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Playful vs Directional skis

 Poster: A snowHead
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I'm looking at adding a pair of wider (105-110 mm waist) all mountain skis to my quiver for use in softer snow conditions both on and off piste. Given that I have a fairly traditional skiing history and don't venture into the Park or ever ski switch, the obvious choice would be a sensible directional ski like the Volkl 100Eight, Head Kore 105, Salomon QST 106, Enforcer 110 etc, etc, etc. But I just can't help looking at "jib" skis like the K2 Marksman and Line SFB. I actually have a pair of the older 2012 Line Bacons and find them a lot of fun both on and off piste, providing the snow is reasonably soft. Given that I have other skis for piste and harder snow conditions, do I really need a stiffer, directional wider ski or am I crazy to be considering jib skis at all? What attracts me to them is their ability to pivot through tight tree lines, forgiveness in soft bumps and their general playfulness at relatively low speeds. I do like to slash and smear turns off piste, but then I do appreciate decent edge hold and stability when pushing on more.

So I was wondering how skis like the Line Bacon, K2 Marksman compare against more "serious" but still relatively playful skis like the Black Crows Atris and Volkl 100Eight? I think it's a given that the latter type of ski is going to be more stable at speed and hold an edge better on piste or any hard snow, but are they going to be as much fun and easy going when skiing more moderate slopes in soft conditions, bumps and trees etc? I'm starting to think that the more all mountain orientated jib skis are a good choice for an everyday fun soft snow ski. Or are skis like the latest BC Atris just better at everything except in the Park? For clarity, what I definitely don't want is a super stiff directional charging machine like the Head Monster 108 or a flippy-floppy noodle of a park ski. So it's more a question of where do the stiffer, more serious jib skis meet with the new generation of lighter, rockered directional skis?
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@uktrailmonster, isn't your answer "moahr rockare"?
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@under a new name, come again?
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There's plenty of peeps out there that love the attributes of a twin rocker, playful ski, yet who never land switch in pow like Pollard Wink
Our Director model is a prime example of this, a ski that's playful but can still suit a directional skier and who's style will change with the mounting point. Some directional skis are on the playful scale, take the new Blizzard Spur for example, whilst others are decidedly chargey like the Monsters you mentioned, but overall I'd say the industry is trending towards the playful light end of the market at the moment, for example I think Head have discontinued the wider Monsters for next season.
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@uktrailmonster, more rocker.
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@the_doc, Thanks for the info, that's kind of what I was thinking. I never ski switch and rarely leave the ground, but I do definitely prefer skis that can carve or smear as you please, while easy going enough to ski all day without fatigue. My 2012 Line SFBs are my favourite skis for playing around mellow terrain on a powder day, although they are not as light as some of the latest skis. Last season I added a pair of Volkl 90Eights to my quiver and ended up using them pretty much all the time, simply because they are so light and easy to ski all day. But I still sometimes miss the more surfy feel of the SFBs in soft snow.

I'm not that surprised to hear that Head are retiring the bigger Monsters. They're certainly too much ski for my taste and I'm not exactly a lightweight or timid skier. It must be a very niche market for those now there are so many lightweight and versatile wide skis to choose from. I guess the roaring success of their new Kore series has seen off their more traditional Monsters.

So my shortlist is currently:-

K2 Marksman - easy going, relatively soft, super playful, soft snow only.
Volkl 100Eight - relatively light and slightly rockered directional ski. Looks like it could work well in a wide variety of conditions, but maybe not so playful.
Black Crows Atris - looks like a serious off-piste machine with a contemporary rocker profile and relatively forward mount.
Salomon QST 106 - seems like a decent all-rounder in this width.

There are many other skis that I could throw into the mix, but these are the ones catching my eye. Unfortunately meaningful demos are not feasible.
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@under a new name, I got it!
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under a new name wrote:
@uktrailmonster, more rocker.


All the skis I'm considering in this class have a reasonable amount of rocker, but probably quite different stiffness profiles. I'm just wondering where I need to be on the curve. I'm fairly big and heavy at 88kg, but I don't ski overly aggressively and prefer more technical lines to all-out charging, especially off-piste. If I was down at say 70 kg I would have no worries in choosing a ski like the K2 Marksman with a relatively soft flex, but I'm worried I might just be too big for it at 88 kg. I can accept a compromise in stability at high speed, but I do want something supportive enough to get through chop at a reasonable pace without folding. At the other end of the scale, I don't want a demanding ski to drive all day. I'm lazy and like an easy ride! My Volkl 90Eights are just about stiff enough (perhaps borderline in crud) and my 2012 Lines are a pretty good compromise , although a little heavy by comparison.
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@uktrailmonster,

rocker is not just about jibbing or skiing backwards it is about making it easier to pivot, drift and float.

Having skied rockered skis only in the last couple of years, I'm not surprised the industry has gone in that direction - they are fun and easy to ski. The only downside is that they are less rewarding if you want to ski technically and precisely on hard pistes but as we know, few recreational skiers really do that.
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jedster wrote:
@uktrailmonster,

rocker is not just about jibbing or skiing backwards it is about making it easier to pivot, drift and float.

Having skied rockered skis only in the last couple of years, I'm not surprised the industry has gone in that direction - they are fun and easy to ski. The only downside is that they are less rewarding if you want to ski technically and precisely on hard pistes but as we know, few recreational skiers really do that.


Yes, I agree. All my current AM skis have rockered tips and tails and no question they are better for it. It's more the softer flex of jib type skis I'm not that sure about. Skis like the Line SFB are actually not all that soft and quite capable of caning it through all sorts of chopped up snow. But they're not so stiff as to become hard work. What I don't have much experience of are the latest crop of wide lightweight "directional" skis aimed more at the traditional skier, but with contemporary rocker profiles. Are they basically similar to more stout jib skis like the Line SFB sans twin-tip or are they generally still stiffer and less playful? It seems like there is more overlap than a few years ago when "Freeride" skis were generally pretty serious directional chargers (Head Monsters, big Kastles etc) and jib skis were mostly soft and flappy. Now some of these latest jib skis appear to be getting stiffer, while the more directional offerings seem to be getting a bit softer and adding more rocker. Even Kastle seems to have embraced rocker with their FX series in recent years.
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ah - got it
If you've got rocker, is stiffness really a problem?
@the_doc, posted already but I thing redeemers (which I have) are stiff underfoot but softer at the tips. The stiffness doesn't stop them from being super playful IME
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jedster wrote:
ah - got it
If you've got rocker, is stiffness really a problem?


I think you can still go too stiff for a "fun" ski, regardless of rocker. But that's sort of what I'm trying to figure out (and probably the industry too). Whenever I've owned or tested really stiff, powerful skis I've always found them hard work and generally not that much fun on anything other than smooth pistes or their utility in ploughing straight through crud. In good snow off-piste I much prefer skis that conform more to the surface lumps and bumps i.e. softer flexing. That's why I moved to skis like the Line SFB in the first place, but now when I look around I see lots of AM/freeride skis that look pretty similar apart from the twin-tip.
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uktrailmonster wrote:


I'm not that surprised to hear that Head are retiring the bigger Monsters. They're certainly too much ski for my taste and I'm not exactly a lightweight or timid skier. It must be a very niche market for those now there are so many lightweight and versatile wide skis to choose from. I guess the roaring success of their new Kore series has seen off their more traditional Monsters.
.


I always saw the market for Monsters as being hardcore pistencarvers who reluctantly acknowledged that a bigger ski might help in offpiste conditions but weren't actually ready to commit to something that would be fun rather than than a fattened up pistencarver. Or genuine balls out chargers who generally get their skis for free anyway.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:


I always saw the market for Monsters as being hardcore pistencarvers who reluctantly acknowledged that a bigger ski might help in offpiste conditions but weren't actually ready to commit to something that would be fun rather than than a fattened up pistencarver. Or genuine balls out chargers who generally get their skis for free anyway.


That and people just thinking that they need a "big expert" ski for their ego. I've seen plenty of intermediate sliders on such skis and no end of guys lining up with 120+ mm Alaskan peak slayers after 10 cm of fresh snow in resort. A lot of marketing and ego tripping going on for sure. But many of those people now have the option of much lighter wide skis that might actually ski a lot better for an average skill level, while still massaging their egos to some extent. I've been there myself and come out of the other end wondering what I was thinking. But some of the latest fat skis actually look pretty sensible for playing around on moderate off-piste terrain.
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So are we saying (reading between the lines) that I definitely should buy that pair of BC Camox I have been hankering after...?
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@uktrailmonster, where does a DPS Wailer 112 fit in this classification? Or even the 124’s? I would call them playful compared to a Faction Prime or Volkl Confession which are much more “directional”. Despite skiing plenty of narrower skis I keep going back to these as giving up little on the piste but being much more fun off it - irrespective of fresh powder or not.
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Don’t know if this helps, but like you I love the 90eight. Tried Atomic Automatics (118) didn’t like them on or off piste. Also have Icelantic Shamans (112 fully cambered) love them on any kind of soft snow, but hard work on hard pistes. Come to the conclusion that 90eight does it all for me. Mind you the only slashing I do is after a few beers.
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mistral wrote:
So are we saying (reading between the lines) that I definitely should buy that pair of BC Camox I have been hankering after...?


Looks good to me. If I didn't already have my Volkl 90Eights I would be taking a serious look at the Camox as a similar do-it-all kind of ski.
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BobinCH wrote:
@uktrailmonster, where does a DPS Wailer 112 fit in this classification? Or even the 124’s? I would call them playful compared to a Faction Prime or Volkl Confession which are much more “directional”. Despite skiing plenty of narrower skis I keep going back to these as giving up little on the piste but being much more fun off it - irrespective of fresh powder or not.


I've always been intrigued by DPS skis, but whenever I see them in real life the rocker looks massive. If I could demo them I would for sure, but they're too expensive to consider buying blind. I had a chat to a guy on the chair at Christmas who was sporting a pair of 112s and he was singing their praises. He had the full super light carbon version too.
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BertieG wrote:
Don’t know if this helps, but like you I love the 90eight. Tried Atomic Automatics (118) didn’t like them on or off piste. Also have Icelantic Shamans (112 fully cambered) love them on any kind of soft snow, but hard work on hard pistes. Come to the conclusion that 90eight does it all for me. Mind you the only slashing I do is after a few beers.


The 90Eights are a great versatile ski for sure. I've put maybe 50 or 60 days on mine now and skied them in all sorts of conditions without any drama. But I do feel like something a bit wider and floaty for soft off-piste conditions and something that can handle heavy chop a bit better (without going for something too heavy/stiff/damp). I'm effectively looking to replace my Line Bacons (108 width) with something more current and perhaps a bit less "jibby". I'm keeping my 90Eights for now as my everyday ski for average conditions.

I'm now thinking of taking a chance with the BC Atris. The spec looks spot on for what I'm looking for and I'm quite keen to try a BC ski anyway. I'm just a little worried that they might be a little on the stiff side for what I'm used to, but only one way to find out. Now can't decide between the 184 and 189 cm. At 6'1" and 88 kg I'm thinking I should go for 189s, but I'm thinking the 184s might work better in trees and tight technical lines. My Lines are 184, but measure more like 182 and feel borderline short with a near central mount. My 90Eights are 184 too (longest they make) and they feel just fine. But as I'm going to use these mainly in deeper snow and they have more rocker, I think sizing up makes sense. So 189 it is I think!
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@uktrailmonster, I opted for the Black Crows Atris Birdie as a big all mountain ski this season (I'm only small and female). I'm used to skiing much narrower unisex performance and race skis all mountain but wanted a playful, agile and stable ski for powder and chopped snow days. I did not want a flappy twin tip...

I know it's a slightly softer flex than the Atris but I'm amazed at it's performance everywhere! It floats, skis crud and chopped snow easily without getting deflected and throwing me round, skis tight lines and steeps, skis bumps but perhaps most surprising is the performance on the piste. It has remarkably good grip for both long and short turns on pretty firm pistes. I love it! It meets my criteria perfectly and I can see myself skiing it in variable snow and different terrain more than I imaged I would with a 108 underfoot ski. The Atris also has a nice flex and my other half has ski envy and is now thinking of getting a pair too...
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@uktrailmonster, at 88 kg you should be on the 189. I am 80 kg and on the 184. I think any more weight and I would have tip dive issues. You will need the additional tip length give the relatively forward mounting point. In one of the recent Blister podcasts Julien Regnier talks about sizing the Atris. It is worth a listen if you think you are between sizes.
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@juliad, thanks for your thoughts. Sounds encouraging that it works well in a wide range of conditions. I've more or less given up with narrow race oriented skis, partly because I like the way modern wider skis perform on piste and partly because conditions are usually on the soft side where I ski (Interior BC). I find it a lot of fun ripping soft groomers on wider skis and less demanding than a more dedicated GS type ski. If it ever gets too icy I just go for a coffee instead!
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mistral wrote:
So are we saying (reading between the lines) that I definitely should buy that pair of BC Camox I have been hankering after...?


Yes! Do it. Love mine! Laughing
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@uktrailmonster, i had the chance to try and became hooked. Now have 3 pairs! The new Alchemist construction is ace. Atris was also on my list but rented a (badly tuned) pair in Chamonix which put me off.
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@BobinCH, Yeah it's amazing how a bad tune can ruin a ski completely. Think I'm going to give the Atris a try anyway and see how it goes. I read the reviews on Blister and a few other places and they all seem very positive. I'll be out in BC again at the end of March, so probably get to test them in spring slush and perhaps the odd late season powder day if lucky.
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@uktrailmonster, fwiw Weathercam loves his Atris's............... Seems to ski OK on them too Very Happy
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Tried the Atris in 184 and Volkl 100Eight in 181. Much preferred the Atris. Smooth everywhere, tail kicked me a few times. Still misses the light energetic feel of the DPS Alchemist for me but half the price. 100Eight was more directional, damped, not for me. Got the Blizzard Rustkers tomorrow am...
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gravity-slave wrote:
mistral wrote:
So are we saying (reading between the lines) that I definitely should buy that pair of BC Camox I have been hankering after...?


Yes! Do it. Love mine! Laughing

Looking at the tech spec after my post elsewhere regarding the turn radius changing on different lengths of the same ski, BC appear to widen the tips & tails of this ski as the length increases to keep the radius the same.
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Skied the Blizzard Rustler 11 today and it was great. Thought the 180cm length they had might be short (also cones in 188 apparently) but loved them.

No idea if this is reliable but they seem to agree...
https://freeskier.com/stories/top-30-big-mountain-skis-2017-2018

If you can find this ski, try it!
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@BobinCH, Many thanks for your reviews. I went with the Atris 189 in the end as I've heard they ski a little short and I'm a fairly big guy anyway. I figured the 100Eight would be more directional and your comments support that. The Rustler 11 was on my shortlist, but too many skis and not enough time! I got a really good deal on the 2018 Atris with a few minor top sheet scratches, so pretty happy with that. Looking forward to taking them out to BC in March. BTW your appt looks really cool!
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As an update to this thread, I did buy the BC Atris (189 cm version) in the end and here are my thoughts after a few weeks of use out in BC in all manner of soft snow conditions:-

1. They are great in untracked fresh powder. Super smooth, fast, stable, floaty and generally easy to ride.
2. They do pretty well in tracked out fresh powder too, smoothing out most of the bumps at speed.
3. Also pretty decent performance on fresh soft groomers providing you keep to GS sized turns.

But despite the above positives, I found them a lot less versatile than either my older Line Sir Francis Bacons or my Volkl 90 Eights. Tight tree skiing was hard work unless the snow conditions were perfect light powder. They are very slow edge to edge compared to my SFBs and don't pivot anywhere near as easily in tight spaces. Maybe the 184 cm Atris would have been a better compromise for me, but I don't think that was the main issue at my height and weight. While I really enjoyed the Atris in open powder fields and wide freshly groomed pistes, they felt slow and ponderous when playing around in trees and other tighter spots. In the end I found myself going back to the SFBs on powder days (where I often hit the trees once the open stuff gets tracked out) and the Volkl 90 Eights on more average days without fresh snow.

So I'm not sure the BC Atris is a long term keeper for me. For next season I'll keep using them on bigger powder days and maybe look at the latest Line SFB as a more "playful" powder ski. The Atris are certainly more stable at high speed than my current SFBs, especially in soft chop, but not as fun or effortless to ride at more moderate speeds all over the mountain.

Going back to my original post, I think I've now answered my question about how the latest "directional" powder skis compare against the more "playful" park inspired options and for me the latter seem more versatile and fun for an average day on the hill. But there are certainly some positives in having both types of ski in the quiver. For me the BC Atris is a nice ski to break out on a big powder charging day, but not versatile enough to ever consider as an everyday ski.
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DPS Lotus 124 Alchemist in a 185 will solve all your problems with the Atris 😉
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My last three skis have been centre-mounted bi-directional twin tip skis, albeit narrower than what you're looking at.

They do everything.

I wouldn't go back.
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Mike Pow wrote:
bi-directional twin tip skis


You ski backwards as well 😇
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@uktrailmonster,
Interesting. I haven't skied them but had in mind that the Atris would be a fun soft snow focused do-it-all ski but it sounds harder work than I thought.

We had a few powder days over Easter and I skied a couple on WD R108CL (guess you'd call those directional) and one on WD Redeemers which I'd call playful in soft snow (really easy to pivot and drift). But the thing I realised is that the Redeemers are anything but playful on firm snow, in fact they are pretty awful and very hard work. We were mostly off piste but in the afternoon did a little piste skiing with some less adventurous members of the party. I was expecting them to be quite nice in the soft bumps that had formed but because it was Easter and there has been some mild temperatures, once you got through the fresher snow into the damp consolidated based they got very grabby (width, very little side cut) and delivered huge torque to my lower legs. I'd pivot and drift through the soft bumps then find an edge suddenly grab.

I guess where I am going with this is that it made me realise there is no silver bullet. Redeemers are completely optimised for being a boatload of fun in soft snow - they work brilliantly in 3 dimensions. But a bunch of those design choices mean that they are just not very good in 2 dimensions.
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jedster wrote:


I guess where I am going with this is that it made me realise there is no silver bullet. Redeemers are completely optimised for being a boatload of fun in soft snow - they work brilliantly in 3 dimensions. But a bunch of those design choices mean that they are just not very good in 2 dimensions.


The only silver bullet is to go skinnier in a fun shape ski to the extent you can then hold on very hard morning groomers etc. I had a similarly torrid time after a hard refreeze on Shiros at Easter, they simply are too wide to make holding an edge comfortable when you have nil penetration. Of course they were magic once things had softened up - even ran a GS pitech some Austrian dev team girls had been training on earlier.
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jedster wrote:
@uktrailmonster,
Interesting. I haven't skied them but had in mind that the Atris would be a fun soft snow focused do-it-all ski but it sounds harder work than I thought.


That's what I had in mind too, but they are nothing like the do-it-all skis that the Line Sir Francis Bacon or Volkl 90Eight are. If I had to ski the Atris every day they would be very limiting in anything other than boot deep powder. I could make them work in various conditions, but they were just making the job harder than necessary and certainly not as much fun. In the right conditions they were great, but a poor choice for an everyday ski. It was a good lesson for me to learn re. some of the marketing claims of wide skis like this!
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Mike Pow wrote:
My last three skis have been centre-mounted bi-directional twin tip skis, albeit narrower than what you're looking at.

They do everything.

I wouldn't go back.


Let's just say I'm now back to looking at the current narrower Line Bacons. At 104 mm underfoot, they sound ideal for a very playful all-mountain ski. I don't ski switch, but I love how these centre mounted skis perform going forwards!
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uktrailmonster wrote:
jedster wrote:
@uktrailmonster,
Interesting. I haven't skied them but had in mind that the Atris would be a fun soft snow focused do-it-all ski but it sounds harder work than I thought.


That's what I had in mind too, but they are nothing like the do-it-all skis that the Line Sir Francis Bacon or Volkl 90Eight are. If I had to ski the Atris every day they would be very limiting in anything other than boot deep powder. I could make them work in various conditions, but they were just making the job harder than necessary and certainly not as much fun. In the right conditions they were great, but a poor choice for an everyday ski. It was a good lesson for me to learn re. some of the marketing claims of wide skis like this!


Can't say I agree with this at all having skiied pretty much only the Atris all season (out of 8 skis to choose from!), but I guess everyone has a different opinion on things. Out of interest, how heavy are you? Could it be the 189s are just too long?
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