Some skis to put under your trees |

Some skis to put under your trees

Andrew Harley

How many of us have had to explain the differences in ski equipment to someone who hasn’t lived in ski country for a season before?

Do we find it hard to explain what makes a pair of Volkl G4s more satisfying than an old pair of Elan MBXs, or why a Burton Face snowboard rips down the slope as opposed to your basic, industrial knock-off, which can only be found in a mountainless, Midwestern sporting goods store.

Some equipment is simply better than other equipment, and, while body type, ability and fashion all play important roles in the choosing of equipment, this fact will always hold true.

Also, new technology can make equipment easier to manipulate.

Having said all that, let’s take a look at some all-terrain expert skis.

I had the honor, sometimes horrible frustration, of trying out Rossignol B1s, Volant Machetes, Salomon Scream 10 Hot Pilots, K2 Axis XPs and Dynastar Intuitiv 74s.

All five of the skis are considered mid-fats, and all of them handle powder decently.

The Volant Machete was designed by Shane McConkey, who, incidentally, was banned from Vail for skiing naked.

Skiing the Machete feels and looks like its name – like you are speeding down a hill on top of two very large weapons.

It’s a stiff ski that holds a good edge.

“It’s a good ski for crud. The metal top sheet makes it more stiff because metal is torsionally stiffer than fiberglass,” says Drew Rouse, ski selection specialist and expert boot-fitter at Christy Sports in Avon, who’s been skiing for the past 22 years.

I took the Salomon Scream 10 Hot Pilots and the Machetes out to the ice and the powder.

The Scream Hots are considered a more powerful ski than the Machetes, but with less finesse.

They are definitely loud skis, colored bright orange and yellow, plus they tend to chatter and rattle more than the others in this group.

“The Hots are a rounder ski. The Pilot System Bindings mount on axes to prevent the ski from bending unfavorably,” says Rouse.

The B1s were the best carving skis of the bunch, but the worst in powder.

“Rossignol made a lot of improvement from the Bandit X series to this. This ski is a better shock absorber and it has rounder tips,” says Josh Showalter, salesperson at Christy Sports in Avon.

I’m pretty sure the K2 Axis XPs were the fastest skis, probably because I felt most out-of-control on them. For me, they turned the slowest, but they somehow managed to hold a good edge.

The Dynastar Intuitiv 74s blazed down the hill, and were responsive.

“They’re quick into turns, have a solid sidewall underfoot and through the tail and they have a lot of edge press,” said Rouse.

I am done with my old MBXs, and I don’t want my gargantuan Volkl G31s anymore either.

I am a tall and skinny man, and, overall, I liked the Machetes and the Intuitiv 74s best. The Machetes come with Marker bindings with a din range from 3-11, and the Intuitiv 74s take Look bindings, which are nice and snug, with a din range from 4-12.

Andrew Harley can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 610 or at

Editor’s Note: This is the first column of a five-part series on this year’s new ski and snowboard equipment. There will be three columns on all-terrain skis. Thanks to Christy Sports for the use of their demo skis.

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