I’ve also skied the Sickle on many hardpack days. In Montana, I skied Moonlight Basin’s Headwaters chutes on the upper ridge after high winds and cold temperatures left the mountain covered in wind-scoured, frozen ski tracks. All of these chutes were no-fall zones, given the unforgiving conditions and terrain. While the Sickle did chatter across the bumps, it performed better than any other ski I have ridden on this sort of extreme hard pack.
The Sickle has a very slight rocker and large sidecut, so when I put the ski on edge, the entire length of the ski engages. With more edge surface in contact with the snow, the ski chatters less and feels more stable.
Again, this was a stark contrast to the DPS Nina 99, which chattered excessively on hardpack but more importantly did not feel stable. The Sickle chatters much less than the Nina but also feels very stable. The 168cm Atomic Elysian, on the other hand, feels very stable on hard pack as well but chatters a little more than the Sickle.
Trees / Bumps / Groomers
As far as terrain goes, the Sickle has performed exceptionally well in a wide variety of terrain. I love skiing the Sickle through trees, such as Fred’s or Eagle’s Nest at Alta, because they are very responsive and extremely consistent.
I can also open up the Sickle up into higher-speed, large-radius turns down Stone Crusher or Thirds with confidence because they feel so stable and consistent. This was a similar feeling to skiing on the wider (120mm underfoot) H2O Kodiak in these areas. In contrast, skis with the widest part of the tip farther back and with larger splay at the tips and tails, such as the Nina 99, Rossignol S7, and Armada TST, felt their best using only smaller radii turns at lower speeds.
The Sickle is also really fun on groomers in both small- and large-radius turns. Because the rocker is so slight, it is easy to engage the entire length of the ski, making the ski feel very stable at high speeds. Also, the tails are stiff enough that they do not wash out at the end of turns. Instead I can push them through the complete turn while engaging the entire edge.
In moguls, the Sickle does really well in wider spaced and less-formed bumps. The Sickle turns quickly, but in tight moguls I did notice the tails getting stuck a little. I have my bindings set at +2 cm so there is a lot of tail, plus the tails are over 129mm wide. Skiing moguls on the Sickle is still fun but just a little more work. I have noticed that the Atomic Elysian’s tails do not get stuck like this, but they are also only 117mm wide. Also, I have never skied with that progressive of a mounting position, so it may just take more time getting used to skiing moguls on the Sickle.
Overall, I have been so impressed with the versatility of the Sickle. On any given day, no matter what the ski conditions are, I am always confident in the Sickle and their ability to perform on any snow or terrain.
Not only can the Sickle conquer a variety of conditions and terrain, but I found it to be a blast doing so. The Sickle is damp enough to feel stable through variable snow and at high speeds, yet it is soft and energetic enough that it has a very playful feel.
Last winter when I skied the 174cm H2O Kodiak, I loved how it could charge through everything, but it did not feel playful. On the other end of the spectrum, both the DPS Nina 99 and Rossignol S7 are playful in their ability to turn extremely quickly, but neither gave me the stability I needed to feel like I could play on them, especially at higher speeds or in variable snow.
Transitioning from turn to turn, it is easy to use the energy from the Sickle to launch myself into the next turn. I also feel comfortable popping off moguls because even if I don’t land quite centered, the Sickle is so forgiving I know I can recover. Like I said earlier, the Sickle is equally good at carving and smearing, so I can change my skiing style and play around more on natural features.
The Sickle is advertised as a backcountry jib ski, but I think the Sickle is much more versatile. I would recommend the Sickle to any male or female looking for an all-mountain ski that can dominate any snow condition while inspiring confidence and fun.
Rossignol has discontinued the Sickle for 2013-2014, but they can still be found. If I had more cash, I would get an extra pair (or five) so I’d be stocked for life.
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