At the risk of starting to sound like Jimmy Ruffin..............So…..what’s become of the all mountain ski??
In keeping with the theme of the “Frontsider” thread, here are a few peeks at what the ski industry is offering up in the guise of “all mountain” skis. It’s important to realize that the term “all mountain” is now applied by the industry to almost everything they make. I suppose it’s true that Head doesn’t really classify the I-Speed Magnum as “all mountain” nor does K2 do that with the Pon2oon, but aside from those extremes, the “AM” moniker sneaks into almost everything. Obviously, we are talking extremes here so how does a ski shop decipher this? And……. how do we ultimately decide how to offer a reasonable menu to it’s customers?
Not as easy as one might think……………………..
Of course one can simply say that 80mm skis do this, 90mm does that and 100mm does something else, but that’s not even close to accurate. In the interest of clarity, what we do is divide the myriad of skis by terrain/conditions capabilities rather than by width. Then we create some arbitrary categories with variations within each. For this year, the categories seem to shake out roughly like this.
Frontside (hard snow)…..70-84mm high tech bomber (near race like) carvers.
Frontside (versatile)…….80-90mm less aggro in torsion than the above and easier going.
All mountain:…94-99mm versatility in mixed snow conditions. (Western Daily driver)
Big Mountain:….100-110mm same as above but biased toward stronger faster skiers.
Powder: 112-176mm…..Not hard to figure this one out.
So……………there is certainly more variation here than in the other categories but the general consensus here is that a fairly conventional shape of roughly 132-98-120 with some small amount of tip rocker is the best answer. Within this group there is stuff that is pretty stiff and appealing to the hard charger skier. (Volkl Mantra, Rossi Exp 98, K2 Hardside) Each of these can blast crud at high speed and rip groomers in high speed GS turns. All these are challenged by their flex in tighter spots, bumps or soft snow.
Then…………there are skis that are a little softer in flex that give up a little of the burly factor in favor of more maneuverability in bumps and mixed conditions and at less than supersonic speeds. Some of these are the Line P-98, Fischer Watea 96, Atomic Alibi, Kastle FX-94, Kastle BMX 98, Nordica Bell and Back.
Then……there are the mold breakers. These are the skis that take an unconventional approach to shape in order to change the game. The runaway here this year was the Blizzard Bonafide. At the time, this was the only ski in this range that was really different and the success was huge (understatement). For 2013, there are two new shapes that broaden the offering in this range. The Dynastar Cham 97 and the Salomon BBR 10.0 are both very worthy entries into the “game changer” shape category. Both of these are even more unconventional than the Blizzard flipcores and together, these three will possibly start to make even more inroads into some of the more conventional shapes.
There are some skis that fall just over 100mm (Armada TST, Atomic Ritual, K2 Kung Fujas) that could easily fall into this daily driver category but the distinction between all mountain and big mountain is an arbitrary one at best so I’ll include them later.