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Intermediate frontside demos (Yumi 84, Experience 82 & 86, Absolut Joy, Black Pearl 82, Wild Belle 84)

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I finally got a chance to demo skis, although choices were a bit limited due to the end of the season rapidly approaching. Sharing for others who may be looking to upgrade their beginner skis. I wasn't sure I was good enough to tell much difference between skis, but I absolutely could! Definitely try different skis--even my husband, who is brand new to skiing, demoed a pair he liked way better than his rentals (and bought them).

• Your ski level: 3.5 - I stick to greens and hate all things steep, but I've gotten a bit faster this season
• Previous skis: Salomon Lagoon Origins from 2012. 72mm waist and 151cm long.
• Boots: Salomon S/Pro 90W in 24.5
• Location & conditions: Sierra at Tahoe, groomed greens, typical California spring snow that's slightly icy early in the morning and super slushy by afternoon
• Your size (height, weight): 5'5" 130lbs

Demos were done over two days of similar conditions. I'm starting with my least favorites and will count down my top 3.

Volkl Yumi 84, 161cm
I really wanted to try the Yumi, but these were just too long for me and were the only pair left. I was not comfortable on them at all. I expect 154 would have been a much better experience.

Rossignol Experience 86 Basalt, 157cm
I now get what people mean when they describe skis as planks. I found them hard to maneuver and exchanged after one run.

Rossignol Experience 82 Basalt, 159cm
I liked these much more than the 86 version, but I found it hard to stay forward on them. I wondered if I was just getting tired, but as soon as I switched to different skis, the problem went away. Could be the bindings, but this model comes with a pink Look binding.

And now the top 3...

3. Blizzard Black Pearl 82, 159cm (2021 version)
I skied on these four total days, so they were also tried on a colder packed day and a powder day. I liked them best on the very first day I used them. They were totally fine the other days, but these didn't hold an edge as well for me as the next two, and this weekend, they got jostled a bit by the slush lumps. These didn't feel long at all due to the amount of tip rocker. I think I would like the newer version better (more camber), but I was never able to find a pair to try.

2. Head Absolut Joy (79mm), 153cm
Bought these to assuage my disappointment from two cancelled trips a month ago. I've skied on them five days in total. They are very nimble, hold an edge well, and perform surprisingly well in 4-5in of powder for a 79mm ski. The only problem I had was a tendency to catch the inside edge of my uphill ski. I fell 3/5 days due to catching an edge. These have a lot of camber (11mm) which might contribute, though I know my technique is more to blame than the skis.

1. Nordica Wild Belle 84, 156cm
I exhausted what Sierra's demo center had to offer that I felt was appropriate for me yesterday. Today, I peeked in the regular rental shop just to see what was there, and I was surprised to see the Nordica Wild Belle 84. I didn't have high expectations--the Experience 86 made me think I just prefer narrow skis plus I thought it might be too advanced for me. However, I was pleasantly surprised from the first run. They turned easily without the edge fears of the AJs. They were very stable through the slush lumps, and I even took them to the baby park.

I ended up alternating between my top three skis throughout the day, mostly on the same run which required short turns at the top and long ones at the bottom. In the end, I thought the Wild Belles were the right choice for me--easy enough for my skill level while still feeling solid. Plus I was able to negotiate the price down due to some top sheet damage. The AJs were a close second, but I just caught an edge on them too many times. According to SoothSki, most of the Wild Belle's specs fall in the middle of the AJ and BP, other than width.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I suspect the Rossi binding mount points were throwing you off. They tend to have a very forward mount point that takes some getting used to. I have the Experience 82 ti in a 167 (I'm also 5'5" and 130) and I love them, but it takes me a few runs to get used to them again after skiing my Santa Anas.

When you're just starting out and progressing, it's definitely worth demoing and finding the ski that makes skiing easy and inspires confidence! I have not been on the Wild Belle, but I do want to try them just for fun. The construction with the rubber to dampen things intrigues me.
 

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Very interesting about the Rossi binding location. It was so weird because while I am definitely still working on staying forward consistently, it felt like I had to fight harder for balance.

The Wild Belles are very stable. I didn't realize on my second run with them that I got a new top speed record of 19.9mph (though I've been getting steadily faster over my past four days of skiing that I've been tracking). I liked how the Wild Belles could mow through piles of slush while still feeling steady. I'm hoping this also means they'll handle crud fairly well.
 

tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I demoed the Wild Belle a couple years ago and thought it was a pretty easy skiing ski. Glad you found something you liked!
 

xxs_skier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Interesting that you found the AJ kept catching edges. I've been tempted to buy a pair that's on super sale, but maybe I should demo first...
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
With the Rossi it could the binding location or maybe there is a ramp angle to the demo binding. I've never had an issue with Rossi, but they are not for everyone.
 

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Interesting that you found the AJ kept catching edges. I've been tempted to buy a pair that's on super sale, but maybe I should demo first...
It was mostly on my left foot, which pronates a bit, and that could be contributing. Unfortunately, I was starting to develop a fear of it catching even when it didn't! I really liked it otherwise, and I think it's absolutely worth demoing if you can. It's very easy to get on edge.
 

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
That’s what I would guess also. Likely a burred edge. If it was skier error, you would have felt it with other skis.
Oh, good to know! It's a shame the shop didn't catch it when they did the binding setup and wax. I already returned the AJs, but I'll keep them in mind if the Wild Belles don't work out for me.
 

TheGreenOne

Angel Diva
I suspect the Rossi binding mount points were throwing you off. They tend to have a very forward mount point that takes some getting used to. I have the Experience 82 ti in a 167 (I'm also 5'5" and 130) and I love them, but it takes me a few runs to get used to them again after skiing my Santa Anas.

When you're just starting out and progressing, it's definitely worth demoing and finding the ski that makes skiing easy and inspires confidence! I have not been on the Wild Belle, but I do want to try them just for fun. The construction with the rubber to dampen things intrigues me.
Assuming you are talking about the system binding, couldn't we, theoretically change mounting point by adjusting where the front/back of the binding falls on the rails? I've thought about this, but never tried it, just keep them at the setup I had done w/ purchase.
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
Assuming you are talking about the system binding, couldn't we, theoretically change mounting point by adjusting where the front/back of the binding falls on the rails? I've thought about this, but never tried it, just keep them at the setup I had done w/ purchase.
If you have an "average" BSL, you can definitely do this (my roommate has been experimenting, and likes things a bit forward of factory recommended on his Volkls). My BSL is so small that on demo bindings, it falls at the last notch of the heel piece, and second to last notch of toe piece. That means only a teeny bit of play, vs. the +/- 2.5cm or so my roommate gets to experience. Really large BSLs will have the same issue, with not much room to play.
 

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
If you have an "average" BSL, you can definitely do this (my roommate has been experimenting, and likes things a bit forward of factory recommended on his Volkls).
This is an interesting idea! I'll keep that in mind, as I probably have some wiggle room with my 284mm BSL.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I was away this week @leia1979 so only seeing this now, but sounds like you found a great ski for a great price! Were these the normal rental then? Or does the mountain's regular rental shop offer demos?
 

leia1979

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I was away this week @leia1979 so only seeing this now, but sounds like you found a great ski for a great price! Were these the normal rental then? Or does the mountain's regular rental shop offer demos?
Sierra's regular rental shop had basic ski rentals as well as some "performance" rentals: the Wild Belle 84, Rossignol Experience 80 W, and a few men's skis. They were offering the same deal as the demo shop on the performance rentals--subtract the rental fee from purchase. Their original price wasn't great ($440), so I'm glad I was able to negotiate down to $350 due to the topsheet damage, which I've since repaired.
 

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