Shucks, though.

8) Enforcer 100 186.
165, 172, 179, 186, 191
133.5/99/121
Pull length c. 185
R. 18.5 @ 186
C. 2150 gm.
(Design updated and improved for 20/21)
Wow. A real improvement, in just the way that was needed, to me: the tail edge holds better on groomers. I want to ski these in powder and crud, to see if they retain the stellar performance of the old Enforcer 100 in those conditions. 4 to 5 stars. A big yes.

I can’t be sure unless or until I get a chance to demo these in more soft snow, but, still, I personally now probably prefer about equally in this same width a
group of skis rather than just one: these Enforcer 100s (all around and for soft snow, soft bumps & crud), the current K2 Mindbender 99 (probably all around, but also charging and in both slush and crud), the Völkl V-Werks Mantra (again, all around, for crud/slush - and for steeps, in the shorter radius, x-cross-like, unannounced 2nd version) and the 19/20 Blizzard Bonafides but not the new 20/21 versions (for its freeride cruiser turn shape feel). Like the Enforcer 100 (for me, in some pow and crud, for its width), each of these skis of similar width does some things in ways that are really tops.

9) Blizzard Bonafide 183
(Redesigned for 20/21)
It may be the tune, not sure, but yikes! These seem to have lost the amazing freeride feel/charge/dialed in turn shape that the previous Bonafides retained, and perhaps especially for lighter skiers, improved on. Not these. What happened?

Not the characteristic Bonafide feel, nor something as good, at least to me; these have lost their way, unless it was the tune. They feel like some sort of slightly off or imitation Dynastar M Pro 99 or K2 Mindbender 99 now - but not as good as either of those - just blah. 2 runs. 2 ½ to 3 stars. No, at least with this tune. Very surprising.

10) Blizzard Firebird HRC 76 174/ r. 15.
126/76/107 @182
166, 174, 182
Very good. It has a characteristic, really fast Blizzard narrow ski “snap” from edge to edge on groomers. A treat to ski. But not, for me, a standout, relatively speaking, over other similar and really, really great skis. 2 runs. 4 stars. Yes.

In this length, I preferred by a lot the 20/21 Rossignol Hero Elite Plus 174/r14 - 5 stars, demoed previously on a Dynastar/Rossi Demo Day, which was much more dialed in, and had something special to add alongside the SL FIS 165 & 157 5 - 5 ½ star skis - IN THAT SPECIFIC LENGTH AND RADIUS. Just distinctly different enough. ( Not the Hero Elite Plus 167/r13, which was much more sluggish and less dialed in than the Rossi FIS 165, with too much overlap.)

11) Augment All Mountain 77
(“10” flex, 10 being softest, 1 being stiffest)
A good ski, better than many skis I've tried, but just didn’t “wow” me. Maybe it was the time of day, or tune at the end of the day, or the conditions in
fading light, but.... (my second to last ski out of twelve). 3½ stars. For many, a “yes.” For me, not sure w/o further testing. And not on this day.

12) Augment GS Pro 185/25 (“7” flex)
Wow. Best ski of the day, for me - the last one. Difficult, skied off snow with ice patches? No problem. Not with this ski. In the low light, after 4 p.m., irregular slopes, uneven terrain, poor visibility, tired legs - man, it just didn’t matter. Conditions felt perfect, no sweat. Just so smooth and strong, these felt like a million bucks. Contentment, big time. Thanks, Augment!! 3 runs. (Time ran out for more.) 5 to 5½ stars. Big yes. I’d like to own these.

In my limited experience, the 185/25 width/radius is often very much dialed in and feels like magic in some other brands also. I liked this Augment best; but I know that Dynastar, for example, makes a 185/25 Masters non-FIS ski, 5 to maybe 5+ stars? not sure, perhaps in the same ballpark: the ones I tried last year had a characteristically softer flex than FIS or these 7 flex Augment skis, that were a surprise to me because they were still so good, really fun. By comparison, these Augments were slightly stiffer, and had a really great smoothness and ease to their ride, whereas the Dynastar 185/25s were a bit softer, flexier, with more of a rebound out of the turn, for whatever reason: Super smooth and perfect carve, versus flexier but dialed in rebound.

There are so many really amazing skis out there, and these Augment skis are a great example.

Top skis of the first day: #1. Augment GS Pro 185/25 (flex 7); #2. Stöckli WRT ST 172 with non-race plate setup; #3. Stöckli Laser AR 175


SIA, Second Day, Tuesday 2/04

Conditions: 2-3” powder at the base, 4-8” medium weight powder up on the mountain; partly cloudy to cloudy and snowing lightly; cold, -3° to 6°.
(In places skied off and iced up with crud late in the day.)


13) Kore 117 189
176, 180, 189.
145/117/129 (189; pull c. 188); r. 24.6 (c. 2150 gm.)
143/115/127 (180); r. 22.3 (c. 1880 gm.)
(With design changes)
Very good to excellent. Impressive ski, as it was for 19/20 at the shorter 180 length also, to me.

This 20/21 version has a bit higher rocker and +4 mount (in the 189) compared to the 19/20 model. After one run I moved the mount to -1 (or +3 compared to 19/20). Much better, for me. The Head rep told me he skis this length at -2 (or +2 compared to 19/20), as he said for him that fit the ski’s flex, shape and performance better. I meant to try this -2 but was so happy with the -1 I left it. ( I’ll save -2 for another day, God willing.) This ski is well worth another demo, at least. Extra runs. 4½ to 5 stars. Yes, I’d like to own, in either 180 or, even more, in 189.

I may well buy this ski. I couldn’t help skiing it for more runs. It floats well and easily, higher than my Bibbys or V-Werks Katanas of various lengths. It is lightweight like the Völkl v-w Katanas,191, but wider. Damp like the Katanas also. Nice. It carves and turns well, on soft snow groomers and in soft or powder snow off piste (including powder and chop/crud bumps) and on powder and soft steeper slopes. Very fine carve. Also good on shallower slopes - just a dream. Distinct. It is great in at least light to medium chop and crud, at 8” depth, just living up to my best hopes, for now. To me, it maybe skis in between the two Bibbys: wider and slightly more versatile for deeper and for speed than the 184 Bibby, less fat-feeling, heavy and demanding of speed than the Bibby 190. Yet it could play just about as well as the 184, and charge just about as well as the 190, with less risk and effort - and again, more float. And so far, seemingly as good in crud, very possibly. Again, wonderfully damp. And with that more forward mount point, a more playful set of possible turns. (And at -2 back instead of just -1, it might get even better.) A big “yes” here.

The one problem of both the 19/20 180 and the 20/21 189 Kore 117 (at the recommended line for both; and also at -1 (or +3), at least, for the 189), is its tracking, especially compared to the next two skis: the tips do not track so well by themselves, but require a bit of care to not spread out or shift around slightly. This becomes easier once one is used to it, but noticeable. I think this slight drifting comes from the front end and tip shape: more abrupt though elliptical, with lack of taper, where that front stays fanning out gradually or v-like, then ovals out and around, spreading out until it doesn’t, somewhat abruptly for a powder ski, maybe. But I am the last guy to figure out how a ski handles just by looking at it.

A real strength for this Kore 117 at this length, thankfully, besides great float, is that it handles crud very well, just stiff enough and soft enough, a super damp ride, even at such a carbon light weight for such a long ski. A true standout in this way - at least in light to medium weight snow. Head has got this really dialed in, nifty. Like I said, extra runs. ( I’ll have to compare it to the 191 V-Werks Katanas, soon.)

Update: I finished this comparison, getting the 191 V-W Katanas in 18-22” of similar weight powder/crud two weekends later: properly adjusted a smidge forward (from rec. mount point) for skier and conditions, the Katanas track better and with more versatility, turn faster with that adjusted mount point, carve better, are slightly damper even, but at least equal in that regard, and handle with more stability; but they do not float as well, as high or playfully. Both skis tops, for me.

In really deep and heavy snow (I’m guessing past, say, 2+ feet, and heavier), probably edge to the Kore 117s; not sure, though I am hoping so. But once that turns to chop/crud, or on another day, to less deep and/or less heavy snow, edge to the 191 Katanas (again, at the right, adjusted mount point, for each skier).

Another way of saying this is, it would take a pretty extreme deep and/or wet pow day for the 189 Kore 117s to top the 191 Katana 112s: deeper (and/or heavier) than 2 feet of medium weight powder, anyway, for someone of my size. To me, these are both amazing skis.

14) Dynastar [formerly PR-OTO Factory, then Menace Proto] M Free 118/189
180, 189
19/20 specs: 145/118/153.5 (189); r. 24 (189); pull c. 186.5; c. 2350 gm.
(Graphics and name changed from last year.)
This 20/21 ski floats and tracks wonderfully. It has a distinctive shape and feel that works. It carves like a dream in soft, and tracks effortlessly: wish more skis could track so well. When turning and on edge, one neutralizes the effects of how light-feeling this ski is. It is playful and can be thrown around, not intimidating. Fun. And it will charge. To me, a bit not damp enough, but wonderful skis. I could be very happy on these over time.
3 runs. 4 to 4½ stars. A yes.

If only this ski was as damp as the 189 Kore 118 or the Katana 112, or if only the Kore 118 tracked as well and powerfully as this ski does; for example, in steep powder bumps. That tracking ability makes up for a lot. In this way, it is a bit similar to - though for me better than - the good Fischer 102 Free, which for me personally is also not damp enough even more, but handles and carves in a way that makes up for a lot; and to a great extent makes up for how light and lively it is - and its relative lack of suspension.That said, the Dynastar M Free 118, for me, is a stronger ski than the Fischer 102 Free, more dialed in, something a great Freerider could love. And the next Dynastar ski is similar, fairly strong and powerful while being also playful and not intimidating.

15) Dynastar M Free 108 192
172, 182, 192
138/108/128
R. 18 @182.
C. 2175 gm/ski
C. 5 mm camber
(New model for this coming year.)
According to Blistergear, this ski has a poly (PU) wrap around its core, whereas the M Free 118 doesn’t. It also has a deeper rocker and higher tip and tail splay than the 118, along with a bit more forward mount point. All those differences combine to make the 118 have a stronger, more stable and potentially more directional feel to it, and a faster charge, than the 108, which surprised me, since often, the narrower 10X version of a ski line has a harder charge than its fatter powder brother, at least in my experience.

That said, this ski carves and handles really well in soft snow also, similar to the 118. Great fun. And, like the 118, does it track, very similarly, intuitively - fast or slow, short turns or long (but not as forcefully or dramatically as the 118): in less snow, it starts to catch up to the 118. And looking for leftovers the next few days, I’d easily prefer the 108. Good in crud, soft steep bumps and at some speed, or more slowly. Again, surprisingly, not quite as damp, and slightly not as agile and powerful in full on powder/crud, at least for me, as the 118 version above, once the snow gets past, say, 3 or more inches. But a very good ski. A winner. 2 runs. 3½ to 4 stars. Yes.

I’d like to ski more on these 108s and the 118s, to better find out if there are more things these narrower 108s can do better than the 118s, as I seemed to
experience the first time I tried both, on a day with just a few inches. So far, to me, on this 4” to 8” day, it seemed like I preferred the 118 across the board in the given powder/crud conditions. ( I’ve been appreciating skis more that are close to the narrower 108 width quite a lot lately, more than in past years - but not this time.)

16) K2 Reckoner 112 184
177, 184, 191
136/112/127
r. 22.9 @ 184
2050 gm (184)
(A new Model for 20/21)
Sloppy tracking, too soft-flexing, heavy-feeling on the snow and clumsy, for me. Only part of this could be the tuning: I was surprised when I saw its actual weight. Shucks. 2 stars. No.

17) K2 Mindbender 108 ti 186
172, 179, 186, 193.
136/108/125 (all lengths);
r. 22.9 (186; pull c. 186);
2190 gm.(186)
(A new model last year. Unchanged except for graphics.)
Holy Moly, whatta ski, at least tuned so well. Good at the line, 0. Better at about +0.7. Really good at +1.4. Off the charts good, for me, at roughly +2.1.
(I’ve bought it, will ski it.) Extra runs. 5 to 5½ stars. Big yes.

To start with, this is definitely a soft snow ski; it only carves and handles so-so on the afternoon of an “old snow” day - credibly, but nothing to write home about.

The pair of these skis I demoed were really something. Naturally, I’m reporting on how that particular pair of skis handles. I can only hope that the pair I’ve bought becomes as good, or can be tuned to be as good. Fingers crossed. What this ski did, then, in varied soft snow and powder/crud is hard to describe: it had just the right amount of dampness for any speed and roughness I tried. With fine-tuned mount point, it synched its turn shape/radius with its carve, its flex, its length also, in a way that felt ideal and a breakthrough in ski design and performance, at least for me.

It also floated relatively well in soft snow and powder (at least for its width), had a dialed in stiffness and flex for crud. As it charged, or just played around, it made me a better skier; I felt like it was a breakthrough day for me too.

Previously, I skied this model at a different demo in the afternoon, on a day with no new snow. The 108 was not so hot carving skied off groomers that day, just serviceable: so I gather, these 108s are not so great at groomers unless the snow is soft.

Also, this is a fairly complicated ski: at the wrong mount point or tune, the tips can feel more ordinary or catchy, at least for lighter up to maybe 180 lbs, or less than 5’10” or so - and leave one wondering what the fuss is about.

At first, a K2 friend had a few hooking problems with this length skiing it at 0, so I have held off for a year, beyond demoing it on an “old snow” day this fall, waiting until he worked out the kinks, so to speak. He has, especially once a K2 rep suggested that many not so large or tall folks like the ski at +2. I’ll say. A big winner - at least, so far, at the right tune.

Update: First few times out, my own pair of Mindbender 108s have edge-skipped pretty badly, disruptively, and have not felt so fine-tuned. The wonderful pair I demoed did no such thing. For now, it’s ski a run, switch to other skis, re-tune, then try again. Hope I can get this edge-skip or chatter, and other stuff, tuned out of these quickly. The pair I demoed was amazing.

The Mindbender 108 ski in this length, like its narrower sibling the MB 99/184, to me seems like it has a fairly complex shape, carve and dynamics - not simple; a lot going on while skiing. Accordingly, it seems like it may be pretty easy for these models, less expertly tuned and at the wrong mount points, to not do so well. And yet, potentially, it may be very easy to correct them. Time will tell.

18) K2 Disruption 84 184/r25
(A new model.) I was looking forward to these, rooting for K2 here. This was one of a number of narrower K2 models, a new line of race-like skis, replacing the Charger line. (In the past such skis have found a market only in Europe.) It was just a potluck choice which one of these I tried here. Relatively speaking, compared to skis of similar purpose from other brands, this particular model was okay but no great shakes. A bit planky. I didn’t have time on the other new versions, so I don’t know about them. Good but crude, not dialed in. 1 run. 2 ½ to 3 stars. No.

19) Stöckli 95 179
19/20 specs:
166, 175, 184, 193
131/95/123
166 r. 15.2; 1,690
(175?) r. 17.2; 1,690 gm
184 r. 21.3; 1,780 gm
193 r. 21.8; 1,960 gm.
(A new design last year.)
Good. Turns predictably well. For metronome-like, repeat, dialed in, near perfect-feeling turns, really tops. Great at this length for those who are wishing to slow down easily while still carving. Not a 3D ski in powder/crud, but carves through almost everything, with a bit of tip buoyancy, up to a point. Good for a lot of very consistent turners, guys I know and enjoy skiing with. When pushed, there were no “planking” problems as happened with my one earlier owned SR 95 model, 16/17, I believe. (See below.) But, for me, not much for added creativity. 3½ to 4½ stars. A strong “yes” for many. For me, a “yes.”
(Once I get older, and need to be more careful, maybe a stronger “yes.”)

20) Stöckli 95 184
131/95/123
184 r. 21.3 1,780 gm
Very good, for more creative-type skiing, to me. Not a metronome ski. A more “on the edge” type of ski, at this length. For more charging, crashing through crud, airs, going off bumps, etc.; and for varied strategies, improvising. Goes airborne, etc. now with no problems, no “planking” or “bottoming out.” (I tried.) But still, once in powder, feels sort of earthbound, progressively heavier the deeper the snow, until it reaches limits at a certain depth, not sure when - depends on the skier. For me, I’d switch skis at about 3+” for more fun. 4 to 4½ stars. A yes, for certain situations.

Skip if less detail wanted:
A few years back, the version of these at this length that I owned had real problems and limitations.
Two other skiers I talked to who have tried that particular year ski have had the same problems or I wouldn’t have mentioned this.

A one year design flaw, the Stöckli reps and a dealer associate have told me (though other Stöckli lovers have denied this strongly): that year ski “planked out” or bottomed out at speed, especially on landings, or in deeper snow, once the snow got past a certain depth especially and I was charging - they just bottomed out badly. And when this happened, often the tail would “lose traction” and give out or wash out, unpredictably - “get squirrely,” for me too. And maybe for some of the reps too, apparently, though dunno who experienced what, really. Yuck.

(For loyal Stöckli people on this site, the “in quotes” phrases above were used by a Stöckli dealer/associate to describe these skis, and were confirmed by regional reps. Not having a chance to ski on the later versions of this model since, until now with the 20/21s, next year’s, I’m not sure just which year models “plank out,” if any, other than mine, the ones with the black, long ovals on a silver background - 16/17 maybe.)

One Stöckli sales associate has told me that the problem was not corrected fully until the 19/20 redesign with the solid blue/silver colors, fatter tips and “Titec” printed on the skis (after the blue/green plaid models). Not sure.

But a national rep told me that the non-Titec blue and green plaid models corrected the problem also, and the “planking out” SR 95 skis were only for one year - mine. (Again, not sure.)

With the recent re-design and new Titec materials, then, this model apparently has improved feel and float, and does not “plank out” or “lose traction” - definitely. I tested for that pretty thoroughly. Not that most skiers would have noticed this or had any problems, seems like.

From the negative feedback I got on this site reporting this problem firsthand, I gather that with normal, self-contained skiing of most good skiers, “planking out” is not noticeable, even with my version of the SR 95. But I have always liked to charge in a modest fashion, push the envelope, so to speak, get creative, get poppy, in a miniscule way get some air, drive down the fall line: and if the skis allow it, freeride charge a bit (though gradually less as I get older). Others do that too. That's when mine "planked out."

21) Rossignol Sender Squad 112 192 (2nd time)
Don’t know the specs.
(A new design and model for 20/21)

At this point, turns out I felt just too tired for a second go at this relatively fat, stiff, wide, heavy but wonderful ski, near the close of the last day of demoing. But I wanted to get a reality check, relatively speaking, after so many skis tried in between the last time I was on these. Summary: The Sender Squad is a darn good charger, stable, authoritative - but a bit heavy. And relatively speaking, after skiing the K2 Mindbender 108 earlier in the day with such great results, I was no longer as bent on buying these. (I’d rather be on the Mindbenders in most [soft] conditions, except for on old snow days and groomers - when instead a race ski or strong all mountain equivalent might be easier on my knee.) Shucks. But still 4 to 4½ stars. A yes.

This ski is very much a close relative or descendant of the amazingly bombproof crud ski, Rossi Black Ops 118 of the current and past few years!

22) Stöckli WRT ST 172 with race plate binding
WRT 12/16 FreeFlex (black) w. WRTr Speed Plate
(& thin rubber layer in between plate and binding, I believe.
Or was it in between plate and ski? A while ago, forgive me.)
Same specs as above for this ski on the first day, except for race binding setup and race plate.
(Note: The regional rep told me about that custom layer of rubber between the race binding and the plate for dampening. It makes things more smooth.)


Lightning strikes twice, in almost the same place. Again, wonderful. 2 runs. 5 to 5½ stars. Yes, I’d like to own. Will try to.

More of a race ski feel with this plate and binding, but still somewhat versatile, especially on turn size.

This was the last ski of the day and of the SIA event for me, and I was somewhat loose and tired after two wire-to-wire days of demoing. This ski perked me right up. I had to do a double-take fairly quickly, and stay more aware and in tune, steadily: it fine-tuned me, instead of me it. I had to get more careful and methodical with this ski and setup, it seemed like.

It liked a fine touch, at first, until I got used to it. Then, I could relax a bit and just enjoy. And marvel. Thanks, Stöckli. Thanks, @LindseyB (the Stöckli rep watching over that ski in particular, I believe). This ski takes precise skiing to another level, in its own way.

Top skis of the second day: #1. (a tie) K2 Mindbender 108 186 at +2.1; #1. (a tie) Stöckli WRT ST 172 with race binding/race plate; #3. Head Kore 117 189 at -1.


Skis from demos earlier this season, both 19/20 and 20/21:

(Again, skis liked best in bold.)

19/20 skis
Black Crows Orb, 179 and 184 (hidden gems both, both years ago and now;
not so much the softer version in between.)
Völkl Mantra 102 184
Völkl V-W Mantra 99, 179
(for me) and 186 (for bigger guys)
Nordica Enforcer 104 Free 186
Deacon 84 177 (r. 16.9), 182 (r. 17.9)
Dynastar Factory Proto 118 190

Brahma 82
Elan Wingman 86
Kästle MX 74 174
Deacon 74 178

Rossi Hero Elite Plus 13 167
Icelantic Nomad 105 181
Icelantic Nomad 105 191 (esp. on morning groomers, not so much in the p.m.,
as @Ken_R kindly pointed out. Thanks!)
Icelantic Pioneer 108 182 & 190
Faction Dictator 3.0 182 (needlessly unforgiving, for such a freeride ski)
DPS Wailer A 106 C2
K2 Mindbender 99 186
and 179 (likes bumps)
K2 Mindbender 108 ti 186 (tuned optimally)

K2 Mindbender 116 C (not sure, due to no soft snow)

20/21 skis
Dynastar M Pro 90 178
Dynastar M Pro 99 184 and 179
Dynastar M Pro Proto 108 192 and 182
Dynastar Menace 98 187
Rossignol Squad Sender 194(?)

Rossignol Sender Ti 186(?)
Rossignol Holy Sender (next year’s version of the 19/20 Black Ops 98)
Rossignol Gamer 118 (next year’s version of the 19/20 Black Ops 118)
Rossignol Hero Elite Plus 14/174. Wow. (There is a Dynastar Speed Course 14/174 also,
that I’m told is the same or a very similar ski.)

Peace. Out.
 
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GregK

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Reviews not very detailed and not enough skis demoed-2 Stars........

Would say you do get used to the feel of the “lighter” Fisher Free 102 as it seems too light at first to be stable at speed but it definitely is. I actually weighed the all shops stock and picked the heaviest pair which were 125 grams heavier than the lightest pair. More confidence inspiring the more you ski it. Then it feels very precise especially when you go back on skis like the Enforcer 104 which ARE damper and heavier but aren’t as stable at those high speeds. Still prefer the E104 in bumps and steep choppy terrain with its slightly softer flex and increased tail rocker.

Both edge high and uneven tunes from the factory and still have to get a stone grind on my Fishers which should make them easier to ski.

And it goes without saying to Demo the 2021 Moment Wildcat to erase any Head Kore 117 thoughts.....:roflmao:
 
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ski otter 2

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Reviews not very detailed and not enough skis demoed-2 Stars........

Would say you do get used to the feel of the “lighter” Fisher Free 102 as it seems too light at first to be stable at speed but it definitely is. I actually weighed the all shops stock and picked the heaviest pair which were 125 grams heavier than the lightest pair. More confidence inspiring the more you ski it. Then it feels very precise especially when you go back on skis like the Enforcer 104 which ARE damper and heavier but aren’t as stable at those high speeds. Still prefer the E104 in bumps and steep choppy terrain with its slightly softer flex and increased tail rocker.

Both edge high and uneven tunes from the factory and still have to get a stone grind on my Fishers which should make them easier to ski.

And it goes without saying to Demo the 2021 Moment Wildcat to erase any Head Kore 117 thoughts.....:roflmao:
Yikes! Clearly I must have short-changed these two skis, at the very least! Apologies....

(But I think I described them fairly accurately, nonetheless, within the limits of reporting on a two day demo.
And there are strengths as well as weaknesses to such a format.)
 
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anders_nor

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yeah backing gregk on the 102FR, amazing ski, for what it is. I've hit 60mph+ on thoose puppies ;)
 

markojp

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FWIW, I really like the new Bonafide (183). The new Brahma I skied might be really nice too, but the tune was jacked... probably burred and a bit railed.
 
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GregK

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Yikes! Clearly I must have short-changed these two skis, at the very least! Apologies....

(But I think I described them fairly accurately, nonetheless, within the limits of reporting on a two day demo.
And there are strengths as well as weaknesses to such a format.)
No, I’m backing up your assessments and trying to shed some light on maybe why you liked or didn’t like those skis as much in those conditions.

Enforcer 104 definitely favours softer snow and excels in tighter trees and bumps but with its taper, just okay on harder snow and not quite the carver as the 2021 Enforcer 94 or 100 would be. East coast “powder day” glade ski or West coast off trail ski a few days after a storm are where these shine. Pretty forgiving and not demanding.

Fisher 102 FR like a lot of carbon tipped skis, are not as quiet on harder or damp but they feel very precise and quick on even firm groomers with having a little less tip/tail taper and less rocker. Once you get used to them, they impress with how willing they are to go straight at speed even with a 19m radius. Like @anders_nor, I had mine up to 64mph without drama yet they are still fun at lower speeds. Stiffer and less rocker makes them a little less forgiving than the E104 but still not demanding to ski. More for the former racer who wants a soft snow/off piste ski that can still rip groomers if needed.

Both have smooth sloped tips that easily glide over crud and rough terrain and allow the Fisher to punch above it’s weight there.

Thinking the 21 Bonafide 97 must have had a tune issue/problem as the construction has only slightly changed with the True Blend core that allows for a smoother, more forgiving flex on the extreme tip/tail with the rest of the ski being similar in flex to the 2020 version. Weight is supposed to be up a bit along with reduced rocker tip/tail. Should have more early morning hard snow grip now and be more forgiving in afternoon crud. Haven’t tried them myself yet but looking forward to giving them a whirl along with the new Brahma 88!
 
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ski otter 2

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yeah backing gregk on the 102FR, amazing ski, for what it is. I've hit 60mph+ on thoose puppies ;)
It's a ski I liked, and said so, and why, putting it in bold as a ski "most liked" at the start of my reviews. But it still isn't damp enough, relatively speaking especially, for myself; though it has a carve that "makes up for a lot." That''s what I wrote, and that's fairly accurate, to me. There are definitely skiers who prefer a lighter ski of that sort, as a good trade-off.

There are a lot of choices, lots of very good skis these days, fortunately, so preferences are a relative thing also: what skis will we actually want to spend time on or buy ourselves? And why, pro and con?


For me, there happen to be a lot of great skis right now in the 95 to 102 up to 105 range, and again, in the 104 to 108 up to 112 range, that I prefer over the Free 102 - or the Enforcer 104, and I stated why, pro and con. No big deal. I aimed to hopefully give enough detail to help others decide for themselves here and there also what to demo, what to pass on, and some things to look for, with a different (but to me complementary) approach than is taken in most reviews on this site: what skis does a skier actually prefer him or herself, and why. That doesn't mean the other good ones aren't all fun skis, and tops for some folks for whom those skis might work best. Have at it! (And I didn't review in detail more of the skis I listed in Bold - or not, because it seemed like I'd gone into enough detail on enough skis for one outing already.)

Hopefully, we all find great skis in that full range of choices. Not hard to do these days.

So, in the hopes that some of the 20/21 skis I demoed might appeal to you too, or not, good luck!!
.
 
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GregK

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No such thing as a ski that does everything well so one always have to prioritize what qualities in a ski you most desire and things it doesn’t do as well that you could still live with. Think you did a great job on the reviews above pointing out your likes/dislikes on all the skis and only commented on the Fisher 102FR/Enforcer 104 as I own both and liked them more with extended use and finding out what conditions they shine in.

Myself and @anders_nor like the Fisher 102 but it of course isn’t perfect, just like any other ski. I’d love it to be 150 grams heavier, have a longer turning radius, more dampening material, better topsheet durability etc. But for a versatile twin tip that cost me $400, it does pretty well.

Still searching for a 90’s width, playful charger twin with solid weight(2200 grams plus) that can grip harder snow well, rip GS turns at high speeds(21m plus radius) and great in afternoon crud. My unicorn ski! Lol
 

crazycanuck

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"Well, it's alright now,
Learned my lesson well...
You see, you can't please everyone,
So you got to please yourself."
--Ricky Nelson, Garden Party
I'd definitely be curious to hear more about the K2 reps mount point comments for the MB108 for "smaller" guys. I also bought the '19/20 version as an end of season buy, but have not yet mounted them. I'm 5'9, 155lbs. Been doing some reading on some people's experiences with the mount point for the MB108, but it seems all over the place in terms of some people definitely saying put them on the manufacturer's line, and others saying move it forward a bit. No clarity that I can see so far and hence I have held off mounting them (especially since there is no rush at this point!)
 

Wasatchman

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Very thorough review. Great work. Question for you and people who demo in general. How many runs do you think it takes to really get a feel for what a ski is like. At demo days in NZ (where you can spend as much time as you'd like on a ski) I like to spend at least 2 hours on a particular ski trying it in as many conditions I can find. I don't feel I'm quite discerning enough after a couple runs. Yet the norm for ski tests seems to be a couple runs (outside of blister).

Its a hard choice between getting to try a significant number of skis versus just a handful. I tend to opt for the handful at the cost of trying less skis, perhaps to my detriment.
 
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ski otter 2

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I'd definitely be curious to hear more about the K2 reps mount point comments for the MB108 for "smaller" guys. I also bought the '19/20 version as an end of season buy, but have not yet mounted them. I'm 5'9, 155lbs. Been doing some reading on some people's experiences with the mount point for the MB108, but it seems all over the place in terms of some people definitely saying put them on the manufacturer's line, and others saying move it forward a bit. No clarity that I can see so far and hence I have held off mounting them (especially since there is no rush at this point!)
First, what length did you get? It takes a certain length ski relative to your height/weight for mounting forward to come into play. If I were on the 179 MB 108, for example, I'd be more likely to move back, not forward, if I moved the mount point at all. If the 186, then moving forward might well fit you. You would have to experiment to see: no fast rules. But your size would make you a likely candidate for moving forward +2. (Some skis reward certain larger skiers as well as smaller ones when moved forward. Apparently, the larger K2 reps have no problem with mounting on the line.)
 
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ski otter 2

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Very thorough review. Great work. Question for you and people who demo in general. How many runs do you think it takes to really get a feel for what a ski is like. At demo days in NZ (where you can spend as much time as you'd like on a ski) I like to spend at least 2 hours on a particular ski trying it in as many conditions I can find. I don't feel I'm quite discerning enough after a couple runs. Yet the norm for ski tests seems to be a couple runs (outside of blister).

Its a hard choice between getting to try a significant number of skis versus just a handful. I tend to opt for the handful at the cost of trying less skis, perhaps to my detriment.
Dunno. A lot of folks debate this, and understandably disagree, based on their own experience. Currently, to me, it depends. On the ski, on the skier, on the conditions, and so on. And on what the goal is: for instance, is the demoing for yourself, or is it a professional interest?

Just my own tentative observations, FWIW:

Basically, some can tell a lot about a ski right away, some not so much.
And some skis can be figured out fairly quickly, for me at least, while others take longer, or need particular terrain/conditions.

The rule of thumb for many in the industry has been, as I've heard it, minimum two runs: one run to get used to the ski including in motor memory, and a second run to actually ski it as it was meant to be skied. (And this process is mostly subliminal, but not completely.)

To me, it's good to have a certain efficiency in the process. My own experience has been that one run tells me if I want to take a second run. With many skis, a dozen turns tells me a lot. But with other skis, especially ones with unusual properties, two runs may not be enough.

In practice, I can usually tell if a ski isn't even in the ballpark for something I'm going to like, in way less than one run, though I will often take a second run on such skis just to be sure.

For most skis, the "two runs" rule is a very good compromise in the dilemma you raised above, @Wasatchman, over the tension between wanting/needing to try lots of skis and yet get to know many of them, the best candidates, as well as possible.

The more I like a ski and the more complex a ski is in what it does, the more that ski is a candidate for extended runs, even runs on multiple days (with more varied conditions and/or terrain, for instance).

To lesson mistakes, I'll talk to a lot of demoing skiers, reps and friends, get their feedback also: many mistakes can be avoided, a lot of skis and things overlooked pointed out. Dunno. Fun to sort out.
 

François Pugh

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For me, a couple of runs is enough to tell me what I don't like about a ski or what it doesn't do well. However, it takes me about a day to tell how good a ski is at doing what it does well. I take a long time to warm up to a new car or bike or even a set of tires too before I feel good about really pushing it.
 

Aquila

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Very thorough review. Great work. Question for you and people who demo in general. How many runs do you think it takes to really get a feel for what a ski is like. At demo days in NZ (where you can spend as much time as you'd like on a ski) I like to spend at least 2 hours on a particular ski trying it in as many conditions I can find. I don't feel I'm quite discerning enough after a couple runs. Yet the norm for ski tests seems to be a couple runs (outside of blister).

Its a hard choice between getting to try a significant number of skis versus just a handful. I tend to opt for the handful at the cost of trying less skis, perhaps to my detriment.
Huh, I've been doing demo days in NZ wrong then. I typically take a ski out for 2-3 runs, as per what the demo techs suggest. Sometimes I've been able to A/B a couple of skis from them if it's a quiet day, or take a ski I'm quite interested in out again a second time in the afternoon (trying a ski in both the morning and the afternoon is pretty good for finding varying conditions, especially if those conditions are ice vs slush). This is at Hutt, btw.

In terms of demoing - I generally find that halfway through the first run I'm getting a good idea about whether it's a ski I'm enjoying, but it can sometimes take a run or two to really get the hang of a new ski. When I've been really interested in a ski after two runs, I've never yet been disappointed by subsequent runs. (not that I always get subsequent runs, but when I do) On the other hand if I'm not really feeling it after a couple of runs, I just hand it back. So maybe some of those skis had untapped potential but I gave up too early ;)
 

Wasatchman

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Huh, I've been doing demo days in NZ wrong then. I typically take a ski out for 2-3 runs, as per what the demo techs suggest. Sometimes I've been able to A/B a couple of skis from them if it's a quiet day, or take a ski I'm quite interested in out again a second time in the afternoon (trying a ski in both the morning and the afternoon is pretty good for finding varying conditions, especially if those conditions are ice vs slush). This is at Hutt, btw.

In terms of demoing - I generally find that halfway through the first run I'm getting a good idea about whether it's a ski I'm enjoying, but it can sometimes take a run or two to really get the hang of a new ski. When I've been really interested in a ski after two runs, I've never yet been disappointed by subsequent runs. (not that I always get subsequent runs, but when I do) On the other hand if I'm not really feeling it after a couple of runs, I just hand it back. So maybe some of those skis had untapped potential but I gave up too early ;)
Yeah, I don’t think there is a right or wrong. I pretty much exclusively ski TC in NZ and demo days are great there with no pressure at all about taking a ski for a few hours.

I find it often harder than you guys to tell right away and if I can i like to try different conditions, speeds, etc. Sure, there are skis I don't like as much right away but I always first assume it is me and I like to try it more and see if I feel different in other conditions or maybe I haven't quite figured it out yet.

That's cool you guys feel you just need a couple runs. I am definitely different and feel I need more time than that. Unfortunately for me, that means I try much fewer skis as a result. I'd definitely prefer if I could be more certain after a few runs.
 

Aquila

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Yeah, I don’t think there is a right or wrong. I pretty much exclusively ski TC in NZ and demo days are great there with no pressure at all about taking a ski for a few hours.

I find it often harder than you guys to tell right away and if I can i like to try different conditions, speeds, etc. Sure, there are skis I don't like as much right away but I always first assume it is me and I like to try it more and see if I feel different in other conditions or maybe I haven't quite figured it out yet.

That's cool you guys feel you just need a couple runs. I am definitely different and feel I need more time than that. Unfortunately for me, that means I try much fewer skis as a result. I'd definitely prefer if I could be more certain after a few runs.
Honestly I like the idea of spending more time with fewer skis to really get to know them. I value the Blister reviews enormously because they spend days on each ski and take it in as many conditions as possible! For me personally, I'm also only an intermediate skier, so there are some conditions and runs that I just don't ski at all, but a more advanced skier might want to see how a ski fares there. With both of the skis that I purchased based on demos, I was able to A/B them or ski them at different times of the day. It really helped me get to know the skis and make sure that they were going to work for me.

That's cool about the TC demos. Do you often get multiple brands there at once? At Hutt they kinda show up haphazardly, generally between 0-2 brands there with demos on any given day.
 

crazycanuck

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First, what length did you get? It takes a certain length ski relative to your height/weight for mounting forward to come into play. If I were on the 179 MB 108, for example, I'd be more likely to move back, not forward, if I moved the mount point at all. If the 186, then moving forward might well fit you. You would have to experiment to see: no fast rules. But your size would make you a likely candidate for moving forward +2. (Some skis reward certain larger skiers as well as smaller ones when moved forward. Apparently, the larger K2 reps have no problem with mounting on the line.)
I got the 179
 
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