Atomic Automatic 186 review (140-117-129, 19m TR)
5’11”, 190, athletic
Bindings: Sollie demo with fixed toepiece, so my 325 BSL might have put my boot center ~1cm back from the recommended mount line.
Location: Alpine Meadows, variable day-after snow, off piste except to get to the lifts.
Skis (somewhat) like it that I've been on recently: Wailer 112RP 190, Gunsmoke 186, Head Inferno 181, Blizzard Cochise 185.
Pros: Powerful, quick, non-finicky*; giggle-inducing.
Cons: Still thinking…
Wow! They felt like an extension of me, I was at home on them from the first run. I have read loads of reviews that claim “this Bdizzle MegaFat (twin-tipped, with a supersidecut!) slays in every condition!” with a lot of skepticism, and groaned when reading that last year’s gotta-have-it ski is now an obsolete death trap compared to this year’s shiny new thingee. I’ll be a little less quick to judge next time, I couldn’t find anything to harsh the mellow I had with these shiny new 117mm thingees. I will probably have a pair of very new and very yellow 112mm skis for sale to make room in the quiver for these sticks.
Power: Check. They’re burly enough to hold on to steeps, chutes, and some icy, skied-off bits I couldn’t see until I was on them. Variable snow felt nicely smoothed-out at speed, and the tails were pleasing when putting down the landing gear.
Quick: Double check. As well as they held, they also let me turn left or right at the speed of thought. I was taking more chances (than the Infernos I had just been on) at getting through trees and other tight spots because they always seemed to pointing through the middle of the gap by the time I got to it. They’re the quickest >110mm skis edge-to-edge I’ve been on so far, I found myself intuitively weaving through unexpected bony spots like a section of fall-line gates in a slalom course (Alpine was skiing great, but could still use a few more feet of coverage). These skis inspire daring-do.
*Non-finicky: Yup. This ski has an organic feel, in that it adapts to the user. Any way I wanted to ski (to include tired and sloppy), it worked with me without making me pay for not skiing centered/driving the tips/awesome/whatever. I didn’t get to experiment due to the fixed demo toepiece, but what I felt jives with other folks’ experience with the Automatic accommodating various fore/aft mount points.
I’d like to try the 193; if it doesn’t feel much less wieldy (shouldn’t, given my height/weight/general love of garlic on anything), I’ll take the extra anti-tip dive and bump smoothing, even though the 186 felt pretty ideal in those areas. This ski is so agreeable, the aforementioned non-finickyness hopefully extends to sizing up as well. If not, the 186 it is.
But do they ‘rail groomers like a race ski’? Of course not (my new 165 SLs do, however; yeehaw). However, when I got to the bottom of the very first run and hit the groomed right before the lift, I discovered I was still having fun, rather than just surviving or feeling awkward. B+ on hard snow, and best fatty I’ve been on so far for that; this could be the one ski someone takes with them on a trip out west if they’re a pow optimist that wants to hedge ever so slightly, or for a local that doesn’t want to miss out on a run to head back to the car for a swap in the afternoon.
After trying the Automatic for the day, I am sold on A) the Automatic, and B) demoing a ski before buying if at all possible. I had one of my best days on skis at Alpine that day.
Analogy: This is the significant other that brings out the best in you and doesn’t expect you to change, even appreciates your quirky attempts to spice things up a bit; it’s not every day you meet one like this…