Ski: 2013-2014 Armada VJJ, 175 cm
Dimensions (mm): 126-136-115-133-123
Sidecut Radius: 12 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 173cm
Weight Per Ski: 2,041 grams / 4.5 lbs.
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Firearrow F3 105 / Marker Squire (DIN at 7)
Mount Location: Factory recommended
Test Locations: Alta Ski Area; Silverton, Colorado; Snowbird
Days Skied: 40+
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 VJJ, which is unchanged for 12/13 & 13/14, except for the graphics.]
The Armada VJJ entered the market last fall as the lady-friendly version of the popular men’s JJ ski, and, obvious jokes and nonsense aside, this ski is awesome for expert female rippers and for intermediate and advanced skiers who are looking to take their skiing up a notch.
The VJJ was the first dramatically rockered ski I’ve owned, and while I expected awesome performance in powder, I had some doubts about how they would hold up on harder snow. With little early season snowfall, my VJJs patiently resided in my closet until a January trip to Silverton, Colorado. By the time my trip came, however, Silverton still hadn’t seen much snow, and conditions were firm. Still, I eagerly anticipated my first run on the VJJs.
As we rode up the double chair, I couldn’t help but admire the gilded top sheets. I know top sheets are never a good indication of a ski’s prowess, but it doesn’t hurt to ride a gorgeous pair of sticks.
Our group warmed up on a run called “Riff,” where the snow was hard, icy, and unforgiving. I adopted an aggressive forward stance and made a few slow turns, gaining confidence with each arc. At 115mm underfoot, I was shocked how easy it was to initiate turns on the VJJs. I swooped down the icy face of Riff, enjoying the stability and impressive edge grip while other skiers struggled to maintain control.
Armada utilized AR50 construction on these skis, meaning they have rigid ABS sidewalls underfoot for stability, and lightweight cap construction on the tails and tips to reduce swing weight. I could definitely notice the lighter weight of my VJJs compared to my 2008 Salomon Czars (166cm). As a petite skier (5’3″, 120 lbs.), this reduced swing weight meant I had a much easier time initiating turns and had better overall control of the ski.
Many of the runs at Silverton Resort are accessible only via hiking, so our next move was a 30-minute bootpack up to “Billboard.” We surveyed the beautiful panorama at 13,480 feet before dropping into the wind-scoured Hidden Valley, where the snow was chalky and smooth.
Here I really let go, to see what the VJJs could do. Massive sweeping GS turns were excellent, and the stability of the ski gave me the confidence to lay out smooth arcing turns on the packed powder. This ski carved much better than my 2009 Line Pandoras (162cm), which are actually narrower underfoot at 110mm.
The VJJ was incredibly stable at high speeds on smooth snow, though when riding through rougher, choppy conditions I did notice a slight flapping of the tips. The tip flex on the VJJ is just a bit softer than the flex underfoot, but I’ve only ever noticed flapping at higher speeds. Otherwise, I found the flex to be stiff enough to bust through crud pretty admirably. Leaving Silverton, I was pleased to have erased my doubts about the performance of the VJJ on hard, icy snow. Their ability to grip—and rail—down both chalky and icy slopes left me even more eager to test their chops in powder.