What is the ultimate compromise ski?

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Verskis

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What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby Verskis » Sun Dec 17, 2017 5:03 pm

Today I skied both of my XCD skis back to back, and was pretty underwhelmed by both of them, but in totally different scenarios. That got me thinking if there would be some ski that was the perfect middle ground between these two.
First about the conditions: we got maybe 15 cm of snow last Tuesday. Not very much, but enough to cover most rocks and roots on the ground. After the snowfall we had above-freezing temperatures, until last night it went freezing again with maybe -3 C today. The snow was partially really hard refrozen trails with somewhat heavy but soft snow where it was untouched.
The skis were short and fat OAC Kar147 with permanent mohair mix kicker skin, and old skinny Merrell XCD GT (=Karhu XCD GT) skis in 180cm length with Madshus Intelligrip mohair skins. Rottefella Chili bindings on the OACs and Voile 3-pin cable (without the cables) on the Merrells. I skied both with the Scott Excursion plastic boots.
First was the OAC: the grip was absolutely fantastic everywhere, the glide not so much. Especially on hardpack you can really feel the skin dragging, even if they still glide better on hardpack than on virgin snow. I can only get up to speed to do some turns on somewhat steep hills, and the problem is that the hills are so small that the steep parts last for one or two , maybe three turns maximum. The turning was great on untouched snow, but on hardpack I am not able to get them on the edge properly. The tracking on hardpack is really poor as well.
In a nutshell:
Pros:
-Great grip
-Very manouverable on tight terrain
-Makes me feel like I am able to ski downhill even in heavier deep(ish) snow
-Fun to ski down the steeper slopes

Cons:
-Very slow glide, both when striding and skiing down gentle slopes
-Too wide to get on edge on hardpacked trails
-Twitchy when striding on hardpack

Then the same conditions on the Merrell. First I tried to ski with only grip wax, but the refrozen snow was so slippery that I immediately put the Intelligrip skins on. With the skins, the grip was alright, nowhere as good as the OAC, but sufficiently grippy. The glide was miles better than the OAC, on hardpacked narrow trails they seemed even fast, but that impression was vanished when I tried to ski on groomed tracks, there they felt a bit slow , but still ok. They glide was good on untouched snow as well. So far so good, but they are so hard to turn that it's not even fun! In heavier untouched snow they seem to sink that deep that they can not be rotated and skid at all, I just go straight when I try to do that. And carving on their edge seems impossible as well, they just want to go straight it feels. On hardpacked slopes I managed to do some clumsy turns, but it feels like the rear ski does not want to turn when tryin to telemark. Maybe they are that stiff that I could not bend them enough with my sloppy technique? I remember that when I have been skiing fresh and lighter snow with the Merrells, I managed to do some turns on soft snow, so maybe it was the conditions that made it extra hard? Nevertheless, with the OACs I was doing pretty ok telemark turns today in the same snow.
Pros:
-Great glide, fun when striding along narrow hardpacked trails on flat or flattish ground
-Track quite good even on really hard hiking trails
-Grip was reasonable with the Intelligrip skins

Cons:
-Downhill skiing in today's conditions was almost impossible
-Not so manouverable when skiing through very tight places

Basically, I had great time on the OACs when the snow was soft and the slope angled enough. On the Merrell's I had fun on packed hiking trails on flat ground. On gentle slopes both were disappointing, because I could not get up to speed on OACs and I could not make any turns on the Merrells.
I think some of my pros and cons could be slightly different with better skills, as I am really a beginner still. And I know there is no such thing as perfect all rounder, but I think there could be some skis that bridge the gap between my skis well enough.
I have been thinking about some mid width all rounder skis such as Åsnes Ingstad, Fischer Excursion 88 or S Bound 98, Madshus Eon or Epoch, or OAC XCD160 or XCD GT. I think I would prefer quite a short length in each due to my beginner skills and quite tight terrain. I think the only brand I may be able to test is OAC.
Anybody found a true compromise ski that would be fun both striding along the trails, bushwacking through the forest and turning on the small slopes with variable snow? I guess I am looking for the ultimate beginner XCD ski, which of course does not exist, but what would be closest to that? I think I am willing to trade some XC efficiency for easy handling on the downhills, though.

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby iBjorn » Sun Dec 17, 2017 6:26 pm

Fischer Transalp 75 with voile 3 pin cables and Scarpa T4s I think will manage anything from piste and groomers to cross-ountry, but you will need 4 skins for them, intelligrips, fischer rocker UL65 race skins (think wider and grippier intelligrips), full width mohair and full width nylon skins...but dont expect to end up at the podium...

And most importly modify the tips of your skis and skins to accomandate rando race attachements. Removing skins in 15 seconds and reattach them in 30 makes a big difference.

The search for one ski that rules it all have been my quest for almost 30 years, I currently skis on Transalps 80’s, Atomic UL65 and Fischer E99s

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby D'hostie » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:17 pm

Verskis wrote:Åsnes Ingstad, Fischer Excursion 88 or S Bound 98, Madshus Eon or Epoch, or OAC XCD160 or XCD GT.


My vote, in order, best to worst:

1. Madshus Eon Wax
2. Fischer E88
3. Fischer S98
4. Madshus Epoch
5. Åsnes Ingstad (non-rocker version)

Can't speak for the OAC as I have no experience with them.

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Verskis

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby Verskis » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:56 am

iBjorn wrote:Fischer Transalp 75 with voile 3 pin cables and Scarpa T4s I think will manage anything from piste and groomers to cross-ountry, but you will need 4 skins for them, intelligrips, fischer rocker UL65 race skins (think wider and grippier intelligrips), full width mohair and full width nylon skins...but dont expect to end up at the podium...

And most importly modify the tips of your skis and skins to accomandate rando race attachements. Removing skins in 15 seconds and reattach them in 30 makes a big difference.

Not dreaming about podiums, just to have fun all around my backyard forest :D
With my vertically modest skiing, I don't want to be putting on and taking off the skins all the time. Once the Intelligrips have been put on during the skiing, they have stayed there for the rest of the trip. I have skied all the little downhills with them on, it's not a problem, they still glide better than the OAC Kar147 permanent skins.
The SkiMo skis are interesting suggestion, never considered they would be good for my kind of bushwhacking, but why not, they should be light and easily manouverable? Aren't they too stiff?

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Verskis

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby Verskis » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:59 am

D'hostie wrote:
Verskis wrote:Åsnes Ingstad, Fischer Excursion 88 or S Bound 98, Madshus Eon or Epoch, or OAC XCD160 or XCD GT.


My vote, in order, best to worst:

1. Madshus Eon Wax
2. Fischer E88
3. Fischer S98
4. Madshus Epoch
5. Åsnes Ingstad (non-rocker version)

Can't speak for the OAC as I have no experience with them.

Could you share some rationale behind the order, please? If you have skied all those skis, I would be really interested in a brief comparison between them!

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lilcliffy

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby lilcliffy » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:10 am

FUN!

Thanks for posting this question- and giving us some detail to work with!

I have an initial question- that Merrell XCD GT- which era of the Karhu XCD GT is it? Domensions? Camber? Just based on your description of its unwillingness to respond to you pressuring it- it sure sounds like a double-cambered ski...

The current Madshus Eon- which is an exact copy of the last generation XCD GT- is a soft-flexing camber-and-a-half ski- with a very soft, slightly rockered tip. This version (Eon) of the XCD GT is very easy to pressure and flex in a turn. It does have a straight flat tail with a track groove- and there is some kick and glide tension under foot- but it is MUCH easier to turn than a truly double-cambered ski like the current E-99- or recent Glittertinds I have tried.

Next- sounds like the KAR is very similar to the Hok- the Hok is a powder ski- the Hok is a dream XCD ski in deep soft snow- virtually useless otherwise.

First assumption- you want something short enough that it is maneuverable in dense forest and steep slopes? 160-180cm?

Second assumption- you want enough camber-tension and XC tracking to be reasonable XC skiing? (Obviously giving up some XC performance due to the need for a short length).

Third assumption- you don't want a waxable base? Prefer a skin instead of waxless scales? Snow often too icy and refrozen for scales? Would you consider a kicker skin instead of an permanent skin? Asnes' and Fischer's integrated skins are amazing- BUT, you do need to take them off on the downhill.

Fourth assumption- you need a ski that is soft enough to pressure and flex it with as little as half your weight. The downhill-focused solution to this is, of course, a single camber (like the KAR), but this does not solve your XC desire. SO- there are two other options:

1) A short BC double-cambered ski like the E99/Gamme 54/Glittertind. If this ski is short enough there will not be a an effective wax pocket, and you will be able to effectively squash it and pressure it with only half your weight- while still offering some XC kick and glide pop. The draw back is still that this ski will still be super stiff underfoot and will not have a nice round reverse flex for turns...The other potential problem with these skis is that the stiffness underfoot renders waxless scales virtually useless in difficult snow- IMO. For example- it is much easier to engage the scales of the softer E-109 Crown, than it is the stiffer E-99 Crown. Fischer needs to add the Easy-Skin to the E99/E109 Crown...

2) A camber-and-a-half ski. Examples that I own include: Ingstad(Combat Nato)/Eon/E-109. Of these three the Ingstad/Combat Nato is my personal favourite- but I am using this ski with a more of a distance-focus than your context- mine are 210cm. They still have a wonderful downhill flex, with a very wide turn radius- and at 210cm, with their full-length stability, they are deep snow XC machines. No waxless option with the Ingstad- just the integrated skin. The Eon is much softer over all than the Ingstad and E-109- the Eon has a wonderfully soft, round flex, with soft, open tips- and although it is very soft- there is still some tension underfoot for XC skiing. The Eon can be had with a waxable base or the Omintrack waxless base (the Omintrack scale designe works great on warm wet snow- ONLY). The E-109 is really the highest performing XCD ski of these three- with more XC stiffness and tension underfoot than the Eon, and wonderful rockered tips for downhill turns. The E-109 can be had with the Offtrack Crown waxless base (E-109 Crown), or the waxable base with integrated skin (E-109 Tour Easy-Skin). Both the Eon and the E-109 suck in truly deep snow when XC skiing- the combination of the sidecut and very soft tips make them completely unstable in truly deep snow. To me- the Ingstad/Combat Nato is the best overall (XC and D) of these 3- but it is only available with a waxable base with integrated skin.

So- assuming that my above assumptions are sound:
I recommend a reasonably long camber-and-a-half ski- as long as you can maneuver in the woods. (Remember that a ski with this flex is going to offer waaaay more downhill responsiveness than your current stiff and cambered Merrill).

Other skis that I have skied on earlier version of that deserve consideration:

Fischer Traverse 78: reports suggest that is stiffer and more cambered than the previous S-Bound 78? Used to be a camber-and-a-half ski.

Fischer Excursion 88: have skiied the previous S-Bound 88 MANY times- the flex of the E-88 in the shop appears to be the same- single-cambered (but it is stiffer than the Eon). Based on its camber and sidecut- the E-88 seems fairly narrowly tuned towards soft fresh snow...Don't know what the E-88 is like on dense snow...Many of the skiers on this site have the E-88- would be worth asking them!

The potential advantage of the T-78 & E-88 is that you have both the waxless scales and the integrated skin system.

If your typical BC snow goes from warm-wet to icy refrozen- scales plus kicker skin.

If your typical BC snow goes from cold and dry to icy refrozen- grip wax plus kicker skin.

I am not sure what to think yet of the permanent kicker skin on skis like the Hok/KAR/XCD...

From a purely utilitarian perspective, I love the permanent skin...

You mentioned before that you would be able to test the OAC XCD? Do it- it might be the ultimate quiver-of-one compromise ski for your context.

The XCD GT appears too wide and soft to offer much on dense/hard snow- it seems very narrowly tuned toward deep soft snow...
Last edited by lilcliffy on Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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D'hostie

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby D'hostie » Mon Dec 18, 2017 11:18 am

Verskis wrote:
D'hostie wrote:
Verskis wrote:Åsnes Ingstad, Fischer Excursion 88 or S Bound 98, Madshus Eon or Epoch, or OAC XCD160 or XCD GT.


My vote, in order, best to worst:

1. Madshus Eon Wax
2. Fischer E88
3. Fischer S98
4. Madshus Epoch
5. Åsnes Ingstad (non-rocker version)

Can't speak for the OAC as I have no experience with them.

Could you share some rationale behind the order, please? If you have skied all those skis, I would be really interested in a brief comparison between them!


Sure - I believe the review section here will provide you with a wealth of knowledge on most of these.

1. Just an excellent turning and touring ski. It has a really good balance of a round flex and decent gliding characteristics. Not the easiest ski to turn on the list, but considering how well it tours, it's the best balance.

2. A great touring and turning ski. Good scales. Easy skin is good addition to icy conditions or steep climbs.

3. Not the fastest touring ski, but acceptable. A little difficult to ski on hardpack. Absolute turning beast. Similar to the E88 but turnier.

4. Similar to the Fischer S98 but a tad softer all around with less climbing ability. Lack of rocker means it's a bit outclassed, but still responds well in most snow.

5. A very good XC ski, similar to the Eon wax but not as good a turner. The least turn ability on the list, not a good ski for a beginner but perhaps OK for advanced skier. Suffers from a torsionally soft tip and zero rocker, which I believe hurts turn initiation. Perhaps the new version addresses these issues?
Last edited by D'hostie on Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby Young Satchel » Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:29 pm

Been leaning toward Fischer 78s or 88s for similar purposes. Unfortunately life circumstance has gotten in my way in a major way and the entire purchase is in jeopardy for lack of any free time to use them. But yeah, after a ton of help from the gang here ( Cliffy, Woods) that’s what I was leaning towards.


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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby connyro » Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:59 pm

D'hostie wrote:My vote, in order, best to worst:

1. Madshus Eon Wax
2. Fischer E88
3. Fischer S98
4. Madshus Epoch
5. Åsnes Ingstad (non-rocker version)

Can't speak for the OAC as I have no experience with them.


This list reads an awful lot like the lion's share of a former valued member's quiver. Well, at least you're better than RC at sockpuppetry: it took 19 posts to figure out who you are while Ron takes only a post or two. Why not just come back and post under your original name? IMO, we'd all be richer for it.

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Re: What is the ultimate compromise ski?

Postby connyro » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:06 pm

Where I live and for my goals, I have to say that Voile Vector BC with 3-pins is the ultimate compromise for touring and turning. I suspect I may choose the Objectives if I had experience skiing them. On thing that'a nice is that they can work on groomers reasonably well. They also work well on hardpack, deep powder, crud, etc. I also really like how these skis climb. I know, they are heavy and are only for shuffling, etc but I don't really see those as negative issues for where and how I ski.

IF I skied in flatter, more mellow terrain, I think the Fischer 88s would be the ticket.


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