Just got back from Mt. Hood Meadows (12/26/2009) and as I wasn't able to bring my skis for the Holiday visit back home, I had to demo (oh darn). After looking at the stockpile of what they had, I decided to give the Obsetheds and the JJs a shot. Both have been quite intriguing to me since last season as skis that excel in powder but would be great in pretty much all types of conditions. My understanding is that both remain virtually unchanged for 2010, so as you can imagine I was rather stoked to find both available for side by side comparisons. Anyway, read on.
Me: 30/male, 5'-9", 155 lbs., somewhere around 8+ level, grew up skiing in Cascades, usually ski these days in Vermont/Quebec, go-to ski: Stockli Snake 170
Conditions: Hood has been relatively warm as of late with no new snow so anything not groomed was basically wind-blown stuff that has melted and re-frozen a few times (read: bulletproof, especially the bowls), but the groomed runs were just fine, with ice patches showing up more and more as the day progressed. Note that when I say ice, I mean "ice" by NW standards, not east coast hockey rink ice.
Skis tested: 2010 K2 Obsethed in 179 and 2010 Armada JJ in 175. Both are supposedly mounted at the factory-recommended spot (that's what tech dude told me anyway). I know the day's test conditions completely leave out the all-important component of powder since both of these skis are supposed to be at their best in deeper stuff, but it seems that everybody raves and rants about how both can be used as a daily driver. As such, I thought it would be interesting to demo both side by side, focusing on the business end of the mythical one-ski quiver.
On to the first impressions. I took out the Obsetheds in the morning, and it took me a couple of runs to orient myself with the ski. Once I dialed myself in, wow! Although these things were great at laying down medium to long-radius tracks, I had no trouble working them while in tighter and steeper areas. On ice, they weren't by any means phenomenal, but they were more than capable of holding a decent edge. They're not stiff, but they were definitely not noodles. Felt nice and lively overall, no noticeable rocker flapping going on when jamming hard. Landings were nice and stable on these too, no complaints. Had a great time on them and was contemplating on keeping them for the rest of the day, but I really wanted to see how the JJs would compare.
So next, I grabbed the JJs from tech dude, and again after a run or so of adjustment, I was all smiles from there on out! Similar to the Obsethed, I was able to lay down tracks of all different radii and also work these in tight spots, but when comparing the two I'd say that the Obsetheds were a bit more at home with medium to long radius turns, while the JJs were more at home with short to medium radius turns. I was thinking this may have to do with different sidecut radii, and a little internet searching later showed that the JJs have a radius of 12m, while the Obsetheds have a radius of 24m (can anyone confirm that for me please? K2's site only says "progressive sidecut", which I know is another way to say varying radius, but some sites say somewhere around 24m radius while others say 12-14m radius). With these things being said, let me emphasize that both skis are just fine at all types of turns. Ice was even better than on the Obsetheds. I was able to really grab a good edge, which was a bit weird to me conceptually since the JJs are 1cm wider at the waist. As mentioned above the Obsetheds were lively, but the JJs felt even better, with more pop out of each turn. Not majorly stiff, but also not a noodle (okay, at least not the tips and tails, which are understandably supposed to be softer; I didn't use the tips and tails much today anyway). Landings were stable on these as well. The one small complaint is that these had maybe a slight amount of tip/tail flapping while riding them fast and hard, but in all honesty it was so insignificant that I would overlook this complaint; I really only noticed it because I have heard of problems with this on other rockered skis and was trying to pay close attention when demoing both skis.
Initial verdict: Admittedly it is WAY premature to make an overall judgement on either ski because both need to be ridden in powder to really say which ski is better overall as a one-ski quiver. Both were great skis and I am fully convinced after today that both would be just fine as a day to day ski on both coasts (except for the iciest of the icy on the east coast maybe). But, based on non-powder conditions only, I would probably give the ever so slight nod to the JJ. I want to emphasize that both skis felt awesome and I'd be happy with either one, but the extra liveliness on the JJs was the kicker for me. Others might like the longer, maybe slightly more damp turns by the Obsethed. As usual, it's your own personal taste.
Side note: I demoed the Prophet 100's and the Mojo 94's last year, and without getting into too many details, the two skis that I demoed today blew these out of the water (again, that's not even taking into account the deep stuff factor, which I'm pretty sure the Obsetheds and the JJs would excel in also ;)