Julia Van Raalte (see bio)
I. What’s your one-ski quiver (of currently available skis) for where you ski most?
Narrowing the quiver down to one ski is definitely tricky, and for me, means that I’m going to have to sacrifice either some soft-snow or some hard-snow performance.
I spend a lot of time skiing Crested Butte, where there is a good amount of steep, technical terrain. Crested Butte doesn’t get massive crowds like many Colorado resorts along the I-70 corridor, so I can often find soft snow for many days after a storm. However, when things do firm up in between snow storms, I really appreciate having a ski that I can confidently navigate Crested Butte’s steeper chutes and bowls on.
The Line Pandora does an excellent job in any sort of soft snow, and is a really capable ski in chop, too. While it’s not the heaviest, dampest ski to charge through deep chop on, it’s a lighter ski that is quick and easy to maneuver through variable conditions. Since the Pandora also carves quite well on groomers and feels pretty stable on hardpack, it would definitely be my choice for my everyday ski that is more soft-snow oriented.
The Blizzard Samba, at 98mm underfoot, has a heavier, damper construction and can handle bumpy hardpack and groomers exceedingly well. If I decided on a one-ski quiver where firm-snow performance was a priority, the Samba would definitely be my pick. However, I’m not spending a ton of time on groomers, and can often find some soft snow at Crested Butte, so I’m going to choose the Pandora as my versatile, everyday ski.
II. What’s your one-ski quiver for Taos?
III. What’s your one-ski quiver for the Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand?
The Canterbury Club fields also have a lot of steep, technical terrain, but can have longer periods with firmer, variable conditions than the mountain west. Given that, I’d go with the Samba, which is a bit heavier and more directional than the Pandora for every day use.
The Samba is a great ski for cutting through firm, bumpy snow, while also having just enough width to provide some float when there is fresh powder.
IV. What’s your one-ski quiver for skiing around the East Coast?
Here, I’m definitely going for a ski that I love ripping groomers on, and can also trust on ice, bumps, and firmer crud at Stowe, my home mountain.
For the East Coast, I’m sticking with the Blizzard Samba. The ski will still be plenty of fun on powder days (I did grow up skiing powder days on my race skis, after all), but will also be a stable, solid ski for anywhere on the mountain when conditions are a little firm.
V. What’s your one-ski quiver for the next 2 years, regardless of location?
The Pandora is now the same ski as the Sick Day 110, which Line designed as a resort + backcountry ski. I spend a fair amount of time in the backcountry, but not quite enough that I’d choose a dedicated touring ski with tech bindings as my one-ski quiver.
So even though I’d prefer to have a dedicated touring ski with a tech binding (I’d take the Rossignol Savory 7) and a ski with a solid alpine binding, I think I’d be pretty happy mounting a burlier AT binding on the Line Pandora, which would serve me well both in the resort and the backcountry.
VI. What ski was most difficult to leave off your list?
The older Bibby Pro, returning this year as the Blister Pro, has been my favorite powder ski that also handles deep tracked out pow beautifully. Even though it is still capable in firmer conditions, I wouldn’t choose such a wide ski as my one-ski quiver. But it is still a blast to ski and a hard one to leave off the list.
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?
Blizzard Black Pearl: It could potentially replace the Samba as my East Coast ski if it carves significantly better, though the Black Pearl probably wouldn’t be quite as good in soft conditions.
Next: Jason Hutchins’ Selections