Jonathan Ellsworth (see bio)
I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own three-ski quiver?
I happen to think that the perfect quiver would have seven pairs of skis in it.
But if we limit it to three, then I personally would be looking at three different waist widths:
88-98mm, ~108mm, and ~118mm.
Ski #1: 88-98mm (Nasty Conditions)
In this width, I want a ski that does three things: (1) is fun around the entire mountain—i.e., in steeps and in bumps, and not merely on piste. (2) works well in nasty conditions—icy, wind-scoured, ‘when-the-hell-is-it-ever-going-to-snow???’ conditions, and (3) is good at carving big turns at high speeds, even on roughed-up groomers.
Previously, my answer here would have been the 184cm Volkl Mantra, but the Mantra has been redesigned. It’s still a very good ski, but it is no longer my favorite ‘bad conditions’ ski. That award now goes to:
Like the 13/14 Mantra, the X-Drive 8.8 is a ski that seems to get better the worse the conditions get. And I really value a ski that excels at turning difficult, demanding conditions into really fun days on the mountain.
Ski #2: 108mm (Variable Conditions)
This is my ski that needs to excel in mixed conditions, some combination of soft chop, heavily tracked pow, firm crud.
When skiing fast, light skis tend to deflect, so I’m looking for a pretty damp, not-light-weight (around 2300 grams each) ski that is good at blowing things up.
I’ll also want to take this ski out when conditions are the least bit soft, because chances are I’ll be skiing some fast groomer laps and bump runs, but also hiking to some lines that will have some softer, deeper, mixed conditions snow, and I’d rather be on a wider platform (than 88-98mm) for those mixed conditions. So?
Sorry for the indecision here, but there are still a few things I need to learn about these skis.
The updated Cochise was the stand-out ski in mixed conditions down in New Zealand, and an impressive combination of dampness, stability, and ease. In other words, it still felt like the forgiving charger we came to love several seasons ago.
But I still want to see how this Cochise performs on groomers. Because if the Line Supernatural 108 turns out to be a lot more fun than the Cochise there, then I might be inclined to take this ‘playful’ charger over the ‘forgiving’ charger.
Ski #3: 118mm (Fresh-to-Deep Conditions)
This is the ski I’ll break out on the deepest days of the season. But I also want my pow ski to perform very well in resort pow conditions, including soft, tracked out snow and even really deep chop (think pow days in Little Cottonwood Canyon).
In short, I want a floaty pow ski that is still super fun in variable conditions, on days when it might be a bit of a question whether to break out ski #2 or ski #3.
The compromise I’ll make here is that I won’t have a super fat, 125mm+ dedicated pow ski. But I’ll forego a super surfy ski for a very good pow ski that is also very good in variable. Which is…
It’s nice to have this one back.
II. What ski was the most difficult to leave off your list?
• Blizzard Bodacious, 186cm: I still need to get this ski in pow and deep chop, but I already know how impressive it is in variable and firm conditions. So if the 190 Bibby Pro wasn’t back, this would be the ski I’d pick for the 118mm spot. So far, I’m very high on the Bodacious.
III. What ski do you think has the greatest likelihood of making your 3-ski quiver list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?
#1: Kastle MX98 or BMX 98: Because I’m still looking for that 98mm-underfoot ski that I like as much as—or more than—the 13/14 Volkl Mantra, and these may be the strongest contenders.
#2: ON3P Wrenegade 112, 186cm: I reviewed the 181cm Wrenegade last season, and it was excellent. But the Wrenegade has been tweaked, and I’m very curious about this ski as the middle ski in the quiver.
#3: Blizzard Brahma, 187cm: I’ve grown increasingly intrigued by this ski, and our testing of it will begin as soon as we get back on snow.
IV. Bonus Question: If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?
If I was picking three resort skis, I’ve already said that I would go with widths of 88-98, 108, and 118mm.
And at those widths, Blizzard would be a pretty easy choice:
118mm: Bodacious, 186cm
108mm: Cochise, 185cm
98-88mm: Bonafide (though I’d still like to ski the 187s), or maybe those Brahmas…
NEXT: Will Brown’s Three-Ski Quiver Selections