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The Mountain Journal: 2012-2013 ski collection

Part 2: Picking news skis, reflections from the test track

Picking new skis is challenging. Many skiers simply pick a pair based on reviews and graphics. But, that can be a mistake. The same ski, afterall, in two different lengths, can ski like two very different skis. In addition, performance can vary widely because of skier weight, strength, as well as style. Just as two friends interested in purchasing a car might make different choices, based on performance, style and differing needs.

In addition, evaluate picks based on an honest assessment of skill and terrain preferences. If I still typically chose to ski off-piste seeking wild adventures, I would pick a wider all-mountain ski well-suited for deep snow. But I mostly ski on-trail in New England. So I pick my ski accordingly. Make your pick by balancing your typical ski experience.

The good news is that there are a wide array of great skis new to the market this year. But to find your ideal ski you should take that test ride. The most important indicator is the smile factor.


Atomic Skis are a staple on the world cup race circuit. Using proven race driven designs Atomic continues to offer stellar performance, while varying the amount of rocker depending on the mission. With 49 offerings - excluding rentals - this collection is large. Here is a sampling of the line.

All Mountain Vantage Series:

Ritual: With a waist of 103mm and this wood core ski uses an all-mountain tip and tail rocker shape with fun graphics . While that wider waist is more likely to appeal to those who spend a good amount of time in the trees or woods it boasts easy turn initiation . It will go really fast.
Waist 103 mm. Lengths: 174,182,190

Alibi: With a waist of 98mm this wood core ski also uses tip and tail rocker. While that somewhat narrower waist is more likely to appeal to Eastern skiers it is still wide enough for who spend a good amount of time in the trees or woods
Waist 98 mm. Lengths: 173,180,187

Theory: The Theory also uses a wood core with a 95mm waist, dark red and black graphics, and all mountain, tip and tail, rocker. This ski boasts a great look and loves speed.
Waist 95mm, Lengths: 168,177,186

Panic: The Panic also uses a wood core with an 87mm waist, low-key black graphics, and all-mountain rocker to create a versatile and enjoyable ski. This ski can charge! Hard! But it also was ideal on the hard snow. It's fun. It's a great design.
Waist 87mm, Lengths: 149,157,165,173,181

All Mountain Nomad Series

No matta where you ski the Nomad Series can be enticing. With 7 models these skis use all-mountain rocker with 15% rocker in the tip. These are great Eastern skis with waist widths ranging from 77 mm for easy and rapid edge grip to 93mm for those who seeking soft snow versatility. Here are the offerings:

Savage TI: The widest of the series with a 93mm waist the Savage TI is well, savage! It's powerful performer available in three lengths from 168 to 186. All vary in performance because of that length and all carve with power. It also has classic Atomic stability. It's rock solid.
Waist 93mm, Lengths: 168,177,186

Crimson TI: The Crimson TI has an 88mm waist, offers great versatility, and blends solid edge grip with easy turn initiation. It turned easily. Held strongly. And could ski all conditions. (If only I could!). From shooting trees to carving the front side this is a great daily driver.
Waist 88mm, Lengths 164,171,178,185

Blackeye TI: With a waist of 82mm this was a fun test ride. It skis strongly on hard snow and has the kind of easy turning appreciated by skiers from intermediates to experts. It seems more forgiving than the Crimson TI, easier to turn, but sufficiently powerful to appeal to all but the strongest all mountain chargers.  (There is also a Blackeye Model without Titanium).
Waist 82mm, Lengths 160,167,174,181

Smoke TI: With a 77mm waist, the Smoke TI is deceptively strong and tailored made to intermediates and mellow experts looking for a forgiving ride, and the occasional fast cruise. It's fun. And forgiving.
Waist 77mm, Lengths 150,157,164,171,178

Personal Picks; The Blackeye TI was just fun. The Blackeye would make a great daily driver.

The past few seasons Blizzard skis have stunned both veteran skiers and industry insiders with their edge grip and general performance. From a small niche brand it has become, well, an industry leader. This past season their skis simply outperformed much of the competition. In fact, I was so dazzled two years ago that I elected to use a pair of Blizzard Supersonics as my personal ski. Fortunately, with more than 36 models this line is as deep as, well, the snow from a blizzard.  Here are a sampling of top picks.
Power  Series 

S Power FS IQ This series marries race performance with all-mountain versatility and the S Power FS IQ  - using the IQ System - is one of 3 powerful high performance front side groomers. With a 68 mm waist it engages ice like a razor and with 13.5 m radius it can easily snake slalom turns while offering a surprising forgiveness for longer arc. What's your power quotient? I simply stuttered a WOW as I started down the track.
Waist 68 mm, Lengths: 153, 160,167, 174.

R Power FS IQ Also using the IQ System, and with a 68 mm waist it boasts a 17.5m radius for longer turns. Intendedfor serious master's racers, this ski was actually too powerful for my taste. Imagine!
Waist 68 mm, Lengths: 167, 174, 181.

Race Series (Two  Non-FIS Race Skis For Experts)

SLR Magnesium IQ Identical to the S Power FS IQ in dimensions and construction, the SLR lacks the IQ power FS system which translates to a similar ski but lacking those added steroids. For the expert seeking more forgiveness and versatility, while still wishing for an ultra high performance tool, this is ideal.
Waist 68 mm, Lengths: 153, 160,167, 174.

GSR Magnesium IQ With 68 mm waists but 17.5 radius this skis is ideal for those seeking a more traditional giant slalom flavor. It is similar to the R-Power FS IQ without the power system. This one just lacks that supercharger.
Waist 68mm Lengths 153,160,167,174

Magnum Series

Magnum 8.5 Ti:  This ski is wide enough for powder but built strong enough to hold Eastern hardpack. With a 19.5 m radius it likes to arc. And cruises beautifully. Like all Blizzards.
Waist: 85mm, Lengths: 167,174,181.

Magnum 8.0 Ti:  This ski was a favorite in all-mountain testing. With a 18.5 m radius it likes to arc. But turns with amazing ease. Fortunately the titanium enhances edge grip such it it actually excelled on the hard snow we used during testing.  Also, like the 8.5 this uses flipcore technology which means a flat score. You select the binding of your choice  Impression? A magnificent magnum!
Waist: 85mm, Lengths: 167,174,181.

Magnum 80.0 CA: Like the 8.0TO but with Carbon, this ski was amazingly forgiving and versatile. It soared. Carved. It was fun.
Waist: 80mm, Lengths 158,165,172,179

Magnum 7.6 IQ: With a 77mm waist and 17.5 radius this is a gem for intermediates and lighter experts. It is a lot of ski for a modest price but still packs power. The camber is traditional and uses the IQ System which seems to enhance edge grip. A Best Buy!
Waist: 76mm, Lengths 149,156,163,170,177

Personal Pick: I felt the new S Power FS IQ the most powerful ski I have tested in years.  It's a perfect mix for the East and one those who slice black diamonds. In fact, I chose this ski for my free run of the day. Because, even though the mountain was hard, this ripped like I was on corduroy.

In the upcoming edition of the Gift Guide, look for in depth analysis on Dynastar, Rossignol and Volkl.

Tagged: 2012-2013 Ski Collection, The Mountain Journal