Testing conditions at Mammoth were “selective”, if you stayed on the wind buff, it felt typical Mammoth, but anything past that, was downright scary. The shiny that you see in these pictures is glaze from the past storm and had to be avoided to protect life and limb, if you did that you were rewarded with some fine test snow. The morning was beautiful but as the day went on and temps rose, it got a bit soft so I skied the narrower skis in the AM and went wider as the day progressed.
Low 80’s, Frontside bias:
Head Power Instinct Ti Pro 177cm (all new): A Rev 80/85 Pro on steroids. For those who thought the Rev was just a little too warm and fuzzy, here is your ski. The new Impact still has the solid feel that you expect from a Head, just now with more…more power. This is the BMW 435i of skis. Expect more reviews coming.
K2 IKonic 85 177cm (all new): Serious Fun is what K2’s new slogan is. Well, these new IKonics were seriously K2 in feel and ease on the snow. All new, but nothing unexpected.
Volkl RTM 84 181cm (all new): Thank you Volkl. thank you, thank you. I knew I would eventually get it though your suborn German head than an 80-something mm wide ski should have camber. I have been asking for years. How did Volkl answer? With one of the best 84mm skis for this coming season. The RTM 84 was glued to the snow and with he grip was everything you would expect from a Volkl, with it’s new contraction it didn't have than I-Beam feel from the old AC collection. Construction is totally different than anything they have done in this class, think of the V-Werks Katana in design/construction with some early rise in the tip and tail and camber (YES) underfoot. The 84 that I skied had the UVO (Ultimate Vibration Object) on the tip and I do believe that contributed to that “glued to the snow” feel that I liked with this ski.
Upper 80’s, All Mountain Bias:
Armada Invictus 89Ti 179cm (all new): Another surprise of the show. Armada is realizing that their demographics are growing up and not just skiing in the park all the time and want a ski that is a bit more versatile and even frontside oriented. The Invictus name started last year with one model, the 108Ti and now it has spawned a whole series of skis. The 89Ti with it’s metal and carbon layup has a very progressive shape with a nice gradual early rise in the tip that incorporates the sidecut that runs past the running surface so the better of a skier you are and the more you lay the ski over, the more it gives back. Another aspect of this ski that really impressed me is that all the sizes from the 163 to 187 are different molds and proportionate widths and dimensions. All for $599.00
Blizzard Brahma 180cm (carry over): The Brahma is the reference ski for me in this category, so it was the first one on snow the first day of testing. I am not sure what can be said about the new Brahma that hasn't been said before other than it is one of the best and most predictable skis for this segment.
Elan Amphibio 88XTi Fusion 177cm (all new): The Amphibio was the only system ski that I tested in this class which made it feel more like a ski from the low 80’s Frontside biased segment. Hard snow performance was as to be expected, precise, but the weight of the system made it a little sluggish compared to the other models I skied. The 88XTi is available flat and I would really like to try it with a hard mount binding.
Head Monster 88 177cm (all new): The new Monsters have been some of the most talked about skis coming into the new year and deservedly so. Yes, this skis like an old Monster 88..but better, smoother, just as much power but more nimble. If you are looking for a Kastle MX88 but cannot afford one..THIS is your ski. I am sure I will have more to come here.
Volkl Kendo 177cm (all new): Another ski that is very important for Volkl. The all new Kendo takes the new shape of the Manta and adds a bit of camber under the foot and increases the width to 90mm underfoot. The flex was also addressed with being a bit more balanced than the outgoing model. I do think this is the best Kendo I have skied. Some of our testers got on the Kendo at Copper and came back with mixed reviews, I personally felt the pair that I skied in Mammoth skied as I expected..err hoped it would. Again kudos to Volkl for keeping camber in the Kendo.