Memorial Day weekend yielded beautiful, sunny weather at Arapahoe Basin. This was quite the change from all the snow A-Basin had been getting the last few weeks. Spring had finally arrived, just in time for A Basin’s biggest party of the year, the 10th Annual Festival of the Brewpubs. It was also the perfect time to test 4FRNT’s newest park ski. Good times!
Arapahoe Basin’s Treeline Park was in excellent condition for this time of the season. A blustery tailwind combatted the slushy conditions and allowed the jumps to stay open most of the weekend, allowing me to spend a couple of full days testing the Switchblade in its element.
For me, the Switchblade’s moderately stiff flex was pretty ideal for a park ski. Butters and presses were manageable, but did require a little bit of effort. Though stiff, the flex was consistent and predictable – there was no guesswork when setting presses of any kind. I frequently found myself skipping jumps and rails so I could jib their rollers. But while butters and nose blocks were a blast on the Switchblade, jumps were really where the ski shined.
(Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 AMPerage, which is unchanged for 12/13.)
When Jonathan Ellsworth and I left Colorado Springs on Saturday, May 21st, temps were already in the 60’s and the sky was bluebird. I was planning to ski 4FRNT’s flagship park ski for next season, the Switchblade, but Mother Nature decided that this late May weekend would be better suited to testing powder skis. Good thing the Black Diamond AMPerage was one of the 11 pairs of skis loaded in to the back of Jonathan’s FJ Cruiser….
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Da’Nollie, which is unchanged for 12/13 and 13/14, except for the graphics.]
You may know Icelantic because of their fresh graphics and unusual designs, like the relatively short Shaman with that enormous shovel.
The 11/12 Icelantic Da’Nollie, however, is nothing revolutionary design-wise as far as park skis go; but it’s just about as good as park skis come.
When I arrived at A-Basin for what would be my first day on the Da’Nollie, I was still recovering from the previous day’s bluegrass festival and end of the year party. Needless to say, I was a little low on energy that first day. My first run on the Da’Nollie, however, snapped me out of my morning stupor, and I quickly learned that the Da’Nollie is a very lively and playful ski. I took a few laps on Black Mountain Express while I waited for the rest of the BLISTER crew to get ready, and I was immediately impressed. I found the Da’Nollie to be very quick from edge to edge, and it felt lively when carving – responding well to my every move.
“The Rossignol Sickle, THE MOST VERSATILE SKI EVER. The end.”
But I don’t make the rules around here, and Jonathan told me I had to elaborate.
Some incarnation of the Sickle has been around for the past couple of years. The ski started out as the Scratch Steeze back in 2008, and since then, Rossignol has been tweaking the flex pattern, name, and graphics just about every season. The biggest change came in 2010-2011 with the S6, when Rossignol got rid of the ski’s traditional camber and instead incorporated “U-Rocker.” U-Rocker is Rossi’s fancy term for continuous rocker; it has no flat section underfoot, and is entirely reverse cambered — kinda like the letter “u”.
(For 2011/12, however, Rossignol has decided to call this same, continuous, reverse camber design their “Spin Turn Rocker,” presumably because spins and turns are way cooler than the letter U. Tough break, U.)
Now if your brains (and knees) are freaking out because you think the Sickle will perform like a bar of soap on anything except powder, let me assure you that this isn’t the case. The key is in the amount of rise on the Sickle. Even though the rocker runs full length, it is very slight and his minimal tip and tail splay — if you press the middle of the ski down on a flat table, the tip and tail are somewhere around a ¼” off of the surface.
If you’re going to write a review that questions one of the highest profile skis in the industry, that review better be smart. And LONG. Ours is. Ladies and gentlemen, BLISTER’s review of the Rossignol Super 7.
Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 181.5cm
Boots/Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester, DIN at 9
Mount Location: manufacturer’s mark, -3cm from true center
Days skied: 4
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 10/11 Jeronimo, which was not changed for 11/12, except for the graphics.]
Having read Mark Connell’s initial review of the Jeronimo, I was eager to take them for a spin. I’d used the K2 Kung Fujas as my everyday ski last season, but found myself growing increasingly tired of their very soft flex. With dimensions and a camber profile nearly identical to the Kung Fujas, the Jeronimos are different primarily in their much burlier flex. Given this, and as I was looking down at them on the lift (and loving the top-sheet graphics for reasons I can’t fully explain), I had some pretty high expectations for how the skis would perform.
Conditions in Summit County on Monday, March 21st were in full spring-mode. A day at Breckenridge brought everything from firm groomers in the morning to big, super slushy bumps and a park laps in the afternoon.
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 10/11 Jeronimo, which was not changed for 11/12, except for the graphics.]
First of all, let’s get it straight: ON3P is pronounced, “Oh-Ehn-Three-Pea,” and it is the name of a small, independent ski company out of Portland, Oregon. I’ve spent a good amount of time on these skis the last three weeks, and a number of people have said things like, “Sweet ONEPs” (“Oh-Neps”). At first I was confused. Then they were confused when I said the name properly, and looked at me like I was a snowlerblader. Fortunately, while the name ON3P is strange, the Jeronimo is a burly, well constructed ski for advanced skiers who know how to handle themselves in all kinds of terrain.
Do NOT buy these skis, however, if you don’t want to field questions from strangers all day. The Jeronimos definitely draw a lot of attention and a lot of comments.
The bindings were mounted at factory recommended, just three centimeters back from a true center mount. I had to get used to keeping my weight a little more centered rather than forward, and when I did, the skis started coming around better and I wasn’t working as hard to turn them. The Jeronimos don’t have a ton of sidecut, do have regular camber underfoot, and rocker out at the tip and tail. I know what you’re thinking: They sound awesome.
The ski is advertised to be for someone who charges the mountain all morning, then laps the park in the afternoon. Since the snow conditions were variable for the first few days I had on the Jeronimos, I started out with them in the park. I found the Jeronimos to work well there, and the only thing missing was that I didn’t feel like I could pop off the tails very well. Thanks to the forward mount, skiing backward to switch take offs are a breeze, and the skis felt very comfortable and balanced in the air. However, I can’t say that I would recommend the Jeronimo if you spend the bulk of your time in the park. These are a pretty beefy ski with fairly stiff tails, so they are really meant to be used in a different way (I’ll get back to this at the end). And unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take them into a half pipe, which is generally my favorite feature. But based on how the Jeronimos perform on icy snow, I can’t say that I’d be super excited to ride 22 foot walls of ice on them.
After the next snowfall, I finally got to see what the Jeronimos could do around the mountain. The first time I got these in some soft snow they came alive. These things crave soft snow, and they plow through tracked up, skied out soft stuff. My best day on them came Three days after a storm in Taos. I was skiing with a couple of Squaw Valley rippers who were out visiting. Eager to show them what Taos has to offer, we headed straight for the West Basin ridge, finding pockets of untouched snow, and fun straight lines all over the place.
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Experience 98, which is unchanged for 12/13 & 13/14, except for the graphics.]
I first got on this ski at the SIA on snow demo at Taos Ski Valley, and it was one of the more impressive skis I tried during those three days. The Rossignol Experience 98 comes from a racing pedigree with an all mountain target audience. It has a wood core, metal sandwich construction, a side cut that extends all the way through the tip, and what Rossi is calling their “all mountain rocker.” Rossignol describes the Experience 98 this way:
“With the heart of a high-performance carving machine and a freeride touch and feel, it is one of the strongest do-it-all skis on the market. Traditional camber underfoot delivers power, energy and edge grip with rockered tip and tail that dramatically improves the turn initiation and flotation in any condition.”
Nice description, except for the fact that the Experience 98 has ZERO tail rocker, which is something that potential buyers ought to know before pulling the trigger. (See the photograph below.) However, while “rocker” is all the rage – so much so that many manufacturers are slapping some form of reverse camber on just about everything they make – the absence of tail rocker on this ski is a good thing, given that it is intended to be an exceptional carver.
My first impressions of the Experience 98 were good. The ski turned easily on groomers – quick edge-to-edge and silky smooth. That impression soon disappeared, however, when I took it into more difficult terrain. The ski became hooky and unpredictable, and was unstable at speed. I took the skis back to the Rossignol rep, Tyler, and told him what I thought. Tyler said, “come back and try it again tomorrow and I’ll set the binding back a little bit.” I did just that, and sure enough the ski performed much better: everything became smooth and stable, and speed and bumps were no longer an issue.
I was a little skeptical of the Black Diamond Justice, despite the good things I’d heard about it. I had previously owned a pair of Black Diamond Verdicts that I’d never grown to love, and I was worried that I might find the Justice to be a stiff, unplayful ski that was hard to turn. I’m a smaller girl and a telemarker, so I like a ski that turns easily, floats well, and pops….
Day 1: It was chilly and partly-cloudy day at Alta. Six inches of snow had fallen a few days ago, and conditions were soft but pretty tracked out. Given Black diamond’s burly reputation, I thought I’d start with a gentle groomer to feel out the ski. The first run was smooth and my first turn was near perfect. After just three turns, I nodded and gave my friend a thumbs up of approval. The Justice skied fast and beautifully carved turns. They didn’t feel like a fat powder ski forced to negotiate a groomed run, nor were they as burly and stiff as I had feared.
I then ventured out to Devil’s Castle to explore, sidestepping only a little way. There looked to be some soft, nearly untracked snow below us. I watched a friend ski before me. It looked soft but a little grabby, and I watched him take deliberate, careful turns. Then I dropped in. The snow was smooth in places, but there were buried ice chunks and random patches of wind effect. The skis preformed well, but turning wasn’t effortless. The Justice need to be driven with confidence. When they are, they impress with how well they plowed through chop. Once a turn was initiated I could trust them. The only place I felt caught off guard was making a little playful alpine turn at the bottom of the run. My edge grabbed me by surprise. While I could make a quick but intentioned tele-turn, a mindless, playful maneuver didn’t seem possible, which can probably be attributed to the stiff, non-rockered tail.
First Impressions: Salomon BBR, 186cm Ski dimensions (mm): 147-88-102 (176 cm) Radius: 11.5(166cm)/12.5(176cm)/13.5(186cm) Available length of skis: 166cm, 176cm, 186cm Boots / Bindings: Lange RX 130 / Salomon demo bindings Mount Location: began on the line, but read the review…. Test Location: Taos Ski Valley I … Read more