“Big-Mountain” means huge snow. Forget carve and grip; think slash and smear. Skis needpop, and tails that respond to that deal-breaking question: “Did he stick the landing?” K2’s BackSide line, sold flat (without bindings), is indicative of the trend throughout the industry, especially for the genre leader K2. Rossignol’s Phantom line does just the same, offering four new skis each with a vertical sidewall and wood core, metal laminate, sandwich construction and a reinforced area to mount any kind of binding, be it alpine, telemark, NTN (new telemark norm) or AT (alpine touring). This shows the democratic trend in the category. Big-Mountain is synonymous with freeskiing, with the exception that skiers here know that nothing is for free— you need to earn your turns. This is the domain of capable skiers and you won’t find a beginner’s board in the lineup. The operative word is fat, so expect all skis on this rack to have waists of more than 90 mm. A larger girth means a wider canvas. Not surprisingly, you’ll find the best rideable art in this category—designs from au naturel (Fischer’s wood print on its Watea line) to what could best be described as “cartoons on LSD” (Völkl’s Chopstick). With technological advances that match the artwork, Big-Mountain is one of the most contested categories of the ski world, even in an Olympic year! And that means choice—lots of it.
• 4FRNT’s brand-new CRJ is supersized
with the full range of technical benefits: both regular and reverse sidecut, regular and reverse camber, and a range of underfoots from 109 to 188 mm and in lengths between 164 and 188 cm.
• K2’s Factory Team, like always, is one
to watch. Hellbent comes flat underfoot with a huge tip and tail rocker, while obSETHed and MissBehaved use regular camber underfoot combined with a rocker at both ends.
Around the Bent
Chris Benchetler’s pro model, the Bent
Chetler, comes with a resounding 123-mm waist. Designed by the Poor Boyz star and Atomic, it comes with regular camber underfoot and over three cm of rocker on both tip and tail. Chris drew the tie-dye surfi ng mammoth and Japanese-style topsheet graphics himself. But it’s up to you to pull the same stunts.
Ready to rock?
With the Woodstock Collection, Head introduces its new line of powder boards. Jimi, the absolute leader of the pack, comes with an Alaskan pedigree, sandwich construction and proven rocker shape. The twintip comes in at a manly 110 underfoot. The psychedelic series sells with so-brightyou-need-shades Mojo 15 bindings.
Under the rooster
Amptec is Rossignol’s revolutionary camber shape, providing regular camber underfoot with an early rise on both tip and tail. Two of the company’s Seven Sins series—Will Baras’s S7 and Caia Kopmann’s S3—come fully equipped with the system.
Big news for women is Rossignol’s Voodoo Pro BC110, featuring a Sigma profile that combines an early-rise tip and tail, camber underfoot with reverse sidecut in the tip and tail, and regular sidecut underfoot.
MacGyver goes backcountry
K2 has completely revamped its Adventure lineup with 10 new models, including the DarkSide, HardSide and BackLash, along with the Shane McConkey-inspired Pontoon. Each pair comes with pre-drilled holes in the tips and tails covered by removable plugs. These work in conjunction with the brand’s new patent-pending, super-light, laser-cut BackSide skins and can turn your ski into a rescue sled or ski anchor when necessary.
Fischer just miniaturized the bow of a motorboat and stuck it onto the front end of your ski. This is the only system to come with three edges (yes, three, there are two on the sides and one straight down the middle of the tip) that Fischer says facilitate better float—it actually pushes the snow aside—and tracking in the deep. You’ll find the Powder Hull technology on the Watea series boards with above 94-mm waists.
Salomon’s Shogun and Geisha come with a bamboo layer and basalt core fibres that Salomon says will give them more spring at a lower weight and eco-credibility to boot. Edge Armor, a laced-in Kevlar support within the ski, keeps the base and rails solid even after bottoming out in the powder. Both come with semi-twintip tails and are sold flat—you choose your binding.
When giant meets fat
If bigger meant better, Liberty’s BFF would be best. This colossal board hits 200 mm underfoot—that’s the width of a textbook!
Black Diamond says it has pioneered zero camber skis—not to be confused with reverse camber. The technology finds its way into this season’s Megawatt, Justice and Zealot, three user-friendly Big-Mountain boards. And for those who don’t understand the concept, zero means zip,zilch, none—these skis are flat as 2x4s.
Völkl is making the backcountry that much more accessible with its Extended Low-Profile (ELP) rocker design on its twintipped freeskiing boards. You’ll find it in the redesigned Kiku for women, the men’s Gotama and the Gotama Junior for kids.
Specs and retail prices for all models click here.Tags: 4FRNT, 4FRNT CRJ, Atomic, Atomic Bent Chetler, big mountain skiing, Black Diamond, Fischer, Fischer Watea, Head, Head Jimi, Head Woodstock Collection, K2, K2 BackLash, K2 DarkSide, K2 HardSide, K2 Hellbent, K2 MissBeahved, K2 obSETHed, Liberty, Liberty BFF, Rossignol, Rossignol Amptec, Rossignol Phantom, Rossignol S3, Rossignol Voodoo Pro BC110, Salomon, Salomon Geisha, Salomon Shogun, Volkl, Volkl Chopstick, Volkl ELP, Volkl Gotama, Volkl Kiku