Pros: Really versatile, good grip, light weight, good in bounds or in the backcountry
Cons: Not quite wide enough for real powder performance
The K2 Sideshow is an interesting evolution from K2's famous backcountry ski line. On first pass it's got all the makings of a pure-bread backcountry ski at home earning turns with lightweight construction, a longer turn radius good for side-hilling grip, flat tails for building anchors, and tip and tail holes for climbing skin attachment.
But then K2 threw a metal laminate into the ski and added what they call "all terrain rocker" to the tip (essentially the low profile style rocker we've come to prefer in a ski like this) making it an interesting option in-bounds as well. And looking around ski resorts you'll see this ski (and it's predecessor, the K2 Backlash) mounted up with alpine bindings as a good all-around lightweight all mountain ski.
What's cool about this ski is the traits that make it good in the backcountry also have benefits in-bounds - they're not mutually exclusive in this case.
- Lightweight construction makes them quick and easy to turn in bounds and easy to hike out of bounds.
- Metal laminate gives good grip, whether you're standing at the top of an icy couloir in the backcountry or railing groomers at the resort.
- flat tails have ski mountaineering utility in the backcountry but also give you a powerful platform for finishing out a turn in-bounds.
- Rockered tips make for quick turn initiation and extra float in-bounds, and make breaking trail easier out of bounds.
Sierra Jim tested these skis both at Winter Park and Mammoth Mountain, and found them to be livelier than the system skis in this width category with better than average grip for this type of ski.
"The K2 Sideshow is a good ski for someone who prefers energy and grip over dampening and comfort - good for anybody from intermediate to exert."
Here's a video with SierraJim talking about the K2 Sideshow:
While once-upon-a-time these would have qualified as powder skis, 90 mm underfoot isn't what most would consider a true powder ski, nor is the limited application of tip rocker and the lack of rocker in the tail - this isn't going to be a surfy, smeary powder ski.
Instead it's a utility ski - a Swiss Army Knife that won't let you down in any conditions even if it's not the perfect ski for that specific condition. If you're looking for a ski that you can ski both at the resort and in the backcountry - mount these up with something like the Marker Tour and you're good to go.
Want to learn more? Check out our ski blog for our complete K2 Sideshow Review.