Jonathan Ellsworth (see Bio)
I. What’s your 1-ski quiver (of currently available skis) for where you ski most?
For ~100 days of inbounds skiing primarily at Taos, Telluride, and Arapahoe Basin, here’s my list:
Kara gave a good description of the type of snow and terrain I find myself in frequently, and I’d only add that I tend to find myself in a lot of steep, chalky bumps. I also tend to like to open things up a bit in variable conditions, so if I was going with an inbounds-only ski, I’d want something with a bit of weight. I’m also willing to sacrifice some deep snow performance, but I get to ski enough fresh / deep snow that I want my selections to be at least serviceable in 12-24” of fresh snow.
And so, to that end.
3rd Choice: Nordica Enforcer 100, 185 cm
I’d be wishing for a bigger top end on days when it was really all about skiing very hard and fast, but if you’re willing to dial things back just a bit, this ski can be a lot of fun in a whole lot of conditions and terrain.
2nd Choice: Folsom Primary, 188 cm
Looking back at my 1-ski quiver selections from 14/15, my top two choices where the 186 cm Line Supernatural 108, and the previous iteration of the Blizzard Cochise (185 cm). The fact is, the version of the Primary we reviewed would be a fantastic 1-ski quiver for many, many skiers, I just (as I’ve written) would be willing to trade in some of its deep-snow capability for a bit more inherent stability in variable conditions. In other words, for inbounds-only use, I personally think I might prefer the stiffer and heavier version of the Folsom that we’re working on. But keep reading.
1st Choice: J Skis Masterblaster, 186 cm
Biggest thing to note here is that if I can only have one ski for 100 days of inbounds use, I’ll go with the Masterblaster in the longer length to gain a bit more deep snow performance and a bigger top end, though I will miss just how quick (yet stable & playful) the shorter Masterblaster is.
For 100 days a year of ~70% inbounds, ~30% backcountry skiing:
This is basically a 3-way tie, in that I feel like I could be quite happy on any of these setups. So keep that in mind. But that said:
3rd Choice: Parlor Skis Cardinal 100, 185 cm
Coming in right around 2000 grams, this ski has quite a bit of backbone and can be pushed (and carved) hard. I would mount these with inserts so that I could swap out alpine bindings for touring bindings.
2nd Choice: Liberty Origin 96, 187 cm
I feel like I could very happily make this “2nd choice” my first choice. The Origin 96 feels quite solid yet very quick, and it punches above its width in terms of deep-snow performance. Again, I’d mount with inserts so that I could swap out alpine bindings and touring bindings. And to be clear, I think this would be a particularly outstanding touring ski (mounted with a Marker Kingpin or Fritschi Tecton 12),
1st Choice: Folsom Primary, 188 cm
In our Buyer’s Guide we highlighted the versatility of the Folsom Primary, and as I think about all the skis I’ve been on, I really do feel like I could make the version I reviewed work every day on the mountain. On really deep days, I think this 108mm-wide ski will do quite fine. Nasty, off-piste conditions might not be the most fun (I’d typically opt for something with stiffer shovels in particular), but for an all-around ski, the Primary is a great option.
II. What’s your 1-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?
Folsom Primary, 188 cm
Given that I am going to have to ski inbounds and tour on this ski, and given that I would be putting about 300 days on it, I want this selection to be a bit heavier — but still not too heavy to tour on. And at ~2100 grams per ski, our current iteration of the Primary fits the bill as well as or better than any other ski I can think of. So for inbounds-only use, I’m interested in a heavier, stiffer version of the Primary. But for inbounds + touring, our current version is coming in at a really good weight for a ski of its width.
III. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?
Faction Candide 3.0, 186 cm
This was painful to leave off, because I think this ski is incredibly good. And if I spent less time skiing rocky steeps with sometimes thin snow cover, this ski could easily be my overall winner for 1-ski quiver. It’s so strong and capable yet fun. And I would be absolutely psyched to have this ski + a Kingpin for my everyday touring setup. So if you live in an area that consistently has very good coverage, I’d say this ski should be on your radar.
IV. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?
Salomon QST 106, 188 cm
As with the Candide 3.0, I think this would be a terrific touring ski, and it is going to be even better than the Candide 3.0 in deep snow. I can’t say yet how good (or acceptable) its firm-snow performance is, but as a deep-snow ski and as a touring ski, I’m set.
LINE Sick Day 104, 186 cm
I would also very happily tour on this ski, and I think its deep-snow performance will be pretty decent. But I’d want to spend more time on it in really firm, bumped-up conditions to get a better sense of how it holds up there. But I already know that in even slightly-soft snow, I could be happy on this ski over the course of a bunch of days.