Brian Lindahl (see Bio)
I. What’s your 2-ski quiver (of currently available skis) for where you ski most?
I primarily ski at Breckenridge and Arapahoe Basin, as well as the Colorado backcountry. However, I also spend at least a few weeks per season traveling to chase powder during our dry spells — usually to places like Wyoming, Utah, Washington, or British Columbia.
For my 3-ski quiver, I chose a fat, stiff, 118mm-wide powder ski; a heavy, damp, directional, 105mm-wide charger that skis powder well; and a playful-yet-stable 104mm-wide dedicated touring ski.
When cutting this quiver down to 2 skis, I’ll have to give up a dedicated touring ski, and go with some sort of 50/50 ski. Since mass matters less when skiing powder, the obvious choice would be for my 50/50 ski to double as my powder ski — both in and out of the resort. And to pair up with this lighter 50/50 powder ski, I’ll choose a damp, directional charger that performs well at the resort in firmer conditions.
Ski #1: ~110-115 mm lightweight powder ski
As mentioned in my 3-ski quiver, I’ve found that a stiff flex helps avoid augering in too deep on landings when playing around on terrain features in deep snow. Therefore, I’m going to pick the 191 cm Volkl V-Werks Katana. Coming in at a stated weight of under 2100 grams, It’s one of the stiffer light skis I’ve been on in this category. It also has a reverse camber profile with mellow rocker, which, when paired with a stiff flex, lends itself to having a very nice frictionless feel in powder (less plowing). In chopped-up conditions at the resort, it has a powerful feel and is hard to beat when looking for a lighter, yet strong, directional powder ski.
And as I aso mentioned in the 3-ski quiver, I very much prefer the Fritschi Vipec over other touring bindings on the market. Unfortunately, Volkl mandates that the V-Werks and BMT skis should only be mounted with Marker Bindings (due to the binding reinforcement shape). For tech bindings, that means Kingpin only, which presents a major dilemma for me. (If you’ve read my review on the Fritschi Vipec, you’ll know how I feel about the safety of all other tech bindings — specifically that I’m very concerned about tib/fib fractures due to issues with only having lateral release in the heel.)
So to be honest, I personally would disregard Volkl’s mandate and mount the V-Werks Katana with the Vipec. Looking at Volkl’s binding reinforcement shape, only the heel screws fall slightly outside the shape. To mount the Vipec heels, I’d pack the unreinforced area with sawdust and epoxy as much as possible, allow it to cure, and then mount with inserts. To be very clear, Volkl does not endorse this, and they definitely would not warranty my skis after doing it. I also can’t recommend that other people mount anything but Marker bindings on the V-Werks and BMT skis. But if I’m being completely honest and transparent, this is what I personally would do, and I’d love to see the V-Werks and BMT accept a greater range of bindings in the future.
Ski #2: ~90 mm firm-snow-biased directional resort ski
I have my resort powder ski covered, so this choice is a no-compromise firm-snow directional charger — the 184 cm Head Monster 88. Yes, this ski has very limited tip rocker, and yes, I’ll be taking it out on some 4-6” days (when the Katana isn’t damp enough). It won’t be ideal in those conditions for the first few runs, but I have to make compromises somewhere. And those compromises are worth it to me; I’ve yet to be on a ski in this category that offers more stability or a higher top-end on firm snow. If you love to charge in these conditions too, the Monster 88 should be on your radar. It’s that simple.
II. What’s your 2-ski quiver for the next 3 years, regardless of location?
I’m sticking with my choices above. While my quiver won’t be optimized for dealing with Sierra cement or a place that gets consistent, deep snowfall, I feel as though the conditions I ski in Colorado are fairly representative of the average of conditions across many different locations, and as such, my choices won’t change.
III. What ski was most difficult to leave off your list?
For my lightweight powder ski, I haven’t skied anything that is comparable to the performance of the Katana, And, in the ~90 mm range, I can’t think of anything comparable to the Monster 88. However, when going wider, the obvious choice would be the 184 cm Head Monster 98. The 184 cm Volkl Mantra would also be an excellent choice that’s a bit more biased toward softer snow but still very capable in firm conditions. The Mantra provides a better overlap with the Katana, and I’d be less likely to be let down with my ski choice if the resort ended up getting more snow than they reported.
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?
Currently, I don’t feel like there is much that could replace the skis I’ve chosen. Compared to the Katana, the skis that I’m aware of are either too soft, too wide, too narrow, too heavy, or too light. Compared to the Monster 88, the skis that I’m aware of are too soft, or not as damp (except the ones I’ve mentioned above).
However, one particular ski could potentially alter my overall decision making. Based on what other Blister reviewers have said about the powder performance of the ON3P Wrenegade 108, the 189 cm length in a custom stiff flex could potentially perform well enough in both powder and firm snow to allow me to choose a dedicated touring ski again, such as the 179 cm Line Sick Day 104.
V. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 2-ski quiver, which company would you pick?
I’d have to go with Volkl. The 184 cm Volkl Mantra and the 191 cm Volkl V-Werks Katana.
NEXT: Paul Forward’s 2-Ski Quiver Selections