Will Brown (see bio)
I. What’s your one-ski quiver (of currently available skis) for where you ski most?
Currently, most of my days are spent between Taos Ski Valley and resorts in southwestern Colorado, like Crested Butte and Telluride. These areas don’t top the charts in terms of total annual snowfall, but the snow they do get is light, and it stays dry and soft for a long time.
I’m torn here between two skis: the 190cm Salomon Rocker2 108, and the 186cm Blizzard Peacemaker.
Both are versatile skis that are good options if you want a ski with a playful side for throwing tricks around the mountain. However, these skis are different, so it’s time to talk compromise.
The 190cm Rocker2 108 is 111mm underfoot; has a rather short running length; a considerable amount of tip and tail taper; and a swing weight that’s quite light for its size. It’s a do-it-all freestyle ski that’s decidedly biased toward softer conditions.
Skiing the 108 on very firm hardpack is still fun, but not because it’ll let you rip powerful, high-angle carves. You can carve the ski when groomers are even remotely soft, but otherwise you’ll be experimenting with all different shapes of slarvy, sliding turns.
But when conditions are even just a little soft, or it’s a certified pow day, the 108’s width makes it a whole lot of fun.
The Blizzard Peacemaker, on the other hand, feels a bit stiffer than the 108, and has a little more effective edge, so on the whole it’s better in very hard/smooth, and variable conditions. The Peacemaker’s narrower waist also makes it more at home in bumps, where the 108 can feel a little cumbersome, but it isn’t as easy or fun to ski in more than 6” of snow as the Rocker2 108.
Ok, decision time. If I spent less time on lines with big bumps (especially in steeper terrain), I’d probably pick the Rocker2 108. But steep bumps and variable snow is something I get my fair share of, so I’m going to give up a bit of float on the bigger days, and give the nod to the Peacemaker.
II. What’s your one-ski quiver for Taos?
Same as above.
III. What’s your one-ski quiver for the Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand?
My two-ski quiver for the Canterbury clubbies consisted of the Blizzard Cochise and the more playful, freestyle-oriented Kastle XX110. But now that I’m down to one ski?
I’ll go with the Cochise. I’ll have to take butters, switch skiing, and most spins out of my riding, but there are plenty of narrow chutes and lots of wide-open terrain in New Zealand where the directional, slarvy Cochise feels right at home.
IV. What’s your one-ski quiver for skiing around the East Coast?
Again I’ll take the Blizzard Peacemaker here, mainly because I want some stability in chop and decent float when it snows, though I’m definitely giving up some hardpack performance.
V. What’s your one-ski quiver for the next 2 years, regardless of location?
Once again, the Blizzard Peacemaker.
VI. What ski was most difficult to leave off your list?
The 190cm Salomon Rocker2 108, for all the reasons mentioned above.
For a directional, big-mountain-style ski for New Zealand, it’s pretty much a toss up for me between the Blizzard Cochise and Line Supernatural 108. I really like both skis.
There are also a few skis that deserve honorable mentions here, they’re just not the best for the kind of skiing I’m personally into these days:
For my East Coast ski, if I was going to focus more on hardpack and bump performance (and didn’t care about freestyle performance), two other nice skis come to mind: the directional Fischer Watea 96 (called the Ranger 96 TI for the 14/15 season), and the slightly less directional, very affordable Atomic Vantage Theory. The Watea 96, in particular, can rip turns on groomers, but also has a very nice feel in soft snow, too, thanks to a good amount of tip rocker.
VII. What ski do you imagine has the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski it, or get to ski it more?
I’m curious to find out how the new ON3P Kartel 106, Icelantic Nomad RKR, 4FRNT Gaucho, and Line Sir Francis Bacon compare to the Blizzard Peacemaker as freestyle-oriented all-mountain skis in that ~105mm-wide class.
The Kartel 106 is of particular interest because of its 22 meter sidecut radius (which is on the longer side for skis in this class), and ON3P tends to make pretty damp, stable skis. So I’m curious to see how much stability the ski can provide as well as how playful / jib-friendly it is. I’m also curious about the narrower version of the new Kartel 106, the Kartel 98, as a ski narrow enough for park laps that may also hold its own pretty well around the mountain in rough conditions.
Next: Julia Van Raalte’s Selections