Young Satchel wrote:
This is definitely still a bit of a point of confusion for me. I actually reached out to Woods directly to ask more specifically about his feelings on the 78s in light of the fact that he mentioned that he liked them quite well at first, but once he got the 88s they began gathering dust quickly and are now relegated to "friend loaner" status. But he is also an accomplished skier who seems to get high up in elevation with some regularity. I am not, nor do I. We'll see if he gets back to me. It is still August after all
You are correct- Woods is an accomplished skier- Alpine and Nordic- mountain touring and XC touring. My intuition tells me that Woods is using a more XC-focused ski for terrain that many are using a ski like the 78...
You hit the nail on the head when you described the 78 (and other skis in this class) as "compromise skis". They are at the XC end of the hybrid "xcd" specturm.
For many, that compromise either fits their context perfectly- hence the popularity of this class of skis in North America- as opposed to more cambered BC skis like the E99 (which are more popular in Northern Europe).
For my wife- for example- I don't know if she will ever truly appreciate a fully double-cambered ski in hilly/mountainous terrain. She is first and foremost an expert Alpine skier and Nordic downhill techniques just do not compute with her intuition and muscle memory. When she is on a ski like the Eon/E109 she can use her Alpine skills downhill (as long as the boot will overpower the ski). I have insisted on her trying the E99s a few times- while she kind of sees the XC benefits- she hates them on the downhill!
For me- the 78-class of skis seems to suit my terrain and snow that I tour in the best. HOWEVER- on the daily 10-15km trail loops I do (still ungroomed fresh snow and hilly)- the E99 is truly the most efficient ski I have. If I am going by myself on these loops- I take the E99. HOWEVER- if I am going with my wife (or children) (or visiting friends)- who are on Eons- I take my E109s or Combat Natos. I am so much faster on the E99s that is no fun to ski together! So on the same loop with the Combat Natos/E109s I am able to play around and ski more aggresively on the downhill.
What I can tell you is that a ski like the 78 is reasonably XC-ish when XC skiing- but when you plant both of your feet you can easily flex and turn these skis like an Alpine ski. Skiing downhill on truly double-cambered skis iss very different.
Combine this with MikeK's review of the S98 where he makes it sound ideal for stomping through crappy, broken and unbroken Northeastern trails without nearly as much of a K&G penalty on the flats as he expected, and I begin to wonder if I'm thinking too narrow! (Pun unintended, but acknowledged
Skis like the S-98/S-112/Epoch/Annum are what I would call "hybrid" Nordic touring skis. Karhu/Madshus officially used the moniker "XCD". What I mean by "hybrid" is that they have much of the design characteristics of a downhill ski (flex, camber, sidecut), with "some" of the characteristics of a XC ski (each manufacturer does this differently- Fischer relying on stiffness for some XC performance- Karhu/Madshus relying on flex and tail profile) (Skis like the Eon/78 are at the XC exteme of these hybrid skis- skis like the Annum/S-112 are at the downhill extreme).
These "hybrid" skis are different than more traditional interpretations of the term "xcd". Because, traditionally (and currently in N.Europe), "xcd" simply means to ski downhill on XC skis/boots/bindings. Hence- for example- Asnes' "fjellskis" (literally- "mountain skis") are much more of a traditional XC ski than these "hybrid" skis.
So- "reasonable" XC performance is truly a matter of personal perspective and preference. I personally, would not describe any of the wider, single-cambered, parabolic Nordic "touring" skis as "XC" skis. And it is VERY important to remember that unless you are in truly ideal snow- or have truly exceptional skills- you are going to need some SERIOUS boots and bindings to overpower a ski like the S-98 (and bigger).
It is important to remember that skiers that are XC skiing on wide, single-cambered, parabolic skis (I do it all the time on my Annums and Hoks)- are shuffling along- most definitely more efficient than snow shoes- but, not what I would call XC kick and glide.
There are tours where I am out simply "touring for turns"- or touring in extreme terrain- where downhill control and fun are more important than XC performance. (My current ski for this is the Guide/Annum- I am upgrading this kit in the near future).
The idea of having a little More width underfoot NOT just for fresh snow, but also to deal with abundant trail debris, postholes, snow shoe imprints, snowmobile tracks etc seems appealing
Well- I must admit that I am very fortunate not to be faced with this. I have so much terrain and fresh snow to ski on that I don't even ever have to ski in my own tracks if I don't want to! If the trail conditions are that poor than maybe a wider ski would be more stable- if slower...Best to consult with other people that are faced with that kind of shit. I even avoid snowmobile tracks/trails. (And just as a note- the worst tour my wife and I ever had on the Guide and S-112, we ended up deciding to trek out of the mountains for 20kms on groomed snowmobile track- absolutely miserable)
, but it is possible that in my inexperience, I'm not reading him right and the 98s would be overkill.
Based on your initial description- I think it would be...And- if you end up looking seriously considering the 98- I strongly recommend considering the Epoch as well- personally I much prefer the flex of the Epoch for soft, fresh snow than the 98...
Even as my limit creeps a bit upwards, One thing I am certain of is that the S-Bound 98 would be he absolute top. Famous last words, I know, but anything greater than that really won't make sense for me. Of this I am fairly sure
I would seriously consder a 75mm binding a plastic touring boot (T4/Excursion) if you are going to go to a ski like the 98 or bigger...