THE WAY OF THE OWL
Balsa is one of the lightest woods in nature, making it the best wood for the core of Icelantic’s backcountry-focused Natural 101 (the women’s equivalent is the Mystic 97). Wrapped in multiple layers of fibreglass with a full P-tex sidewall, it’s built tough in Colorado and backed by a three-year warranty. Icelantic says lots of tip rocker, full camber underfoot and a touch of tail rocker create a versatile ski that can turn in just about any conditions. Like all Icelantic skis, the graphics are beautiful. ($849; icelanticskis.com)
ICELANTIC NATURAL 101
$849 * BEST FOR: A dedicated powder-hunting tool.
LENGTHS: 171, 178, 185 * RADIUS: 21@178 * SIDECUT: 132/101/117 * WEIGHT: 1,580 grams
With a 21m turning radius, the Natural 101 can make tight turns in the bumps and trees, but what it really wants to do is open up into long turns. In soft snow, alpine terrain and super-G speeds it felt smooth and stable, said James Jamieson, testing it at Whitewater: “It’s a great landing platform for point-and-shoot cliffs drops.” In deep snow “it’s very light and floaty,” said Jonathan Jenkin, “and skied pretty well in all conditions.” But keep your on-piste agenda to getting back to the lifts. On groomers and ice it took a lot of energy to get the ski to grab. Jamieson sums it up: “This is a ski for those who like to keep it steep and deep.”