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Guidance on skis to purchase

Jax_shul

Diva in Training
Hi All!

I'm searching for skis to call my own (I've always rented) and after several conversations with men at various ski/board shops, I didn't feel like I was getting the guidance I really needed and so I figured I would try this group of ski diva experts!

I'm 5'2", 125lb, I ski comfortably on blues, working towards blacks and trying to get more comfortable in powder. I ski out West either in Utah and Colorado.

Last week I demoed a 2019 Blizzard Black Pearl 88, 153 which I really enjoyed taking down groomers but had a very difficult time in a few inches of powder. This week I am demoing a Rossingnol Black Ops Stargazer (92 underfoot) 156. Today was a powder day and I definitely felt the difference being on a wider ski and was able to go through powder much more easily. But overall, I felt more exhausted on these skis as compared to the Black Pearl (may have been the powder though).

If it weren't for how the Black Pearl performed in powder, I would have probably been ready to purchase those. I think I want something slightly wider (90-92) so that I can handle powder days and go off piste as I continue to advance but still have a ski that performs well on groomed runs since that's where I spend most of my time.

From the research I've done, skis I'm considering are:
- Volkl Secret 92
- K2 Mindbender 90C Alliance
- Blizzard Sheeva 9
- Salomon QST 92
- Blizzard Black Pearl 88 - curious if any of you think these will perform well in powder once I'm more comfortable in it myself

I wish I could demo some of these others but I'm in a small town in Utah and can't seem to find places that demo these models. I'd love to hear if you think any of these would be a good fit (or any to steer clear of). I'm also curious what your thoughts are on 153 vs 156 length given my height and if that really makes a difference.

Thanks for any advice you can share!
 

Skiing2BFreeInYYC

Diva in Training
I’m 5 3 and 120-125 lbs, ski entirely in western Canadian Rockies. I had the black pearl as my first intermediate ski and like you I struggled with it in powder, but it did really help me grow. I sold those and bought icelantic maiden 101s in 162 for an all mountain . After 1 season I realized although they were amazing in the right conditions, they were too tiring to keep up with kids on the groomers with no fresh snow. Demo opportunities are limited here so I researched and watched kiji and picked up a pair of Salomon lux qst 92s secondhand and love them! So long story short I ended up with two sets of skis and don’t regret it at all. They each have their strengths and I ski enough to make it worth it. I don’t have experience with other skis on your list, but can say I had a good experience with both the black pearl and the salamon luxes.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I'm 5'2", 125lb, I ski comfortably on blues, working towards blacks and trying to get more comfortable in powder. I ski out West either in Utah and Colorado.
Welcome! I'm a bit more petite. Alta is my favorite destination out west. As I've improved technique in recent years with the help of lessons from very experienced instructors, I found that I didn't need wide skis for powder as much. My all-mountain skis are 85 underfoot. I can have a good time with them in 10-15 inches of fluffy powder. If the snow is heavier then having skis that are 95-105 underfoot does make it easier to deal with chopped up snow. My Alta instructor doesn't like me to be on skis over 100mm even for a powder lesson.

I'm 5'0", 110 lbs. My all-mountain skis are 159cm. If I rent powder skis, I'll take out any skis between 98-110cm depending on what brands/models are available. When I was more of an advanced intermediate, I had skis that were 75 underfoot and 154cm.

From the research I've done, skis I'm considering are:
- Volkl Secret 92
- K2 Mindbender 90C Alliance
- Blizzard Sheeva 9
- Salomon QST 92
- Blizzard Black Pearl 88 - curious if any of you think these will perform well in powder once I'm more comfortable in it myself
I had a very good time renting or demoing the BP88 and BP98 in powder, but it was 2-3 seasons ago. It think the most recent model is different from what came out in 2018. Did a quick demo of the Salomon QST 92 on hard groomers at JH in Dec, but didn't particularly like them.

In general, I find Volkl skis too stiff for me. The brands I like best are Rossignol, Nordica, Dynastar, Blizzard, Stöckli. K2 skis are okay, but not as much fun so I'd unlikely to buy K2 skis at this point. But what I like may or may not be good fun for you.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I'm also curious what your thoughts are on 153 vs 156 length given my height and if that really makes a difference.
The difference between 153 and 156 is not significant. At least for skis of similar width. Takes at least 5cm difference in length to be noticeable.

Perhaps not this season, but Alta usually has a free demo day the first Saturday of April. Usually a dozen or more brands set up tents. Might be worth some driving in the future.
 

Jax_shul

Diva in Training
Welcome! I'm a bit more petite. Alta is my favorite destination out west. As I've improved technique in recent years with the help of lessons from very experienced instructors, I found that I didn't need wide skis for powder as much. My all-mountain skis are 85 underfoot. I can have a good time with them in 10-15 inches of fluffy powder. If the snow is heavier then having skis that are 95-105 underfoot does make it easier to deal with chopped up snow. My Alta instructor doesn't like me to be on skis over 100mm even for a powder lesson.

I'm 5'0", 110 lbs. My all-mountain skis are 159cm. If I rent powder skis, I'll take out any skis between 98-110cm depending on what brands/models are available. When I was more of an advanced intermediate, I had skis that were 75 underfoot and 154cm.


I had a very good time renting or demoing the BP88 and BP98 in powder, but it was 2-3 seasons ago. It think the most recent model is different from what came out in 2018. Did a quick demo of the Salomon QST 92 on hard groomers at JH in Dec, but didn't particularly like them.

In general, I find Volkl skis too stiff for me. The brands I like best are Rossignol, Nordica, Dynastar, Blizzard, Stöckli. K2 skis are okay, but not as much fun so I'd unlikely to buy K2 skis at this point. But what I like may or may not be good fun for you.
Thank you! This is really good perspective and makes me think that maybe I shouldn’t try to go wider than 88 at least at this point.
As a follow up question, as you mentioned (and I’ve heard elsewhere) that Volkls tend to be stiff. When a ski is considering stiff, what does that translate to on the mountain?
 

Jax_shul

Diva in Training
I’m 5 3 and 120-125 lbs, ski entirely in western Canadian Rockies. I had the black pearl as my first intermediate ski and like you I struggled with it in powder, but it did really help me grow. I sold those and bought icelantic maiden 101s in 162 for an all mountain . After 1 season I realized although they were amazing in the right conditions, they were too tiring to keep up with kids on the groomers with no fresh snow. Demo opportunities are limited here so I researched and watched kiji and picked up a pair of Salomon lux qst 92s secondhand and love them! So long story short I ended up with two sets of skis and don’t regret it at all. They each have their strengths and I ski enough to make it worth it. I don’t have experience with other skis on your list, but can say I had a good experience with both the black pearl and the salamon luxes.
Hey there! Thanks for the input. I’ve heard good things about the Salomon Lux and given we have similar stats I’m glad to hear you like it as well. I’ll try to see if I can track one down to demo. Thanks again!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Thank you! This is really good perspective and makes me think that maybe I shouldn’t try to go wider than 88 at least at this point.
As a follow up question, as you mentioned (and I’ve heard elsewhere) that Volkls tend to be stiff. When a ski is considering stiff, what does that translate to on the mountain?
When I've demo'd Volkl skis, I usually found them hard to turn. Meaning I had to really concentrate on using almost perfect technique to link round turns. Most of those demo opportunities were at my home hill where a run took under 5 min on the Black (more like a Blue out west). I would take out a Volkl model as I was working on improving technique just to see how they felt. The only Volkl I found fun was the Yumi, which was designed to be more forgiving. By the time I demo'd at bigger mountains, I didn't take the time to demo Volkl models.

When I was actually looking to buy skis, I didn't really worry too much about the technical aspects of a given model. Terms like damp, stiff, and so on only made sense when reading reviews of skis I had a chance to demo. What was clear was whether or not skis were "fun" or "work" when it came to making turns.

It's much easier to work on fundamentals in terms of technique on narrower skis. Mid-80s would be better than mid-90s as a first pair of skis for UT/CO. My skis for the east are 78 underfoot. What I practice with the narrower skis applies when I ski wider skis.
 

scandium

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm a little smaller than you but judging by what you've said about the Black Pearl 88, I think you'd quite like the Blizzard Sheeva 9 in powder and would be fine with it on groomers as well. You will most likely find the Volkl Secret hard work to turn and unforgiving of anything less than excellent technique. I would also throw in the Santa Ana 93 and the Black Crows Camox Birdie as contenders - they are very different skis (the Camox is "playful and kinda bouncy", and the Santa Ana is a "goes through things but can still turn even when your technique is a bit dubious")

Length wise mid 150s should be fine, maybe even up to 160 for something more rockered
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
[QUOTE="Jax_shul, post: 429154, member: 11198"
As a follow up question, as you mentioned (and I’ve heard elsewhere) that Volkls tend to be stiff. When a ski is considering stiff, what does that translate to on the mountain?[/QUOTE]

I've found the Volkl Yumi to be fun and playful but not great on hardpack/ice. The Kenja and the Secret (92?) are fairly stiff skis and I agree w/@marzNC that they are less forgiving and do take more effort to turn. That said, Volkl has a new line this year, the "Blaze" which has titanal underfoot for stability, but is softer forward and back of that foot plate. It is getting great reviews as a design that Volkl has needed for some time. I'd love to demo it, but that won't happen until next year. :(

I've skied the BP88 for at least 4 years in all types of conditions and it is always a solid, reliable partner. I also have the Stockli 85 Stormrider (my "tanks") that I love in both slush and ice (i.e., eastern crap). I skied them in Colorado last year in a bumps clinic at Copper Mtn. and they were fine, though I did get comments from the instructors that they were probably too stiff a ski for spending all day in the bumps (said bumps were not in the greatest shape - they needed snow at the time). If I'm going to practice my lousy bump technique, I prefer my BP82s which I ski in quite a short length for uncomplicated learning.
 
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teppaz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It's funny how we tend to be drawn to some brands over others. I've demo'ed several models by Nordica, Blizzard and Rossignol, for example, and while I liked some, it was never enough to make me buy them. I respond a lot better to Line and Salomon; the models I tried hit my favored balance of poppy and responsive on quick turns, and stable at speed on groomers. The Salomon QST 99s are my go-to skis for the west now, so of course I'd recommend you try the Lux or its unisex version, the QST 92.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
We have similar "likes", @teppaz . I favor something, as you said, "poppy and responsive" yet stable on hardpack.

Have you tried the Line Pandora 94? I'm looking at something wider than my current widest (BP88) yet still fun and adaptable to quick turns while having more float in softer, deeper snow.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The above post sent me online shopping (of course). I just found a ski that ticks ALL the boxes I had in mind, albeit in a used ski. I found a demo pair in 163 at Powder7 and snatched them up --- the 2018 K2 Fulluvit 95. I don't know what K2's successor to the Fulluvit is, but the price for these was too good not to grab them. :ski:
 

teppaz

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
We have similar "likes", @teppaz . I favor something, as you said, "poppy and responsive" yet stable on hardpack.

Have you tried the Line Pandora 94? I'm looking at something wider than my current widest (BP88) yet still fun and adaptable to quick turns while having more float in softer, deeper snow.
I haven't tried the Pandora but a friend has the 94 from a couple of seasons ago and loves it. I tried the Prophet 98 (bought it), its successor the Supernatural 100 and the Sick Day 94. I don't think Line currently has a ski that has the same mix of playfulness and sturdiness that the Prophet and Supernatural had. The Vision and Sick Day are lighter and poppier but I don't think they'd be great at speed on hard-pack groomers. I'd love to try the Shape and Sakana, just because I'm curious as to how those weird shapes work.
 

chasinghorizons

Diva in Training
This week I am demoing a Rossingnol Black Ops Stargazer (92 underfoot) 156. Today was a powder day and I definitely felt the difference being on a wider ski and was able to go through powder much more easily. But overall, I felt more exhausted on these skis as compared to the Black Pearl (may have been the powder though).
Interesting, it was likely the powder as I had the opposite experience when I demo'd both the Black Pearls and Stargazers on groomers and moguls. I found the Stargazers to be much easier to turn and much more forgiving and fun. When I used them in powder though, it was definitely a lot more tiring because I was going slower and its hard to float on a 90 width ski when you're going slow.
I'm also curious what your thoughts are on 153 vs 156 length given my height and if that really makes a difference.
I found that different brands measure length differently. I have the 154 Stargazers and 156 Sheeva 10s and they are EXACTLY the same height. The Sheeva 10 just has more rocker.
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Oh, I have that 18/19/20 Black Pearl 88. I love it but honestly think it's rubbish in powder. It tip dives a lot. It handles other off piste/chop etc fine!! My suspicion is that you have to actually be a good powder skier to handle it in powder. I just bought fatter skis for powder days instead.
 

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