2017-2018 J Skis – The Metal, 186 cm
Available Lengths (cm): 173, 180, 186
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.3 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 135-106-124
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 136-105-124.5 mm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2341 & 2318 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters (in a 180 cm length)
Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 62 mm / 49 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~2-3 mm
Recommended Line: 6 cm behind “ski center”; ~85.7 from tail
Mount Location: Recommended Line
Boots / Bindings: Hawx Ultra 130 & Fischer RC4 130 / Marker Jester
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 7
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 Metal, which was not changed for 17/18, except for the graphics.]
We posted a Flash Review of The Metal a few weeks ago (if you’d like to get access to our our initial takes / Flash Reviews on skis, sign up for the Blister Membership), and we talked about The Metal more recently in our Blister’s Best Bets series. We’ll also be posting our Deep Dive comparisons in a bit, but if you can’t wait, then see the Comments section of our Flash Review on The Metal — those comments are getting pretty Deep Dive-y already…
Anyway, we’ve spilled a lot of the proverbial ink already about this ski, so I’m going to consolidate and expand a number of those thoughts here…
Jason Levinthal describes The Metal like this:
“The Metal has all of the high performance, powerful benefits you’d expect from a ski with Titanal metal in it, yet without the extra weight. The secret is in the way we’ve optimized the metal laminate’s geometry & location to add power only where you need it, and reduce weight where you don’t. The result is exponential power & stability with a shockingly nimble, lively & fun feel. You’ve got a ridiculously fun cliff stomping, crud crushing, pow surfing ski that will also have you smiling ear to ear on groomer days laying down high-speed hip dragging carves like you just won a gold medal in Olympic GS.”
We’ll get into some of these claims in a minute, but let’s first back up to our article, “Ski Recommendations: Blister’s Best Bets,” where The Metal made the list. What might be particularly surprising to some is that The Metal won the award in the ~108 mm width range in our “Versatile and Easy” category.
(1) The Metal is a really good, fun ski.
(2) It is not some damp beast of a charger. Those who assumed that J Lev had re-created the old Line Mothership are mistaken—those two skis have basically nothing in common.
It’s not an exact analogy, but The Metal reminds me of a wider Nordica Enforcer. Just as the Enforcer isn’t some super stiff, demanding charger, neither is The Metal. I think both the Enforcer and The Metal are quite easy to ski — if you love, for example, the 185 cm Blizzard Cochise and you wouldn’t want less ski than the Cochise, then The Metal is not for you.
But if you want a 106mm-underfoot ski that is very intuitive, has a big sweet spot, good edgehold (on relatively soft snow, at least) carves cleanly, and is easy to bend, then you should take a look.
And so let me repeat: you should definitely not think of The Metal as some very damp charger that will kick your ass. That just isn’t the case at all. (Again, I would say the same thing about the Nordica Enforcer 100.)
Flex Pattern & Shape
I’d describe the flex pattern like this:
Tail (the very end of the ski): 5
Behind the Heel Piece: 6
Yep, this is a pretty consistent flex pattern that doesn’t dramatically ramp up or ramp down anywhere. It’s easy to hand flex, and it’s easy to bend the ski on snow. The Metal has a surprisingly deep tip rocker line (well again, surprising only if and when you’re still expecting this ski to be a stiff, directional charger), but not an inordinate amount of tip splay.
The tail rocker line is more conservative, as is the amount of tail splay. And perhaps the most surprising thing is that the tails are actually fairly heavily tapered—I’m not usually a big fan of tapered tails, but I can honestly say that in most conditions, I never felt like the tail taper led to a lack of support. Mostly, the tails of this ski are just easy to release and smear when you want to. (More on those tails in a minute.)
I noted in my Flash Review of The Metal that my first days out on it, I was a little under the weather, feeling a bit lower energy than normal. And The Metal felt kind of perfect. I often tend to like skis that have a big top end but require a good amount of input. But on those first days, I just kept saying how easy The Metal is to ski, yet I was never complaining about a big lack of stability. In fact at the end of one day when we were absolutely racing to get one more lap on chair 2 at Taos, there I was ripping down Reforma probably as hard and as fast as I have all season. But that was when conditions were relatively soft and forgiving at Taos, which has become less and less of the case over the past several weeks….
On soft, edge-able groomers, The Metal is very fun to carve: it’s easy to bend, tracks well, works well at slower speeds (if you’re running fairly bases flat and just noodling around back to the lift), but it’s also happy to perform high-speed, high-angle arcs.
On firm, icy, groomers, The Metal’s edgehold definitely suffers—primarily, I think, due to the ski’s tail taper. Still, the ski does remain predictable on ice—I just found the tails wanting to wash out when I was still really tipping the ski over.
Soft Moguls & Firm, Gnarly Moguls
The Metal performs remarkably well in both, actually. On big, steeper bumps off of Kachina Peak, The Metal offered a very nice combination of maneuverability and stability for a ski this wide. Are there quicker skis out there? Yes. (And most of them are less stable.) Are there more stable skis out there? Yes. (And most of them are more demanding / less forgiving.)
Some ~105mm-oriented skis are more soft-snow-oriented, some are more firm-snow-oriented. I’d say The Metal leans a bit left of center, toward the soft-snow side of things. Long and short, I would happily ski The Metal in 12″ of snow, and there are few skis of its width that I think would be head-and-shoulders better when things get really deep.
Firm Crud, Soft Chop
Again, The Metal performed well here. It does not have the stability of stiffer skis with a more traditional mount point, but I will wager that a whole lot of skiers will really like the blend it offers. I didn’t ski a ton of very deep chop (think Alta a day after a storm), and I can’t say that I expect The Metal to excel in really deep chop. (Few skis do, and the ones that do are often much more demanding than The Metal.)
In the Air / Landings
Again, as someone who often likes stiffer, pretty directional skis, The Metal has been a ton of fun. The ski provides far more pop than more damp and more directional chargers (skis that have mount points back around -9 to -13 cm behind true center, as opposed to The Metal’s -6 cm), so takeoffs felt very good (vs those other skis), and the tails felt supportive on landings. Just nice, and I found myself still skiing in my normal way (fairly fast, pushing fairly hard), while definitely playing more around the mountain. Hell, I even took The Metal into the park one day just to go screw around—which is something I never do, and certainly not on the directional chargers I tend to like.
And then after those park laps, we went back to skiing steep mini-spines in Taos’s West Basin.
A Note re: Weight
Levinthal makes the claim that The Metal is powerful, but doesn’t have all of the “extra weight” of skis built with titanal. But The Metal isn’t, actually, a light ski—weighing in at more than 2300 grams per ski. But it definitely does not ski heavy. This ski is the opposite of cumbersome. It’s swing weight is relatively low, and certainly low compared to other skis at roughly this size and weight. In short, it feels like a very effective use of weight: you’re getting better stability than you would if you took the same ski and made it ~300 grams lighter, and yet in the air, this doesn’t feel like a 2300+ gram ski.
Who’s It For?
The 186 cm Metal does not feel like a big ski, it just feels like a nice ski. So I don’t think that bigger guys (~190 lbs and up?) who really like to drive stiff, damp skis are going to love it.
For lots and lots of other skiers, however, it’s unclear to me what they wouldn’t like about The Metal as an all-mountain ski, unless they are looking for outstanding performance on ice.
If this ‘Who’s It For?’ sounds more broad than usual, that’s because I think the answer is quite broad. The answer is, “Lots of skiers.”
Jason Levinthal has certainly built a fun all-arounder, which really ought to come as no surprise—even if the name of this ski may have thrown a few of us off initially.
But if you want a 106mm-underfoot ski that is very intuitive, has a big sweet spot, good edgehold (on relatively soft snow, at least) carves cleanly, is easy to bend, and is fun in the air, then you should take a look.
To see how The Metal stacks up against the new Rossignol Soul 7 HD, Line Supernatural 108, Blizzard Cochise, Moment Belafonte, Head Monster 108, etc., become a Blister member or subscribe to the Blister Deep Dive.
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