Gear, Ski Test // September 18, 2012 // By


Slalom * Test 2013

Contrary to the belief of some living in western powder meccas, the death of the Slalom category has been greatly exaggerated. But for those used to eastern hardpack—and  especially the competitive ilk who dominate Ontario’s private ski club scene—Slalom skis are of particular interest and a far more realistic choice for a quiver. Slalom skis make you move, they grip, they turn…they carve the snow like a sports car, and they handle speed with ease. If you take the time to choose the right one, the reward is immense; choose the wrong one and you’ll spend your ski day getting thrown around like a greased squirrel on roller skates.

If your ski style is the ex-racer speed demon who knows how to carve, then choose a ski that fits in at the race end of the spectrum. If you’re a more aspiring short-turn maestro, then go with a more versatile, all-round type of ski.

One thing is for sure: short turns have always been really fun, wherever your hill or mountain sits. This winter, open your horizons and treat yourself to a ski that will have you smiling from first lift to your first après drink.

Skis tested: ATOMIC BLIZZARD | DPS | DYNASTAR | ELAN | FISCHER | HEAD | K2 | KASTLE |

NORDICA | OGASAKA | 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))

† Price includes binding * Length tested at Fernie

 

 

ATOMIC D2 SL

$1549.00†

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155, 160 165*, 170
124.5/67/109 12 @ 170
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.8
A 8.4  C 7.9  S 6.5  W 6.6

MEN – A great slalom ski should be agile, quick and responsive, without feeling as if it’s trying to buck riders off. By all accounts, the D2 SL had all the performance without the unpredictability. This is an expert ski for expert skiers. That said, this racehorse will work for, and appeal to, a wide range of skiers. Diminutive Mike Weiss liked the strong, even flex of this ski and called it “a true podium producer.” Tall ’n’ lanky Mark Deneau said it “turned on a dime, and was super-quick with a lively performance.”

BLIZZARD SLR MAGNESIUM IQ

$1230.00

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 160, 167*, 174
121/68/105 13.5 @ 167
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.3
A 7.8  C 8.0  S 5.6  W 5.6

MEN – When you combine the great edge grip and responsiveness of a well-balanced slalom ski, what you get is a powerful, stable ride. The ski will inspire confidence to ski faster because the rider knows what to expect from each turn. Many of our testers felt that confidence on this ski. The consensus was that it’s best suited for a light- to medium-weight skier and might be a bit overpowered by the heavy weights. George Terwiel was impressed: “A rock-solid, high-performance SL racer that’s very stable with fantastic grip.”

BLIZZARD SLR MAGNESIUM IQ

$1230.00
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 153, 160*, 167, 174
121/68/105 13.5 @ 167
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.2
A 7.3 C 7.5 S 4.9 W 5.3

WOMEN – The SLR Magnesium IQ had our testers excited, mostly because they really liked the predictable personality of this ski. They also liked the way it performed as the speed ramped up. Most of the women commented that they felt stable at whatever speed they were going, and noted that the ski worked really well in longer turns, as well. Val Cloutier liked its effortless nature: “What a smooth ride! Put it on, close your eyes and it will do the work for you. Easy to handle, fun to turn; you’ll love carving or learning how-to.”

DPS CASSIAR 80SL

US$1,249

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 166*
127/78/113 11.5 @ 166
BEST IN: INITIATION | AVERAGE SCORE: 5.4
A 6.3  C 4.9  S 4.9  W 3.7

MEN – If you like short turns in a variety of snow conditions and have no intention of ever ripping up a slalom course, then the DPS Cassiar is worth a look. Not all skiers are looking for the Mach-3, hair-on-fire experience, but this ski has the heart of a slalom without excluding the more recreational skiers out there. It works at slower speeds and for less aggressive riders. Paul Ouelette summed it up best: “A quick, light ski that’s playful. It’s easy to pivot and fun in a variety of terrain.”

DYNASTAR SPEED OMEGLASS Ti

$900.00

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155, 165*
119/67/102 12 @ 165
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, INITIATION | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.3
A 8.0  C 7.8  S 5.0  W 6.1

MEN – If you’re in the market for a pair of raceready, high-performance slalom skis, then look no further. This is one of the skis in the category that’s definitely going to be at home in the gates, on firm snow and on the feet of an experienced operator. What it might lack in all-mountain versatility, it more than makes up for in agility, responsiveness and quickness. As Mark Deneau wrote, “This ski wants you to go faster! ” Mark Stein loved it: “Quicker than lightning! Press down on your big toe and scream into the arc!

DYNASTAR ELITE PRO

$950.00†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155*, 160, 165
119/67/102 11 @ 165
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.0
A 7.4  C 7.6  S 6.4  W 5.9

WOMEN – Tester’s comments gave the impression that this might not be a ski that will spend its life in the gates. Our female testers made note of the way the Elite Pro performed in a variety of turn shapes, snow conditions and speeds. It seemed as though its versatility shone, as Jill Sagan found: “This ski has some moves. Short turns, big turns—versatile and forgiving, but demanding all in one.” Colleen Dunn said, “Load and let go, stable with a heavier feel, but I like it. It doesn’t feel overly slalom-specific.

ELAN SLX WAVEFLEX

$1,325†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155, 160, 165*, 170
116/66/104 12.9 @ 165
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, EDGE GRIP, STABILITY | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.1
A 8.0  C 7.7  S 6.3  W 6.4

MEN – The thing I love about slalom skis is that it changes my timing. I really like the feeling of  agility and how it keeps my reactions and reflexes sharp. That feeling isn’t always in a racecourse. It can be extremely satisfying to point ’em down a groomed run and link a bunch of short turns. If you want that feeling, then this ski won’t let you down. Erin Keam liked the feel and nailed it with: “This is a great all-round ski that turned wicked at higher speeds. A solid performer.”

ELAN SPEED MAGIC

$1,100†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 155*, 160, 165     116/65/104 11.5 @ 155
BEST IN: INITIATION | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.5
A 7.1 C 7.3 S 5.9 W 6.1

WOMEN: This ski wouldn’t be the first choice if our ladies were off to a competitive slalom race, but it would be if they had to pick a ski that did just about everything. The Speed Magic seemed to want a skier who prefers a fairly forward stance. Anne Terwiel recommends that skiers set themselves up for success; here’s what she had to say: “It’s smooth and easy, a great introduction-to-slalom ski since the ski is forgiving enough for a SL learner, but quick enough to get a true SL feel.

FISCHER RC4 WORLDCUP SC

$1250†

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 155, 160, 165*, 170
122/69/103       12 @ 165
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, SHORT RADIUS | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.4
A 9.0  C 8.2  S 7.0  W 7.0

MEN – This ski didn’t disappoint, which is what you’d expect from a company that has had strong World Cup results in recent years. Skiers who have the ability to make subtle changes to their stance throughout the turn will get the most out of this ski. The tip initiated easily, and the stiff tail made for explosive exits. Former Canadian Alpine Ski Team coach Glenn Wurtele called the ski “quick, light and consistent.” Mark Deneau added, “This ski is smooth and snappy with positive feedback.

FISCHER RC4 WORLDCUP SC

$1250†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 155*, 160, 165, 170
122/69/103      12 @ 165
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.6
A 7.4   C 7.1   S 6.0   W 5.4

WOMEN – Easily one of the category favourites, this ski scored big marks for its predictable edge hold, great transitions from one turn to another and stability at speed. Our women testers thought it would best suit an aggressive skier who knows how to stand in the middle and tip a ski over. If you love the feeling of carving, this could be the ski you’ve been looking for. As Val Cloutier stated, “This ski will find the racer in you, guaranteed! It’s very lively but stable.

HEAD I.SUPERSHAPE

$1100†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155, 160, 165, 170*, 175
121/66/106       12.1 @ 170
BEST IN: STABILITY, SHORT RADIUS | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.3
A 8.3   C 8.3   S 6.9   W 6.9

MEN – Skis that have tester consensus are easy to recommend. It means that a variety of expert skiers, of different weights and sizes, all came to the same conclusion. The comments made it easy to visualize the testers’ reactions: A few turns out of the gate to get a feel; now they’re up to speed and feeling great; they start to push a bit and the ski responds; then the smile comes. Fun skis will put a smile on your face every time. It had Erin Keam asking, “Did McLaren design it?

HEAD i.SUPERSHAPE

$1100†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155, 160*, 165, 170, 175
121/66/106      12.1 @ 170
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, SHORT RADIUS | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.1
A 7.8  C 7.6  S 6.5  W 6.0

WOMEN – The most consistent comment about the Supershape was that it wasn’t just for the gates. Our test team thought this ski would light up all over the mountain, not just in the racecourse. As well, it would be a great all-round carving ski because of its even flex and predictable nature. Anne Terwiel knows slalom: “It’s quick yet stable, smooth yet responsive; a great all-round slalom ski.” Michelle Ostafew noted that it’s “great for every day! It made skiing in and out of the gates fun.”

K2 CHARGER

$950†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 165, 172*, 179, 186
122/74/106     16 @ 172
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.1
A 6.5  C 7.0  S 5.8  W 6.1

MEN – Being surprised is usually a good thing, but when it comes to skis, expecting one thing and finding another can be a blast. That’s what this ski did for our test team: it surprised. It was not  a traditional slalom ski in that it was confined to one turn shape. The Charger had our testers commenting about its versatility and stability. Erin Keam wrote: “It felt light but skied strong, and surprised with its power yet smoothness.” Paul Ouelette added, “A fun ski with a stable platform that also liked to make longer turns.

KÄSTLE RX SL

$1179
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 166*
121/68/100   13 @ 166
BEST IN: INITIATION, EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.3
A 8.2  C 7.8  S 5.4  W 7.0

MEN – The majority of the comments on this ski referenced predictability, which is nice in a slalom ski. Often the length and sidecut of slalom skis can make them feel a bit twitchy, but that certainly was not the case with the RX SL. Our testers thought it had a nice, light feel while remaining aggressive and responsive. Mark Stein said, “A predictable, no-surprise ride. Confidence plus in medium-radius turns.” Mark Deneau described it as “light and energetic with positive edge hold and good snap.

KÄSTLE RX SL

$1179
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 166*
121/68/100 13 @ 166
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY, SHORT RADIUS | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.4
A 8.5  C 9.0  S 10.0  W 7.0

WOMEN – There’s certainly a range in this category, from full-blown SL race skis to less demanding allrounders. Judging by the comments, Ski Canada would put this ski closer to the full-Blown race end of the spectrum. Our testers really liked the high-performance feel and stiffness of the RX SL. Martina Osman had fun on it: “A world-class ski that begs to be worked. It’s dependable and solid with superb performance.” Nina Gretzmacher found it “stable and holds a good, strong edge. It’s snappy underfoot and works to rip.”

NORDICA DOBERMANN SLR EVO

$1320†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 160, 165*
121/70/106       12 @ 160
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, INITIATION | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9
A 8.1   C 7.8   S 6.2   W 7.0

MEN – Easily one of the category favourites for many of our testers, this ski is gate-ready and has an aggressive personality. It worked for all the men, heavy or light, and one tester commented that he never did find the upper speed limit. This is an expert ski for a more experienced skier, and from what our testers wrote, it will give back what you put in. Paul Ouelette was a big fan: “You can feel the race pedigree on this killer! It has a quick edge, and is powerful and exciting.”

NORDICA DOBERMANN SLR EVO

$1320†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156*, 160, 165
121/70/106    12 @ 160
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9
A 7.6 C 7.9 S 6.3 W 6.3

WOMEN – It’s a good thing the Ski Canada testers ski so well because they needed to be precise on this Dobermann. The women found it amazingly agile and recommended a heavier, skilled skier to get the most out of it. Testers definitely commented on how great the ski felt when you were in the sweet spot. Michelle Ostafew was feeling good on this ski: “It will inspire the average skier into greatness since it responded beautifully when I powered it up at the top of the turn.”

OGASAKA TC-SV

$1248

LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155, 160, 165*
117/67/104 12.8 @ 165
BEST IN: INITIATION | AVERAGE SCORE: 6.5
A 7.1   C 8.0   S 4.7   W 5.4

MEN – There was a mixed bag of comments for this ski. Several heavier skiers felt that it was easily overpowered, yet George Terwiel wrote it was precise and gave back what you put in: “Solid edge grip and stable ride with a snappy feel. The more I put in, the more it came to life.” The soft shovel made for quick and easy initiation, but a bit of strength was needed in the fall line to keep the ski arcing. Mike Weiss said, “It’s best for fall line courses; less responsive on the steeps.

OGASAKA TC-SV

$1248
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 155*, 160, 165
117/67/104 12.8 @ 165
BEST IN: INITIATION, EDGE GRIP, SHORT RADIUS | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.6
A 7.6   C 7.5   S 5.6   W 5.1

WOMEN – For a ski that comes from a relatively undiscovered brand in North America, this ski knows how to impress Canadian girls. It did that by being predictable, quick from edge-to-edge and giving skiers a large sweet spot to work with. Wendy Anderson is now a fan of this Japanese ski: “Wow! It’s super-fun as well as versatile. A nice even flex tip-to-tail with a large centred sweet spot. Amazing life and rebound energy in short turns that’s still manageable and smooth.

ROSSIGNOL RADICAL 9SL SLANTNOSE Ti IBOX

$1150
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 161, 166, 171*
122/68/103 12.8 @ 166
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, STABILITY | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9
A 8.2   C 7.2   S 5.3   W 5.5

MEN – Slalom skis are definitely built for a specific purpose, which is usually getting from the top of a racecourse to the bottom the fastest way possible. That doesn’t mean that a great slalom ski should stay in the gates all the time. This slalom ski from Rossignol will satisfy most skiers, racers and rippers alike. Mark Stein found it “a stable and quick turner that can arc a confident medium turn, as well.” Erin Keam asked, “Anyone got a dime? I could turn on it for you. Responsive with lots of power.”

ROSSIGNOL RADICAL 9SL SLANTNOSE Ti

$1100†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 156, 161*, 166, 171
122/68/103 12.8 @ 166
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP, STABILITY | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.9
A 7.5   C 6.5   S 6.5   W 5.8

WOMEN – With not a single negative comment, I know the ladies loved this ski. It impressed our testers in every way. They liked the way the ski responded, and there were a lot of comments about how powerfully the ski rebounded from turn-to-turn. The consensus here is that Rossignol has build an exceptional slalom ski. “You know those times when your iPod ticks over to the perfect song for the perfect run? Getting onto this ski felt like that.” A nice way to describe it from Michelle Ostafew.

SALOMON 24 X-KART

$1129†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 157, 164, 171*
122/72/107 13.6 @ 171
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, AGILITY | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.0
A 7.7   C 7.3   S 5.5   W 5.7

MEN – This is a ski that’s more likely to be seen on local runs and racecourses than the World Cup circuit. That’s not a bad thing, especially if you listen to our testers. The consensus was that the easiest place to find this ski would be on the podium of your weekly Masters race. There was a lot of praise for its versatility: from short turns to long, it did it all. Big Boy Erin Keam said it never felt skittish but had lots of “Kapow! ”—tester speak for a really fun ski.

SALOMON 24 X-KART

$1129†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 157, 164*, 171
122/71/106 12.1 @ 164
BEST IN: EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 5.5
A 7.9   C 8.5   S 8.3   W 8.0

WOMEN – The women felt that the X-Kart took a bit of effort to initiate, which is a bit contrary to what a slalom ski should do. They agreed it worked best with an aggressive attitude and a bit of speed, and felt it would best suit someone who really likes medium-size turns. There were a few comments about the aggressive tune and that might have contributed to the feel of the ski. “To make this ski work, you need to be aggressive and moving forward through every turn.” Jill Sagan figured it out quickly.

VÖLKL RACETIGER SL SPEEDWALL

$1200†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 155, 160, 165*, 170
120/66/101 12.2 @ 155
BEST IN: SHORT RADIUS, INITIATION, EDGE GRIP | AVERAGE SCORE: 8.1
A 8.7   C 8.3   S 5.5   W 6.7

MEN – If you drive a performance-oriented vehicle, there are certain things you expect: quick acceleration, responsive steering, balanced suspension and solid traction, to name a few. The same can be said about performance skis. As the father of a national ski team racer, George Terwiel knows a thing or two about race skis. He felt this ski accelerated across the hill and was “responsive and very agile with explosive energy and snap. Rock-solid performance in short turns.” Erin Keam added “Holy carve machine, Batman!

VÖLKL RACETIGER SL SPEEDWALL

$1200†
LENGTHS AVAILABLE: 150, 155*, 160, 165, 170
120/66/101 12.2 @ 155
BEST IN: INITIATION | AVERAGE SCORE: 7.6
A 7.0   C 7.5   S 4.8   W 4.4

WOMEN – This ski had a predictability that our test team appreciated. They didn’t feel it was the most aggressive ski in the bunch, but when it was tipped over, they knew what to expect. Wendy Anderson found it “nimble and extremely versatile. It loves to turn—tip it over and away you go.” The light feel and precise sweet spot demanded a balanced operator. Val Cloutier made sure she was in the middle: “Easy to turn and will forgive you if you’re out of balance for a second, but will find it again quickly!

 

 

Slalom Test 2013


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