Gear Test 2015/16
Can great ski gear get any better? You bet it can, and it has. Skitrax had the pleasure of testing some of this season's great gear at the fabulous Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado in January, and also testing more equipment on this state's trails follo
by Conor Wallace
Fischer Speedmax Boot
The first thing I noticed when pulling on the new Fischer Speedmax boot was how lightweight and comfortable it is. Right out of the box, it fit uniformly around my foot, with no pressure points. This new boot offers an incredibly comfortable, lightweight and minimalistic feel. The two-piece Super Skate sole mounted to the Integral Carbon Chassis provides great ski feel and power transfer, along with a comfortable balance between torsional rigidity and forward flex to move you naturally through the skating motion. The World Cup Carbon cuff provides just enough rigidity for good ankle support without restricting your lower leg. This is a great Skate boot for competitive athletes.
Salomon Salomon Carbon Skate Lab Boot
The Salomon Carbon Skate Lab boot is comfortable, rigid and lightweight. The 360° monocoque frame mounted to the two-piece SNS Pilot sole is extremely low profile and torsionally rigid, resulting in superior ski and snow feel. When paired with the new Carbon Skate Lab ski, the setup is so lightweight, you almost forget you're wearing skis. Interchangeable parts of this boot result in great product longevity. I could feel a little movement between the liner and the outsole while skiing, but I didn't have the opportunity to specifically heat-mold the liner to my foot, which would likely have resolved this. This is a very competitive Skate boot for the elite athlete.
Salomon Carbon Skate Lab Ski
At 490g, this ski is definitely in the lightweight category. Constructed from thin-ply carbon, it is torsionally rigid and rolls onto its edge with ease, even on hard snowpack, though it still has enough tip splay to float over softer snow conditions. Its low profile allows for superior snow feel. It tracks straight and feels very stable underfoot. The “wow” factor of this ski is its swingweight, which feels almost nonexistent. It will be interesting to see how this ski performs on the World Cup circuit in years to come.
Salomon Carbon Skate Lab Pole
Salomon's 100% UHM carbon pole is super-stiff and lightweight. It's a viable World-cup-level Skate racing pole with good swingweight and a great all-round feel.
Salomon Equip RC Skin
Salomon's version of the mohair-skin Classic ski offers close to perfect kick in almost all conditions. This ski was tested in 25°F conditions on new snow, and while the kick was great, we were most surprised by its glide. Although the mohair-skin kick zone drags a little more than a traditional waxed ski, it glides much more freely than expected. This is a great ski for tough waxing conditions, for someone who doesn't have the time or patience to cork in some kick wax, or for someone looking to get into Classic skiing.
Rossignol Rossignol R-skin Classic Ski
The R-skin skis feature a Nomex honeycomb core with cap construction. While the cap construction adds torsional rigidity and stability to the skis, the tips were still pliable enough to prevent them from climbing out of the tracks in sharp corners. Once again, I was surprised by its great glide.the mohair-skin kick zone is durable, replaceable and offered a rollerski-like kick. The exposed edges in the kick zone prevent drag while step-turning.
One Way One Way Premio 10 Skate Boot
One Way hits it out of the park with the Premio 10 Skate Carbon boot that boasts a carbon cuff, an anti-torsion midsole, Thinsulate insulation and a 3D foam heel all mounted to the SNS Pilot sole for a light, stiff, warm and comfortable race boot to complete its Skate line. Join any start line with confidence in this boot.
Madshus Madshus Nanocarbon Race UHM Poles
For 2016, Madshus made the Nanocarbon Race UHM poles more durable and stiff with great swingweight, and changed their graphics from white to black so these poles are easier to see when lying in the snow. These poles deliver and you will get to any finish line with a smile on your face.
Madshus Terrasonic Intellegrip Classic Ski
Madshus incorporated its Intellegrip mohair-/ nylon-skin kick zone into its popular Terrasonic Performance Classic ski. The Terrasonic was a pleasure to test, and no difference was noticed in kick or glide between the mohair/nylon blend and other pure mohair-skin Classic skis. With perfect kick and surprisingly free glide, this ski provides a great hands-off Classic-skiing experience, and could even be a competitive Race ski in the right conditions.
Excel Exel X-HMC Curve Ski Pole
These new poles took a bit of time to get used to. The swingweight is a little more significant than in traditional poles, and they require some slight changes in technique to achieve maximum efficiency. The curve of the pole displaces the basket farther forward, which makes it seem longer than it is. My optimal pole length turned out to be 2.5cm shorter than my standard Skate-pole length, and it didn't take long for the poles to feel much more natural. During an interval session, I switched back and forth between the X-curve poles and traditional ski poles and I found that my heart rate was slightly lower with the X-curve, while my interval times remained consistent. The X-curve just might revolutionize the Nordic ski-pole industry.
Start Start Race 1.0 Solid Pole
The Start Race 1.0 Solid pole has great swingweight, a comfortable strap and great stiffness even while sprinting. This is a very capable racing pole and is definitely worth a look.