Pow and Mid Winter Conditions Update — Sam Shaheen 2.18.18
Last spring when Jonathan and I skied the 17/18 Spur (which comes back unchanged for 18/19), we both felt that it would be the perfect ski for the deep snow, (occasionally) tight trees, and plentiful, playful, lower-angle terrain of Niseko, Japan.
And now, having just returned from two weeks in Niseko with the Spur and the 18/19 Atomic Bent Chetler 120, I can say that our initial conclusions were pretty spot-on.
Deep / Bottomless Light Pow
This is the snow that Niseko is famous for, and it seems like it’s the snow the Spur was designed for. The deeper and more consistent the snow, the easier and more intuitive the Spur feels. From a neutral stance, the Spur is surfy and pivots easily — willing to slash, hack, and pop its way through playful terrain. In really deep snow, I found the Spur to definitely prefer a neutral stance, and a neutral stance tends to work extremely well in the terrain of Niseko.
The Spur is a bit more eager to turn than the 18/19 Bent Chetler 120, and a bit less comfortable going straight in consistent conditions (likely because of its huge amount of tip and tail taper). But the Spur definitely edges out the Bent Chetler in float (the Spur is longer, wider, and has a much-farther-back mount point).
Deep, Soft Chop
After the snow gets a bit tracked, the Spur has just enough stiffness and size to bust through soft chop, but this is definitely not where the ski shines. The more variable the snow, the less comfortable the Spur feels. Granted, deep chop is not an easy condition for any ski, but the huge amount of taper and softer flex of the Spur (including its very soft torsional flex pattern) make this an inefficient tool in variable. Passable, but inefficient.
After the snow is completely tracked and the conditions transition to packed powder, the Spur again becomes quite fun as you can drive through the front of the shovels, still pivot easily, and surf around with a low swing weight and a relatively solid platform — this is actually a really fun tree ski in firmer, packed conditions (so long as we’re still talking about fairly soft conditions, and not harsh, refrozen coral reef).
I was able to get the Spur into plenty of untracked and denser snow around Niseko while touring. Conditions were about 12-18” of soft-but-consolidated snow that ranged from fist-firmness on top, to a bit softer than one-finger farther down. In this snow, the Spur still prefers a neutral stance, but the less deep the snow, the more of a forward stance the Spur prefers. When things are not as deep, skiing more centered / neutral could result in me getting kicked back onto the tails — the tails aren’t punishing, but they will protest a bit in firmer / more shallow snow.
Still, I’d say that the Spur does a good job of responding to a multitude of stances — everything from centered to forward — so these stance changes seemed to be pretty natural and intuitive. But I’d say that the Bent Chetler 120 is a bit more intuitive when it comes to transitioning between different conditions. I think this is due to the radical shape of the Spur; it’s unique, and while others might have a different experience, it took me a bit of time to adjust to. (Where it felt quite intuitive to Jonathan right off the bat.) By comparison, the Bent Chetler 120 has a pretty standard freestyle shape with minimal taper, and its design felt more immediately familiar to me than the Spur.
Touring / Compatibility with Climbing Skins
I had the Spur mounted with a Fritschi Tecton 12 and G3’s new Alpinist+ Glide skins (review coming soon). Even though the tips and tails are oddly shaped, the G3 skin clips did a good job of fixing the skins to the Spur. The tip connectors work well and centering the skin is not too difficult. The tail clip isn’t all that secure, but even on long tours, I didn’t have much issue with it. (But if you intend to tour a lot on the Spur, G3’s twin tip tail connector would improve tail clip security).
The Spur might not be the ideal shape for a touring ski, but it is a damn fun one.
The 17/18 – 18/19 Spur may not be anything like the previous iteration of the Spur, but this new version is definitely a fun ski. It feels light, snappy, pivoty, and surfy. It excels in deep and consistent snow, but can also handle conditions that are less than ideal, too.
So if you’re looking for a directional yet playful powder surfer, the new Spur should definitely be on your short list.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pictures