Sunday, October 24, 2021

What should I buy?!

By Eino Holm

(Rob (the PT) asked for recs on big all-mountain skis.  Being one who is full of magnanimity, I oblige these requests.  Herewith, a email, edited a shade to be less opaque.)

Amy said you need skis.  95mm? I have opinions.  People need to hear my opinions. I've spent the last 40 years gathering intel. And, to quote a lady from The Place That Shall Not be Named I don't know but who was rad, yeah, I'm pretty good.  (Also, I have a hard time being fully serious at any point in the time. If any of this sounds scolding, I promise that it isn't.  I just have lots and lots of opinions and thankfully much, much time on snow and six winters over the stone to back them up. Also I have a bio on  I'm sure that's like, something, or something.)

Amy says you might not read the whole diatribe, so, tl;dr is at bottom.

Where does this ski slot in your mind?  If it's a Bogus Basin 2-8" day or some day-old and some cut-up and maybe a groomer or two or some thick spring slush, then good, that's what these skis are designed for exactly, go for it.  If it's a "quiver killer" (whatever that is), then hell yeah, go for it.  These can all handle that. If this is "skinny", then stop reading ski blogs and go skinnier.  Skinny is 75mm and below. I'd also suggest some 88mm skis as well, but option paralysis is real.

Anyway. I agree that the Enforcer is not a good ski.  I bet it'll last through the apocalypse cos it weighs eleventy tons and is made by Blizzard, aka one of the top 3 factories in skiing.  It feels like it is made for people who don't know what a powerful ski is and will settle for a dead one.  All that tip rocker, so much weight, early taper, no thank you.  I and Grady (the Bullrider) Pilkington from Huntsville, UT agreed when it was first reissued winter of '016 that it was disappointing.  Then Nordica had a ridiculous pro deal and Grady (the Bullrider) bought it anyway.  I laughed.  It is boring, dead, and not worth the press time in Mittersill.  Nordica can do better, and has, lots and lots of times.  Look no further than their race program.  Or the Original Enforcer.

Also, 95mm has been a bit of a not-quite zone for me.  Not big, but not small, either.  I prefer 88mm skis, cos the float is roughly the same, but the hard snow performance is that much better.

That said, here's my take:
Best 95 mm ski of the moment is the Stöckli Stormrider 95.  Contrary to all the breathy internet prose vomited into the æther by folks who get paid to vomit breathy prose into the æther, it isn't really worth $1159 after Idaho state sales tax.  It is, however, really damn good.  Surprising, even to this cynical Sámi.  It is the best 90-100mm ski I have skied in a really long time.  The previous best was the original Bonafide.

(Quick aside, I know the parents of the guy (Arne Backstrom) who designed the original Bodacious line back in '010, which included at the time the Cochise and the Bonafide.  I mounted the first pair of Bodacious that came off the line in Mittersill.  Well, I was at Crystal, but the ski came from Mittersill.  Arne's Pa got the first pair in memoriam and had me drill them cos he trusted me--I think--and also knew me from my days bumping chairs and also from knowing my Pa since '92.  I was grateful our binding bench faced the wall, so he didn't see me cry.)  

Anyway, that ski was both powerful and lively, something missing from the current crop of skis.  Before that, it was the Bandit XXX, circa '03.  Anyway, I have also really liked the Élan Ripstick and the Head Kore.  I think the Kore comes in a 98.  Élan is also top three factory.  Stöckli von Der Schweiz, Mittersill aus Österreich, and Élan, in Begunje na Gorenjskem, Slovenia.  (I looked that up.)  Head's shop in Vorarlberg is a close fourth.  One time I drilled and mounted 16 pairs of Élans in about a half hour, no pulls.  That's rare for me at that speed.  I've pulled screws outa Stöckli (no joke, it was Scott Schmidt's; he'd given them to his cameraman who needed them remounted for a bigger boot), Head, Rossi more times than I can count, K2, Atomic, all sorta skis both good and otherwise, but for me, that 256 screw run says a lotta good about that factory. Anyway, the Ripstick is goods.  Two other good skis in that 94-98 mm range are the Rustler 9 (94mm) and the Ranger 98 (98mm). I don't love either, but I think for their design purpose they are solid.  The Fischer's too techy for me with all that carbon, but carbon is frustratingly inescapable at the moment.  I skied the Rustler 9 for four days at Silver Mt up North Idaho in '019 and, while I found the speed limit, liked it a lot and found much good turn with it.  It is definitely aimed at lighter riders than myself; at the same time it is not undergunned for most folks.  I could almost keep up with Jackson Hogen (goooooogle if you're bored) and Mark Elling on it, and I doubt another ski would have made me any faster.  It has some metal, some carbon, a mostly race-style sandwich, and most importantly, looks good with a Look or Salomon or Tyrolia binding. 

(Amy may have mentioned you erroneously aren't anti-Marker.  Hopefully she misapprehended.  Marker is worst binding, unless is 14+ din (preferably 16 or 18 or 20) and also is race. Their freeride bindings have too too much plastic. Marker is only binding make Enore chase ski not once, but twice, into woods on--count em--32" new.  I set brand new Griffon to the book, tested 'em with the ol' Vermont Safety, went out first run on Upper Bull with my buddy Stina and holy crap, does a 132mm underfoot (you read that right) ski travel far on 32". Don't Marker.  Marker is like the Specialised of the ski world.)

I imagine the Mantra M6 is good, if you get a chance to ski it.  (I haven't skied any Mantra in a while, but Mark II and III were lively and solid. Mark I delammed a lot.) Metal and stuff and flat, so you can choose yer own binding adventure.  Also, Straubing.  Good factory.  I wish Völkl wasn't part of Marker.
There are probly some other skis out there, but I don't really pay attention to skis that aren't from the Alps.  Bad luck, snobbiness, blindspots, I don't care.  Life's too short to ski on not-Enore skis. If you want to try some of those cool looking boutique American skis, go ahead.  Some are super intriguing, like Shaggy's Copper Country Skis.  Even though I have family in the UP and they are certain Copper Country doesn't include the Mitten.  I haven't had any exposure and I wish they were all better at demo days so I could.  And tip-to-tail camber.  I hate how much rocker is out there.  My '012 Kästle MX88 has no rocker and no taper and it's the best dern ski I have ever skied.  Also lots metal.

top eight:
1 Stormrider 95
3 Bonafide
4 Rustler 9
5 Ripstick 96 (or whatever the new version is)
7 Kore 98
8 Ranger 98 (again, or whatever the current version is)

There's probly a Salomon or an Atomic that's decent, but I haven't been impressed historically.
Skis are fun. I like skiing. I have my pass down to a daily cost of $1.47 American. I rule.