Brett Carroll (see bio)
Last winter was my first season writing for Blister, so with only one season under my belt, I haven’t been on as many skis as some of our other reviewers, or achieved their wizard reviewer status.
[Editor’s Note: Whatever. Brett’s first review was probably the best initial review we’ve ever seen. He’s good.]
But I have ridden and reviewed a good variety of skis in the 100-110mm all-mountain category, and I think there are a few solid two-ski-quivers that can be put together from those options. So, without further ado:
I. What’s your two-ski quiver (of currently available skis) for where you ski most?
Over the past few seasons, I’ve spent the vast majority of my inbounds days in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. While LCC is famous for the powder it often receives, that is only part of the story, and I want my two-ski quiver to be able to handle two types of days:
Ski #1: For those “Dry-Spell” Days
Even at Alta, sometimes it just doesn’t snow. When the Wasatch is in the middle of a multi-week dry spell, I want a ski that can (a) rail firm groomers and (b) provide a stable platform for skiing steep terrain in firm chop and variable conditions.
For me, this selection came down to a choice between the Experience 100 and the Line Supernatural 100. The Experience 100’s fat, powerful tails help them to feel stable and energetic arcing turns on firm groomers, while also providing excellent edgehold. The Supernatural 100 also performs well on groomers, but their subtly rockered tails make them a bit more prone to washing out as conditions move toward boilerplate.
The Supernatural 100’s tails do make them a little more playful in firm, off-piste conditions than the Experience 100. The Supernatural 100 feels comfortable breaking its tails free and smearing turns down the fall line, while the E100’s tails prefer to bite and force the skier to commit to the fall line.
So choosing between these two skis in these conditions is more or less a tradeoff between playfulness and edgehold / precision, but I’m going to go with the Experience 100’s top-notch groomer performance and edgehold for this round.
Ski #2: For those classic Wasatch days
Sometimes it doesn’t snow here, and then sometimes, it snows a lot. So I want a ski that floats in fresh powder, but that can also crush deep, soft chop.
The Supernatural 108 may seem a tad skinny to be the choice for a powder / soft-snow- specific ski in Little Cottonwood Canyon. There are two main reasons why I’m giving it the nod for this spot.
1) I’ve yet to review anything fatter.
2) It is still a damn good ski for these conditions, especially since…
Let’s get real. Even on the deepest powder days at Alta or Snowbird, how many laps of totally untouched snow can you make before you start skiing mainly soft chop? Two? Three? Four, if you’re lucky?
I found the Line Supernatural 108 to be quite capable in untouched powder. It may not float or surf as well as a more dedicated powder ski, but I would have no reservations about taking it out on the deepest days in the resort. Because once those laps of truly virgin powder have been replaced by small stashes separated by acres of soft chop, the Supernatural 108 really shines.
The Line Supernatural 108 is my favorite ski that I have ridden in soft, chopped-up conditions. It is stiff and damp enough that I have never had an issue with its tips getting deflected (even at some very high speeds), and fat enough to float up on top of deep, soft chop rather than getting bogged down in it.
These characteristics help the Supernatural 108 claim the distinction of the best ski that I have ridden in what Jonathan and I refer to as “deep-ass Alta chop.” This variety of chop seems to be an Alta specialty, and occurs when the two feet of blower pow that fell the night before gets pushed into large, heavy piles separated by deep troughs. These conditions can actually be quite difficult to ski, and they are a perfect proving ground for determining just how stable an all-mountain ski is.
The Supernatural 108 does very well in these conditions, too. I have never had an issue with the tips deflecting, folding, or getting stuck in these piles of snow.
So while the Supernatural 108 may not be the best ski for those first few powder runs of the day, their ability to crush soft chop makes me 100% comfortable selecting it as the second ski in my Alta quiver.
II. What’s your two-ski quiver for Taos?
I’m going to stick with the same two selections for Taos, for the same reasons.
III. What’s your two-ski quiver for the Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand?
I have yet to make the pilgrimage to Canterbury, but these are the two skis I would take:
Ski #1: Line Supernatural 100, 186cm
While I picked the Experience 100 for firmer days in the Wasatch, I am going to go with the Supernatural 100 for firmer conditions at the club fields, since I will be spending very little time on groomers in Canterbury. So the Experience 100’s stellar groomer performance is a non-factor, and I would rather have the Supernatural 100’s ability to play with different turn shapes.
Ski #2: Line Supernatural 108, 186cm
Once again, I’ll go with the Supernatural 108 for my softer snow selection. In addition to what I’ve already said about the Supernatural 108’s soft chop and powder performance, it also does very well in more firm, variable snow.
I was impressed with how well the 108s can charge through firmer bumps at high speeds, while also working through bumps with more finesse at moderate speeds. Given that the conditions in New Zealand can be quite variable, the Supernatural 108 is very deserving of a spot in my Kiwi quiver.
IV. What’s your two-ski quiver for skiing around the East Coast?
This category hits home for me, since I spent the first 16 years of my skiing life on the East Coast, racing and trying to hold an edge on solid ice of various colors: white, gray, blue—even brown. And when I wasn’t racing, I was bushwhacking through “glades” when we were lucky enough to get natural snow in the hills of Southern New England.
Ski #1: Atomic GS Skis, 184cm
I’m going with a pair of skis that can rail turns on icy, East Coast groomers. These fit the bill.
I could have chosen and been happy with the Rossi Experience 100, as they do perform exceptionally well on groomers for an all-mountain ski. But if I’m choosing a ski specifically to rail icy groomers, might as well just stick with the race skis.
Ski #2: Line Supernatural 100, 186cm
When southern New England does get snow, it comes in an unimaginably wide variety of forms. I’ve skied 12+” of sleet; 24” of about 12%-density cement; 6” of blower dust on crust; and, occasionally, 12-18” of smooth, lower-density powder. (And we won’t go into things like extreme winds, temperature changes, etc.)
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I want the second ski in my quiver to be able to handle soft chop, moguls, dust on crust, and powder. It also needs to be nimble enough to maneuver through tight East Coast trees, and carve groomers back to the lift. I think the Supernatural 100 makes sense here. I can imagine having a really good time riding these skis through the tight trees at my home ski area, Berkshire East.
The Supernatural 100 also performs well in soft chop and bumps, which tend to be the predominant conditions within a few hours of the lifts spinning on a powder day.
If I was picking a soft-snow ski specifically for northern New England (northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire, and inland Maine), where natural snow and powder days are more common, I might opt for the Supernatural 108. But for a general East-Coast quiver, I like the Supernatural 100.
V. What’s your two-ski quiver for the next 2 years, regardless of location?
Ski #1: Rossignol Experience 100, 182cm
Ski #2: Line Supernatural 108, 186cm
VI. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?
The Line Influence 105. It has been a couple years since Line produced this ski, so I had to leave it off the list by default. If it was still in production, I would have chosen it as my soft snow ski for the East Coast, and it would have been in contention for my soft snow ski at the Canterbury club fields, too.
VII. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?
Ski #1: Blizzard Cochise, 185cm
Everyone and their mothers have told me that I need to try this ski. Friends and fellow reviewers alike keep urging me that, given my skiing style and the other skis I like, I would love this thing. Maybe this will be the year…
Ski #2: Blizzard Scout, 185cm
None of my quivers included a dedicated touring ski, mostly because I’ve been touring on a pretty heavy ski for the past couple of years—I’ve logged well over 100 touring days on the Line Influence 105.
But I am curious about a ski like the Scout, designed to be a lighter touring ski without sacrificing too much on the downhill.
VIII. If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 2-ski quiver, which company would you pick?
Given my selections, the obvious choice here would be Line. As I get on a lot more skis this season, it will be interesting to see whether that answer stays the same.
Next: Paul Forward’s Selections