With powder issues put to rest, the inquiry shifted to how the Bridge would fare as the day transitioned from untracked powder to chop. Not bad, I’d say; in fact, the Bridge was almost relaxing to ski on moderately inclined, open pitches like Al’s Run.
On the challenging, tree-laden stair-master of Upper Pollux, I felt that the Bridge was disinclined to improvisation; when I saw the line fully and charged it with conviction, things went well, but when surprises (rock or root) popped up, I felt the ski reluctant to either set an emergency carve or spin on it’s rocker through heavier piles of powder.
I will say that although the Bridge will never ski edge to edge like a short-radius K2 Charger in the bumps, on the plus side, the no drama side-cut relieved me of any worries about “hookiness,” or its partner, “tip wander,” especially in powder or crud.
In short, the Bridge in bumps is a workable compromise that suggests certain stylistic choices. It lends itself to graceful, unhurried, powerful and well-finished turns (what old guys like to call “mature” style.), but I didn’t feel that they let me be quite as quick as I still believe I can be. The absence of camber undoubtedly means less rebound in the upswing (but the counter argument is that camber is gone the moment you step onto a ski anyway, so why not just start with the edge engaged to begin with?) The low rockered tail of the Bridge allows a quick exit from each turn, and you can still find support back there when you need to lever forward. When you do fall behind, the ski balks and may punish you with an aborted turn, but it allows you to recover, and the sweet spot, once found, is so nice that you wonder what seduced you into the backseat to begin with.
Our previous reviewer, the race-bred Will Brown, questioned the soft and playful Bridge’s competency at high speed (see Will’s Bridge review). To see for myself, I arranged to ski with long time Taos hell-burner and former ski instructor Eric LaMalle (<ORIGIN> Old French: “Eric the Bad”).
First, we climbed Highline Ridge and enjoyed the last powder remnants over at Treskow. Then, Eric and I fired up the jets on Upper Totemoff. This is precisely the sort of mixed media—untracked powder, then groomer—that the Bridge was designed to handle.
And yes, in the ensuing screamer of Upper Totemoff, I found Will Brown’s speed limit for the Bridge—that point at which it begins to squirrel and chatter—but since that was at about 50 mph, the Bridge’s limit is well beyond my own. But on the way to scaring myself (I once blew an ACL going fast), I sensed nirvana. I can excitedly report that the Bridge rails a mid-speed turn like no ski I’ve been on. I played with weight transfers and angulations and discovered new (or long-lost) sensations. When I can no longer hit bump lines all day, I now can foresee a future for myself on groomers.
So why call this ski the Bridge? According to Volkl, by virtue of its twin tips, the ski serves as a bridging liaison between the park & pipe world and the rest of the resort (even the backside). Judging from the quiet graphics alone, I tend to doubt that this ski is seeing a ton of action in the parks. But it made me think of a different kind of bridge, a bridge for a certain generation that will never venture into the pipe or park (clearly, that’d be a bridge too far), but in the past may have exhibited some resistance to the trend towards fatter skis for anything but powder. (Interestingly, Volkl toned down last year’s graphics, perhaps so as not to scare away the older set.)
For those of us who have grown accustomed to using 75-85mm skis as our daily drivers, the Bridge represents a modest waist-thickening (okay, to match our own) that won’t shock our sensibilities. Last year, I would have thought 95mm was too fat to be agile; next year, I may happily be in moguls on 105s. We all evolve.