Since skiing the Katana in Las Leñas’ wide open terrain, I’ve had the chance to put in more days on them in Taos Ski Valley’s treed steeps and narrow chutes. As a big mountain gun, the ski continues to impress with a surprising degree of maneuverability considering its awesome stability at very high speeds.
The Katana saw nothing close to a mogul field in Las Leñas, but it’s seen a few in Taos. One afternoon spent lapping Reforma sticks in my mind as particularly illustrative of the ski’s low speed forgiveness relative to its frightening charging ability. As long as I was able to avoid zipper-line routes through bumps with seriously steep and narrow troughs, I could comfortably rage down the fall line.
The Katana can be handled by a confident, technically proficient, and strong skier if given enough room to slarve & pivot across the hill while moving from mogul to mogul. Otherwise, their swing weight, sheer material length, and super stiff, nearly flat tail can become problematic and exhausting in bumps. Again, the 191 and 198cm versions of the Katana have a significantly stiffer “athlete” flex profile compared to the 184 and shorter lengths. The 184cm Katana should be somewhat more forgiving and maneuverable in tight spots, though I don’t doubt that it is still a very substantial ski at speed.
In the weeks following a storm, the bottom section of Reforma is typically less bumped-out than the top two-thirds of the run. Smaller moguls at at the top fade into hardpack ridges and chunks of scrubbed off snow that collect in the runout’s transition. Each time I reached Reforma’s last pitch, I made two quick turns before pointing them down the fall line, boosting off a last mogul, and straight-lining out the bottom.
According to a GPS smartphone app, I was hitting 50+ mph in the runout. The skis were as quiet as they could have been, with no scary swimming while running bases flat through chop, and no unsettling tip chatter. Honestly, I think if I had to ski the 191 Katana every single day in resort, I’d probably end up killing myself trying to push these skis to their limit.
As I rocketed down the Bonanza under Lift 2, I laid the skis over as far as I could, cutting massive, stable trenches in the far from plush groomed snow. With speed, this ski can truly carve, but you’ll need to have a good deal of space to account for its nearly 30m turn radius.
Another anecdote from the Katana’s Northern Hemisphere rampage: a friend and I hiked Taos’ Highline Ridge and picked a fast, fresh looking line down through Trescow trees. As it turned out, roughly 2” of old, sticky snow sat on top of classically firm crud. I dropped in first, and thoroughly enjoyed myself as the Katana’s annihilated the harder snow underneath, tails busting through the firm snow. The skis were happy to take the most aggressive line I could execute and smooth out the ride.
Once at the bottom, I turned to watch my friend follow my same line (on a pair of lighter, shorter, pin tailed skis with the initials “S7”) and struggle to make composed turns through the crud. I had fun; he didn’t really feel like hiking again.
Sometimes, it’s physically easier just to point the Katanas down the fall line and enjoy blasting over and through whatever happens to be in your way (including terrain features you might actually consider avoiding on a less beastly ski).
On the feet of a strong advanced or expert skier, the Katana is incredibly willing to make quicker moves at lower speeds and can be swung around in relatively tight spots (where the material length of the ski will allow). Their even, stiff flex profile, gentle sidecut, and super mellow reverse camber will easily bust through crud or shut down speed in an evenly pressured surf turn, even at low speed. But make no mistake, I would not recommend the 191 Katanas to an intermediate; these skis are big, feel big, and like to go very fast.
(In other words, they’re awesome.)