Only recently have I gotten consecutive days on the type of conditions I’d call a healthy percentage of “Tahoe-style pow days” in a normal year. That means feet of snow overnight and then 40–50-degree temps by 2 p.m. They happen every month of the season here in a normal winter, but I had to wait until March until I wanted to open my mouth about these skis.
In short? You’d never know you were skiing on some pinner 124mm-tipped ski if you didn’t look down.
You ever have those days on your Armada ARGs, your DPS Lotus 138s, your Praxis Protests, or your Spatulas, where you’re just cruising along, completely at ease through absolute glop that was cold pow four hours ago before a 50-degree sun hit it? Laughing and actually skiing while your buddies on skis with a bunch of sidecut are hopping all over the place to redirect their boards? Yeah, these do that. And they are by far the skinniest ones out there that I know of that ride that well in that kind of mank. It’s almost like skiing pow, just with more feedback.
One of the great things about this year is that I’ve skied a LOT of crust. No, really, it’s friggin’ great. I’m talking half-inch-thick, 55-degrees-that-then-got-socked-in-with-clouds kind of crust.
And no, they’re not magic—that stuff just sucks all around. But you can easily set them free by just skiing on your shins and keeping the tails loose, or just kind of backseating a bit and carving. Even skis that have rockered tip and tails and nothing else unique about them do better in this stuff than a traditional camber profile, but the WooTest does it even better and as well as any super-wide counterpart that I’ve been on. You can pretty much carve crust. Even the version 1.0s did this. It’s kind of awesome. Not in a, “Hey, it’s like I’m not skiing crust!” kind of awesome, but more like, “Hey, I can almost enjoy myself on this!” kind of awesome.
I’m happy finally to be able to discuss at least a few hero snow days. Hero snow is called that for a reason, and just based on the fact that this is a pretty rockered ski, you should know that it works extremely well in good snow. In fact, on those few days we’ve had, I never even thought about the skis. I went where I wanted to, landed where I wanted to, and skied the same lines I’ve hit numerous times in the BC and at my local resorts just happy to have the surface refresh.
I’d say my biggest lesson from those days is that these things land really well. They didn’t shoot out from under me, and they don’t give me a face plant if I was just a little forward. It doesn’t make much sense for how skinny they are, but there ya go: they’re predictable with no real surprises stomping down landings in the 5–10-foot range. I’d love to tell you about some ridiculous big drops and hot tubbing, but it just hasn’t been that kind of winter.
It’s also very much worth stressing that version 2.0 lets you ski on your shins a little harder on hard snow if you want to. That’s huge in the BC when you’ve got some wind-scoured entrance or exposed spine you need to navigate to get to greener pastures (i.e.: deeper snow). It’s a better overall iteration, no question. That feeling of having some more ski in front of you on boilerplate surfaces is worth it.
What would I change? After some detuning work, not much. Seriously, not much … at all really.
Keith from Praxis mentioned to me awhile back widening the tip a bit. I told him I didn’t really think it was necessary. But diverging a little from the general idea of just making a narrower version of the Protest, I could see it working in a beneficial way in pursuit of the “the one single ultimate BC ski.” I kind of feel like those are already out there, though.
Old habits die hard, though, and on some of the January corn days we’ve had (sigh), I found myself wanting to be driving hard on my shins during turns. Unless I was on just a wide open slope, I did have to kick them into a slide a little bit. It doesn’t just happen without thinking about it. Hockey/McConkey/slash turns are the call.
A wider tip would definitely make the ski more reactive in situations like this because there would be more there to grab to initiate the turn. It might also help it float a little better for you Rocky Mountain types skiing on air with some snow mixed in. It’s not like the 35m radius in a 187 would suffer tremendously if that were brought down a notch to the low 30s with just some tip width. It would also help open up a wider range of speeds where you could stay on the rails without intentionally breaking loose the tails. That’s all just theory, obviously; I personally don’t really think it needs to be done. Speaking for myself, I think this is the ski we were looking to create.
If you’re looking for a backcountry powder ski that won’t leave you with 20 pounds of snow sitting on top of it when breaking trail, or stress your joints sidehilling a skin track with a 130mm waist, this is one of the better options out there. This is especially true if, like me, you’re not a race-background kind of guy who thinks God is going to give you cancer if you aren’t putting 2,000 ft-lbs. of pressure on your shins at all times. It’s a loose-feeling slarver on smooth snow, for sure. And it’s WAY smaller than anything else that skis anything like it. It’s impressive. (Just be prepared for some break-in time with the flex and the tune.)
If you are someone who likes driving your shins hard and letting sidecut do the work for you regardless of snow conditions, don’t forget: this ski doesn’t really have any sidecut. That makes it excel in a lot of the mid-winter conditions you’ll encounter, but if you’re looking for a ski that rules the hardpack, this isn’t it. It’s fun in corn and softer two-dimensional snow with some sliding around, but that’s not why it exists.
If you follow the thinking behind this ski and have kind of seen the light of what a truly dedicated powder ski can feel like in the backcountry compared to some do-it-all design, let me tell you: this ski is about as good as it gets, especially if you hike for your turns and you live in any kind of maritime snowpack. I can’t stress enough how well these things work in conditions you’re used to enjoying only on boards twice this size. I’m actually planning on getting a second pair to dedicate to resort skiing because sidestepping and traversing on such a narrow little plank that performs 90% as well as something as big as the Protest just feels so much better by 3 p.m.
My only question at this point is: What the hell took so long?
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