I was lucky enough to get to demo a lot of new 09/10 skis at Alpine Meadows this past wednesday and thursday. The conditions weren’t great for testing powder skis, but we managed to find some soft slushy snow on wednesday and some chalky lines with a dusting of new snow on thursday. I tried most of next years Black Diamond power series as well as a bunch of skis from other manufacturers.
The standout of the demo for me was the new BD Zealot 182. The Zealot has been in the BD line for a few years now, but the changes for next years model make it feel like an all new ski. It has the same stiff flex, minimal sidecut, and 110mm waist as the previous model, but BD added a long, low rise, rockered tip that really makes this ski stand out. The ski flat out rips, it would be a great one ski quiver for Tahoe. The stiff flex and minimal sidecut charge through crud, and the rockered tip keeps the ski on top of heavy slush and other soft snow. It skis more like a traditional big mountain ski compared to the Megawatt and Justice, but the rockered tip eliminates any hookiness in variable snow or crust and keeps it on top of the pow. I skied the Zealot in both 182 and 192, the 192 skis like a stiff 190+ ski even with the rockered tip and would be a perfect ski for 200+ lb guys who like to ski fast in all conditions, but was a little much for me in tight spaces and steep bumps. The 182 felt absolutely perfect for me at 6′ and 175lbs even though I usually ride skis in the 185-190cm range, it will most likely be on my feet for most of next season.
Another of my favorite skis from the demo is the new Black Diamond Justice. Its basically a narrower version of the Megawatt. It has a rockered tip, 115mm waist and pintail shape. It has less rocker or early rise in the tip than the Megawatt and slightly more than the new Zealot. It is perfect for those that think that the Megawatt may be a little too much to handle or too specific to soft snow. This is also a softer and lighter ski than the Zealot, and I think it will excel in soft snow in the backcountry. They are perfectly manageable on hard snow, but they really came alive for the few turns when I found some soft snow. Not to say they felt bad on hardpack, they were very predictable and manageable which is much better than some rockered designs that can be scary on firm snow. In the soft they felt very surfy and like they could make any size turn you felt like making, its a feeling that I personally love. The 175 size should be a perfect powder ski for ladies and smaller guys. Don’t be afraid if 175 is longer than you usually ski, they are very light, maneuverable, and easy to ski all over the mountain. This is a powder ski that you can ski every day and the people that are lucky enough to get a pair next year are going to be in for a treat. UPDATE 10/15/09: All of these skis are now in stock and ready to ship! Its going to be a GREAT winter!