Firm – Off Piste
I’ve basically described how the AMPerage feels on firm off-piste in the Chalk section. The key is keeping the speed down so as not to overpower the flex and short effective edge. At slow speeds, the ski feels smooth, and as long as conditions aren’t too slick they’ll hold a “good enough” edge. If it gets icy, I’d rather be on just about any other ski I’ve ever ridden, besides the S7, especially in the face of any exposure.
In time I became confident enough in this ski to start letting myself go in this department. More recently, I’ve really grown to appreciate the AMPerage while throwing tricks off of high alpine terrain features.
Mounting location was crucial in making this ski feel balanced, and this includes during takeoff, while in the air, and in providing a solid landing platform. If your plan is to get tricky with these skis, I would strongly recommend moving the bindings forward of the line by least 2.5 centimeters.
The most important characteristic I’ve found in the freestyle realm is the predictability the AMPerage provides during takeoff. I have been able to cruise into a spine or wind lip and basically not have to worry about how hard or soft the snow is. While this typically translates to either being rocketed into the air, or softly tossed into the air, on the AMPerage, takeoffs feel roughly the same regardless of the lip.
The release from the snow isn’t one that provides much of a boost, but it is so predictable, it encouraged tricking off features I normally might have second thoughts about. The only downfall to this is when the takeoff is soft or the lip of a feature lacks pop, the skis do not help set tricks with authority. However, since the skis don’t provide much boost even if you do encounter a solid lip, I have felt I can just kick and set every trick with power, and make any slight adjustments needed once in the air.
In the air, the AMP’s feel light and very manageable. Even with the bindings forward a few cm’s, the tips still had a bit more swing weight than the tails, but honestly the skis are light enough that I have had absolutely no quarrels with how they feel in the air for what I am doing.
The AMPerage provides a landing platform that does the trick. They are not strong in any way, and thus require landings to be put pretty squarely on the feet—and even still you may find yourself pulling a tiny wheelie. For someone looking to send it huge, the AMPerage may not provide much forgiveness unless the snow is deep or your landings are pinpoint.
Switch skiing is not the AMP’s forte, but they have worked fine for switch takeoffs from a cornice or prepared drop. For anyone looking to land switch or ski switch in powder, there are many better options available to you.
Butters and presses were also a bit of a chore on this ski since the soft flex and weaker rebound provided little energy in up-righting a pressed position. Searching out shapely rolls worked out best for me, rather than a flat takeoff like a cornice.
This isn’t a condition we talk much about, but the AMPerage does so well it has to be mentioned. Here in Utah, the late winter/spring sun is strong. Any backcountry slope with a hint of south in its aspect will have a crust on it in the morning and late evening hours.
The AMPerage’s shape and flex keep the tails from feeling hung up, make skiing down a breakable crust much easier than most skis. The skis feel this way at a very slow speed as well, which is usually the goal when a fall will likely result in some spilled blood.
While Black Diamond says that the AMPerage loves groomers, I didn’t really love carving groomers that much while riding this ski. It can leave a trench in the snow when laid on edge, but the skis don’t feel like they store any of the energy you put into them, and certainly lack oomph transitioning from one arc to the next.
The AMPerage also felt quite twitchy moving from a bases-flat position onto an edge, which isn’t surprising considering the eagerness to turn that is inherent with this tip shape. I was able to subdue this sensation quite a bit by heavily detuning the tip down past the widest point of the sidecut.
While being eager to initiate at the top of turns, the AMPerage quickly lost its desire to arc aggressively as I moved through the middle and finish of turns. I like to work a ski from tip to tail through a carved turn, and this technique doesn’t really jive with this ski. Staying on the tips longer, and only moving the pressure to mid ski to facilitate a release works best.
Skidded turns on-piste is where the AMPerage shined, especially at slow speeds. Here, I found the ski to foster very easy short- and medium- radius turns, and honestly, it didn’t matter if my weight was forward, centered, or back, these skis simply don’t care, a trait that is very reminiscent of the S7.
Comparisons: 185cm AMPerage vs. 2012-2013 Rossignol S7, 188cm & Rossignol Soul 7, 188cm
The AMPerage is still a “better S7” in my book. The AMPerage is just as easy to ski, but is higher performing everywhere on the hill than the S7.
The only occasion I may take the AMPerage over the Rossignol Soul 7 would be during a run-in with breakable sun or wind crusts, typically found in the backcountry. The soft flex and tail shape of the AMPeragemake it just slightly easier to make slow, short/medium radius arced turns through these difficult conditions.
185cm AMPerage vs. 2012-2013 Black Diamond Zealot, 182cm
From my experience, the 182 Black Diamond Zealot will appeal to people looking for a ski they can ski fast and aggressively in all conditions, while still having a very playful, poppy nature to it. The Zealot provides a very secure edge on firm snow, and covers a larger spectrum of available turn styles, from crisp and precise to loose and smeary.
The Zealot has to be driven from a centered or forward stance, where the AMPerage can be pushed around from just about anywhere. The Zealot isn’t as easy to ski, especially at slower speeds, and is more of a chore in difficult crusts.
185cm Amperage vs. 2013-2014 186cm Atomic Automatic
The AMPerage and Atomic Automatic share a lot in common. Both are very easy to ski and have that loose, smeary, “fun-shaped” feel. The Automatic has a stronger flex and rebound than the AMP, as well as deeper tip and tail rocker lines. Choosing between these two skis would be pretty difficult, but I think bigger individuals looking to ski a little bit aggressively, or in deep powder will probably like the Automatic more, while lighter skiers or less experienced skiers will probably like the AMPerage more. I have felt more comfortable tricking the AMPerage, but I was not able to move the mount nearly as far forward with the Automatic.
Who’s It For?
Individuals looking to replace their S7 with something better but similar in many important ways. Backcountry skiers looking for a ski that will be fun (even in a crust!) for most of the season. Skiers with a laid back attitude and / or style. Someone looking for a very loose and soft feel on the snow. Aggressive skiers looking for the polar opposite of the Blizzard Cochise, a ski that completely smooths out everything in its path. East coasters looking for a powder ski to dice and dash through tight trees, and who avoid ice like the plague.
I can’t say that the AMPerage would be my top choice for a one-ski-quiver. But if “mechanized access” means “take a lift and hit up the side country” to you, then this ski may appeal to you. Or if you can’t believe Rossignol discontinued the S7, then the AMPerage will be your new best friend.
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