Ski: 2013-2014 Atomic Automatic, 186cm
Dimensions (mm): 140.5-117-129.5
Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 184.2cm
Sidecut Radius: 19 meters
Boots/Bindings: Atomic Redster 130 Pro / Atomic Tracker 16 (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: 1/2 cm back of Atomic Team Line
Test Location: Las Leñas Ski Resort; Alta Ski Area
Days Skied: 9
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Automatic, which is unchanged for 13/14, except for the graphics. Since we first posted this review, we’ve had more time on the ski and have added new material below.]
When I first saw the Atomic Automatic at SIA last January, I knew it was a ski that we would need to review, but I was also pretty sure that it wouldn’t be for me.
Upon inspection, it seemed like the Automatic was a little too soft, a little too “fun-shaped,” had a little too much tip rocker, and looked a little too pintail-y. Oh, and I didn’t really like the shape of the tapered tip and shovel….
If that wasn’t enough, I was also skeptical of Atomic’s claim that the Automatic occupied a middle ground between the very soft Bent Chetler and the much meaner Atlas. That sounded more like a convenient marketing angle than an actual fact.
(For the record, I haven’t yet skied the Bent Chetler, and I’m eager to. (Jason Hutchins reviewed it, and he insists I get on it as soon as possible.) And I’ve never skied the Atlas.
Turns out, I was wrong about the Automatic.
I’ve got five days on the Automatics, have had them in a wide range of conditions, and I am sold. I’m not even sure that I’ve been skiing it in the length I’d prefer most, and I am sold. This ski feels dialed.
Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Dana Flahr worked with Atomic’s design team on the Automatic, and this is how Sage describes the ski: “It is a directional powder ski…it has a v shape (not symmetrical, more of a pin tail) is 117 under foot, has a titanium backbone, which makes it stiff but remains light. It can carve super well on the groomed, blasts through the crud and floats through the powder. It has minimal rocker in the tail for a nice and stable feel, and full powder rocker in the tip.”
Atomic’s product manager, Jake Strassburger, calls the Automatic “a super versatile pow ski.”
And it is. To be more specific, this is how the Automatic has performed on…
On soft groomers, the Automatic can handle a lot of speed and doesn’t feel like a fat, dumb ski on hardpack. Carving feels natural, but the skis don’t get squirrely if you’re running bases flat. They have demonstrated no hookiness on variable hardpack on Las Leñas’ long groomers, which have ranged from soft and smooth, to bumped-up slush, to refrozen cookies. They don’t get weird.
However, get them going very fast on firm, bumped-up groomers, and you may have more trouble keeping the significantly rockered shovel and tapered tail tracking well, which should come as no surprise. In such cases, you’ll be smearing more than carving, but the skis won’t be behaving erratically.
All in all, on hardpack, the Automatic is easy and predictable. It’s straightforward, doesn’t throw surprises. In thinking of other “versatile pow skis” (115+ mm underfoot) that have reputations for solid groomer performance (Armada JJ, Black Diamond AMPerage, MOMENT Bibby Pro), I would place the Automatic among them.
Having said that, the Automatics are not absolutely locked down on bumped-up groomers or off-piste hardpack. (Same goes for the Armada JJ and the Black Diamond AMPerage; and here, the Bibby Pro is the best of the skis I’ve named.)
A word about length: 186 vs. 193
It’s important to keep in mind that my comments are about the 186cm Automatic, not the 193cm Automatic. We agonized over which length to bring with us to Las Leñas, knowing that especially for this place, the 193 would likely be preferable. But we also figured that a lot more people would be considering the 186cm length, and we occasionally put the interests of others before our own. So, you’re welcome.
Since then, we have skied and reviewed the 193 Automatic, so check it out.
NEXT: HEAVY, WET MANK