Kara Williard (see Bio)
I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own 3-ski quiver?
I ski almost exclusively at Taos Ski Valley, NM, except for a few late-season days in Colorado, and some pretty easy-going spring touring around Santa Fe and Taos. What this means for my 2-ski quiver is that I’ll opt for one ski (generally ~100 mm wide underfoot), to use for 80% or more of the season. I generally spend my days skiing the chutes and hiking the ridges of TSV, which I find to be pretty consistently chalky and grippy due to the abundance of north-facing terrain. I prefer to make quick, fall-line turns, and tend to make quite a few more small turns than most of the guys I ski with.
Ski #1: Nordica Enforcer 100, 177 cm
The Enforcer 100 has proven itself again and again to be a versatile ski that works really well for me in steep terrain. I can make the ski turn quickly with minimal effort due to its generous rocker profile (especially in the tip).
And its smooth, damp, and stable edgehold is confidence-inspiring metal feel in the consistently firm and chalky smooth pitches that I ski quite a bit.
Skiing bumps is inevitable at Taos, and the Enforcer 100 also makes quick and predictable turns in the bumps with enough tail rocker to make transitions pretty effortless. And the ski can also provide enough stability down the firm, wind-blasted, rocky chutes of Taos when it hasn’t snowed in quite a while.
I personally prefer the additional width of the Enforcer 100 to the Enforcer 93 when speeds and variability really ramp up in the chutes. And I also lean toward the Enforcer because of its poplar, beech/metal mix versus the balsa/metal of the women’s version of the Enforcer, the Santa Ana, because I find the Enforcer to hold up better in variable conditions.
Ski #2: Blizzard Rustler 11, 180 cm
The Rustler 11 offers the stability and edge-hold that I’m looking for in transitions from the chutes to moguls, even on a powder day. I’ve found the ski to be quite capable in chop, and even better when opened up in prime soft and / or deep snow. Yet, it also performs in more variable conditions that I find to be predictable and well-balanced. For New Mexico powder conditions, even when prime, 112 mm (in the 180 length) is just enough float without seriously compromising any other aspect. This new ski from Blizzard is a completely new design, and I’ve found it to be much more playful than the typical 2-sheet titanium Blizzards I am used to, while again, still holding up pretty well when things get a little uneven or rough.
Ski #3: Faction Candide 3.0, 182 cm (Touring Ski)
By the time touring season for myself rolls around, I am usually just looking to have as much fun as possible. The Candide 3.0 has a lighter, easier-going feel than the two skis I’ve previously listed. I find this to be exceptional when laying into some turns in spring corn. I’ll be honest I have yet to actually tour on this ski, and have only experienced it in-bounds. It offers smooth and easy to open up edge-hold, but also gave me the opportunity to play around in a way that my usual metal-based preference can hinder me on. I tend to stray from metal completely when it comes to touring, not only for weight but again, just for ease and good times. I mean, again, I am really just looking to just get in some late season turns and play around. That said, the 3.0 still holds its own in the firmer and stickier spots.
II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?
To be honest, it was a back and forth, indecisive toss-up between the Enforcer 100 and the Blizzard Bonafide. I need to spend more time on the new Bonafide (with its modified sidecut), but I loved the previous Bonafide, and this new Bonafide seems like it might be an even better fit for my style of skiing.
I also considered exchanging the Candide 3.0 for the Salomon QST 106.
III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?
As I mentioned above, the new Bonafide is one I am looking forward to getting more time on. With all that Blizzard has invested into women’s skis this season, I’m very curious to try the Sheeva 11 compared to the Rustler, with women’s-specific technology. I’d also love spend some time on the Head Kore 105, the Dynastar Legend X106, as well as the Kastle FX 95. I’ve also spent years touring on the Armada TST, and would like to venture onto some of Armada’s new stuff, and the skis that replaced the Armada TST (the Tracer 98 and 108), to see what they’re all about, specifically for touring.
IV. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?
I’d go with Blizzard.
Ski #1: Blizzard Bonafide, 173 cm: For everyday hard-charging even when there is nominal amounts of snow.
Ski #2: Rustler 11, 180 cm: My go-to big mountain powder ski that I don’t regret being on when things are getting a bit tracked-out.
Ski #3: Rustler 10, 180 cm (with Touring Binding): A nice midfat ski that can handle the variability of spring touring. I’ve found it to have decent stability combined with a playful aspect that I look to when it comes to having a good time in late spring.