So here we are, with the quick reviews:
The methodology for testing the various different skis, was as comparable as it can be in a real world scenario. We took one of the lifts to the top and rode it’s left little powdery flank, with a little drop, some steeps, and a long flat over the glacier to the pist, where we descended back to the testival test area. Now I am not going to list tons of specifications and marketing mumbo-jumbo, but I am going to mention the feel and impressions we gathered while testing various product combinations. Oh and for reference first check the video if u have a few minutes to spare. Otherwise just skip and read 😛
1. SCOTT Punisher 173
Since Scott has been supporting the Freeride World Tour for the last couple of seasons as one of it`s main sponsors, we decided to give one of its skis, which are produced by Fisher, a test run. Now these powder skis, have an interesting design innovation built in. a so-called three-dimensional sidecut. While riding them you immediately notice that the ski stays in a nice “flowline” without the edges gripping on the snow. This adds a very playful feel to the ski overall. As you saw in the video above the skis rocker is a bit of a puzzle. It doesn’t float as much as one would expect when bending the ski itself to try the Flex. I did not like that, because I like float, even in playful skis. Now to the skis credit, I did test a very short 173 version, so the possibility still remains that the longer one would in fact solve this problem.
Another thing, that I found interesting was the durability of the base. While riding occasionally you will hit some stones and that of course can be devastating. While mostly repairable it is a nuisance, that is usually more apparent in skis with the pure race bases. These race bases are faster, but they sacrifice it for one thing, that in powder is extremely important durability. That`s why the Punisher race base is 1.5 mm thicker then normally I have to thank the guys from Scott from being so lenient with me as I managed to remove quite a chunk of the base. Fortunately, the edges remained completely intact and it is something that you are going to almost certainly encounter somewhere in the backcountry at some point. Weight wise, though the skis were probably the lightest of all tested.
2. Salomon Q115 188 with the Guardian binding
I have to be honest. When I was at ISPO in February and Salomon presented the QUEST ski line, I didn`t exactly know what to think of them. It wasn`t a pure backcountry ski like the Rocker2s, and on the other hand it also wasn’t a pure touring ski, for which it still remained far to heavy. It seemed somewhat of a marketing ploy, kinda like the BBR, to court the ongoing share of would be backcountry touring skier’s who were looking for a one in a gun ski that looks cool. With this negative mindset, I took the Q115 for a spin in tracked powder and was pleasantly surprised. Though it definitely is not the ski I would go for (more on that later) it is recommendable for people going less hard-core. The edge to edge control kinda feels like my old Salomon Czar with a stiffer rocker. The latter is my biggest critique of this ski and also with the Guardian binding it is a very heavy setup. So if you are not in good shape, and plan on doing a whole tour, you are in for a proper workout. On the other hand, the skis performance, on pist was way better than the Czar, and I must say that for what it is intended to be, it seems to work.
3. ICELANTIC GYPSY 190 with Tyrolia AAA
And here we have the biggest surprise of the entire test. The Gypsy. Coming from Denver Colorado ICELANTIC only produces about 7000 pairs of skis a year. They also stick to a more traditional construction and that is were the surprise comes in. While taking this ski out for a run with an underfoot of 125 and 190 length, this would be considered a proper powder gun for the big days. Yet for some reason it was way more maneuverable then a 182 with 100 underfoot. True it is not on the light side, but it can definitely take a beating, and even at high speeds it`s control is excellent, adso no flutter here :). In all the conditions we h the control remained supersolid. With out a question, my buddy Clarrisa an I both agreed that this was the best ski we tested all weekend.
Of course the broad underfoot, has a little bit of a disadvantage well riding groomers. But that is not a minus, more like something you would expect. While watching the video you will see how nice and stable the ski stays even when riding uber tracked powder and bumping to other people’s lines. If I were to get a new ski on that day this would be the one to get. So if you’re aggressive powder hunter who likes to drop cliffs, doesn’t mind it heavy, and charges for speed, this is the ski to get.
4. Salomon Rocker2 108 with Guardian
I was really happy, that I was able to test this combination. I do like Salomon a lot, and if I were to buy a Salomon ski again, it would be this one. Available for the second season the Rocker2 108 is the ultimate Swiss Army knife in Salomon’s product portfolio. Couple this with the latest generation of the Guardian binding and you get a powerful tool. So could this uber-combo of one brand live up to my expectations ?
The first thing you notice when you take it into your hand is that the Guardian binding is quite heavy. Actually it’s very heavy. The ski on the other hand, feel somewhat lighter than the Q115. Also the rocker profile is more extended, yet still less then my old Salomon Czar. There were no surprises on this ski, it behaved almost exactly as I had expected. Nice and floaty, somewhat playful yet stable, all in all, the perfect all-rounder.
Though it might not have had, the stability that the Gypsy gives us, it did behave a tick better on badly tracked terrain. Also, with 182 still fits into most bags, and you will not have trouble with airline length restrictions, so you can virtually take it anywhere with out too much of a hassle. If I were to say that the Gypsy was definitely the best and funnest ski we tested, the Rocker2 would come in second for beeing just a bit more practical. If you would compare them. You could say the Gypsy was the fun guy wko makes everybody laugh, smile and drops himself of insane cliffs, the rocker2 would be his best friend who takes care off all the fallout.
I hope you guys got a nice little overview of what our tested skis felt like, and if you’d like to weigh in with some of your own wisdom write it down below. Clari also tested a Rossignol 7 and a Super7 as well as a Icelantic Nomad. She really seemed to love the Super7 a lot more then the regular7 but Gypsy rained supreme :P.
Next up before I tell you all about the awesome contest part of the opening well check out some revolutionary bindings: the Guardian vs. Tyrolia AAA … let the binding showdown begin.