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Ski reviews

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2017 - 2018 powder ski test

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Reviewer Craig

"Powder bump runs with numerous face shots, creamy untracked pow turns, and even huge carve turns on empty groomed runs at the beginning of the day are my favorite. I am not a high speed skier."

 SkillsLevel 13
 FitnessLevel 9
 SpeedLevel 7
 Length:185 cm6'1"
 Weight:82 kg180 lbs

 


My favourite freeride skis:

1. Blizzard BonafideFreeride ski Blizzard Bonafide 2017

 

2. Kästle BMX105
Freeride ski Kästle BMX105

 

3. Liberty Genome
Freeride ski Liberty Genome 2015

 

To all my reviews

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Craig's powder ski testing

 

Logo Yellow Gentian2017 - 2018 Powder Ski ReviewReviewer Craig

     by Craig in Vail, Colorado

 

Why invest in a powder ski?

- It makes powder skiing "MUCH" easier, and way more enjoyable, with less physical exertion, due to increased float, ease of turn initiation, and stability.
- Powder, is the ultimate skiing experience, when you have the right equipment.
- If you want to keep up with your friends riding pow skis.
- Many of the new wide powder skis you will see listed below, are incredibly versatile.
- It makes people with skinny skis curious, or jealous on pow days.....

Length of a powder ski: Wider powder skis are typically skied in longer lengths. Eg: I ski a 88-98mm underfoot ski in approximate 180cm length, and a 115+mm underfoot typically in a 185-193cm length. This does vary according to a skis construction, including: flex, rocker-camber, weight, and of course, your personal profile.

Wider skis are better! Let's check it out.

I have selected some of the wider offerings (approximate 115mm underfoot and above) that were available for 2016-17 season, as well, the new releases coming for 2017-18. See the individual ski reviews on the Yellow Gentian site for further details on each ski, and best internet pricing on models that are currently available for sale. "BLACK", is the popular top sheet color for next seasons powder skis. I did notice fewer wide powder ski offerings in next seasons line up. I spoke with representatives from several larger companies, that said they will only offer one powder model for next year, and Dynastar will not offer a wide powder ski at all! They claim poor demand. There are also quite a few smaller "boutique" ski companies offering powder skis, which is diluting the market. The poor winter weather in the eastern, and far western US, over the last couple years has not helped.

The ratings below are based on skis that I have personally reviewed (some more extensively, and in a wider variety of conditions, which is reflected in my individual reviews), and reflect my personal profile. I normally cannot control the tuning of the reviewed skis, and my profile does fall in between manufactured lengths for some lines. Incorrect length or tuning, will negatively impact the results of the review. I try to comment on both, to help you interpret the skis performance. Please tap on my picture to view my profile, and ski preferences.

Please note, light weight powder skis, often favored by AT (backcountry) skiers, will have different characteristics than those used primarily inbounds, within the resort. Light weight constructed skis (which normally have light, or poor, damping) are a advantage for skinning uphill, and can work well in untracked powder, and smooth consistent conditions, where damping, and stability are less important. Also, when you add air bags, and other avalanche gear (and your lunch) to your backpack, overall weight starts to accumulate.

I am a resort skier, mostly in Vail, and yes, we do get untracked powder, but it normally does not last long. Skis with more weight, and typically higher damping qualities can perform just as well, or better, in untracked pow conditions, but generally work better when things get tracked up, variable, or heavy. Some, perform exceptionally well in soft bumps (where lightly damped, or skis with poppy rebound become challenging), and can carve beautifully on groomed runs with good conditions.

I found several of next years wider powder skis (listed in this review) to offer a very good blend of light weight construction, and moderate damping.

Some companies are incorporating new innovative materials in their laminate to dampen light construction, like "HDT" in Renoun Skis, who plan to introduce a powder ski later this year. Basalt, partial length or perforated titanal, and graphene, are some other examples of damping material used by the larger brands. In my experience, the prevalent use of carbon in many skis, reduces weight, reduces damping, increases pop in the skis rebound, and must be tempered with added damping materials (and usually weight) to enhance off-piste performance. I will continue to update, as technology progresses!

If you are a inbounds resort skier, that skis the whole mountain, give careful consideration, before dropping large sums of money on a light weight powder ski, with light or poor damping.

A quote from one of my friends, "It's the skier not the ski". Yes, great skiers can probably ski almost anything, but, I want skis in my quiver that meet the requirements of my personal profile, and do it with the greatest ease.

Please see description below, to identify each number in the chart, and definition of the categories. Then match a skis relevant results to your profile:

  1. Length: Tested length, that best matched my profile, and can be a critical consideration in your ski selection, and its performance relative to your profile.
  2. Width: stated underfoot width for tested length
  3. Weight: per ski, in grams, flat,(+ indicates weight for shorter length than tested), or when not stated by company, a subjective impression: L=Light, M=Medium, H=heavy
  4. Flex:  Hand flexed, S=soft, MS=medium soft, M=medium, MF=uhh...medium firm
  5. Damping: can increase stability in cut up conditions, bumps, inconsistent terrain. Good damping usually related to heavier weight, but technology is making progress in this area.  G/L equals good-light, which is less than good.
  6. Carving: Edge grip, and performance on groomed runs with consistent good conditions.
  7. Torsional Stability: resistance to tip twisting.
  8. Float: considering these are pow skis, will start at #6 for least, and increase to #10 for most, in these tested underfoot widths and lengths.  Stiff flex or high camber usually reduces float, multi or 5 point sidecut with wide front section can increase float.  Wider width, and longer length increase float.
  9. Sweet spot: size of balance point on ski (for the scores: L=10, M=6 and S= 3 points).
  10. Turn initiation: Ease of....Related to smear, surf, pivot capability.
  11. Soft bumps:  Yes, some of these skis rip soft bumps
  12. Firm crud:  Inconsistent conditions, chunder, cut up skied off groomers (icy spots, piles), firm cut up or refrozen pow.  None of these skis will excel in these conditions (neither do I), ratings are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being best.
  13. Soft cut up, or heavier pow.

Ski
1.
Length
2.
Width
3.
Weight
4.
Flex
5.
Damp
6.
Carv
7.
Stability
8.
Float
9.
Sw. spot
10.
Turn in.
11.
Bumps
12.
Crud
13.
Wet pow 
Liberty Genome 187 141 2350 MS VG Ex. VG 10 L Ex. Ex. 4 VG
Armada Tracer 118 188 118 2150 MS G Ex. VG 8 L Ex. Ex. 4 VG
DPS Lotus 124 Foundation 185 124 2175 MS G Ex. VG 8 L Ex. Ex. 4 VG
Atomic Backland FR 117 186 117 2050 M VG VG VG 8 L Ex. VG 4 VG
Liberty Origin 116 182 116 2205 MS G/L Ex. VG 6 L Ex. F 3 G
Blizzard Rustler 11 188 114 M MS VG VG VG 7 M VG VG 6 VG
K2 Pinnacle 118 184 118 2330 MS G/L VG VG 7 L Ex. G 3 VG
Völkl Bash 186 116 M/H MS G G VG 7 L VG G 4 VG
Icelantic Nomad 125 190 125 2430 MS VG VG VG 9 L Ex. VG 4 VG
HEAD Kore 117 189 117 M/L MF G/L G VG 8 L VG G 3 VG
Line Mordecai 186 114 2029 MS G/L F F 7 L VG VG 3 G
Liberty Schuster Pro 184 122 2250 M G/L Ex. VG 8 M G F 3 VG
Faction Candide 4.0 188 118 1875 M VG F VG 8 S F F 5 VG
Black Crows Nocta 185.5 122 2000 M G F VG 8 M F G 4 VG
Blizzard Spur 2018 192  124 L MS L G G 9 L Ex. G 2 VG
Armada JJ 2.0 185 117 2290 M G VG VG 8 L Ex. G 3 VG
Kästle BMX 115 185 115 2330 M VG VG VG 7 M Ex. VG 4 VG
Kästle BMX 115 193 115 2480 M VG VG VG 8 M VG VG 5 VG
Line Supernatural 115 186 115 2470+ M Ex. VG VG 7 M Ex. Ex. 5 VG
Black Crows Anima 188 115 2150+ MF VG G VG 7 M F F 6 VG
Nordica Patron 185 113 2145 MS VG G VG 7 L Ex. VG 3 VG
Völkl Confession 186 117 2550 MF  VG VG VG 8 M G F 6 VG
Salomon QST 118 185 118 1980 M G/L G F 7 M Ex. F 2 G
Rossignol Super 7 HD 2018 188 116 2100 MF G/L F VG 7 M VG F 3 VG

 

I have tallied the ratings and formed a list in descending order. Please use your profile, to create your own preference list. I am generally not a higher speed-straight line skier. For those who are, I have marked with a * the skis you may want to consider.

 

Best Powder Skis


Ski
# Ex.
10 points
# VG
8 points
# G
6 points
# F
4 point
# 8, 9 and 12
Combined
Score
Liberty Genome 3x 3x     24 78
Armada Tracer 118 3x 2x 1x   22 74
DPS Lotus 124 Foundation 3x 2x 1x   22 74
Line Supernatural 115 3x 3x     18 72
Atomic Backland FR 117 1x 5x     22 72
Icelantic Nomad 125 1x 5x     22 72
Nordica Patron 1x 4x 1x   20 68
Kästle BMX 115 @185cm 1x 5x     17 67
Kästle BMX 115 @193cm *   6x     19 67
Blizzard Rustler 11 *   6x     19 67
Armada JJ 2.0 1x 3x 2x   21 67
K2 Pinnacle 118 1x 3x 1x 1x 20 64
Liberty Origin 116 2x 1x 2x 1x 19 63
Völkl Bash   3x 3x   21 63
Völkl Confession *   4x 1x 1x 20 62
HEAD Kore 117   3x 2x 1x 21 61
Liberty Schuster Pro 1x 2x 1x 2x 17 57
Blizzard Spur 2018 1x 1x 3x   21 57
Black Crows Anima *   3x 1x 2x 19 57
Line Mordecai   2x 2x 2x 20 56
Black Crows Nocta   2x 2x 2x 18 54
Salomon QST 118 1x 2x   3x 15 53
Faction Candide 4.0 *   3x   3x 16 52
Rossignol Super 7 HD 2018   3x   3x 16 52

 

 

 

Comments  

# Joe Storm 2017-02-15 19:46
Well done article, I remember the days when all you had was one pair of skis for all conditions and of course regardless of the skier's abilities everything was a comprise. Power skis are clearly the way to go especially on those special days!
Reply
# Craig 2017-02-16 01:46
Hey Joe, some of these new wide skis are so versatile! Lots of snow out west this year! Craig
Reply
# Zai 2017-04-27 18:40
Craig, great article. This will be a great help in selecting a versatile POW ski for this upcoming 2017-18 season.
What ski would you recommend for PNW snow conditions? We usually get a heavier POW with the occasional deep dry snow days. I'm a hard charger who loves speed but wanting to have fun & surf on the deep days.
Reply
# Craig 2017-04-29 14:07
Hello Zai, thank you for your comments! I did have a couple great pow days at Meadows on Mt. Hood this season on my Liberty Genomes, speaking of PNW. I did * a couple skis in this article that may be better suited to higher speed straight-line skiers, which is the one descriptor of your profile that you mentioned. One of my favorites is the Blizzard Rustler 11, which is new for next season. This ski reminded me of a wide Blizzard Bonafide, with lighter overall construction, yet still has good damping, (with its partial titanal laminate) and works well in cut up conditions, and is stable at speed. I believe with proper tuning, actually detuning, (which I did not have the opportunity to change on this 188cm test length) this ski would have been bumped up in my ratings. It is one of the narrower skis in this article at 114mm, and I would not categorize it as surfy, it is more directional. Craig
Reply

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