My first take on the ‘09 Liberty Hazmat, 181 cm, 126-94-119, turn radius of 19.5 meters. Rode them today at Alta. After some good snow last week, it warmed up a bit on Saturday and then froze last night so the base was crusty and hard. Also with high winds, there was quite a bit of wind-blown hard pack as well. During the ski day it snowed hard and they reported getting 7 inches of fine, dry snow (though around my car there was more than a foot).
I am 6’1” 175 pounds, level 8 skier and I usually ski at least a couple of times a week at Alta. My usual ski is a pair of 184cm Stöckli Stormrider XLs, 75mm underfoot though for big days I bring out the DP Pros. The Hazmats are mounted with Salomon STH 12 B100 bindings with boot center at the “Standard” mark (thanks to Chris at Liberty for the mounting information).
Bottom line is that these skis are sweet--great in the trees, superb in moguls. Pretty decent float.
First run of the day and I took them off Sugarloaf down the main trail, semi-groomed run to Extrovert. I often ski with traditional, weighted technique—that doesn’t work on the Hazmat. Probably only an inch or two of new snow when I made my first run, so the skis were tracking on the hard, crusty base. They didn’t edge well as I shifted my weight, with the tails having a tendency to fishtail. Many times on groomers, I use the rebound from the tail on the XLs to kick me into the next turn—that’s a no, no with these babies—it’s slide city. Some of the reviews say that the bamboo core on these skis makes them “poppy,” compared to the XLs, that’s not a description that I’d use.
So I switched to modern technique, trying to keep my stance neutral, equal weight on each ski and weight centered to slightly forward. Took them through the trees. All I needed to do was to think about a turn and it was done. These skis are smooth and quick turning. I couldn’t see the contours that well and did about a 3 foot drop off one of the moguls, no problem as I hit the snow again the skis stayed with me and I made the next turn without a backward glance. Key is to keep the tips on the snow in the moguls and not let them get up in the air. Jump turns are not a technique for these skis. Just keep the tips down and motor on—the quicker the better. I even followed one of my kids down Humble Pie, a little kids run with low trees, and plenty of little, quick moguls made by 100cm long skis. Usually I hate following the kids through there, but with the Hazmats, no problem.
As the snow got deeper, these skis shined more and more. No problem crossing tracks, going through where others had fallen or where the snow was piled up and cruddy. Just blasted through it with only a little tip deflection. I tried to vary the turn shape and radius. They can make GS turns in powder, but feel happier with a short to mid-range radius turn. Went through the moguls in Chartreuse, no problems and it took very little to make them turn. Quite a bit different from the effort it takes me to get my XLs to make round turns down the same run. Next run was down the steep face of the ridge that separates Extrovert from the chute and Chartreuse. Couldn’t see, but as long as the skis were on the snow, they turned smoothly and felt stable. That’s the key, keep the tips down and don’t use weighted ski technique. As I hit mostly unbroken snow, just over boot height, I started making longer radius turns. The skis had good float and made nice turns staying together with tips floating, with barely any effort on my part. Even in deeper snow, the tips had no tendency to dive and always stayed up in the snow. Now I wanted to try them in broken snow and took them down the chute. The snow was mixed, boot to knee-deep powder and wind-blown mogul tops. Again, keep the tips on the snow and motor through the chop. Key is to keep making short radius turns with again maintaining a neutral stance with equal weight on each ski, weight centered to slightly forward.
Unfortunately, because of winds, Supreme was closed so I couldn’t take them down some of the runs I like to test skis on there. It was a very cold and wet day with very flat light, so a trip through Greeley Bowl didn’t seem called for. Also, after the AYC luncheon, I had the kids and didn’t think this was the time or place to do a test run down Stonecrusher.
These are a very good ski for soft snow and powder. I will try them on a groomed run in the future to see how they do on the hardpack, but my first indications are that they won’t be very good and will feel a little squirrely. While you can put your weight forward on these, it didn’t feel as though you could drive them like you can a pair of Stöcklis, but that isn’t what these skis are for. I think they’re a perfect ski for most days here in Utah and plan to ride them as often as I can. Now I need to find a pair of Liberty Helix or Double Helix to test.
Pros: Smooth, quick, lively ski that makes short work of moguls and tree runs. Good float in powder, makes effortless turns.
Cons: Not good for traditional weighted ski technique. Seemed slow on traverses.