There are times when you are testing skis that you just know that you are going to love a ski just but looking at. The Atomic Vantage 100 CTI Skis was one of these skis and boy did it deliver! Typically you will not finding me getting excited about a ski with metal or at 100mm in the waist as that is just not my skiing style, however the Atomic Vantage 100 CTI is a game changer of a ski. The Line Prophet 98 was always the ski I would go to for skiers looking for a versatile All-Mountain Ski. I knew that 95% of the people that bought that ski would love it and I was disappointed when
Line went away from that ski as the Supernatural 100 is just not the same. The all new 2016 Atomic Vantage 100 CTI Skis is now going to be my go to All Mountain for people who want a ski around 100mm in the waist. It is so much lighter and livelier than that of the Volkl Mantra and pretty much any other ski in this category. The Atomic Vantage 100 CTI is a ski that when you get on it you don’t want to take them off. They take so little effort and with an 18m turn radius they will make any turn shape you want and with out even having to think about it. I had these skis going 60+mph and they were stable thanks to the Ti Backbone and when I wanted to scrub speed it was easy to do. You do not have to power this ski, it is not work like that of the Mantra. Thanks to the forgiving shovel they were awesome in both bumps and in the trees. The skis may be light but they do not get deflected like you would expect and that is thanks to both the Carbon Mesh used along with the Ti Backbone. There is nothing bad I can say about this ski I loved everything about it from its perfect shape to the very well designed graphic. One thing I will say about all of the Atomic Vantage Series skis is to not ski them short, these skis ski short so be sure to stay on the longer side when ordering.
2016 Line Sir Francis Bacon Skis – 184cm
Turn Radius: 17.4m
Longer Active Edge
Cloud Core Technology
Weight: 3520g (Pair)
One of my favorite skis of all time is the Line Sir Francis Bacon and now Eric has completely redesigned it to be narrower and lighter, making the 2016 Line Sir Francis Bacon Skis even more versatile for Backcountry skiers looking for a one ski quiver touring ski. At 3520g the Bacon is lighter than almost any other ski found in this category. To compare the Bacon from last year weighed in at 4350g, the 2016 version is 20% lighter than that! Cloud Core is one of the most innovative cores that we have seen in the past decade to come out and it is going to change backcountry freeride skis from every company.
As for the ski ability of the new Line Sir Francis Bacon Skis they are just what you would expect from anything created by Eric Pollard, amazing! These skis are super quick edge to edge and incredibly light on your feet. They are amazing with short to medium range turns and have great stability at speed thanks to the Cloud Core Technology found in the new Bacon. If you are looking for just one ski and you want it to be a playful freeride ski the 2016 Line Sir Francis Bacon is the ski you want! The 184cm in this new Bacon is going to be the pick length for 90% of customers since they ski so short. The shortest they even make the ski in now is the 178cm length. I was really happy with the dampness of the ski and I can tell that I will be owning a pair of these and the all new Line Mordecai (Review to come) as part of my quiver for 2016!
The Alpine Binding that I would suggest for this ski is the Tyrolia Attack 13. If you are looking to put a Touring binding on I would go with the Salomon Guardian, Atomic Tracker, or Tyrolia Adrenalin.
One of my favorite one ski quiver 105 waisted/metal laminate skis was always the Line Influence 105 Skis, that has now been replaced with the all new 2016 K2 Pinnacle 105 Skis. Lighter and more lively than the Influence 105, the K2 Pinnacle 105 Skis are one of the most versatile metal laminate skis at 105 in the waist that i have ever skied. Usually skis in this category are heavy and work, but thanks to Konic Technology the Pinnacle 105 is lightweight yet responsive and powerful. Powerful like you would expect form a metal laminate ski, but playful like a freeride ski. This would make an excellent ski for putting a touring binding on and using for skinning. If you want one ski to do it all and you like having metal in your ski the new Pinnacle 105 from k2 is one you should be checking out.
The all new K2 Pinnacle series of skis was just as much of a surprise as that of the Monster Series. The 2016 K2 Pinnacle 95 Skis is a quicker more stable version of the Line Sick Day 95 with out losing any of the playfulness. We were amazed at the stability and playfulness of the Pinnacle 95 Skis and were blown away by how versatile the skis were in a multitude of conditions. This is one of those skis that when you flex it you think it is going to get deflected, but the Pinnacle 95 held with no issues at high speed, and easily released in and out of turns. Not getting locked into the same turn each time is certainly what makes this a top pick for this category of ski for 2016. Unlike some other skis with metal in this category the K2 Pinnacle 95 Skis are by no means planky.
The 2016 Armada Invictus 95Ti is a brand new ski for Armada and man have they hit a home run. The Invictus 95Ti is built as an All Mountain cruiser ski that can be used for both cruising the hill at any speed or taking it into the woods and enjoying the quick turns that this ski makes under pressure. If you want both power and performance but not all the plankiness of some skis on the market you should take a look at the Armada Invictus 95Ti as your front side driver ski. The Invictus is stable and energetic and will be a great ski for Armada Powder Ski owners to add to their quiver. If you want something more forgiving you can get the Invictus 95 which is the same ski with out the Titanal layer. This makes the ski softer and more forgiving.
One of the biggest surprises of testing 2016 skis was the all new Head Monster series of skis. All Monsters are made with the same Graphene WC Sandwich Cap Construction. When I went to test the ski I had the notion that it was going to be stiff and planky. Boy was I wrong. The skis is fairly stiff, but when you are skiing it you never notice it because of how damp the ski is. The ride you get out of all the Monster skis is amazing. They are so damp that you can go as fast as you want and you feel so relaxed. You don’t have to work hard at all to turn the skis they ski themselves and there is no speed limit thanks to the all new construction from Head. If you are looking for an all-mountain ski in that 98mm range and you want something stable on groomers and versatile when there is fresh snow I would highly suggest getting yourself into the new Head Monster 98 Skis. I am really like the direction head is moving with both their freeride and all-mountain skis. There truly is no limit for the head Monster Skis.
The 2015 Blizzard Spur is one of the best powder skis that you can buy for the money. Most skis with this kind of technology is at least a few hundred dollars more than the Blizzard Spur. If you are looking for a lightweight powder tool or a BC Touring ski you will not be disappointed with this ski. Unlike the other skis in Blizzard’s Freeride/Powder line the Spur is more user friendly as it does not have any metal just lots of Carbon Fiber. Because of the Carbon the ski is very damp and predictable. Not a great choice for groomers but it will ski them no problem when you need to ski trails to get back to the lift. These are so light they will not wear you out at the end of the day. They make them in one length only and that is a 189cm.
The 2015 Line Supernatural 100 was a ski I was very excited to get out on and test compared to the older Prophet 98 and new fully rockered Mantra. I was not disappointed the Supernatural 100 was a rocket ship out of the gate and I never found a speed limit with it. It held an excellent edge even on firm conditions and then when you got it in bumps and off piste I was pleasantly surprised at how nimble the ski was. With the new tip design and overall shape of the ski don’t be afraid to ski these in longer lengths. I find the 179cm to be really short although it does measure 178cm so it really just skis shorter than its length. The stability on the new Supernatural 100 skis can be attributed to the all new Shock Wall which certainly absorbs everything when you are in a turn and also helps you accelerate at the end of your turn.
Is this an upgrade over the Prophet 98? It’s different.. the Prophet 98 was and is a great front side ski like the Supernatural 100, the one big difference you will find though is the new Supernatural 100 is stiffer in the body but has a more forgiving tip allowing the SN 100 to be used by both aggressive and moderately aggressive skiers just like the Prophet 98. What expert skiers will find is more high end speed and stability with the new shock wall and inlayed Metal Matrix. When comparing to the new Volkl Mantra the SN 100 certainly does better on trail thanks to the still having camber underfoot. The Mantra is great off piste for bigger skiers but I would have really like to see them keep a little bit of camber and maybe soften the tip up just a little like Line did.
If you are looking for a super quick edge to edge ski that can bomb the hill with big gs style turns the Supernatural 100 form Line Skis is certainly one of the top 100mm waisted metal skis that I have ever skied. If you want quicker turning and slightly softer flex you may still be able to find some older Influence 105 skis which is still an excellent ski.
The Volkl Mantra for 2015 has undergone some big changes. The ski is now Full Rocker and 100mm in the waist. What does this mean for the Mantra you know and love? This means that in softer snow it will have more float and with the early taper easier turn initiation. As most of you know I am not a huge fan of skis with metal just for my style of skiing, however I do love a few like the Prophet 115/Influence 115 and also found the new Supernatural 100 a lot of fun as well. The new 2015 Mantra, in my opinion, has to big of a turn radius at 25.4. With the amount of stability in this ski I would have really liked to have seen a slightly wider tail so when I was on groomers I could make shorter more nimble turns. The 25.4m turn radius is great when cruising at higher speeds and for skiers that like to smear their turns the new full rocker will allow for more of that as well. I still feel with the 100mm waist that camber would have gone a long way on the groomers, the full rocker is excellent in soft snow and fresh snow, but for hard packed Northeast skiing there is still something to be said for having some camber under foot. I did really enjoy how nimble the ski was and felt that it skied pretty short because of the new early taper and full rocker. If you are looking to replace your old Mantras you will probably love the new Mantra as it still has that race stiff and stable feel. If you are looking for something more playful you will want something softer in the tip. For skiers who ski fast I would certainly say the Mantra has no speed limit and craves the speed.
One of the most excited skis I wanted to get on this year was the brand new 2015 Line Magnum Opus Skis. Eric designed these skis as a ski for him to take out when he was looking for more float than the Pollard’s Opus. With a Longer Active Edge, wider waist width, and new Cloud Core Technology, not only is the new Magnum Opus bigger than the Mr. Pollard’s Opus but it is also lighter by about 1200g!! Eric accomplished just what he wanted in a ski with more float but still with all-mountain versatility. The Magnum Opus is perfect if you are looking for a fat touring ski but do not want to have all that weight going up hill.
I was able to test these skis in almost every condition imaginable. The deepest I got them in was 2 feet of snow and to be honest almost any ski over 100mm in the waist is going to be amazing in 2 feet of snow. One of the differences in the Magnum vs Pollard’s Opus is that the Magnum has a lot more carbon stringers in the (Magnum) ski making it very damp and full of energy at the same time. The Magnum pounded through busted up crud and bumps and kept looking for more. I originally felt a little issue with the tip being to catchy when I go into bumps, however after a quick detune with a diamond stone to the tip and tail the skis hooked up when they were supposed to and were much more playful.
With the Cloud Core you can ski them all day and your legs don’t get nearly as tired!! With the playfulness and lightness of the ski mixed with the dampness and energy of the carbon I could really see the Magnum Opus making an excellent Big Mountain ski for Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Vail, Snow Bird, Powder Mountain, Whistler, and other big mountain terrain such as those. Not skiing big mountain, don’t worry the Magnum Opus skis will ski any mountain. Even at 188cm I was surprised at how nimble they were in trees and bumped up trees. Much of this has to do with the weigh of the skis and the fact you are mounted 2cm’s behind center so the swing weight on them is quick.
When it came to skiing groomers they leave some of the most beautiful trenches you will ever see from a 124mm waisted ski. They had excellent grip and loved speed. For being so light it was truly amazing how the ski at high speed never cared at all. You could really turn up your turn shape easily too even at speed. I normally really round out my turns across the hill, but found with the Magnum Opus that not only could you do that but they would also release you out of the turn early so you could make more GS/Fall Line turns and just follow the terrain. No chatter ever with the Magnum Opus and at 5’7″ and 190lbs I would not want this ski to come in any shorter length of ski.
As for Mounting Point. If you are an Old School skier and do not like skis mounted toward center you can get them mounted at what I am calling the Old School mark, but honestly they ski excellent where there are at the -2cm Eric’s Choice and this is where shops should be mounting them if they have any clue about how skis should be mounted with a design such as the Magnum Opus.
The 2015 Atomic Bentchetler has undergone some of the best changes of any ski for 2015. With a waist width now of 120 and a stiffer platform the new Bent Chetler is a playful ripper!! If you want a playful ski in powder and crud that will also haul 60+mph on groomers with ease Atomic has built the ski for you. With all new Technology with HRZN TECH I was a believer after the 2nd turn.
Atomics Blurb: “The 2015 Bent Chetler features life changing HRZN TECH, adding 10% more surface area in the tip and tail without adding weight. The result is less tip deflection in chop and crud and simply better tracking in all conditions. Atomic and Chris Bentchetler got together on the new construction and design of the ski giving us mortals the best possible ride in fresh or even marginal snow conditions. ”
All the changes are nice to talk about, but how do they really ski? Well…I just got back from an epic day on the NEW 2015 Chets. And, yes we can believe all of the hype. I had a little bit of everything for conditions from 10″ of fresh to firm groomers in a 3 day period of testing them. The best description I can give about the new Atomic Bent Chetlers is that they had a smooth feel, super quiet tip and tail, and the Bent Chetler’s appettite for the fall-line and higher speeds, with no worries about tip deflection. If you have one ski to take with you on a trip this is really a ski that you should be considering as it is that much fun. There is a lot of energy out of the tail so the only place that some lighter weight skiers make not like them is in tight bumped up trees but honestly every where else on the hill the ski was smooth and accelerated when you wanted it to go. You can carve tighter turns with them but you wont need to because they feel so comfortable at speed and when you went to dig trenches in groomers take them out and let people in the lift line talk about the GS trenches you just left down the fall line.
Atomic Warder 13 MNC Binding
My first impressions of the all new Atomic Warden 13 binding is that I have no reason to get back out on the Marker Lord Binding with my AT Boots. The all new Atomic Warden is $100 cheaper and is much more user friendly to adjust from Alpine to Touring Boots. My other major positives of this binding is that the toe height adjustment is on the top of the binding and easy to adjust in the backcountry if for some reason it becomes lose, the ease of getting in and out of the binding (which the Marker Royal Family Bindings are not known and can be a really hassle especially for women and lighter weight skiers in deep snow conditions), and the addition of the Progressive Transfer Pads which really do increase the dampness that you feel on the ski. Another important feature of the Warden MNC 13 is that they are Multi Norm Certified which can be used with all boot norms.