Yesterday was a demo day at my home mountain (Mount Sunapee)and that gave me a chance to try out some of next years skis. I thought I would share my thoughts on these skis.
I myself am 5'10" and weight 157 lbs. Am 21 years of age and have been skiing for 10 years. Type 3 skier. Ski all over the EC. Prefer to ski trees, bumps, ungroomed, powder, and warm spring snow, but when I can't do that I lap the park. Normally ski on a 176 Armada AR7.
Started out as sub 32F with frozen loose granular with lots of death cookies and flat light, but eventually turned into 45F with lots of soft spring snow, bumps, and exposed ice, bluebird
2012 179 Volkl Bridge:
This was the first ski I demoed and probably my favorite. It was the only ski I actually demoed twice. At 95mm underfoot it didn't seem too different than my AR7s. Just a little wider which seemed to add stability and float, but it still remained nimble and easy to maneuver. I like how Volkl does rocker with their ELP design. The rocker on the Bridges started fairly far back on the ski but only didn't rise very high. This made for a ski that was amazing on groomers once on edge, but still gave it extra float in the soft. The ELP Rocker also doesn't kill the effective length of the ski as some rockered skis do. The 179 felt like a 179 not a 169 as I expected it would. I noticed that the rocker also made it extremely easy to turn and pivot the skis especially in the softer snow where a cambered ski would bog down and not want to turn. It was a lot of fun smearing turns and slashing little stashes of snow. Going into and out of switch stance was effortless. Making turns down through the soft snow was effortless. Speed of the ski seemed fine as well as its edge hold. Flex seemed a little more towards the stiff side, but that's fine for what this ski is supposed to be. I could see this ski being an everyday ski for me. Its great on the harder snow surfaces, but the ELP rocker makes it a blast when things get soft. At 95mm underfoot you could take it anywhere. Bottom line it rails groomers and is a blast when the snow gets deep.
2012 177 Rossignol S3
This was my least favorite ski. Perhaps I would have liked it in the next size up the 186. To me it just felt very unpredictable when the ski would hold and when it would release. It did have a surf like feeling which was pretty fun. When on hard pack it was difficult to know when I would have solid edge hold and when I wouldn't. I'd be willing to give it another shot in a longer length and perhaps the edges were a little dull. The rocker profile did make it easy to pivot the ski and throw it sideways to shut down speed which was nice. Like I said it did also give the ski a nice surf like feeling when skiing the soft which was pretty awesome. I just didn't like the inconsistent edge hold, but a fresh tune and a longer ski could help with that. Unfortunately they only had the 177 available to demo.
2012 178 Rossignol S7
Another one of my favorite skis, right up there with the Bridges. If I bought this ski I would go for the 188, but the 178 is the only size they had for demo. This ski was fantastic. The flex was great. Soft in the tip, medium in the tail, and medium stiff underfoot. This makes the ski very lively and energetic. Its amazing how much energy this ski has skiing the bumps and how effortless it is to ski. This ski was just a blast smearing turns, slashing snow off to the side, and throwing the ski sideways. It was fantastic in the soft snow and seemed to have unlimited float. It also turned and pivoted incredibly easy which was great when things got tight and in the soft bumps. Would have loved the extra stability of the 188. The narrower tail while making this ski directional really lets it shine when going forward. The tip just sits on top of everything. I would definitely buy this ski as a soft snow ski, but I'd go for the 188 cm length. This ski was just smiles and fun the whole way down. Floats in the soft, easy to turn, playful, smears, and slashes on command.
2012 195 Rossignol Super 7
This ski is a monster. 195 cm long, 117 in the waist, 145 in the shovel, and a layer of Titanal under the top sheet. This ski was definitely out of its natural habitat when I tested it, but it was fun nonetheless. Surprisingly it skis much smaller than I expected, but still skis pretty big. Huge change from my 176 AR7s. These skis are heavy, damp, and stiff. They love to go fast. On edge they made chopped up snow feel like a corduroy groomer. They literally just plow through everything, but it comes at a cost. They aren't as nimble as a stock S7 and require a lot of energy input from the skier. If you get lazy they will take you for a ride. I'd like to get on the 188 cm version and see if that would be better suited for my size. I can see this ski being great for deep powder days and then killing it once all the fresh snow has been tracked out. This is a ski that can handle that kind of snow. Zero tip flap. It just cuts right through it. You will definitely get a workout carrying this from your car to the hill and god forbid you get on a lift without a foot rest. These skis are heavy!! I don't think I'd get this ski in the 188 cm length over the 188 cm S7, but it'd be interesting to compare the two. This ski would be great for people frequently accessing big mountain or quasi big mountain skiing or for those who want to have just as much fun in the chop as they do in the fresh.
Well that's it. Was trying to get on a pair of Gotamas, but every time I checked into the demo tent they were already out on the slopes. The demos were of Rossignol, Volkl, Nordica, Blizzard, and Dynastar skis. Unfortunately They didn't have any S5s, or S6s or I would have gotten on them. This was my first time trying rockered skis and I have to say I am now converted. Hopefully I can pick up a pair soon. I'm thinking a 95-105 all mountain oriented rocker ski like the bridge would be best suited for me.
Hopefully this helps someone out.