As I have started to see the '13-14 gear I've started to try and figure out where the new stuff is going to fit. Part of this is easy b/c I'm going to pare down our selection from over 100 models (a bit overboard) to maybe 75-80. There is a dilemma however. The ski makers are shoehorning stuff into every conceivable niche that you could imagine (and several that you probably couldn't). The biggest question for me is the burgeoning selection of 105-108mm skis. This area has been relatively overlooked and has not had a heck of a lot to choose from in the last few years. Also....FWIW.....these widths have been largely overshadowed by the enormously popular 98mm skis and the 112+ "powder" skis. Another FWIW for me to consider is that the "Powder" ski market is starting to soften quite a bit.
To review, the ideal quiver for great coverage of all conditions is at least 3 models. For the west this could be something like........
- Hard snow.........................................70-85mm. Lots of variations here.
- Mixed snow and general purpose........90-98mm. Depending upon tastes, often a 98.
- Deep stuff.........................................110+ or even ++. Again, depending upon tastes.
What if you want only one?.................
- Generally 90-98mm if the phrase "all mountain" means anything to you.
So.....whattayado with a really nice 105?
I think the answer lies in a two ski quiver. Naturally, this is not as good as a three or more (preferably a lot more....) but this does have a lot of merit if you are truly deprived and can only manage two skis. It lays out like this.
- Hard/Mixed...........85-90mm with a bit of a hard snow bias. These are just as good as a 98 in 6" of new and better when there is no new snow.
- Mixed to Deep.......102-108mm with a bit of a soft snow bias. Better than a 98 in 12" of new and really good up to 24"
Naturally, three is still best but the proper two can give you a great cover for 95% of your western conditions and a small compromise for the remaining 5%. What are the compromises for this two ski idea?
Reallllllllly hard snow. The good 88-90mm ski will not ski like a 72mm trench digger on the shiny stuff.
Realllllllly deep snow. The right 105mm ski will not shine like the bigger skis, but heck.....how hard is powder skiing really?
All skis choices are compromises and the more skis you have, the smaller those compromises are. Personally, the right two ski deal would be fine for me as a western skier and.....would make my life pretty simple. (not a bad thing BTW)