Monday, March 10, 2014

Skis - a piece of equipment of paramount importance.

In May 2008, during our longitudinal Greenland crossing (2250 km), we very much appreciated the excellent performance of our skis: 

Movement Powpow and Gladiator in 193 cm (dimensions : 125/92/113 , radius 25 m, weight 4 kg ) .

The skis, as the majority of the equipment used during a long expedition, are critical for the success of the project. Riding at significant speeds, for many thousand kilometers and for more than two months, in sastrugies, structures of hard packed snow, sculpted by the wind is not strictly speaking, a long quiet river, neither for men or for skis : they must take unsuspected amount of shock caused by repeated, all day long, sastrugies crossing . Consequently, skis [ like pulkas and also skier's joints ] are elements subjected to major stresses.

Sastrugies : compact snow reliefs, sharped forms generated by the wind.

Their choice must therefore leave nothing to chance. However, the case is not simple : there is huge offer of skis on the market and brands are striving to cover their tracks by developing descriptions that tell everything ... and anything.

As a first step, we therefore had to be detailing what we expected from our skis and, secondly, to determine the parameters that would guide us towards an appropriate choice. 

These parameters are:
- High stability skiing in a snow often very compact (very worked by wind, snow reliefs sometimes very acute, this on hundreds of km), progression at speeds up to 60 km / h .
- We are skiing on rather " tense " trajectory (few curves, never short turns)
- Progression is primarily done on the edges (in opposition to the sail, except in very downwind trajectory) ; adds to this the need to ski 'on heel' when crossings sastrugies to avoid the risk of crash into the reliefs ground.
- We go skiing more than 10 hours a day for 2 months

We are looking for a ski that :
- that keeps a very good stability at full speed, especially on hard snow and bumps : a ski with a powerful flex [a very good twisting rigidity but also a rather good one on tips ], moderately wide (regarding the current freeride standards), long, with a large radius.
- with a very good ability to carve (a good grip on the entire length of the edges)
- with a very good longevity, a solid building (core and edges)
- twin tips (important detail to move backwards to take off the kites ; contributes to the comfort skiing in the high reliefs)
- which can accept Low Tech bidings
- weight of the pair between 4000 and 4500 gr.

A relatively complete analysis of the current european ski market led to a first selection as follows :
- Movement Trust: not real twin-tips, a radius a little bit short, pretty wide
- Volkl Mantra : real twin-tips, proper radius, not too wide
- Volkl Gotama : real twin-tips, perfect radius, pretty wide
- Scott Pure AVS: fragile tail-tip ?, good radius, pretty wide
- Kastle BMX : real twin-tips, perfect radius, not too wide
- Kastle FX94 : real twin-tips, radius a bit short, not wide
- Armada ARV Ti : real twin-tips, radius a bit short, not too wide

We finally opted for the Volkl Mantra, in 191 cm : 132 , 98, 118. Radius 28 m. Weight: 4570 gr.

A reputed brand for serious and robust construction. The titanium layer inserted in the box contributes to the excellent rigidity of the ski (the Mantra is deemed to be a " crowbar " rather reserved for "physical" skiers). Its relatively small rockers promote edge length and earned it a good grip on hard snow.

Volkl Mantra home in 191 cm : 132, 98, 118. Radius 28 m. Weight: 4570 gr.

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