Date: April 14, 2012
Ski: 2011-12 Armada TSTw, 165cm, 130-100-121 R12.6
Location: Saddleback, Maine
Temperature: sunny, breezy, fifties, F.
Terrain: Slushy groomers. No bumps or trees.
Me: 49yo, 5'7", 135lbs, Level 8+/-, beer league racer, east coaster.
Fun attitude, rides over chop well, carves like a slalom ski (well, sort of). There is more to this ski than its new-school looks and feel might suggest.
Spent most of the day on a friend's TSTs. They were great in the slushy "stop and go" snow we had today - probably the most enjoyable ski in those conditions I've ever been on. Unfortunately I didn't get to try them in bumps or trees. There just aren't enough skiers (for bumps) or cover (for trees) left at this point in this meager season.
Before you say anything, you're correct: Even for someone of my modest stature, the 165s were not really long enough. There wasn't sufficient platform on the snow in front of the toepiece to make me feel like I really wanted to open the throttle all the way. If I were to buy a pair of these, I'd definitely get the 174s. That said, these skis were an absolute blast. I had so much more fun on these than I expected on a groomers-only day, albeit a soft and somewhat cruddy one compared with the standard main-season boilerplate. Surprisingly, the kind of smeary scarved turns I'd probably be making on my own skis in these conditions didn't seem to come particularly naturally for these boards, or at least those aren't the turns I ended up preferring. What these skis like is for you to lay them over and carve through the stop-and-go chop just like you were tearing up pool-table hardpack on your race carvers. (Okay, so maybe you have to get off the tail a tad earlier.) This was a novel, grin-inducing experience for me. It's something I cannot pull off easily in uneven slush on my first-generation Sultan 85s ... or, for that matter, on the Progressor 8+ which I also borrowed for a few runs this morning. On those skis, the conventional tips dig into the soft snow unpredictably, as you move back and forth between patches of thicker and thinner, warmer and colder glop, yanking you forward and backward too violently to be enjoyable. On the TSTs, those long rockered tips just soak it all up like a suspension fork, all the while paving the way for the business part of the ski to do its thing. What a refreshing way to ski this kind of snow!
Early in the winter I briefly tried the Rossi S3, which is a comparable ski on paper. It's probably not quite fair to compare skis tested on such different days, months apart. But if memory serves, the S3 couldn't carve its way out of a paper bag. By contrast, the TSTs can pull off a very satisfying arc ... and it's a pretty zippy, tight arc at that. (The ease with which I was able to bend this ski does suggest that it might not be an ideal choice for the weight-lifting giants among us.) Of course on really hard snow I'd probably be singing a different tune, but I definitely got the sense, in certain shady spots, that they might be able to hold a decent edge on anything short of the rock-hard stuff. I can see myself really liking these on steep terrain, given how fast they come around and how implacably they deal with mixed conditions. That's a guess, though, as there was no really formidable pitch to be had. I do suspect that the width of these skis would keep them from being a favorite in bumps, but I'd like to find out. :) And of course I wouldn't want to spend a whole day on hard snow with these for the same reason - it's just hard on the ankles to keep holding a fat ski like this up on edge without the support of some 3d snow pushing up against the bases. (I'd love to see a ski with this basic design, but about 10mm narrower, for this reason.) For all kinds of soft-ish conditions I can see this ski being a great choice for a lightweight looking for a solid but still playful ski with a wide range of skills.
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Date: April 14, 2012