Gear: We try it before you buy it

October 29, 2006 

You know you are giving your demo skis a good test run when you end up on your face with a mouthful of snow.

Spitting out snow on Gold Hills at Crystal Mountain, I realized that the K2 Public Enemy is an excellent ski. The Public Enemy easily handled steeper runs and moguls, so K2 representative Jeff Krahenvuho recommended I give the twin-tip skis a special test – a backward run down Gold Hills. The skis ran backward as smoothly as they did forward – until I leaned too far forward and shot out of the bindings. But, as they say, a good craftsman never blames his tools.

The Public Enemy was one of five new skis The News Tribune previewed in March. We gave each pair of skis two runs down intermediate and advanced runs.

FISCHER AMC 76
• Price: $1,065.
• Details: If this all-mountain ski seems a lot like the 2006 version, it’s for good reason. Fischer got it right the first time. The metal and carbon construction keeps it stable at speed. Ample sidecut and a durable build makes the AMC 76 capable of carving through almost anything.
• Company line: “It’s good on hard snow, good on soft snow all the way up to knee- and thigh-deep powder,” said Bryan Schiller of Fischer. “It’s been incredibly well-received.”
• Two-run review: If I’d had an extra $1,065 on me this day, I don’t think I would have been able to leave without these skis. The best skis I used on this day. The AMC line has also received top honors from Ski, Skiing and Ski Press magazines.

K2 PUBLIC ENEMY
• Price: $429.
• Details: Lay five of these skis side by side to make a mural inspired by MC Escher’s “Endless Staircase.” The K2 version, designed by West Seattle’s Ryan Smchies, has a military theme with soldiers looking for terrorists. The skis have less side cut, making them more forgiving in the terrain park and less touchy on the slopes.
• Company line: “It’s a jack of all trades,” said Jeff Krahenvuho of K2. “You can ski the hard pack, the powder (and) the terrain park, and you can ski backward.”
• Two-run review: As advertised, these skis did everything well until I bit it going backward on Gold Hills. Ski magazine agreed, giving the Public Enemy a Gold Medal rating.

SALOMON X-WING FURY
• Price: $929.
• Details: The wildly popular Scream and Scrambler lines are gone, replaced this year by the X-Wing series. There are three different widths. The Sandstorm (75 millimeters under foot) is narrowest, the Tornado (95) is widest and the Fury (85) is the all-purpose midsize version. The plate under the binding and the ski’s wood core are designed to drive energy through the ski for more control
• Company line: “These are go-anywhere and do-anything skis,” said Joel Hammond, a Salomon representative. “It is by far our No. 1 ski for Crystal Mountain and the Pacific Northwest.”
• Two-run review: If we have to say goodbye to the Scream series, my favorite, this seems like a solid replacement. The skis responded well as I hit Lucky Shot and Iceberg Gulch.

HEAD MONSTER IM 82
• Price: $699.
• Details: It’s a ski designed to do anything but is best in the powder. According to the company, the harder you ride, the more the “intellifibers” from the five-alloy ski stiffen to “increase rebound by 29 percent.” The construction also makes the ski more stable at high speeds.
• Company line: “This would be the ideal one-quiver ski for the Northwest,” said Deano Uren, a Tyrolia representative. “Perfect for good days or for skiing the crud and junk. Of all the skis in my van, this is the one I’d use most.”
• Two-run review: Worked fine in a patch of powder left in Green Valley, but in my two-run opinion it didn’t seem any more responsive than any of the skis I sampled. However, Ski magazine gave it a more thorough test and gave it its Gold Medal Award.

DYNASTAR LEGEND 8000
• Price: $1,150.
• Details: The best part about these skis is that they come with the Legend Easy Tram binding, a randonee setup perfect for touring. Randonee setups allow you to free your heel to Nordic ski away from the main runs, then clamp heels back down when it’s time to head downhill.
• Company line: “The randonee setup is a trend you are seeing all over right now,” said Sean Vill, a Dynastar representative. “It’s great. Just throw on some skins, and you go anywhere while everybody else is in lift lines.”
• Two-run review: The skis chattered a bit on the ice, leading me to believe the binding plates other brands use aren’t as pointless as Dynastar would like you to believe. Otherwise, the skis handled beautifully, and the bindings left me dreaming of backcountry runs as I skied Iceberg Gulch to Deer Fly.

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