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Ski Test // November 26, 2012 // By


On-Piste Cruisers * Test 2013

Some people dream about flying, others dream about winning the lottery, for some it’s the steamy stuff—not for mention in a (mostly) morally upstanding publication like Ski Canada. But for many diehard skiers, we have “white dreams”—equally as stimulating, and I dare say satisfying, as their steamier counterparts. Sometimes I’m neck deep in powder, choking on cold smoke, but other times I’m alone at the top of a mountain, it’s cold and all that lies below is a wall-to-wall carpet of smooth snow. Perfect rows where the groomer’s tiller bar has been and not a single ski mark in sight. Then the dream gets vivid, a couple of pushes off the top and the speed begins to increase. I feel the wind on my face, but still haven’t made a turn. When things feel right, I roll my foot a little in the boot and feel the ski start to hook up. The next turn is money, the edge gripping in firm snow and I really start to lay it over, turn after turn until there’s no more mountain left.

Our testers got to live that dream with this category. On-Piste Cruisers are skis with race pedigrees, no speed limits, and in many cases they share technology and geometry with the more thoroughbred models in the lineup. They aren’t afraid to be on edge, that’s for sure.

These are skis that are fun to ski and will give you something to dream about, either in the off-season or on your next ski holiday. A perfectly arced, carved turn is still a benchmark of any good skier, so stop dreaming about it and start leaving your mark with the skis we tested in this category.

—Ron Betts

Category Definition – High-performance GS-radius turns

Testers pushed the limits to find the best balance between raw edge hold and user-friendliness. These detuned GS cruisers were not tested in gates, but most skis in this category have a racing pedigree. Testers devoted special attention to such things as agility, power and edge grip, and Fernie offered plenty of variety in its terrain for the skis to demonstrate some versatility. The category is not expected to have a speed limit. Waist 68-78.

Skis tested: ATOMIC BLIZZARD | DYNASTAR |

ELAN | FISCHER | HEAD | K2 |KASTLE |

NORDICA | ROSSIGNOL | SALOMON | VOLKL

Meet the testers

Use SkiFinder to input your personal skiing characteristics to find the skis that best match your profile.

Recommendations Legend

A Skier ABILITY (Intermediate (1) to Expert (10))

C Snow CONDITIONS (Soft (1) to Firm (10))

S Skier STYLE (Finesse (1) to Power (10))

W Skier WEIGHT (Lighter (1) to Heavier (10))

 

ATOMIC REDSTER DOUBLEDECK GS

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 164, 169, 174, 179*, 184

sidecut: 114.5/70/99       turn radius: 18.4 @ 179   MSRP: $1549 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY * AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9

ability:  7.4        conditions: 7.3     style: 7.0     weight: 6.1

MEN: The skis in this category are racehorses at heart, and that was the impression our testers got from the Redster Doubledeck GS. There were lots of comments about how stable and damp the ski felt at speed, and how they handled a variety of conditions without blinking. If you like it fast and precise, this is the ski to try. Peter Eaton had this to say: “This ski has the rare ability to make both light finesse to heavy power skiers smile. It does all turn shapes and speeds very well.”

ATOMIC CLOUD D2 VF75

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 148, 157*, 166

sidecut: 122/75/109       turn radius: 12 @ 157   MSRP: $999 with bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9

ability:  7.0  conditions:  7.0  style:  6.8  weight:  6.4

WOMEN: The test team raved about how well-balanced this ski felt with the flex of the ski making it easy to find the sweet spot. It handled speed well, and was playful in the soft snow as well as on edge on the groomers. This was a fun, fast ride that was well liked by all. Janet Kuijt was ready for takeoff on this one: “Want flying lessons? Here’s a great option and it’s cheaper than buying your own jet. What a beautiful fast ride, with amazing sleekness at top speeds.”

BLIZZARD R-POWER FULL SUSPENSION IQ

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 167, 174*, 181

sidecut: 113/68/97       turn radius:  17.5 @ 174    MSRP: $1560

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.6

ability: 8.1   conditions: 8.4   style: 8.0   weight: 7.6

MEN: This ski made our testers want to step on the gas pedal. They commented on its stiffness and stability, and felt the ski came in closer to the race-ski end of the spectrum, as opposed to some in the category that were closer to all-mountain skis. If you’re looking for a solid frontside machine, this won’t disappoint. Fernie local Chris Ebbern certainly wasn’t disappointed: “Sit back and enjoy the ride. Fun at speed! The whole ski carves to life at speed. Good rebound in shorter turns, as well.”

BLIZZARD VIVA ULTRASONIC FULL SUSPENSION IQ

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 160*, 167

sidecut: 119/73/103        turn radius: 14 @ 160    MSRP: $1000 includes bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.4

ability:  6.4   conditions: 7.7   style: 6.4  weight:  5.6

WOMEN: The Viva performed well in a variety of situations and seemed like it did everything well. In fact, every aspect that goes into making a good ski got mentioned: initiation, edge grip, balance and flex, speed, cruising, you name it, it all got a check mark. Gillian Browning recommends giving it a try: “If I could have only one ski, this would be it. If cruising the groomers with occasional adventures off-piste is your calling, this might be the one. It’s light underfoot but powerful in response.”

DYNASTAR SPEED COURSE Ti

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 159, 165, 171, 177*, 183

sidecut: 121/72/105        turn radius: 15 @ 171  MSRP:  $900

BEST IN: INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.0

ability: 6.2   conditions: 7.0   style: 4.5  ability: 5.0

MEN: Our testers felt the flex pattern was forgiving enough to allow the ski to perform both on-piste and off, and that the easy flex would allow a wide range of skiers to enjoy it. The flex pattern in the tip allows for ease of turn initiation, while the ski maintains good grip and hold throughout the rest of the turn. Donny Dion was noticeably impressed: “Fun, light and versatile. It’s easy into the turns with enough release on the way out not to throw you around. Good balance of energy and forgiveness.”

 DYNASTAR ELITE LIGHT

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 159, 165*, 171

sidecut: 120/72/104      turn radius:  14 @ 165  MSRP: $950 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 5.7

ability: 5.1  conditions:  7.4  style:  5.6  weight:  4.9

WOMEN: Our testers thought the personality of the Elite Light was a bit opposite of its name. There were several comments about the tip being fairly stiff, which pushed the balance point back somewhat, and that the ski wasn’t overly forgiving and might challenge skiers who aren’t consistently in balance. This is a ski for women who like to go fast and do big fall-line turns, according to Wendy Lemoine. “I had to ski it from more directly under the foot. The tip was a little stiff, making it challenging to initiate turn.”

ELAN GSX WAVEFLEX FUSION

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 164, 170, 176*, 182

sidecut: 110/67/96        turn radius: 18.6 @ 176  MSRP: $1325 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 6.8

ability: 6.3  conditions:  8.3  style:  5.8  weight:  5.9

MEN: The GSX Waveflex proved to be a solid, comfortable ski. It had a powerful grip and was able to mix it up nicely from long- to short-radius turns, and its predictability made it an easy ski to enjoy. This is a ski that will do a variety of jobs and do them well. D’Arcy Sego had this to say about the Waveflex: “The ski initiates easily and prefers a lighter touch on the edge. Once you have the ski hooked up, it whips out of corners like a racecar.”

ELAN INSOMNIA FUSION

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 152, 158, 166*

sidecut: 125/74/104        turn radius: 11.3 @ 152   MSRP: $1150 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.8

ability: 7.1  conditions:  7.1  style:  7.3  weight:  7.3

WOMEN: The Insomnia lived up to its name—it kept the girls awake and sharp. They definitely liked its solid platform and responsive personality. There was consensus that more aggressive skiers will like it better and it’s not so suited for the timid or faint of heart. The flex was on the stiff side, so some speed or a bit of weight will help get the most out of it. Janet Kuijt thought that time in the gym would also help: “A fast, focused ride. This ski likes to rock, so get ready for a fast-paced day.”

 FISCHER RC4 WORLDCUP RC

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 165, 170, 175*, 180, 185

sidecut: 116/71/100        turn radius: 17 @ 175     MSRP: $1249 with bindings

BEST IN: INITIATION * AVERAGE SCORE: 6.9

ability:  5.6  conditions:  8.2   style: 4.8  weight: 4.3

MEN: This ski definitely impressed our testers without blowing them away. They commented that the ski seemed to prefer medium- to long-radius turns, which makes sense for this category and its sidecut, and that it would best suit a lighter more finesse-oriented skier. Fernie’s Chris Ebbern (who is a western transplant) had this comment on his test card: “It’s a very easy ski to use; it turns itself once on edge. Short turns feel a little sluggish. This is a fun, cruisey ski for an eastern hardpack guy.”

Fischer ZEPHYR C-LINE

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 145, 150, 155, 160, 165*

sidecut: 118/68/98     turn radius:  12 @ 155   MSRP: $950 with bindings

BEST IN: INITIATION, LONG RADIUS * AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9

ability: 6.9  conditions:  7.4   style:  6.0  weight:  6.3

WOMEN: The Zephyr is best suited to a more aggressive skier who isn’t afraid of a bit of speed. The women really liked the solid edge grip and carving abilities in long turns. Skiers who like to ski below the posted limit might not get the full potential of this ski. Wendy Lemoine, who definitely fits into the confident, aggressive skier category, said, “The tip, which hooks up really fast and takes you into the turn, combined with a large sweet spot for added stability through the turn, make this ski a winner. Beautiful ride!”

HEAD i.SUPERSHAPE MAGNUM

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 149, 156, 163*, 170, 177*

ability: 121/71/107       turn radius:  13.5 @ 170  MSRP: $1100 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY, EDGE GRIP  *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 7.6; women – 8.5

MEN: ability: 7.1  conditions:  7.8  style:  6.4  weight:  6.1

WOMEN: ability: 7.1  conditions: 7.1  style:  7.0  weight: 6.6

MEN & WOMEN:  Comments that highlight a ski’s stability are usually accompanied by some mention of speed. The two seem to go together—a good combination because if a ski feels stable, then it lets the rider have the confidence to go faster. And this ski was definitely a confidence-builder. Shane Lehman said, “One word says it all: stability. Damp even in rough terrain, which makes for a smooth ride.”  Wendy Lemoine added, “What a great ski! It’s easy to initiate with great stability and feel. It really hugged the snow. Great on groomers, but performed well off-piste!”  

K2 BOLT

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 172, 179*, 186

sidecut: 125/72/99       turn radius:  18 @ 179   MSRP: $1100 with bindings

BEST IN: STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.5

ability:  6.9  conditions:  6.4  style:  6.8  weight: 7.1

MEN: The Bolt left our testers talking about how versatile it felt in a variety of conditions. The geometry of the ski, which is a bit wider than some in the category, gave it an advantage over others in deeper snow. But it also didn’t sacrifice the ability to carve at speed. The Bolt is more than a one-trick pony. “The ski is wider underfoot than others in this category, making it versatile in different snow conditions. It’s torsionally rigid enough to let bigger, stronger skiers enjoy big turns with ease.” That’s how D’Arcy Sego described it.

K2 SUPERBURNIN

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 146, 153, 160*, 167

sidecut:  121/72/106      turn radius:  12 @ 160   MSRP: $900 with bindings

BEST IN: AGILITY *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.1

ability:  3.5  conditions:  5.6  style:  4.0  weight:  3.5

WOMEN: Ski Canada’s test team had a lot of fun with the arc of the Superburnin and its light, playful feel. Most of the women would have liked a longer test length, but this is a ski that wouldn’t intimidate most skiers. It does most things well, from long turns to short, and without having to put a ton of muscle into it. Katy Joyce enjoyed the ride: “A fun, poppy, playful ski. It’s easy to manoeuvre, but could still hold on edge. The tip and tail are soft, but the ski felt solid underfoot.”

KÄSTLE MX78

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 168*, 178*

sidecut: 121/78/105      turn radius:   18 @ 178   MSRP:  $1149

BEST IN: INITIATION, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 6.9; women – 9.3

MEN:  ability: 6.0  conditions:   5.8   style:  5.7   weight:   5.2

WOMEN: ability: 6.8  conditions: 7.0  style:  5.8  weight: 6.0

MEN & WOMEN: The men felt it did well at most speeds and conditions, though some thought it was better on smoother terrain than off-piste. Ryland Nelson said it handled whatever he threw at it: “Silky smooth carver, it likes to play in the powder on the sides, and slices and dices crud.” The women were smiling from the top of the mountain to the bottom from its ease of initiation, solid feel and versatility. Liz Billam wrote: “Initiation was effortless, and it does just what you want. It’s stable throughout the turn and surprisingly nimble in short turns.”

NORDICA DOBERMANN SPITFIRE EDT

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162*, 170, 178*

sidecut: 124/72/107       turn radius: 14 @ 170  MSRP: $1320 with bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE:  men – 7.1;  women – 7.5

MEN: ability: 7.2  conditions:  7.7  style:  6.2  weight:  6.5

WOMEN: ability: 7.6  conditions: 7.6  style:  6.9  weight:  6.9

MEN & WOMEN: According to the men, this ski felt stiff enough to really handle speed well, and that it would best suit a more aggressive or heavier skier. Pete Eaton described it as “solid and stable, and prefers weight to be centred or slightly back. A stable platform that provides confidence at all times.” Our female testers liked how the ski felt in all conditions and speeds, and that it hit all the marks and performed like an all-mountain ski. Katy Joyce said, “It’s stiff in the right places. The ski turned when and where you wanted, and liked speed.”

OGASAKA TC-MV

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 167, 172*, 177*

sidecut: 109/69/96    turn radius:  18.8 @ 172  MSRP: $1261

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION, EDGE GRIP  *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 6.2;  women – 5.9

MEN: ability: 7.5   conditions:   8.1   style: 6.3  weight:  5.9

WOMEN: ability: 6.9  conditions: 7.6  style: 6.7  weight:  6.6

MEN & WOMEN: Most testers found the ski to be a stiff one, so it was a little unforgiving in softer conditions or off-piste. The TC-MV is a ski for those who like speed and want to carve and grip in every turn. Mark Deneau commented, “The ski prefers medium- to long-radius turns. It has a large sweet spot with a forgiving yet lively tail. The tips require attention in choppy snow.” Gillian Browning added, “I had to work a little to tighten up the turns, but when I let it go in a bigger radius, it started to shine.”

ROSSIGNOL PURSUIT 18 ELITE

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 163, 170*, 177

sidecut: 122/76/102     turn radius:   18 @ 170  MSRP: $1200 with bindings

BEST IN: AGILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.1

ability: 5.4  conditions:  7.5    style: 4.6   weight:  4.6

This ski was favoured by our lighter testers, and the consensus seemed to be that it excelled in medium-radius turns and at moderate speeds. Technical skiers will appreciate the light touch and great feel of the ski, while beefier skiers might feel a little under-gunned. Svelte Drew Bragg, who has a great ability to make a ski work with good technique, said, “This is a light and lively ski that responds quickly to a light touch. It’s best suited to medium turns at moderate speed.”

ROSSIGNOL PURSUIT 18

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 163, 170*, 177

sidecut: 122/76/102       turn radius:  18 @ 170  MSRP: $1000 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.2

ability: 6.5  conditions:  7.3  style:  5.8  weight:  5.5

A ski that’s up to handling a variety of turn shapes at various speeds in differing conditions is a rare find, but our testers found the Pursuit 18 ready for whatever they threw at it—from long, fast turns to shorties, groomers to powder, this ski worked well. And the ski didn’t need high-speed powerhouse skiing to excel. Lighter, less aggressive ladies will like the way this ski responds. Liz Billam was singing its praises: “A light, playful ski that really holds its stability well. It’s great in longer turns, but also nimble in shorter.”

SALOMON 24 MUSTANG

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162, 170*, 178*

sidecut: 119/72/103     turn radius  15.1 @ 170  MSRP:  $1199 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 7.4; women – 5.8

MEN:  ability: 7.1  conditions:  7.1  style:  6.4  weight:  7.0

WOMEN: ability: 8.3  conditions: 7.7  style:  8.1  weight: 8.6

MEN & WOMEN: The benchmark in this category is a ski that isn’t afraid of speed, can grip and carve in a fun radius, and has some versatility in terms of conditions. On all accounts our male testers gave this ski the thumbs-up. Shane Lehman liked the Mustang: “It did it all. Lively and grippy, a true fit for the category.” The women felt that it was best suited to a more aggressive skier who likes to go fast. Sue Giles said, “The ski was a bit heavy for me, but it held an edge well and was smooth turning.”

VÖLKL CODE SPEEDWALL

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 164, 171, 178*, 185

sidecut: 122/76/104     turn radius:   16.9 @ 171  MSRP: $1200 with bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.7

ability: 7.0  conditions:  6.8   style:  6.0     weight:   6.4

One of the goals every skier should pursue is linking carved turns down the fall line. There’s nothing like the feeling of being on a well-tuned ski and ripping from one arc to the next. That’s how most of our testers felt on this ski. It was more at home on the groomed than in the crud or softer snow, but if you like the idea of opening it up on the groomers, then take note of Mark Kline’s comment: “It initiates flawlessly, with a phenomenal feel in the arc. A go-everywhere, GS-type ski.”

VÖLKL ALLURA

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 144, 151, 158, 165*

sidecut: 125/75/96       turn radius: 15.3 @ 158  MSRP: $1200 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.8

ability: 6.1  conditions: 7.1  style: 4.4  weight:  4.8

Our female testers would recommend this ski to almost anyone. They really liked the way the Allura felt at slower speeds, but had no confidence problems when they hit Mach speeds. This was a responsive, lively ski that could do it all. It was easy to initiate and felt effortless from one turn to the next. Joanne Younker enjoyed her run: “This ski was fun right out of the pit. It was easy to turn in both short and long radius. A great ski for someone learning to carve it up.”


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Ski Test // // By


On-Piste Cruisers * Test 2013

Some people dream about flying, others dream about winning the lottery, for some it’s the steamy stuff—not for mention in a (mostly) morally upstanding publication like Ski Canada. But for many diehard skiers, we have “white dreams”—equally as stimulating, and I dare say satisfying, as their steamier counterparts. Sometimes I’m neck deep in powder, choking on cold smoke, but other times I’m alone at the top of a mountain, it’s cold and all that lies below is a wall-to-wall carpet of smooth snow. Perfect rows where the groomer’s tiller bar has been and not a single ski mark in sight. Then the dream gets vivid, a couple of pushes off the top and the speed begins to increase. I feel the wind on my face, but still haven’t made a turn. When things feel right, I roll my foot a little in the boot and feel the ski start to hook up. The next turn is money, the edge gripping in firm snow and I really start to lay it over, turn after turn until there’s no more mountain left.

Our testers got to live that dream with this category. On-Piste Cruisers are skis with race pedigrees, no speed limits, and in many cases they share technology and geometry with the more thoroughbred models in the lineup. They aren’t afraid to be on edge, that’s for sure.

These are skis that are fun to ski and will give you something to dream about, either in the off-season or on your next ski holiday. A perfectly arced, carved turn is still a benchmark of any good skier, so stop dreaming about it and start leaving your mark with the skis we tested in this category.

—Ron Betts

Category Definition – High-performance GS-radius turns

Testers pushed the limits to find the best balance between raw edge hold and user-friendliness. These detuned GS cruisers were not tested in gates, but most skis in this category have a racing pedigree. Testers devoted special attention to such things as agility, power and edge grip, and Fernie offered plenty of variety in its terrain for the skis to demonstrate some versatility. The category is not expected to have a speed limit. Waist 68-78.

Skis tested: ATOMIC BLIZZARD | DYNASTAR |

ELAN | FISCHER | HEAD | K2 |KASTLE |

NORDICA | ROSSIGNOL | SALOMON | VOLKL

Meet the testers

Use SkiFinder to input your personal skiing characteristics to find the skis that best match your profile.

Recommendations Legend

A Skier ABILITY (Intermediate (1) to Expert (10))

C Snow CONDITIONS (Soft (1) to Firm (10))

S Skier STYLE (Finesse (1) to Power (10))

W Skier WEIGHT (Lighter (1) to Heavier (10))

 

ATOMIC REDSTER DOUBLEDECK GS

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 164, 169, 174, 179*, 184

sidecut: 114.5/70/99       turn radius: 18.4 @ 179   MSRP: $1549 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY * AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9

ability:  7.4        conditions: 7.3     style: 7.0     weight: 6.1

MEN: The skis in this category are racehorses at heart, and that was the impression our testers got from the Redster Doubledeck GS. There were lots of comments about how stable and damp the ski felt at speed, and how they handled a variety of conditions without blinking. If you like it fast and precise, this is the ski to try. Peter Eaton had this to say: “This ski has the rare ability to make both light finesse to heavy power skiers smile. It does all turn shapes and speeds very well.”

ATOMIC CLOUD D2 VF75

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 148, 157*, 166

sidecut: 122/75/109       turn radius: 12 @ 157   MSRP: $999 with bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9

ability:  7.0  conditions:  7.0  style:  6.8  weight:  6.4

WOMEN: The test team raved about how well-balanced this ski felt with the flex of the ski making it easy to find the sweet spot. It handled speed well, and was playful in the soft snow as well as on edge on the groomers. This was a fun, fast ride that was well liked by all. Janet Kuijt was ready for takeoff on this one: “Want flying lessons? Here’s a great option and it’s cheaper than buying your own jet. What a beautiful fast ride, with amazing sleekness at top speeds.”

BLIZZARD R-POWER FULL SUSPENSION IQ

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 167, 174*, 181

sidecut: 113/68/97       turn radius:  17.5 @ 174    MSRP: $1560

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.6

ability: 8.1   conditions: 8.4   style: 8.0   weight: 7.6

MEN: This ski made our testers want to step on the gas pedal. They commented on its stiffness and stability, and felt the ski came in closer to the race-ski end of the spectrum, as opposed to some in the category that were closer to all-mountain skis. If you’re looking for a solid frontside machine, this won’t disappoint. Fernie local Chris Ebbern certainly wasn’t disappointed: “Sit back and enjoy the ride. Fun at speed! The whole ski carves to life at speed. Good rebound in shorter turns, as well.”

BLIZZARD VIVA ULTRASONIC FULL SUSPENSION IQ

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 160*, 167

sidecut: 119/73/103        turn radius: 14 @ 160    MSRP: $1000 includes bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.4

ability:  6.4   conditions: 7.7   style: 6.4  weight:  5.6

WOMEN: The Viva performed well in a variety of situations and seemed like it did everything well. In fact, every aspect that goes into making a good ski got mentioned: initiation, edge grip, balance and flex, speed, cruising, you name it, it all got a check mark. Gillian Browning recommends giving it a try: “If I could have only one ski, this would be it. If cruising the groomers with occasional adventures off-piste is your calling, this might be the one. It’s light underfoot but powerful in response.”

DYNASTAR SPEED COURSE Ti

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 159, 165, 171, 177*, 183

sidecut: 121/72/105        turn radius: 15 @ 171  MSRP:  $900

BEST IN: INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.0

ability: 6.2   conditions: 7.0   style: 4.5  ability: 5.0

MEN: Our testers felt the flex pattern was forgiving enough to allow the ski to perform both on-piste and off, and that the easy flex would allow a wide range of skiers to enjoy it. The flex pattern in the tip allows for ease of turn initiation, while the ski maintains good grip and hold throughout the rest of the turn. Donny Dion was noticeably impressed: “Fun, light and versatile. It’s easy into the turns with enough release on the way out not to throw you around. Good balance of energy and forgiveness.”

 DYNASTAR ELITE LIGHT

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 159, 165*, 171

sidecut: 120/72/104      turn radius:  14 @ 165  MSRP: $950 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 5.7

ability: 5.1  conditions:  7.4  style:  5.6  weight:  4.9

WOMEN: Our testers thought the personality of the Elite Light was a bit opposite of its name. There were several comments about the tip being fairly stiff, which pushed the balance point back somewhat, and that the ski wasn’t overly forgiving and might challenge skiers who aren’t consistently in balance. This is a ski for women who like to go fast and do big fall-line turns, according to Wendy Lemoine. “I had to ski it from more directly under the foot. The tip was a little stiff, making it challenging to initiate turn.”

ELAN GSX WAVEFLEX FUSION

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 164, 170, 176*, 182

sidecut: 110/67/96        turn radius: 18.6 @ 176  MSRP: $1325 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 6.8

ability: 6.3  conditions:  8.3  style:  5.8  weight:  5.9

MEN: The GSX Waveflex proved to be a solid, comfortable ski. It had a powerful grip and was able to mix it up nicely from long- to short-radius turns, and its predictability made it an easy ski to enjoy. This is a ski that will do a variety of jobs and do them well. D’Arcy Sego had this to say about the Waveflex: “The ski initiates easily and prefers a lighter touch on the edge. Once you have the ski hooked up, it whips out of corners like a racecar.”

ELAN INSOMNIA FUSION

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 152, 158, 166*

sidecut: 125/74/104        turn radius: 11.3 @ 152   MSRP: $1150 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.8

ability: 7.1  conditions:  7.1  style:  7.3  weight:  7.3

WOMEN: The Insomnia lived up to its name—it kept the girls awake and sharp. They definitely liked its solid platform and responsive personality. There was consensus that more aggressive skiers will like it better and it’s not so suited for the timid or faint of heart. The flex was on the stiff side, so some speed or a bit of weight will help get the most out of it. Janet Kuijt thought that time in the gym would also help: “A fast, focused ride. This ski likes to rock, so get ready for a fast-paced day.”

 FISCHER RC4 WORLDCUP RC

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 165, 170, 175*, 180, 185

sidecut: 116/71/100        turn radius: 17 @ 175     MSRP: $1249 with bindings

BEST IN: INITIATION * AVERAGE SCORE: 6.9

ability:  5.6  conditions:  8.2   style: 4.8  weight: 4.3

MEN: This ski definitely impressed our testers without blowing them away. They commented that the ski seemed to prefer medium- to long-radius turns, which makes sense for this category and its sidecut, and that it would best suit a lighter more finesse-oriented skier. Fernie’s Chris Ebbern (who is a western transplant) had this comment on his test card: “It’s a very easy ski to use; it turns itself once on edge. Short turns feel a little sluggish. This is a fun, cruisey ski for an eastern hardpack guy.”

Fischer ZEPHYR C-LINE

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 145, 150, 155, 160, 165*

sidecut: 118/68/98     turn radius:  12 @ 155   MSRP: $950 with bindings

BEST IN: INITIATION, LONG RADIUS * AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9

ability: 6.9  conditions:  7.4   style:  6.0  weight:  6.3

WOMEN: The Zephyr is best suited to a more aggressive skier who isn’t afraid of a bit of speed. The women really liked the solid edge grip and carving abilities in long turns. Skiers who like to ski below the posted limit might not get the full potential of this ski. Wendy Lemoine, who definitely fits into the confident, aggressive skier category, said, “The tip, which hooks up really fast and takes you into the turn, combined with a large sweet spot for added stability through the turn, make this ski a winner. Beautiful ride!”

HEAD i.SUPERSHAPE MAGNUM

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 149, 156, 163*, 170, 177*

ability: 121/71/107       turn radius:  13.5 @ 170  MSRP: $1100 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY, EDGE GRIP  *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 7.6; women – 8.5

MEN: ability: 7.1  conditions:  7.8  style:  6.4  weight:  6.1

WOMEN: ability: 7.1  conditions: 7.1  style:  7.0  weight: 6.6

MEN & WOMEN:  Comments that highlight a ski’s stability are usually accompanied by some mention of speed. The two seem to go together—a good combination because if a ski feels stable, then it lets the rider have the confidence to go faster. And this ski was definitely a confidence-builder. Shane Lehman said, “One word says it all: stability. Damp even in rough terrain, which makes for a smooth ride.”  Wendy Lemoine added, “What a great ski! It’s easy to initiate with great stability and feel. It really hugged the snow. Great on groomers, but performed well off-piste!”  

K2 BOLT

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 172, 179*, 186

sidecut: 125/72/99       turn radius:  18 @ 179   MSRP: $1100 with bindings

BEST IN: STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.5

ability:  6.9  conditions:  6.4  style:  6.8  weight: 7.1

MEN: The Bolt left our testers talking about how versatile it felt in a variety of conditions. The geometry of the ski, which is a bit wider than some in the category, gave it an advantage over others in deeper snow. But it also didn’t sacrifice the ability to carve at speed. The Bolt is more than a one-trick pony. “The ski is wider underfoot than others in this category, making it versatile in different snow conditions. It’s torsionally rigid enough to let bigger, stronger skiers enjoy big turns with ease.” That’s how D’Arcy Sego described it.

K2 SUPERBURNIN

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 146, 153, 160*, 167

sidecut:  121/72/106      turn radius:  12 @ 160   MSRP: $900 with bindings

BEST IN: AGILITY *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.1

ability:  3.5  conditions:  5.6  style:  4.0  weight:  3.5

WOMEN: Ski Canada’s test team had a lot of fun with the arc of the Superburnin and its light, playful feel. Most of the women would have liked a longer test length, but this is a ski that wouldn’t intimidate most skiers. It does most things well, from long turns to short, and without having to put a ton of muscle into it. Katy Joyce enjoyed the ride: “A fun, poppy, playful ski. It’s easy to manoeuvre, but could still hold on edge. The tip and tail are soft, but the ski felt solid underfoot.”

KÄSTLE MX78

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 158, 168*, 178*

sidecut: 121/78/105      turn radius:   18 @ 178   MSRP:  $1149

BEST IN: INITIATION, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 6.9; women – 9.3

MEN:  ability: 6.0  conditions:   5.8   style:  5.7   weight:   5.2

WOMEN: ability: 6.8  conditions: 7.0  style:  5.8  weight: 6.0

MEN & WOMEN: The men felt it did well at most speeds and conditions, though some thought it was better on smoother terrain than off-piste. Ryland Nelson said it handled whatever he threw at it: “Silky smooth carver, it likes to play in the powder on the sides, and slices and dices crud.” The women were smiling from the top of the mountain to the bottom from its ease of initiation, solid feel and versatility. Liz Billam wrote: “Initiation was effortless, and it does just what you want. It’s stable throughout the turn and surprisingly nimble in short turns.”

NORDICA DOBERMANN SPITFIRE EDT

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162*, 170, 178*

sidecut: 124/72/107       turn radius: 14 @ 170  MSRP: $1320 with bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE:  men – 7.1;  women – 7.5

MEN: ability: 7.2  conditions:  7.7  style:  6.2  weight:  6.5

WOMEN: ability: 7.6  conditions: 7.6  style:  6.9  weight:  6.9

MEN & WOMEN: According to the men, this ski felt stiff enough to really handle speed well, and that it would best suit a more aggressive or heavier skier. Pete Eaton described it as “solid and stable, and prefers weight to be centred or slightly back. A stable platform that provides confidence at all times.” Our female testers liked how the ski felt in all conditions and speeds, and that it hit all the marks and performed like an all-mountain ski. Katy Joyce said, “It’s stiff in the right places. The ski turned when and where you wanted, and liked speed.”

OGASAKA TC-MV

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 167, 172*, 177*

sidecut: 109/69/96    turn radius:  18.8 @ 172  MSRP: $1261

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION, EDGE GRIP  *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 6.2;  women – 5.9

MEN: ability: 7.5   conditions:   8.1   style: 6.3  weight:  5.9

WOMEN: ability: 6.9  conditions: 7.6  style: 6.7  weight:  6.6

MEN & WOMEN: Most testers found the ski to be a stiff one, so it was a little unforgiving in softer conditions or off-piste. The TC-MV is a ski for those who like speed and want to carve and grip in every turn. Mark Deneau commented, “The ski prefers medium- to long-radius turns. It has a large sweet spot with a forgiving yet lively tail. The tips require attention in choppy snow.” Gillian Browning added, “I had to work a little to tighten up the turns, but when I let it go in a bigger radius, it started to shine.”

ROSSIGNOL PURSUIT 18 ELITE

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 163, 170*, 177

sidecut: 122/76/102     turn radius:   18 @ 170  MSRP: $1200 with bindings

BEST IN: AGILITY, LONG RADIUS  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.1

ability: 5.4  conditions:  7.5    style: 4.6   weight:  4.6

This ski was favoured by our lighter testers, and the consensus seemed to be that it excelled in medium-radius turns and at moderate speeds. Technical skiers will appreciate the light touch and great feel of the ski, while beefier skiers might feel a little under-gunned. Svelte Drew Bragg, who has a great ability to make a ski work with good technique, said, “This is a light and lively ski that responds quickly to a light touch. It’s best suited to medium turns at moderate speed.”

ROSSIGNOL PURSUIT 18

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 163, 170*, 177

sidecut: 122/76/102       turn radius:  18 @ 170  MSRP: $1000 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.2

ability: 6.5  conditions:  7.3  style:  5.8  weight:  5.5

A ski that’s up to handling a variety of turn shapes at various speeds in differing conditions is a rare find, but our testers found the Pursuit 18 ready for whatever they threw at it—from long, fast turns to shorties, groomers to powder, this ski worked well. And the ski didn’t need high-speed powerhouse skiing to excel. Lighter, less aggressive ladies will like the way this ski responds. Liz Billam was singing its praises: “A light, playful ski that really holds its stability well. It’s great in longer turns, but also nimble in shorter.”

SALOMON 24 MUSTANG

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 154, 162, 170*, 178*

sidecut: 119/72/103     turn radius  15.1 @ 170  MSRP:  $1199 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, STABILITY *  AVERAGE SCORE: men – 7.4; women – 5.8

MEN:  ability: 7.1  conditions:  7.1  style:  6.4  weight:  7.0

WOMEN: ability: 8.3  conditions: 7.7  style:  8.1  weight: 8.6

MEN & WOMEN: The benchmark in this category is a ski that isn’t afraid of speed, can grip and carve in a fun radius, and has some versatility in terms of conditions. On all accounts our male testers gave this ski the thumbs-up. Shane Lehman liked the Mustang: “It did it all. Lively and grippy, a true fit for the category.” The women felt that it was best suited to a more aggressive skier who likes to go fast. Sue Giles said, “The ski was a bit heavy for me, but it held an edge well and was smooth turning.”

VÖLKL CODE SPEEDWALL

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 164, 171, 178*, 185

sidecut: 122/76/104     turn radius:   16.9 @ 171  MSRP: $1200 with bindings

BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.7

ability: 7.0  conditions:  6.8   style:  6.0     weight:   6.4

One of the goals every skier should pursue is linking carved turns down the fall line. There’s nothing like the feeling of being on a well-tuned ski and ripping from one arc to the next. That’s how most of our testers felt on this ski. It was more at home on the groomed than in the crud or softer snow, but if you like the idea of opening it up on the groomers, then take note of Mark Kline’s comment: “It initiates flawlessly, with a phenomenal feel in the arc. A go-everywhere, GS-type ski.”

VÖLKL ALLURA

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 144, 151, 158, 165*

sidecut: 125/75/96       turn radius: 15.3 @ 158  MSRP: $1200 with bindings

BEST IN: LONG RADIUS, INITIATION  *  AVERAGE SCORE: 7.8

ability: 6.1  conditions: 7.1  style: 4.4  weight:  4.8

Our female testers would recommend this ski to almost anyone. They really liked the way the Allura felt at slower speeds, but had no confidence problems when they hit Mach speeds. This was a responsive, lively ski that could do it all. It was easy to initiate and felt effortless from one turn to the next. Joanne Younker enjoyed her run: “This ski was fun right out of the pit. It was easy to turn in both short and long radius. A great ski for someone learning to carve it up.”


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