• For more information on how to avoid pop-up ads and still support SkiTalk click HERE.

Different qualities of different FIS SL skis

Zirbl

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 22, 2021
Posts
973
Location
Austria, Italy
When Bode Miller did his couch commentary of the slalom leg of the Olympic men's combined, he mentioned that Head's slalom skis weren't all that and that when Pinterault and Vonn switched to Head, he knew that would be the end of their slalom. He added that the Dynastar/Lange combination tends to work best for that particular discipline. Nothing new to hear him taking potshots at Head, but recently heard something similar from a dealer in Europe - Head and Rossignol both make a great GS ski, but Head don't seem to be able to make a decent slalom ski. Didn't get onto why, but there was no obvious motive for the comment - the shop carried SLs by both brands.

Miller himself talked in detail about the difference in stiffness between Atomic and Fischer SLs and the effect on performance in the given conditions, but didn't go into Head or Dynastar.

If there's anything to it, and if it's possible to generalise like this, does anyone have any views on the alleged shortcomings - or even just different qualities - of Head FIS SLs compared either to their own GS skis or their SL competitors?

Also, any views about the qualities the differences in boots brings to this?

Not asking to guide a purchase by the way, and also appreciate that WC skis and the FIS-legal skis available to amateurs aren't the same thing. Just curiosity from someone who is learning plenty from the informed tech discussions on here.
 

AlpsSkidad

Buying more gear
Skier
Joined
May 19, 2018
Posts
756
Can’t directly comment on the Head vs others portion, but it’s my understanding at the consumer and FIS race ski level, the Rossignol and Dynastar are the same exact ski (with different top sheet) as are the Atomic/Salomon offerings, and Nordica/Blizzard for that matter.
 

Brian Finch

Privateer Skier @ www.SkiWithaGrimRipper.com
Industry Insider
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Posts
3,311
Location
Vermont
I’ll take a stab at this. I’ve skied Head for years, yet switched to Volkls this season. The Head real WC ski for slalom is a 168 & it’s a beast. I used it for years as a daily driver. It’s burly & needs a solid pilot. It prerforms best in ‘mini GS’ turns. It’s also not changed much in several seasons.

Modern SL uses a lot of modulation of low angles & turn shape. The Heads are more geared for high edge & doesn’t like closing down the radius like a softer, more compliant ski.
 

Pacobillie

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Dec 20, 2015
Posts
99
I have skied the Volkl, Atomic and Blizzard SL skis. I greatly prefer the Volkl. I feel as one with those skis. They read my mind. Very responsive, yet predictable. In all fairnesss, the Blizzard had a poor tune job.
 

Ivan

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Posts
466
Location
Binghamton, NY
If you read some of the older threads on this forum (perhaps from 2-3 years ago), there were plenty of discussions of Head tech skiers being in non-Head boots in slalom, and often also in GS, and possibly also on non-Head skis.

I should note, though, that Johannes Strolz, who was one of the fastest male slalom skiers for most of the season, is sponsored by Head. So unless he was using something else painted as Head (which, as also was discussed, is fairly unlikely at this point), this would contradict Bode's theory.
 

ski otter 2

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Posts
2,839
Location
Front Range, Colorado
It isn't just what a few people might say about the various skis in the two tech events, and the speed events. How the ski brands perform on the tour speaks for itself, at least to some extent. Bode is just confirming this, to me.

Even though the results on the tour are not the same thing as which of the skis is better for top racers and for everyone else also, to me it has been a good guideline for which skis I'm likely to appreciate most myself, so far - even though I'm only using these FIS/WC skis recreationally. Also, I try to get flex numbered FIS skis that the sellers say were among skis first given to top racers for their evaluation/selection. As a rule, I've liked these flex numbered skis better than other FIS race skis I've had a chance to ski, mostly, just for the way they turn/respond.

Again, I just ski race skis recreationally, not in gates much. But it seems okay to mention the different qualities of the race ski brands obliquely, just sticking to my own personal experience (mostly), and tour results.

I no longer get or use speed skis, but I would trust Head more in the speed events, along with Fischer speed event skis also. Those two brands excel on the tour in those events.

But Atomic this past season was very high in speed events also, followed by Rossi to a lesser extent. So I'd trust those two brands too (and their siblings, Salomon and Dynastar respectively, probably). I'd be very interested in how much of a role in this new speed event excellence the new Atomic tech Revoshock has played, as well as the effect these new dampener/rebound springs have with tech events also.

In tech events, Rossi and Atomic have been far and away number one and two on the circuit, and the FIS SL and GS skis I like best, to the limited extent I've been able to try them. This season, I finally dialed in another pair of Atomic SLs with tuning, and now I like it equally with my Rossi versions. So I have two Atomic SLs and two Rossis that are homerun skis, for me - at this point about equal, though noticeably different, in characteristic ways, as I understand it. And I have some Volkls that are a distant also ran, for me.

I have a friend, a long time coach for junior teams, who swears by the SL Heads, except he prefers the woman's shorter 158 version, with a new pair every year. He's getting the consumer race skis, not racer hand me downs, the way I do when possible. He is a very big guy, tall and large also, and a very good skier, quite capable of demonstrating technique still to young racers. Because of him, I've owned and used the women's SL skis also, and found them just as good for me, though slightly different from the men's 165 skis.

In general, I'm not a fan of non-FIS versions, except with Masters skis.

With the GS FIS skis, I've been skiing the women's spec versions, and I've not had a chance to ski the FIS Heads or the Rossis, though I would love to get a good pair of Rossis.

More recently I've just had three or four pairs of 188/30 (two Atomics and two Volkls) and before that the older spec 183/23 Volkls. My several pairs of 188/30 Atomics have been a double deck and a G9, both great still. The Volkls happen to flex too soft for my taste, and are kind of boring and slow, relatively speaking. But good for practice. My two Atomic 188/30s, on the other hand, are just wonderful, and have been since I first got each pair. Treasures. Not boring, just explosive, and more challenging and fun - than the Volkls I've happened to have. The particular GS Atomics are just quicker early with more rebound, speed and power. I've liked the Atomics so much that I've been satisfied with them and not looked further. An Atomic GS ski fan boy.

But I'd like to get a good pair of the new '22 Atomic Revoshock tech skis, in both GS and SL, actually. :)
 
Thread Starter
TS
Z

Zirbl

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 22, 2021
Posts
973
Location
Austria, Italy
Modern SL uses a lot of modulation of low angles & turn shape. The Heads are more geared for high edge & doesn’t like closing down the radius like a softer, more compliant ski.
Interesting assessment, thanks. I haven't skied the eSL RD 168, just the 165. Didn't match my idea of a soft, non-compliant ski, but my direct comparison was the black iSL RD from 2016-ish, and many seemed to think that was horrific. The eSL is softer, lighter, and the plates are further forward. Being used to the iSL, I had to back off the tips right away.

If you read some of the older threads on this forum (perhaps from 2-3 years ago), there were plenty of discussions of Head tech skiers being in non-Head boots in slalom, and often also in GS, and possibly also on non-Head skis.

I should note, though, that Johannes Strolz, who was one of the fastest male slalom skiers for most of the season, is sponsored by Head. So unless he was using something else painted as Head (which, as also was discussed, is fairly unlikely at this point), this would contradict Bode's theory.
Was aware they were using a Rossi boot - Miller himself flagged it on Eurosport a few years ago - but from reading older posts, I got the impression that painting up skis was rarer.

At the time Miller was giving his opinion on Head SL skis, Head were next to the skier in the hot seat. Strolz won the event of course. I'm not really trying to stir conjecture about who's on what - the question is more why do they like what they're on.

It isn't just what a few people might say about the various skis in the two tech events, and the speed events. How the ski brands perform on the tour speaks for itself, at least to some extent. Bode is just confirming this, to me.
Suppose I could have worded the question that way too, but I did check the SL standings for the last four years, and while Rossi/Dyna were clearly on top, Head weren't running last, unless you're saying daylight was second.

In tech events, Rossi and Atomic have been far and away number one and two on the circuit, and the FIS SL and GS skis I like best, to the limited extent I've been able to try them.
Just a case of feeling right in a way you can't put your finger on, or is there anything in specific you prefer about them?

With the GS FIS skis, I've been skiing the women's spec versions, and I've not had a chance to ski the FIS Heads or the Rossis, though I would love to get a good pair of Rossis.
Is that just a weight thing or do you ski Master's courses?
 
Last edited:

ski otter 2

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Posts
2,839
Location
Front Range, Colorado
I've been describing FIS spec skies, not others. I like the carve and rebound better on the 188/30 (no longer just the women's ski, but also men's transitional). I don't want to always ski fast enough and with enough space to flex the men's, and for me, lighter weight, it feels a bit more like an SG ski unless I work at it more. Not gates, as I said.

I've gone into detail about the feel to me of the Rossi SLs and Atomic SLs and GS 188/30 in other threads, so hoped to skip that. And I've not skied the Heads, your specific request, so not sure it would be useful for more detail. But, you asked, so....

The Dynastars used to be different, an independent effort; and then briefly they got assigned the softer flexes, while Rossi got the medium and stiffer. Then their independent race room disappeared. It sure bummed out some of their reps. I used to like the Dynastars a lot.

With Nordica, Blizzard, Salomon, Fischer & Stockli I've only experienced their near race and "cheater" skis. I like the FIS skis a lot better, as a rule.

In my limited experience, the FIS spec Atomics I've skied are quicker from initiation, and stiffer than the Volkls. The Rossi SLs are also stiffer in a good way, and have a very smooth, consistent flex that makes them very predictable. Again, in my experience. But I would not be mentioning this if I had not been told repeatedly the same thing from some racers, coaches, and others who have skied them.

In my opinion, the outstanding R&D, prototyping and follow through of the top successful brands do trickle through to the FIS skis I've been able to purchase, and those available to the race ski public, but probably more so in Europe than in the U.S.
 
Thread Starter
TS
Z

Zirbl

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 22, 2021
Posts
973
Location
Austria, Italy
But, you asked, so....
Glad I did, my search didn't throw up those details. Thanks a bunch for taking the time to repeat them.

The Dynastars used to be different, an independent effort; and then briefly they got assigned the softer flexes, while Rossi got the medium and stiffer. Then their independent race room disappeared. It sure bummed out some of their reps. I used to like the Dynastars a lot.
Didn't know the backstory, thanks. Sometimes see good offers on old Dynastars - how old would one have to be to be different to a Rossi?
 

ski otter 2

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Nov 20, 2015
Posts
2,839
Location
Front Range, Colorado
Not sure. From before Covid, anyway, with the FIS skis. Below the top level, Dynastars do diverge from the parent Rossis. Their near race skis and "cheater" race skis are different, but I have not skied them since Covid.

At that level, I have skied the Head Supershapes and iSpeeds, and I really like them. But again, the covid barriers stopped me. The eSpeeds I have not skied but am told are excellent.

With the Rossi Hero non-FIS, I really prefer the FIS - SL and GS, even though I own a 78 width Hero Elite Plus 174/14. It's a fun change of pace with a really natural turn, but not like a race ski carve/edge, nor one I ski that often. Just not dialed in like a race ski, to me.
 

bbbradley

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Mar 8, 2020
Posts
782
Location
East Coast
Great comments here! I wish I had the ability to test drive multiple FIS SL skis back to back to see if I can even tell a difference. My one experience was on 158 Atomic vs 165 Blizzard, so not the best test given the size discrepancy and age discrepancy of the skis. I also wonder how much the binding/plate contributes to different feel/results, but with the ski/binding lock-in, it's essentially part of the ski.
 
Thread Starter
TS
Z

Zirbl

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 22, 2021
Posts
973
Location
Austria, Italy
I wish I had the ability to test drive multiple FIS SL skis back to back to see if I can even tell a difference
My guess is that feeling differences betweens skis, boots, set ups and what have you also has a lot to do with an individual's balance points, limb length and proportion, and central nervous system. Talked to people at different levels about this in different sports, and it seems that how much difference people feel with equipment changes and the impact the difference has on them isn't necessarily about ability. Would be interesting to see if the people on here who talk with a lot of different skiers have observed something similar.

Having the knowledge and experience to explain those differences - that's another matter, and the reason I opened the thread.

I also wonder how much the binding/plate contributes to different feel/results
I've never skied the same ski with a different plate and binding, just the same with a different binding placement - seen plenty of talk here and elsewhere about the significant difference it makes, but as to the exact role the materials play, I'll defer to the experts.
 

James

Out There
Instructor
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
23,811
My guess is that feeling differences betweens skis, boots, set ups and what have you also has a lot to do with an individual's balance points, limb length and proportion, and central nervous system.
Yeah well you could say that about testing slippers too.
It’s not that complicated.

I have no idea about “real” FIS skis (wcup or next level down), or real race room skis, but consumer versions you can tell the difference. There’s very few people who get to ski the real ones, maybe 3 or 4 people here that do.

Hell there’s 4mm difference in waist width between this Fischer and the Dynastar.

D62CF974-7908-4321-A2E1-9263EE1BB0D7.jpeg

There’s more area in the forebody of the Dynastar. The Fischer is kind of a stick. I’ve come to like it except for the excessive drag of the hole.

267920ED-F78F-4594-B5E0-C0736D31A2C5.jpeg

Dynastar has a flatter tail.
2EC6D16C-4144-40E4-97A1-FD5508A4733B.jpeg

Quite a difference in mount point between this 20/21 Dynastar and the 14/15 or 15/16 Blizzard. But they’re different skis.

Amazingly, this mount on the Dynastar I moved 1 hole forward and it changed the ski fairly drastically. Before there was way too much push back from the forebody in anything except arcing or staying in the fall line. Spring skiing was a bit of a nightmare coming to a stop or suddenly turning. So much push back it felt like being in danger of high siding. In contrast, the Blizzard you could ski in spring while texting and eating a sandwich.
After moving the Dynastar forward it was a changed ski, much more friendly and vesatile.

41672CD4-A6D1-4C87-A968-E108CE6102C5.jpeg

Flex markings on the Blizzard FIS RD

The Fischer has raceroom flex markings too written in marker. This one was destined for a local racer who for some reason didn’t take delivery after it was prepped. It’s quite soft - I believe the first number, 54, is the flex.

71DB13AB-86EA-4D1C-809B-F0C43BDE5DDB.jpeg



If I was actually racing, it’s likely the Blizzard RD I would be fastest on. It’s the stiffest in flex and torsion. Maybe the Dynastar would get the nod in softer conditions. The Fischer is much too soft for my weight
Of course, I could be wrong, and actual timing and use give different results.
 
Last edited:

Ivan

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Dec 26, 2018
Posts
466
Location
Binghamton, NY
Yeah well you could say that about testing slippers too.
It’s not that complicated.

I have no idea about “real” FIS skis (wcup or next level down), or real race room skis, but consumer versions you can tell the difference. There’s very few people who get to ski the real ones, maybe 3 or 4 people here that do.

Hell there’s 4mm difference in waist width between this Fischer and the Dynastar.

View attachment 169257
There’s more area in the forebody of the Dynastar. The Fischer is kind of a stick. I’ve come to like it except for the excessive drag of the hole.

View attachment 169266
Dynastar has a flatter tail.
View attachment 169259
Quite a difference in mount point between this 20/21 Dynastar and the 14/15 or 15/16 Blizzard. But they’re different skis.

Amazingly, this mount on the Dynastar I moved 1 hole forward and it changed the ski fairly drastically. Before there was way too much push back from the forebody in anything except arcing or staying in the fall line. Spring skiing was a bit of a nightmare coming to a stop or suddenly turning. So much push back it felt like being in danger of high siding. In contrast, the Blizzard you could ski in spring while texting and eating a sandwich.
After moving the Dynastar forward it was a changed ski, much more friendly and vesatile.

View attachment 169258
Flex markings on the Blizzard FIS RD

The Fischer has raceroom flex markings too written in marker. This one was destined for a local racer who for some reason didn’t take delivery after it was prepped. It’s quite soft - I believe the first number, 54, is the flex.

View attachment 169261


If I was actually racing, it’s likely the Blizzard RD I would be fastest on. It’s the stiffest in flex and torsion. Maybe the Dynastar would get the nod in softer conditions. The Fischer is much too soft for my weight
Of course, I could be wrong, and actual timing and use give different results.
Are the Fischer really 63mm waist, or are they wider? 63mm is the FIS minimum for slalom skis, I'm not sure if anyone makes slalom skis this narrow these days. Volkl are 65mm, Atomic are 65.8mm (yes, they are this precise on their website), Dynastar/Rossi are 67mm, Augment are 66 or 67.5mm. I think Fischer and Nordica/Blizzard don't publish the geometry of their race skis on their websites or in their catalogs.
 

BLiP

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Posts
815
Location
New York
From what I've seen the 2022 Fischer FIS was listed as 66 and the 2023 is listed as 67.
 

ScotsSkier

USSA Coach
Industry Insider
SkiTalk Tester
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Posts
3,140
Location
North Lake Tahoe, NV
Bear in mind that the qualities/characteristics of FIS slalom skis may feel significantly different depending on whether you are simply free-skiing on them or running gates. And also on how much you adapt your technique to match a particular ski. for example when I was on head slaloms (and these were select Euro supplied skis) they felt a bit dead in free-skiing but were fast in gates.

In terms of the mount point, both binding and plate, this has tended to move forward in recent years. It can however be overdone so if you are experimenting do it in small increments. As an example, on a 2022 Atomic S9 FIS slalom I tested recently with the Var binding in position 4 it was a bot slow to react for me. Moving it forward to position 3 made it come alive. Moving another notch forward to 2 it again deteriorated in performance . Another brand of FIS slalom I tested a year ago had the binding about an inch further back than the other 3 FIS slaloms I had sitting at the time. For me this made it a huge struggle in gates and i really had to muscle it around so it was slow.
 

James

Out There
Instructor
Joined
Dec 2, 2015
Posts
23,811
Are the Fischer really 63mm waist, or are they wider? 63mm is the FIS minimum for slalom skis, I'm not sure if anyone makes slalom skis this narrow these days. Volkl are 65mm, Atomic are 65.8mm (yes, they are this precise on their website), Dynastar/Rossi are 67mm, Augment are 66 or 67.5mm. I think Fischer and Nordica/Blizzard don't publish the geometry of their race skis on their websites or in their catalogs.
Well…
The Fischer is more like 64.5. The edges on that ski haven’t been filed much. They were pretty damn thin to begin with.
5F3BD14A-66CB-44AA-A660-6F7A09848D50.jpeg

Only spec is width >63mm This ski is like 2018.

The Dynastars say they’re 67. Maybe that’s before grinding the bevels.
05DFE6EE-A9E7-4A02-8C0B-301035CEE057.jpeg

Edges are much thicker than the Fischer and measure 66mm or a little less.
Specs R=13m

9B398441-71CF-44E5-BF3C-7496626A916A.jpeg

The Blizzard RD measures about the same, 66mm. Edges are thinner than Dynastar. R>13m is the only spec on the ski.

Don’t get too crazy on the photos, it’s very hard to handhold and match focal planes etc. and then not have anything move.
 
Last edited:

BLiP

Out on the slopes
Skier
Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Posts
815
Location
New York
What kind of life span are you all seeing with FIS SLs used solely for free skiing? The thin edges concern me a bit; obviously built for speed and not longevity.
 

Sponsor

Staff online

Top