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First Impressions: Praxis 3D Powder Boards

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Wednesday, I took my new “3D” Praxis Powderboards out for a spin. These have a “3D” base - so they take the game from reverse/reverse to what I’d call reverse/reverse/reverse. While the shaping is subtle, the base is reminiscent of a modern play kayak hull. This is the standard build for the '16 Powderboard.

 

From the Praxis Website:

 

 

From my viewpoint:

 

 

Initial reaction based on one day:  Big fun in soft snow. These are the far end of the soft snow end of a quiver. They are a one trick pony. But they do that trick really, really well.  They have a unique personality - sort of reverse/reverse on steroids. Build quality looks to be typical Praxis - excellent. Light for their size as well. They are fun,  predictable, and confident in soft snow. You do not want to spend a ton of time on groomers.

 

These join a small but interesting group of skis with hull  type bases. Of that group,  I’ve previously skied Garywaynes and the Elan Boomerang TBT (a ski that got neither the marketing nor the market appreciation it deserved IMO). I have not skied the newer generation Bent Cheaters or the DPS spoons. My experience with the Garywaynes and Boomerang TBTs convinced me that having a full length 3D base on a Praxis Powderboard  would be pretty sweet (I promised Keith in advance I’d be a customer…). They did not disappoint.

 

I’ve owned every generation of Powderboard, so I know the genetic stock pretty well. Before I took these out, Keith at Praxis offered some comments based on his experience with the ski. Obviously he thinks they ski well in Powder or he would not be making them. He noted two other things. First, that the skis can behave sort of like a drift car on firmer snow. The second was that they are slow on groomers - noticeably so. He also suggested not going from powder onto groomers too fast :). So I had a reasonable enough idea of what to expect.

 

Conditions at Stevens were 6-10” of heavy-ish new snow. There were a decent number of bumps and terrain features lurking underneath. Not surprisingly, these skis are definitely soft snow specialists. And it showed over the course of the day. 

 

Not surprisingly, these skis are way at home in soft snow. They come into their own when it is a bit deeper than the old non-3D base model needed. But as soon as you get into more then a few inches, they are even easier to ski than the old ones. 

 

Where you might have to patient with another ski or where an edge might have caught or dragged on underlying ice or layering,  these were smooth and quick  as could be. They were incredibly nimble. For as small as that base beveling looks, it loosened the skis up an amazing amount. And the original design was already pretty loose and slarvy.

 

Even compared to a “regular” reverse/reverse ski, it felt like skiing on controllable ball bearings  through “powder” covered bumps, trees, or small terrain features. This is clearly not a technical description - but subjectively  it seemed as though the beveling loosens the ski up enough that you can let them slide side to side under you - so you can sort of engage a turn instantly by sliding the ski from one set of “edges” under you to the other set of “edges” - without having to be as deliberate about releasing the prior turn as you’d normally have to be. Of course you really don’t ski the edges, and this is just a subjective description - not trying for literal mechanics here… but the reality is they are super loose and that allows for crazy fast and easy direction shifts. Once I got comfortable with them, I was willing to duck in and out of trees and rocky areas much tighter than I’d normally ski. The fact that there is a ton of surface area underfoot and the hull shape extends underfoot is clearly a big part of what makes the ski able to do what it does.

 

They behave exactly as advertised in terms of limitations. While not impossible to ski on groomers, they were demanding. And drifty in terms of turning. Sometimes drifty was fun. Sometimes not so much… For all the folks here who complain about people on fat skis making skidded turns  on groomers - welcome to your worst post apocalyptic ski nightmare :eek. That said, they are manageable enough to get from point A to point B in control on a vanilla groomer if you are just a bit thoughtful about skiing them. If you get them angled enough (I hesitate to say on edge), it is almost like throwing a bit of a grappling hook out as the edges actually grab a bit - fun actually.  They are indeed slow on groomers. I was usually first to the groomer and always last to the lift. We'll see what happens if I ever need to take them out on icy groomers.

 

Two unexpected things jumped out at me. First, the aforementioned slidy, slinky ability. It was truly dramatic. And fun. I was amazed at how they’d just snake though things. Second, they were incredibly unfazed by soft chop. I was expecting to be thrown around a bit in places where the soft snow was cutup - the usual sort of late morning packed inconsistent cotton candy stuff. These things just did not care. They transitioned from one turn to the next without any hassle. And were happy to slide sideways or scrub speed smoothly as well. I’m pretty mediocre and I comfortably skied in control through spots where lots of folks were frantically dumping speed or catching edges. 

 

The 3D bottom means you have almost no base contact when you put them base to base. So they don’t exactly sit tight together.  Be sure to bring a Voille strap… And good luck using your usual tuning stuff - OTOH, hopefully lots of tuning is not on the menu for these.

post #2 of 11

FWIW, evo.com has Surface LABs on sale for $290ish - another ski  in the hullform list.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cantunamunch View Post
 

FWIW, evo.com has Surface LABs on sale for $290ish - another ski  in the hullform list.


Thanks for some new info. I thought I'd tracked all the hull base type skis...don't know how I missed them.  Have you heard anything from someone who has skied them?

 

I'm pretty stoked on the Powderboard shape as the ends simply will not catch on anything and there is a ton of control underfoot - which works well IMO. And the flatness in the middle of the base side-to-side (such as it is) makes them survivable on groomers vs say the Garywaynes which I thought were trying to kill me on groomers.

 

Interestingly, there seem  to be two main approaches to 3D/hull base shaping. One is to mold the ski/base. The other is to use a thick base material and bevel the whole thing. I know Keith put a ton of thought and experimentation into deciding to go with the beveling approach (which as I understand it is still seriously hard to construct). If you look at the various hull type skis - the builders have all had to get a bit creative...


Edited by spindrift - 1/15/16 at 11:05am
post #4 of 11
Wow. Cool!
post #5 of 11

Nope...and they look rather odd in that they don't start with a reverse sidecut platform. 

 

post #6 of 11

Praxis Powder Boards.  Most fun this jong ever had skiing pow, just not so fun back to the lift on firm snow.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've had a couple more days on them. One was on shallower heaver snow. The other was on/in some pretty legit face shot style powder. Pretty much just firming up those first impressions. Great in powder. OK and kind of fun in a funky way on soft groomers. Bone shaking on really packed groomers - though I suspect if I were more skilled, even that would have been a bit more passable. Slowest things ever running flat on firm snow. Fast as I need or want them to be in soft snow though. 
 
Took some solid rock hits - for those that know the exit area from Chair 6 and the traverse at Crystal  - I clipped a few rocks while doing laps there. Some were hit running straight. A couple while sideslipping.  Between the construction and the unusual base+edge bevel, no real damage taken. The bases have a few very, very minor scratches and the edges haver a couple truly minimal burrs (it'll take literally 5 seconds with a gummy and good as new...). I was surprised how well they came through that little bit of "abuse".   The base and edge bevels seem to let them slip sideways over things more smoothly normal. And the extra thick base material in the middle seems to be pretty abuse resistant.
 
These are definitely for the uncommon day - or a certain kind of messing about. In that context, I'm super happy with them. Folks who really want longer running edge contact probably need not apply :)
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I can now attest that these are also great corn skis. Not a surprise. But empiricism rules. I had them in Iceland in late May for our Arctic Heli corn trip and they were just awesome. Smooth as could be.

 

Of note is that they are definitely way less schmo-affected than any other ski I have used. Even compared to the older flat base version. They just don't seem to get the edges entrained. Makes life a bit nicer on the low runouts or hotter aspects.

 

If I relaxed and just pivoted/skidded them, they did much better than expected on modest sastrugi and uneven firm sun cups since they had no tendency to catch an edge. But they had enough usable edge that I could control things.  That mm or two of the edge being high was surprisingly useful. As you'd expect, they did not exactly carve on that stuff, but they were "low overhead" to manage. Access to the good stuff was fully palatable.

 

Definitely a quiver ski - but it has a permanent place in my quiver. 

 

It is worth noting that the corn was awesome.  Lots of 2-3K vertical pure corn runs. Both hard snow and schmoo were happily minimal. But the ski handled what we did run into quite nicely. TR when I get some time....

 

 

 

 

 

post #9 of 11

 138mm waist, nice! man these sound sweet.  what kind of bindings you strap on these boards?

 

  50% off on Praxis site right now . btw

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackke17 View Post
 

 138mm waist, nice! man these sound sweet.  what kind of bindings you strap on these boards?

 

  50% off on Praxis site right now . btw

 

I have Tryrolia Attacks with 150mm brakes on. The brakes are a tiny bit wider than I'd like in a perfect world - but they work just fine. Especially since they retract a reasonable amount. Given the nature of those brakes, I do wish Tyrolia made them in 10mm increments - and not just for these skis. But such is life. 

 

Yeah - another year & another Praxis custom order sale. Best deal around IMO especially  when you add the discount codes too. The veneers are especially nuts since Keith figured out how to make them structural - thus dumping the weight of a purely cosmetic top sheet. I've been using some veneer GPOs and Keith's claims of weight and durability seem to hold up. Knocks off about a half pound a pair (measured on a gram scale) and seemingly quite abuse tolerant.


Edited by spindrift - 6/14/16 at 9:14pm
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
 

 

I have Tryrolia Attacks with 150mm brakes on. The brakes are a tiny bit wider than I'd like in a perfect world - but they work just fine. Especially since they retract a reasonable amount. Given the nature of those brakes, I do wish Tyrolia made them in 10mm increments - and not just for these skis. But such is life. 

 

:D One of the pics that tweaked my brain the most last ski season was right here on Epic - a Marker MRR doing heroic duty on a Volkl One - it's gonna be hard to come up to that level of umm, zest for ski life?, even if I start with a reverse reverse reverse ski :D

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