SKI REVIEWS '99/00
Lengths: 165, 175, 185 Dimensions: 110/88/10
(165 length has dimensions of: 105/83/98)
This is a wood core board without a metal topsheet. Omitting the metal topsheet saves weight and this is a fat ski designed for both off and on piste.
The Mtn Surf is a really different kind of tele ski and has been for quite awhile. Another fat board that was way ahead of its time, this ski is much more than a powder ski. It handles everything other than really hard pack well. The 22 mm's of sidecut make it almost a traditional ski by todays standards but it is soft enough to bend into a nice arc, the old way to carve short turns and it still works.
I would not say that this ski is as powerful or made to rip in the same way that others in its class might be, but it is a lot lighter: just 7 1/2 pounds in the 187 length. The one problem here is that as skis get wider there is more surface area to get deflected and tossed around. Most of the big skis are heavy enough to counter this tendency, lighter wide skis such this one, and say the old Atomic lightweights, can suffer in this area. I have to say though that in my test rides of the Mtn Surf I did not notice it to be a problem. It is not really that light I suppose.
I would call this a forgiving ski. It is a very stable platform and floats through the soft stuff nicely. I am told that it is really fun in spring corn too. I have not tried it there myself, but I have skied it now a couple of times and I can see how its characteristics would make it a fine spring ski.
Conclusion: I like this ski. It is fun and for an upward moving tele skier looking to go fat but wanting to stick with a forgiving, relatively light tele-specific ski this might be the ride. Real aggressive experts may want to go with one of the alpine mid-fats, but this is a stable ski for its type. Great!
Lengths: 173, 178, 183, 188, 193, 198 Dimensions: 106/70/94
The K2 X-15 is an all mountain alpine ski with the "Triaxilly Braided" core that K2 uses. It means that fibers are wrapped around the fir core at an angle to give the ski torsional stiffness. It also features K2's "Smart Structure" vibration dampening system with those cool little LED's!
This is a very good ski for strong tele skiers. It is fairly stiff so it may not be suitable for you cardio fit lightweights or telebabes, but for bigger telemarkers this is a fine ski. The X-15's 36 mm's of sidecut make it a terrific carving tool, the width gives it lots of float and, as noted here before, the spiffy anti vibration LED's do seem to work. This is a damp ski without being dead.
This is a true all-mountain ski for telemark. It does well in powder, mush, crud and on the groomed runs. I am told it does well in the bumps too. I enjoyed my time on the X-15 and this was a surprise because in general I have not been a fan of the K2 skis, as many of you already know.
Conclusion: A good ski for big body expert tele skiers. Not an entry level ski.
Atomic Beta Ride 9.22 S
Lengths: 160, 170, 180, 190, 200 Dimensions: 108-72-100
The 9.22 S has Atomic's Beta Technology, a "densolite" foam core with two distinct ridges running longitudinally along the fore and after bodies of the ski. Like many new skis these days, it is very torsionally rigid but fairly soft in flex. I chose the "S" model to try because it was available to me and also because, being softer than the standard 9.22, I think it is more suited to tele turning.
This is a fun ski. Powerful and precise, it is a ski that will keep up with an aggressive expert. The 9.22 S has a ton of side cut, so naturally it likes to carve short radius turns. The wide tail wide tail gives it some of the, what I perceive to be negative, characteristics of the Tale Pothook (below): it tends to want to hang onto the turn a little longer than the driver might want it to. Perhaps this is something that can be adjusted to with time but I always find it a bit disconcerting when I first jump on a ski like this.
Oh, and about that side cut. 36 mm's is a lot, if you don't like super sidecut skis you probably won't like this one either. I really don't like to go much over 30 mm's and yet I still had a good time on the 9.22 S, it is a terrific area ski and a lot of fun to carve turns with. It was also fun in the bumps.
Conclusion: I had a good time riding the 9.22 S but would I buy a pair for myself? No. I can't really put my finger on it but it just did not feel like my kind of back- country ski. It feels to me like a full blown inbounds kind of ski and with so many skis that are at home both in and out of the area, I would invest elsewhere. It just might be me, I know a couple people who love them, but now that I think about it, they are resort skiers.
Fischer Tele Pathic
Lengths: 170, 180, 190 Dimensions: 93/63/93
This is a wood core cap ski with a whole lot of sidecut and a very wide tail, so wide it is as wide as the shovel. It is a soft ski and not well suited to hardpack.
The Tele Pathic was one of the first super sidecut tele specific skis. It has been a popular ski through the past few years and although it has been discontinued, there are still a lot of them kicking around and I have had several requests for a review.
It had been a couple of years since I last skied the ' Pathic when I borrowed a friend's pair the other day. What a nice easy turning ski. Carved turns are a breeze and the soft even flex had a bit of snap to it. It is a fairly light ski, or at least much lighter than the alpine-for tele skis that I ski so often. This lightness is great for climbing but I found it to be a bit of a liability for my style, the Tele Pathic seemed to get tossed around in the spring like snow I had it in.
I have heard this ski referred to as a good beginners ski, I disagree. It is certainly easy to get a carve going but that wide tail does not want to release at the end of the turn, making it difficult to finish the turn cleanly and scribe nice evenly rounded turns. I could make them work but only with a bit more attention to the end of the turn than most beginners would be able to give.
Conclusion: Not a bad ski at all. The quirky tail properties keep it from being a good beginner ski but I found that it handled a fair amount of aggression pretty well and in the hands of an experienced user worked OK. Still, experts will probably want more out of a ski than that. A ski in search of a niche.
Lengths: 170, 177, 184, 191, 195 Dimensions: 96/65/80
A foam core/metal topsheet ski, the Sommet has a generous sidecut (31mm) and a wide shovel.
This is a soft snow ski. For a soft ski though, it sure does not have much rebound. After my experience with the Attaque, I was prepared to really hate this ski but I did not. This is a relatively forgiving ski due it's dampness. Don't expect a lot of rebound, it just does not have much snap. The telemark turn is, for many, a soft snow turn so for them this will not be a bad ski.
One thing that I find odd is that the flex really does lend itself to soft snow and backcountry powder but the waist width is more like that of an on-piste, carving type ski. The 65mm waist is just not going to give you the float you are going to want for deep and variable backcountry snow.
Conclusion: This may just be a pretty fair entry-level telemark ski. The full price is already low and with big discounts I have even seen it selling for less than $170. I don't really believe in the whole progression thing, you end up spending more money in the long run, but perhaps this ski should be considered by newbies on a budget, keeping in mind it's limitations. Expert? don't go there.
Lengths: 178, 186, 194 Dimensions: 110/78/100
This is a monocoque, metal topsheet (titaninium and aluminum) ski that has Salomon's "Monofiltering platform" that is said to filter shocks from hard or uneven snow. It has a foam core and a graphite, sintered base.
The Supermountain is the successor to the very popular for telemark X-Mountain, now discontinued. I have a friend who loved the X-Mountain and I liked it a lot too. He recently replaced his worn out X's with this ski and I am happy to report that we both found it to be every bit as fine as the X's. Snappy and lively, it is well suited to all-mountain skiing.
The wide waist gives the Supermountain great float and makes it a superb off piste tool. This ski loves powder, crud and mush, it will do about as well as any ski I have tried in death crust. A good edge holding ski, it is also a lot of fun on the groomers, carving nice arcs reliably. The shock-filter does seem to work in some way, this is smooth riding ski. Torsional rigidity is good and the flex is soft enough for telemark.
A mid-fat like this ski will benefit from being chosen in a shorter length, especially when it come to quickness edge to edge. Unfortunately the available sizes are limited, still, I would recommend the 194's only for the biggest telemark skiers.
Conclusion: A fine ski from Salomon for tele, shorter lengths will help in the weight area for backcountry use. Only drawback: they are so darn expensive and hard to find discounted.
Atomic Beta TM.24
Lengths: 170, 180, 190 Dimensions: 102-64-86
The TM.24 is a foam core ski with Atomic's "Beta Technology", essentially the ski has two long bumps longitudinally on the fore and aft parts of the top of the ski. This is said to add torsional rigidity and still allow smooth flex. Kind of like Saloman's "Pro-link" arms.
I only had a brief time on this ski a couple of weeks ago but it did not take long to figure this one out. It is a decent carver and a forgiving on piste ski. It would be good for a beginner looking to learn how to carve turns instead of skid them. It holds a good edge on hard pack if you can bend them enough, otherwise with that mondo sidecut you will be riding the tips and the tails.
When I ventured out of the ski area it was not for long: this is not a backcountry ski, period. It is a ski in desperate need of some waist width for most off piste conditions.
Conclusion: Atomic says that the target group for this ski is folks looking to make progress in in technique "with a slight emphasis on powder". I would say very slight. They call it an all-mountain ski as well, and I would say only if all the mountain has been groomed!
Tua Mega Plus MX
Lengths: 175, 182, 187, 192, 197 Dimensions: 95-67-85
A torsion box, wood cored ski, the Mega received a makeover this season that included adding more waist width and additional sidecut. It is considered by Tua to be their most all around ski.
I did not like the old Mega much and I really don't care for this new one either. All the compromises in dimensions, flex and weight, made in the attempt to make this a do-everything ski have left it, in my opinion, bereft of any really great qualities. Mediocre float off-piste, average edge-hold on hard pack, not damp but not especially lively either, the Mega is pretty much a middle of the road ski for tele'ers looking for one ski that does not do any one thing really well.
Conclusion: No matter how you dress it up, this is really a dated design looking for a purpose and not finding it. Choosing a ski for the primary conditions you encounter would probably be a better idea, adding skis for special purposes later.
Yostmark Classic Noodle
Lengths: 177, 187, 192, 197 Dimensions: 99/76/87
The Classic Noodle is a wood core, torsion box ski with a reinforced binding plate and a sintered base. Yostmark is a very small ski company who's skis are built for them by Elan in Slovenia. At one time this would have been considered a fat ski, now it barely hits the mid-fat category. It gets back up top, though, with a smooth soft flex ( can you say "faceshot" ?).
This is a wonderful powder specific ski. It is made for savoring the sweet stuff as opposed to ripping it, a great ski for the powder connoisseur rather than the hog. This is not to say that this ski can't rip, it can, it is just such a fine powder tool you will want to sip the pow like fine wine and enjoy each turn for all it is worth. The rebound from the soft flex will have you moving through the deep like a porpoise in the ocean. It also does well in crud
The Classic Noodle reminds me of my old Miller Super Softs (it is a descendant of that fabled ski) it skis more like Yostmark's old Mountain Noodle which was built from the Miller Soft mold. The Classic though, benefits from the advances in modern ski construction: it is soft but still relatively torsionally firm (as compared to the previous incarnations).
At the Outdoor Retailer Show a couple of years ago, several of us tried this ski in the powder at Solitude and the vote was unanimous: 4 smiles up!
Conclusion: This ski is built for powder and it does that very, very well, if you are looking for a specialty ski for the sweet stuff you won't be disappointed.
K2 Piste Stinx
Lengths: 170, 180, 190, 195 Dimensions: 99/70/88
A tele-specific torsion box cap ski. The 'Stinx is a wood core ski with K2's "Triaxial Braid" construction. It boasts 29mm's of sidecut and a relatively wide waist. It has holes in the tips for emergency sled rigging and notches in the tail for euro-style skins.
This ski has been out for four seasons now and was one of the first tele skis to really show the influence of alpine ski design. I have to hand it to K2, they made a smart move. Recognizing that many tele skiers on the cutting edge were mounting up soft flexing alpine skis for telemark use, K2 skipped the skinny ski market and went right after tele-ers looking for downhill turning performance. It was a successful strategy, the 'Stinx has been a huge seller for K2.
If you had been skiing tele-specific skis up until the last two seasons and you jumped on a pair of these, you would think they were the greatest skis since tele skis got metal edges. On the other hand, if you had been adapting quality alpine skis to telemark use over the previous decade you would be more likely to shrug and say "not bad, not great, but a bit better than the rest of the tele ski bunch" (three years ago). This pretty much sums up my own feelings. I liked it a lot better than the rest of the K2 skis which I have often referred to as "K9" skis (this was before the new World Piste that I have yet to try), but still, I was not bowled over three years ago and recently I tried them again and felt the same way.
I'm sure I am not making many friends with this less than enthusiastic review: I know many of you love them and will defend the 'Stinx and its qualities to the death, but I have to call 'em as I see them.
Conclusion: Not a bad ski at all and worth a try if you have a chance to demo them, some people love 'em. I would not tell you to buy the Piste Stinx untried though.
Tua Excalibur Mito MX
Lengths: 170, 178, 185, 192 Dimensions: 98-70-88
The Mito is another double torsion box cap ski from Tua. Built from the same mold as the very popular Big Easy, it has partially segmented edged and a double sintered base. It is marketed as a Randonee ski, but has a soft, round flex suitable for telemark skiing.
I got to borrow a friend's pair for an extended demo one day last month. He had his mounted with the same bindings I use and they were almost the exact length of the skis I normally ski, so I got a pretty good test with few variables.
This slightly stiffer clone of the Big Easy is a fun ride. It holds a better edge on hardpack (but not like the Blade) making it, a better ski for use at the resorts if hard snow is what you usually get. It is a fine off-piste ski as well, with those buoyant dimensions. 28 mm's of sidecut make for a nice rounded arc, and the wide shovel keeps the driver from feeling like Capt. Nemo in the pow. I think the softer ' Easy is more fun in the fluff and the mush, but the Mito has a leg up on the firm.
Like the ' Easy this is a shorter turning, sub-sonic ski. You probably will not be keeping up with your alpine brethren on these.
Conclusion: If you ski harder groomed snow at the ski area but still like to get out in the BC when it is happening, and you want one ski to for both places, this may be your ski. A pair for firm and a pair for soft would be better though.
Lengths: 168, 173, 178, 183, 188, 193 Sidecut: 99/65/88
Like it's telemark-specific cousin, the Totally Piste, the ' Four is a "Tri-axially braided", wood core ski. It sports K2's "SmartSki" technology, a piezo-electric dampening system designed to reduce chatter while still allowing the ski to be smooth flexing.
Although this ski has the same dimensions as the T-Piste, I found it to be a much more powerful ski, far more energetic and a lot more stable at speed. Perhaps those gimicky looking LED's connected to the piezo-electrics do work! This is a relatively stiff ski for tele, I would recommend it more for big, more experienced telemarkers.
Decent in powder (but not great, too narrow of a waist), it really comes into its own on groomers, backcountry corn and other less than bottomless conditions. I skied it in crud one day and it was not bad there either.
Conclusion: A pretty darn good tele-ride that delivers in a variety of areas, not for newbies. The ' Four has been around awhile, you might be able to find a deal!
Tua Blade MX
Lengths: 175, 182, 187, 192, 197 Dimensions: 92-64-82
The Blade Mx is a double-torsion box ski from the same mold as the Tua Razor, the difference is that the Blade has heavier fiberglass reinforcement to make it much stiffer.
For you hard-snow skiers looking for a ski that will carve the rock hard pistes, this is your ski, at least among the tele-specific contenders. One of my ski partners, a guy with a ton of experience skiing hard, man-made snow, ( he was the patrol director working nights at our local area for 13 years ) says that the Blade holds an edge as well or better than any ski, alpine or tele he has ever skied.
This is not a backcountry ski. The narrow waist will have you diving and not coming up in the fluff, at least not without a lot of work.
Conclusion: A very specialized ski, that will rock inbounds in even the most bullet-proof conditions. Get this ski to add to a quiver only, unless hard-pack is your only goal.
Dynastar 4X4 ATV
Sizes: 160, 170, 178, 186, 192 Dimensions: 107-70-92
The 4x4 is a " multicell core, glass fiber, titanium sheet, kevlar fiber " ski. I think that means it is a foam core, metal topsheet ski with kevlar reinforcement. Also it has something called a "Zicral Sheet" that is said to add torsional rigitity.
The 4x4's dimensions make it a fun carver and all terrain ski, worthy in the powder and stable all around. It holds an edge on the hard pack extremely well . Unfortunately the construction makes it a bit too stiff for my tastes as a tele ski. I like an alpine ski with a smooth, even and soft flex for telemark, this ski is a bit too alpiney to fit the bill. Getting that rear ski to bend was a huge chore.
Dynastar makes a 4x4 ATL, a woman specific ski that is softer wide bodied metal laminate version of the above that I'll bet would make a pretty killer tele ski: combining the best elements of the ATV with a softer flex. I would like to try that one, even if it does say right on the ski "For Women". I'm secure.
Conclusion: Too stiff for tele, try the ATL if you can find a telebabe with a pair.
Volkl Presto and Mountain Ranger
Sizes: 170, 177, 181, 187, 191 Dimensions: 98/72/88
The Volkl Presto (the red ones and the blue ones) and it's later incarnation the Mountain Ranger, are foam core, metal topsheet, cap skis. Underneath the typical terrible Volkl graphics lie a mighty telemark ski.
A soft snow, short turn monster, these skis were languishing on alpine store shelves all over the U.S. until telemark skiers started snapping them up wherever they could find them, and often at big, big discounts. Ahead of it's time, the Presto, with the wide waist so nice in a backcountry ski and the soft even flex we look for in a sweet tele ski, has become, for many of us, the yardstick by which we judge this class of ski. It is probably no coincidence that the Tua Big Easy shares almost identical dimensions to the Presto, but the Volkl hit the market three years earlier.
Sadly, the Presto has virtually disappeared. The red ones gave way to the slightly stiffer (and heavier) blue ones. Last year it was renamed and marketed as the Mountain Ranger, now also discontinued. I believe Volkl also had a ski out called the Snow Ranger Light, which may or may not have been the same ski. In Europe they sold an AT ski with the same dimensions but with a wood core called the Tour 4000, I have heard it skied much like the Presto. Anyway, the point of all this history is that you may see a pair of these skis sitting on a sale rack somewhere, if you do snap them up, you will love them!
Conclusion: Every tele skier I let try my Prestos ( and that was many ) went out and bought a a pair, sometimes multiple pairs. Not a ski for going fast, they are just a supreme tele-turning ski. We will miss them when they wear out!
Volant Power Carve and Ti Power
Dimensions: 103/73/97 Sizes: 163/173/183/193
The Power Carve and the newer Ti Power ( a titanium version of the popular Power Carve ) are typical Volant skis: not just a metal top-sheet but a metal ski! These are cap skis and highly durable, they have a loyal following and telemark skiers have been using the Volant Chubb for years, so I was anxious to try the Power Carve and the Ti Power.
Volant claims to have invented the "mid-fat" and I am sure Volkl would argue that point, either way, these skis do not compare favorably to the Snow Ranger: slow edge to edge and very, very damp, the Powers are heavy and low energy. Some skiers like a damp ski for it's forgiving properties, I find damp usually equates with "dead", and that would be my take on the Power Carve and Ti Power. These skis reminded me of skis that had been used for a long time and skied out.
In variable conditions they ski about how you would expect a big, heavy ski to ride: lots of float and easily bashing through the crud. Unfortunately they do all this with very little flair.
Conclusion: Not my cup of tea but if you like really damp skis that are low-energy but forgiving than you might want to try the Power Carve or Ti Power, some people love 'em.
Salomon X-Scream Series
Dimensions: 106/68/96 Lengths: 179, 187, 195
This powerful ski has been getting a lot of attention from telemark skiers from all around the globe. It is a monocoque cap ski with a titanium and aluminum layer and a wood core. The X-Scream Series also sports Salomon's Prolink arms at the mid-points of each end of the ski. These arms are designed to add stiffness while still allowing an even flex. It looks like Salomon has abandoned the confusing and lame "PR" labeling on their skis: these skis are plainly labeled as to length.
The X-Scream Series has a whopping 38 mm's of sidecut, making it a true carving ski. The waist, at 68 mm's, is just a tad under that magic 70 mm number that so many have found desirable in a backcountry ski. Though with a tip and tail as wide as this ski has, I don't think you have much to worry about as far as float goes.
I found this ski to be a smooth turning, fast edge-to-edge ski, with plenty of pop at the end of the turn. It feels damp at high speed but is still plenty lively while performing slower, shorter turns. Rounded even turns are a piece of cake with this ski, though releasing the tail requires a bit more attention to the up motion in the turn sequence, this may be due to the quite wide tail dimensions.
One expert level ski partner likes this ski so much that he owns 3 pair! He tested the X-Scream last winter in the bumps at Mary Jane and reports that they did much better in the bumps than he expected. He calls it a great all mountain ski.
I have not had the opportunity to ski the 'Screams in powder, but I am sure that it would perform well in that heavenly stuff: it is soft enough and as I said, with all that surface area there should be plenty of float.
Conclusion: A high performance, expensive ski that, in the hands of a good tele skier, will rock. Fast, powerful, and not what I would call a forgiving ski, it is not for beginners, but will rule for those with more experience looking for an upper level ride.
Update: I skied these skis again recently while taking the new Skyhoy binding for a test ride. This really is a great ski, more forgiving than I had remembered it being and with the Skyhoy, even more of a monster carver. A bit touchier than the Snow Ranger for example, but a fine, fine ride!
Black Diamond Resolution
Dimensions: 99/66/92 Lengths: 160, 170, 180, 190
The Resolution is yet another torsion box, foam core tele ski. Built on the same mold as Atomic's popular TeleCarve, it is a bit stiffer and heavier.
This was Black Diamonds premier ski going into last season and this year has been discontinued. There are still a lot of them around for sale though and often at good prices. At the right price, this is a decent upward moving beginner tele ski. All that side cut and the wide tail will have you carving in no time. It is not a ski that likes to skid the turn endings. BD marketed this ski as an experts ski, it is not, you will be struggling to keep up with the pack on this one. The narrow waist limits it's performance in the outback as well.
Conclusion: If you are moving up in your skills and you ski with a lot of fast skiers you will quickly lose interest in this ski, on the other hand, if you are starting out and you can find one at a good price, go for it.
K2 Totally Piste
Dimesions: 99/65/88 Lengths: 180, 185, 190, 195, 200
A "tri-axial" braided, torsion box, wood core ski. The triaxial braid is said to be composed of "lightweight fibers" wrapped around the core to give the ski more torsional rigidity...uh, OK.
With the cool graphics of the Totally Piste you expect this ski to really perform. In reality I would compare it to painting flame on the side of my wife's Toyota Camry. It is a good, dependable car but flames?
And so it is with the T-Piste, not a terrible ski, maybe even a decent hardpack ski at a resort, but a pretty crummy BC ski. The float you get in soft snow feels like it is coming from the tips and the tails, not a great feeling. On piste it is not very lively, requiring a lot of work from the driver. Maybe it is a good bump ski...there must be something.
Conclusion: Look elsewhere. Sure would like to try the new World Piste though.
Tua Big Easy
Dimensions: 98/70/88 Lengths: 170,178,185, 192
This double torsion box ski is very reminiscent of the Volkl Presto(98/72/88), an alpine ski that came out a few years before and flopped as an alpine ski but found a cult following among tele skiers. The wide shovel and waist of the 'Easy makes it a terrific ski in soft snow, yet it still manages to hold a credible edge on the firm.
The Big Easy is a terrific BC ski, it handles powder, corn and the bad stuff about as well as any ski I have tried. It is a touring for turns ski, not a touring ski, but breaking trail is easier than you would think due to the wide platform. Still, it is not a light ski, add big boots (T-2 or Veloce at minimum) and you will be feeling the weight, the payoff comes though when you point these babies down. The 28 mm's of sidecut assures you that they are made for turning.
As you may be able to tell from the lengths offered, the ' Easy is designed to be skied in shorter lengths than you may be used to. Over six footers will find the 192 to be plenty of ski, the torsional rigidity is very good and the extra surface area of a wider ski like this means you can go shorter without worry. As mentioned, you want to ski these with beefier boots, I don't think I would try them with the T-3 class of boots.
Conclusion: A fine ski for backcountry and resort use, especially in softer snow conditions. If you ski primarily hard and icy conditions at resorts you will want to look elsewhere, if not give this ski a try, you will not be disappointed.
Dimensions: 100/67/88 Lengths: 177, 184, 191, 198
This was Rossi's big premier ski last year, featuring their "Dualtec" construction. Essentially this is a cap on top of a laminate type construction. It is a slightly de-tuned version of the popular Bandit alpine ski. With 33 mm's of sidecut, a wide shovel and Rossignols reputation as a quality ski maker, this ski should be a winner. It is not.
Perhaps it is the relatively narrow waist for this type of ski that makes this model such a dog. Very low energy, this ski was no fun in the powder at Solitude where a group of us tried it. Some comments from the group:
"Worst ski I have tried in 25 years of skiing". "I could not wait to get it back to the barn". "The only good thing I can say about the Attaque is that it was fast on the groomers which meant I could get it back to the demo area quickly and change it out".
Conclusion: A terrible ski, to be avoided at all costs.
Volkl Snow Ranger
Dimensions: 105/79/98 Lengths: 170 through 200
Now called the Snow Ranger Vertigo (!?) the venerable 'Ranger has been the ski that virtually defined the mid-fat category for years. With Volkls "Power Frame" technology, it is a torsionally rigid yet amazingly even flexing ski.
This ski simply rips! It is was originally marketed as a powder ski and it excels in the fluff but it also grips ice and hardpack like a claw. It is one powerful ski. The sweet spot on these Volkls is huge, just don't try to ski them slow, they are made to go fast (real fast), at slow speeds (less than 5 mph) they tend to be a bit "hooky" ( another tester called it the Ranger Hook) just build up a bit of speed before beginning your turns and you will never notice it.
The Snow Ranger is a high speed carving monster. I have two pair, 180 and 200 cm's. The 200's allow me to keep up with the fastest of my alpine friends at the resort. I use the 180's with lighter boots and still am able to push the speed envelope with them, yet they make a fine BC ski as well (the 200's stay at the resort).
Volkl has a unique mounting point. There is a mark on the ski for lining up the boot tip (this is an alpine ski so for tele we move the boot up a tad to compensate for the longer tip), Volkl designers correctly note that the ball of the foot, the pressure point when turning, is in about the same spot for a size eight as it is for a size 12. They design the sweet spot with this in mind and want the boot tip mounted accordingly (most alpine skis have a boot center mark that lines up with a center mark on the alpine boot). This works great for telemark, placing the ball of the foot in just the right spot on the rear ski.
Conclusion: I can't say enough good things about this ski, if you are looking for a big, fast, powerful ski to rip at the resorts buy a long pair, if you want a versatile ski for the BC yet still want to haul ass at the resort, get a shorter pair, but by all means add the 'Ranger to your quiver. It may end up being the only pair you ski!