Photo by Matt Power of Highland Bowl

Ski test continued: A Highland Bowl lap on the 2016-17 HEAD Venturi 95

Ski test continued: A Highland Bowl lap on the 2016-17 HEAD Venturi 95

Last week, Team FREESKIER converged upon Aspen, Colorado for our annual all-mountain ski test, affectionately referred to as #FREESKIERFest. We, along with our trusty squadron of ski testers, ran 250-plus pairs of next year’s skis through the gauntlet and subsequently rated them on a scale of 1 to 10, based on the categories of carving, stability, versatility, float, playfulness and overall stoke. The data will serve as the foundation of the 2017 Buyer’s Guide. Following five days of balls-to-the-wall testing on Aspen Mountain, I had the opportunity to ski a Highland Bowl lap, at nearby Aspen Highlands, before heading out of town. I chose to bring the 2016-17 HEAD Venturi 95—a ski included in the 85-99 mm Freestyle category—along for the adventure. Skis present in this category often feature a twin tip construction, a mix of rocker and camber to ensure both nimbleness and stability and are a bit softer than their freeride counterparts.

2017 Head Venturi 95 skis

The 2017 HEAD Venturi 95 skis.

Highland Bowl is home to some of the steepest and best lines at Aspen Highlands and is the crown jewel of the ski area. To access, it requires a 40 (ish) minute hike to the 12,392-foot summit of Highland Peak from the top of the Loge Peak and Deep Temerity chairs. In reality, the Bowl is an awesome way to test a ski’s aptitude on steep slopes. Is it stable enough to ensure confidence on a 40-plus-degree slope? Does it boast a light enough swing weight to ensure easy hop turns? How does it handle in variable snow conditions? Many of the answers found from testing in the in-bounds Highland Bowl can help paint a picture of how a ski will perform in similar backcountry terrain.

Photo by Matt Power of Highland Bowl

A view of the famed Highland Bowl. Photo by Matt Power for Aspen Snowmass

Now onto the skis. The Venturi is meant to be a versatile ski that can handle a wide variety of terrain and snow conditions. It’s constructed with tip and tail rocker and solid camber underfoot, along with a tip and tail stabilizer system that helps dampen the ski for a smoother ride.

The conditions were firm in the Bowl, but luckily the snow was chalky enough to ensure the skiing was still fun and not of the survival variety. I found the Venturi 95 to have great edge hold on the steep, hard surface of “Ozone,” a line that runs straight down the gut of the Bowl and averages 37 degrees in pitch, with its steepest portion weighing in at 40 degrees. The Venturi was solid and steady throughout each turn, with little to no chatter. With each hop turn I took towards the top of the run I was met with a low swing weight, allowing for seamless transitions from edge to edge. And while the ski fits in the 85-99 mm Freestyle category it was more than stable enough to handle the Bowl and its playful nature was welcomed as the run mellowed out into soft moguls down low. All-in-all the skis performed admirably throughout the entire run.

How did the skis perform at the all-mountain test? You’ll have to grab a subscription and wait for our Buyer’s Guide to drop in the fall to see which skis made the cut.

Related: See 44 new photos from our 2016 Ski Test

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