2013-2014 Epic Planks Ripper

Epic Planks is right to say that the Ripper likes to be ridden aggressively. It is easy to put on edge with just a little speed, and will hook up and pull across the fall-line quickly for a ski of its size, but the Ripper’s no-nonsense flex profile and traditional camber underfoot and through the tail won’t tolerate poor technique. Show the Ripper a strong, deliberate turn—carved or not—and it’ll be happy to deliver. Don’t, and it won’t let you get away with too much.

Short and Long Scrubbed Turns 

After assessing the Ripper’s carving performance, I spent more time making shorter, skidded turns along the side of groomed runs. Not too surprisingly, the ski’s ample sidecut made it easy to smear back and forth on just a touch of soft snow as long as I maintained a strong, traditional forward stance. The ski didn’t feel particularly snappy (I don’t think I was going fast enough to really flex it from turn to turn), but it did feel light and solid.

Throwing shifties and tail grabs off of small cat-walk jibs and knolls was no problem. The Ripper is a very directional ski, skiing switch isn’t something it does well at all, but if you tend to spend some time in the air on your way down the mountain, you won’t find it cumbersome.

So far I was impressed with the Ripper’s carving performance and pleased with its low-speed maneuverability, but I’ll admit I was a little unsure about how this would translate to longer, very fast skidded turns. Usually skis with shorter turn radii can be harder to control in longer slarve turns, as their sidecut tends to want to hook-up through the shovel, edging and pulling the ski into a tighter turn rather than allowing it to remaining stable and quiet in a sustained skid. This is something the Belafonte does very well, as, again, it has a slightly softer flex underfoot and much straighter shape than the Ripper. (And for the ultimate slarve-turn machine, check out the Blizzard Cochise).

Even so, the Ripper felt pretty stable in longer surf turns—whether on hardpack or in the softer snow on the sides of groomers – as long as the snow surface was fairly smooth. The stiff positive camber underfoot and full effective edge of the tail yields a solid feel when making big, fast, gradual turns and shutting down speed.

Now, I definitely did notice the skis’ sidecut at times. It didn’t seem like a constant issue, but one that was apparent enough that I had to be careful to direct and hold the shovels steady at speed. Mainly on smooth, man-made hardpack they would try and grab, trying to pull the front of the ski across and up the hill. (Really this wasn’t too surprising. After all, I was making ~40-50 meter-long turns at probably 45+mph, on hardpack, on a ski with a 17.2 meter sidecut radius, with full factory edges….)

In the hopes of giving the Ripper a more predictable feel at speed, I heavily detuned the shovels with a gummi stone from about an inch in front of the contact point forward. This definitely helped yield a more balanced feel, and it’s something I would definitely recommend doing of you also want to make longer, high-speed slarve turns on the ski now and then. Doing this won’t significantly alter the Ripper’s carving performance, but it helps give the ski a better balance between short, scrubbed turns and carves, and bigger skidded turns.

Low, Soft Bumps 

The day after a 6″ storm, I had the chance to get the Ripper in some softer conditions on Taos’ lower front side. Conditions were mostly tracked out. The snow was mostly consolidated into small, low bumps but it was still very soft and consistent in the troughs in between.

Making fast and powerful short turns over and through the bumps was easy with just a little speed thanks again to the Ripper’s sidecut. The soft snow did allow the edges to slip evenly, so I never felt like the sidecut was causing the ski to be too hooky so long as I stayed very deliberate about my turns. In general, the Ripper’s stable, balanced feel made me think I was on a much wider, heavier ski though it remained quick and reactive.

Soft, Light Chop

In dabbling around in some of the less tracked powder on the side of runs, I got the sense that the Ripper should do well in fresh powder. The tips tracked nicely, with zero hookiness through quick turns. The Ripper’s tip and tail have an awesome looking shape to them (see the next page) with early taper past the contact points that help achieve this.  So far I’ve only had the ski in a few inches, but I never felt like I needed to help the shovels plane at all thanks to their generous amount of tip rocker. I’ll have to wait and see how the Ripper does on a true, fresh powday, but my hunch is that is should do well for its width. Like the TST, it could prove to be a good one-ski-quiver for those looking for a smooth traditional feel in powder over something that’s looser and more surfy.

Large Firm Bumps & Steeps

The Ripper’s aggressive sidecut and shortened running length through the shovel did become limiting when I took the ski in steeper terrain with much larger bumps and/or more variable snow conditions.

Among larger moguls the ski is still plenty maneuverable and responsive, but its stiffness was very unforgiving if I couldn’t make a smooth, balanced transition from bump to bump.  If the shovels or tails get caught up on the side of an icy bump, the ski does little to flex and smooth out the ride.  In short, while the Ripper is stiff and light, at times it does feel more rigid than damp. You’d better really be on your game or just take your time on this ski in big, hard moguls.

In steep terrain with a mix of hardpack underneath ~2-3″ of tracked out snow, deliberate short swing turns were no problem. Again the Ripper felt nimble and stable through the tail. However, the ski started to feel rather short and less predictable with more speed and edge pressure.  If the shovel’s sidecut caught any soft snow that the tails couldn’t also bite on as I made big fast, hard-set slarve turns, the tips would hook up and try to pull hard across the fall line. I worried about this happening unexpectedly at speed with the skis angled across the slope (as it could have resulted in a nasty, “high-side” fall), so I dialed the speed back and shortened up my turns when in those sort of demanding, variable conditions. In this way I don’t really see the Ripper as big-mountain oriented one-ski-quiver like both the Bellafonte and Cochise. Those skis both have a damper feel and are more predictable and stable at high speeds thanks to much longer turn radii. But, of course, they aren’t  as nimble as the Ripper at low speed or nearly as energetic through carves.

I will say that if you like to point it every now and then through a runout, the Ripper won’t dissapoint there. Running more or less straight down the fall line through a mix of shallow, variable chop, the skis remained stable and smooth. With such stiff tails and nice supportive tip rocker, they also do well on landings. If you’re looking to hit some small cliffs (or airs anywhere where you won’t need to shut down a lot of speed very quickly – due to the reasons above), the ski is ready to do so.

On a final note: I never felt I needed to move the mount point of the ski forward to improve its low-speed maneuverability, but I will experiment with this to see what kind of effect it has. I think it’s also worth mentioning that the ski seems quite well made and durable. From what I can tell, the topsheet seems to resist chipping very well and the base hasn’t struck me as soft at all after taking some good knocks.

Bottom Line

Overall, I’m impressed with the interesting performance balance Epic Planks has managed to achieve with the Ripper. It has a lot of sidecut to rail relatively tight carves, but not so much that the ski constantly fights though aggressive longer skidded turns so long as the snow surface remains relatively consistent. Its soft snow performance is precise, powerful, and not very forgiving.

The Ripper definite similarities to other great, burly all-mountain skis, though it has it own unique performance biases that, in my mind, make it well suited for a rather specific sort of skier. The Ripper isn’t for just anyone in need of a directional all-mountain ski. If you really love to rail carves and make quick, explosive turns in the steeps before charging out the bottom of chutes, you’ll be very happy with it. (If this sounds appealing, but you think you want something with a more forgiving tail, again check out the Armada TST.) If you don’t care much about quickness on groomers and would prefer a straighter, damper, heavier ski for skiing fast through chop and crud, look toward the Belafonte or Cochise.

I look forward to putting more time on the Ripper in more fresh powder conditions. Afterwards, as always, we’ll pass it on to other reviewers so they can weigh in as well. Stay tuned for an Update on the Ripper’s powder performance.


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13 comments on “2013-2014 Epic Planks Ripper”

  1. Nice review, as usual; the Ripper looks really appealing for a burly everyday ski. you mentioned it vs. the Bela, how does it compare to some of the other directional early rise tip skis you guys have been on recently, e.g. Cham and Watea 106?

    • Hi Jonathan,

      Personally I haven’t had the chance to ski either of those skis yet, but you’re definitely right that they’re in the same class as the Ripper. I can speculate that the Ripper might have the slight upper hand on the Watea in soft conditions, simply due to the tapered shape of the tip and tail. While the Watea is rockered, its tip shape is largely traditional, and could feel slightly hookier when things get choppy. Again, that’s only a tentative guess. The Update to this review will be filled with as many comparisons as I can make, including, hopefully, the Cham. Thanks for reading!


  2. Nice preliminary review! I’ve been keeping a close eye on this ski since hearing some rumors last year. Based on your comments it sounds like a beefed up bonafide or katana. Any comparison to the blizzard or volkl all mtn models, or maybe the garbone?

    • Hi Reg,

      The Ripper is certainly a beefed up Cochise, which I am more familiar with than the Bonafide, and seems the more direct comparison. The Cochise (which is practically identical in design to the Volkl Gotama) has a great, snappy flex profile, but isn’t at all as super stiff underfoot and through the tail like the Ripper and is a little softer in that respect than the Belafonte. The Cochise does feel sufficiently locked down on groomers and hardpack, but the Ripper more so. The Ripper has a livelier feel on edge with what feels like a shorter turn radius that the Cochise. However, the Cochise, with less sidecut and a flat underfoot profile, is more willing to make a huge variety of scrubbed turn shapes. I’m going to see if a little more detune on the Ripper can make it handle more of this way in the steeps, though I don’t think it’ll fully match the smeary, snappy feel of the Cochise. If you’re prioritizing groomer/carving performance and edge hold, lean toward the Ripper. If you’re looking for more of a wider bump ski that’s also going to put up very well with variable conditions in steep, tight terrain, I’d lean toward the Cochise.

      As for the Katana, I consider that ski in a bit of a different class. With it’s weight and dampness at 112mm underfoot, it absolutely destroys crud and chop, plus has a good amount of float in soft snow. For it’s straightline speed (which is insane), the Katana is surprisingly nimble in trees in bumps, but on the whole will feel like more ski than either the Ripper or Cochise. It’s really more of a big-mountain/light powder ski than an all-mountain ski in my mind. Sadly I haven’t had the chance to ski the Garbone.

      Hope this helps,


  3. Looks like a really interesting ski that I would like to try. When I first saw this, it reminded me of the Armada TST. Have you ridden the TST? Curious how they stack up?

    • That’s a good call, Andre. We’ll be getting on the the 192cm TST fairly soon, so we’ll let you know asap. Right now I can say that the TST is certainly softer across the board than the Ripper. Maybe it will end up being a bit of a hybrid of the Belafonte an Ripper; more of a “5-dimension” tapered shape, but with a rounder, generally softer flex profile that the Ripper. Stay tuned!


  4. We just received our review pair of Rippers for an East Coast test (175cm size) and will get a review out as ASAP. Our graphics are slightly different than those Will reviewed, but the rest of the description is right-on. I agree with Will on all his observations about the stout flex and resistance to pressing the waists together by hand. The skis appear to be very well built, and definitely sturdy feeling. It has a mid-to-tail flex reminiscent of some race-stock GS skis we’ve run across in years past, and with its geometry and flex pattern, definitely falls into the exotic ski category. We will let you know how they handle in our extended testing through December and January! For those who don’t know, Bill Wanrooy, founder of EpicPlanks, has written some powder guide books covering various heli and cat powder skiing operations around the World.

  5. Scot said:

    February 4, 2013 at 11:18 am
    Great reviews. I’m 5’9 170lbs, aggressive skier. Looking for a northeast and UT one ski quiver. I’m looking at the PBJ 182cm, Epic ripper 185cm (or 175cm opinion?), and Lib tech NAS Magic Horsepower 178cm. I want something I can slide around with my kids, but also go after the trees and bumps when I’m out with buddies. I appreciate your thoughts on my choices and sizes. (Also posted in the PB&J review)


    • Hi Scot,

      I haven’t skied anything from the Lib tech NAS line yet (which should change this spring) but it looks like Eric has. (His comment came in as I was responding to yours). I can speak to the Ripper vs. PB&J. My thoughts are consistent with what Eric has already said about the Ripper below. If you were primarily looking for a serious all-mountain carver with a tight radius that can handle soft chop and crud, the Ripper is it. But, if you know you’re going to be skiing a good amount of bumps, I’d probably suggest going with the PB&J over the Ripper. The PB&J is on the stiffer side of things, but isn’t as stiff and unforgiving thanks to a softer flex underfoot and some tail rocker. I can ski bumps on the Ripper, but I need to be precise and powerful with my turns – the ski won’t let you get lazy or relaxed at all in big bumps. The PB&J is more forgiving in that respect.

      Now, the PB&J does have less effective edge though the tail and a more centered mount. You’ll definitely notice that carving on hardpack. it’s more playful in the bumps and trees, but not as stable on groomers. So, what’s something with a traditional tail that carves very well but isn’t as demanding as the Ripper? Maybe the Magic HP, as Eric has said, but I also think the Armada TST is something worth considering. It’s shaped similarly to the Ripper – you can rail the crap out of it thanks to awesome edge hold – but is lighter, softer and more forgiving in the tail. As long as you’re not looking to mach through chop and can be a little lighter on your skis, that seems like something you really ought to consider as an alternative to the Ripper (that has more tail than the PB&J). Hope this helps!


  6. Scot, I have ridden the Epic Ripper and the Lib Tech NAS Magic Horsepower (not the PBJ yet), and the ripper is definitely stiffer, stronger and less compliant than the Magic HP. The Magic HP is more easy-going, but still wicked fun and plenty sporty for a one-ski quive (although you mention you want a one-ski-quiver for BOTH the NorthEast AND Utah ? hard to pin that one down…very different terrain and snow conditions… )probably less calories per turn and less likely to push back at you in the bumps, while being more loose-feeling at speed than the Rippers. Out of the Magic HP and Ripper, I would choose the Magic HP for more one-ski quiver, but be aware the Ripper will out-hold and out-carve the Magic HP hands-down, but be stiffer and has a narrower comfort-range than the Magic HP. I think the Magic has a wider range of snow conditions it will perform well in, but cannot match the Ripper for uber-solid beefy feel underfoot and in the tail…it’s a tradeoff…very different feeling skis.

    From my Ripper review:

    The Ripper is a strong, stiff, athletic ski ideally suited to strong, athletic skiers who want a rock-solid, race-like platform underfoot with a slightly softened, rockered forebody to absorb softer terrain and crud without diving or deflecting. No real limit to the pressure it can take and the edgehold it delivers. The harder you ski it, the more it delivers grip and power. The ride can be a bit stiff in bumps and can buck the driver (it likes to be driven, not ridden) if you don’t keep the power on in rough terrain. The Ripper feels like a freeride competition ski for tracked-out and hardpack terrain more than a soft-snow ski due to its stiff chassis, but will cut highly-directional tracks through soft snow as long as you don’t want a surfy-smeary ski. GS-like carving and holding ability with a bit of tip flap at high speeds, but can’t really be overpowered by mortal skiers. Powerful, stable, strong and agile, but not for the faint of heart or lazy skiers looking for a comfy couch…more details of this review at the EpicPlanks test section of ExoticSkis.com… (http://www.exoticskis.com/forum/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=274). I have not skied the PBJ, but tons of people love that ski…definitely worth getting demo rides if possible…

  7. Thank you both for the quick replies. It’s tough to find a review on the lib tech’s. After both comments I think I’ll drop the Ripper from my search. Great reviews. Thanks again.

  8. Nice review. Just wanted to chime in that I totally agreed with your verdict until I tried detuning the skis. I had intended them to be my competition skis and was a little sketched out by what felt like a solidly hooky feeling, making me constantly nervous about high siding and eating massive crap. After maybe a week or so on them I massively detuned everything to an inch or two past contact at the tip and tried a gradual increase in detune beginning about 4-5 inches from the tail and ending with essentially round edges past the contact point.

    It definitely traded away a lot of that super awesome GS feel on groomers, but they instantly started feeling like a bigger meaner ski in the soft stuff. With that detune, they absolutely smash comp conditions and feel awesome sending into pow. GS style carves through moguls at outrageous speed are still totally an option because they’re so stiff and still sharp underfoot but now they slarve and shut down speed too. Super scary before, super fun now. Maybe try doing a bit more detuning yourselves and see if anything changes? Full disclosure: I do ski for Epic Planks, but I honestly love the skis now, and out of the box I kind of hated them.

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for the input. The Ripper is an interesting ski, I can’t say I know of many like it. It’s definitely not a comp ski – or at least I don’t see it as one. I wouldn’t recommend it for that purpose. As you know it has a much tighter turn radius than what you’ll find on something like the Moment Belafonte or Blizzard Cochise, so really I think anyone who is considering the Ripper should want that tighter radius and expect the tradeoffs that come with it. Part of me doesn’t want to try and dull the edges simply to turn the ski into a Belafonte, if you know what I mean. If someone wants a long, more slarvy feel, I’d say look into a ski with a longer turn radius in the first place. The great carving performance is part of what makes the Ripper interesting, though it also means it’s not suited for everyone out there. Still, it is helpful to know you can, with the help of a gummi stone, give away some of that GS feel and make the Ripper ski longer than it’s shape would otherwise comfortably permit.



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