Volkl Aura (2014)
On this ski, the sexes agree: The men's version, the Mantra, is the best-selling flat ski in the country, and women awarded the Aura top scores in nearly every criterion. With a wood-core, vertical-sidewall, torsion-box construction, tip rocker, camber throughout, and plenty of metal, it's a damp and powerful athlete built to be as proficient in powder (No. 1) as hardpack (No. 1). In the former, it prefers charging to skimming. On firm snow, it bites like a bulldog. It never gets bounced around, but it does demand muscle. McElroy: "Fast and furious. This ski will encourage you to go fast and take chances."
The men have their Mantra, one of Volkl's most successful models ever. The women have the Aura, which is shade narrower and similarly intended to be equally good in powder or on hardpack. Tip rocker smooths out the bumps and floats in powder and crud, while metal reinforcement and vertical sidewalls give it good stability at speed and surprising edge grip for a ski this wide. It's part of Volkl's Women's Freeskiing collection, which features soft-snow, freeride-oriented models ranging in width from 107 mm down to 83 mm. All are durable wood-core constructions with solid-feeling vertical sidewalls and glass-reinforced internal torsion box (the core is wrapped in a fiberglass sock to resist torsional flex, or twisting). The top model, Kiku, has carbon fiber layers, which give it power without the weight and dampness of metal. The Aura (96 mm) and the Kenja (87 mm) both have metal reinforcement. The two narrowest and least expensive models - the new all-mountain Yumi (83 mm) and the park-oriented Pyra (85 mm) - are reinforced with fiberglass only. Rocker profiles also vary: The Kiku is fully rockered for loose powder performance; the Aura, Kenja and Yumi are rockered in the tip only, for optimal mixed-conditions performance; the Pyra gets tip and tail rocker for easy pivoting and switch riding. All models are sold flat (no binding).
|Level||Advanced, Expert, Hi-Expert|
|Awards||Gold Medal Gear|
|Lengths||156, 163, 170|
|Rating: Stability at Speed||4.37 / 5|
|Rating: Maneuverability||3.31 / 5|
|Rating: Hard Snow Grip||4.06 / 5|
|Rating: Crud Performance||4.06 / 5|
|Rating: Forgiveness||3.56 / 5|
|Rating: Flotation||3.93 / 5|
|Rating: Overall||3.95 / 5|