Paul Forward (see bio)
I. Which currently available skis would you pick for your own three-ski quiver?
Ski #1: Alaska touring / backcountry ski
I still spend most of my personal ski days ski touring either from road, plane, or sled. Until late spring (May in Alaska), I’m almost always setting out with the goal of finding good powder skiing and am usually fortunate enough to find it. The ski that comes with me more than any other is the DPS Lotus 138. I haven’t yet toured on the new spooned Lotus 138 (although I have a lot of heli days on it, see below) which is almost 1 lb. heavier per ski, but the shape is so good for what I like to do that I’d probably still give it the nod.
• DPS Lotus 138, Pure3, 192cm with Dynafits
Ski #2: Ski area ski
If I’m riding lifts, it’s hopefully going to be either a powder day or a day or two after a storm. And if I had to choose one ski to ride at Alyeska all season, I would probably pick the 186cm Blizzard Bodacious. I’ve had limited experience with it in soft snow, but I enjoyed it on the softer days we had in New Zealand, and the dimensions should equate to a ski that ought to at least plane up when going fast, and I already know that it excels in the chop that forms late on a pow day.
Despite its 118mm waist, the metal laminate construction, and its somewhat traditional shape, the Bodacious is fun enough on firm snow that groomer runs will still be fun, especially compared to the super fat skis that I enjoy while out in the backcountry. I haven’t skied the 196cm yet, but generally have a penchant for longer skis, and would like to give it a try at Alyeska this season.
Ski #3: Mechanized backcountry
Yep, I’m going to pick the same ski twice but with different bindings for my three-ski quiver.
For guiding from the heli and snowcat, or the occasional sled laps with friends, I haven’t found anything more fun than the Lotus 138 Spoon. The new shape is more predictable on hard snow than the old 138, and is still super surfy on big terrain, but quick and nimble when I need it. All fat, rockered skis are super fun in powder, but if I’m picking the best ski for the best days, I’m going with the Lotus 138 Spoon.
• DPS Lotus 138, Pure3, 192cm, with Salomon 916
II. What skis were the most difficult to leave off your list?
My selections are obviously very powder oriented, and I’d love to be able to ride some narrower shapes. There are two skis that I love that didn’t make the list, but I would regret spending a season without them. First: the 4frnt Devastator, 194cm. The Devastator is damp and stable, and I love going fast in the crud and chop on these skis at Alyeska. I gave the nod to the Bodacious because I think it will float and drift a little better with it’s wider dimensions.
Second: the Blizzard Cochise. I love this ski in both 193cm and 185cm and it would be hard to choose one over the other. It’s great to have a ski in this 100-110mm class for days when I’m too lazy or don’t have time to tour, and the resort is a bit pounded. They’ll hold an edge on groomers, but are still really fun for smashing around the off-piste areas.
It would also be hard to ski a whole season without a pair of more traditional-shaped touring skis. I haven’t yet found a lightweight, ~100mm underfoot touring ski that I love, but I think there are some out there that I might (DPS Wailer 105 Pure Construction?, 4Frnt Raven?, BD Carbon Covert?). Even something wider like the Moment Exit World with a tech binding would be a great addition, if I could have a fourth ski.
III. What skis do you imagine have the greatest likelihood of making your list, if and when you get to ski them, or get to ski them more?
As I said above, I’m on the hunt for a ~100mm-underfoot, lightweight touring ski that is stable at speed, but still good for bouncing around in tight, exposed places on the firm snow that I’m apt to ski while touring in late spring, or during times or when it’s been super windy.
The skis mentioned above (Wailer 105 Pure, 4frnt Raven and Carbon Covert) are definitely on my “want to try” list. I’d even be interested in checking out the super lightweight La Sportiva Vapor Nano.
The ski that I’m probably most excited to ride this year is the Blizzard Spur. I really like what Blizzard has been doing with their freeride series, and an even fatter, powder-oriented ski with a 28.5m-sidecut radius has me pretty excited.
Based on my limited experience with the 187cm 4frnt Hoji and part of my season on the 194cm Devastator, I am also curious to try to the 4frnt Renegade, which has some of the same design principles and a shape that is very appealing to me.
IV. Bonus Question: If you had to choose a single brand from which to build your 3-ski quiver, which company would you pick?
From what I know right now, I would have to go with DPS. I love the Spoon for the deepest days; the Lotus 138 is my go-to BC-ski for all conditions, and the Lotus 120 is a great ski to have along on a trip or a tour if I don’t know what snow conditions to expect.
For inbounds riding, the new T2 Wailer 105 is a great choice for my style of skiing, and I suspect that it will do quite well on the heavier maritime snow we often get at Alyeska.
If the Blizzard Spur turns out to be a great powder ski, I could see riding Blizzard all year, and just deal with touring on a 2400-gram touring ski. The Bodacious and Cochise are so much fun, and I’m looking forward to trying the Scout and some of the skinnier offerings.
NEXT: Tucker Nixon’s Three-Ski Quiver Selections