The 2015 SIA show felt a bit mellower than past year’s shows.
We were busy, and subsisted primarily on the little bowls of mini-Snickers and Three Musketeers bars that many booths had, before we’d finally leave the show by 7 or 8pm, then go overeat at dinner till we were painfully full.
Tradeshows are tricky.
Still, the show seemed a bit less crowded, and for the most part, the overall feel was that companies were going for refinement rather than wild innovation. We’re pretty into that, actually—make good products, then tweak them only if you’re sure you can make them better.
The “better” part still remains to be seen (or reviewed), but as a grand generalization—and with a couple of important exceptions—this was the vibe.
Ok, let’s get to it…
• The “Rest In Peace” Award •
Line Mr. Pollard’s Opus
As we have known it—and loved it—the Line Mr. Pollard’s Opus is extinct. Unchanged over the past two seasons, last year’s winner of our “Thank You for Not Screwing Up a Good Thing” Award, and with 15+ years of development behind it, the Opus impressed us with its all-mountain versatility as a super-playful, freestyle-oriented powder ski.
Sayonara, Mr. Opus.
But there’s a silver lining here. Eric Pollard hasn’t simply eliminated one of his three pro model skis. Following the introduction of the 124mm-underfoot Line Magnum Opus this year, the Mr. Pollard’s Opus has effectively been replaced by the new, 114mm-underfoot Line Mordecai. With its design based on that of the Magnum Opus, the Mordecai is stiffer than the Opus, but has a new, even lighter core construction, and we’re very curious to see how it compares in terms of playfulness and versatility—both to the Opus and to skis like the Faction Candide 3.0 and K2 Shreditor 112, for example.
• The “Dying to Try It” Award •
ON3P Kartel 106
The ON3P Kartel 106 has been hovering around the top of our “to-review” list for about a year now, since the ski was introduced at SIA 2014.
[Jonathan Ellsworth: The (semi-serious) joke at Blister is that Will Brown is going to murder ON3P founder, Scott Andrus, if he doesn’t finally get to ski the Kartel 106 very soon. Andrus’ position on the matter is that he doesn’t believe Will deserves to get on this ski, since three years ago, Will turned down a Blister review trip to Japan so that he wouldn’t miss classes. Andrus still regards this as inexcusable.]
Anyway, ON3P says it’s made “for those looking for a more stable yet playful all-mountain ride” and stable, damp skis are something that ON3P has always done well.
With this in mind, we’re eager to see how the Kartel 106 stacks up to the 104mm wide Blizzard Peacemaker, a ski that accepts a more aggressive, driving stance than most other tip and tail rockered, freestyle-oriented all-mountain skis, but is still suitable for throwing tricks around the mountain. Will the Kartel 106 better stike this balance of dampness / stability and playfulness? We really want to find out.
Aside from the Kartel 106, we’re also hoping to check out the narrower version of the ski, the Kartel 98, which has the potential to serve as a wider, burly park ski, but should be at home cruising around the rest of the mountain, too.
And of course, we’re damn curious to see how the new Line Mordecai skis (mentioned above) as well as the redesigned Line Sir Francis Bacon skis, which we’ll get to below.
As for women’s skis we’re looking forward to testing…
4FRNT Hoji W
Julia Van Raalte: There have not been all that many women’s skis in the last several years that I’ve been really excited about getting on, but when 4FRNT introduced the Hoji W last season, I was really psyched. For the 15/16 season, 4FRNT has made several minor updates to the Hoji W’s construction, but the ski’s shape remains the same.
While I tend to like a ski with a little bit of camber, the fully rockered Hoji W looks awesome. The ski has pretty stiff, flatter tails, and a really nice, consistent flex pattern. So stay tuned—as you read this, I’ll actually be out on this ski at Taos today for the first time…
• Extreme Makeover Award •
Line Sir Francis Bacon
To pull from our initial impressions of the ski, posted from SIA:
The Line Sir Francis Bacon,which is the narrowest of Eric Pollard’s three pro model skis, has been completely redesigned for the 2015-2016 season.
The new model is 4mm narrower than this year’s version (the 2014-2015 model), and features a stiffer flex, a lighter core construction, a new tip and tail shape, and a camber profile, all based off of the design of the Magnum Opus.
The new Bacon’s tail has a solid medium flex, and its shovel is a touch softer, but the ski’s entire flex profile is very even and consistent.
While the new version of the SFB shares the same 17 meter sidecut of previous iterations, we’re curious to see how its stiffer flex and the (presumably) lighter swing weight affects its playfulness. Will the new, stiffer model be more difficult to butter and press? How much more? Will its firmer flex increase the ski’s stability? Will the new Bacon retain its quick, maneuverable feel thanks to its lighter swing weight, slightly narrower waist width, and new, more tapered tip and tail shape?
We’re big fans of the current Bacon, and we’re excited to answer these questions.
NEXT: The ‘Gear We Were Most Tempted to Steal’ Award, and More…