2019-2020 K2 Marksman

Chop and Crud

I spent most of my time on the Marksman skiing soft, spring snow, off-piste. At Mt Bachelor, we were met with spring conditions, I skied a lap off the Jackson Hole tram in July, and I spent several days on the Marksman in New Zealand in September. I.e., I got to spend a lot of time skiing irregular bumps and piles of soft snow on the Marksman.

In these conditions, it did feel drastically different from the Shreditor 112. If I had one word to describe the Marksman in chopped-up, soft snow, it would be “light.” And that word has both positive and negative connotations.

The Marksman is incredibly quick to turn and surf. It’s very easy to make tight, directional changes, or even throw the ski all the way sideways. I never felt like my tips were catching, or that the ski was slowing down my turns. Instead, the Marksman was consistently nimble, bouncing from rut to slush pile to landing and back again. Its forgiving but poppy flex and asymmetrical sidecut probably get the credit here. Even though it is competitive weight wise with the Armada ARV 106 and ON3P Kartel 108, the swing weight feels much lighter.

In the air, I was surprised by how easy it is to spin and shifty the Marksman. While I was on the 184 cm Marksman (vs. the 189 cm Shreditor 112) I still expected some of that hip-wrenching heft in the air that I’d grown used to on the Shreditor. By contrast, the Marksman felt light and quick when making turns and in the air.

The downside of that light feeling became immediately obvious when I trying to keep up with faster skiers on chargier skis. While making railroad tracks through inconsistent snow is not really the point of a ski like the Marksman, I still found that it had a lower speed limit and was less stable than skis like the ON3P Kartel 108, or even the Armada ARV 106. I found that my tips got bucked very easily, and that trying to just point the ski and let it do the work was a bad idea. That’s not to say that you can’t push the Marksman hard, it just requires more input than heavier, straighter, less tapered skis.

Powder

I’m still waiting to get the Marksman into deeper snow, and I’ll update this review once I do. I’m very intrigued by the tip shape, and I’m torn between thinking that it will be easier to sink than a traditional tip (and so will be worse in pow) or that it will be easier to crank through the snow, and thus will be more maneuverable than similarly-wide skis. Either way, I’m excited to find out.

What if you put the skis on the wrong feet?

I took a few runs with the Marksman on the opposite feet than K2 recommends, and while my knees didn’t spontaneously explode, I wasn’t a fan of how they skied. They felt too short and too turny. They weren’t stable at speed, and didn’t feel intuitive like they did on the correct feet. That said, I’ve heard from a few people who actually like them better on the wrong feet, and I definitely recommend giving it a try, just for the novelty of the thing.

Who’s It For?

The Marksman is easy and intuitive. Most skiers should be able to get the hang of this ski very quickly, and feel right at home on it. That applies both to jib skiers coming from skis like the old Shreditor series, and more directional skiers as well. It’s not as happy being pushed hard as some other all-mountain jib skis in this class, but it is more approachable than any other twin in the 104-110 mm range I’ve skied.

Cy Whitling reviews the K2 Marksman for Blister Gear Review.
Cy Whitling on the K2 Marksman, Porters Ski Area, NZ.

If you’re looking for something with a little more backbone that’s still very playful, the ON3P Kartel 108 is a great choice. It’s more stable, but less easy to throw around. If you’re looking for a fat, soft park ski, the Armada ARV 106 is a great option. It’s a little more stable than the Marksman, but feels more jib-oriented, and given its more subtle tip and tail splay, I don’t think it will plane quite as well in soft snow.

For some skiers, the 189 cm Shreditor 112 was just too much ski (especially since it measured closer to 191 cm) and those skiers should be relieved to know that the Marksman skis very similarly in a toned-down package. If you’re looking for an incredibly easy, intuitive, lively, and playful ski, the Marksman is a great choice.

Bottom Line

K2 has been banging the “Holy Cow, asymmetrical sidecut!!!!” drum loudly, and while I think it does have an impact on how the Marksman performs, I was more concerned with how it performed as a replacement for the Shreditor 102 and 112, and how it compared to similar jib skis. In those respects, it fares very well. It doesn’t have the heft and stability of the longer Shreditors (or some of the other skis in its class), but it gains some accessibility / approachability that also makes it a great choice for more directional skiers looking for a very forgiving ride.

For comparisons to the Armada ARV 106, Line Sir Francis Bacon, and ON3P Kartel 108 check out our Deep Dive here

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27 comments on “2019-2020 K2 Marksman”

  1. Bad habit? That’s how we used to ski when ski technology didn’t allow every guy named Hanspeter to haul ass down the slopes. I still ski that way.

      • I haven’t been to ski school in 30 years, but that is how we learned it in Switzerland. again, that was wayyyy before carvings skis (1977). I am fully aware that it’s totally different today and for good reasons. But back then, on really icy conditions [which were the norm in Switzerland as grooming was something the resorts would do on occasions only and the old snow groomers had no way of getting up the steeper hills (no fixed cables back then)], skis simply wouldn’t grip much when putting too much weight on the uphill ski. Maybe I just suck at skiing.

      • Well,
        almost any respected instructor would say that it’s preferable in certain off piste circumstances.
        I’d like to think an asymmetrical sidecut edges help in tight situations. The outside ski “downhill” edge tracks a wider line than the inside “uphill” edge. Then again groomers are only for getting back to the lift for most skiers on these off piste weapons.

        I do appreciate how a half a taper is good for slashing on the outside and bludgeoning on the inside, best of both worlds.

    • tjaard, one word, Easy. Of all the skis in this waist range I’ve been on these are the easiest to change direction on. The more I ski them the more I’ve realized that what they give up in stability they more than make up in quickness. It’s incredibly easy to throw these sideways, even at very low speeds, and they’re very nimble and easy to control when picking your way through tighter terrain.

      • Thanks Cy.
        I ask because I have the previous generation (14/16) S.F.Bacon 190. They suit my use perfectly except for one thing: moguls. We ski at Winter park and my family and friends prefer the mogul runs on Mary Jane, so this aspect matters a lot. I tried my friend’s Soul 7 188 and they were way quicker turning in the bumps(we ski them slow with lots of turns).
        Any comparisons to either of those skis?

        • Unfortunately I haven’t been on the old Bacons, but I have been on the new ones, which, from what I’ve heard, are even quicker and easier to turn in bumps than the previous generation, and I’d say the Marksman is at least as easy to ski slowly with lots of turns. Add to that the fact that the Marksman is only 184 cm, and it should be much easier to move around in slow turns.

          I’ve only skied the newer Soul 7 HD, but the Marksman is definitely a touch quicker and easier to pivot.

          I skied the Marksman early this morning and had that driven home again. I skied a combination of wind buff and fresh snow in tight trees with a lot of deadfall on a moderate slope. There wasn’t much coverage and I was skiing this zone for the first time, with very tight trees killing visibility. Basically a lot of very slow speed, upright, pivoty turns just trying not to break a shin on a dead tree, and I can’t think of any other ski I’ve ever been on that was as easy to wiggle around tight, slow corners.

  2. Hi, thanks for the review! Can someone here give ideas what about mounting point? Did someone experimented (except the +2 reviewed)? Will be interesting for me-I’m going to mount Magker KingPin on these babes, skied them only in recommended by K2 “0” line…thank you!

    • Myashkov, I actually just threw Kingpins on these two days ago, but I left that mount at +2. I’m skiing the demo Kingpins though, so I’ll try to experiment with mount points in the next few weeks. Even though I usually like more centered skis I haven’t been tempted to bump the mount up at all. They’re so easy to turn that I haven’t ever felt like I had too much ski in front of me, and I’ve actually been tempted to move them back for hopefully a little added stability and float.

      • Hi there, have you had a chance to try different mount points? Some other reviewers have said -2cm from true have worked very well. Wondering if you had a chance to bump up from +2cm to say, +3 or +4cm from the Traditional line.

  3. Thanks, Cy! My KingPins aren’t demo, so I’ll try +2 from recommended line ( or even +1, maybe). And for the skis-when I tested them a month ago, I decide to replace my Punisher 95 as every day driver with these, I’m impressed and love the way they blast through everything on their way! And last, but not at least-They have excellent torsional stiffness -this is as important, as the their shape, I think

  4. What are your thoughts on size?
    Obviously for jibbing, shorter is better, but for all mountain use how do the lengths stack up? They seem short compared to the available lengths for most other rockered, 100mm+ wide skis.
    If you’ve skied this ski, how much do you weigh and how tall are you?
    I am 6’5″(195cm) and 180lbs.

  5. As far as I have understood, the sidecut on this ski is not asymmetrical, only the tips are. The sidecut radius is the same on both sides, but the outside edge just starts the taper further from the tip.

  6. Hi. You said they are stiffer than shreditor 112 and softer than shreditor 102. Is this correct? As I understood the 112 is stiffer than 102? A bit confused. Which do you prefer, the 102 or marksman?
    Thanks for the review :)

  7. Hi, Looking at Marksman and the Soul 7’s for skiing in both NZ and Japan. Wanting versatile for off and on piste, I’m advanced 50 year old wanting something fun that will handle deep pow, bumps, hard pack or crud. I have a pair of Pep Fugas Pro which I love but I’ve been told the Soul 7’s might be a better ski for me. Any comments?

    • Ben,

      I have never skied the Fujas, so take that for what it’s worth. I have the Marksman and my wife and my ski buddy have the old Soul 7.

      Looking at the Fujas specs though, it’s narrower, with less rocker and less taper, so both the Soul and the Markasman should do much better in powder. Neither of them are designed for DEEP powder as you ask, but then again, we are looking at alround skis here, not dedicated 115mm powder guns.

      For bumps, if you are talking slower speed, quick pivot turns, both are great, probably better than the Fujas. Especially the nearly flat base of the Marksman makes base flat pivot turns / releasing the edge to side slip, very easy.
      If you are looking at high speed mogul bashing ask someone else.
      Every ski will ski smooth hardpack, if you are asking about roughed up stuff at speed, look elsewhere. If you want to bomb steep hardpack at high speed with wide turns, look elsewhere.

      In short both of those skis are aimed at the ‘lighter touch’ moderate speed, slarve and drift kind of skiing, rather than hard carving, busting crud or high speed, big mountain style powder ripping.
      Of the two, the Marksman is the loosest,and it has a true twin tail and more center mount, so it’s the better choice if you want to do some freestyle moves and ski/land switch.
      If you prefer a more set back mount point and don’t need true twin tips, you might like the Soul 7 more.

  8. Is +2 from the traditional line still where you’d recommend for all mountain skiing (I’m 6’2” 200lbs mostly directional)? What did Jonathan Ellsworth think of this from his perspective of a more chargy style of skiing? Thanks for the great, unbiased reviews. You guys rock!!!

  9. I have these 2017 Marksmans still waiting to be mounted, and was actually thinking of selling until I read the review. I have the Shreditor 112s and it’s so hard to switch even though they’ve been through a lot of repairs and the edges are in sketchy condition. They are my most favorite pair of skis I’ve ever owned, and use them as a one-ski quiver. I’m stoked to try the marksmen as my new go-to ski, and I also just ordered the Salomon QST 118s as my pow ski (in hopes we get snow this year). My Shreditor 112s have officially been dubbed “rock skis,” though last year almost the whole season was rocks (and “gardening,” as we called it), so who knows. Maybe I’ll keep bringing them out..ha! Thanks for the review.

  10. Has anyone tried plus 3 from the recommended? I mostly ski steep tight trees. I almost never go to the park but I love sending big jumps and spinning 360s aswell as occasionally riding switch. Wondering what position would be best? And will going plus 3 hinder my pow/tree skiing putting to much ski behind me?

    • I have my pair mounted at +4.5 from the recommended. Balance in the air is perfect. Jumps and spins just feel much more balanced than other skis I’ve ridden. I come from a pretty traditional directional background, and at this mount point I still feel comfortable getting into an aggressive stance and charging. This was a little more tail than I’m used to, but I felt very comfortable with them by the second day. I too like steep tight trees. Changing directions is super easy–exception being powder. I will say that my tips do dive a little in powder if I’m in a really forward aggressive stance (we’re talking 8+ inches here…below that and they feel just fine). This forces me into a more neutral stance which does hang up the tails a little.
      Big turns are a breeze, but tight turns take a little bit more effort to unweight the tails. On groomers I can rip them up and make any size turn I want pretty easily. +3 might be even quicker than where I’m at and will likely fix some of that tip dive in the steep and deep.

  11. Thanks for the review.

    I’m 5’9 (175cm) and 147lbs (67kg), +20 years advanced skier. I have an opportunity to buy 184cm 2019 Marskman with Salomon Shift bindings for a very decent price. I am going to Japan in December and will be skiing backcountry and doing some mild approaches with skins. Do you think the ski will be too long / heavy or is it doable?

  12. I love my Marksmans! I’m an older skier and was interested in a quick nimble lighter feeling ski, and since high speed is a risky endeavor, these skis keep me going slower because they’re much happier at reasonable speeds. They are just what I needed, soo easy to turn! Woods, bumps tight spots, I can basically ski anything I want, easily. I guess I miss going 50mph on a couple of long slabs, but it would really hurt if I dumped ! and let’s face it GS skis are useless in slow tight stuff, bumps , woods, etc. Bottom line: these are perfect for what I need !!

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