Tag Archives: 2015 ski review

fronstside-carver-review

2015 Frontside Carver Comparison – SierraJim

As a western (Tahoe) based ski shop, we at Start Haus have a lot of demand for wide-ish waisted, soft snow biased skis, and for sure, we carry a wide array and sell a lot of stuff in the 88-110mm range.

However, even on a “normal” year in this snow-rich area, there are periods when it doesn’t snow for a week or more. For the 2012-13 and 2013-14 ski seasons, we just didn’t get much snow at all for most of the season. For the hard snow periods in those mythical “normal” years, and then especially for seasons like the last two, it really pays to have a good hard snow ski.

For the last two seasons, we have had a lot of demand for this category of ski in Tahoe because they put fun and excitement into a day on the groomers. We also shouldn’t forget that there are many skiers who just prefer this type of skiing, regardless of the year, and there are places in the country where these firm conditions are the norm basically most of the time.

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k2-shreditor-review

2015 K2 Shreditor 102 & Remedy 102 – Video

Some skis are all business – a precise and demanding tool for pushing the limits of the skier at top speed. Other skis, like the K2 Shreditor 102 and the women’s K2 Remedy 102 – are built for fun. Those days you can’t go mach 3 or get the best untracked lines, these 102 skis make the whole mountain your playground. They’re perfect for popping off wind lips, snaking through the trees in search of left-over powder stashes and hitting a few features in the park.

Philpug walks us through their features in this video:

Testers loved the playful nature of the ski – the tip and tail rocker let it smear and pivot in tight trees, gullies and bumps, while the camber and construction made it poppy, perfect for lofting off natural or man-made features. The width was just right for some of our lighter skiers to call it a powder ski – while bigger skiers still had fun in soft snow stashes off-piste.

On the groomers, the Shreditor and Remedy had descent grip on all but the iciest slopes. K2’s seem to hit the sweet spot between great damping and lively energy, and these two are no exceptions. The smooth yet poppy feel was perfect in testing finding leftover pockets of soft, windblown snow, snaking through bumps and hopping off lips. These skis beg for creative line choices and exploring hidden pockets on your home mountain.

You’ll hit a speed limit – whether you’re trying to trench groomers or blast crud – but that’s not the point of a ski like this.

See how it stacked up against the competition in our Wide All Mountain Ski Comparison.

womens-ski-comp

2015 Women’s All Mountain Ski Comparison

Don’t you just hate it when you walk into a ski shop or browse your favorite ski forum and you get a bunch of men telling you what you should or shouldn’t be skiing on? How would they even know? While some of the best all mountain skis in the men’s category range from 90-100mm underfoot, the bulk of women’s skis sit in this 80-90mm range.

It’s important to remember that picking a ski really depends on the skier, the type of terrain they typically ski, and the personal preferences of that skier. While the trend to go wider has made an impact on the ski industry as a whole, the need to talk about the narrower skis, not only for Eastern and Midwestern skiers but the westerners alike, is still important.

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wide-ski-comparison

Wide Daily Drivers for the West: 100-110mm Ski Comparison – Sierra Jim

Starting a few years back, there was a significant trend among good skiers – particularly out west, to go wider and wider with everyday skis. These skis became more common, as did rocker – and pretty soon we were seeing skiers on the hill with 110-120mm wide skis on non-powder days. You’d here tips flapping and turns skidding – and for the most part, people were having fun. But technically proficient skiers quickly found they weren’t really the best choice for hard or rough snow.

Now, as we head into the 2015 season, we find the trend mentioned above has started to reverse pretty significantly and many ski widths have started to come down out of the 120+ range. The fact that out west, we have now gone a couple of seasons without significant snowfall is no doubt one of the reasons for this. Another reason might be that the ski makers and skiers in general have figured out that for the skier with a decided soft snow bias and “one ski quiver” appetite, these mid 100s are pretty darned good. For sure, some skiers will still be very happy with wider skis than these for everyday use, and a lot of skiers will settle back to the 98-100mm range. These skis in the 102-110mm range have a more decided soft snow bias than the 98-100’s, but they do a much better job than “powder skis” when it has been some time since the last snowfall. It’s also fair to say that it is a pretty rare powder day that one of these skis isn’t wide enough to handle things.

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2015-allmountain-comp

All Mountain Ski Quiver Killer Comparison – Sierra Jim

There is a trend these days to say that the plus-or-minus 98mm skis are the perfect ski width for everyone in the west, and that is not necessarily the case. It’s important to remember that trends sometimes fail to recognize the skiers’ capabilities and their preferences.

There are plenty of skiers out west that are well suited by frontside skis and a lot more (maybe even most) that are best suited by the roughly 88mm skis. Naturally a quiver of skis is the best of all and more is always better. Where the 98mm ski fits in is for the skier with one ski, roughly a 50/50 priority towards packed vs. soft snow usage, and the capabilities to ski that terrain.

The 98mm ski can also fit very nicely as the middle ski in a three ski quiver for the west and could well be the wide ski for an eastern or Midwestern skier who doesn’t really need a specialized ski for deep snow.

As always, this category is loaded with talent and also with differences. The differences can range from relatively dramatic to very subtle, the differences are almost never about the width. The 5mm width difference from the narrowest to the widest of the skis we’ll review here are not definitive. Some of the skis in this category have been modified recently either in flex or in shape or in both for a little more bias toward softer snow while others maintain a roughly equal terrain and snow bias.

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blizzard-xpower

2015 Blizzard X-Power 810TI Review (Video)

The 2015 Blizzard XPower 810TI is a new carving ski from Blizzard, designed for serious front side performance. Our testers were able to get on it early last winter, and were universally impressed.

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Phil praised the ski for both having a tenacious grip and the ability to work various turn shapes, making it both powerful and versatile. We headed to Northstar first, putting the 174 cm length through the paces on a firm day that slowly softened as the sun went to work.

Warming up with medium radius turns, the Blizzard XPower 810TI wasn’t punishing, popping back and forth with ease. But as soon as the speed picked up and the radius opened up, the ski started to display some real power, rewarding serious technique and a willingness to push hard. Really hard.

So while it’s easy to initiate a turn on this ski, and it doesn’t punish you at slower speeds, it really rewards powerful skiers most. On our spectrum from quick, finesse skis to stiff, powerful skis – it’s definitely on the power end of the spectrum.

The binding system worked well, as expected, using the IQ system Blizzard has developed over the last few years.

All in all, this is one of the more impressive frontside skis we’ve tested for 2015, a powerful carver that dares the skier to find its speed limit, if that sounds interesting to you, give us a call, shoot us an email, or swing by the shop to learn more.

cham-117-action

2015 Dynastar Cham 117 Review (Video)

A few years back, when powder was bottomless, fat skis were new and rocker was rocking our world for the first time, powder skis were a one-trick pony, and people loved them. As time has gone on, skiers have started to figure out that powder doesn’t last all day, and often conditions sent skiers running back to their car by lunch to swap out those powder specialists for an all mountain ski.

2015-dynastar-cham-117

More recently, ski manufacturers have started to figure that out too, producing powder skis with a little added versatility so you can ski them all day – and for a few days after the storm. Enter the new Dynastar Cham 117, new for 2015.

Both building on and tweeking the successful Cham 5-point ski design, the Cham 117 hits a sweet spot between pure powder grins and all-mountain versatility to keep going when the soft stuff gets tracked out. Rocker in the tip, just a tiny bit of rise in the tail, and taper both in front and back with traditional camber and sidecut underfoot make up the shape, and lightweight metal-less wood core construction sets up the flex and ride.

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head-great-joy

2015 Head Great Joy Review (Video)

The Head Great Joy was one of the skis our female ski testers were most excited about when it was announced, and turned out to be one of our absolute favorites when we got it on the snow.

2015-head-greatjoy

Ski manufacturers often announce the “next wonder material” that will “revolutionize the way we ski” and often, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype. But in this case, a lot of the credit as to why we liked the Head Great Joy – and the whole Head Joy women’s ski line – is a new material called graphene, previously used in Head tennis rackets, said to have one of the best strength-to-weight ratios of any material.

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blizzard-samba-review

2015 Blizzard Samba Women’s Ski Review

Blizzard’s Flipcore skis have been some of our tester’s favorites over the last few years, and the women’s specific skis are no exception. The Blizzard Samba, at 98 underfoot, cuts the same profile as the hugely popular the Blizzard Bonafide – with a few changes to make it a great women’s all mountain ski.

Right off the bat, we should say this is not an intermediate ski – but if you’ve got the skill and the desire to ski a wider all mountain ski, this is one of the absolute best.

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nordica-nemesis

2015 Nordica Nemesis Review (Video)

The Nordica Nemesis, a long-time Start Haus favorite for hard-charging women who like to get off-piste, has been updated for 2015, and from our testing, it’s for the better.

Taking lessons learned from the shape of the wider Nordica Wildfire, the Nemesis gets a new rocker profile that’s gradual and subtle, blending perfectly with the camber of the ski, along with tip and tail tapper, perfectly executed to reduce hooking in crud and variable snow without significantly diminishing edge contact on groomers.

2015-nordica-nemesis

Maintaining its lightweight wood and Wi-Core stringer construction, it’s still a light, energetic and poppy ski like previous versions.

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