February 28, 2013

Blizzard Scout

Blizzard Scout

The Scout enters the 2013-2014 All Mountain/Big Mountain class as essentially a metal-free version of Blizzard’s award-winning Cochise. If the prospect of a lighter, more touring-friendly Cochise fills your heart with glee, you’re not alone. The Cochise remains a formidable ski—one that has clearly altered consumer expectations and ski design standards across the industry. What does the Scout feel like? (more…)

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February 25, 2013

Salomon Rocker 2 108

Salomon Rocker 2 108

Salomon’s Rocker 2 108 returns for the 2013-2014 season as your go-to “everyday powder ski,” replacing Salmon’s excellent but highly specialized Czar. Compared to the Czar, we get undeniably better versatility in the Rocker 2, though perhaps at the cost of some of the Czar’s deep-snow magic. Both skis employ twin tip designs, adding park rider playfulness and looseness in the tail, and both skis (more…)

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February 25, 2013

Blue Ridge Benchmark

Blue Ridge Benchmark

Yes that is indeed Mount Baldy’s north face (aka Mt. San Antonio), as seen today from the Blue Ridge Road viewpoint on Highway 2, and yikes! there sure isn’t much snow up there. This view is absolutely one of my favorite benchmarks for Southern California conditions, and there’s just no escaping it—things are pretty grim this year (more…)

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February 23, 2013

K2 Backdrop

K2 Backdrop

K2’s touring-oriented Backdrop feels a lot like a big, heavy, in-bounds powder specialist. But surprise: the ski weighs only eight pounds per pair. The good news, then, is that the Backdrop does indeed fall into exactly the same category as skis like Volkl’s Nunataq or Black Diamond’s Justice—it’s a wide-bodied floater, tuned for powder performance at a touring-capable weight. In fact, the Backdrop gives you more (more…)

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February 22, 2013

San J Okay

San J Okay

I can’t figure these storms out. After a forecast initially calling for as much as 43″ of snow, Tuesday’s storm left a much smaller but still respectable 18″ or so in the higher elevations of San Jacinto State Park, where Brent and I went exploring on Wednesday. Despite the combination of abundant new snow plus last week’s totals, the SoCal backcountry remains pretty marginal, however (more…)

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February 18, 2013

Nordica Patron

Nordica Patron

Nordica’s much-heralded Patron Freeski/Big Mountain ski returns unchanged for the 2013-2014 season—it’s still a powder-devouring monster. Whether or not the Patron is a good or even great ski is not the question. What you should be asking is whether or not it’s the right ski for you. I can’t help thinking the Patron and I just didn’t meet under the right circumstances. We got acquainted on a sunny day (more…)

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February 17, 2013

DPS Wailer 99

DPS Wailer 99

A key task of an All-Mountain ski is dealing with challenging conditions. By that standard, DPS’s Wailer 99 is a big success, even a class leader. This is the ski you want to be riding on those days when the mountain seems committed to making you look bad. The Wailer is a tough snow specialist, employing experimental, non-traditional geometry (let’s call it “bent French Fry” tip and tail rocker) that makes the ski (more…)

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February 16, 2013

Dynastar Cham HM 97

Dynastar Cham HM 97

Dynastar’s oddly-shaped Cham 97 returns unchanged for the 2013-2014 season, in both standard (metal) and High Mountain (Paulownia) editions. The High Mountain versions of the Cham line were initially sold as touring-oriented skis. However, following their debut season, Dynastar realized skiers were finding the metal-free HM models to be outstanding (more…)

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February 15, 2013

Kids: Get Help When You Need It

Kids: Get Help When You Need It

At some point in your quest to turn your kids into skiers, no matter how much you love to do everything yourself, chances are you’ll find yourself stuck or running out of steam or just fantasizing about going off on your own to make some adult-sized turns. In other words, you’ll reach the point, whether you realize it or not, where you need some help (more…)

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February 14, 2013

K2 Bolt

K2 Bolt

K2 makes an unexpected but welcome return to the Thrill-Ride category with the Bolt, flagship of their 2013-2014 Precision/Piste ski series. The Bolt is in many ways similar to Nordica’s Fire Arrow EDT: both skis employ design elements stolen directly from their superhuman world cup race stock relatives, blended with cutting-edge technological advances plus of course modern ski geometry—ie, rocker (more…)

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