2nd Look: 2012-2013 Black Diamond Element

Black Diamond Element, Blister Gear ReviewSki: 2012-2013 Black Diamond Element, 175cm

Dimensions (mm): 141-115-123

Turn Radius: 21 meters

Boots / Bindings: Lange RS 110 SC / Marker Griffon / (DIN) 7

Mount Location: +1.5cm from recommended line

Test Location: Winter Park, Colorado

Days Skied: 5

Searching for a women-specific powder ski can often be a frustrating endeavor, as most skis offered in a manufacturer’s women’s line are significantly narrower underfoot than the men’s. Black Diamond, however, has eased this frustration by releasing the women’s-specific Element.

As Julia Van Raalte pointed out in her review of the Black Diamond Element, this ski has the same dimensions as the men’s AMPerage, just with a softer flex that caters specifically to women.

I was eager to ride a women’s ski with 115 millimeters underfoot, and I headed up to Winter Park the day after I got the skis from Julia. I don’t know if it was luck or destiny, but I woke up that Monday morning to nine fresh inches of powder.

With no patience for a warm-up run, I headed straight for Frenchman Glades, a steep, open, and less-traveled tree run on the Mary Jane side of Winter Park. The Elements lived up to my expectations and floated beautifully as I maneuvered my way through the trees. At slower speeds, I was able to control the ski in a relaxed stance, which gave the Element a more playful feel than I originally anticipated. But, as was Julia’s experience, I had to move farther forward to keep control of the skis as my speed increased.

The Elements were light and quick enough in wider spaced trees, but once the trees tightened up, I found myself throwing the skis sideways to stay in control. After a couple of runs, I decided to stick to more open areas. Though the Elements did have a quality of playfulness, these skis performed best when they could take off. At speed, the BD Element is certainly in its element.

The conditions the next couple of days were less than ideal for a big-mountain powder ski: no new snow in 48 hours, and temperatures that skyrocketed into the 50s. As the snow got choppier and more tracked out, the Element felt less stable and was more difficult to control.

With the bindings set on the recommended line, I—like Julia—found the ski to be a bit grabby in tracked snow, even though I’m a bit taller than she is. So I followed Julia’s advice and moved the bindings 1.5cm forward from the factory recommended mount.

Black Diamond Element, Blister Gear Review
Morgan Sweeney on the Black Diamond Element.

Moving the bindings forward just that much made a world of a difference. The forward mount gave me a better stance over the skis and allowed me to push through crud more confidently. Not only could I ski more aggressively on the new mount, it also gave the skis a more playful feel. With less ski in front of me, the Elements were a lot more responsive and maneuvered through tighter glades with greater ease.

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