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.
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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