Here's Volkl's most successful ski in the men's test, and no wonder. Testers loved how good it made them look. Yes, it's a metal-reinforced carver at heart, and it loves to be tipped up high and pressured into deep arcs of all sizes. But what the team admired most was its balance of skills. There's just enough width to venture into off-piste crud, to make the most of boot-high powder days, or to set a strong edge on spring-soft corduroy without trenching too deeply. You don't have to drive it at top speed to have fun, and its quickness is almost unmatched in the category. Britt: "A great hangover ski: so easy, no thought required."
At 115 mm underfoot and with gradual rocker through- out, the all-new one W wins in Flotation-no surprise there. But it's far too well bred for new-school smear- ing. It's damp, stable, power- ful, and...hot pink. Perfect for a take-no-prisoners charger, we think. (Matching war paint sold separately.) Those who can handle it will find the confidence to push the limits of gravity and velocity. "A crud-busting, powder-slaying, hard-charging stick," said Galena Gleason.
The name's the same-and almost 10 years old-but this year's Mantra further evolves. It's a modest two mm wider. More important, it adopts the full-length rocker other Volkl fatties favor, with tip taper thrown in for a looser feel. It's not as buoyant as others in the category, but testers loved its utility-knife versatil- ity, admiring especially its hardpack and crud game. Larsen: "Friendlier than past Mantras; still stout enough to charge."
Here's an option for skiers ready for something just a little wider. Unlike other Volkls, the Kendo didn't thrill testers with any one skill, but it does almost anything a re- sort skier asks of it and puts up consistent scores across the board. Testers were more excited about other Volkls (see Groomed Snow and Mixed Snow West). But the steady Kendo is a reliable ride. Gleason: "Smooth, consistent, yet vigorous."
Manufacturers keep entering wider and wider waists in this category, and testers keep reward- ing them. The long-esteemed Gotama belongs to Volkl's Big Mountain collection, but it's plenty happy on typical resort terrain, especially if there's soft snow to be found. Testers loved its flotation and crud-busting skills-not surprising, given its considerable girth and terrain-smoothing full- length rocker. And while it's not especially quick in tight spots, it's remarkably manageable for such
a big ski. Basso: "Volkl has the full-rocker thing figured out. A great one-ski-quiver for Little Cottonwood Canyon."
A precise and cunning slayer, this perennial winner attacks the hill with audacity and tenacity. It's hyperalert to input, which means yours had better be good, and it prefers to move at eye-watering speeds. It shares the indomitable construction- metal, fiberglass, and wood-of the Aura (another perennial winner in Mixed West) but with an ice-dicing waist width. Sounds a little menacing? Yes. (Testers didn't nickname it the Railin' Ninja for nothing.) But those who can wield it will rip the guts out of any run, regardless of how hard the snow is. "This much fun on a ski should be illegal," said Brown Lovell.
Some would argue this perennial winner didn't need redesigning, but when it comes to perfection- ism, Volkl's R&D guys are clinical. The idea was to give it a new tapered tip and full rocker for more maneuverability and accessibility. Well, fans of the original will be happy to hear that while the rocker does offer a measure of forgiveness, the Aura still skis like it has something to prove. It's the women's version of the Mantra and it boasts two sheets of metal that stand up to hard-charging, deep-trenching women. It earned No. 1 in Stability and Hard Snow and No. 2 in Crud. "Volkl = integrity = performance," said Jenn Gibbons.
WAIST WIDTH105, 106mm
TIP/TAIL/WAIST136-105-123 (190); 1
RATING: 2.91 / 5
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Built for strong experts and big-mountain freeriding, the Stormrider Pro returns again this season. It's the stiffest and most powerful Stormrider, and Stockli gives it a bit of tip rocker. It comes in two lengths-big (190 cm, 105 mm waist) and bigger (201 cm, 106 mm waist). Both models have long-turn sidecuts (27.5 and 31.8 radii respectively) for high-speed stability.
Stockli's Stormrider series is a collection of eight models built for freeriding adventurers. The series includes the Swiss brand's top sellers in the U.S. market, and waist widths range from a powder-ready 115 mm to a touring-capable 79 mm (at 170 cm). Rocker profiles vary, from subtle to pronounced, depending on model, and all are classic Stockli constructions: wood cores for responsiveness, metal reinforcement for durability, and high-speed calm, vertical sidewalls for optimized edge grip and solidity. A main difference between Stormrider constructions and other Stocklis is the upper layer of metal that serves as the topsheet of the ski, rather than being covered by another laminate. This makes the topsheets uncommonly durable and gives the Stormriders a rich appearance. Core compositions, though, vary from model to model. Stockli's Light Core combines two different woods-sturdy, resilient ash and lightweight fuma (a tropical hardwood). Stockli's Super Light Cores incorporate balsa wood along with the other two for additional weight savings.
Here's what testers say:
"This ski is not as mean as it looks. It makes me want to go find a cliff and jump off. It's surprisingly easy to make quick turns, and has lots of horsepower. Bring your A-game!" – Colin
"This is a big burly ski for big burly guys. It only has one turn shape: Big. Not very agile or playful. You need big open terrain to ski with it-tight trees are not an option unless you have tree trunks for legs." – Mike Britt
"The Stormrider Pro is damp to a fault. Pretty awesome, though, just plows through everything. Strong skiers with race boots will love these. They're hard-charging tanks." – Jeremy Benson
"For the right guy, this is a great ski. It just kinda kicks my ass. Meaty, hefty, really stable. Sketchy on the traverse, but loves the fall line. Racy but refined." – Kevin Luby