Me: Age 40, 6'1", 200 lbs
Skis: 185cm Line Mothership (measure 189cm), sidecut 142-111-131
Bindings: Head Mojo 15, mounted on the line for a 325mm BSL
I experimented with a bunch of wide rockered and semi-rockered skis last spring, and virtually stumbled backwards into the Mothership. What a find. The Mothership has an early rise tip, traditional (but minimal) camber in the middle, and an upturned tail. They measure longer than spec -- these 185cm skis really compare to a 189cm traditional ski in length -- but I think the conservative sizing is representative of the effective length of the ski.
When tipped on edge on firm snow, the relatively deep (for this class ski) 24m-radius sidecut and traditional contact points allow the skis to hook up very nicely and predictably, and the materials/construction (two layers of titanal sandwiching a macro-block maple core) make for a damp and fairly stiff ski that handles a range of hard snow conditions well. This is important to me, as almost every other ski in this size class ranges from a comedy to a liability on hard or groomed snow. Not the Mothership; earlier this week I skied them locally in the mid-Atlantic, with conditions biased towards east-coast packed snow, with ungroomed man-made snow and death cookies thrown in, and the Motherships ruled. I tried my best to upset the skis and find a speed limit or envelope, but couldn't. I literally beat the crap out of the skis all day long over a wide range of conditions, and they took it with margin to spare, and returned a fun ride on top of it.
When skied powder style in soft snow, skier weight cancels and reverses the minimal camber on the Mothership. Combined with the early rise tip, it makes these skis feel like a low-rockered ski, which is to say, great. They plane up with little effort, and before you know it you're practically carving turns on top of the powder. I'd say this ski gives you about 70-80% of the benefit of a fully rockered ski with none of the liabilities. And keep in mind I am on the 185cm; the longer 195cm would be even better in powder.
Crud? What crud? I had a hard time evaluating crud performance of these skis because they simply keep you on top of the crud, and the beefy construction pretty much makes the crud seem invisible. Forget about notions like plowing crud or slicing through it. The Mothership rides right over it.
So what we have is a very good wide powder/crud ski that also happens to do well on hard snow. But beyond that, I found the Mothership to be about the most "bomber" ski I have tried in a good many years. They get better and more solid the faster you go, and they let you blow over, through, and down the most gnarly conditions imaginable. If you want to be confident about your skis, these won't disappoint. And if you're looking for a wide one-ski quiver, look no further. I already knew the Motherships would be good in soft snow, but their performance on harder snow makes them an obvious choice when you can only pack one pair of skis in the bag. I have been looking for a full range ski for out west, and I think this is it. The Motherships will rock those powder and soft snow days, but not let you down if it's a high pressure week with more challenging and more varied conditions.
If there is a downside to these skis, it's weight. At 185cm, they weight nearly 6 pounds each. Yeah, I said 6. Each. Thankfully, I never noticed that weight when they were underfoot; if anything, it was part of the bomber freight train feel that I dug. But you probably wouldn't want to carry these skis around too much, and touring with them would be insane unless you're Conan the Barbarian. Then again, Conan had some lines that sum up the Mothership pretty well. "What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women." Yeah, that about says it.
Time for a followup after four solid and rigorous days on the Motherships at Alta. Some points I want to hit:
1) They are very livable skis, and I had no issues driving them for full bell-to-bell ski days. And keep in mind that I live at sea level, and usually have to pace myself to manage effects of skiing at 8500-11500 feet elevation when I go to Alta. Though big and burly, the Motherships are really gentle giants and very livable as an all-day ski.
2) Groomer performance, especially at ultra high speed, is simply amazing. The Motherships are clearly the best performing of any ski I have tested in this waist range on groomed or hard snow. I still have not found a speed limit. When cranking a hard 120-degree turn at high speed several times this past week, I kept thinking that the Motherships would put some of my narrower skis to shame. Tremendous amount of confidence at high speed, and the skis will charge through uneven terrain smoothly, without disrupting the skier at all.
3) Weight has not been an issue on downhill runs. On one traverse where I was breaking trail in wind-packed snow, I might have wished for a lighter ski. But I do that sort of thing once every 5 years myself.
4) Maneuverability in soft Utah moguls is very good. You must maintain a minimum speed (which is a good idea in bumps anyhow), but once there, the skis easily come around to make quick turns in tight spaces. Over a period of days, I got the mixture of upper/lower body balance perfected for these skis. Ride up onto the backside of the bump, toggle the upper body weight forward and then down/around to the front side of the bump, and whip the skis around. The early rise tip and upturned tail allow the skis to spin easily.
5) The Motherships are outstanding in deep crud. I believe the weight/bulk really helps here, serving as the backup "grunt" behind the tip rocker and ski shape. Super confident in crud conditions.
6) Finally, powder. The first 1-2 turns feel traditional, but as soon as speed builds, the tips plane right up. Very nice. Once going, I stick with my earlier assessment that you get 70-80% of the goodness of a fully rockered ski. At speed in powder, the Motherships will keep me on top of the snow, and I can maintain a normal forward stance the whole time. I found the skis got better and better, and more confident, the more speed I added in powder. This made for some mind blowing steep tree runs in 16-20" of powder, where I felt like I was having an out of body experience of some better skier. I give full credit to the Motherships for enabling me to do that. I hesitate to say gear is making me better, but these skis are definitely "enablers". I think they eliminate shortcomings and restrictions of other skis that have been holding me back.
7) In terms of length, I found 185cm absolutely perfect for my height/weight at Alta. Never felt the need for the longer 195cm models in powder and crud, or at high speed on groomers, and I appreciated the relative nimbleness of the shorter 185cm skis in bumps and tight spaces. Finally, it seems I have stumbled on a perfect combination for my needs.