Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Review- Fischer RCS Skate

Like most cyclists I have a complicated relationship with winter.  Over the last ten years I've changed my tact to go with the grain rather than against it, and around here that means using the snow instead of fighting it.  

I've put a lot of effort into skiing and have been working out with an organized master's group twice a week for the last three years.  Between that and skiing both weekend days (usually at Trapp's, but not always) I usually get 4 days of skiing per week as long as there's skiable snow on the ground.  In a roundabout way I'm offering this up as a means of explaining my position before I offer my first review of a ski product.  

So with that out of the way here are my thoughts about the venerable Fischer RCS Skate.  These skis are a common site at any Nordic Center and are one of the most prevalent models on the market.  

Fischer athletes essentially own the Nordic World Cup, but as in pro cycling what the elite use is not always indicative of the what the best option is in the marketplace.  Obviously equipment needs to perform to be used at that highest level, but I usually find the best indicator to be top amateur or regional pro athletes who are still paying for their own stuff; amongst that group Fischer has a solid following.

For a long time the RCS was the top of the heap, but the recent introduction of the RCS Carbonlite (referred to universally as "the hole ski") with its distinctive hole in the shovel has moved the RCS down a step in the hierarchy.

See- no holes.

So now there's the RCS Carbonlite halo ski (you heard it here first), and if I had the opportunity to get a set of those I would have, but honestly this is more than enough ski for me.  

Fischer offers two base treatments for this ski- Cold and Plus.  The plus base has a moderate linear grind and a graphite treatment intended for humid conditions like we see here in Vermont.  The cold has less graphite and a flatter base grind so that it handles extreme cold and dry snow more effectively.  The flex and sidecut are identical between the two models.

Truth be told I got 2 sets of these this winter- one set to be run with the stock "Cold" base treatment and one that I had ground to be more of a New England conditions all-rounder.  This particular set pictured here was ground at Edgewise in Stowe, VT with a grind used by many of the VTXC ski team members.  These two models were intended to round out my quiver by replacing my Hypersonics, but more on that later.

So how do they ski?  In a word- amazing.  They're both faster and more stable than anything else I've ever used, and I instantly felt comfortable on them.  They are exceptionally good when the snow is firm.  

Underfoot the RCS seems to find its edge more easily than other skis in firm conditions.  Interestingly there's not much of a trade-off when the going gets soft.  It doesn't spring off the snow or float on top like a condition-specific soft snow ski, but they do still outperform other all-rounder and middle of the road models I've tried.   

The all-around set of skis with the Edgewise grind are the ones I use most often.  When running those I can hang with or out- glide most of the guys I ski with using just normal hydrocarbon wax.  I find myself reaching for these skis in every condition regardless of the snow conditions or temperature because they are so predictable and reliably fast.

The stock Cold set also has its place, but since this winter has been so mild I've only used them a handful of times so far.  When it's below about 10 degrees they really shine and are palpably faster when the snow feels like sandpaper.   

Also I'm running them with the Salomon SNS Pilot bindings.  They come stock with the plate for the Rottefella NIS binding, but since I'm already committed to SNS with boots and binding on all of my other skis there wasn't really another option.  Although I was chided by an NIS fan for using this setup it's not at all uncommon even at the World Cup where athletes could theoretically have better access to a special run of standard topsheet skis. 

The bad news is that I like my all-around RCS skis so much that I'm running them pretty much everyday.  So much for rounding out the quiver.

For more information visit www.fischersports.com.

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