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February 17 & 18, 2015

WWSRA Demo Days, Bend OR

There's nothing like the ski industry demo sessions when it comes to getting a feel for next year's gear.

I didn't attend the SIA Copper Mt. demo, but had the opportunity to head to Bend, Oregon this week to attend the WWSRA event. Four of us from the evo Seattle store and 2 from the Portland store headed south and shared a beautifully furnished house just outside of town. Mt. Bachelor had far better coverage than anything in Washington, and we were lucky the event was scheduled there for 2015 - the demo alternates between Mission Ridge and Bachelor each year. Our buying team had given us a list of around 60 skis that needed testing, and I was on the hook for reviews on as many of the touring products as I could fit in.

I hit the snow running both days, and managed to ski 30 skis in all. I did one solid run on each ski, which was all the information I needed given the lack of snow variety. Medium radius carved turns, short radius turns at slow speed, and long radius turns with a bit of straight lining to finish it off, each on the same run. I like to think I'm pretty quick at getting a feel for a ski in a short time, though I would have spent more time on each ski if there had been a stash of softer snow to be found.

I keep a notebook in my jacket and write down each model and size before I ski them, then record my impressions immmediately after I get to the bottom. Some of the highlights of the week in the touring ski category were the new Blizard Zero G Series, especially the 95 and 85, and the Völkl V-Werks BMT skis. The Zero G skis are incredibly precise and have awesome edgehold (I wouldn't expect less from Blizzard, but it's still surprising given the ultra light weights). The Völkls are just great all-round skis that behave like alpine skis minus the extra weight, an admirable achievment. Hopefully I'll get some more time in on both groups of skis soon. Here's my blurbs on the four standout skis for the company website:

11. Blizzard Zero G 95 (171) For a light, all-seasons mountaineering ski that will handle soft snow but excels on the steeps and ice, the Zero G 95 doesn't have much competition. Edgehold and precision are in another class altogether when compared to other skis in this category (there aren't that many sub-1300 gram 95+ mm waisted choices out there); in burly, icy terrain this would be my clear choice. The Zero G 95 is much "edgier" and less pivoty than the other standout in this class, the Dynafit Denali, and I suspect won't quite offer the "no brainer" soft snow performance of the Denali, though I didn't get to try it in any fresh snow. 12. Blizzard Zero G 85 (171) I loved this ski for its grip and precision - it would be a great choice for ski mountaineering objectives and spring/summer volcano trips. The 171 had "1050 grams" written on the topsheet, and I had no reason to doubt the accuracy of that number - it felt super light even with Kingpins mounted. Quick and easy to initiate, the edgehold was phenomenal. A lot of ski for the weight.

32. Völkl V-Werks BMT 109 (176) Superb ski with a perfectly balanced edge grip-to-ease-of-turning ratio. Not super light given the hype and cost, but the BMT 109 really gives up nothing in skiability and is light enough for all but the most rabid ski tourers. Excellent ski overall. 33. Völkl V-Werks BMT 94 (176) The BMT 94 is a fantastic ski that delivers incredible performance for its weight. Excellent edgehold and precision make it reminiscent of the Nanuq, but without the extra bulk. Cool looking carbon and red graphic scheme, flat tail, inserts for Völkl skins.

Tent City in the Bachelor parking lot

On-snow bro-down

Late on Day #2 the beer starts flowing and the techs get a little crazy . . .

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