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Rating: 2.81 / 5
Waist Width: 115
Lengths: 169, 179, 189
Stability at speed: 2.58 / 5
Hard snow performance: 1.00 / 5
Crud performance: 2.86 / 5
Flotation: 3.98 / 5
Forgiveness: 3.04 / 5
Overall: 2.81 / 5
If your style of powder skiing is more about hard charging speed than playful creativity, the 2017 Armada Norwalk might be better suited to you than the JJ 2.0. The two are similar in width, but where the JJ is rockered both tip and tail, for loose and smeary performance, the Norwalk’s combination of flat tail and camber underfoot gives it a more directional, locked in feel with secure, powerful turn finishes.
It’s part of Armada’s Deepest series, which features four deep-snow freeriders in waist widths ranging from 100 (the TST) up to 127 (the Magic J). All feature Armada’s famous EST tip and tail tapering. (EST stands for Elf Shoe Technology, a reference to the way a tapered ski looks.) By moving the widest points of the ski closer to the foot, fore and aft, and allowing the tip and tail to taper, EST delivers a looser, smearier, easier-pivoting feel in powder, which allows for quick line adjustments and instant speed checks. (Its skiddier feel also allows for the throwing of huge sprays, key for the camera.) The Deepest series shrinks from five models to four for 2017: Magic J, JJ 2.0, Norwalk, and TST. (The massive Bubba is gone.) All are full-sidewall constructions on wood cores.
Armada, founded in 2002 by a collective of big-name freestyle athletes, is based in Costa Mesa, Calif. -J.C.