There’s only one way to determine how good a pair of skis are – strap them on and point them downhill. In April, we did just that in Crystal Mountain’s Green Valley with some of the best offerings for 2006.
We took two runs with five new sets of skis. The first went down the valley’s shallow intermediate moguls and the second at high speed through the valley and down the black diamond Iceberg Gulch. While you really need to spend more time with your skis before you make a serious commitment, here’s what we gleaned from our two-run reviews.
– Craig Hill, The News Tribune
1. NORDICA HOT ROD NITROUS
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Price Tag: $800
Details: With its wood core platform, the Hot Rod Nitrous is designed for aggressive intermediate, advanced and expert skiers. It’s designed to evenly distribute energy to improve balance. It’s been receiving rave reviews.
Comapny Line: An all-conditions ski that handles the hardpack and crud equally well and is also a good powder ski. It’s an expert ski that’s not unforgiving.
Two-Run Review I was smitten by these skis the second I dropped into Green Valley’s shallow moguls. The skis cut through the moguls with ease and did just as well with everything else in the valley. They were the best of the five skis I tried this day.
2. ROSSIGNOL B3 BANDIT
Price Tag: $869
Details: Rossignol is filling a gap in its popular Bandit series with a change under foot in the B3 ski. The 2005 B2 was 76 millimeters under foot, while the B3 was 94 millimeters. The new B3 splits the difference at 83 millimeters. Rossignol is also adding the B4 to replace the old B3.
Comapny Line: “For folks who skied on the old B2, they are going to notice that the new B3 is a little stronger under foot so that it’s better on the hard pack and handles way better off in the powder,” says Jeff Sarlo, Rossignol’s Northwest ski rep.
Two-Run Review Two months after being mismatched with a pair of 2005 B2s for a full day at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe, I noticed the difference in the B3s immediately with a pair of good runs. The B3 absorption system worked well, keeping the skis from chattering and my spine from vibrating on the hard pack.
3. SALOMON SCRAMBLER HOT
Price Tag: $900
Details: The Scrambler series is Salomon’s newest line and is replacing the Scream series. It has a wider tip and tail than the Scream Xtra Hots and has a progressive shape in which the width under foot is greater for longer skis. Salomon says these overshaped boards will do for skiing what oversized clubs did for golf.
Comapny Line: “The Scrambler Hot is a very powerful and versatile ski that skis the whole mountain well. It handles the groomers fine, and if you want to go on the off runs, it won’t have any problem there either. It’s very versatile,” says Joel Hammond, Salomon ski rep.
Two-Run Review As they say, it’s not really falling if you land on your feet. Despite a somersault on upper Iceberg Gulch, the Scrambler Hots were stable and left me a little disappointed I’d just shelled out a small fortune on a pair of Scream Xtra Hots.
4. K2 APACHE OUTLAW
Price Tag: $875
Details: Designed for the expert skier who spends most of the day on off-piste adventures. With a width of 88 millimeters underfoot, it is perfect for soft snow and is still good for the more typical Cascade concrete.
Comapny Line: “The Outlaws are perfect for the skier who does about 70 percent off piste and 30 percent groomed runs. But while some wider skis can be harder to turn, that’s not the case here,” says Steve Marks, K2 ski rep.
Two-Run Review The Outlaw handled the moguls and the steeper gulch with ease and seemed to snap me around at just the thought of turning. It carved through a groomed stretch of the valley as easily as it punched through sections of ungroomed crud.
5. SALOMON SCRAMBLER CUSTOM
Price Tag: $769
Details: The monocoque composite construction makes for a light ski and increased maneuverability. The Custom is not as beefy or as fast as the Scrambler Hot. It’s geared for intermediate skiers who spend about 60 percent of their time off the groomed terrain.
Comapny Line: “You can take it out in any condition and on any terrain. It handles the groomers, the hard pack and the crud,” says Dave Jordan, Salomon ski rep.
Two-Run Review To spice things up a bit, I found a little steeper ungroomed patch in Green Valley to test the Customs. These skis handled the moguls and Iceberg Gulch just fine. On the hardpack, it maneuvered just as well as the more expensive skis.