Originally Posted by spindrift
Broadly speaking, what Volk is doing makes sense to me. I see it as Volkl trying to move ahead while others retreat. If anything, I interpret what most companies are doing with more camber and less width as running from innovation that actually benefits many skiers. I'm not saying there is no place for camber - but IMO lots of what is creeping back is a function of sales people and instructors dragging things back to their comfort zones. And to some extent, life long skiers digging in their heels and seeking what they have gotten used to. Not what is best for most skiers given what can be designed. We are well past the debate of whether or not rockered skis can carve and perform reasonably in an all mountain capacity. So why the skepticism?
Don't get me wrong, there is a place for some camber. There is a place for some narrower skis (by my fat oriented reckoning). Etc. Even in the modern design space, there are some great flat-underfoot and slightly cambered skis. And I buy into the notion that starting a newb on a full reverse camber ski is sub-optimal. But I don't understand the reaction to carefully designed fully reverse camber (or virtually so) skis in general - especially in the Mantra's use space. I'll be curious to ski the new Volkls if I get a chance this year...
Hmmm. Here we go. 1) Agree Volkl is "moving ahead," not sure others are retreating. Is it conceivable that the enthusiasm for full rocker has waned because it just doesn't work as well on as many surfaces, as rocker in front (and perhaps in back), with some camber in between? For intermediates, not just for advanced and expert?
2) I don't think we're well past that point at all. If you mean skis with some early rise, then yep, they can carve reasonably, some really well. If you mean full rocker, with no camber, then IMO it devolves into a semantic debate about "reasonably." Can you carve a fully rockered ski on firm snow? Sure. Will it carve as well as a cambered ski, in terms of edge control, initiation, and balance at all phases of the turn? No. In fact, I'd guess that the average intermediate would find it more challenging to handle a fully rockered ski in all terrain than a cambered ski with early rise. YMMV.
3) Again the semantics: If you see the Mantra's use space as soft snow and light powder, then I guess a fully rockered version would be better. But IMO, its mission is beautifully sketched by Jonathan here: http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2013-2014-volkl-mantra It's the best "bad conditions" all mountain ski out there. Back here, I see a bunch of Mantras being used by good skiers for typical eastern "powder days," when we get 2" of fresh and it's cut up, forming into big piles of heavy crud, and leaving scratch and ice between by lunch. If you think that a fully rockered version can do a better job, you'd meet a lot of disbelief here. Out west, I've used it backside on sun cups and refrozen crust, frontside among death cookies, all kinds of junk that develop when the goods are used up. I recall a video at Chamonix of it being used to approach and ski some of the scariest chutes there, between storms. But it's waaay too stiff to be fun in fresh powder of more than a few inches.
Full rocker, well I can only speak to a demo on a fully rockered Goat, and ownership of a Cochise, which effectively is fully rockered (-1.0 to 0 mm camber allowable) until this next year's version. Sierra Jim describes fully rockered skis on groomers as "greasy." I agree. They do not inspire confidence running flat or shifting from edge to edge on firm snow, there's this weird lag until the edges are engaged or disengaged; their lack of rebound feels dead to me; and carving is very angle sensitive, leading to abruptness when you come on or off the rocker. Not something I want on hard surfaces. In soft, they're nice, although I find their strong preference for slarves and smears disconcerting sometimes. In soft bumps, a fully rockered ski is the best out there. Pivot, pivot, pivot.
So a fully rockered and softened Mantra may become a more useful tool for soft snow, a new use space, but really lose its connection to the Explosiv, which was the original take no prisoners charger for uncertain snow, backcountry insanity when there was no new snow. Still see them, all banged up, on patrollers and hard core locals. That's what I meant. Some like to or need to ski in weird conditions, and the Mantra has defined that category. Still does. Even other strong candidates, like the Bonafide, have camber. Full rocker won't allow that use space, however refined the curve. Personally, gonna grap a pair of this year's and stash them.