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  1. #1
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    09 Big Skis Tested: Kuro, Rocker, Pontoon, etc

    Skis Reviewed:
    K2 Pontoon 189
    Volkl Chopsticks 185
    Volkl Kuro 185
    Armada ARG 185
    Armada ARV 185
    Salomon Rocker 191
    Salomon Czar 182
    Dynastar Huge Trouble
    Armada J vs. J 185

    Conditions: Mt. Rose, Saturday March 15th. Snow: 4-6” fresh on top of 3-4” from the previous day, on top of frozen spring conditions. 15-20 deg F all day long. Overcast with sporadic snow showers and thick cloud cover. Knee-deep powder in the chutes.

    Skier: 6’ and 190 lbs. Fairly stiff Atomic 130 race boots with both cuff bolts installed. I prefer to make medium to big flowing turns. If I wasn’t demo-ing skis, I would be riding my Volkl Sanouks 193 or Armada Ants 191 in these conditions. This was my first time to ride either a rockered or reverse side cut ski.

    Testing Protocol: This was the annual Bobo’ demo day with a bunch of reps showing up to let people use/abuse their product. It was an opportunity for me to ride some of the new rockered and alternative side cut skis that are coming out for next season. This was just a quick sniff as I did one run down either the Detonator or Fuse Chute and then another longer run of groomed with a couple of sections of soft and growing bumps. The Chutes had sections of knee deep powder all day long as hardly anybody was skiing Rose that day.

    K2 Pontoon 189: I didn’t think I would like these skis, but they were one of the most enjoyable rides I had all day. In fact I did 4 runs as I was really having fun flying over the chop and crud. They were almost effortless to ski in the Chutes. I am thinking seriously thinking about buying a pair.

    Volkl Chopsticks: As I didn’t ski switch through the powder, I probably missed out on the symmetrical design. Not bad in the chop and crud. Nothing outstanding about them for me. The graphics are um, interesting. The white background was already looking a bit dirty. I won’t be buying any in the near future.

    Volkl Kuro 185: These felt like a stiffer pair of Pontoons to me. (Yes I’m aware that they have a traditional side cut.) They worked well in the chop and obviously with 164 mm tips could float on top of almost anything. OK skis, but for the conditions I skied them in, I preferred the ‘Toons. The top sheets and edges were already looking like the tops of my 3 year old Public Enemy’s.

    Armada ARG 185: Obviously, these were not ideal conditions to test such a powder specific tool. In the chutes, where I could ski them straight down the fall line and keep them in narrow strips of powder, they showed me some great potential. They were OK in the chop and crud. What surprised me the most, they weren’t all that bad on the groomed, despite having the most Spatula type shape. I guess reading all the pertinent posts and the McConkey ride guide helped. It was kind of fun flat tracking them around.

    Armada ARV 185: I was waiting for the 09 J vs. J to come back and I took these out for a ride. Although, they were not the type of ski that I was specifically testing that day, they were the best all around skis that I rode that day. The shape hasn’t changed but has been stiffened significantly for 09. I really loved skiing these in the bumps. I am going to buy a pair of these sticks.

    Solomon Rockers 191: Another ski that I didn’t think I would like, but again I was surprised. This ski turns a lot quicker than it should. It skied the chutes really well and soaked up small bumps like it had suspension. Yes, it is heavy and you have to work it. I wish I had bought a pair when they were on the REI website last week. The rep almost had a heart attack when I told him that REI was selling them for $459. Don’t bother checking the website, they are sold out already.

    Solomon Czar 182: It skis like a stiffer pair of Foils, although a bit fatter. OK ski, nothing outstanding. I won’t be buying any in the near future.

    Dynastar Huge Trouble: Still waiting for the J vs. J’s to come back, so I rode a pair of Huge Trouble. Ok in the chutes, but really ripped through bumps that were growing and hardening later in the day. Good chop and crud ski. I would think about these as a replacement for my Ants.

    Armada J vs. J: I really wanted try these skis out in the chutes for a couple of runs, however the gaper riding them was skiing with his boarder buddy and they were struggling and side slipping down the chutes. I kept lapping them in the chutes and gritting my teeth. Pretty easy to pick out the new day-glow graphics. I thought the multiple sidecuts would make a great all-round ski. I only got one run as the rep was already tearing down his tent, when the skis were finally returned. Anyway, I really couldn’t get a feel for them as I was already worked pretty well and it was mostly a groomed run. Oh, well…

    Overall: None of these skis were bad. Some just worked better for me and my skiing style, in those particular conditions.
    Last edited by Snow7; 03-17-2008 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Spelling
    Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups. Friedrich Nietzsche

  2. #2
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    Nice quick hit review. Thanks for taking the time to post them.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts of the Pontoons when it isn't so deep and soft. I sold my Pontoons earlier in the year since I realized that they are a powder-specific ski (at least IMO) and other skis, like the Rocker, can ski a wider variety of conditions.

    I agree with what you said about the Sallie Rockers. They are heavy, but really nice skis in pow and chop/crud. I was fortunate enough to have gambled on the REI $449 deal and am pretty happy with them so far.

    I'm still curious about the Kuros, but now that I have the Rockers, I think I can hold off on those.

  3. #3
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    I hear a lot of people going back to other designs because the pontoons are too much work on the groomed/runouts.
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    OR sign it with a fake sig, then later they say "we have your sig!" NO you dont!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandit Man View Post
    Nice quick hit review. Thanks for taking the time to post them.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts of the Pontoons when it isn't so deep and soft. I sold my Pontoons earlier in the year since I realized that they are a powder-specific ski (at least IMO) and other skis, like the Rocker, can ski a wider variety of conditions.

    I agree with what you said about the Sallie Rockers. They are heavy, but really nice skis in pow and chop/crud. I was fortunate enough to have gambled on the REI $449 deal and am pretty happy with them so far.

    I'm still curious about the Kuros, but now that I have the Rockers, I think I can hold off on those.
    It is experiences like yours that makes me hesitate when it comes to purchasing a set of Pontoons. If I had tested the Rockers 2 weeks ago, I would have gone for the REI sale as well. Enjoy!
    Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups. Friedrich Nietzsche

  5. #5
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    This is funny. You skied almost all the same skis, the day before me. I was testing them all on the 16th, and I'm also usually on the Sanouks.

    You're damn right about that Kuro already looking beat up! I liked them a whole lot more than the Chopsticks, but I also prefer a more traditional sidecut and binding mounted further back.

    Did you try the new Gotama? They didn't change much, just made the sidewalls vertical instead of the old angled sidewall.... just that little differece made them ski really well on the firm.

  6. #6
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    Glad to hear the ARVs are getting stiffer. That's a ski that I really like but it could stand to be a bit beefier. Too bad you didn't get more time on the J vs. J, that's one that has me interested too.

  7. #7
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    I've skied Pontoons a decent amount - probably north of 15 days. I've been on Kuros 4 days. I think the Kuros win on all counts. Subjectively, the Pontoons are a bit more pivoty. But the Kuros are about as nimble and steady as hell. The Kuro tails provide a much more solid platform. The Kuro is much better on groomers than the Pontoon. And they kill it in cutup where the Pontoon starts to lose it. Good luck diving the tip on either one. Whenever anyone asks me about the comparison my anwser is that the Kuro is the ski the Pontoon wants to be when it grows up. Not that the Pontoon is a bad ski - it is pretty great - but I think the Kuro's handling really shows that it represents a nice big evolutionary step.

    I agree about the topsheets. With only 4 (3.5 if you want to be picky) pretty easy days on them, they look more beat up than just about anything else I have - maybe than literally anything else I have. That corner where the topsheet and sidewall meet seems fragile as hell.

    All that said, at this moment in time on a really good day I'm taking either a Praxis or Kuro...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snow7 View Post
    Solomon Rockers 191:
    ... I wish I had bought a pair when they were on the REI website last week. The rep almost had a heart attack when I told him that REI was selling them for $459. Donít bother checking the website, they are sold out already.
    I ordered a pair from REI (haven't arrived yet), and am not sure whether I'll keep them. If you want them, shoot me a PM, and if I don't keep them you can have them instead of me returning them to REI.

    I'm in Reno too.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by El Chupacabra View Post
    I ordered a pair from REI (haven't arrived yet), and am not sure whether I'll keep them. If you want them, shoot me a PM, and if I don't keep them you can have them instead of me returning them to REI.

    I'm in Reno too.
    Ski them first. I need more time before making the final decision between these and my 190 Sumos as top pow porkers, but they are showing some promise.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandit Man View Post
    Ski them first. I need more time before making the final decision between these and my 190 Sumos as top pow porkers, but they are showing some promise.
    Random stream-of-consciousness post:

    I'll take the Rockers home from REI, compare boot center & hand flex to the Sumos, and hem & haw a little before deciding. Based on the design, I think I'd like a Salomon Rocker style ski more than the Praxis, so if I keep these, the Praxis go. But the Praxis do really well in trees and have great construction -- which I doubt a cap Salomon could hope to match.

    The 190 Sumo is by far the finest pow ski I have ever had. The Praxis is better in heavy snow (Sierra cement), but that's the only condition in which I prefer it.

    I have too many skis and too much overlap... damn. Just need more powder days.

    I got some weird behavior out of my 193 Blowers on Saturday -- sort of hooking (but not quite), sort of tip diving (but not quite). Very odd. I brought them because I didn't expect much of a pow day; only 6-8" reported, and windy overnight, so I figured it was going to be crap. It wasn't. Instead, it was 6-10" (depending on wind deposit) of blower on top of crust, so you just had to be a little more balanced than if it were deeper.

    What would you keep and what would you unload?

    183 Axiom (early season rock bashing pow ski + loaner)
    190 Sumo (best pure pow ski I have ever had)
    193 Blower (most versatile of all these skis)
    193 Sanouk (unmounted)
    195 Praxis (trees & heavy pow)
    195 AK Rocket swallowtail (w/ Freerides - my BC ski)
    192 Salomon Rocker (arriving soon - and maybe departing soon)

  11. #11
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    If either (or both) of you decide to get rid of your Rockers keep me in mind, cuz I will be more than happy to grab them from you. They sound about perfect to round out my quiver for right now.
    "The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists."

  12. #12
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    I agree with your comments about the Czar. I really wanted to like the ski - just didn't do much for me. Got em out in some late day chop and some untouched fresh (about 12"). Not bad, just not anything special.

  13. #13
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    El Chup - If you plan to unload those Praxis, I might just need to get myself to Reno. The deal I made with the wife is no new skis until spring, so I think I will miss the pre-purchase sale on the 09 line up.

  14. #14
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    El Chup - With the exception of the Axioms, I have owned every other ski on the list.

    Sumo - I totally agree with the comments. I love those.
    Blowers - Was in love, but fell out of love with these. I finally accepted that they were fun in light, soft pow, but crumble when it gets cut up and manky - SOLD THEM.
    Sanouk - Was blown away by this ski. The easist skiing powder ski I have ever ridden. Definitely similar limits like the Blower (gets pushed around in heavy snow), but so fun in trees and tight spaces that I'm hanging on to them.
    Praxis - Probably better in cut up snow than powder. I use these for the afternoon when the lines are tracked or the day after a powder session.
    AK Swallowtails - Fun skis, good BC choice, but surpassed in soft snow performance by so many others on the list. - SOLD THEM.
    Rockers - Sumos with a Rockered tip. Super heavy, but crush everything. Not as verastile as the Sumo, but may actually be more fun in pow and chop/crud. Need more time to decide.

    I know I didn't give you an answer on which to sell, but I did tell you which I sold.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for the offer El Chup, but I just bought the last pair of ARV's from Sierra Jim, about an hour before your post.

    I would agree with Banditman though, I think you will like the Rockers. They seemed to work really well in the Chutes on what was a mixed condition day. I haven't skied the Sumo, but the Rockers would be just as good as my Sanouks on a pure powder day. They definitely out ride the Sanouks in the chop and crud.
    Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups. Friedrich Nietzsche

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by onehotchili View Post
    hmmm... i wonder how the BD Megawatt would have done in this line up. it is also on my short list of funshape skis to possibly get for next year.
    I bet they do well. If they ski anything like the Sallie Rockers, but are lighter (the BIG drawback with the Sallie's) then I think they'll be a big hit.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the review. The Kuro's have peaked my interest, though I don't see buying them. I felt exactly the same way you did about the ARG's.
    "Have you ever seen a monk get wildly fucked by a bunch of teenage girls?" "No" "Then forget the monastery."


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  18. #18
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    Toon love

    I think the most fun I have ever had was demoing a pair of pontoons. i demoed the 179's with jesters at Mt Baker in early april '08 when there was a foot and a half new on day one, and another foot on day two. i demoed the pontoons all day the first day, and all but the last 5 runs on the second day. i have never laughed so much on a pair of skis. any run i might think of taking seemed totally possible. i remember my complete shock, after happily skiing half the first day, when i looked down at my feet the first time. i had spent so little time thinking about tip dive that when i looked down, i was amazed that there was no snow on the tops of my skis while skiing. just effortless. just sit back and ski. nothing else was as fun by comparison. granted, i did not get a chance to demo the hellbents or obsethed, but they are way heavier than the pontoons.
    when i got my pontoons (179), my only mistake was putting heavy bindings on them. rossi scratch ti120's, i think.. besides that, they are an amazing ski that i now would not travel with.
    i skied them on opening day at one of our local resorts, a little over a foot of new snow over zero base. they did awesome, and were super fun. i skied them all day, and should have skied them the next day when we hit the trees. my only issue was a super yucky rock-connection feeling which took a good chunk, but what do you expect on opening day with no base going down rocks? it is now filled with epoxy (as it was right on the edge and we didn't think the ptex would hold to the metal) and they ski just fine.
    i recently took them to mt hood meadows, where it was icy/slushy spring corn conditions (not what we were hoping for january).
    THEY ARE AWESOME!! they do just fine on ice after a run to get used to leaning back more, and if you lean back a little, they turn great and surf with the best. i haven't had that much fun in spring snow since i was a full time snowboarder (my snowboard is lucky if it goes out three times a season now). i think also, my choice of the 179's was better for stiffer conditions than the 189's, as there is less chance of tip flop. the 179's seem nice and stiff to me.

    for comparison, my boots are dalbello krypton pros,
    and for everyday skiing i generally switch between rossi scratch bcs (171 for fun) and 183 atomic pimps, and i tele on BD verdicts (the 170's because i hated my 180 havocs) or scottybob fat bastards. Though now i ski on my pontoons more often because they are so fun.

    the pontoons will be happy to kill any terrain, and they like jumping.
    and personally, i kind of like the sound they make when they hit each other. it sounds like a pair of 2x4's. or 2x6's, really... and the only trouble i have with them hitting each other is when i'm on shallower groomers or traversing and cat tracks.
    also, in the words of mcconkey, "they're built for speed. turning is only to avoid obstacles."

    i would recommend these skis to anyone. i haven't tried them mounted tele, but for alpine sticks, these are super sweet. i plan on taking them out this weekend on our three new inches. they make three inches feel like a foot. also, if you want face shots, bring different skis. you float too much on these for face shots.

  19. #19
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    I have tried the pontoons, rockers and ARGs and i loved them soo much for powder all great skis

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