by Mitch Weber
Above: our Custom
skis a year later.
Dimensions: 155/110/133/89....Weight: 8lbs 10oz....Length: 180cm
April 13, 2007-- One year ago today a Fed Ex truck pulled up to
the curb out in front of my palatial office here at the Telemarktips
World Headquarters. I met the driver at our front door, and signed
for a box containing what I knew would likely be a very special
pair of skis. I knew this in a way that I had never known before,
and that's because I had designed this pair of skis myself, choosing
the dimensions, the overall flex, the flex pattern, the style
of the tip, and even the amount of camber that was to be built
in. It was an exciting moment, and I wrote about it a couple
of days later in a report
here on Telemarktips.
For years I have been telling my friends,
and anyone else who else who would listen, that I thought the
conventional wisdom which says that skis with a lot of sidecut
aren't any good for powder might very well prove to be neither
conventional nor wise. How exactly did the people putting forth
this view know it to be true? Had they ever skied a truly fat
pair of skis with a lot of sidecut? I had my doubts because as
far as I knew, nobody had ever made and offered for sale a pair
of skis with the kind of super-sidecut dimensions I had in mind.
The Igneous FFFs we
reviewed a couple of years back had a 118mm waist, but their
145 tip gave them just 27mm of sidecut, less than the 30 or 31
common to most all-mountain skis, and about average for modern,
fat powder boards... cool and fun but kind of ho hum...
Perhaps the reputation super-sidecut skis
(skis with the difference between the tip and tail falling in
the range of 45 to 50mm) have had for being hooky and not releasing
smoothly in powder is based on experiences with the early style
models which had very narrow waists. The designers of these first,
and even second generation, super-sidecut skis had taken conventional
shapes and added width at the tip, and subtracted width from
the waist, they called them "parabolic" skis, reflecting
this approach. For example, the Elan SCX had a 66mm waist and
a 115mm tip when a conventional ski of the time had average dimensions
of around 98mm at the tip and 72mm at the waist, mid-fat conventional
skis had average dimensions around 105/80, and fat powder skis
had average dimensions in the range of 115/90. Early sidecut
skis had the waist of an east coast ice ski and the tip of a
heli-ski powder board. They were fun on good groomers but they
sucked big-time in powder and soft, off-piste snow. Who knows,
but maybe it is these first impressions of super-sidecut performance
that have caused today's ski designers to hesitate to experiment
with super-sidecut in this modern era of aggressive, big mountain
In any case I've wanted to try something
really different, something I couldn't buy off the shelf, in
order to test this theory. So when Scotty Bob Carlson of ScottyBob
Ski fame called me up and offered to make me a pair of skis in
any dimensions I wanted in his new Custom Shop in Silverton,
Colorado. Scott had stayed behind in Silverton when Mazz, his
partner in ScottyBob Skis relocated the company to Breckenridge,
shortly after evolving the original ScottyBob business model
into one focusing on mass production of their unique skis in
China, with the goal of marketing to the alpine side, as well
as tele. Of course I jumped at Scotty Bob's offer, and after
considering the specs I was interested in, called him back and
ran through the considerable list of options. A few weeks later
they arrived, we mounted them up right away and began what ended
up being the longest and most thorough ski test we have ever
done. There was no rush, this model was not going to come and
go. There would be no replacement in the fall. These boards,
nicknamed MBs by Scott, were likely to stay on my own personal
cutting edge for a long time.
Over the course of the past 12 months,
here is what we found out about our MBs: In powder they ski like
any other 100mm or more waist ski: floaty, powerful and positive.
It's easy enough to vary the radius of the turns using standard
movements such as pressure control and varying the edge angles.
With their 110mm waist, there is a solid, supportive platform
under the feet. The hookiness in powder, and reluctance to release
out of the turn noted by early adapters of super-sidecut, "parabolic"
type skis was likely due to their narrow waist, the middle portion
of the ski would sink in further than the end of the skis, making
it difficult to disengage the tips and tails, an effect similar
to what happens on hard snow when skis have excessive camber.
On our Custom ScottyBob MBs, the fat middle
section provides plenty of float, giving the skis a balanced
flex that is in proportion to the very fat tips. The result is
a smooth, predictable and extraordinarily easy turning ride in
the fluff. These are skis either of us would turn to on a big
powder day, and that is exactly what we did many times in the
Okay, so the super-sidecut turned out to
be no problem in powder, but that's not really saying it's an
advantage either. Where the sidecut is a big plus is on steep,
windpacked slopes, or anywhere hop or jump turns are the order
of the day. The wide platform makes them super stable, while
all that sidecut means a lot less work and a smoother turn. On
the steeps you don't have to use much rotary to crank them around.
A little bit of a hop and a little bit of rotary is all it takes,
land in the fall line or even a little before, set the edges,
and then let the sidecut bring the skis around, repeat as needed.
Talk about fun! Cranking off dozens of these kinds of turns is
a blast. Steep turns using a lot of unweighting and rotary are
never effortless but turning these Custom MBs on the steeps is
easier than any other really fat ski I have ever been on, and
stability is unmatched. Their relative lightweight helps here
too. No doubt about it, the steeps is where these super-sidecut
fat boards are in a class of their very own, literally. If there
is another 110mm waist pair of skis with anything close to 45mm
of sidecut, I still have never heard of them.
As would be expected, our ScottyBob Custom
skis are fun just about everywhere else as well. Corn, crud,
soft groomers, everywhere but very hard snow. They are exceptionally
stable and reliable on punchy, crustier snow as well, due to
the extreme width. Mass counts. We have put a lot of our crew
on the Custom MBs and no one had a bad word to say about them,
they put a smile on Dano Cruz's face and Ben Paik loved 'em.
Neither of these guys are all that easy to please either.
Above: Dano Cruz riding the Custom
MBs last spring. These big, stable boards handle uneven snow
that is just beginning to soften really well.
Durability is always a concern when buying
boutique skis, especially expensive, custom made boutique skis.
That is one of the reasons we wanted to do a long term test of
the ScottyBob Custom skis before reviewing them. We felt this
was going to be a key part of the review, and it is. A year later,
and after many days on the snow, the skis look great. They are
sporting a few scratches, some of which can be seen in the photo
at the top of the page, but we see no sign of delamination, the
bases are holding up very well, and the wood core seems to have
retained its original liveliness. We will be skiing these boards
for a long time to come.
Another concern with boutique skis (skis
made mostly by hand, in small numbers, and in factories that
are more like workshops) is consistency in the manufacturing
process. Too often you never know what you're going to get, we
have seen good pairs of boutique skis and really bad pairs, and
we have even seen and heard of boutique skis where one ski was
good and one bad. Buying skis shouldn't be like a roll of the
dice. With his custom shop, Scott can pay close attention to
to each pair he puts together, assuring that they are right.
ScottyBob is really onto something with
his custom shop. You, the customer get to make the decisions.
There is something very, very special about
calling the guy up, talking to him about your goals, your style,
and where and how you ski, then putting it all together to come
up with a pair of skis uniquely suited to you.
They don't come cheap. The current base
price is $750, with a number of add-ons available. Customers
can choose from more than 30 different combinations of dimensions
and lengths. Fully custom profiles (step right up and name your
dimensions, any dimensions) can be had for an additional $300.
That's a lot of cash, but then again, what we are talking about
here is nothing less than an opportunity to literally design
the skis of your dreams. What's that worth? Priceless? You get
to decide that for yourself as well.