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Reviews from my demo day!

kmb5662

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Spent the day demoing some skis at Killington from Potter Brothers. We just had a decent storm here 2 days ago but wind and heavy traffic has left a lot of areas pretty wind blown and scraped off. As a result the blacks and bump runs were not always the most "confident inspiring" but groomers were mostly in great condition. I didn't demo in the glades at all as I don't ski them alone for safety reasons and was with my sister who's a green skier. Background for context: I'm 5' 2" and around 130lb. I'm an advanced intermediate/advanced skier I suppose. I'm not the fastest/hardest charging skier out there, but like to make lots of quick turns, love moguls, powder (when I am fortunate enough to ski it), doing small jumps, as well as enjoy carving groomers. I ski mostly in the northeast and make 1-2 trips out west each year. I currently own and ski the Blizzard Sheeva 9 as my "all mountain" ski and the Atomic Redster X9 WB for my firm icy/groomer days.



Black Pearl 97 159cm - Earlier this year I demoed the Black Pearl 88 out at Alta and really enjoyed them overall. The 97 however is a very different ski. Much heavier and stiffer than the 88 (not that the 88 is a noodle). Despite the weight and stiffness I didn't find it difficult to ski or super punishing if you got off balance but not what I'm looking for... If I lived out west this would be something I'd consider. Performs really well in the crud and soft stuff. Was decent in the bumps but there's better bump skis out there. Carved well for it's width.

Volkl Secret 96 156cm - I really enjoyed this ski. This and the Blaze were my two favorites of the day for different reasons. Amazing edge grip. Carved the best out of all the skis I demoed today. Slightly more playful than the BP and a little quicker in the bumps. Plows through crud and soft snow easily. Very damp and stable but didn't seem too fatiguing or demanding to ski. The edges can be a little catchy if you try to pivot or smear your turns.

Faction Dictator 2.0X 155cm - I did not like this ski at all. It was really uninspiring for me. It's lighter than the BP (although the length I had was a little shorter) but much stiffer. It has 2 sheets of metal I believe. Stiffest ski of the day. Felt plankish. Edge grip and carving was meh. Not quick edge to edge. Not the easiest in bumps. If you're taller, heavier, or a really fast and hard charging skier you may like this but it was NOT for me.

Black Crows Vertis Birdie 159cm - Most unique ski of the day. Had a really unique feel that is hard for me to describe. Maybe it was the spoony shape of the tip? Tips were also stiffer than I expected. I enjoyed it. Carves well and does really well in the crud. Fun in bumps and quick edge to edge. Wouldn't want to take it into more than a couple inches of powder.

Volkl Blaze 86W 159cm - Really fun and playful ski. Despite not having metal in it, it still felt decently stable but was the least damp/stable ski of the day. It didn't have the edge grip and prowess of the Secret but it still handled the mild chop pretty well. The deeper and heavier chop was more of a challenge with these but not horrible. Really fun in moguls. Quick edge to edge and not punishing in bumps. If you value edge grip and stability over playfulness I'd go for the Secret but if you prefer something more playful and less fatiguing I'd recommend the Blaze.

Summary:
Best in moguls: Blaze
Best carver: Secret
Best in powder/soft snow: kind of a toss up between the BP and Secret, but I'd go with the BP.
Most unique: Vertis Birdie
Most damp: Dictator

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WaterGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Black Crows Vertis Birdie 159cm - Most unique ski of the day. Had a really unique feel that is hard for me to describe. Maybe it was the spoony shape of the tip? Tips were also stiffer than I expected. I enjoyed it. Carves well and does really well in the crud. Fun in bumps and quick edge to edge. Wouldn't want to take it into more than a couple inches of powder.
The Vertis Birdie (85) is the little sister to the Orb Birdie (88 width/ longer radius and Double titanal H-shape plate). I have been pleasantly surprised (ok, really really happy I bought these last summer) with the Orb Birdie and skied it 3 out of 4 days last trip which included fresh snow, including more than a few inches ;) It looks like the Orb "Birdie" top sheet will no longer be made based on the BC website, rather instead the "Orb" now goes down in size to a 159. BC skis are unisex anyway, just different top sheets. As previously posted, if the Santa Anna 88 isn't your cup of tea, the Orb may be something you want to try......


 

daniwrites

Certified Ski Diva
Curious, how do you compare the Sheeva to the Volkls (or any of the other skis you demo'd for that matter)?
 

kmb5662

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Curious, how do you compare the Sheeva to the Volkls (or any of the other skis you demo'd for that matter)?
The Sheevas are very different from any of the above skis. They have a lot more rocker and have way better float in powder/soft snow but don't handle the crud as well and get bounced around a bit in choppy conditions due to the softer tips. They feel a lot more surfey and are way more playful. The Blaze was also pretty playful but feels like it has a more consistent flex pattern throughout the ski compared to the Sheeva and tips are a little less chattery. With the Secrets, I feel like they can plow through anything and have no speed limit unlike the Sheevas. Much better edge grip and stability. Not nearly as playful or quick turning as the Sheeva.

Of said skis:
- If I was skiing fresh powder and/or soft moguls I'd pick the Sheeva.
- If I hypothetically dabbled in the park I'd pick the Sheeva.
- If I was skiing icier/wind blown steeps I'd pick the Secret.
- For crud/chop and heavier dense snow I'd be happy with either the BP or Secret.
- If I was only cruising groomers at moderate speeds I'd probably go with the Vertis Birdie as its narrower, quicker edge to edge, and not so demanding but has a little more stability than the Blaze.
- If I was skiing 50/50 between groomers and moguls I'd pick the Blaze for softer/more ideal conditions but if it was really icy or chopped up at all then I'd pick the Secret.
 

daniwrites

Certified Ski Diva
The Sheevas are very different from any of the above skis. They have a lot more rocker and have way better float in powder/soft snow but don't handle the crud as well and get bounced around a bit in choppy conditions due to the softer tips. They feel a lot more surfey and are way more playful. The Blaze was also pretty playful but feels like it has a more consistent flex pattern throughout the ski compared to the Sheeva and tips are a little less chattery. With the Secrets, I feel like they can plow through anything and have no speed limit unlike the Sheevas. Much better edge grip and stability. Not nearly as playful or quick turning as the Sheeva.

Of said skis:
- If I was skiing fresh powder and/or soft moguls I'd pick the Sheeva.
- If I hypothetically dabbled in the park I'd pick the Sheeva.
- If I was skiing icier/wind blown steeps I'd pick the Secret.
- For crud/chop and heavier dense snow I'd be happy with either the BP or Secret.
- If I was only cruising groomers at moderate speeds I'd probably go with the Vertis Birdie as its narrower, quicker edge to edge, and not so demanding but has a little more stability than the Blaze.
- If I was skiing 50/50 between groomers and moguls I'd pick the Blaze for softer/more ideal conditions but if it was really icy or chopped up at all then I'd pick the Secret.

Thank you! This was very helpful. I've tried the Kenja but have yet to demo the Secret, so hoping to do so soon based on your notes! Curious now too about the Vertis Birdie.
 

kmb5662

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Thank you! This was very helpful. I've tried the Kenja but have yet to demo the Secret, so hoping to do so soon based on your notes! Curious now too about the Vertis Birdie.
If/when you do let us know your thoughts!
 

zookeepr

Diva in Training
Volkl Blaze 86W 159cm - Really fun and playful ski. Despite not having metal in it, it still felt decently stable but was the least damp/stable ski of the day. It didn't have the edge grip and prowess of the Secret but it still handled the mild chop pretty well. The deeper and heavier chop was more of a challenge with these but not horrible. Really fun in moguls. Quick edge to edge and not punishing in bumps. If you value edge grip and stability over playfulness I'd go for the Secret but if you prefer something more playful and less fatiguing I'd recommend the Blaze.
Thank you for this review. I've been on Volkl Kanjos and really like them but they can be a bit demanding for me and haven't been as quick edge to edge for me as I wanted . I wasn't able to find Blaze 86s to demo but did find a great deal and pulled the trigger. Took them out yesterday in a bit of PNW powder and had a blast taking on new and more challenging runs. I felt way more confidence to be able to navigate chop even in poor visibility.

Also a shout out to Dave and Gorham Bike & Ski for the great pricing + service. They've still got a few Blazes in stock and might be able to get you an end of season discount if you send them a note.
 

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