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.
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.
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.
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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