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Review: The 2005/06 Atomic RS11 192 Warm/Hard Skating Ski

Wed, Dec  21, 2005 - By James Hull

2005/06 Atomic RS11 192 Warm/Hard

I've had around a half dozen outings in varied conditions on my new Atomic RS11's, so I'd consider this more than a first impression, but short of an exhaustive test. With a quiver of first year Atomic RS10's in a soft marathon flex, paired with last year's Rossignol F2's, my intention was to find an all-around ski with the flex targeted to complement the firmer Rossi's. I've already reviewed the F2's in a separate post, but suffice to say they continue to impress, and with their excellent tracking and stability, they remain my primary training ski for firmer or skied out tracks. The F2's are actually reasonably competent as the trail goes softer, but do start to plow a little and bog down after a certain point. I did try to fit a lightly used set of F3's in the all-around role, but they ended up a bit too stiff, and never really fit that intended use.

After some deliberation on the stiffer Atomic Vs the softer Rossi choice, I elected to go the Atomic route for this pair. Again, since I had the firmer tracks covered, it made sense to go for a ski that would hold up when the trail would be a mix of groomed transitioning to softer conditions.
So, with that as background, here are my first impressions.

The RS11's were selected to my flex needs, then delivered with a Z40 grind and hot box treatment from Engineered Tuning, so they came up to speed pretty quickly. I haven't done exhaustive empirical testing, but so far they seem to have very good glide speed. In varied conditions, they match up well to any other ski I've compared them to.

From a totally seat of the pants viewpoint, they FEEL fast, composed, and 'free' on the trail. The all around flex appears to suit the ski well; I had some concerns about this, since my Atomic experience to this point has been all about softer tracks, but that now appears unfounded. The RS11's maintain a certain amount of RS10-like Atomic heritage in the shovel feel, but in a substantially more positive fashion. Undoubtedly some of that contrast is due to the stiffer overall flex I chose, but even so, the skis feel is quite different from the first generation product. While the RS10 shovel feels light and almost delicate; the RS11 shovel still feels like an Atomic in flex, but almost Rossi-like in terms of its tracking and stability. A very nice compromise.

As a bonus, the RS11's also handle the faster downhill corners with MUCH more confidence than the RS10's. While not quite as composed on the icy tracks as my F2's, they balance that with better performance when the trail goes soft. I had the opportunity to ski the RS11 in several inches of fresh snow at West Yellowstone, and they held up quite well when the trail got very soft. No question my marathon flexed RS10's would have been a better choice on that day, but the 11's surfed pretty well, and clearly outperformed all the stiffer skis of various brands in my group.

The RS11 in a 192 is a long ski; at 6' tall, it was strongly suggested that I ski that length, but I'd say it is about as long as I'd want to ski, and probably flirts with the FIS limit for my height, if you care about that sort of thing. The longer tails in the new design definitely keep me honest in how I put the skis down to avoid excessive interference back there.

The new base material also appears to take and hold wax well, although since they were immediately ground and hot boxed, that certainly could be a contributing factor. They do brush up to a perfect finish; after struggling with initial prep on earlier Atomics, this was a pleasant change! It would be interesting to compare to a non-ground pair and see if the waxing and glide speed are inherent to the new base material.
So, first impressions are that the new RS11 is an excellent ski, and is a perfect fit for my intended all around use. Flexed for same, they appear to have good glide speed, very good overall handling characteristics, and handle a broad range of trail conditions with confidence. Other than some slight allowances for the tail length, so far I'm extremely thrilled with all the performance aspects of this ski!