Ski Review: Volkl Mantra (2011)

Volkl Mantra

Volkl's Mantra is one of those rare blockbuster skis that pop up every few years and immediately becomes a classic. If you don't happen to own a pair, you probably already know someone who does, and you're wondering if the ski can really be as much fun as everybody says.

At 96mm underfoot, the Mantra isn't exactly a modern fatboy powder ski, but it does offer remarkable performance in the deep stuff. It is the Mantra's ability to stay lively on the groomed runs, however, that makes its fans so...fanatic. Many powder skis become bloated noodles when the fresh stuff is gone and the hardpack returns. Not so the Mantra. This is a legitimate all-mountain ski—so much so that many people run it as their only board in all conditions.

A Mantra Day

A Mantra Day

The Mantra chops through tracked-out powder and crud with a ease that is positively criminal—especially if you don't have a pair and you're chasing someone who does. Legs seem to stay fresher on the Mantra—and smiles become perma-grins. The Mantra's ability to float through flawless and less-than perfect snow is the stuff legends are made of.

I finally took notice when my own powder-averse father hung with me for hours on a stormy whiteout day that previously would have sent him home to the lodge for hot chocolate and a jacuzzi. Yes, for those of you who get skittish when the fresh snow starts falling, the Mantra can indeed open up new powder horizons.

I say the Mantra is perfect for old school carvers and cruisers—those who grew up skiing gates on hard snow—who now want a wide board for powder and soft snow. The Mantra is a traditional cambered ski, with no rocker, so you can transition effortlessly from your skinny GS boards, no new tricks required. On hard snow I marveled at how solid and snappy the Mantra felt. Yes, you really can run it as your only ski, for all conditions.

But heck—don't take my word for it. Go demo a pair. The Mantra sells so well every shop on earth seems to carry them. And be sure to check out their performance on those hardpack days where you'd typically ski a more traditional ski. The Mantra is currently the closest we've got to a true one-rig solution.

Okay, sure, people aren't winning World Cup races on these, so let's keep the hard snow performance in perspective. But the Mantra clearly rises above the powder pack, offering you a versatile board that will run the deep with the very best of them—and not hang you out to dry in everything else. Note, for 2012, the Mantra adds a rockered profile—I'll test a pair when I get a chance...

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Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow



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