2013/14 Gear – Demo Review

Robb and some of Shep’s staff traveled to demos at  Devil’s Head and Afton Alps to get on next year’s gear. Robb and the skiiers had the goal of skiing all skis 85mm -105 mm under foot, to make sure they’ll ski well in our Midwest weather. We all know carving skis do well around here, but because wider is still the trending technolgy, they wanted to check out their performance for our customers. We want you to be able to own one pair of skis and be confident that they will ski well at home, but also perform well if you travel out west to tackle the front side and back bowls.

After the day of testing from all the manufacturers, the guys all came to conclusion that the wider waist widths under foot are fantastic skis for the Midwest, and will perform very well for our customers.

All the graphics were good but all our guys agree that that’s the least important thing to worry about. Below are a few points they think are important for you to know. We hope you’ll try them for yourselves at our demo at Granite Peak on March 2nd.

(Okay, we said graphics aren’t everything but you HAVE to check out Line’s new look – their Traveling Circus, Future Spin, and Mastermind skis look great.)


I found definite winners in all the brands I tried – including Rossignol, Blizzard, Nordica, Volkl, and Salomon. I skied 88, 98, 105 under foot, but thought 88-98 were best skiing for me.

Robb’s top pick was the Salomon Q98 (at a $499 price), which had great flotation through the crud and mashed potatoes, and was overall a nimble ski. This ski can be used and enjoyed by aspiring intermediate skiers to the advanced on the hill. A staff pick, for sure.

The Nordica Steadfast 90mm ($649) and Blizzard Brahma 88mm ($649) both skied well, made turns easy, and had nice stability under foot.

Volkl Kendos always ski great, best for the ex-racers who like the solid, stiff ski under foot, super stable at high speeds.  

We’re carrying Salomon X-Pro boot series next year, featuring heat moldable shell technology. Boots fit amazingly well and help you ski to your full potential. If you’ve struggled to find a comfortable boot fit, this is your answer. With customizable liners and shells, you’ll walk out with something better than you’ve ever tried before.


Two of my favorite wider skis in this year’s demo were the Q98 & Q105 from Salomon. Both were super easy to maneuver –lightweight and snappy. 

Salomon Q98
Intermediate/advanced ski that retails for $499 (flat)
All mountain ski that can be used anywhere, under any conditions. It’s quick and easy to turn over at any speed. Very light on the feet!

Salomon Q105
Intermediate/advanced ski that retails for $599 (flat)
The Q105 is an all mountain ski that perform well on the groomers and floats well in the crud. Just like the Q98, it’s a light & snappy wider ski that’s surprisingly easy to turn over, making it great for the backside or the frontside.

The Volkl Racetiger was my first love. If you’re on the race course or just cruising the groomers, this ski will hold an edge.

Volkl Racetiger SL WC Racestock with UVO (Ultimate Vibration Object)
It’s a race specific ski, but is can be great for any aggressive skier because it does well on a race course, ice, or in groomers. This year, the Racetiger comes from the factory hot boxed and with race structure (just like they do for the World Cup athletes). Highlight: this amazing ski has precise edge control.

Volkl Ledge
Great twin tip ski for park riders. Nice and light under your feet, soft and springy for all your park needs. Here’s what you need to know: it looks and rides BA.

Salomon Threat
Another twin tip to check out is the Threat from Salomon (great for beginner to intermediate riders looking for a park and mountain ski to get started on).

Nordica Avenger
At 81mm under the foot, the Avenger came in smaller than the other skis we rode, but this lightweight, very stable ski is great for anyone looking to cruise the whole mountain with a little bit of a wider ski than you grew up on. Highly recommended.


Blizzard Cochese – Dimensions: 135-108-123  (has a metal top sheet).
This ski was Ski of the Year ‘12-‘13 in the free mountain category! It earned it’s award, being super easy to get on edge, despite it’s size. Hold on because not only is it amazing through groomers, the same can be said for the crud & trees. Not a negative to say about this ski, it’s an especially good choice for the intermediate to advanced skier.

Blizzard Bonafide –  $699 Dimensions: 135-98-118 (has metal top sheet)
Consider this the little brother to the Cochese, it’s 10mm smaller in the waist, and was even faster turning than I thought it would be. This is a great Midwest all around ski, or a fantastic front side ski if you’re heading out West. Of all the skis tested, this was my ski of choice.

Blizzard Magnum 8.0 Ti  $549 Dimensions: 122-80-107
This ski won Ski Magazine’s gold metal! It’s so fast edge-to-edge and so much fun, it’s good for just about any day you might have ahead of you. Perfect for an everyday ski cruising on the blues, but when you want to run the gates, it’ll turn it up a notch and let you become a great racer with confidence.

Salomon Q105 (Dimensions: 133-104-125)
Salomon Q98 (Dimensions: 131-96-117)

Both of these skis are back side skis from Salomon with full wood core and no metal. New skis for them this year, and they were awesome.
We all agreed that the Q98 will be a high seller for Salomon (with the price point at $499 for the Q98 and $599 for the Q105!). Even on a groomed run, these skis felt like we were skiing on powder. We were floored by the versatile performance at such a great price. Salomon really hit the mark with these new skis for all mountain backside, but we had no problem at all turning them on the frontside. Had a blast.

Volk’s Mantra (98 under foot) and Kendo (88 under foot) have been Volkl’s best selling skis for a few years now. Intermediate or advanced skiers will love these skis.
The Mantras and Kendos come right out of Volkl’s race facility. Because they’re so easy to turn over and the edges hold so well on any condition, people flock to the store to get a pair for themselves. We sell out of Mantras and Kendos every year, and for a good reason. These Volkl skis are your go anywhere-do anything ski.

Feedback from the Cheeserfest at Devil’s Head:

-All Channel Mount binding system next year for men’s women’s and kid’s boards.
-They’re backing up their new mounting system with 3 year warranty!
-Tons of binding mount combinations – over the years, Burton has come up with 9 different ways to attach bindings to a board. This offers incredible flexibility, customization options and speed in adjustments.

-Loved the double-sided ratchet on the Genesis & Diode bindings, my foot felt tight and secure in it’s place.
-Brighter colors are continuing to gain popularity (I love that).

K2 Summary:
-New board that replaces the Parkstar is the Hit Machine (it should be great).
-New “Lifted” technology gives effortless pop and stability in the boards
-Great graphics overall thanks to two awesome new artists (one of which has his work featured by Harley Davidson and Nixon). They’re going to look sweet.

-New Hurrithane highbacks on their bindings – super flexible and lightweight, help cut calf fatigue, allowing you to ride longer.
-New boot technology – Endo Construction – increases comfort & boot life. The same material used to make the Hurrithane highbacks is in your boot construction. Lightweight and durable.

-The Happy Hour does it again with new Lifted technology – its snappy and now even more responsive.
-Great colors in the men’s Hurrithane and women’s Yeah Yeah bindings.


Yeah Yeah bindings have great colors, and the tweak back makes the riding awesome.
-K2 Skylite was a playful board to ride, will be perfect for conditions we have at Granite Peak, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
-K2 High Lite was a great board with sweet graphics (functionality wise, it’s a backcountry/powder board). Super fun to ride.
-K2 Tryst had great colors and riding felt comfortable & natural because of the 3° canted footbed.
*Support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has pink ribbons on the topsheets of women’s boards!

-The Nugget was a real fun board – a blast to play around on!
-Their Social had a great, colorful graphic and awesome flex. Definitely worth checking out.

Awesome new things are coming. Test for yourself at our demo at Granite Peak on March 2nd!

(Hint: if you decide to come to Shep’s to pre-order (with deposit) next year’s ski or board by 3/15, you’ll get a free gear bag!)

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