Sickle 181 Mini Review.
There are many reviews of the older 186 Sickle, but very little has been written about the 2012/2013 181 Sickle, so here are my thoughts after day one.
Me: 5'11" 180lbs, CO native skiing 33 years, ~30 days/year. Reasonably proficient aggressively skiing powder, steeps, bumps, crud and the occasional high speed cruiser. Mostly ski Copper, Mary Jane and A-basin.
Monday was an amazing powder day at Copper Mountain with progressive terrain openings that led to nice untracked shots every run. 8 inches new in 24h, 16 new in 48h and a 35 new the over the prior week (more about conditions here and here). We skied lots of laps in Copper Bowl, Spaulding Bowl and Upper Enchanted Forest.
My first day on my 181 Sickles put a huge smile on my face. All around, I could not have been happier with how the Sickle performed on a fairly big pow day. The Sickle wanted to ski fast and aggressivly, but still wanted to turn on demand. What made me tickled pink is I enjoyed it in soft bumps too. Five out of six laps in Spaulding bowl, I actually chose to ski the bumps on Sawtooth et al rather than the groomed Cross Cut to get back to the Resolution lift. A caveat being the bumps were super soft, even late in the day. I'm fairly hopeful I'll also like it in not as soft bumps on a more typical powder day of say 6 inches over firm snow. It will be interesting to see if I end up on Sawtooth or Cross Cut then, or maybe even switch skis for the afternoon.
The last couple years I would have been on the 186 S3 and before that the 184 or 177 Mantra for that day (been staying narrower for bump performance). The Sickle is a fantastic soft snow upgrade to either of those and meets in the middle with a nice medium flex. Compared to the S3, the extra width for float in pow was great, but it's also much more stable at speed in all conditions. I was really happy how easy turning the Sickle is given it's increased width and stability. It's not crazy, silly easy turning like the S3, but very nice in tight trees and really wants to keep turning. It's extraordinarily more versatile than the Mantra.
What is the Sickle not good at? Well it can't be good at everything. It's not a powder ski and it not a big mountain ski, maybe something between? I loved it in powder, but I'm also happy on whatever I'm skiing in powder so don't listen to me there. I don't think it's a "big mountain" ski, too short and too turny. There is a speed limit, albeit high, in a open bowl or in chopped up pow over a groomer. The speed limit is high enough 97.36% of skiers should be fine with it. Just know it just likes to turn (big, little, whatever), and not go straight. If you want to straight line an open bowl at mach speed or rip through chop at 50 mph, you'll want a longer and stiffer ski. And, I'm also pretty sure it's not going to be a good firm bump ski, but I'll try to keep an open mind, give it a shot and report back after I have more days on it.
Edit: mounted -2 with STH2 13's after seeing both my 170 AC30's and 178 Steadfasts would both have longer tips if mounted at on the zero line, and I don't ski switch.
Edited by tball - 1/15/14 at 10:35pm