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2022 Loveland demo-day: thoughts on some all terrain mid-fats (mid 90 waist)

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Conditions: early season packed powder to hardpack in spots, later in the day it started to warm up and snowed a bit to add some softness here and there. I skied each ski on the runs that were open which usually was blue groomer --> blue groomer and some extremely awkward bumps on the side of the run to a blue/green groomer.

My skier type: 40 year old aggressive advanced Western (CO) skier, ski moderately fast at times and spend most of my time on ungroomed terrain including trees and bowls. 5'3", 135 lb.

What I'm looking for: a do-it-all ski that is enjoyable on ungroomed terrain and functions well enough in bumps and trees and steeps. Looking for stability at speed as well as a playfulness to allow me to explore terrain. Willing to sacrifice some performance in aspects in order to have a kind of jack-of-all trades ski. I'm generally a one ski quiver girl (current skis, Armada TST 165cm that I feel is slightly too short and unstable through crud) but am thinking of moving towards a 2 ski quiver with a mid-fat and a 105-110 mm waist powder ski in the future.

The skis:

Armada Reliance 102 ti, 172 cm: this was the first ski I tried. It was a little fatter than I want for a daily driver, but previously I had tried the Armada Trace 108 and really really enjoyed it so I figured I'd give it a whirl. In the past I have really enjoyed Armadas so this was my first stop of the day. Generally I think that a defining characteristic of Armada skis is a feeling of 'playfulness' that makes them a joy to ski as an all-mountain ski. Sadly I felt that this was distinctly lacking in this ski, it felt a bit planklike and while it was responsive, it felt heavy and wasnt as fun as I wanted. While I wouldn't call it a damp ski, it definitely had more of a dampening quality than I wanted it to have.

Black Crows Camox/ Camox Birdie 168cm and 174cm: 96 waist. I tried the 168 first and it immediately put a smile on my face. It was light, poppy, nimble, but still I was able to make bigger arced turns on the groomer without feeling instability. It was super fun in the bumps and was the best bump ski of the day that I tried (it was also the shortest, and had the lightest demo bindings on it which might explain my feelings about it). I then tried the longer length and I really enjoyed it on the groomer and in bigger turns but found it too unwieldy in the bumps. I wish the two lengths had the same bindings on them so I could have had less variables to compare the two but I decided that the 168 cm would be more versatile for me and it was a very strong contender.

Faction Dictator 2.0/x 171cm: 95 waist. I was unsure about this ski based on reviews going into the demo day but some of the descriptions intrigued me. It was described as a 'charger' and that it 'needed to be driven' which made me think it wouldnt be as playful as I was looking for. But I decided to take it out anyway, because I'm stubborn like that. This was the biggest surprise for me, it was super stable and just damp enough on the groomer and slightly chopped up snow, it was pretty easy to get forward on it and when I took it into the bumps I found it was surprisingly responsive and energetic. While bumps probably aren't its strong suit, it was easy enough to push into shorter turns that I think it would make an ideal all mountain ski. Popping off terrain features and catching little bits of air here and there was super fun because it was so stable to land at speed.

Rossignol Black Ops 9 Stargazer, 170 cm: at this length. this ski is listed as 94 waist so was a bit narrower than I had been considering and honestly I just took it out because the Rossi tent wasn't busy and I didn't know what else to try at the moment. This ski was a little damper than I was looking for but I found it extremely stable in both large and small radius turns. It seems like it would be a great all mountain ski for people looking for extra stability in ungroomed terrain, however I found it lacking in that 'playful' and energetic feeling I was looking for. It also felt like it had a bit of a speed limit at the upper ends and preferred to be skied at slower speeds.

I had some lunch and since I was getting tired and it was starting to snow a bit, I decided to go back and take out my two earlier contenders to see how I felt about them. I took out the Camox Birdie 168 and the Dictator again. I was suprised that my feelings on the Camox changed completely. While it still felt responsive and playful, now it felt too jittery and every bit of ungroomed snow I skied over translated directly to my legs in a bad way. In fact, I took a little fall on these when I hit a patch of scratch on a steeper pitch and bit it. I felt that maybe some of it was the tune (my left ski felt off) but also think that this ski in the shorter length just wasnt stable enough for me at the speeds I like to ski especially once the snow got more three dimensional. Still would be a great pure bump/tree ski but I am looking for something a bit more versatile than that. I took the Dictator out again, but I was really feeling trashed at this point so basically I wanted to see if I also disliked that ski compared to earlier (at which point I think it would just tell me that I should trust my earlier instincts since my legs were now too tired to really test skis effectively). But I still really liked the Dictator, it felt stable and comfortable on the now slightly softer and choppier groomers. I didn't take it in the bumps because my legs were too tired at that point, but I did some short radius turns and even though I was tired it was still pretty easy to bend.

Summary/results: I decided to ask Santa for the Dictators. I was surprised that I didn't think they were too stiff and aggressive for my style of skiing, especially since they are constructed with two sheets of metal in them. But I think that they don't really ski like a ski with lots of metal in them (compared to, say, the Nordica Enforcer which I tried in the past and found too burly and stiff for my style of skiing). They are slightly narrower than my current skis, but I think that in moderate amounts of powder they will work just fine although in the next year or two I may consider adding a powder ski into the mix and getting rid of my TSTs. My only concern about the Dictators is that I have read some reports of people snapping Factions due to some past manufacturing issues. However, I'm a 135 lb 40 year old woman, so I doubt I'll be doing anything crazy enough to snap a ski in half, as much as I would like to pretend that might be how I ski.
 

chasinghorizons

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Nice comparison and thanks for sharing your experiences! Super interesting to read. I used the Rossignol Stargazers all last year and a little bit at the beginning of this year - loved them for progression. But my husband bought me the Faction Dictator 2.0x for Christmas this year and they feel like an upgrade in almost every way. They would be terrifying to learn on - boy, do they like to go fast, it's like hitting an accelerator - but they are so light and so stable at speed it just feels like you're slicing through snow like it's butter. Ski and Bike Magazine posted hilarious youtube reviews of the Dictator 2.0 and 3.0, and they're right - these skis are not interested in your conversation, they don't want to hear anything you have to say, they just want to go. Fast. And I love it.

I love them so much I just bought the 3.0x today too. Woooo retail therapy. :banana:

As a sidenote, I also picked up the Sheeva 10s on a Memorial Day sale last season. While they are nicely maneuverable, more damp than the Stargazers and better in powder, they also feel much heavier underfoot. After the lightness+stability of the Dictators, I just can't see myself ever really using them again. But that's just my personal preference.
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Nice comparison and thanks for sharing your experiences! Super interesting to read. I used the Rossignol Stargazers all last year and a little bit at the beginning of this year - loved them for progression. But my husband bought me the Faction Dictator 2.0x for Christmas this year and they feel like an upgrade in almost every way. They would be terrifying to learn on - boy, do they like to go fast, it's like hitting an accelerator - but they are so light and so stable at speed it just feels like you're slicing through snow like it's butter. Ski and Bike Magazine posted hilarious youtube reviews of the Dictator 2.0 and 3.0, and they're right - these skis are not interested in your conversation, they don't want to hear anything you have to say, they just want to go. Fast. And I love it.

I love them so much I just bought the 3.0x today too. Woooo retail therapy. :banana:

As a sidenote, I also picked up the Sheeva 10s on a Memorial Day sale last season. While they are nicely maneuverable, more damp than the Stargazers and better in powder, they also feel much heavier underfoot. After the lightness+stability of the Dictators, I just can't see myself ever really using them again. But that's just my personal preference.

I'm surprised honestly I don't see more reviews on them, they are fantastic skis. I guess they are still more of a smaller/boutique brand. The only thing they have struggled on for me (and honestly, it was probably more me than the skis) was taking them on a very steep run that had not yet been skied down and was extremely variable, from bottomless powder to heavier slightly skied out unconsolidated snow and avy bomb debris, to very firm windslab that looked like powder but absolutely wasnt. And even then they/I only struggled on the worst of the snow.

I have seen some fantastic reviews on the CT line too, but I didn't try those. Overall I'm super happy with my Dictators, plus they are SO. DARN. PRETTY. IMG_5883.HEIC.jpeg
 

chasinghorizons

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm surprised honestly I don't see more reviews on them, they are fantastic skis.
Possibly too because all the online reviews describe them as really fast, aggressive and hard to handle. I did a ton of research before choosing them, and most say they're only for advanced/expert skiers and are really punishing if you get backseat. Which is somewhat true, I did notice they really want a forward stance which is scary if you're an intermediate on steeper terrain, but I don't think they're THAT bad if you happen to slip up once in awhile. And the lightness+stability makes up for it and keeps them decently easy to maneuver.

And yes, LOVE the irony of hot pink skis that absolutely rip!
 

AJM

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
270254367_1066601493910815_8673402323663979765_n.jpgMy son has hot pink Black Crows as his touring ski's and absolutely loves the colour !! He took them out for a mid summer ski yesterday in 20 C heat up in the depths of our Southern Alps. Here they are with their orange friends x
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
View attachment 17479My son has hot pink Black Crows as his touring ski's and absolutely loves the colour !! He took them out for a mid summer ski yesterday in 20 C heat up in the depths of our Southern Alps. Here they are with their orange friends x
Where is there skiable snow around here/how did he get there? Not that I have any intention of touring whatsoever, I'm just curious to know if there's any snow that is accessible by means other than helicopter! (I really don't know anything at all about touring in NZ, is why!!)

The pink skis look fantastic! I demoed the hot pink Fischer Ranger 102FR last season and thought they looked great too. Actually know a few dudes in the US who own those skis in pink, and specifically sought out the pink version not the blue version :wink:
 

AJM

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Where is there skiable snow around here/how did he get there? Not that I have any intention of touring whatsoever, I'm just curious to know if there's any snow that is accessible by means other than helicopter! (I really don't know anything at all about touring in NZ, is why!!)

The pink skis look fantastic! I demoed the hot pink Fischer Ranger 102FR last season and thought they looked great too. Actually know a few dudes in the US who own those skis in pink, and specifically sought out the pink version not the blue version :wink:
He just loves those hot pink ski's !! They flew into the Geike Snowfield on the coast, he's based at Franz for the Summer so lucky him has it all on his doorstep x
 

SkiGAP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Question: what is "moderately fast" in terms of mph / kmh? It's just a calibration question...

Perhaps worth another thread - but what do we consider "aggressive" or "fast" for the typical Diva (not a race comparison)
 

edelweissmaedl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Question: what is "moderately fast" in terms of mph / kmh? It's just a calibration question...

Perhaps worth another thread - but what do we consider "aggressive" or "fast" for the typical Diva (not a race comparison)
Also up for a new thread if that’s better, but I recently noticed some ski diva review comments qualifying speed (a certain ski doesn’t like going slower than 35 mph). I would love a discussion about this In actual speeds.
 

BReeves215

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
This isn’t exactly relevant, but: 3 or 4 years ago I was waiting at the lodge to meet my teen daughter for lunch. When she didn’t pick up her phone I thought to check Life360, which showed her on the hill going 45 mph
 

rivarunnamomma

Certified Ski Diva
Conditions: early season packed powder to hardpack in spots, later in the day it started to warm up and snowed a bit to add some softness here and there. I skied each ski on the runs that were open which usually was blue groomer --> blue groomer and some extremely awkward bumps on the side of the run to a blue/green groomer.

My skier type: 40 year old aggressive advanced Western (CO) skier, ski moderately fast at times and spend most of my time on ungroomed terrain including trees and bowls. 5'3", 135 lb.

What I'm looking for: a do-it-all ski that is enjoyable on ungroomed terrain and functions well enough in bumps and trees and steeps. Looking for stability at speed as well as a playfulness to allow me to explore terrain. Willing to sacrifice some performance in aspects in order to have a kind of jack-of-all trades ski. I'm generally a one ski quiver girl (current skis, Armada TST 165cm that I feel is slightly too short and unstable through crud) but am thinking of moving towards a 2 ski quiver with a mid-fat and a 105-110 mm waist powder ski in the future.

The skis:

Armada Reliance 102 ti, 172 cm: this was the first ski I tried. It was a little fatter than I want for a daily driver, but previously I had tried the Armada Trace 108 and really really enjoyed it so I figured I'd give it a whirl. In the past I have really enjoyed Armadas so this was my first stop of the day. Generally I think that a defining characteristic of Armada skis is a feeling of 'playfulness' that makes them a joy to ski as an all-mountain ski. Sadly I felt that this was distinctly lacking in this ski, it felt a bit planklike and while it was responsive, it felt heavy and wasnt as fun as I wanted. While I wouldn't call it a damp ski, it definitely had more of a dampening quality than I wanted it to have.

Black Crows Camox/ Camox Birdie 168cm and 174cm: 96 waist. I tried the 168 first and it immediately put a smile on my face. It was light, poppy, nimble, but still I was able to make bigger arced turns on the groomer without feeling instability. It was super fun in the bumps and was the best bump ski of the day that I tried (it was also the shortest, and had the lightest demo bindings on it which might explain my feelings about it). I then tried the longer length and I really enjoyed it on the groomer and in bigger turns but found it too unwieldy in the bumps. I wish the two lengths had the same bindings on them so I could have had less variables to compare the two but I decided that the 168 cm would be more versatile for me and it was a very strong contender.

Faction Dictator 2.0/x 171cm: 95 waist. I was unsure about this ski based on reviews going into the demo day but some of the descriptions intrigued me. It was described as a 'charger' and that it 'needed to be driven' which made me think it wouldnt be as playful as I was looking for. But I decided to take it out anyway, because I'm stubborn like that. This was the biggest surprise for me, it was super stable and just damp enough on the groomer and slightly chopped up snow, it was pretty easy to get forward on it and when I took it into the bumps I found it was surprisingly responsive and energetic. While bumps probably aren't its strong suit, it was easy enough to push into shorter turns that I think it would make an ideal all mountain ski. Popping off terrain features and catching little bits of air here and there was super fun because it was so stable to land at speed.

Rossignol Black Ops 9 Stargazer, 170 cm: at this length. this ski is listed as 94 waist so was a bit narrower than I had been considering and honestly I just took it out because the Rossi tent wasn't busy and I didn't know what else to try at the moment. This ski was a little damper than I was looking for but I found it extremely stable in both large and small radius turns. It seems like it would be a great all mountain ski for people looking for extra stability in ungroomed terrain, however I found it lacking in that 'playful' and energetic feeling I was looking for. It also felt like it had a bit of a speed limit at the upper ends and preferred to be skied at slower speeds.

I had some lunch and since I was getting tired and it was starting to snow a bit, I decided to go back and take out my two earlier contenders to see how I felt about them. I took out the Camox Birdie 168 and the Dictator again. I was suprised that my feelings on the Camox changed completely. While it still felt responsive and playful, now it felt too jittery and every bit of ungroomed snow I skied over translated directly to my legs in a bad way. In fact, I took a little fall on these when I hit a patch of scratch on a steeper pitch and bit it. I felt that maybe some of it was the tune (my left ski felt off) but also think that this ski in the shorter length just wasnt stable enough for me at the speeds I like to ski especially once the snow got more three dimensional. Still would be a great pure bump/tree ski but I am looking for something a bit more versatile than that. I took the Dictator out again, but I was really feeling trashed at this point so basically I wanted to see if I also disliked that ski compared to earlier (at which point I think it would just tell me that I should trust my earlier instincts since my legs were now too tired to really test skis effectively). But I still really liked the Dictator, it felt stable and comfortable on the now slightly softer and choppier groomers. I didn't take it in the bumps because my legs were too tired at that point, but I did some short radius turns and even though I was tired it was still pretty easy to bend.

Summary/results: I decided to ask Santa for the Dictators. I was surprised that I didn't think they were too stiff and aggressive for my style of skiing, especially since they are constructed with two sheets of metal in them. But I think that they don't really ski like a ski with lots of metal in them (compared to, say, the Nordica Enforcer which I tried in the past and found too burly and stiff for my style of skiing). They are slightly narrower than my current skis, but I think that in moderate amounts of powder they will work just fine although in the next year or two I may consider adding a powder ski into the mix and getting rid of my TSTs. My only concern about the Dictators is that I have read some reports of people snapping Factions due to some past manufacturing issues. However, I'm a 135 lb 40 year old woman, so I doubt I'll be doing anything crazy enough to snap a ski in half, as much as I would like to pretend that might be how I ski.
@Kimmyt Great review of a number of skis I'm considering for a demo trip in a couple of weeks. @chasinghorizons posted a link to your view to a thread I started to get Diva suggestions. I'm new to forums so I'm not sure where to post my reply to you ... here? Or in the original thread? I think I'll copy part of this post and put it in the original thread too ... please let me know if this breaches forum "best practices".

I am a very similar skier ... but a bit more vintage :-) and have arrived at the same point - considering a mid-fat for days when the powder is scarce with a focus on bumps, ungroomed, steeps and trees. I have 112 DPS Yvette Alchemists which I LOVE but I want something with lots more pop in the bumps and more energy on groomers. As a result of your review, the Camox and the Dictator 2.0 (it's pink) are going to stay on my list for sure. Your comments might also tempt me to remove the Stargazer from my list but @chasinghorizons enthusiasm for them is compelling. :-)

My only question is: how are you liking the Dictators now that you've had more time on them? Strengths? Weaknesses?

Thanks again!
 

chasinghorizons

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Your comments might also tempt me to remove the Stargazer from my list but @chasinghorizons enthusiasm for them is compelling. :-)
Ahha I do love my Stargazers, but I mentioned them more because I saw you liked the Soul 7 before, and the Stargazers are (according to Rossignol) like a narrower Soul 7. They're not necessarily a "poppy" ski, but they are very intuitive, easy and forgiving. Based on your preference for an energetic ski, I'd prioritize the Dictators over the Stargazers, unless you really really loved the S7.
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@Kimmyt Great review of a number of skis I'm considering for a demo trip in a couple of weeks. @chasinghorizons posted a link to your view to a thread I started to get Diva suggestions. I'm new to forums so I'm not sure where to post my reply to you ... here? Or in the original thread? I think I'll copy part of this post and put it in the original thread too ... please let me know if this breaches forum "best practices".

I am a very similar skier ... but a bit more vintage :-) and have arrived at the same point - considering a mid-fat for days when the powder is scarce with a focus on bumps, ungroomed, steeps and trees. I have 112 DPS Yvette Alchemists which I LOVE but I want something with lots more pop in the bumps and more energy on groomers. As a result of your review, the Camox and the Dictator 2.0 (it's pink) are going to stay on my list for sure. Your comments might also tempt me to remove the Stargazer from my list but @chasinghorizons enthusiasm for them is compelling. :-)

My only question is: how are you liking the Dictators now that you've had more time on them? Strengths? Weaknesses?

Thanks again!
Yes, responding here is fine since I get notifications on this thread as the author. Id say that I have enough days on the Dictators to have a better feel for them. I'm really really enjoying them, the caveat being that this year has kind of been low tide around here so not a ton of powder days etc. I have skied them on a few light pow days and on crud and steeps and some trees (I'm not entirely trusting of the trees rn since I've seen whatt lurks beneath but I think soon they will be decent so I don't have to fear my bases and skull).

Here's a summary of the strengths/weaknesses of the Dictator according to me.

Strengths:
Ripping high speed turns on groomers-seriously, I am not a groomer girl. But I've been skiing with my kids a lot so we are doing mostly blues and just starting to dabble in bumps. And these things make groomers a blast. I've always enjoyed off piste much more but I have to say that a groomer day on these skis will put a huge smile on my face.

Stability at speed- Oh do they like to go fast. They will go slow if you ask them to, but they are rather like a thoroughbred just asking to show you their legs. They'll go at a moderate pace but you need to work a bit more for it, while going fast (and I'm not talking out of control fast because I am not that girl, just higher speed turns) just feels right on these babies.

Light crud and chopped up snow- They'll bust right through it. As I've said most of my powder days have been in the 6" range so quite moderate, so the crud and chop has also been correspondingly moderate, but I am much more comfortable just arcing through the crud than I was before, and the skis feel stable doing so.

Medium-Large radius turns- They have a definite preference for a certain turn size, and feel really good when in that wheelhouse. Thats not to say they won't make smaller turns, but you will need a little more user input to get them to do that for you.

Untracked moderate pow- they basically just blow throw everything. But lets be real what ski isnt fun on an untracked pow run of less than a foot?

Weaknesses:

Short turns- As I mentioned, they will do a bump run and short turns but you really need to be forward on them and drive them into these turns, moreso than the more comfortable mid sized turns they prefer.

Steep moguls- and some of this may be more related to me as a skier, but because they are a stiffer ski they are more punishing in bumps if you dont stay centered on them. Don't let your attention slip, and they're great fun on the steepest bumps, but if you start getting tired or backseat, you may find yourself on a bit of a bucking bronco.

Tight trees- Similarly to the steep moguls, they will do the job. But you need to be on them, and sometimes I just want a smeary playful ski in these areas so its a bit easier.

That being said, all of these 'weaknesses' are just slight drawbacks that all seem to be easily solved by me getting out of the backseat and getting my skiing right (which I need to do anyway).

Overall I'd say if I was skiing these skis most of the time in tight trees and steep bumps then I could probably find an easier ski ( I do plan to keep my TSTs for days when I'm skiing with friends who prefer the trees and bumps). But since I do now spend quite a bit of time skiing on groomers with my kids, I think they are the perfect bit of everything ski. Plus I get to stand in a lift line and listen to young dudes talk about how my skis are rad and how they are 'charging skis' lol.
 

rivarunnamomma

Certified Ski Diva
Plus I get to stand in a lift line and listen to young dudes talk about how my skis are rad and how they are 'charging skis' lol.
Okay, I'm sold. At my advanced age of 57, this is a key selling feature.

Seriously though, thanks so much for all the detail. I think this ski would be at one end of the spectrum of the skis I've chosen to demo. It's been a long time since I've skied something this responsive and happy at speed so it will be interesting to see if I love it ... or hate it! I'll be sure to report back. Thanks again!
 

Kimmyt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I wonder if they aren't seeing sales because the name is too 'aggressive'.
 

rivarunnamomma

Certified Ski Diva
@Kimmyt and @chasinghorizons I have found my people! :-) Ditching the "Dictator" name completely undermines @Kimmyt's main reason for buying these skis:
Plus I get to stand in a lift line and listen to young dudes talk about how my skis are rad and how they are 'charging skis' lol.
Even if they aren't shrinked and are already pinked, the boys will never use "rad" and "charger" in the same sentence as Dancer.

I better get a set before they change the topsheets.
 

chasinghorizons

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Even if they aren't shrinked and are already pinked, the boys will never use "rad" and "charger" in the same sentence as Dancer.

I better get a set before they change the topsheets.
Right?! And I feel like "Dancer" is totally misleading... it makes them sound like freestyle skis now.

I was waxing my 3.0s last night, and these skis are not playing. I am kinda scared, lol. I feel like if I ask the 2.0s to do short turns and go slow, they say, "awww, alright..." in a disappointed sort of way, but they do it. I feel like if I ask the 3.0s to go short and slow, they're just gonna say, "No. That's stupid." And take me for a ride.

I got the smallest size but they are still 9cm taller than me. Pray for me. :bolt:
 

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