In consistent powder, finding the sweet spot on the Shiro was much easier. There was less guesswork, and I felt more confident letting the ski cruise. In snow a few inches to a foot deep, the Shiro liked to be driven with a forward stance, with my shins pressing lightly against the front of my boots. Once the snow got to be more than a foot deep, I found that I had to shift my balance back a little; if I tried to maintain a more aggressive stance in these deeper conditions, I would generally feel some tip dive.
Making tight-radius turns at fast speeds in fresh snow, I frequently felt the soft shovels of the Shiro fold up on me. I would be balancing over the balls of my feet when making longer turns, and if I carried this stance through these tight turns the ski would fold and slow me down. While a stiffer ski like the Blizzard Bodacious or Volkl Katana can be driven through turns like this, I found the Shiro was a little too soft for me.
However, I enjoyed this ski much more when I slashed through quick turns. By shifting my balance back and throwing the tails sideways, I could keep the tips riding high in the snow and prevent them from folding up. The short tail also made it easy to initiate these turns and bring the ski back under my feet.
While a short tail enhanced turnability, it often frustrated me when it came time to put down the landing gears. This design—coupled with the short, 183cm length—did not forgive backseat landings. On 15-foot drops or greater, especially those with relatively steep landings, I found I had one of two options: stomp or backslap.
Even on many airs that were landed cleanly, I felt like I might wheelie out at any time. Most times, however, the relatively stiff tail did help to prevent me from completely washing out if my landing was just a little off. So despite being rather unforgiving of backseat landings, the Shiro could still be a good option for someone who occasionally likes to take to the air.
I really wish I had been on the 193cm Shiro, with the bindings mounted at Volkl’s +2 or +3 cm mount position. I believe the longer ski would provide the support I wanted from the 183, while still maintaining the shorter ski’s playful characteristics.
(Volkl’s team riders—the guys who are on the Shiro all the time—seem to agree. Ian McIntosh, Sam Smoothy, and Ted Davenport all prefer to mount their Shiro’s at +2 or farther forward: Davenport likes the +2 position, McIntosh the +3, and Smoothy goes at least +3 forward of traditional.)
Those who spend most of their time with their skis on the snow will also enjoy the Shiro. This ski feels great from edge to edge and excels in the trees. It is no charging machine, nor is it a perfect powder ski, but the Shiro offers a smooth yet stable ride in most soft snow conditions.
Jonathan Ellsworth and Julia Van Raalte also spent time on the Shiro in Japan, and they will be weighing in soon to help round out the picture.
Go to Julia Van Raalte’s 2nd Look at the Volkl Shiro