If you were on the ski-internet last year, you heard that SIA had been moved from snowless Las Vegas, to slightly less snowless Denver. As with all things, this likely had something to do with money, but it ostensibly provided the opportunity to have more snow-related activities at a snowsports convention. The granddaddy of these activities is the On-Snow Demo. It’s the first chance for middle-aged buyers and media twits to stand on some 2012 models and decide whether all that bullshit the reps were selling actually works.
Admittedly, we were some east coast kids let loose on Winter Park, so we were less than diligent about trying every ski. But we compiled some favorites.
Review Number One: Let’s get this out of the way, demo boot reviews are bullshit. No brand-new boot is going to fit your foot, and if it does, it probably won’t after a few runs. Go see a decent bootfitter. All those magazines have been lying to you. Sorry.
In order to avoid some boring shallow commentary on every ski we tested, I’ll give you the overall winners. These are the skis we went straight for, and stuck with, on the second day of riding.
Atomic Patent: This thing hovers in the hole left by the death of the Line Anthem. It’s a symmetrical, semi-wide (127-95-127) park ski. It’s a good bit stiffer than the Anthem, but has its super-fun stability and board-like feel. Matt and I both kept this ski for a long time and enjoyed everything it did. If you can get past the horrendously-busy crayon graphics, you’ll love ‘em.
Libtech NAS Freestyle: Dan took this thing all over the mountain on the second day. He even sacked it up and tried that serrated-edge on some rails and didn’t have too many problems (felt he hung up a bit). After the Freestyle, he swung through a few other NAS offerings and found them generally fun. We ripped groomers, park, and found some leftover snow in trees and they kept him happy the whole way.
Opus on left, Bacon on right.
Line Sir Francis Bacon (140-108-136): If there’s a grand-title holder, this is it. I want this ski like I’m 14 years old. They made my 180’s feel like they were Nimbus-worthy (they weren’t), and the big platform makes you feel like you’re landing on God’s pillowtop mattress every time. Matt kept commenting on how the early-rise and pushed back contact points made them ski like a much smaller ski. It didn’t snow enough for us to test them in pow, but it’s a testament to the design that they were this much fun on groomers and choppy side shit.
Icelantic Gypsy, K2 Kung Fujas: These two suffered from not-enough-snow syndrome. The would probably be a blast if there were even a few inches, but they are both within the range that should also be able to transfer to groomers a bit. Matt compared both to the Sir Francis Bacon and they came out losers in that contest. Once again, they’re probably great specialty skis, but they just ski too big and heavy to be jacks of all trades.
Something was wrong:
Icelantic DaNollie: These fuckers were too sharp or some shit. They whipped my ass all over the mountain and I ran them back to the Icelantic tent as fast as I could. A gummy stone and a file could probably solve all of their problems, but I wasn’t going to waste any precious testing time.
K2 Hellbent: Wanna know what was wrong? There was no snow! Dan got his ass whooped all over a groomer on these things, and ran them right back to K2. We all gained a newfound appreciation for Pep and others who used to rock these in the park.
They did spark some conversation about their zombie-cannibal topsheets, so if you’re out there to meet people, this might be the ski for you.
Other skis we had fun on, but won’t bore you with long descriptions (drop me an email if you want my opinion):
Moment PB&J: Nice semi-wide park/all-mountain ski with mustache rocker.
Line Step-up: Dan landed some of his cleanest front-flips in a lifetime. They’re stiffer than standard Line park noodles, but in a good way.
Moment Team: Stiff park ski. If you live for jumps and like square tips, this is for you.
Line Afterbang: Exactly what you’d expect. Fun ski.
Salomon Rocker 2: Fun ski that east coasters like myself should probably have to sign a waiver to go near.