3.1.18: Update from Telluride by Jonathan Ellsworth
Sam and I just spent time on the Mantra M5 in Telluride (these were my first turns on the M5, and Sam’s first turns since he was on the ski in Austria).
And I have to say that I am, so far, very high on this ski, and see it as a very smart, very well-executed new iteration of the Mantra. Which is to say, Mantra fans can rest assured that Volkl hasn’t screwed up or made something stupid under the Mantra name.
I admit: these days, when I hear ski companies claim that they have made a ski “more accessible,” I generally take that as a code for “this ski can now be enjoyed by people who suck at skiing.”
But Sam and I both (somewhat begrudgingly) agree that the Mantra is probably a bit more accessible than some of the past iterations of the ski — many intermediate skiers can and will have fun on it — and advanced and expert skiers will, too.
(If anything, our early hunch is that advanced and expert skiers will simply need to figure out which length will work best with them.)
We had a ton of fun lapping Telluride’s wide, rolling groomers off of chair 4. Clean corduroy and bluebird skies meant that we had perfect visibility and no reason to slow down. And for a ski of this width, the 177 cm M5 proved to be a beautiful carver. It is a strong ski on edge, but it also felt easy to initiate turns.
Granted, the groomers were in great shape, but even when mobbing down groomers at 3 pm till the lifts stopped spinning, at no point did I ever feel like I was exceeding the speed limit of these 177s.
Sam mentioned in his initial review that he thought the M5 preferred medium-sized turns, and I’d probably agree. But making short turns at lower edge angles felt very comfortable to me on these skis, and I also found it easy to work the skis into much bigger turn shapes, too.
And back to that note on accessibility, I also spent some time simply sliding these skis around at slow speeds, and feel confident in saying that low-level intermediate skiers could get on these skis without any reason to be scared. The M5 can be slid around just fine, and if / when you feel ready to start letting these skis run or start putting the skis on edge, they’ll be ready for you. They just felt strong, compliant, capable, and intuitive. So much so that I found myself wondering if the ski was really this good, or whether they had some sort of magical tune on them? Because…
Sam noted that the M5’s he was on in Austria had a “samurai-sword sharp” tune on them. And while I found the factory tune on the pair we had in Telluride to work extremely well on groomers, neither Sam nor I had any issue whatsoever with the tune in moguls, steep moguls, trees, chop, etc.
I think most skis feel a bit more optimized for either on-piste use or off-piste use, but so far, I feel that the M5 (at least with the factory tune I skied it with) felt pretty ideal for both. In moguls the M5 was certainly up for quicker zipperlines, and (since this is still a Mantra), when I’d make a mistake or get too far backseat, its tails would let me know. At speed in bumps, the M5 isn’t interested in sloppy skiing. But I could slow things down and easily slide and pivot these skis through moguls — the M5 is definitely not as quick or light as a bunch of other skis on the market (that are lighter and have more tip taper), but I stand by the claim that the 177s are not a kick-your-ass, demanding ski.
Length / Sizing Recommendation
I have a bit of a weird history with the Mantra. The 184 cm “M3” Mantra is still one of my favorite all-mountain skis. But I found the “M4” Mantra to work better for me in the 177 than the 184 length. (I spell all of that out in my review of the M4.)
And when checking out the M5 in person for the first time at SIA, someone high up at Volkl said to me, unprompted, that the M5 is a ski that you should size up on.
But so far, I’m not at all sure that I agree. While we’re very eager to ski the 184, the 177 felt solid, and very comparable to / apples-to-apples with the 177 cm M4 Mantra that is currently on the market. And I think a lot of skiers are going to get along well with this 177 length.
While the M5 has a very traditional mount point, Sam Shaheen and I felt quite comfortable there, and I never felt the temptation to move. So far, the ski worked well on the line and has felt balanced on piste and off.
Bottom Line (For Now)
The new Mantra M5 is not some dumbed-down Mantra. It is a legit, all-mountain ski. And it is not an overly-demanding beast, yet it can still be pushed pretty hard.
We’re looking forward to getting more time on the Mantra M5 and A/B/C-ing it against more of its direct competitors. So while we do that, feel free to add in the Comments section below what questions or comparisons you’re most interested in.
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