In the Supernatural series, LINE has implemented a new “Shockwall” sidewall construction, and it’s worth talking about because of the way this ski rides. “Shockwall” is an 80 derometer glass elastomer sidewall—i.e., its urethane. Whatever. I don’t really care. But what I do care about is that the prototype 108s provided a very smooth, non-jarring ride, while still delivering a lot of energy out of each turn. And if it is the urethane sidewalls that are in large part responsible, then that’s a big deal. The 12/13 & 13/14 Line Influence 115 certainly felt smooth (and granted, it is a wider, more soft-snow oriented ski than the Supernatural 108), but it did not feel nearly as smooth and powerful and energetic as the 108.
So much fun. Again, the shovels are soft enough that they have a supportive flex when hitting bumps, and they are quick enough that their 108mm-waist never felt like a chore (and we’re talking about some big ass Taos bumps here) yet the skis are substantial enough to give me the option of bashing through the bumps or slowing down and making more precise turns. Playful + Substantial.
I love the 13/14 Belafonte’s stiff shovels when skiing fast and hard in firm bumps, but the 13/14 Belafonte is more work than the Supernatural 108s in big bumps at slow speeds.
If your style is to keep your skis on the ground and keep things smooth, pivoting your way through the bumps, the Supernatural 108s are the better choice by far. And I’ve got to say, while I was initially nervous about carrying a whole lot of speed down Al’s Run on the Supernaturals because of their softer shovels, those shovels never let me down even at high speeds, and instead simply proved to be pretty forgiving. It was surprising and impressive.
A week before I got on the proto 108s, I was skiing front side bumps at Taos on the 190cm LINE Sir Francis Bacon with Jason Hutchins and a bunch of other friends. They were really fun, too, but the SFB’s were mounted at 2.5cms behind true center, leaving me with a lot of tail, and those tails would occasionally get hung up a bit in deep troughs. I never experienced that on the less center-mounted Supernatural 108s.
I haven’t had the prototype 108s in fresh pow yet, but no part of me doubts that these will be a better pow ski than other chargers like the Belafonte, Cochise, or Katana. The softer shovels of the Supernatural 108s will plane better, and the shovels and tips of the 13/14 Belafonte are too stiff, straight, and (relatively) narrow to shine in pow.
Having said that, if you’re looking for a more pow-oriented charger than the Supernatural 108, you might want to check out my review of the ON3P Wrenegade. It’s wider and not as stiff (especially in the tail) as the Supernatural 108.
Update: Production Supernatural 108 vs. Prototype Supernatural 108
Given (a) the modifications made to the production 108s and (b) Brett Carroll’s experience on the production 108s in pow), I need to amend my statements here.
The production Supernatural 108s have changed in several relatively subtle ways, but none of the changes would have done anything to enhance the ski’s performance in powder:
• tip splay: as you can see in the rocker profile pics on the last page of this review, the production 108s have less tip splay (less ‘tip rocker’) than the prototypes. The production 108s have ~54mm of tip splay; the prototypes have ~77mm. (And as a point of comparison, the 14/15 Blizzard Cochise has ~53mm.
• tail splay: the production 108s have less than the prototypes: ~23mm vs. ~33mm. (The Cochise has ~12mm.)
• camber underfoot: the production 108s have about 2mms of additional camber underfoot.
Our pre-production pair sits heavy on the scale (2493 & 2502 grams), but they never felt sluggish on snow to either me or Will Brown. It actually doesn’t really make sense, since these don’t have heavily tapered tips at all. (The production 108s have just a touch more taper, though the widest points of the tip and tail remain the same.)
But for this category of ski, I would say that the prototype 108s feel quite quick. They just also happen to feel substantial, far more so than, say, a much lighter ski like the Rossignol Soul 7. (And while I haven’t yet spent time on it, if you want LINE’s version of a lighter ~110mm underfoot ski, see our review of the Sick Day 110.)
The production model of the Supernatural 108 will incorporate LINE’s “Thin Tip” technology, where they’ll remove material from the tip to lighten it up. We’ve just received confirmation that production 108s are averaging out at exactly 2400 grams, and our own pair come in at 2335 & 2399 grams. (The 185cm, 14/15 Cochise comes in at 2349 & 2339 grams.)
Quite frankly, I’m glad that these aren’t coming in any lighter. Our prototype pair feels dialed. Seriously, people, not every ski out there needs to have a touring binding on it. Those of you worried about weight, you already have the Sick Day series and a bunch of other options. Let’s not kill off inbounds chargers, okay? Lighter isn’t always better.
“Next Generation Hardcharging Freeride Skis”
A number of our favorite skis are fairly stiff and fairly stout—e.g., the 191cm Volkl Katana, 185cm Blizzard Cochise, and the 187cm Moment Belafonte.
On snow, the Supernatural’s shovels don’t feel as stiff as any of these skis, but the Supernatural 108 is more playful and quicker than them, while I found that I could still push them quite hard. And they are definitely less demanding skis than the Katana and Belafonte. We’ve called the Cochise a “forgiving charger,” and I’d say the same thing about the Supernatural 108.
Caveat / Update:
Keep in mind that the above statements about the Cochise and Belafonte are referring to the 13/14 editions, not the 14/15 editions.
The flex patterns of the 14/15 Cochise and the production Supernatural 108s are quite close, and I need to / can’t wait to directly A/B on snow the new Cochise against the Supernatural 108. Given the changes to the Cochise and to the production 108s, I believe their performance just got more similar, not more different. (Update: Will Brown and I have now been able to A/B the Cochise and the 108, and actually, their performance differences didn’t really diminish.)
1) Groomer performance: this is where the Cochise and Supernatural 108 might distinguish themselves most. The proto 108s were such impressive, fun carvers, and you can read Brett Carroll’s take on the carving performance of the production 108s. We didn’t get the new Cochise on groomers down in New Zealand, so I’m particularly interested to see how well it handles vs. the production 108s. (Again, see our new A/B review.)
2) Mount point: Brett Carroll notes in his review of the 108s that he was getting some issues with tip dive. As noted above, the production 108s saw a reduction of tip splay, and it now measures quite similar to the new Cochise.
So, something to consider: if you are planning to use the Supernatural 108 on deep days, you might consider mounting .5 – 1cm behind the recommended line.
Final Points of Comparison:
• 13/14 185 cm Blizzard Cochise vs. 186 cm Supernatural 108
The 13/14 Cochise has stiffer shovels than the Supernatural 108 for straight-up bashing and charging in bad snow, but the Supernatural 108 feels far more lively when carving. If that is important to you, and if you’ve ever worried that the Cochise might be more ski than you’re looking for, or perhaps not quite playful enough for your style of skiing, then the Supernatural 108 probably should be your next ski.
• 13/14 187 cm Moment Belafonte vs. 186 cm Supernatural 108
When I first received the Supernatural 108, I immediately thought of the Belafonte, which explains why I’ve talked so much about it here. So just to consolidate some thoughts from above:
I love both of these skis, and A/B-ing them around Taos this past week has made for some of my favorite days of the season. But these skis aren’t the same.
The 13/14 Belafonte has stiffer shovels than the Supernatural 108s, a bigger sidecut radius, more camber underfoot, no tail rocker, but a pretty serious twinned tail. And the Belafonte is still one of my favorite chop and crud skis of all time.
The Supernatual 108 isn’t as burly as the Belafonte, but Will Brown (who is about 20 lbs, lighter than me) felt like he could ski just as hard and fast on the Supernatural as the Belafonte, but the Supernatural 108 was less demanding and more playful.
Again, we’ll have to A/B the production 108s against the 14/15 Belafonte to tease out the performance differences, but as with the new Cochise, the performance differences between the Supernatural 108 and the (new) Belafonte have likely been diminished rather than accentuated.
• 13/14 181cm ON3p Wrenegade vs. 186 Supernatural 108
I’m mentioning the Wrenegade again mostly because the comparison will help locate the Supernatural 108. The 181 Wrenegade (which actually measures less than 1cm shorter than the Supernatural 108) was good in firm conditions, but it feels more like a pow ski. It’s wider shovels don’t leave me jonesing to ski big, firm bumps all day on them, though for a truly deep day, I’d take the Wrenegade over the prototype Supernatural 108s, and definitely over the production 108s.
• 190cm Salomon Rocker2 108 and 190 LINE SFB vs. 186cm Supernatural 108
The Supernatural 108 is more substantial and stable in firm, bumped up conditions than the Rocker2 108, while preserving a good bit of the playfulness of the Rocker2 108. If you’re spinning, you will almost certainly prefer the Rocker2 108 or the SFB to the Supernatural 108. But if you’re a directional skier who wants a ski that is at home in soft snow and pow, but that is also capable in firm conditions, then the Supernatural 108 ought to go on your short list.
The two paragraphs below this one were written after I’d skied the proto 108s. And I’m thankful / relieved that Brett Carroll, who only spent time on the production 108s for his review, very much agreed with my findings, with the only exception being pow performance. But given the changes to the production 108s, it’s not at all surprising that his real-world experience in pow didn’t quite live up to my speculation about how the prototypes (with their extra 2cms of tip splay) would handle deep snow. So you should definitely read Brett’s review, and I definitely look forward to spending more time on this ski. And so, with that:
If LINE skis have a signature “feel,” I would describe that feel as “smooth” and “intuitive.” (E.g, the Sir Francis Bacon, Mr. Pollard’s Opus, the Influence 115, etc.) The Supernatural 108 is certainly smooth and intuitive, too, but with more backbone than these other skis. In short, LINE has produced a ski that won’t feel out of place when conditions are either phenomenal or firm and bumped up.
Furthermore, the Supernatural 108 is a ski that will allow you to go hard, but will also allow you to dial things back if and when you feel like it. Pow, soft chop, firm crud, moguls, perfect corduroy, end-of-the-day messed up groomers, all of it. The range of the capabilities of the Supernatural 108 is impressive.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics