Brett Carroll (see bio)
I. What’s your one-ski quiver (of currently available skis) for where you ski most?
I have spent most of my inbounds ski days over the past three years poking around resorts in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon. Choosing a single ski that will perform well every day is a difficult task, given the wide variety of conditions that can exist in the Wasatch. Both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are famous for the quality and quantity of snow that they receive in a typical season, so my one ski definitely needs to perform well in powder and soft snow. But there are times when the region will experience a multi-week dry spell, so I want my selection to also be able to handle firm chop/variable snow, moguls, and (relatively) icy groomers.
Of the skis that I have ridden and reviewed, I think the Line Supernatural 108 performs the best across all of these conditions.
In choosing a one-ski quiver, I considered soft chop and firm crud performance to be my two highest priorities. I’ve found that snow conditions in Little Cottonwood are usually not on the extreme ends of the spectrum (i.e. deep, fresh powder or ice), and are most often somewhere in the middle.
The Supernatural 108 is the best ski I’ve ridden in soft, chopped up snow. It is stiff and damp enough to be able to plow through and over soft bumps without the tips getting deflected, and it is fat enough with sufficient rocker to float on top of the chop, keeping the tips from getting stuck in piles of snow.
The Supernatural 108 also does well in crud and more firm, variable conditions, although the Supernatural 100 is a pretty strong option in this category, too. What I found most impressive about the Supernatural 108 in crud is that it felt stable when charging, but also more playful and energetic when making more precise turns at moderate speeds.
The Supernatural 100 feels a little more nimble and energetic when making those precise turns, but is significantly less stable and more prone to deflection in firm chop at high speeds. I’ll take the Supernatural 108 for its versatility in this category.
Now I’ll talk about those extreme ends of the spectrum. The Supernatural 108 does well in untouched powder, but the Nordica El Capo may have a slight advantage here. When driving the shovels pretty hard, I noticed the Supernatural 108’s and the El Capo’s tips dive a bit, although this wasn’t really an issue if I skied in a more neutral stance. From a neutral position, the El Capo’s softer tips and tails help them to float a little better and feel “surfier” than the Supernatural 108. However, the Supernatural 108 is still very enjoyable in powder, and the El Capo’s small advantage here isn’t enough for it to beat out the 108’s superior performance in the other categories.
Finally, I would include the Supernatural 108, the Supernatural 100, and the Rossignol Experience 100 as contenders in the “firm groomer” category. The advantage definitely belongs to the Experience 100 here, as it carves better than any other all-mountain ski I have ridden. The Supernatural 100 doesn’t feel as powerful or hold an edge quite as well on very firm groomers, but it is more comfortable breaking its tails free to smear out a turn than the Experience 100. The Supernatural 108’s ability to vary turn shape is similar to the Supernatural 100, and while the 108 doesn’t feel quite as snappy or energetic as the 100, it is more damp and stable at speed on roughed up groomers. Although the Supernatural 108 may not be the best option in terms on groomers, again, I’m willing to sacrifice a little bit here in exchange for its versatility in other conditions.
Given that the Supernatural 108 is my top choice for both soft and firm chop conditions, I think it is very deserving selection for my one-ski quiver. And even though I’ve been on one or two other skis that perform a little better in powder or on icy groomers than the 108, it is still a very capable ski in those conditions, too.
II. What’s your one-ski quiver for Taos?
Same as for Little Cottonwood, for the same reasons.
III. What’s your one-ski quiver for the Canterbury Club Fields, New Zealand?
The conditions in Canterbury tend to be a bit more variable than in Little Cottonwood or Taos, but I’m still going to give the nod to the Supernatural 108.
IV. What’s your one-ski quiver for skiing around the East Coast?
I mentioned earlier that the Rossignol Experience 100 carves better than any other all-mountain ski that I have ridden. And because carving performance, especially on firm/icy groomers, is my top priority for an East Coast one-ski quiver, the Experience 100 is an easy choice. That being said, there are some other criteria that I want my East Coast quiver to meet, and the Experience 100 is a capable ski in those categories, too.
I want my East Coast ski to be quick and nimble enough to feel comfortable in the bumps, and be able to hold an edge when the moguls get steep and icy. The Experience 100 is very well suited to this task, as the edgehold afforded by the ski’s fat, powerful tails on groomers transfers well to firm, bumped up terrain; they feel quick enough to be able to carve through mogul fields, making precise turns at moderate speeds.
Finally, when the East Coast does get snow, I prefer to spend the whole day searching for powder/soft snow in the tight, New England trees. I want my ski selection to be comfortable making quick, short to medium radius turns in powder and soft chop. In my review I described how the Experience 100 is prone to tip dive in powder and tip deflection in soft chop, but that these issues seemed to become less severe when making precise, shorter radius turns at moderate speeds. I think that the Supernatural 100 may be a better choice for this category, as it also prefers this type of turn shape, but has fewer issues with tip dive and deflection. Overall, the Experience 100 is still a great ski for this category, and when looked at in combination with each of the other factors, is the obvious selection for my East Coast one-ski quiver.
V. What’s your one-ski quiver for the next 2 years, regardless of location?
For the reasons I described in my Utah quiver, I’m sticking with the Supernatural 108.
I’ll also note that I spend a decent amount of time in the backcountry, and over the last few years have been lugging around the heavy Line Influence 105. While I have certainly thought about investing in a pair of lighter skis that would work well in the backcountry and the resort (the Blizzard Scout might be a good option), I haven’t found that ideal ski yet. So for now, if I’m skiing inbounds and touring, I’ll pair the Supernatural 108 with a burlier AT binding I can still charge on. Although this is not light by any means, it will work for me wherever I ski.
VI. What ski was most difficult to leave off your list?
Line Influence 105, 186cm: Line hasn’t made the Influence series for a couple years now, but it is still up there with the Supernatural 108 as one of my favorite skis of all time. Its traditional, non-rockered tail helps it perform slightly better in firm, off-piste conditions than the Supernatural 108, and it carves almost as well as the Experience 100. If it was still in production, it would have been a likely choice for both my Canterbury and East Coast quivers.
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 Cochise, 185cm: I mentioned in my two-ski quiver write up how frequently people have recommended that I try the Cochise. Everyone seems to be in agreement that, based on my skiing style and other skis that I enjoy, that I would love this ski.
Next: Jonathan Ellsworth’s Selections