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Frontside & moguls - what should be on my demo list?

tika55

Certified Ski Diva
OK Ski Divas, I would LOVE your thoughts. I'm planning to hit the women's demo day at Loveland in April and want to make a list of skis to try. Currently I ski the K2 Mindbender 98ti 163 cm as my only ski. I'm 5'9", about 170 lb and strong (powerlifter). I absolutely adore these skis in powder and in good groomed conditions but I don't love them in other situations. I'm considering getting one (or two?) additional skis for different conditions.

I ski mostly Ikon pass resorts in CO (Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper). I'd call myself an advanced intermediate. I can make it down anything but it might not be graceful.

Would like to find some skis that work better in:

- Moguls: My kids love moguls and I don't hate them. I'm much better this year having upgraded from an 85 flex to a 105 flex boot. However, I still feel like they are a bit tiring to manage and I get cooked out about halfway down a black mogul run.
- Ice: In early season conditions I had no bite on the Mindbenders and took a lot of icy falls. Possibly need to improve my form too but I'm not averse to buying skills.

Things I have demoed in the past and liked/disliked:
- Nordica Santa Ana 100 (older version): This was OK. I didn't hate it but also felt it was not as fun as the Mindbender 98ti.
- Salomon QST Lux 92: I hated this ski. I'm not sure why. Used for a weekend in decent early season conditions. It felt squirrely and not fun to me.
- Volkl Yumi: Used in good mid-season groomed conditions at Keystone. This was a few years ago when my skills were less good. Really really loved this ski.

Skis on my radar:
- Nordica Santa Ana 88: Seems to be a good all-rounder but I'm hesistant due to my meh feelings for the 100.
- Volkl Kenja: Lots of recs for this one.
 

kmb5662

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
- The older version of the Santa Ana had 2 sheets of metal whereas the latest model has a single sheet of "terrain specific metal" with more in the tips and tails and less underfoot making it lighter and less demanding than the older version, so you may like the current version a lot better than the prior versions. Keep in mind, they are changing the Santa Anas again for the 2025 model but the reviews I've read so far don't sound like they're much more demanding.

- They are also changing the Black Pearls for the 2025 season which might be worth checking out. Also recommend demoing the Sheeva 9!

- Also keep in mind, I believe Volkl for next season is doing away with the Kenja name and renaming them the Secret 88. I think the construction is staying the same?

- Volkl Blaze 86 is a really fun mogul ski. It's on the softer end, doesn't have any metal, and has a fair amount of rocker so wouldn't be my personal choice for firm conditions however.

- The Salomon Stance 88 is also a really nice ski that doesn't get much attention. A little bit stiffer than the QST you previously tried and a more directional construction.

- Black Crows Vertis Birdie I also thought was a fun mogul ski and good on groomers and a few inches of crud/powder.
 

diymom

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
- Volkl Blaze 86 is a really fun mogul ski. It's on the softer end, doesn't have any metal, and has a fair amount of rocker so wouldn't be my personal choice for firm conditions however.
I haven't had any issues with mine in New England conditions
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Same here on the Volkl 86.. They are fine on firm New England snow and I just had them out at Steamboat during a week of freeze thaw conditions along with 10 inches of snow one day. They are super versatile, great in bumps and trees, and will also carve up groomers. I’d definitely at least add them to the demo list. I originally got them because I was looking for something playful to work on icy New England bumps with. :smile:
 

kmb5662

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Not saying you can't use them on firm conditions or that they don't work fine for some, just not my personal choice for my skiing style/preferences
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Not saying you can't use them on firm conditions or that they don't work fine for some, just not my personal choice for my skiing style/preferences
Absolutely, that’s why it is so important to demo. It’s all so subjective and has a lot to do with how we individually ski and what we enjoy. My personal experience on icy hardpack conditions being in New England probably also gives me a very different bias for how to handle that and which skis work best for it versus the OP who skis in the West on a majority of their days. I’ve found East and West coast skiers have a very different definition of what icy on a ski run means to them.
 

elemmac

Angel Diva
OK Ski Divas, I would LOVE your thoughts. I'm planning to hit the women's demo day at Loveland in April and want to make a list of skis to try. Currently I ski the K2 Mindbender 98ti 163 cm as my only ski. I'm 5'9", about 170 lb and strong (powerlifter). I absolutely adore these skis in powder and in good groomed conditions but I don't love them in other situations. I'm considering getting one (or two?) additional skis for different conditions.

I ski mostly Ikon pass resorts in CO (Steamboat, Winter Park, Copper). I'd call myself an advanced intermediate. I can make it down anything but it might not be graceful.

Would like to find some skis that work better in:

- Moguls: My kids love moguls and I don't hate them. I'm much better this year having upgraded from an 85 flex to a 105 flex boot. However, I still feel like they are a bit tiring to manage and I get cooked out about halfway down a black mogul run.
- Ice: In early season conditions I had no bite on the Mindbenders and took a lot of icy falls. Possibly need to improve my form too but I'm not averse to buying skills.

Things I have demoed in the past and liked/disliked:
- Nordica Santa Ana 100 (older version): This was OK. I didn't hate it but also felt it was not as fun as the Mindbender 98ti.
- Salomon QST Lux 92: I hated this ski. I'm not sure why. Used for a weekend in decent early season conditions. It felt squirrely and not fun to me.
- Volkl Yumi: Used in good mid-season groomed conditions at Keystone. This was a few years ago when my skills were less good. Really really loved this ski.

Skis on my radar:
- Nordica Santa Ana 88: Seems to be a good all-rounder but I'm hesistant due to my meh feelings for the 100.
- Volkl Kenja: Lots of recs for this one.
Quoting your whole post because I have multiple thoughts here...

First, at 5'9" and 170lbs, I would recommend trying some longer skis. 163 is pretty short, and this could be leading to your instability in moguls and variable terrain. Same goes for icy slopes...putting aside that 98 is pretty wide for an icy day...a short ski can lead to instability, and thus less grip on firm terrain. I'd recommend demoing some skis in the low-mid 170s length. You're probably going to have a tough time finding women's skis to demo in these lengths...don't be afraid to try out some men's/unisex skis.

With that said...what lengths did you demo previously (in the SA100, Lux and Yumi)? If they were in the same range as your Mindbender, it's not a surprise to me that you found the Lux squirrelly, and might not have been enthralled with the SA.

I few that come to mind that might fit your wants in moguls and on the frontside:
Fischer Ranger 84 or 90
Blizzard Black Pearl (or Brahma) 82
Blizzard Sheeva 9 (or Rustler 9)
Rossignol Experience 82Ti or Basalt
Salomon Stance 84 or 88
K2 Mindbender 89Ti
 

tika55

Certified Ski Diva
- The older version of the Santa Ana had 2 sheets of metal whereas the latest model has a single sheet of "terrain specific metal" with more in the tips and tails and less underfoot making it lighter and less demanding than the older version, so you may like the current version a lot better than the prior versions. Keep in mind, they are changing the Santa Anas again for the 2025 model but the reviews I've read so far don't sound like they're much more demanding.

- They are also changing the Black Pearls for the 2025 season which might be worth checking out. Also recommend demoing the Sheeva 9!

- Also keep in mind, I believe Volkl for next season is doing away with the Kenja name and renaming them the Secret 88. I think the construction is staying the same?

- Volkl Blaze 86 is a really fun mogul ski. It's on the softer end, doesn't have any metal, and has a fair amount of rocker so wouldn't be my personal choice for firm conditions however.

- The Salomon Stance 88 is also a really nice ski that doesn't get much attention. A little bit stiffer than the QST you previously tried and a more directional construction.

- Black Crows Vertis Birdie I also thought was a fun mogul ski and good on groomers and a few inches of crud/powder.

Fantastic list, thank you!!
 

tika55

Certified Ski Diva
Quoting your whole post because I have multiple thoughts here...

First, at 5'9" and 170lbs, I would recommend trying some longer skis. 163 is pretty short, and this could be leading to your instability in moguls and variable terrain. Same goes for icy slopes...putting aside that 98 is pretty wide for an icy day...a short ski can lead to instability, and thus less grip on firm terrain. I'd recommend demoing some skis in the low-mid 170s length. You're probably going to have a tough time finding women's skis to demo in these lengths...don't be afraid to try out some men's/unisex skis.

With that said...what lengths did you demo previously (in the SA100, Lux and Yumi)? If they were in the same range as your Mindbender, it's not a surprise to me that you found the Lux squirrelly, and might not have been enthralled with the SA.

I few that come to mind that might fit your wants in moguls and on the frontside:
Fischer Ranger 84 or 90
Blizzard Black Pearl (or Brahma) 82
Blizzard Sheeva 9 (or Rustler 9)
Rossignol Experience 82Ti or Basalt
Salomon Stance 84 or 88
K2 Mindbender 89Ti

The Santa Ana and QST Lux were definitely in the same range (163). It's been a while since I tried the Yumis, so I'm not sure about those but probably similar. OK! It sounds like I need some demo time, and maybe not the women's-specific demo day I was contemplating. Seems like most women's skis top out at 170.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
What @elemmac said about trying unisex, non gender specific, or men's skis is spot on. Some companies only.change the graphics thus allowing for more length appropriate skis.

I have never owned a female specific ski and even though I am average height I never fit on a female specific bike very well either as I have short legs and a long torso.

If you find a ski you like in a men's version you can check to see if the center point is different and possibly adjust for that when you mount the bindings...assuming all the specs are otherwise identical.

I too am looking for a low 80s width mogul ski that is softer than a pure carver but will still.have amazing grip on form snow.
 

tika55

Certified Ski Diva
What @elemmac said about trying unisex, non gender specific, or men's skis is spot on. Some companies only.change the graphics thus allowing for more length appropriate skis.

I have never owned a female specific ski and even though I am average height I never fit on a female specific bike very well either as I have short legs and a long torso.

If you find a ski you like in a men's version you can check to see if the center point is different and possibly adjust for that when you mount the bindings...assuming all the specs are otherwise identical.

I too am looking for a low 80s width mogul ski that is softer than a pure carver but will still.have amazing grip on form snow.
Oh good call! I have also never fit on a women's specific bike. I'm pretty proportional legs/torso.
 

teppaz

Angel Diva
I had the Lux in 169 and didn’t find it squirrelly so length might have been a factor (I’m 5’8” and 180, active).
That said I recently had the opportunity to ski the 4FRNT 91 in 171 for 3 days and it was everything I wanted: great in bumps, enough float in 8” of fresh snow, super-fun zooming on the groomers leading to the lifts, and especially fab in cut-up chop. I ended up buying it.
 

teppaz

Angel Diva
I had the Lux in 169 and I didn’t find it squirrelly so length might have been a factor (I’m 5’8” and 180, active). That said I recently had the opportunity to try the 4FRNT 91
 

lisamamot

Angel Diva
Seems like most women's skis top out at 170
I am an advanced skier, 5'9", lighter, and I fully expect not nearly as strong as you. I ski:
Stockli Stormrider Motion 85 168
Blizzard Sheeva 9 172
Santa Ana 93 172 [92mm version]
Volkl Blaze 86 166
Santa Ana 100 177. Original model with no metal.

Touring is Elan Ripstick 170. This skis very short due to the surfy tip but fine for touring.

I, like others, sized down in the Blaze 86. It is the perfect ski or bumps/trees and was a blast in Taos; I have zero stability issues on it. I demoed the 173 and preferred the 166.

For a women's model, you should be on the longest women's length with perhaps the exception of the Santa Ana line. I have never seen them in shops, but the 93 and 98 both come in a 179. This would be too much ski for me.
 

SkiBam

Angel Diva
I rarely can report on skis but am at Big White this week and didn’t bring my own skis. For what it’s worth I‘m under 5 ft - 105 lb, advanced skier (but old!). At Tremblant I ski on Head Super Joy and Volkl Yumi. The Heads are fine but I LOVE the Yumis.

So, on Monday this week I rented the Ripstick 94. They were great plus there was new snow. Hard to get on edge though. Tuesday I tried the Black Pearl 88 and, to be frank, hated them. I guess way too soft for me. Yesterday I took the Wild Belle which the rental person assured me was stiffer. They were okay but as the day went on and got slicker they were not good at all. Today though, the winner: K2 Mindbender 89Ti. LOVE these skis. They felt great off piste, carved nicely on the groomed (which surprised me for a ski this width) and held beautifully as things got slicker.

So, it’s hard to say what would be best for the OP. Someone earlier recommended trying the Mindbender 89 and I would second that.

As for me I think I’ll stick with the Yumis for now. What fun though, demoing like this for a week. I’ll keep the K2s for tomorrow though. Don‘t think I’d find anything I like better.

Sorry if I’ve rambled on but I’ve had so much fun!
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I rarely can report on skis but am at Big White this week and didn’t bring my own skis. For what it’s worth I‘m under 5 ft - 105 lb, advanced skier (but old!). At Tremblant I ski on Head Super Joy and Volkl Yumi. The Heads are fine but I LOVE the Yumis.

So, on Monday this week I rented the Ripstick 94. They were great plus there was new snow. Hard to get on edge though. Tuesday I tried the Black Pearl 88 and, to be frank, hated them. I guess way too soft for me. Yesterday I took the Wild Belle which the rental person assured me was stiffer. They were okay but as the day went on and got slicker they were not good at all. Today though, the winner: K2 Mindbender 89Ti. LOVE these skis. They felt great off piste, carved nicely on the groomed (which surprised me for a ski this width) and held beautifully as things got slicker.

So, it’s hard to say what would be best for the OP. Someone earlier recommended trying the Mindbender 89 and I would second that.

As for me I think I’ll stick with the Yumis for now. What fun though, demoing like this for a week. I’ll keep the K2s for tomorrow though. Don‘t think I’d find anything I like better.

Sorry if I’ve rambled on but I’ve had so much fun!
Thanks for your review! I love my Yumis, but was not a fan of the BP88s. My height and weight stats are also similar. For deeper days, I've been looking to demo wider, and the Ripstick 94s were already on my list. I'm going to add the Mindbenders as well thanks to your review!
 

mustski

Angel Diva
I would second the Rossi Experience 82 Ti but not the Basalt. The Basalt lacks the fun factor and will not edge as well as the Ti. The only problem that I experience with my 82 Ti is that is weak in crud so when the bumps get soft and snow gets pushed around, the skis feel like they bog down a bit. But your CO is snow is considerably lighter than our CA snow.

I also absolutely LOVED the Ranger 84 (again no difference between women's and men's ski). Fischer is phasing out the women's line in favor of unisex skis in a wider range of sizes for 2025. This ski is agile and nimble and just fun, fun, fun. I didnt' get to try it in any fresh stuff or crud so I don't know how it does there, but it is super pivoty and fun in the bumps. Right now, it is my new favorite ski and DH is locking down my wallet!

I would add the Neela 88 to the demo list. It's highly rated in the bumps and most ladies prefer to ski it on the short size so that might work better for you since that's what you are used to.
 

SnowyO

Certified Ski Diva
My first post as a member and thank-you. Ski Whistler/Blackcomb. It’s been a varied winter here. Lots of hard, fast days recently. I’m on 163 Stockli Laser SC’s and 163 Montero AX’s. Both beautiful performing skis. The AX’s are now my daily driver. Great in all conditions. I was able to demo the Nella 88’s-160 and the Stormrider 88’s-166 this past snowy Sunday. Both turned well in the bumps. Felt the Nella’s a little light under foot but I was charmed with how playful they were. The SR’s were more sturdy and had nice directional feel. Probably choose the SR’s and wished they came shorter. The tech’s told me they were the same ski. Felt they were not. I may add the Montero AR to the quiver and am excited about the new Montero AS. The Stockli while pricey really shine and get me engaged every day.
 

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