After my first day on this ski at Ski Santa Fe, I was pretty blown away; I was very surprised by how strong the 186 cm CT 3.0 was on edge.
Both in the hand and on my feet, the ski feels so light that, when running bases-flat on roughed-up groomers, the ski feels pretty nervous at high speeds. But the second you commit to getting — and keeping — the ski up on edge, the 3.0s are remarkably strong, and remarkably fun to carve GS turns. I really can’t overemphasize this. I was very impressed and pretty blown away.
And if high-speed groomers aren’t your thing, the skis are pretty willing to meander down groomers at slower speeds, but the 186 cm 3.0s don’t excel at making a lot of short, high-angle turns at slow speeds. These aren’t a slalom ski, and I wouldn’t call them a natural carver per se. But with speed, it is pretty easy to coax the 3.0s into high-angle carving, and the ski’s fat tail will allow you to finish turns powerfully. I really wasn’t expecting this; these skis encouraged speed, and they were more willing than I’d expected to lay down smooth, fast GS turns.
Steep Bumps & Trees (soft-ish snow)
The 3.0 was quite impressive again on my second day on them at Taos. I did not imagine that these light skis would hold up so well to being pushed very hard down all the usual runs — Reforma, Pollux, Blitz Trees, Stauffenberg — plus laps down High Somewhere, Ninos Heroes, and Al’s Run (which is a stupid-long mogul run that a few of my sadistic friends like to end the day with).
While I’m still against the trend of lightening up inbounds skis a bunch, I have to admit that I have ended up impressed by how well this pretty light ski has handled variable terrain and conditions. And I think a big factor here is the lack of tip and tail taper on this ski. I’ve made this point a number of times before, but the more you lighten up a ski, the less I think you ought to taper its tips and tails. I did not find the 3.0s to be twitchy, and I could happily drive the shovels or ski from a more centered stance. The 186 cm Candide 3.0 is a pretty strong ski, and it isn’t the ideal tool for lazy skiing, especially in more challenging terrain. Or in really firm, brutal conditions…
In some pretty firm, wind-scoured moguls, another thing that surprised me was how strong the tails of the 3.0 felt. I was expecting an easier-going ski, more of a fun-times, all-mountain park ski noodle (such skis are often really fun in moguls since they are so forgiving). But the 186 cm 3.0 bucks this assumption; it is a strong, lightweight ski. Twice on consecutive laps down firm moguls, I found myself getting bucked into the backseat; the Candide 3.0 does not permit sloppy, backseat moguls skiing. And those fat tails are quite noticeable in moguls. So if you are going to be skiing a lot of firm bumps on these, you might want detune the tails to loosen up the ski a little, though I’d recommend just skiing them first and adjusting to taste later.
Really Firm, Steep Off-Piste Conditions & Terrain
There was a weekend at Taos in February that I skied the CT 3.0 where either the 180 cm Blizzard Bonafide or the 181 J Skis Masterblaster — two heavier skis with metal — would have been my top choices given the conditions. And of skis in the 105-108mm-width range, I probably would have opted first for the Line Supernatural 108 or the 185 Blizzard Cochise, two skis that also are heavier, have metal, and are much more firm-snow-oriented ~108 underfoot skis than the Candide 3.0. In other words, “heavy + damp” were the most prized qualities for a ski that weekend.
On clean, firm groomers, the Candide 3.0 was still a powerful ski. But on the whole, this was the most difficult time we had on the 3.0; conditions ranged from pretty firm and fast, to pretty seriously moguled up, to pockets of chunky, dense chop, to dust on crust, to some beautiful sections of clean, smooth wind buff.
Long and short: in firm, off-piste conditions, the 3.0 lacked the suspension to smooth out the ride. A couple of us were switching back and forth on the 3.0, and we both felt that (with the ski mounted on the “All Mountain” line) that we were getting pushed into the backseat, and we were working hard to maintain balance on Taos’ Reforma, and off of Kachina Peak (e.g., K1 chute, Main Street, and Hunzinger Bowl). It was the first time — and ultimately the only time on the 3.0 — that I wished I had been on a different ski. Lighter and / or more finesse skiers may very well have felt differently. And advanced / expert skiers may still accept the tradeoff of the light weight of the 3.0 for the sake of how light the ski is in the air, and how hard it can be pushed.
And again, remove the bumped-up, tricky variable conditions, and this would go right back to being a ski that I could easily and happily break out most days, and that I could ski quite hard. So the recommendation here is that the nastier the conditions, the more you should expect to ski with more finesse and control.
While I was stunned at how well a ~108mm-wide ski like the Black Crows Atris handled really deep conditions, I wouldn’t say that really deep snow is where the Candide 3.0 absolutely excels. It’s totally fine in 6-12” of lighter fresh snow, but in heavier, coastal snow (think PNW or Tahoe), I could see some people wishing for a bit more tail taper. In lighter, drier powder, the tail shape hasn’t presented any problem, and instead (along with the tip shape) helps this light ski track well in variable conditions and bumped-up terrain. But in gooey pow, the 3.0’s strong, fat tails seemed to get hung up a bit more than skis like the Black Crows Atris, or the more heavily tail rockered Moment Meridian.
Chalk / Windbuff / Slush
In slush, deep (dry) powder, smooth groomers, or windbuff, these skis really, really shine. In other words, in fairly consistent or forgiving snow conditions I felt like I could ski these as hard as most heavier, metal skis. And needless to say, the low weight and low swing weight of the 3.0s mean that the skis not only feel stable, they feel quick and light in the air. I’ll use the word again; in conditions that are mediocre or better, the 3.0s lend themselves to a very dynamic, active style of skiing. A very fun style of skiing.
NEXT: Thoughts on Sizing, Mount Point, Etc.