2015 Steals & Deals Winners:
This is one of my favorite times of the year. In September I get to sift through piles of gear information and recall what I tested last season to come up with some of the best values for this coming season.
Head SuperJoy $649.00
It is refreshing and all to rare that a manufacturer will offer a women's skis that is not a “shrink it and pink it” series derived from the mens side of the wall. Head has hit a home run with this new Joy series. The SuperJoy is a super fun 75mm hard snow scalpel. What makes the Joy women specific? Well shape and specifically construction, Head has a whole new design for the ladies but it is Graphene, a thinner than paper layer of graphite, a technology that was brought over from their tennis division. The Super Joy blows away all preconceived notions that lightweight skis cannot be stable.
Nordica FireArrow 76 Ti Evo $799.00
I had the FireArrow 84 as a winner last year and a repeat in the 80-90mm category and for 2015 Nordica has taken this proven hard snow biased shape down to a lighting quick 76mm underfoot width with the new 76Ti Evo, Nordica’s new grin machine and hard snow device. With most skis in this category having some sort of system binding included, Nordica’s zero ramp angle Evo design is one of the best.
All Mountain 80-90mm:
Blizzard Black Pearl $599.00
How does a 4 year old ski come back and win after not winning last year? Longevity, constancy and just a personality that gets better with age. The Black Pearl is still as good as it ever was and a timeless design. There are not too may skis that are as versatile as the Black Pearl, it is a once a decade ski for the ladies.
Nordica FireArrow 84Ti Evo $899.00
Returning from last season, the FireArrow 84 Pro Evo. The FA84 is the big brother to the above winner the FA76. I found the 84 Pro to be an exceptionally inexpensive option for someone looking for a hard snow biased mid 80mm ski. East coasters, put this one on your short list, west coasters it could be the only ski you need under 95mm underfoot.
All Mountain 90-100mm:
Head Great Joy $599.00
The new Great Joy proves that technology does not have to be expensive, welcome to the age of Graphene. Head takes their newest lightweight technology to one of the most contested categories, the 98/100 segment and blows away the competition by being $50-100.00 less. Head has found the ever elusive balance of stability and light weight with their Great Joy. Unlike bikes, the more you spend, the less you get, with Head’s new Joy series of skis, less is still LE$$.
Salomon Rocker2 100 $599.00
Sure the Bonafides, Mantras, Nrgy100’s, Experience100’s get all the press but they are all $100-150.00 more than the Rocker2 100. Salomon won this category last year with the Quest 98 which could have won again this year but they trumped themselves with the more versatile and off piste/big mountain/park oriented Rocker2 100 which looks and skis a bit better for about the same price. Salomon knows how to make very good inexpensive skis.
Big Mountain >100mm:
102 (172cm 130/102/121 16.5M) 109 (175cm 133/109/123 17.5M)
102 (180cm 131/102/122 19M) 109 (189cm 135/109/125 19.5M)
Atomic has been doing quite well in the value aspect of the bigger ski categories with multiple winners over the past few seasons. For 2015 Atomic has brought it’s very good Automatic design down to the “One-Oh-Something” Category with the Century and Automatics in 102mm and 109mm underfoot measurements. You can say 102 for the east and 109 for the west or 102 for lighter smaller skiers and 109 for bigger ones. No matter how you want to rationalize either of these sizes, for less than $600..they are both steals.
Lange reinvented their image a few years back with the introduction of the blue RS series. No more "Lange Bang", no more pie shaped mold and most importantly, no more "I never fit into a Lange". The RS, RX, XT (walk/hike version) are offered in 97/102mm widths and available in flexes from ranging 80 to 140. The 102mm SX with an available flex range from 70-120. This family of Lange boots offers the widest range of flex offerings and width options as any boot on the market.
Marker 11.0 TC $149.00
Marker has introduced a new binding for 2015 that fills the gap in performance for lighter adults and stronger kids (that are in an adult lug boots. Marker essentially went to their parts bin brought over the Triple Pivot Toe and the Twin Cam heel, both proven parts that are both over engineered for being just a 11 DIN binding. In the past, both this toe and heel designs have been used up to 14DIN applications so this makes the TC11 a killer value at a low $149.00 and I expect to be as strong as most 12 DIN bindings that run $30-50.00 more.
I had the Look Pivot14 and FKS140 winners a few years ago at an even higher priced $299.00, now for 2015 the same binding construction returns with a 4-12DIN spring and more importantly $50.00 less at $249.00. While these are at the high end of 12DIN bindings, don’t confuse what you are spending with what you get. The FKS/Pivot has one of the most loyal followings of any product in the industry, why? Because they work and work well.
Edited by Philpug - 9/28/14 at 1:29pm