Heavy, Wet Mank
So far, I am actually most impressed with these in steep, super dank mashed potato snow. In similar terrain and conditions, I was struggling to get the Praxis MVPs to release (I am 99% confident that this was a tune issue, first and foremost), but I have had no trouble with the Automatic.
These skis are not catching or hooking in some very grabby, wet snow. I’m still dealing with a knee that could be better, and another knee that is feeling close to 100% for the first time in about 16 months. Wrenching the hell out of my knee in grabby snow because my skis aren’t cooperating is not something I’m into. And for this reason among others, I have loved the Automatics this trip.
Refrozen Death Chunder
One afternoon as we were skiing Nausica, a sun-baked, northeast-facing slope (remember, we’re in South America; it’s flipped here), I saw some “death-chunk-mixed-with-slushy-mank” rip the ski off of a very good skier who was simply making a right turn.
This was snow that could mess with you at any moment, and also mess you up. (Of course, reviewer Jason Hutchins was skiing this stuff like it was perfect powder. I hate him.)
The Automatics didn’t dominate this stuff. But what they did do was stay predictable. And when you’re skiing sketchy conditions, you know what’s nice? Not being scared that your skis or boots or bindings are about to screw you.
In this murderers’ row snow, the Automatics impressed me quite a bit. They didn’t “slay” these conditions—I’m still not sure what ski would—but for a soft-ish, playful pow ski, these didn’t get weird precisely when what I needed most was for a ski not to suddenly hook or grab.
And this is a quality of the Automatic that bears noting: in tricky, variable, bumped-up conditions at speed, I could get the shovels of the Automatic flapping quite a bit. The 186 Automatic is definitely not as stiff or damp as the 184 or 190 Moment Bibby Pro, or the 190cm Rossignol Squad 7.
But in big, open sections of this refrozen crud, I would see and sense the tips and shovels of the Automatic undulating rapidly (weird analogy alert: picture a stingray sliding down a mountain, sideways), but I was not getting bucked around or knocked off balance. The tips and shovels could get flapping, but I felt isolated from all that, able to remain centered and not get tossed around.
In this specific regard, the 186 Automatic feels similar to the 184 LINE Sir Francis Bacon and feels less like the 190 Moment Bibby Pro or the 190 Rossignol Squad 7. I don’t expect the 193 Atomic Automatic to feel worlds different from the 186, but we’ll see….
For this reason, I wouldn’t call the 186 Automatic a “charger”; it plays more than it charges. And yet… this ski holds up well when conditions get difficult. It doesn’t get unpredictable or create a struggle to stay balanced. And this quality comes with a big upside. Namely, in…
The Automatic is dumb easy to ski. As I’ve mentioned, these skis are much better than average when carving turns, but they are crazy easy to pivot and smear, and super quick to turn. In some steep, narrow, icy entrances, I appreciated just how easy, stable, and responsive the Automatics were. All ski design involves compromise, but the Automatic feels less like a series of compromises and more like the best of all possible worlds. (If Gottfried Leibniz were around today, he would definitely rock the Automatic.)
Moguls / Tree Skiing (despite the fact that Las Leñas doesn’t have either)
You have to search far and wide to find anything resembling a mogul field at Las Leñas, but in short sections (usually near chairlifts) I could already tell how incredibly easy the Automatics would be in bumps. Here, the narrow tips and tapered shovels felt pretty ideal and didn’t slam into each other, and, as noted earlier, these are pivot machines. Carve if you want, or pivot like a madman. Either way.
I’m not a huge fan of skiing bumps on 115+ mm skis, but I will rip the @%&! out of bumps on the Automatics. (In this regard, they remind me of the Armada JJs, another good 115mm bump ski.)
It’s also why I am convinced that these will be exceptionally good skiing trees. Intuitive, not hooky, very quick, easy to turn, forgiving. Again, I always liked the Armada JJ in trees, and I believe that the Automatic will be at least as good.
Furthermore, I’m wagering heavily—but waiting to prove—that the 193 Automatic will be easier in tight trees (and bumps) than the 190 Bibby Pro or the 190 Rossignol Squad 7.
Cut-Up Crud (and some light pow)
I haven’t actually skied any true, tracked pow on the Automatic, but I have had it in cut-up crud. Here, the story is largely the same. I have not been bucked forward. When I’ve gotten in the backseat, the tails provide support, don’t just collapse on me, and have helped me stay balanced.
Personally, I’d prefer to be on the 190 Bibby or the Squad 7 in this stuff, but I’m more than happy to ski it on the Automatic. And if you think that the Bibby or the Squad might be a little more ski than you want or need… there’s this ski out now called the Automatic that you should probably check out.
Edit: Deep Chop
Having put more time on both the 186 and 193 Automatic at Alta last season, I wanted to add this section on the Automatic’s performance in deep chop (I touched on this in our review of the 193 Automatic.) As I’ve said, the Automatic isn’t designed to rage through bad snow (see above). But it is an outstanding ski in untracked pow (see next page), though we found it to struggle a bit at speed in the deep chopped up snow that Alta sees after a big storm. There, Will Brown and I both wished that we were getting more support out of the tail.
Granted, not many resorts get the kind of deep tracked snow that Alta gets, so this particular weakness may not be relevant to a whole lot of people…
NEXT: UNTRACKED POW