I’ve now put 4 more days on the Magnum Opus in a mix of fresh powder and plenty of soft, choppy, tracked powder.
I’ve also skied and reviewed the 185cm Atomic Bent Chetler in the time since I first skied the Magnum Opus in New Zealand, so this update will mainly cover the Magnum Opus’ performance in fresh and soft conditions and how it compares to the 185cm Bent Chetler…
Deep, Fresh, Light Powder (~20”), Plus A Note on Mount Point
When I wrote my my initial review of the Magnum Opus from New Zealand, the only smooth, fresh snow I had the chance to ski it in was 4-5” of windblown, wet, maritime powder that was dense and pretty grabby. As I mentioned before, especially in shorter turns, I had to be careful not to over-pressure the Opus’ shovels. If I leaned into my boots too much, the front of the ski started to get a bit twitchy, eager to hook up and snap up the hill.
But I was sure that any ski would have felt at least a little unpredictable and touchy in those sticky conditions, so I didn’t think that the Opus’ occasional tendency to want to “overturn” would be a real problem in lighter fresh powder. I can now confirm that it isn’t.
Skiing 20” inches of light, fresh powder, the Magnum Opus provided plenty of float. Mounted on the “Eric’s Choice” line (-2cm from true center), the Opus definitely required that I ski with a light, upright stance, but the shovels tracked well in the deep snow and didn’t feel overly reactive—just very quick to swing across the fall line as soon as I wanted them to.
As with the Belt Chetler, though, it was possible to get too far over the Opus’ shovels, causing them to get a little bogged down in fresh snow, pitching me forward. But with a little speed in moderately steep terrain, while keeping an upright, centered stance, it isn’t hard to keep the Magnum Opus floating and tracking along well in fresh snow.
Out of curiosity, I did move the mount point on the Opus farther back to -4cm from center to see how that would affect the ride in powder. What I found wasn’t surprising, but good to know.
At 4cm behind center, the Opus did tolerate a more forward stance, and I could lean into the shovels a little more (so it took a little less finesse and balance to ski smoothly, particularly in tracked-up conditions). But the ski was a tiny bit slower to pivot and slash. In short, the Magnum Opus felt just slightly more directional, but still very playful, quick, and light for its size / width.
I think if I were looking at the Magnum Opus as a big, light, playful powder ski to take out on fresh days, I’d want to mount it at -4cm from center—i.e., a little behind the “Eric’s Choice” line, but still well ahead of a “traditional” mount point. The ski is still plenty playful from that point, but it’s a little more tolerant of getting over the shovels.
Now, if I were looking at the Opus primarily as a, jibby pow ski, to spin, flip, and drag around the mountain (basically, doing your best Pollard impression) then mounting on the “Eric’s Choice” line is best. From that position, the ski feels extremely well balanced and very easy to throw around in the air, and is the most trick-friendly pow ski I’ve been on in that way.
REALLY Deep (~30”), Slightly Heavier Powder in Low-Angle Trees
A couple weeks ago, Taos Ski Valley picked up over six feet of snow from a 10-day storm cycle, and the snow in the newly opened Wild West glade was really, really deep.
The terrain in Wild West isn’t especially steep, though, and the trees get fairly tight in certain sections so maintaining my speed was rather difficult at times in the deep snow.
Both Jonathan Ellsworth (who was skiing the 190cm-long, 128mm-underfoot Whitedot Redeemer) and I actually had some trouble getting through the pow and not coming to a full stop in the flatter sections of Wild West.
I really don’t see this as a knock on the Magnum Opus at all; again, Jonathan was on an even fatter, more heavily rockered ski, and he was having issues getting through well over two feet of powder. So I mention this only to say that if you’re going to be skiing a lot of low-angle, really tight trees in very deep snow, then perhaps a more directional ski with a more tapered shape (like the Atomic Automatic or Rossignol Squad 7, for example) would be preferable to either the Magnum Opus or the Bent Chetler.
To be clear, when it comes to quickness, and how fast they can be pivoted / maneuvered, the Magnum Opus and Bent Chetler are great, and they provide a ton of flotation, but I don’t know if I can say either ski is the absolute best for skiing at slower speeds in very deep snow in low angle terrain. Something with a narrower tail and a more rearward mount point may have been a little better in Wild West that day (Jonathan felt like the DPS Lotus 138 would have been the ideal ski for the super deep, not-so-steep terrain).
Soft, Tracked-out, Pow Day Conditions
I talked a little bit about how the Magnum Opus handled slushy, bumped-up snow in New Zealand, and what I said about the ski there can be applied its performance in soft, chopped up powder (the kind of conditions you’ll find at 1pm on a busy 18” pow day in resort, for example).
As I said In my initial review, in soft, chopped-up pow, I also “needed to stay light on my feet and work with the Magnum Opus to keep my turns smooth and fast.”
It’s a little easier to stay smooth and balanced on the ski when mounted at -4cm from center (rather than the -2cm “Eric’s Choice” line), as it allows you to depend on the shovels a little more to blast through big piles of pow, and not need to go over or around them as much. But the ski still generally prefers to plane over soft, consolidated patches rather than cut through them powerfully. In that way, there are many much heavier, far more directional skis out there that are better for skiing fast and very aggressively in deep chop—but they are nowhere near as light or playful as the Magnum Opus.
Next Page: Magnum Opus vs. 185cm Bent Chetler