Help me narrow my research/demo list for a new all-mountain Tahoe ski

laine

I ski like a girl. Fast.
Skier
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Posts
626
Location
Oakland
Hi Folks! :wave:
Been a while since I've been online. Last season was a wash for us with Covid and we didn't end up getting passes and barely skied, and it just made me sad to read about all the gear and runs other folks were getting. This is a long post, so buckle in! :ogbiggrin:

Back in early March 2020, I had big plans to attend the Sports Basement demo day at Alpine Meadows at the end of March to look for a replacement for my all-mountain daily drivers. Alas, those plans were canceled when the world shut down on March 15. And since then, quite a few skis have been re-configured, so I'm just starting to research what is out there for me.

Details:
I ski mostly Squaw/Palisades(?) and Alpine Meadows in Tahoe. So it can be heavy snow....Sierra cement as we like to call it. This will be a resort-only ski, mostly on-piste. A mix of groomed and ungroomed, but those groomed trails often end up with crud-like small mogul things by the mid-afternoon. I do some bump runs, but they tire my knees out, so it's more something I throw in depending on the snow. I like trees, but we don't have a ton of tree skiing at those resorts. We maybe make one trip per season somewhere else - Utah, CO, etc.

Current Quiver:
  • All Mountain/less than 8 inches of snow: 2017 Santa Ana, 100 waist, size 161 - the version before they added metal to the skis - this is the ski I want to replace/update
  • Carving/no fresh snow: 2018 Stöckli Laser AX, 78 waist, size 159
  • Powder: 2014 Rossignol Star 7, 116 waist, size 162

About Me:
Been skiing my whole life, since I was 4 - learned in VT in the 70s on ice, skied NJ and PA in college. Didn't ski out West until I was in my late 20s. Now I live in the Bay Area, so ski Tahoe. I'm 5'1", about 115-118 lbs, depending on the season. I'm 49, and have had two knee surgeries on my right knee in a failed attempt to treat chondromalacia patella (lateral release in 2006 - which they don't even do anymore - and scoping in 2009 to remove excessive scar tissue build up).

What I'm looking for:
I want to replace my Santa Anas because when I got them, I think I over-indexed on getting a poppy ski and as time has gone on, I like them less and less in the heavier snow we get in Tahoe (or maybe it's me getting older). I mean, they're easy to ski, and they carve fine and I feel good taking them most places on the mountain. I do wonder if I should have gone with a shorter length - sometimes they feel a little long for me, even though they do have a decent rise in the tip. I'm leaning towards something with some metal in it for a little more stability. I kind of want a goldilocks ski with a bit of pop and more stability, less chatter. Does that exist?

Thinking something in the 92 to 99-ish width range. I thought about going down to the high 80s, but frankly, the Laser AX's are so versatile, I feel like there would be too much overlap. Does this seem reasonable?

Skis I'm considering - and this is where I'd love some opinions from folks who have tried these skis - or just know more about these things than I do.
Help me narrow this list! Or am I missing something obvious? (Also, focused on skis I think I can find to demo in Tahoe, with the exception of the Stöckli.)
  • Blizzard Black Pearl 97 in 159 - I had a Samba for a season before the Santa Ana - I don't think it was that I didn't like it - it was just that when I demo'ed that Santa Ana, it was so poppy and fun
  • Blizzard Sheeva 9 (92 waist) in 157 - Never skied the Sheeva series, but intrigued
  • Head Kore 97 W in 156 - I tried an earlier version of this ski maybe 3 years ago and didn't love it. It was too stiff for the shorter size, but this year it seems to have a new construction. But I know these are pretty light and I wonder how they would do in the heavier Tahoe snow and crud
  • K2 Mindbender 98Ti in 154 - I demo'ed this ski the year it came out - not sure if the construction has changed. I recall liking it that day, but don't remember specifics
  • Nordica Santa Ana 93 in 158 - Haven't tried the narrower sibling, so curious to compare
  • Nordica Santa Ana 98 in 158 - Of course I have to give this one a try. It's gone through multiple rebuilds since I bought mine. My one slight hesitation is that I think this is the heaviest ski on the list - which actually hurts my knees a bit while sitting on the chairlift
  • Stöckli Nela 96 in 156 - This is really only on the list because I looooove my AX. But I've never skied a Nela or Stormrider before so have no sense of how these ski. And I think this will be hard to find to demo
  • Volkl Secret 96 in 156 - I had the Volkl Queen Attivas (2007-ish?) and love them, but hated the Auras, which everyone else liked. Haven't skied Volkls in a while
Thoughts?

If you've read this far, you are a wonderful human being. Thanks! :golfclap:
 

raytseng

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Posts
2,395
Location
SF Bay Area
Most of your list matches exactly the palisades demo list including the Stöcklis

if you stop in the afternoon before or call in they can put a post-it and reserve the exact ski you're looking for.

as usual though tune may vary.

 
Thread Starter
TS
laine

laine

I ski like a girl. Fast.
Skier
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Posts
626
Location
Oakland
Most of your list matches exactly the palisades demo list including the Stöcklis

That is impressive! I hadn't gone on the site yet, so was just going with my best guess. I'll be up there the first week of Jan (once all the holiday skiers go home), so I might try to demo midweek that week. They even have Kastles! I do wonder if I demo with Sheeva 10, if it would feel similar to the Sheeva 9. I wonder if they'll get the new 2022 Kores in. Looks like they have last year's models.
 

raytseng

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Posts
2,395
Location
SF Bay Area
Yea, prepare for a full day on the mountain to really get your moneys worth. Certainly put a little time in for your most likely candidates, but even if its 3:30 you can take something else out and get a feel for it within a few quick laps...

I don't think the list has been updated for 2022 yet as they are closed, even if the mtn is open, they may not start demos until there is enough base.
 

Philpug

Notorious P.U.G.
Admin
SkiTalk Tester
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Posts
31,936
Location
Reno, eNVy
By the time you demo all of them there will be a whole new list of skis to try. ;) Keep in mind that with your tiny BSL and the different bindings that you will be trying them with, its gonna make the decision even tougher. Good luck.
 
Last edited:
Thread Starter
TS
laine

laine

I ski like a girl. Fast.
Skier
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Posts
626
Location
Oakland
Oy @Philpug - I hadn't even thought of that. Oh, the joys of the 22.5 boot size with the demo bindings. I am thinking that Palisades will probably have the same demo binding on all their skis, right?

Anything you or @Tricia think I'm missing or should remove from the list?
 

raytseng

Making fresh tracks
Skier
Joined
Mar 24, 2016
Posts
2,395
Location
SF Bay Area
no,
when i demoed last season, 1 ski had salomons, another had markers so it will vary.

it may depend if some brands required their brand bindings and others dont care
 

Philpug

Notorious P.U.G.
Admin
SkiTalk Tester
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Posts
31,936
Location
Reno, eNVy
Oy @Philpug - I hadn't even thought of that. Oh, the joys of the 22.5 boot size with the demo bindings. I am thinking that Palisades will probably have the same demo binding on all their skis, right?
Probably not, you will find Markers on the Nordica, Blizzards and Volkls which have a negative delta when the retail versions have a positive one. Salomon on the Stöckli and Tyrolia on the Head which has the highest stack height.
 

Philpug

Notorious P.U.G.
Admin
SkiTalk Tester
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Posts
31,936
Location
Reno, eNVy
Honestly there isn't a dog on the list. Anyone will do 9 out of 10 things superb. Throw a dart ... enie, meanie miney moe ... hell, go by the graphics. Buy one, mount up your favorite binders, put a good tune on them and go out an make them your bitch.
 

Tricia

The Velvet Hammer
Admin
SkiTalk Tester
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Posts
20,814
Location
Tahoe
Of the skis that you're "re-visiting" like the Santa Ana 98 and the Black Pearl 97, they are nothing like the versions you're familiar with.
The new Santa Ana is far more damp and stable than the version you have as is the Black Pearl 97, which also has a sweeter turn radius.
But... Hold on to your wallet....knowing the passion you have for a profoundly built ski, the Nela may just be your winner.

If you're missing something from the list I'd say try the Rossignol Stargazer
2022 Rossignol Black Ops Stargazer I'm honestly blown away by that and the MIndbender 98 Ti Alliance in this category.
 

Rdputnam515

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Feb 2, 2021
Posts
136
Location
Colorado
That is impressive! I hadn't gone on the site yet, so was just going with my best guess. I'll be up there the first week of Jan (once all the holiday skiers go home), so I might try to demo midweek that week. They even have Kastles! I do wonder if I demo with Sheeva 10, if it would feel similar to the Sheeva 9. I wonder if they'll get the new 2022 Kores in. Looks like they have last year's models.
I would definitely look hard at the Kores. Especially as a smaller skier.
My 99s do almost everything well. Two exceptions ice, heavy crud.

not sure you will find wider skis that perform on ice and they are a bit on the light side for heavy crud.

looks like you have both those areas covered though.

I would say the 99 is a perfect all mountain everyday ski.

when it gets deep, go wider heavier and if is really firm or icy, head out with GS skis.

edited to add antrhopometrics

5’9”
150-160 lbs
 
Last edited:

Tony S

I have a confusion to make ...
Skier
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Posts
6,722
Location
Maine
Hi Folks! :wave:
Been a while since I've been online. Last season was a wash for us with Covid and we didn't end up getting passes and barely skied, and it just made me sad to read about all the gear and runs other folks were getting. This is a long post, so buckle in! :ogbiggrin:

Back in early March 2020, I had big plans to attend the Sports Basement demo day at Alpine Meadows at the end of March to look for a replacement for my all-mountain daily drivers. Alas, those plans were canceled when the world shut down on March 15. And since then, quite a few skis have been re-configured, so I'm just starting to research what is out there for me.

Details:
I ski mostly Squaw/Palisades(?) and Alpine Meadows in Tahoe. So it can be heavy snow....Sierra cement as we like to call it. This will be a resort-only ski, mostly on-piste. A mix of groomed and ungroomed, but those groomed trails often end up with crud-like small mogul things by the mid-afternoon. I do some bump runs, but they tire my knees out, so it's more something I throw in depending on the snow. I like trees, but we don't have a ton of tree skiing at those resorts. We maybe make one trip per season somewhere else - Utah, CO, etc.

Current Quiver:
  • All Mountain/less than 8 inches of snow: 2017 Santa Ana, 100 waist, size 161 - the version before they added metal to the skis - this is the ski I want to replace/update
  • Carving/no fresh snow: 2018 Stöckli Laser AX, 78 waist, size 159
  • Powder: 2014 Rossignol Star 7, 116 waist, size 162

About Me:
Been skiing my whole life, since I was 4 - learned in VT in the 70s on ice, skied NJ and PA in college. Didn't ski out West until I was in my late 20s. Now I live in the Bay Area, so ski Tahoe. I'm 5'1", about 115-118 lbs, depending on the season. I'm 49, and have had two knee surgeries on my right knee in a failed attempt to treat chondromalacia patella (lateral release in 2006 - which they don't even do anymore - and scoping in 2009 to remove excessive scar tissue build up).

What I'm looking for:
I want to replace my Santa Anas because when I got them, I think I over-indexed on getting a poppy ski and as time has gone on, I like them less and less in the heavier snow we get in Tahoe (or maybe it's me getting older). I mean, they're easy to ski, and they carve fine and I feel good taking them most places on the mountain. I do wonder if I should have gone with a shorter length - sometimes they feel a little long for me, even though they do have a decent rise in the tip. I'm leaning towards something with some metal in it for a little more stability. I kind of want a goldilocks ski with a bit of pop and more stability, less chatter. Does that exist?

Thinking something in the 92 to 99-ish width range. I thought about going down to the high 80s, but frankly, the Laser AX's are so versatile, I feel like there would be too much overlap. Does this seem reasonable?

Skis I'm considering - and this is where I'd love some opinions from folks who have tried these skis - or just know more about these things than I do.
Help me narrow this list! Or am I missing something obvious? (Also, focused on skis I think I can find to demo in Tahoe, with the exception of the Stöckli.)
  • Blizzard Black Pearl 97 in 159 - I had a Samba for a season before the Santa Ana - I don't think it was that I didn't like it - it was just that when I demo'ed that Santa Ana, it was so poppy and fun
  • Blizzard Sheeva 9 (92 waist) in 157 - Never skied the Sheeva series, but intrigued
  • Head Kore 97 W in 156 - I tried an earlier version of this ski maybe 3 years ago and didn't love it. It was too stiff for the shorter size, but this year it seems to have a new construction. But I know these are pretty light and I wonder how they would do in the heavier Tahoe snow and crud
  • K2 Mindbender 98Ti in 154 - I demo'ed this ski the year it came out - not sure if the construction has changed. I recall liking it that day, but don't remember specifics
  • Nordica Santa Ana 93 in 158 - Haven't tried the narrower sibling, so curious to compare
  • Nordica Santa Ana 98 in 158 - Of course I have to give this one a try. It's gone through multiple rebuilds since I bought mine. My one slight hesitation is that I think this is the heaviest ski on the list - which actually hurts my knees a bit while sitting on the chairlift
  • Stöckli Nela 96 in 156 - This is really only on the list because I looooove my AX. But I've never skied a Nela or Stormrider before so have no sense of how these ski. And I think this will be hard to find to demo
  • Volkl Secret 96 in 156 - I had the Volkl Queen Attivas (2007-ish?) and love them, but hated the Auras, which everyone else liked. Haven't skied Volkls in a while
Thoughts?

If you've read this far, you are a wonderful human being. Thanks! :golfclap:
I'm confused by your sizing pattern. Normally a narrow piste-oriented ski like the AX would be significantly shorter than one's off-piste skis. You say you're on the AX 159? I think currently there is a 154 and a 161. 154 would make sense for your size. If you were on a ski like that in the low 150s it would make sense to me that your off piste skis would be in the 160ish range.

The fact that you are looking at off piste skis that are as short as or even shorter than your piste ski seems weird.
 

SSSdave

life is short precious ...don't waste it
Skier
Joined
Sep 12, 2017
Posts
1,915
Location
Silicon Valley
Laine >>>"...I'm 5'1", about 115-118 lbs"

As another person on the low end of the weight Bell Curve, this person at 5'6" 135#, does not tend to consider ski advice inputs from others useful unless they include their weight or are a known expert like Phil. Advanced males at average weights over decades have tended to have mediocre understanding of how differently same model skis may perform for little people. Fortunately in this Internet era versus the older ski magazine era there is plenty of online smaller women ski testing.


 
Thread Starter
TS
laine

laine

I ski like a girl. Fast.
Skier
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Posts
626
Location
Oakland
I'm confused by your sizing pattern. Normally a narrow piste-oriented ski like the AX would be significantly shorter than one's off-piste skis. You say you're on the AX 159? I think currently there is a 154 and a 161. 154 would make sense for your size. If you were on a ski like that in the low 150s it would make sense to me that your off piste skis would be in the 160ish range.

The fact that you are looking at off piste skis that are as short as or even shorter than your piste ski seems weird.

Hi @Tony S - I have the 2018 AX - and in that model year, the shortest was the 159. And I love how they ski. Would I have gotten a 154 if it had been available then? Maybe. But I got them at the end of 2019 and they were literally half price (which is a huge discount for a new Stöckli) since the model had changed and they were the last old pair in stock and in a small size, so I got a 159.

I'm looking for an all-mountain ski - not necessarily totally off-piste. I ski the resort - a mix of groomed and ungroomed. And my powder skis are a 162, so I do have the longer ski covered.

As I said, sometimes my current Santa Anas feel a little long, especially if I try to do moguls or want to go in the trees. At the time, I probably could have gotten a 154 (IIRC that was the next size down), but for some reason I didn't (don't remember why). I mean, I'll demo the ones above. If they feel short, I can always go up a size. I'm not very tall or very heavy - so I don't think the lengths I'm looking at are out of whack.
 

Rdputnam515

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Feb 2, 2021
Posts
136
Location
Colorado
Laine >>>"...I'm 5'1", about 115-118 lbs"

As another person on the low end of the weight Bell Curve, this person at 5'6" 135#, does not tend to consider ski advice inputs from others useful unless they include their weight or are a known expert like Phil. Advanced males at average weights over decades have tended to have mediocre understanding of how differently same model skis may perform for little people. Fortunately in this Internet era versus the older ski magazine era there is plenty of online smaller women ski testing.


Good point.

I am 5’9 and go 150-160 during ski season. Yes, holidays lol
 
Thread Starter
TS
laine

laine

I ski like a girl. Fast.
Skier
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Posts
626
Location
Oakland
I would definitely look hard at the Kores. Especially as a smaller skier.
My 99s do almost everything well. Two exceptions ice, heavy crud.

not sure you will find wider skis that perform on ice and they are a bit on the light side for heavy crud.

looks like you have both those areas covered though.

I would say the 99 is a perfect all mountain everyday ski.

when it gets deep, go wider heavier and if is really firm or icy, head out with GS skis.

@Rdputnam515 - If it's icy, I'll be on my Laser AX skis, so not really concerned or expecting top-notch performance from an all-mtn ski in that category. But I do need heavy crud. We get the wet snow in Tahoe, so that is a reality of our skiing sometimes. Assuming the mountain demo shop gets in the 2022 models, I will definitely give them a try. But the light weight is a worry in the Sierra cement. Also, when I demo'ed them a few years ago (granted a different construction), they were almost too stiff for me to flex at my size. I'm hoping that has changed, which is why I want to try the 2022.
 

Rdputnam515

Putting on skis
Skier
Joined
Feb 2, 2021
Posts
136
Location
Colorado
@Rdputnam515 - If it's icy, I'll be on my Laser AX skis, so not really concerned or expecting top-notch performance from an all-mtn ski in that category. But I do need heavy crud. We get the wet snow in Tahoe, so that is a reality of our skiing sometimes. Assuming the mountain demo shop gets in the 2022 models, I will definitely give them a try. But the light weight is a worry in the Sierra cement. Also, when I demo'ed them a few years ago (granted a different construction), they were almost too stiff for me to flex at my size. I'm hoping that has changed, which is why I want to try the 2022.
They are stiff, that should help in crud but the weight may be an issue for sure. They do carve well on groomers and play well with bumps and trees.

I am in the same boat here in my search. We get lots of windblown and lighter skis can be a little hard to handle. how hard do you drive your skis? Forward or more neutral stance?

now companies move mounting points all over the place making this even more difficult!

skied Fischer offerings? Ranger or myRanger?
 
Thread Starter
TS
laine

laine

I ski like a girl. Fast.
Skier
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Posts
626
Location
Oakland
@Rdputnam515 - Never skied Fischer before. I haven't seen too many women's (or smaller, since they're now unisex) models around Tahoe - though I did miss last season. I just don't know if I'd be able to demo those. I do love those Ranger 102 FR pink ones - and the 156 is actually 99 underfoot. But it might be a bit too freeride for what I ski.
 
Top