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  1. #1
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    Praxis 9D8 review

    There isn't a whole lot out there yet on this ski, except for a bunch of stoke. Having just skied 4 early season days on it at Mt. Baker, I wanted to toss up some early thoughts. I've yet to ski it in the place I really got it for -- the east coast, so will update this once I can get some more turns back home. Because I like their format and think it's informative, I'm gonna do this Blister Gear Review style.

    ----------------


    Tester (me): 6', 180 lbs. Expert technical skier, instructor, like to scare myself on tight and scary steeps more than I like going mach speed (does that mean more "finesse" than "aggressive"? I don't know), but I carved plenty of GS turns on these as well.

    Ski: 2013-2014 Med-stiff carbon layup Praxis 9D8, 179cm (GPO graphic)

    Dimensions (mm): 132-98-121

    Sidecut Radius: 18 meters

    Weight: <8 lbs (Keith reports 8 lbs in fiberglass, a small bit lighter in carbon; haven't weighed them myself)

    Binding: Marker Jester (DIN 10)

    Boots: Black Diamond Factor 130

    Days Skied: 4

    Test Location: Mt. Baker

    Praxis describes this ski as their "best all mountain ski for those that want a stable, comfortable, and predictable ride", and the dimensions look tailor-made for the east cost. This ski has a bit of an early rise in the tip, and much less so in the tail. The tail is enough of a twin to ride and land switch on occassion, but with less splay and taper in the tail and a sidecut that's back of center, this ski is definitely a very directional tool.

    Over 4 very variable days at Baker, I got to run this ski in conditions ranging from low-snow slush with grass poking through, to icy refrozen crud and death cookies, to half a foot of (unforecasted!) fresh blower on our last day, and a bit of tracked out chop in the afternoon. Baker's coverage was very low and a lot of things weren't accessible (Canyon, Gunner's, Chute, Gabl's and others were closed, and a lot of the "backcountry" zone was impassable), so I had to stay out of some of the steep tree runs. I did dip into the trees as much as I could on the side of every run, but I can't say I really have a handle yet on how these skis perform in long, steep, tight glades.

    My main impression of this ski is close to the billing Praxis gives it (with one significant caveat, to come) -- this ski is solid, stable and confidence-inspiring. I sized down to 179 because I tend to ski a lot of steep and tight trees. At 179, a different ski might run short on me (an Armada TST I tested at 183 threatened to throw me over the handlebars a couple of times when I messed up), but I had no issues with stability at all with the 9D8s when charging at high speed down groomers or the rolling terrain common to Baker (eg. Pan Face). Landing drops, they felt incredibly solid as well, so that I found myself taking bigger and bigger airs with trickier run-outs, knowing the landing would feel predictable. They are not exactly forgiving if you land (or ski) back on the tail, but neither do they throw you. They're supportive enough to ride it out, but they really want you to get back in the driver's seat as quickly as possible.

    Here's that caveat -- this ski, at least in the carbon layup, is to my mind a perfect example of why the words "damp" and "stable" shouldn't automatically go together. As I wrote above, this ski is very stable. It does not get deflected, it acts predictably, it goes through crud and ice and bumps in exactly the direction you point them in; there's no chatter, no trace of jitter or any other weird behavior. But damp, this ski is not. Going over refrozen mank and icy death cookies on what was certainly the least fun day in the history of Mt Baker (or so the locals told me) I felt the feedback from what seemed like every small ice particle. I could go fast in a predictable turn shape, but, boy were my legs feeling it. It was actually a very strange feeling to be so stable while feeling so much feedback from the skis, and at first I didn't trust them to run fast. Once I did, I found no loss in stability, but the feeling of being shaken like a martini forced me to slow down. Granted, these are unpleasant conditions on lots of skis, but (judging only from reviews, not personal comparison) several of the skis that are in the 9D8's DNA and have the 9D8's dimensions (eg. the Blizzard Bonafide, Volkl Mantra or Kastle 98) are designed specifically to excel in bad conditions like these, smooth them out and make them fun. Those skis have metal and no carbon. It may be the carbon layup, or the all-wood construction, but my 9D8s did nothing at all to smooth out the ride in these conditions. Good thing that there was a gorgeous sunset over Shuksan when I called it a day -- so-and-so giveth and taketh away, right?

    That lack of dampness is just about the only "flaw" in the 9D8 I've managed to find (again, to the extent that death cookies are ever fun). In all other respects, these skis are as close to a one-ski quiver as I can imagine anything getting -- that's not really either a compliment or an insult, because for any specialized purpose I can imagine a better ski -- but, excepting the dampness caveat, it's hard to imagine any one ski performing better in all of these conditions. On small patches of smooth sheet ice, given the famous Praxis factory tune, these skis held a great edge and maintained their predictable characteristic. I have yet to ski them on an entire bulletproof run like we tend to get in the east, but with a good tune, I expect they'll behave admirably.

    In both icy and soft bumps, these skis turned a tiny bit less quickly than my 60mm waisted frontside carvers, but given that this is 98 underfoot, I was really impressed with their edge-to-edge quickness. I found the same thing in the trees, though as I mentioned, I don't feel I've put them through a real tree test yet.

    I haven't skied any other ski with these dimensions in boot-deep blower powder (I live in Boston... how many of those days do we get?), but I was expecting less greatness than I got. While they don't float as much as a dedicated powder tool would, they do give enough of that blissful surfing feeling to be really fun. I couldn't get the tips on them to dive at all and I didn't get thrown once, which again contributed to the feeling that these skis inspire confidence. No doubt I would have had more fun on something much wider underfoot, but again, for a 98-waisted ski, it's hard to imagine them performing much better.

    One final word on the construction: the bases are great. Given the patchiness of Baker's early season terrain this year, I definitely ended up going over a couple of rocks that made me cringe at the thought of looking at the bases. At the end of 4 days, there are some minor base scratches, but really nothing much. On the other hand, the topsheets did start chipping a bit, pretty much right away (I was sad to see a decent-sized chunk missing from the downhill side of one ski after the first run, when I could swear I didn't touch anything), but there's nothing close to delam going on, and I'm not too worried about the cosmetic factor.

    Overall, I am very pleased with them. I wanted a ski for the east coast that would work great on trips out west, and these skis seem perfect for that job. They are not a dedicated ice or powder or mogul-skiing tool, but they do all of those things better than one might expect, and well enough to make them all really fun. I'd be curious to demo some of the 9D8's main competitors, like the Bonafide, and see how those skis do in similar conditions, but overall, I'm very happy with them. I'll try to update this review when I get more east coast days on them, but am happy to answer any questions about them in the meantime.

  2. #2
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    Nice review. Seems like metal would smooth the ride...but then you'd lose some of the low weight. Thx for sharing!

  3. #3
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    Nice write up. Thank you.

  4. #4
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    Where did you mount - Line, + or - ? and did you feel it should have been different? Since the general consensus on Praxis skis is to mount back, this would be helpful in the review.

  5. #5
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    interesting that an 18m radius would inspire a description of "directional"

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Looking
    the general consensus on Praxis skis is to mount back, this would be helpful in the review.
    Not sure that is true having read the Praxis threads here many times over. I have three pair of new Praxis. The only ones I have skied to date is the GPO. Mounting them on the dimple was pure gold.

  7. #7
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    ok, maybe I should qualify it by saying, 'historically', as it was well known that Keith has favored a very centered mount. The GPO and the new iteration of the protest and concept seem to be on the line happy, while previous versions of the protest, rx and even the pow boards were well discussed as favoring a rear mount. Safe to say personal style plays some role as well, just looking for data points.

  8. #8
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    Nice write up. I would be very curious to read your take on the Bonafide vs 9D8 comparison.
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  9. #9
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    Added to the Praxis resourse thread, thanks for posting. I think this might be #6 for me.
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  10. #10
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    Unless of course you are mounting last
    Quote Originally Posted by Just Looking View Post
    ok, maybe I should qualify it by saying, 'historically', as it was well known that Keith has favored a very centered mount. The GPO and the new iteration of the protest and concept seem to be on the line happy, while previous versions of the protest, rx and even the pow boards were well discussed as favoring a rear mount. Safe to say personal style plays some role as well, just looking for data points.
    Gotcha. The "historcal" comment is spot on. Moving the mount points around between differing production runs would seem to have been required. Buying skis in the middle of the move, last winter-spring I think, and mounting from the data collected here might be a little annoying. Right move on Praxis part I think. But likely best to just shit can all the data listed here on TGR for mounting the last generation skis if you just bought new. Unless of course you are mounting the older skis.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the review, I think I'm mounting mine tonight!!

    Did you detune the tips down to the contact point or just run 'em factory sharp?

  12. #12
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    Ok, so I mounted mine and have a one day review. Will update with more as it comes.

    Vitals:
    9d8 - 191. med stiff, fiberglass
    binders look turntables 14
    boots OG factors
    skier: 6'1" 215 or so depending on the morning constitutional

    I mounted -2, partly from my own experience with praxis, and partly from measuring contact points and seeing the mark was more forward than middle between the contact points.

    I also did do a light detuning of the edges, approx a half inch at the tip curve (not the forward contact point) and the tail contact point.

    Conditions today on the east coast were soft and wet, some of the unconsolidated stuff from last weeks snow was pretty manky, the man made was firmish, but more like wet corn. Essentially hero snow,so a bit tough to really put the ski through its paces.

    Also for direct comparison, I spent several of the preceding days skiing out west on some 105 LP's, which just kill it.

    First run at 8am, as cold and consolidated as the snow would get. I started out cautiously, not wanting to let the LP high take me too far. After a couple obligatory christies, I started to let them run and dive into turns. They immediately felt comfortable, stable and intuitive. The next several runs I tried to take it easy, but a lack of human slalom targets found me letting the skis run. I was quickly very confident in the skis, their manners were impeccable. Again hero snow, but everything I tried, airing rolls, shorter or longer turns were as expected. I did try to look for some of the harder manmade snow patches - which were more yellow than the softer snow for some reason - and found more consistent results. I also veered off to the real manky natural stuff, and was very happy with the skis manners, the slight tip rocker really worked well to lift the skis and keep them above, instead of submerging in the crap. As the day wore on, I started trying to crush the slush piles and found the tips did want to deflect some, but then the rest of the ski solidly plowed through with no issue. I also hooked up with a friend, who was skiing with some beginner folks. Keeping up with them gave me the opportunity to work the short turn slow speed turns, and it was delightful. Turn it and forget it. I did find the tips to be a bit chattery when the ski was running flat, but when the edges were engaged, I did not notice anything un-appealing.

    The only potential issue was an occasional feeling of too much tail. It wasn't a consistent feeling, most of the time I was just railing and enjoying, but every now and then - and a couple of times - I felt as if I had more tail than necessary. Clearly could have been me, the conditions, or a little more tail de-tuning, but something I will definitely keep an eye on.

    I clearly want to get some more time on these, and will report back here as I have some more meaningful results. Tuesday is supposed to be a freeze - so some ice coast stoke is likely. But so far, I'm real stoked on these skis and happy with the most recent praxis purchase. I might finally have a praxis ec dd, well when its not completely frozen anyway.

  13. #13
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    JustLooking: thanks for your own review! I would love to hear your thoughts on dampness vs stability on these skis, though there are a few potentially relevant differences between our skis (carbon v glass and lengths).

    I mounted mine on the dimple and that felt perfect to me. I really don't have much experience playing with mount points, but the mount looks spot on to me given the sidecut pattern, and skiing them, I never felt like I was out of the sweet spot (except by my own fault), had any jitteriness or any difficulties initiating turns, which I think are usually the mark of suboptimal mount points. But again, your skis' length is quite different than mine, so maybe that makes some difference to the mount.

    JayPowHound: I did no detuning anywhere and had zero problems with that. I'd probably suggest taking them out as is before you decide to detune and see how you like the factory setting.

    I guess my general bias on both factory tune and mount point is that folks like Keith know a hell of a lot more about it than I do, so I'd rather not mess with their decisions unless I have a very good reason to.

  14. #14
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    Stability, they seemed very stable. The variations I did come across were easily overcome by the ski in a predictable way, but heavier, deeper or firmer conditions will need to be explored before I can say for sure. As a praxis fan though, I expect this to be a non issue.
    As for dampness, beyond the tip chatter when running flat, which I give some creedence to a 'normal' condition for a tip rocker ski, I didn't come across conditions that would really give me a basis to comment. The firmer conditions coming will address this.

    Hey, if the ski is skiing well as you have it mounted, then you win, and all is good. I may be overly technical in where to mount, but have seen the differences between mounting on the line, and then going back some on praxis skis. I've also found moving the mount on some skis changed nothing, and I still hated the ski. Just the way it goes I guess. When I measured the ski tip-tail, vs the line it looked to be in a good position, but when I measured the contact points vs the line, it seemed off. I don't have the measurements handy atm, but -2 seemed to get them into a reasonable range. Also, on the 191, the 98mm waist measurement covered a fairly large area (again no measurement handy atm), and the line was to the front of this area. Moving the line back put it towards the rear, just seemed like the right thing.

  15. #15
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    Seems like detuning would help with the death cookies a little?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by shroom View Post
    interesting that an 18m radius would inspire a description of "directional"
    Sorry I don't follow....What has the turn radius gotta do with weather the ski is directional or not?
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob stokes View Post
    Sorry I don't follow....What has the turn radius gotta do with weather the ski is directional or not?
    Think of it in terms of a race ski. Slalom skis have a radius of 13 meters, Super G, and downhill skis have a mimimum radius of 45 meters. Which would you consider a more directional ski?

  18. #18
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    I think there might be two different uses of "directional" here. I was using it to mean the ski likes going forward rather than skiing switch. I think you may be using it to mean that the ski likes going straight instead of turning. Is that right?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob stokes View Post
    Sorry I don't follow....What has the turn radius gotta do with weather the ski is directional or not?
    This makes me curious about what you think directional means...

    unless you're getting crazy and thinking twin vs flat tail, how could it be related to anything other than radius?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roder View Post
    I think you may be using it to mean that the ski likes going straight instead of turning. Is that right?
    yeah, that's how i use the term anyway. your explanation makes sense though, at least in that context. I'm not super flippy spinny so that didnt cross my mind.

    either way, sounds like a fun ski!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by racesla View Post
    Think of it in terms of a race ski. Slalom skis have a radius of 13 meters, Super G, and downhill skis have a mimimum radius of 45 meters. Which would you consider a more directional ski?

    They are both directional.....imo directional=designed to ski forwards.

    A symmetrical park ski=not directional.
    Pin tailed big mtn ski=directional.
    Quote Originally Posted by Angry Whelk View Post
    a more stupid motherfuck does not exist.
    Big Balls is worst asshat kind.
    kind that wear bukkake from above.
    with warm drown he gurgles final death, for one time not worried about his misplaced import known of african american social standing and prominent community members. for he is only drown, as is the way.

  22. #22
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    Just mounted my own fuckin' 179 9d8s and first impression says on the dimple looks like there's a LOT of tail (ie. they're pretty far forward)..

    It'll be a couple days before I get to ski them, so time will tell.. Will check back in here after I get a few days on them.

  23. #23
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    Thanks for the reviews, sounds like the skis are performing as expected. I've been thinking of getting these or the yetis on the next praxis pre-order. I have to make some quiver decisions before i decide which ones though. I was worried the 9d8 would have a big upturned tail, glad to hear it doesn't sound like that though.

    Quote Originally Posted by rob stokes View Post
    They are both directional.....imo directional=designed to ski forwards.

    A symmetrical park ski=not directional.
    Pin tailed big mtn ski=directional.
    That's what I always thought directional meant...but I'm no expert.

  24. #24
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    I am trying to convince my dad to get these...

    He is a 60yo weekend warrior at squaw. Rides current gen gotamas most days and older pontoons when theres fresh snow.

    A 98mm ski will round out his quiver imo...

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  25. #25
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    Follow up:

    Some more time on them in more winter like conditions: ranging from firm skied-off nicely polished base - just shy of boilerplate, well manicured fresh snow groomers, Soft man made fresh complete with obligatory wales, as well as day old 'aged' fresh manmade, overall pretty decent east coast conditions - I guess more or less what these are made for.

    I am happy with the mount at -2. I have not had any further feelings of having too much tail, so that was more likely a conditions issue. I think the sweet spot for the mount is likely a decent size. I actively tried to ski the tail (i.e. on my heels) , as well as the tip (on my toes) and did not feel that the ski was significantly harder or easier to turn. When balanced over the ski, it just feels good. I think I might feel as good about the ski had I mounted on the mark.

    The ski is quick edge to edge, and does handle a wide range of turns well. It handles super short sl style turns real well, it will handle super long turns nicely, but the ski does want to turn a bit more than that. Medium radius is definitely where its most comfortable - no surprise.

    The ski is stable, comfortable and predicatble. It plows through man made snow piles well, and did not deflect when I tried to ram some grapefruit sized snow chunks. It handled the hard pack well, but clearly was more happy with a bit of softer snow its no ice skate, but worked as needed.

    Overall real happy with this ski. It is definitely a contender as a dd for the ice coast, from anything after 'frozen granular'. I hope to get a powder evaluation in the coming days

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