Rolled into the Winter Outdoor Retailer Backcountry Basecamp around noon yesterday and only had a few hours to check out the new ski gear, so I headed straight to the Black Diamond tent. BD was running a demonstration of the effectiveness of the AvaLung by burying OR show director Kenji Haroutunian and it was pretty impressive with all the machines tracking his vitals during the hour long stint in a tomb of snow. As they dug him out, it was pretty wild to see his body emerge from the pile of snow and he looked like a mannequin. Kenji was hardly even recognizable by the time his face was exposed, with all the face protection and tubes coming out of his body…including the AvaLung in it’s purest form. Interestingly enough, rumors of a recent burial of three Colorado skied being caught in a recent avalanche on Monday(?) floated around the demo. All survived via self rescue (with one under the snow for 2 hours) thanks to their AvaLung.
New Black Diamond Skis, Justice (red) front right, Verdict (orange) in front, Zealot (green) in the back right and the Megawatt (bright blue) in the back left.
Now, on to the skis. The fall 2009 Black Diamond ski line up consists of all new graphics and many updates in construction. The Verdict, Zealot and Megawatt all get a new “stringer” that increased edge hold on hard snow. I demoed the Verdict, which felt to be a little softer than this year’s navy blue version, but the 180cm I had, still held a very good edge at high speeds on the hard snow of Snow Basin. Seems like the “stringer” is doing it’s job. The Justice, which is a new rocker tip ski, is also tooled a bit softer. It felt just a little skittish at high speeds on the hardpack, but will for sure shine on softer snow. It will be a great backcountry ski. I felt the sleeper of the new skis that I tried was the Zealot. I haven’t spent too much time on this years Zealot, but when I have skied o it, I felt that it really was specifically designed for big and fast turns. This new version, now features a rocker tip as well, which greatly increased it’s turn -ability. I fell this will make a great, big mountain resort ski. I also got to take a close look at their new “split skins”. I was little concerned with the durability of the connection of the webbing to the pelt the skin, since spring and early season snow conditions can be very hard on climbing skins. Product developers told me that the thread that connects the two materials, is set down in the skin quite a bit through tension, keeping it from being in contact with the snow. Let’s hope they are right.
Next stop was over at the Dynafit yurt. I was mainly interested in checking out the Titan boot, which will be the beefiest boot in the Dynafit line up next year. Made with a different chemical make-up of PU than the Zzeus, the Titan was very stiff. Definitely stiffer than my Factors. Another interesting thing I learned was slight change in design of the whole binding line up. Through the use of CAD technology, Dynafit designers have learned that having sharper angles on the metal of the toe pieces makes them stronger. So, the entire binging line will have this new shape. Besides strength, this also allows them to remove a little bit of the metal from “wings” of the toe piece, making them even lighter. Which is one of the main reason so many of us backcountry skiers choose to use Dynafit bindings over so many other offerings on the market.
Sharper angles will be on all the new Dynafit binding toe pieces next year.
Allowing them to be stringer…AND lighter!
Even though I’m a dedicated Dynafit user, it was important to run by the G3 booth to take a run on the new ONYX AT binding. It definitely looked strong and durable, but felt a little sticky getting in and out of it. It seemed to have good hold power though and the only binding I pre-released out of was the Fristchi Freeride. Whether that was due to not having them adjusted quite right or not could be the culprit, since so many people are using the skis at these types of demos. I eyeballed the G3 ski line up as well, which had a few new models for fall 2009. The Zen Oxide, a 105mm waisted ski, and the Tonic, a skinnier, rocker tips ski that skied very well…even at speed in the 170-something length.
Though not much of a follower of the K2 skis, they always seem to have good name scheme, and next year’s skis follow suit. With catchy names like the CoombBack, WayBack, ShesBack and PayBack, they seem to never have trouble wrapping the whole line together…which is at the very least if good for marketing. I didn’t ski any of these skis, so I can’t really comment on their performance, but the bright graphics are synonymous with many of the other manufactures offering. You either like them…or you don’t!
The two donuts I had for breakfast powered my through the drive and the skiing, but I was pretty tapped by 3pm, so I bailed in order to check in to the hotel and connect with my co-workers from the shop for dinner. Ciao for now!