Elan Apex (2011) - Ski Mag

Elan Apex (2011)

In a category where versatility is prized above all else, the Apex gets the job done with a pleasing blend of power and forgiveness. Testers gave it high marks for its hard-snow performance. Yet with plenty of taper (i.e., relatively narrow tail in relation to tip), it releases readily at the end of each arc, so you’ll never feel overmatched. It’s a no-gimmicks, unrockered, wood-core, vertical-sidewall, metal-reinforced construction with a smooth, supple feel—plenty of fun at speed. “Direction changes are quick, stability is super high—it does everything well,” said Preston.
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2011 Elan Apex

Rating: / 5
Price: $1000.00
Year: 2011
Level: 3
Gender: Male
Waist Width:
Tip/Tail/Waist: 128/88/108
Lengths: 177

Stability at speed: 2.96 / 5
Hard snow performance: 3.42 / 5
Crud performance: 2.96 / 5
Forgiveness: 2.30 / 5

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2011 Elan Spire

Elan Spire (2011)

As the fattest ski in the category, the Spire was at a disadvantage in terms of quickness and hard-snow grip, but it held its own nevertheless. It’s fluid, supple, strong and surprisingly agreeable in bumps. And with that 98-mm waist, no one doubts its powder-day capabilities—especially with its touch of tip rocker. Flotation won’t be a problem. Aside from the rocker and width, it’s the same as the Apex (see No. 13), which testers liked for all-mountain, all-conditions applications. But if you ski lots of powder, the Spire will satisfy. “Easygoing, balanced, round and smooth in longer turns,” said Casey.

Volkl Mantra 2011

Volkl Mantra (2011)

At 96 mm, the Mantra was second-fattest in the category. That put it at a disadvantage in terms of quickness and all-mountain versatility, but it will rock those powder days. It’s a traditional-camber, wood-core, laminate construction—built for racy edge-grip that belies its girth; demanding, but also rewarding. It was No. 3 in Flotation, yet still in the middle of the pack for Hard-Snow Grip. It loves long arcs and high speeds, erring on the side of power over finesse. Among all the rockered skis, it feels especially long and burly, which skilled traditionalists will love. “A dynamic one-ski-quiver gem for experts,” said Malone.

2011 Nordica Radict

Nordica Radict (2011)

The first thing you notice is how huge it is. Then the scary clown. Then the tip profile: There’s almost no upward curve to it. The new Radict has traditional camber underfoot—about 60 percent of its length—with pronounced rocker tip and tail. The tip rocker starts 40 cm back and rises almost a full 3 cm—so high there’s no need for much additional tip curvature. The combination of width and rocker adds up to supreme flotation in the deepest pow. Testers had to punish it for lack of versatility, but still gave it the No. 2 ranking for Overall Impression. “Surprisingly maneuverable for its size; super fun,” said a tester.

2011 Rossignol S6

Rossignol S6 Jib (2011)

Yes, it’s part of Rossi’s “jib” collection, and yes, it’s a full twin-tip, but the sensibly priced S6 impressed testers (most of whom never ski backward—at least on purpose) with its combination of powder-day surfiness and everyday skiability. This year’s version is rockered tip-to-tail, so it has a pleasing, buttery feel in soft snow. But its rocker and sidecut work together to lay a nice long edge on hardpack. You have to be patient, but it’ll carve. Testers clearly preferred Rossi’s S7 (p. 69) for pure powder applications, but the S6 offers more all-mountain versatility. “Best in deep snow, but handles all surfaces nicely,” said Garrett.

Blizzard M-Power

Blizzard M-Power (2011)

It’s built like a race ski in some respects—wood core, metal laminates, vertical side walls. Blizzard’s new Power System—a carbon reinforcement bar connected to an oil-filled piston underfoot—adds tip and tail pressure at speed while quieting the ski between turns. Blizzard softens the flex and adds tip rocker for manageability and soft-snow versatility, but it’s still very much a go-fast ski: No. 2 in Stability at Speed, No. 1 in Hard-Snow Grip. It’s thrilling, but it expects you to know what you’re doing. Easterners will love the tenaciousness. “Give it the gas; it gives back,” said Malone.

2011 Volkl Kenja

Volkl Kenja (2011)

Völkl’s got a thing for Japan. We suspect it’s because they craft skis as fine as samurai swords—and the graphics are cool, besides. Enter Kenja (“wise one”). It has the same hip freeride feel as the wider Aura and Kiku—plus Völkl’s classic edge-grip to rail on the groomed. It’s No. 1 in Stability and Rebound and last in Quickness/Bumps, which tells you it likes speed and power. It’s stiff, too, but a tapered tail scrubs speed in powder and releases relatively easily on groomed, earning it respectable scores in Forgiveness. Still, its talents are best suited for experts. “Stable, yet not heavy,” said Gibbons. “Performs best when pushed.”V

Fischer Watea 94

Fischer Watea 94 (2011)

Fischer has gone to great lengths to lighten up the 94-mm Watea, milling out parallel channels in the core, then filling them with reinforcing carbon-fiber I-beams. Then it gives the tip a unique shape—a 3D prow like the hull of a speedboat—the better to slice through soft snow. The result: The Watea 94 was No. 1 for Flotation and No. 2 in Crud Performance. As testers pointed out, there are quicker and more energetic skis in the category, but the Watea loves cruising in long, fast arcs on the groomed while waiting for the next powder day. “Fun at high speeds; awesome in crud; all-mountain versatile,” said Boller.

2011 Blizzard The Answer

Blizzard The Answer (2011)

The Answer is a rockered big-mountain twin-tip that’s as lively as a fat ski can get (No. 1 in Rebound) thanks to the subtleness of its rocker profile. In deep powder, some testers wished they had the 191-cm length for extra float, but the 184 was zippy in crud and pleasingly energetic on the groomed. The Answer comes with Blizzard’s Slider binding interface, which accepts any binding, dismounts in seconds (so you can swap in another Slider-mounted binding), and allows the ski to flex roundly fore and aft of its single mounting screw directly underfoot. “A versatile, all-around performer,” said Malone.