Chop / Crud
The soft shovels of the Groundhog absorb and dampen chop and crud very effectively, which allows the rest of the ski to stay in contact with the snow. The ski’s stiffness underfoot and through the tails provided good stability. Though I am not a huge fan of the soft tips-and-stiff tails design, the Groundhog does perform well in chop and crud. The ski is damp, and the tips solidly powered through when hitting ice chunks and dense snow.
Moguls / Bumps
Given that the Groundhog’s sidecut radius is a short 19.4 meters, I thought I’d be able to whip these skis around easily in the bumps. But because of the relatively stiff tails, mogul skiing wasn’t as fun as I had hoped.
Plus, while the tips were easy enough to aim in troughs, the tails caught and didn’t release quickly enough to allow the tips to turn. I found them most enjoyable skiing well-spaced soft bumps. Tight, inconsistent moguls, like on my favorite lines through Fred’s Trees, produced more of a whiplash sensation, as the tails were constantly getting caught behind me. These skis are easy enough to slash and speedcheck in the bumps, but the tails needed room to release in order to do so. If I were planning on spending more time in the bumps, I’d rather go with the DPS Wailer 112RP or 4FRNT CRJ.
Dust on Crust
When the snow report reads, “trace inches,” it might look like a pow day on the surface, but your first turn sounds like you just killed a cat, and you’re reminded of the ice lurking underneath that soft snow surface.
In these conditions, the Groundhog performed with stability and grace. The tip floats just on top of the dust, placing the edges firmly on the hard pack below. The stability of the tails and regular camber underfoot allowed me to carve enough to schralp these disappointing conditions.
Much as the 4FRNT CRJs proved awe inspiring on sun crust and bulletproof hardpack, the Groundhog definitely held an edge in the less than an inch of dust on crust. It was predicable, damp, and stable—all the things I look for when the conditions are deceiving.
Testing the Groundhog on Alta’s deepest day of the season—31 inches of cold smoke—I was surprisingly impressed. We headed straight toward the Wildcat lift and lapped the Westward Ho in blower pow for two days, and later went and played around Bad News.
The Groundhog was floaty and smooth. It was easy to slash them, and the tails provided a lot of energy to jib off Westward Ho’s great natural features. While I wouldn’t choose the Groundhog on a regular basis on a pow day over the DPS Lotus 138, I definitely wasn’t disappointed in their rockered, softer shovel. While it’s not the fattest ski, the Groundhog’s dimensions proved wide enough (100mm underfoot) to float me in Utah’s signature powder.
Steeps / Trees
The Groundhog’s short turn radius made it very easy to slash and billygoat as well as dodge trees. With its stiff and supportive tails, stopping on a steep face like the upper entrances of Piney Glade or Radish was easy. Dropping into Garbage Chute was also confidence-inspiring on the Groundhog.
Skiing in tight, straight areas like Regal Chute with consistent snow was no problem, as the ski pivots well when there are no bumps for the tails to catch on.
The bases are made of a thermoplastic 7500 Sintered Base that RAMP claims has “tremendous abrasion resistance.” I concur, as I have yet to core shot the bases (which, as my ski buddies will certainly attest, is a rarity for my ski arsenal). No matter how deep the snow is, any Alta skier will encounter a rock or two when navigating the occasionally wind scoured entrances to off-piste areas. After much abuse, the Groundhog’s bases are holding up great.
Hucking / Airs
The Groundhog’s swing weight felt a little unbalanced to me. I didn’t notice it too much while billygoating, slashing, and pivoting, but once I was in the air, the Groundhog was not easy to control while spinning. I prefer a ski with a good amount of tail rocker when spinning off features (4FRNT CRJ or the DPS Wailer 112 RP), and not surprisingly, the Groundhog’s flat tail made me hesitant to spin them in the air. However, I enjoyed straight airing drops in Rocky Point on them, as the tails were very supportive on landings.
Touring / Skinning
Because of its full bamboo core and Kevlar/Fiberglass construction, the Groundhog is not the lightest ski out there. Compared to the DPS Wailer 112RP, they were heavy companions in the backcountry.
They did skin well, though. With 100mm underfoot, there is enough surface area to comfortably ascend on the skin track, and the shovels did a good job of breaking trail. The Groundhog wouldn’t be my first choice for a dedicated touring setup, but it will work if you only have one pair of skis.
The RAMP Groundhog is a damp and stable ski, great ski for those who need one ski to carve in all conditions, though I found them to be work in tight, hard moguls. They excel in dust-on-crust, and they floated me pretty well in deep pow.
If mounting on the factory line, I would recommend this ski to alpine skiers before telemark skiers, as the carving is significantly more stable when you have your heels locked down. (And I would still like to try this ski mounted back 2cm to see if they respond better to telemarking.) And for those who love a natural wood top sheet, the Groundhogs are super sexy, which never hurts.