by Jenn Gleckman
134/100/125.. Lengths: 165, 172...Weight: 7 lbs, 4 oz. (172 cm)
2007-- When I heard
that Karhu would soon be introducing a women's specific phat
ski, I was, frankly, rather skeptical. Most freeheel skis designed
for women have historically tended to be on the soft side, making
them less than versatile for skiing snow other than fresh powder.
At 134-100-125, the Bertha is the fattest women's telemark ski
that I know of, so while having my doubts, I still looked forward
to getting out on these full-bodied boards, and testing them
in a variety conditions.
To Karhu's credit, they
seem to have recognized that there are hard charging women out
there who love tele, and they have designed a no compromises
kind of women's tele ski that's got a near perfect blend of width,
weight and torsional rigidity. This has resulted in skis that
are surprisingly versatile for being so bloody wide.
The Berthas feature a unique
construction - a Greenlight core made of Paulownia, a fast
growing, lightweight and environmentally friendly hardwood, laminated
with stringers of maple and bamboo. As they have done previously
in several of their more popular, performance oriented, fat skis,
Karhu has also added die cut strips Titanal metal reinforcement
through the center part of the Bertha. This translates into relatively
light skis with great edge hold, and which don't require an enormous
amount of effort to drive. Yet the Bertha still have plenty of
pep and abundant power.
I tested the Berthas last
season, in virtually every kind of snow conditions possible,
using Scarpa T1 boots and Cobra R8 bindings. They were mounted
according to Karhu's guide, which resulted in the bindings being
mounted in a position a bit further forward than I would have
normally chosen. Surprisingly, this forward mounted position
worked well for me in all conditions.
The thing that struck me
moat about the Berthas was how much fun they were to ski, even
in non-powder conditions. On wind-buff and groomed snow, I was
able to enjoy how the skis responded to my feet as I flexed them
through a turn. In firmer conditions, the Berthas held a solid
edge, making it possible to consistently carve my turns instead
of skidding them. In deep snow, the enormous tip ensured that
I never had tip dive issues, and allowing me to just dance through
snow of all densities. Their light weight makes them ideal for
touring, as you're not sacrificing weight for performance. And
the Bertha's proved to be as stable as their dimensions would
tend to imply they would be- I never felt like they had a speed
Going back some time, I've
been a big fan of the older Atomic Teledaddy, which has similar
dimensions (126/99/116), but the Bertha doesn't require as much
effort to ski and enjoy. Plus the graphics are so much cooler
- which, I will admit, does count for me.
The takeaway? Of the many
skis that I've had the pleasure of arcing telemark turns upon,
both in the backcountry and at the resorts, the Berthas are,
in my opinion, the ultimate one quiver ski for North American,
western based tele-gals.