I think we’ve made a pretty sweet backcountry ski, one that will last forever. The only wear mine have shown, other than some hard base hits (still no core shots), is some minor chipping on the topsheet. I’ve never owned a pair of BC skis that get stepped on regularly that don’t do this, but with Praxis skis in particular there’s an easy fix.
Before you even ski them, just file down the topsheets. All this involves is dragging a fine file in one direction along the edge of the topsheet and sidewall. Once you smoothed it down, you’ll see some kind of feathery things. Then just do the same in the other direction. A few swipes each way is all it takes. What this does is break up the uniform smooth edge of the topsheet so that when something wants to lift it up, the force is broken up a bit and not transferred along the entire topsheet.
Just do it. It works.
There still seems to be quite a bit of interest in the idea behind the WooTest, and, as evidenced by the above comments, I feel this ski in most ways accomplished what we were after. But I also think it isn’t ready to be put to bed quite yet. The appeal of making a narrow version of bigger skis was not only to have a nice backcountry ski, but, with the shape and rocker profiles already proven, also to have a potentially good resort ski. It was never the goal, but a side benefit I was secretly after.
I can say with certainty that it’s been absolute heaven to have a smaller ski for sidestepping around the resort and for breaking trail to get to sidecountry stashes (both with skins and with alpine binders), but that still rules the untrackted descents. I don’t feel like we’re 100 percent there yet, but that alone has me really motivated to fine tune the WooTest a little further. I want to ditch my Protests for something smaller, and after skiing the WooTests, I’m completely certain this ski will do it. It’s almost there.
So, what to change….
Having a little narrower ski, it’s obvious that the WooTest won’t be floating quite as much as its bigger brother. I think the sort of squared-off tip of the Protest works fine on that ski, but in a little deeper in the snow, I think it best to look at what’s already been done with some narrower pow skis with a solid reputation. I believe a more tapered tip would cut down on some of the grabby feeling without those corners. Nothing exaggerated and pointy, just not so squared.
Regardless of whether it was intentional, the production WooTest came out pretty rockered in the tips, more so than either Protest model. While this allowed for a nice forward mount and the ability to float as well as a much wider ski, I think that deep rocker combined with the squared tip was causing some of that grab once the ski was leaned over. All of a sudden, there was a lot more tip touching, especially considering it wasn’t floating quite as much in soft snow.
The third thing I would tweak is the WooTest’s flatter tail. It’s humbling to have to admit that I’m not nearly as brilliant as I think I am, but I think the ski has been compromised a little by putting a tail on it that doesn’t break loose as easily as its larger brethren in the exalted “slarve” turns. It’s not something I would have noticed so much if I didn’t have a pair of Protests to jump back on in the same day, but the WooTest tails wanted to hold noticeably more than the skis they were based on.
It may be because there’s more edge pressure from the narrower profile, but they need to be loosened up a bit to get that super easy, effortless slide I’ve come to adore in the Protests. BLISTER founder Jonathan Ellsworth had probably the funniest response to these skis. He said he literally couldn’t turn them his first day out. (Of course, he’d decided not to detune them before skiing…and the mount point was a factor, too, but still: I’ll forever regret that I wasn’t there to witness this.)
Tweaking the flatter tail would help beginners like Jonathan really see the potential of the design, I think. But I think this version achieved most of what a lot of us were after and this would be a good fine tune. If it compromises skinning (I know it will), I don’t care. I don’t go into the wild for the walk up, I go for the ride down. And I know a lot of people out there concur.
It sounds like Praxis is getting a lot of interest in the WooTest for next year. We’ll be working out the kinks in the very near future. I got a chance to talk to Keith today, and we’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion regarding future tweaks. Although minor, they’ll be happening on future presses.
It’s been great finally getting this ski made, and my only regret is not having a long enough winter to enjoy them in their element.
Fellow WooTest owner? If you got a pair, speak up in the Comments section below and let us know what you think.