The Elan SCX is the original
parabolic ski and although no longer a part of the Elan line
the various SCX models are often found cheap both new and used.
Also there are a number of current Elan parabolics, all characterized
by extreme sidecuts of more than 36 mm and as much as 55 mm that
are direct descendants of this famous ski. I had heard about
tele skiers mounting radical parabolics up with free-heel bindings
for years and had always wanted to try them. The model I rode
recently had a shovel that was 115 mm, a 64 waist and a 105 mm
tail. That is a 51 mm sidecut! They were mounted with Superloops
with about 30 mm of riser plates under them.
Were they fun? You betcha!
Do they work for the tele turn? Absolutely. These skis require
no effort to carve whatsoever. Never has getting the rear ski
to carve in the tele turn been so easy. The SCX's are all about
a tight stance, little to no flexion and extension and just rolling
them on edge. I tried to make GS turns but just could not get
the hang of it, usually you can just back off a ski a bit and
let it run into GS, not these, you back off and the turn continues
to tighten, a lot, a very strange but fun feeling. No matter
how hard I jumped up and down on them, down break-overs, I could
not get them to skid. My impression was that they are not a real,
real hardpack ski, I did skid out a bit unexpectedly on a scraped
section, but that may have been exacerbated by the tune.
I expected these skis to be
energy savers but actually I felt that they worked me pretty
good, all those tight carving turns are really high energy, or
so it seemed to this tele-er. I tried to get some phat tele carves
going and with more time to get the technique down I think I
could get into laying them out nicely.
Conclusion: A lot of fun as
an area ski, the SCX and its extreme sidecut cousins would not
be my choice for backcountry, I even have my doubts about in-area
off piste, though I am told that they are more versatile than
one would think. As a quiver ski I think just about anyone would
enjoy owning a pair, they are just plain fun to play on. As I
mentioned, I have heard of tele-ers picking up new SCX's on the
closeout racks and at ski shows really, really cheap. Also, it
is not uncommon to find alpine rental SCX R's at swaps and such.
I may just have to add pair of these to the family ski collection,
they made me smile.
Here are 12 skis reviewed by Bjarke Mogensen
a ski tester and buyer's consultant for a couple of shops in
Serre Chevalier. He is an aggressive skier who likes skis that
can keep up with his style. Here's Bjarke: " I have skied
all of these skis for a least a week or more except the Extrem
Freeheel which I just got to test for a day. All of the skis
were set up with either chili, G3 or SuperLoop bindings on top
of 25-30mm risers. I used my homegrown Scarpa T-Race boots (they
have been beefed up a bit)".
Lengths: 188, 194 Dimensions:115/85/107
Contruction: wood core, metal top-sheet
The BIGs are actually 2 different skis: the 194 and the rest.
The 188cm BIGs are really great all around skis for most skiers
and a fine way of entering the true fat ski (+80mm
waist) community. They are relatively soft and forgiving to ski.
The BIGs provide very good flotation in softer snows because
of their size which gives a very comfortable and energy saving
ride, yet they are stable at higher speeds. A ski this size can
give you a lot of power to play with when the snow is not at
its best, like wet and heavy conditions. And they have a huge
sweet spot making them very easy to get along with when your
mind is on getting down one piece.
The 194 BIG is one of the best fat tele skis for tele-ers who
can power them. They are both wider and stiffer than the shorter
BIGs making the need for proper technique and enough force very
important. If you can handle them they have got no upper speed
limit in soft snow and they will give you the ability to power
through almost anything.
Because of their stiffness they have very decent edge hold on
hard snow (no ice, please!) and yet can be taken for a spin on
the groomers. Firm summer snow is handled with ease. A pair of
big boots are required for the 194s, the smaller ones can easily
be skied in a T2 class boot.
K2 AK Launcher
Lengths: 165, 180,
190, 195 ...Dimensions:119/88/105
braided (glass and kevlar fibers) Fir core
The Launchers are heavy, damp and very soft. For their size they
are easy to ski but the dampness and weight do require some force
to get them to perform. The AK's float well due to their size
and soft tips and they do well at higher speeds in good snow.
The downside to their softness is that it makes them somewhat
unstable in crud and very cut-up snow when going real fast. Most
people, however, will probably not find this a big issue. The
Launchers are best in terrain where they have enough space to
turn - their weight, size and relatively slow handling makes
them best in bigger arcs.
These big boards do not belong on the groomers. If its relatively
soft you can do it, but their dampness and big turn style will
quickly lead to speeds at which they will not handle firm snow
and vibration very well. Keep them in softer snow and spacious
places, and they will go anywhere with you. The weight and dead
feel of the Launchers means that you need big boots to power
them. (T-1 class and up)
Salomon AK Rocket 200
Photo Temporarily Unavailable
core with titanium and aluminum top sheets
This is a somewhat different ski. It is the easiest-to-ski 200cm
fat ski on the market. The Rockets are very big and very soft,
giving you an impressive flotation in powder and crud - they
kind of float down over the terrain like mercury, giving you
a very smooth ride. They are soft, but provide excellent stability
for their softness. In powder the ski will follow you at any
speed, in crud and uneven terrain only a very few skiers will
hit the limit. Their length puts some restrictions on who will
ski the Rockets, but they will fit a lot of people, who might
at first be scared off by their size. The softness of these skis
makes them very easy to drive and very forgiving. The massive
sidecut lets you carve your turns without working too hard. However
any 200 ski needs some space to roam. There are better alternatives
for tree skiing.
It is a ski for open terrain and big runs. If that is how you
ski, there is no reason not to ride the Rockets.
Lengths: 180,193 Dimensions: 117/87/103
This is a ski along the lines of the 194 BIG. They are very stable
at speed with good flotation due to their size. In softer snow
you can take them where you want and ski any turn style, long
or short. They are quite springy in short turns giving the skier
a lot of help. However their stiffness makes it important to
get the right size. Pick it up in a length that matches your
height and it will work great. The heroes should spring for the
193, those skis will do what has to be done.
Their stiffness and good stability makes it possible to take
them for an occasional spin on the groomers as well. They are
very quick for their size, making them one of the better fat
skis should you encounter bumps or trees during your run. And
last but not least, they are of good construction so you can
keep them for a long time.
Rossignol Bandit XX
Lengths: 170,177,184,191,195 Dimensions:
This is one of the very top skis on the midfat market. It has
good flotation and very good stability in softer snows due to
their relative wide waist. It can be skied every way you want
it to; it will lead you down in large turns while still being
springy enough to give you a nice, classic short-turn powder
Still the skis have an amazingly good grip on hard snow (for
their size..) and a sidecut that gives a very clean carve. With
a 25-30mm riser they will go great on all groomers except real
Their only drawbacks are for very aggressive and heavy skiers
with a well developed habit of hitting rocks. The core and edges
of the XXs can take some beating, but not on a daily basis.
Atomic Betaride 9.22
Lengths: 160, 170, 180, 190, 200
This is a very good ski for softer snow as well as its very popular
cousin, the 9.22s. This stiffer ski offers all the great features
of the 9.22s (easily skied, good float) but adds a fair amount
of stability due to better damping and more stiffness.
Somehow this stability comes very cheap -
the 9.22 is just as easily skied as the softer 9.22s making it
a better buy for those skiing at higher speeds or for heavier
While they can be skied on groomers, that is not where they belong.
The ski tips tend to lose their grip if you pushed too hard and
they'll send you side slipping down the iciest slopes.
This is a ski for the bc and touring people (it is a very light
ski) and it is a good match for a lot of tele skiers.
Dynastar Concept Twin 180
Lengths: 181 only
The Concept twintip is the same ski as next
years Candide Pro Model.
These skis are great. Being originally built for park skiing
they have some characteristics that all tele-ers can benefit
from. They turn easily and have a large sweet spot - you will
find it easy to get on good terms with them.
Even though they are easy ski to ride they
still grip well on hard snow. The Concept has lots of sidecut
making it a very fun ski on groomers. The relatively wide waist
and shovel make them float nice in softer snow which also makes
them a true all arounder for resort skiing. The rear tip helps
keep them on top of snow when things get goofy in tight spots
or when back slipping while skinning.
And of course; if you do take a bit of air, that`s what they
were originally made for
No specs or photo at this time
This is a very specialized ski for hard snow and does not belong
anywhere else. It is a relatively stiff ski that is very fast
from edge to edge due to the narrow waist. These characteristics
make the need for proper technique crucial. The ski wants you
to stay in a correct stance, otherwise you will feel lack of
control. If you wind up in the backseat on these you are likely
to end up somewhere you don`t want to go.
However if you keep your weight up in front you will benefit
from a fantastic grip on hard snow and a mean carving arc, allowing
you to be able to ski in control in situations where you normally
might have been side slipping or just taking it very easy. After
getting to know the Poison it is easy to understand, why so many
tele racers ski these sticks in the gates.
No specs or photo at this time
This is a great beginners ski. It is very soft and turns easily,
providing the driver with a very forgiving ride. The sidecut
makes it possible to carve nice turns as well. A beginner or
a very light skier could keep them for sometime during progression
in ability. The softness could make it a great powder ski for
those not into fat skis.
The softness of these skis does limit their stability for bigger,
faster skiers, and also contributes to loss of edge grip at high
speeds. They are a different kind of ski made from a small, dedicated
group of people in a factory in Sweden. Take this ski for what
it is and you will like it!
Think Twice Before Buying For Tele
Editor's note: I originally asked Bjarke Mogensen
to write about a few of his favorite skis, that is why the reviews
above are so positive. I don't want you to thing we are going
the print magazine route though, so I asked him to expand a bit
and tell us about some of his, shall we say, less favorite skis!
First some words from Bjarke:
"This was a harder assignment...trying
to come up with a "bad" ski that I actually skied.
Basically I have skied most skis on alpine before I do it tele.
Therefore I do not even try it tele if I think it will not be
good. And I will not review a ski on the basis of 2-3 runs in
only one type of snow on a pair of borrowed boards.
None of these skis are really bad (I
think there aren`t any really "bad" skis on the market
these days) but they have limited use as telemark skis even though
I have seen / know people who ski them. Basically I think the
ski market is so tough, that all " really bad" products
are gone. Now it is more about which skier can ski what skis.
I have tried to think about which skis might work for what kinds
of teleskiers, but still my reviews might be very influenced
by who I am and who I ski with. Basically I have the feeling,
that as long as the skis have enough sidecut (and the proper
flex) then I will have fun on them."
Stöckli Stormrider (192
When considering the Stöckli Stormrider it is very important
that you be honest with yourself. The Stormriders will be heaven
to some and definitely hell to a lot. It is a very stiff and
stable ski with great construction quality.
If you are big and strong with strong technique
the Stormrider might be your ride. They will carry the power
skier through almost anything resembling snow and they keep a
decent edge on hardpack. For their size they are maybe the best
production big-guys ski on the market.
However this performance comes at a price.
The massive torsional rigidity of the Stormriders make it very
possible to get the catch edges, you have to pay attention whole
driving. Also, because of the stiffness, they can be real difficult
to turn - this can lead to close encounters with trees, rocks,
etc. It is definitely not the right ski to learn on; the learning
curve might just stop due frustration.
With the Stormrider it`s either you do or
you don`t. There is not really a gray zone group of skiers for
whom it might work. This is the ski that could be the last resort
for the folks who have grown out of all other midfats. Everybody
else should probably look elsewhere.
The 2001 Stormrider II will be a little less
elitist while still keeping most of the qualities. Potential
Stormriders might look into the Asteroid, which is basically
a bigger Stormrider.
Lengths: 173 -
193 ......Dimensions: 105/73/97
The Volants have a very special feel to them - they are very
damp and stable at lower speeds. However that stability disappears
as speed increases leaving a feeling of a very skittish ski.
This becomes more obvious the harder the snow gets - for real
hardpack it is not the right tool
The PowerKarve is at it's best in real soft
powder. The handling is quite heavy and they take some effort
to ski while not really rewarding you for doing so! The PowerKarves
work well for medium radius powder turns but do not have the
rebound needed to make a short turn ride real nice. Neither do
they have the stability if your looking for big air.
The Power Carves will be at their best with
skilled lightweight skiers, who have the up the strong skills
required to handle them but who do not ski real aggressively
or real fast.
Scott Intoxica WR (190)
The Scott Intoxica is very damp and stable at speeds but it comes
at a price. You have to use a massive amount of power to make
the ski work. For a midfat it is a bomber ski for going big with
a big person (but then, why not get a fat ski
?) but for
the mere mortals there are simply better alternatives that give
good stability with way more all around skiability.
The Intoxica feels so dead while skiing, that
lots of people will feel that it is not very responsive. The
relatively conservative sidecut does not help make the ski turn
either - getting clean carves is hard work.
One good side to the bomber feel and construction is, that WRs
will last a long time, but it is simply is not a very fun ski.
The following Tua reviews were written by
Todd Kipfer last spring with testing input from Kris Ramer and
Sean Metrick. Let us say up front that Todd is a big Tua fan
and knows the line well, others may disagree with his conclusions
and we promise to add some balance before to long. Still, if
you understand where he is coming from I think his preview of
some this years Tua skis has value. The following are Todd's
comments and some reviews of Tua skis for the 2000/01 season.
"For 2000/2001 Tua has revised their
lineup to offer a wider range of skis. Consisting of 14 different
models, Tuas latest skis are categorized into 2 groups:
(1) telemark and randonée and (2) free ride and alpine.
Of note, Tua developed the Cross Ride line (part of the free
ride and alpine grouping) for big boot skiers who wanted the
extra stability that comes with a little more mass and a bit
firmer flex. This approach reflects both Tuas vision of
a growing market for wider and more aggressive ski options."