Test 2018 – Freeride Women Specific Models
by RYAN STUART in the Fall 2017 issue
VÖLKL 100EIGHT W
BEST FOR: Power skiers in deep snow * LENGTHS: 157, 165, 173 * RADIUS: 16.7@165 * SIDECUT: 141-108-124 * $799
The first thing every tester noticed about the 100Eight W was its weight. For a 108mm-waisted ski, it only weighs 1.7 kg per ski. That’s about the same as dedicated touring skis. But while it could moonlight in the backcountry, this ski is designed for ripping chairlift laps. “It’s a freeride ski but it handles well on-piste,” said Alex Messinis, co-owner of Edmonton’s Sundance Ski & Board Shop. “Despite its width and full rocker profile, it does well in most conditions.” When it comes to soft snow, the dimensions tell the story: flat underfoot and lots of rocker at the tip and tail, 141mm at the tip, 124 at the tail. This ski floated effortlessly and turned on a dime. It cruised over chopped-up snow and ripped up steeps. The 3D.Glass construction technique adds a fold of fibreglass around the sidewall, to increase on-piste performance in the form of agility and edge grip. With carbon stringers and a multi-layer wood core, the 100Eight W is a stiff, high-performance ski. “It requires you to take charge and make it behave,” said 5’4″ Sandra Haziza. “Taller, heavier girls will have an easier time managing it,” piped up her similar-sized daughter, Raine. Another option is to size down in length. Testers who found their ideal length said the ski was a little easier to ski, with its generous sweet spot and surprising grip on hard snow.
MEIER ALI PRO
BEST FOR: Big-mountain comps * LENGTHS: 164, 174 * RADIUS: 16@164 * SIDECUT: 148-113-124 * $825
Alison Gannett is one cool woman. The freeskiing star added global cooling ambassador, advocate for fighting cancer through diet and farmer to her résumé. Oh, and she found a few moments to help Meier design the Ali Pro. Built to stand up to the demands she puts on planks, this ski is all about going fast in steep terrain and deep snow. Like all Meier skis, it’s built with a combination of Colorado beetle-killed pine and poplar. The pine keeps the ski light, while the poplar adds lively pop to the ride. It sports a traditional camber under the 113mm waist, and lots of early rise in the tip and tail. Testers said this was not a ski for the weak or timid. “It needs momentum to get into its big turn radius,” said Barb Kupferschmidt Linder. In other words, go fast and then try turning. Sandra Haziza thought it behaved best in soft snow. “Play in the powder all day on this big girl,” she wrote. “Like a rare man: stable and committed. Great for the hard-charging, powder-seeking girl.” The women agreed that the Ali Pro performed best under the careful guidance of a skilled skier: advanced and expert rippers only. But the camber and lots of sidecut allowed the ski to get on edge on the groomers, admittedly with a bit of work, and there was lots of support in the tail for landing airs or getting out of the back seat in sketchy situations. It’s a good option for women looking to push their big-mountain skiing from black diamonds to double blacks.
ICELANTIC MAIDEN 111
BEST FOR: Slackcountry * LENGTHS: 162, 169, 177 * RADIUS: 16@169 * SIDECUT: 146-111-136 * $799
Icelantic upped the ante in its Maiden line of freeride skis, adding this plus-sized model to the existing Maiden 101. It’s built almost exactly the same as the unisex Nomad lineup (semi-sandwich construction of wood, fibreglass and rubber foils, and then a fibreglass and carbon topsheet and P-tex sidewalls), but the wood core is a proprietary mix of lighter woods, cutting weight to less than the Nomad 105. And like all Icelantic skis, the Maiden 111 is made in Denver and comes with a three-year warranty, one of the best in the business. With a 111mm waist, 146mm shovel and rockered tip and tail, this ski floats like a surfboard. The rocker extends more than 30cm on either end, making it feel shorter than it is. It rips tight turns and spins easily. Plus, there’s just enough camber underfoot to give it some life on firmer snow, said Barb Kupferschmidt Linder. “A lighter-feeling ski that’s fairly agile in shorter turns for its width,” she reported. “Smooth feel through the tracked powder, making for an easy ride and cruising in bigger turns. Not too much effort on groomers.” Like its dimensions suggest, this is a big-mountain or powder ski, but its light weight makes it a good match for a slackcountry set-up.
ELAN RIPSTICK 102 W
BEST FOR: Upping your game all over the mountain * LENGTHS: 156, 163, 170, 177 * RADIUS: 17@170 * SIDECUT: 136-102-115 * $699
Elan is giving freeriding women a taste of what the men have enjoyed for a couple of years: a Ripstick with enough width to really rip. While not as chubby as most of the other skis in this category, the Ripstick 102 W offers plenty of big-mountain performance. At the longest 177-cm length, it has an 18m turning radius. That’s a nice versatile size for going fast, but saving a little something for tight quarters. The asymmetric design helps. The inside edge is longer and more cambered for firm-snow edge hold and high-speed stability. The outside edge is more rockered, compensating for the inside edge’s length with easier initiation and faster pivoting. Inside the ski, Elan combined a wood core, carbon tubes running down each edge, and composite sheets at the tip and tail in an effort to keep weight down without sacrificing rebound and dampness. On-slope, testers found it all came together to offer ideal performance for the variety of terrain at most Western resorts. There’s plenty of float and stability for going fast in open terrain, nimbleness for trees and bumps, and enough stability for fairly high speeds. Ex-racers may find the lightweight ski will chatter a bit at higher speeds, particularly in harder snow conditions. With a 136mm shovel, there’s enough ski here for all but the deepest and gnarliest of terrain. The consensus is that power skiers should look elsewhere. This ski is best for a finesse skier with good technique, or an advanced woman looking to up her game into bolder terrain.
BLIZZARD SHEEVA 11
BEST FOR: Tree-skiing * LENGTHS: 164, 172, 180 * RADIUS: 17.5@172 * SIDECUT: 139-112-129 * $849
When redesigning its freeride ski line, Blizzard figured there were two types of skiers: the traditional and the progressive. Traditional skiers are more technical, carving all the way through their turns. For them there’s the tweaked Black Pearl (see All-Mountain On-Slope Reviews, Buyer’s Guide 2018). The Sheeva 10 and 11 are favoured by the progressives, with a lighter, softer and more playful feel. They come in two sizes: the Sheeva 11 with a 112mm waist, and the 102mm Sheeva 10. They’re built much like the unisex Rustlers, but with a lighter-weight wood core sandwiched between sheets of carbon. A Titanal topsheet is replaced at the tip and tail with a carbon frame. The Titanal transfers power from edge-to-edge. The carbon sheets improve stability throughout the length of the ski without adding torsional rigidity, helping keep the tip and tail soft for easy turn initiation and exit. The result: a big-mountain tool for the less-
demanding skier. “A pretty smooth ski for an intermediate-advanced shredder,” wrote Whitewater’s Jenna Burge of the Sheeva 11. “It’s playful and reactive in bumps and trees, but it can also carve with ease on a groomer. If you find yourself in glades more often than not, this ski turns on a dime, so you should be able to avoid those pesky trees or branches when they are flying past you. I found this ski best at moderate speeds and when crossing the fall line, otherwise I experienced some chatter. Overall, this ski can get you where you need to go.”