2022 Powder Buyer’s Guide pt 6 – skis
CELEBRITY SKI LINE
Over the last decade Kye Petersen has earned a reputation as one of the world’s best big-mountain skiers, stomping airs and bombing faces onboard planks made by several brands. Now he’s building his own, Kye Shapes, in collaboration with Johnny “Foon” Chilton. Out of Chilton’s Pemberton-based Foon Skis factory, Kye Shapes includes two skis: the “all-mountain,” 114mm underfoot Metamorph, and the powder-focused, 122mm-wide, Numinous. Both feature a simple build with progressive rocker, taper and sidecut profiles. $900; kyeshapes.com
In the quest to make a playful, powder friendly, and powerful freeride ski, Nordica kept the guts of its popular Enforcer line—and then gave it some attitude. The result is the Enforcer 104 Free. It has the same two sheets of Titinal, ABS sidewalls and carbon glass of the Enforcer. But has significantly more tip and tail rocker, creating a surfy, floaty feel that excels in powder and soft snow. $850; nordica.com
SUPER FAT IS NOT WHERE IT’S AT
Five years ago K2 had at least four skis with waist widths of more than 120mm. Today they have two. To Mike Hattrup, a former pro skier and veteran industry insider (he’s worked for Marmot, K2, Fischer and recently joined Black Diamond), that says a lot about where waist widths are going.
“Super fat skis are great for the first run, but unless you’re heli-skiing, most people need a ski for more conditions,” he says. “Super fat is just not that beneficial.”
Ski designers can create almost as much float just by playing with the ski’s characteristics. In addition to sidecut and width, they tinker with rocker, camber and taper. Where there was little difference between two GS skis 20 years ago, today two 100mm-width skis can have totally different personalities, says Hattrup.
“That makes it more challenging to choose a new pair of skis,” he acknowledges. “The good news is that if you can figure out what you like, in terms of sidecut, rocker, taper, etc., then you can have a pretty good idea of what a ski is going to feel like on snow just by looking at its dimensions on paper.”
With all these variables to play with, the evolution of all-mountain and freeride skis is now focused on refinements within the 90 to 115mm range. And particularly with skis that can pivot between resort and backcountry.
“It’s a hangover from last year when people didn’t know if resorts were going to close,” Hattrup says. “I think the touring-capable skis and bindings are so proficient at the resort there’s not a huge sacrifice anymore.”
FAT AND LIGHT
The Line Vision 118 shows that being obese does not necessarily translate on the scale. At 118mm underfoot (152 at the tip) each ski weighs 1.9 kg, one of the lightest skis in the fat category. It seems even more of a featherweight considering it’s not a dedicated touring ski. Line’s freeride athletes consider it their go-to for deep days, pillow lines and anytime they want to surf down the mountain. $850; lineskis.com
FILTERED FREERIDE FUN
Scott completely redesigned its top-shelf Pure ski with a tapered sheet of Titanal and a paulownia wood core with two beech stringers. Weighing under two kg per ski, it’s impressively lightweight for a 109mm-wide metal ski. scott-sports.com
THE MULTI-PERSONALITY SKI
Freeride skis tend to be either stiff for aggressive skiing or playful for butters and slashes. Kästle’s ZX108 melds both attributes into a new-school freeride tool. The Jeckyl and Hyde act comes from the construction and shape: an energetic wood core and fibreglass in a semi-cap style with a low camber, progressive rise and elliptical sidecut. Ski it loose, charge the fall line, carve or slarve. $899; kastle.com
WOMEN TEACHING MEN
Icelantic Skis is reversing the normal flow of ski tech. The Colorado brand’s women-specific Nia 105 freeride ski was so popular, the skimaker decided to replicate it for the men in the Saba 107. It might be the first men’s ski inspired by the success of a women’s. Jealous men, check. Next up, equal pay. $899; icelanticskis.com
UP AND DOWN FAST
To compare ski weights, snowflake to snowflake, it’s probably best to look at grams per millimetre of waist width. When you do, it’s hard to beat the Dynafit Blacklight 95, the newest member of Dynafit’s Speed category of skis. Each board weighs an astounding 1,160g for 95mm of ski underfoot. To achieve it, Dynafit used a hollowed-out paulownia wood core and wrapped it in carbon fibre. It might not be the lightest ski for its width, but it’s right up there, and retains solid downhill performance, says Dynafit, with generous rocker, 20m radius (depending on length) and all kinds of carbon for torsional rigidity. $850; dynafit.combackcountry, Dynafit, Icelandic, K2, Kastle, Kye Shapes, Line, Nordica, powder, Scott