Airs / Landings
In the past, I’ve had trouble with skis that have landed hard both in the park and off cliffs. The Patron is just the opposite. It is very forgiving when it comes to hard or unexpectedly flat landings. This is where the softer tip and tail really show their advantage. Your shins and knees will not hate you if you land a little back seat. I particularly appreciated this last season when the snow pack was low and the landings were typically solid. The Patrons were designed as an all-mountain freeride ski, so between forgiving landings and easy maneuverability in the air and on the ground, this ski performs.
Crud Performance (At Speed)
I had an all too disappointing lesson about the Patrons’ lack of “speed-friendliness” at the Freeskiing World Tour Championships at Kirkwood last April. Conditions were sub-par, and the qualifier was incredibly icy but short. I was able to hold down a solid run, which qualified me for the first day of competition on the Cirque.
Again, the maneuverability of these skis and the low swing weight made for an excellent top section. When I decided to let my skis run in the lower section, the speed was too much. I literally watched my ski hit a solid chunk of snow and fold right under me. The tails were so soft that the speed and chatter made it difficult to recover.
In all fairness, these skis are not marketed for high speeds, and they do a solid job of performing as a playful all-mountain ski for skiers of intermediate to expert ability. The ski is for the person who prefers moderate-speed skiing, and it is perfect for the skier looking to jump off and jib features as they find them.
Since the tip and tail are pretty soft, I’ve learned to adjust my stance from a very forward racing stance to a more balanced centered stance. This is what you want anyway when you’re skiing powder or more variable terrain. I’ve also taken the spoilers out of my boots (Dalbello Krypton Kryzma ID 2s) to allow me to stand more upright.
Overall, this ski is very user friendly because of its low swing weight and short turning radius relative to its size. Women with a more aggressive style might consider the Patron over the lighter La Niña. Jibbers and freeriders will appreciate this ski for its maneuverability and versatility when it comes to transitioning between powder and groomers. But über-aggressive, all-mountain speed addicts beware: this is not your ski. The Patron’s crud-busting capabilities just aren’t there, and you will be disappointed when you experience its noodle-like tendencies under high speeds.
The take-away message here is that the Patron is designed well and performs excellently when doing what it was primarily designed for—groomers, powder, soft snow between tight trees, and jibbing.