Alpine Overview 16/17
Every February our team of testers gets to demo next year’s skis. We always hope for a mix of snow conditions so that we can have a thorough test. This is very important, as we feel that versatility is the single most important trait in any ski, especially for skiing on Mammoth Mountain. Of course, we expect a midfat like the Blizzard Bonafide to be pretty good in just about any snow condition, but we like to see how well a Rossi Soul 7 HD holds up on ice, or how a Head Rally does in mush.
Last year was a good winter for Mammoth and conditions at Trade Fair were prime for testing. We spent most of our time lapping Chairs 2 and 3 with frequent side trips up 23 and the Gondola. Up top was a mix of windblown packed powder and firmer snow, while Chair 3 offered more bumps and crud along with nice groomed runs to the bottom.
Quiver of One
A one-ski quiver is an oxymoron, but most of us have a budget, so here it is. We like the versatility of a ski with a waist width of around 90-100mm, moderate rocker and metal laminate construction. This width is a good compromise between on and off piste skiing. The metal keeps it grippy on hard snow, and gives it a smooth powerful feel. A ski without metal layers is more playful and forgiving, but has its limits at speed on firm snow. At the 90ish side, you get a ski that carves well on the groomed, but is also quite apt at moguls and crud. The wider end of the spectrum is not as nimble or carvey, but has better crud and powder performance. Of course, if you rarely leave the groomed runs, prefer quick turns or just live for moguls your choice may lean towards a carve ski with a waist in the 85mm range. Conversely, if you spend all day in search of off piste adventures your ski of choice might be over 100mm wide underfoot. Either way, you may want to travel with one versatile pair of skis, and demo others if conditions warrant.
Two Skis Get It Done
Things get better when we have two skis. Most of our team prefers to complement their all-mountain (90-100mm) ski with a more rockered fat (110+mm) ski. This gives us a very versatile main ski, with a true powder ski to maximize the fun factor on those epic freshies. Some of us ski our fat skis as often as our all-mountain skis, while some just break them out for the big days. The rockered fat ski is also very useful in soft spring conditions and backcountry skiing. Some testers, especially those who love moguls or carving would go for a narrower (
A true quiver begins at three or four skis. This allows you to be prepared for any condition or situation, and can give you some serious bragging rights. Let’s look at one employee’s quiver and see what happens when you work at a ski shop and have an extra room in the house.