Over the past season, I’ve toured on the Prime 4.0 in Alaska and Japan, and across a pretty good range of soft- and firm-snow conditions.
I’ve now skied the Prime 4.0 at 3 different mount points (-12 cm, -10 cm, and -9 cm). Trying to figure out where this ski feels most balanced and natural has been a bit tricky, so I want to touch on that right away.
I started on the Prime 4.0 with the Fritschi Tecton 12 mounted at about -12 cm from center (about 1 cm forward of the “all-mountain” line). Before mounting, I took the Prime 4.0 into Powderhound to check the bases and edges, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Once mounted, I took Prime 4.0 for a tour in the Kenai mountains near my home in Girdwood, AK. The snow was deep, fresh, and slightly upside-down, and by the second turn, I thought I was too far back on the ski. Later that day, I took the Prime 4.0 out on some groomers at Alyeska and confirmed this suspicion. I skied straight back to Powderhound, remounted the bindings at -10 cm, detuned the tips and tails, did a quick run on the groomers to confirm that I’d improved the ride, and tossed the Prime 4.0 in my ski bag for a trip to Japan the next day. When I got home from Japan, I remounted for the 3rd time with the bindings at about -9 cm from center (a touch in front of the “Candide” line), and have been riding them there ever since.
While the ski improved in most aspects with each advancement of the mount point, I still haven’t found the Prime 4.0 to feel particularly well balanced. I’ll keep skiing the Prime 4.0 to try and figure this out more, but I just can’t seem to find a comfortable, intuitive balance point on the ski. It could be that the 185 cm length is a little short for me, but I’ve also skied a lot of 185 cm and 186 cm skis that feel well balanced and quite intuitive at my size, so I don’t really believe that the length is the issue.
Two days before I arrived in Japan, many of the ski areas experienced an unusual high-elevation rain event that pretty much wiped out all but the highest portions of accessible terrain. And then just prior to my first morning of touring, we got a couple of inches of light, dry snow and a little wind up high that created some pretty fun dust on crust skiing. While skiing in these conditions on the Prime 4.0, I still felt a little too far back on the ski (this was when I had the bindings at -10 cm). However, I was able to arc and skid at will and had a great couple of days splashing around in the shallow pow on the Prime 4.0.
As the snow started stacking up in typical Japan style, I kept skiing on the Prime 4.0 for a few deep days until there was no choice but to start (DPS) Spooning. The light swing weight and 118 mm platform made the Prime 4.0 more than acceptable for the deep pow, but it definitely felt most in its element when I could still feel the firmer base (i.e., wasn’t skiing “bottomless” powder).
When inbounds terrain got chopped up, the fairly light and stiff Prime 4.0 got bounced around more than heavier skis, but the Prime 4.0 felt more composed than some of the lightest powder touring skis I’ve been using lately.
When I got home from Japan, I immediately got back to touring in the Kenai Mountains near my home in Girdwood. This was mostly in cold, light, 30 cm pow, sometimes with a palpable crust underneath.
On big, open faces, the Prime 4.0 wants to run fast and prefers to be carved in relatively clean arcs. It’s certainly possible to break the ski free into drifted turns, but out of all of the powder touring skis I’ve used recently, the Prime 4.0 is probably the least willing to be thrown sideways at speed, even in cold, dry powder.
In tighter terrain, the low swing weight of the Prime 4.0 is great for jump turns, but the imbalanced feel of the Prime 4.0 does make the ski less intuitive when making quick turns. This is especially noticeable in any kind of soft or breakable snow due to the same “locked in” feeling I’ve noted above. Because of this, the Prime 4.0 takes a little more effort to move around in tight spaces.
Because I still haven’t found the Prime 4.0 to feel particular intuitive or balanced, it hasn’t been my first choice for when I’m pursuing steeper and more technical lines in cold, deep snow.
In firmer conditions, the 4.0 carves relatively well and can hold a turn at high speeds. As in other conditions, the ski does not feel particularly intuitive at any of the mount points I tried and, regardless of where they are mounted, take a little more effort to find the sweet spot in fore / aft pressure.
The Prime 4.0 is fairly damp relative to its weight, though its not as stable as slightly heavier options in this class.
The Faction Prime 4.0 is a fairly light powder touring ski that excels when arcing big turns in fresh snow. It offers pretty good stability for its weight, and doesn’t feel totally out of place on firm snow, either. However, after skiing it at 3 different mount points, I still haven’t found the Prime 4.0 to feel very well balanced or intuitive. And if you’re looking to slash and drift turns in soft snow, there are plenty of better options. But if you’re looking for a powder touring ski to use to skin up big faces and make big, clean turns down them, the Prime 4.0 could be a good choice.
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