Volkl Aura (2017)

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Price: $875.00
Year: 2017
Gender: Female
Waist Width: 100
Tip/Tail/Waist: 132-100-118
Lengths: 156, 163, 170

Though it's only the third-widest women's ski in the Volkl collection (both the One W and 100Eight W are wider), the Aura, which returns unchanged for 2017, is the most expensive (with an MSRP of $875 and a "street price" of about $750). That's mostly because it's reinforced with two sheets of metal, which is expensive stuff, and which gives the Aura the kind of high-speed calm and secure edge bite you don't expect from a 100-mm waist width. Full-length, full-height sidewalls further enhance its solid, reassuring edginess. And naturally, at that width, it's also got plenty of surfy, smeary soft-snow game to go with its hardpack-carving versatility. It's the women's version of the famous Mantra, a ski long admired for its intuitive performance and all-conditions versatility. It's part of Volkl's Women's Freeskiing collection, which now features seven (up from six) soft-snow, freeride-oriented models ranging in width from 116 mm (One W) down to 83 mm (Yumi). All except the 100Eight W and the new 90Eight W are durable, responsive wood-core constructions with solid, grippy vertical sidewalls and a glass-reinforced internal torsion box (the core is wrapped in a rigid fiberglass sheath to resist torsional flex, or twisting). The 100Eight and 90Eight, which are also built on wood, feature Volkl's 3D Ridge construction, which is thick down the middle so it can strong longitudinally yet thinner, lighter, and more sensitive over the edges. The Aura (100 mm) and the Kenja (90 mm) both have metal reinforcement, for vibration-dampening calm and stability at expert-level speeds in variable snow. The two narrowest and least expensive models-the all-mountain Yumi (83 mm) and the park-oriented Pyra (85 mm)-are reinforced with fiberglass only. Rocker profiles also vary: The One W, 100Eight W and Aura are fully rockered, from tip to tail, for loose, smeary powder performance; the 90Eight W, Kenja, and Pyra are rockered tip and tail with camber underfoot for traditional rebound energy and locked-in hard-snow grip. The Yumi is rockered in the tip only. All models are sold flat (no binding). Volkl is based in Straubing, Germany (Bavaria), where it has been making skis since 1914. Affiliated brands include Dalbello and Marker. Like K2 and Line, Volkl is a subsidiary of Jarden Corp., which itself became a subsidiary of the Newell Rubbermaid consumer-products conglomerate in 2016. -J.C.