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Review: Palmer P02 Carving Ski 171cm 2008-2009

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Palmer "P02" Carving Ski
117-68-102 14.9m radius@171cm

[click here for LARGER version]

[click here for LARGER version]

[click here for LARGER version]

[click here for LARGER version]

Manufacturer Info:
Palmer Snowboards Ltd.
1037B Broadway
Denver, CO. 80202

(303) 623-0334


Manufactured in Austria

Suggested Retail Price:

$ ?
€ ?

Usage Class:

Frontside Groomer Carver

Your Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")

9-10 for groomed surface carving


Last year we tested the 163cm version of this ski (see link here) which had a slightly wider tip and tail (same 68mm waist) and loved it's 12.5m radius turns. This 171cm version has a slightly different geometry resulting in a 14.9m radius, and has a very similar, but slightly different personality. Both skis fall into the "precision instrument" class of carvers rather than the "race-like, muscle carvers". As Peter Keelty's very informative and well-respected RealSkiers.com test summary (well worth the small subsciption fee!) said:

"This may be the best high edge angle carving ski to debut in recent years.Palmer's unique design, especially the relationship between complex-curve sidecut and pressure distribution zones, has produced a ski that feels different from any other we have tested and one which seems like it could etch perfect carves into a pane of hardened glass. And—the amazing part—at the same time, the PO2 can be skied at low speeds with progressively soft edges. All this adds up to a superb on-piste ski capable of almost anything at any speed. One caveat; this ski simply does not respond well to weighted-ski steering technique and demands precision, accuracy and confidence."

We totally agree, and the test of the 171cm model confirms this behavior again, but with a racier-feel in 171cm length. The 163cm model would be ideal for demonstrating carving techniques or for lighterweight skiers since it's 12.5m radius can perform its magic at slightly slower speeds than the 171. The 171 nearly approaches a race-like feel, and ups the speed by maybe 20-30% over the short model, while producing an irresistibly addicting turn pattern. I say this because the more you get the Palmer P02 hooked up on a nicely packed surface, the more turns you want to do, and the higher edge angles you want to execute. Perfectly dampened and controlled at any speed under Super-G velocity. Definitely a ski for carving afficianados looking to improve their game with a high-performance tool. Palmer says the 7-radii sidecut and "Feels Like Flying" (FLF) precambered tip and tail design allows the user to engage the ski into high-performance turns with little physical effort. Whatever the design is called, it flat-out works really well. While in the similar category as the Edelwiser Swing (162cm) or Speed (172cm) models we tested catering to precision carving with low-effort, the Palmer geometry sets you into an elegant arc with a bit of weighting just on the toepiece, while the Edelwiser Swing or Speed "pull" you into a turn if you engage the forebody of the ski. Old-school or race-trained carving freaks will instantly feel at home on the Palmer P02, while new-school or "Euro-carving" enthusiasts familiar with the Edelwisers will take about two turns to feel what the Palmers want to do underfoot, but realistically, anyone can jump on the Palmers and instantly feel the sweet spot and the movements encouraged by the ski and begin laying down very nice tracks. Addicting and smooth. Easy to rip on. I want to add these to my quiver.

Ski Designer :

Palmer and Hansjürg Kessler (multi-time snowboard worldcup winner and design guru).

Technical Ski Data :

Prepeg beech/poplar wood core sandwich construction with ZICRAL® (aluminum-zinc-magnesium alloy made by Cegedur-Pechiney) layers. Kessler "Feels Like Flying" (FLF) "pre-cambered tip and tail shortens the contact points" (according to Palmer).

Pre-Skiing Impression:

Very lightweight, very thin vertical profile, seriously "metallic" flex and dampening. Gives the impression of a specialty ski for turning at speed. Excellent fit and finish with great factory tune right out of the wrapper. Simple, clean, understated graphics.

Test Conditions:

First test day: Spring conditions...firm and nearly frozen granular in the very early AM, then turned to dense packed "damp sand" and sinkable corn later on with scraped sections showing some softened ice underneath.
More test days to come later...

Test Results:

The first few turns instantly reminded me of why I liked the 163cm P02 last year, but with a definite "c'mon...faster" feel to its 171cm length. Resisting the urge to let it rip and lay it over, I confirmed that, yes, the P02 still manuvers with amazing ease and silky linked turns at slow speeds. Just apply the ski gradually fore-to-aft gently, feel it hook into its groove and follow up with another turn when you're done. Simple, easy, smooth. Build up a little speed...same result...build up some more speed...same result. Back down to creeper speed...yep, just "wiggle your ears" (as my father used to say) and the ski makes an elegant turn to the left, then to the right. Do this with precision, however. Get lazy at slow speed and it will want to keep its arc and resist a direction change unless you roll the ski over on-time. Not "hooky" by any means, but it likes being "in" its turn and will hold it securely (the squarish-tail shape may help this) until you roll it out to the next one. This ski rewards someone with good technical skills. Not a washy-slider ski, the P02 wants to be ridden and placed precisely on the snow. This is not a ski to fall asleep on. Sure, it's easy to turn, but it is a thoroughbred and will not reward a rider who lets go of the wheel. The slow speed handling makes it very easy to go slow and pick your way through traffic, cruise easily back and forth or avoid obstacles (...keep its metal-ladened body out of the bumps...it is not happy there and you should have them taken away from you if you jam them into a bump field...)...Ok...now to get out of "slow mo" test mode and into a more athletic pace. As soon as you pick up some moderate speed and lay the skis over with a solid movement, they set themselves into the surface and begin a tenacious hold and generate a very elegant arc in a quiet, dampened and really addicting feeling. While the arc in the snow could be generated by a racing ski without any trouble, the feeling of etching tracks with the Palmer P02 is completely different. It's more "refined" or something like it. If you could take the hyper-acceleration out of a racing ski, but retain the ability to sustain intense centrifigal forces in high-angle carving movements at all kinds of speeds, you would have the Palmer P02. Smooth and quiet on the snow. While it can go from an intensely carved left turn immediately into an equally intensive right turn in the blink of an eye, it does not explode at the end of the turn and project you forward like a race ski (often requiring you to "catch up" to the ski if you get in the back seat). It merely waits for your body to catch up laterally. If you muscle this ski too hard, you'll push it out of its sweet spot and it will feel ragged. It rewards strong technical movements, not muscular movements. Really fun and very, very addicting. I think heavier skiers and ex or current racers will like the 171, while lighter or more recreationally oriented skiers will thrive on the 163cm.

Analogies: (this ski is like...)

Finely honed ninja carving tool - finely crafted, not to be abused.

After Skiing These, I Want To...

Get a pair and hire an American carving pro and European carving pro to refine my variety of carving techniques.

Self-Description of Skiing Style, Ability, Experience, Preferences :

5' 11", 190 lbs. Expert groomed-surface carver, "old-style" race inspired, "foot steerer" with fairly sensitive edging feel. Loves to hold long arcs with lots of pressure on the downhill ski (you know the type), but also loves the feel of both skis on-edge leaving tiny railroad track edge tracks. Not an instructor, but 10 year coach for youth race team in New England (bulletproof is the norm).
post #2 of 8
sounded like a great ski until this:
(...keep its metal-ladened body out of the bumps...it is not happy there and you should have them taken away from you if you jam them into a bump field...)...
I assume your saying that the ski will bend like the older Vokl 5 stars if used in bumps.
Plenty of slalom skis are decent in bumps. Is the difference here the "pre cambering" of tip and tail? (whatever that is)

Is the Zicral on top and bottom of the sandwich or mixed in?

nice site by the way...I finally got an answer to what that ski I saw in Aspen last year was - Zai
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
I believe the sandwich construction of the P02 has the Zicral alloy sheets below the topsheet and above the base material (above and below the wood core'). I could ask the Palmer guys I guess...The hand-flex of the ski and the way it behaves in bumps gives me the impression it would not like being stuffed brutally into bumps (although it would certainly be strong enough to handle it), and while it is probably resilient enough to take punishment in the bumps, it really isn't what the ski was designed for (kinda like taking your M3 series BMW onto the Tecate 1000 race in Baja). I agree many slalom skis actually work pretty well in bumps, but the P02 seems less like a slalom ski and more like a trimmed-down GS ski with slalom-like sidecut and metalic dampness.

I've seen some non-bump skis tweaked irreversibly after being stuffed into bumps (I'm guilty of this in years gone by...but trying to forget about it), and I just fear someone torque-ing the Palmer P02 by forcing it to bend sharply up front. It just has that metal-feel to it that makes me think I shouldn't jam it into square-edged walls of snow. Just my opinion...someone may come up and say the P02 is the wickedest bump ski ever....but after trying the mogul-dedicated Hart F17...the Palmer P02 just feels like it isn't the same kind of tool. Cool skis though... a hoot to ride.

P.S. - Thanks for the kind word about our little list of skis at Exotic....we hope it helps widen the universe of ski brand awareness out there... there's a bunch of 'em...!
post #4 of 8
Ok I get it.
Early this season I did a program with a guy who had multiple pairs of Maxel skis. He loved them. Has a connection in Italy and goes either there in winter or Les Deux Alpes in summer at least once.
If you've never been in summer to L2Alpes I highly recommend it. Not so much for any massive ski experience though because it is summer...but no salt, great food and stuff around there. La Grave is right down the very windy road.

There is a time in summer when Italian mag. Sciare tests skis there.(used to be true anyway) The town is a bit of "the killington of the alps" because it's relatively new but then again it ain't no killington, it's the alps.
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Cool info. I hope to spend some time in Les Deux Alpes and definitely see La Grave when we move to France for a few years this summer. One of my ski partners here used to be involved with Chamonix ski school for years and said La Grave is impressive and has terrain to spook just about any sane person. I would love to visit the Sciare mag guys during testing! The Maxels are just one of many mysteries I want to learn more about there! So many skis...so few ski days...
post #6 of 8
La Grave...I guess there are trails one can ski but if you go off piste you absolutely need a guide. It is not a place to be taken lightly even by euro standards.
Chad Vanderham and Doug Coombs were killed there in April 2006 when they slipped off a cliff. Very sad.
see the movie Steep for a brief discussion of it.. (not much footage though)
post #7 of 8
Expect to see "pre camber) on many skis in the Future

post #8 of 8
What the hell is pre-camber??
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