WELCOME TO THE 2008
FREESKIER SKI REVIEW
Each year we invite more ski companies to our ski test than previously, and each year, those companies bring more skis. Different skis. Fat, skinny, stiff, soft, pipe-specific and blower overhead powder specific skis. The spectrum of skis being created around the world has grown to the widest range yet. As the skis change, so, too, does the way we test them. This year, we split our testing into two distinct projects: The all-mountain test at Solitude, Utah, and the park and pipe test at Keystone, Colorado. Each venue provided the perfect testing grounds for this year’s crop of skis, which were the best offerings to date. Flip through the next six pages to read all about the test locations and what made them, above all other areas, the ideal venues to put this year’s 155 skis to the ultimate test.
It should be noted that specialty skis, such as reverse camber skis, are rated based on what they are specifically good at. We did not send the Pontoon, for example, down the pipe, nor did we put the Pipe Cleaner through knee-deep pow. Specialty skis are the name of the game this year, and they are ranked accordingly. Also note that reviews without a stoke rating mean that not enough people tested the skis to give a fair evaluation, and therefore we review the ski based on its technical specifications alone. In these next 38 pages, we break down every ski we tested, ordered alphabetically by company, in order to make your ski buying decisions easier this season. We’re sure that this year, no matter what ski you go with, you will be happy with
READ THE REVIEWS
4FRNT, Armada, Atomic, Black Diamond, Blizzard, Drake Powder Tools, Dynastar, Elan, Fat-ypus,Fischer, Faction, Hart, Head, Icelantic,High Society, K2, Liberty, Line, Lib Tech, Movement, Nordica, Palmer, Prior, Rossignol,Roxy, Salomon, Scott, Stockli, Surface, Switch, Unity, Volkl
HOW WE TEST SKIS
BIG MOUNTAIN SKI TEST:
If you’re looking for the ultimate proving ground for big and all-mountain skis, a few resorts stand out: Jackson Hole, Alta/ Snowbird, Squaw, Mammoth and, of course, Solitude.
Yes, Solitude. After taking a hard look at every major North American ski area, Freeskier magazine descended upon Solitude, Utah, for our 2008 big- and all-mountain ski test. While it may come as a surprise to many of our readers that we rank Solitude as one of the premier big-mountain destinations in North America, a closer glance at this often-overlooked Utah gem will convince even the most skeptical skiers that this quiet Utah mountain packs more than enough punch for the corest hardcore big-mountain riders.
First, there’s the lack of crowds. While Solitude shares the same steep chutes, gnarly cliffs and exposed descents that have made global brands out of nearby Alta and Snowbird, the mountain is low key to the extreme. Unlike Jackson, Squaw or Alta, there’s not a huge scene here and powder doesn’t disappear faster than you can blink. In fact, powder days here can last for weeks, given the uncrowded nature of the place.
Secondly, there’s the terrain. For those in the know, Solitude has some of the best in North America, including super-exposed lines off of Fantasy Ridge. And with plenty of nooks and crannies, the mountain holds stashes long after other resorts are moguled out. Should that unlikely scenario occur, there’s easy access to some of Utah’s best backcountry including the legendary Wolverine Cirque.
Finally, the sole focus in Solitude is on the skiing. No rowdy bars or nightlife. No late evenings chasing the ladies and no distractions from the job at hand: skiing the best – and the worst – skis on offer for 2008. We’ve picked the winners and dogged the losers so you can cut to the chase and find the best ski for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to test out your pick for a day or two at Solitude.
– Tom Winter
PARK AND PIPE TEST:
To give park skis the most legit park and pipe ski test in the industry, we split our test this year to focus specifically on each category. With that in mind, the next question was where to host a week of park skiing. The general consensus that emerged was to spend five days at Keystone in the A51 terrain park. Keystone has been increasingly dedicated to catering to the park skier and it showed in our week there. Each night, the jumps and pipe were meticulously groomed and shaped and we were able to spin lap after lap quickly and efficiently with the A51 chair that feeds three jump lines, two pipes and a multitude of rails and boxes. The space Keystone has dedicated to its park is long, roomy and set apart from the masses, making it tough for the weekend Joeys to find themselves in over their heads or get in our way. To top it all off, the park shack sits in the center of it all and our crew was able to call it home for the week.
Speaking of our crew, we gathered Summit County’s top pros to put each ski submitted through a rigorous testing process. Each of these athletes was dedicated to the cause and spent hours filling out many thoughtful – and honest – test forms. Every tester rode each ski on the many features in the park and filled out an overall stoke, a jump rating, a pipe rating, a playfulness rating and an all-mountain performance rating (all out of 10). Mike Clarke took his duties so seriously he felt compelled to lock himself in the park shack in order to focus his energy and feedback of his review to best inform you, our reader.
After five days of serious testing in one banger park, complete with a few barbeques and a limbo contest, over 200 test forms made it back to our office for review. We hope you find them helpful when determining which skis to shred on next season. See you in A51.