In soft chop, this ski did pretty well at speed in places like Alta’s Ballroom, when I would keep the tips pointed down the fall line, popping off bumps.
When I had these on Taos’ Reforma, the snow was deep and perfect, so it didn’t present some of the challenges that run can offer. But straight-lining out of the bottom at high speeds (in soft, chopped pow), the Powderball did fine.
But this is definitely a turny ski, and when I’d initiate a turn in deep, soft chop, the Powderball would certainly want to keep turning. They weren’t washing out, but the Powderball likes to make short turns.
I’m definitely not recommending this ski to people who love metaled out, fall-line skis, but as someone who tends to like skis like that, I still went out and had a lot of fun on these. Plus, the Powderball is much easier in tight trees than these other skis, it just won’t rage like them.
Deep, Heavy Chop
In deep, heavy chop, the Powderball’s soft flex pattern isn’t ideal. If you’re skiing cut-up Sierra Cement, I’d steer you toward something with a more stout flex, unless you already know you like soft skis in these conditions (Armada JJ, DPS Wailer 112, Atomic Automatic, etc.).
In sunbaked crust, the soft shovels of the Powderball are definitely the wrong tool for the job, and I wished I had a heavier, more stout ski like a Katana, ON3P Billy Goat, the Moment Governor or Bibby Pro. But these are called the Powderball, not the Suncrustball….
In uniform moguls, the Powderball is a really fun ski—light, quick, soft, and I felt very comfortable at speed in good bumps.
In weird bumps, the quickness and forgiving flex of the Powderball is still an asset, but I think you’ll be slowing down here and skiing deliberately rather than just blasting through or around messy mogul lines (as you could on a stiffer, heavier ski).
Off-Piste, Firm Snow
On firm, bumped-up, off-piste terrain, you’ll like these skis more the slower you go. At slow speeds, you’ll appreciate the predictability of these skis and the forgiving flex. At higher speeds, the skis are just too soft to support demanding skiing.
By the end of the day a couple of weeks ago, as large bumps were forming down the center of Taos’ Stauffenburg—some soft, some firm—it was easy to overpower the Powderball.
That 14-meter sidecut radius and soft flex makes these fun to carve and get up on edge on soft groomers. But I didn’t feel like the edge hold was nearly as good as the 190 DPS Wailer 112RP Pure, which is a much more torsionally rigid ski than the Powderball and has far more snap than the Powderball.
On soft groomers, the Powderball is fine, but compared to softer pow skis like the Atomic Automatic and the Wailer 112RP, I felt like the Powderball lagged behind. And here, beginners and intermediates who are just looking to get back to the lift at moderate speeds, and don’t care about carving on high edge angles won’t mind at all. But advanced and expert skiers who are looking to have fun in pow and in trees, but want to have just as much fun carving up groomers, they will be better served by the Wailer 112RP.
But again, more points for Truth In Advertising: SkiLogik doesn’t claim that this is a pow ski that also rips up hardpack and groomers….
There are only so many tricks to make a ski really lightweight, and the Powderball seems to have achieved this in part by going with some fairly soft, thin bases. So if you’re frequently billygoating through rocky entrances to get to your pow stashes, I think you can find some harder, more durable bases out there. Otherwise, I don’t see it being much of an issue.
This is a super easy, soft, predictable, fun pow ski. And to give another point of comparison, given the choice of skiing it or the old Rossignol S7, I’d take the Powderball in a heart beat.
Again, this is not a one-ski quiver (P-o-w-d-e-r-b-a-l-l), but if you keep these in soft snow, you’ll enjoy them. Take them out of that environment (unless we’re talking about some good mogul lines) and there will be better tools for the job.
I think beginners and intermediates looking for an easy ski to introduce them to (or enhance their) pow skiing are going to have fun.
And lighterweight, advanced skiers who like quick, soft skis—and especially if they’re looking for a great tree ski for pow days—will also have a really good time.
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15 comments on “2015-2016 SkiLogik Powderball”
Have you skied the Howitzer (186) as well? From what I have heard it is on the stiffer side. Would be interesting to hear from you, if anyone from Blister spent some time on it.
I was wondering about your comment regarding the relatively soft and thin base. According to skilogic they use “the hardest sintered base material on earth (…) extraordinarily durable against rocks”.
Hey, Hannes – I have spent some time on the Howitzer, and Will Brown is currently finishing up a review of it. It’s definitely on the stiffer side.
As for the bases, I generally don’t like saying much either about how “bomber” or “soft” a particular ski’s (or company’s) bases are, because it’s just so anecdotal. I’m definitely not claiming that the bases of the Powderball are alarmingly soft or anything, but if you’re billygoating through rocks frequently, I think there are thicker, harder bases out there—usually found on much heavier skis.
Thank’s for your input Jonathan. I totally see your point. However, in an ideal world – you will agree – a ski not only skis awesome, but also lasts. Skilogik is a company putting an emphasis on how well built and durable their products are and this lead me to the question. Yet, at a weight below 4kg for the pair I realize that you have to make compromises at some point.
Yep, agreed on all points, Hannes.
Excellent review as usual. I’m thinking this could be next season’s ski. I’m 6’0 185lbs intermediate off piste/advanced on piste looking for a ski that is as nimble as possible in tight trees on 40 degree slopes in powder. I will be going back to Gulmarg and probably Japan and Tahoe over the next couple of years. I am considering the Armada JJ 185 and the RMU North Shore 185 as well. How would you say the 188 Powderball compares to these? It would be great if the ski I bought would cope with variable snow well and didn’t dive in deep powder but agility in steep, tight trees is my priority.
Best ski review site I’ve found btw. Thanks.
Thanks, Angus – as I hope my review makes clear, this is an excellent choice if you’re looking for “a ski that is as nimble as possible in tight trees on 40 degree slopes in powder.” I haven’t skied the North Shore, but I never got tip dive on this ski in the way I did on the JJ – that JJ is more forward mounted since it is designed to trick and spin; the Powderball has a more traditional, directional mount point that is farther back. So if you aren’t spinning these, I’d recommend them as a pow ski over the JJ.
Just trying to calibrate my thinking.
You are saying that these skis are good in trees because of the 14m radius..
I ski katanas, metal, and it seems that they are pretty nimble in powder, in the trees, provided you dont get in the back seat.
Does the turn radius make a difference in powder?
Hi, Rod – short answer: Yes. Longer answer: I definitely don’t wish to isolate the 14m radius as the sole reason that the Powderball is good in trees – also important are the light weight and soft flex pattern of the skis, which allow them to work well at slower speeds – much better than a ski like the Katana (or at least, the 191 Katana we reviewed and love) that requires more speed to make quick turns.
Also, if you’re skiing pow from a very centered or backseat stance, then a smaller sidecut will matter less. But if you’re staying more forward on the skis, the rocker profile + sidecut radius will help / cause the skis to hook up faster and turn more. Not something you necessarily want for skiing open faces at speed, but a trait that many find desirable in tighter trees.
Jonathan, per a comment on a prior thread about ski’s for those not at expert level, message received in this review. Ha ha. Thanks for covering a range of ski’s.
first off, great site! thanks so much for creating all this. read above you’ve put some time in on the howitzers, and wanted your opinion on something.
I’m heading out on a few trips in the next month to utah, co, and jackson, and want to invest in a new one-ski quiver. I’m 30, 5’11, 170, and grew up racing out of wilson, wy. my days are now probably 1/4 resort/backcountry, with the majority in the sierras. gonna be putting some at bindings on em and will be doing a fair amount of side/backcountry, but need a pair that can also hold speed on groomers and can handle drops and maybe some backcountry kickers. the majority of the days the skis will see will probably be with about 6-12″ of fresh, but there’ll be some hardpacked ones in between. i can get a deal at a local shop on a pair of soul 7 188s or on some ski logik howitzers in a 186. would really appreciate your recs, as it seems you guys have skied em all.
huge thanks in advance
Thanks, Billy – happy to try to help, but honestly, these two skis don’t really have that much in common, and I’d hope the reviews of each would make that clear. The Howitzer is more of a directional charger, the Soul 7 is a lightweight, quick freestyle ski that isn’t at its best in tougher conditions. Think through your own style, and the conditions you will realistically use these skis in, and reread the reviews. Seems like one or the other will become the better choice for you.
Thanks for the review. I only have one unanswered question… how would these do as a dedicated backcountry ski? Is the rocker too big to hold grip while skinning? Would they leave you high and dry if you found a wind or sun crust, or would you be able to get down in one piece?
i know this is a super long shot to a old article…but does anyone have any idea where i might be able to find a pair of these? even used?
Thanks in advance!
A friend just directed me to this thread. I have a pair of 2016 SkiLogik Howitzer 188’s (also reviewed on here), unmounted and untouched. Drop me a note if you’re interested in discussing further, at firstname.lastname@example.org.