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09 Big Skis Tested: Kuro, Rocker, Pontoon, etc

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Skis Reviewed:
K2 Pontoon 189
Volkl Chopsticks 185
Volkl Kuro 185
Armada ARG 185
Armada ARV 185
Salomon Rocker 191
Salomon Czar 182
Dynastar Huge Trouble
Armada J vs. J 185

Conditions: Mt. Rose, Saturday March 15th. Snow: 4-6” fresh on top of 3-4” from the previous day, on top of frozen spring conditions. 15-20 deg F all day long. Overcast with sporadic snow showers and thick cloud cover. Knee-deep powder in the chutes.

Skier: 6’ and 190 lbs. Fairly stiff Atomic 130 race boots with both cuff bolts installed. I prefer to make medium to big flowing turns. If I wasn’t demo-ing skis, I would be riding my Volkl Sanouks 193 or Armada Ants 191 in these conditions. This was my first time to ride either a rockered or reverse side cut ski.

Testing Protocol: This was the annual Bobo’ demo day with a bunch of reps showing up to let people use/abuse their product. It was an opportunity for me to ride some of the new rockered and alternative side cut skis that are coming out for next season. This was just a quick sniff as I did one run down either the Detonator or Fuse Chute and then another longer run of groomed with a couple of sections of soft and growing bumps. The Chutes had sections of knee deep powder all day long as hardly anybody was skiing Rose that day.

K2 Pontoon 189: I didn’t think I would like these skis, but they were one of the most enjoyable rides I had all day. In fact I did 4 runs as I was really having fun flying over the chop and crud. They were almost effortless to ski in the Chutes. I am thinking seriously thinking about buying a pair.

Volkl Chopsticks: As I didn’t ski switch through the powder, I probably missed out on the symmetrical design. Not bad in the chop and crud. Nothing outstanding about them for me. The graphics are um, interesting. The white background was already looking a bit dirty. I won’t be buying any in the near future.

Volkl Kuro 185: These felt like a stiffer pair of Pontoons to me. (Yes I’m aware that they have a traditional side cut.) They worked well in the chop and obviously with 164 mm tips could float on top of almost anything. OK skis, but for the conditions I skied them in, I preferred the ‘Toons. The top sheets and edges were already looking like the tops of my 3 year old Public Enemy’s.

Armada ARG 185: Obviously, these were not ideal conditions to test such a powder specific tool. In the chutes, where I could ski them straight down the fall line and keep them in narrow strips of powder, they showed me some great potential. They we OK in the chop and crud. What surprised me the most, they weren’t all that bad on the groomed, despite having the most Spatula type shape. I guess reading all the pertinent posts and the McConkey ride guide helped. It was kind of fun flat tracking them around.

Armada ARV 185: I was waiting for the 09 J vs. J to come back and I took these out for a ride. Although, they were not the type of ski that I was specifically testing that day, they were the best all around skis that I rode that day. The shape hasn’t changed but has been stiffened significantly for 09. I really loved skiing these in the bumps. I am going to buy a pair of these sticks.

Solomon Rockers 191: Another ski that I didn’t think I would like, but again I was surprised. This ski turns a lot quicker than it should. It skied the chutes really well and soaked up small bumps like it had suspension. Yes, it is heavy and you have to work it. I wish I had bought a pair when they were on the REI website last week. The rep almost had a heart attack when I told him that REI was selling them for $459. Don’t bother checking the website, they are sold out already.

Solomon Czar 182: It skis like a stiffer pair of Foils, although a bit fatter. OK ski, nothing outstanding. I won’t be buying any in the near future.

Dynastar Huge Trouble: Still waiting for the J vs. J’s to come back, so I rode a pair of Huge Trouble. Ok in the chutes, but really ripped through bumps that were growing and hardening later in the day. Good chop and crud ski. I would think about these as a replacement for my Ants.

Armada J vs. J: I really wanted try these skis out in the chutes for a couple of runs, however the gaper riding them was skiing with his boarder buddy and they were struggling and side slipping down the chutes. I kept lapping them in the chutes and gritting my teeth. Pretty easy to pick out the new day-glow graphics. I thought the multiple sidecuts would make a great all-round ski. I only got one run as the rep was already tearing down his tent, when the skis were finally returned. Anyway, I really couldn’t get a feel for them as I was already worked pretty well and it was mostly a groomed run. Oh, well…

Overall: None of these skis were bad. Some just worked better for me and my skiing style, in those particular conditions.
post #2 of 13
Thanks for the review. Every time I think I have my heart set on the Kuro I read a review that makes me think twice.

Is the Pontoon graphic unchanged from last years?
post #3 of 13
Here's my response to this same thread over at TGR:

Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift
I've skied Pontoons a decent amount - probably north of 15 days. I've been on Kuros 4 days. I think the Kuros win on all counts. Subjectively, the Pontoons are a bit more pivoty. But the Kuros are about as nimble and steady as hell. The Kuro tails provide a much more solid platform. The Kuro is much better on groomers than the Pontoon. And they kill it in cutup where the Pontoon starts to lose it. Good luck diving the tip on either one. Whenever anyone asks me about the comparison my anwser is that the Kuro is the ski the Pontoon wants to be when it grows up. Not that the Pontoon is a bad ski - it is pretty great - but I think the Kuro's handling really shows that it represents a nice big evolutionary step.

I agree about the topsheets. With only 4 (3.5 if you want to be picky) pretty easy days on them, they look more beat up than just about anything else I have - maybe than literally anything else I have. That corner where the topsheet and sidewall meet seems fragile as hell.

All that said, at this moment in time on a really good day I'm taking either a Praxis or Kuro...
All other things being equal, IMO the Kuro is a no-brainer vs a Pontoon at this point. And anyone who has been around here a while knows I've really loved skiing my Pontoons over the past year. They are a great ski. So I'm definitely not "hating" on them... But the only reason I see to get a Pontoon vs the Kuro is that you can likely get a pair for a bunch less money - especially spring sale time.

I admit I'm concerned about the Kuro's topsheet junction durability. And the other comments at TGR reinforce that. But I figure if it becomes anything other than cosmetic it'll be a warranty discussion.

Lots more comments on the Kuro here: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=66333
post #4 of 13
Hey spin,

Would you mind posting a pic of your topsheet?
post #5 of 13
Snow7 nice review.
Maybe you'll come back and argue the case for the pontoons.
Might be an uphill battle but I'm interested to hear more.
I know nothing about any of these skis.
post #6 of 13

Rockers - Los Zappatos de Circos

I bought Rockers from REI. I don't need them where I usually ski--the deal was too good. The plan was to try them here in MN and go out West and hope for snow. We decided to wait until next year, but I thought I would comment on the performance so far.
Took them to Spirit on an icy cold day. Forgot my poles so it really emphasized how difficult it is to find the edges on these. At first it felt like there was no edge at all. My wife and I were laughing our asses off. Clown shoes came to mind. Also, they are HEAVY. After three runs, I finally found enough edge to keep them in control. Went home a bit uninspired.

Yesterday it snowed about an inch. I thought, might as well call in sick and try them on an even smaller hill--Afton. Brought my poles this time. I knew what to expect. I could actuall skate to the lift this time. The better grooming and light dusting helped. Wore my clown suit (I got a deal on a blue Solomon jacket). My wife thought it looked good with the skis. I'm a sucker for a good deal on gear...
First run: chopped up fluff on frozen granular was doable. Tried another run to find my balance. Less tolerance for far forward/backward postions, i.e.,laziness. The next few runs I alternated between the chop and fresh corderoy. They really turn easy and quick when they have something to surf on. I could actually make them carve, skid, slarve(?) anywhere I wanted. They worked best if I kept them together and surfed around. I was impressed. Just an inch of snow and they changed from lumber wagons to waterskis.
Bumps: not my strong suit, but had to try. They handeled better than my Mantras! After a few bump runs I was grinning with amazement. I actually enjoyed them in the bumps. I can't wait for the spring corn!
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Wow! Skiing the Rockers on the MN hardpack... Glad they are working out for you so far. I was impressed with how short I could turn them, as they don't have much side cut. 48.5m radius!

Tog: I tested these skis looking for a big-powder day quiver ski. I ski the Tahoe area, where I might use 3 different pairs of ski in a single day, as conditions change. Though the Pontoons worked well on that one particular day, a lot of feedback I have been getting from people, is that the Pontoons are great in untracked powder and leave a lot to be desired when the snow gets chopped up. I still may get a pair if I can get good a smoking deal this spring or summer.

My wife and I went to a Jackie Greene concert and he used a different guitar for almost every song. Afterwards Julie said to me "He has as many guitars as you have skis!"
post #8 of 13
Snow,

As a fellow owner of Volkl Sanouks I'd greatly appreciate a quick comparison to how Sanouk compares to some of the rockered skis.

I LOVE Sanouk in the pure pow but they leave a lot to be desired in the chop or groomed.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am hesitant to compare the rockered skis with the Sanouks, as I only had that one day on several different rockered models, but here goes:

If you think about it, the Sanouks are essentially proto rockered skis. The tips are have a steep upturn that almost mimics the current rockered tips. Also, the Sanouks have an almost flat camber, that combined with a soft construction, allows them to de-camber or bend easily. The Sanouk binding placement is set quite far aft, so the soft forebody rides up easily and lets the ski surf on top of the powder. I think that is why the Sanouks are such a great ski in fresh powder, and also why they get bounced around badly in the chop. I usually ride them for the first couple of hours on a powder day and then change them out when the snow gets really chopped up.

So, I guess in theory, one could use a rockered shape around a stiffer core, to build a ski that would work well in powder and crud.

Theories aside, the only skis on that particular day, that worked better than my Sanouks would have, were the Pontoons and the Salomon Rockers. From what people have been telling me, the Pontoons are even more powder specific than the Sanouks. There wasn't enough snow to really test the ARG's. The Czars and the Chop Sticks didn't do anything for me. A lot of skiers are really liking the Kuro in all types of conditions. I wasn't terribly impressed, but everyone is different. The Dynastars, were fat, traditional skis. The Salomon Rockers, I think have a lot of potential in different conditions, but they are heavy, I mean really heavy.

But, in the end, I would really need more time on the rockered skis and I would need to ski them back to back with the Sanouks.

To me the ultimate test is: Would I buy a ski after testing? I will buy a pair of Pontoons, IF I can get a smoking hot deal. I might buy some Sollie Rockers, again, I would need a screaming deal to entice me. After the test I DID buy the last pair of 185 Armada ARV's from Sierra Jim. I really like that ski. So for now: Sanouks for the fresh and Armada Ants or ARV's after lunch in the chop and crud.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snow7 View Post
I am hesitant to compare the rockered skis with the Sanouks, as I only had that one day on several different rockered models, but here goes:

If you think about it, the Sanouks are essentially proto rockered skis. The tips are have a steep upturn that almost mimics the current rockered tips. Also, the Sanouks have an almost flat camber, that combined with a soft construction, allows them to de-camber or bend easily. The Sanouk binding placement is set quite far aft, so the soft forebody rides up easily and lets the ski surf on top of the powder. I think that is why the Sanouks are such a great ski in fresh powder, and also why they get bounced around badly in the chop. I usually ride them for the first couple of hours on a powder day and then change them out when the snow gets really chopped up.

So, I guess in theory, one could use a rockered shape around a stiffer core, to build a ski that would work well in powder and crud.

Theories aside, the only skis on that particular day, that worked better than my Sanouks would have, were the Pontoons and the Salomon Rockers. From what people have been telling me, the Pontoons are even more powder specific than the Sanouks. There wasn't enough snow to really test the ARG's. The Czars and the Chop Sticks didn't do anything for me. A lot of skiers are really liking the Kuro in all types of conditions. I wasn't terribly impressed, but everyone is different. The Dynastars, were fat, traditional skis. The Salomon Rockers, I think have a lot of potential in different conditions, but they are heavy, I mean really heavy.

But, in the end, I would really need more time on the rockered skis and I would need to ski them back to back with the Sanouks.

To me the ultimate test is: Would I buy a ski after testing? I will buy a pair of Pontoons, IF I can get a smoking hot deal. I might buy some Sollie Rockers, again, I would need a screaming deal to entice me. After the test I DID buy the last pair of 185 Armada ARV's from Sierra Jim. I really like that ski. So for now: Sanouks for the fresh and Armada Ants or ARV's after lunch in the chop and crud.
Thanks. Great report and you help confirm my suspicion.
Sanouks are just so darn SMOOOOOTH in the pow....

Your strategy is similar to mine: I usually Sanouk on big snow days until noon then swap to Mantra or Mythic Rider for the chop.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Squeaky Wheel View Post
Thanks. Great report and you help confirm my suspicion.
Sanouks are just so darn SMOOOOOTH in the pow....

Your strategy is similar to mine: I usually Sanouk on big snow days until noon then swap to Mantra or Mythic Rider for the chop.
Squeak,

Are you logging some days right now? Glad to see that you were able to salvage a bit of the season. It seems that we have traded places!
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
Squeak,

Are you logging some days right now? Glad to see that you were able to salvage a bit of the season. It seems that we have traded places!
Yeah - sorry to hear about your injury. I feel for ya'.

I have a dozen days on snow. Will probably get another half-dozen before season's end. So my season isn't a total loss.

The shoulder feels strong and I'm back on the bike(s) as well.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
This too weird. Scott and I skied in the same group at ESA Aspen this year and I shattered my tib/fib skiing 5 years ago. Still have a titanium rod and screws holding my tibia together. Dawg sending you a PM.
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