!http://photos-356.ak.facebook.com/photos-ak-sf2p/v79/6/97/505253356/n505253356_57356_4479.jpg! Skis have gotten fatter and fatter. Five years ago when I bought my first set, the "mid fat" was a very chunky 78mm at the waist (the narrowest part of the ski under your foot). Now you regularly find people with 90mm and wider that you can use for every day and carving. And with the incredible ski season of last year and this year, there are lots of days with 12 inches of new powder where a 78mm will just sink. The new powder skis make anyone look good. So what's a good ski? Well, there are lots of reviews, but "Skiing":http://skinet.com does the most comprehensive. Amazingly, the reviews can't be found on the web except by an incredibly ungainly interface that merges the test results of Ski and Skiing so they are pretty much impossible to read and it isn't clear where the scores come from. So, you pretty much have to subscribe to the paper version of Skiing and wait for every September. From that, you can find the so called "Big Mountain" skis which are those that are between 95mm and 110mm in width. Here are the best of the best:
# "Volkl Gotama":http://www.volkl.com/ski/freeskiing_gotama.html . These skis have great karma is you happen to be buddhist. In fact, "Gotama":http://www.yourdictionary.com/gotama and in case you didn't know like me, it's pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, go it it go' ta ma. Technically, it is the family family name of Buddha (so his full name was Gautama Buddha) in his last early incarnation int he sixth century. "Wikipedia":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotama points out that. As a ski from Volkl, it is what's call a freeski or a freeride ski meaning it is mean for going out beyond the groomed. It is a 133-105-124 size in the 176cm length (respectively, it is 133mm at the widest tip, 105mm at the waist and 124mm at the tail). I demoed it yesterday and it was amazing. We were in four feet powder down a hill and it really floated up, as well as 2 foot powder on the trails and finally on a beginner run that was groomed. The 176cm length seems very short and if you are in the backseat (that is leaning back), the tip wobbles like crazy, so this is a ski that you really want to be forward (think, I can't see the tips when I'm skiing forward). It lists for $800, but typically, it is $700 at REI, Altrec and just about everywhere else. These skis like the others ski short, so a 176cm is good for most folks below 5"11"
# "Line Prophet 100":http://www.lineskis.com/#/skis/freeride/big_mountain/prophet_100 . I had not heard of Line until this year. K2 acquired them last year. This is their Big Mountain Free Ride ski. It is just $600 list and is top rated by Powder, Free skier and Skiing magazine. It can handle all the powder and is short and light. So you can use it on the groomers too. After 5 years, basically, the all purpose ski has moved from 78mm to 100mm (that's a move from 3 to 4 inches wide, so a big change).
# "Black Diamond Verdict":http://www.bdel.com/gear/verdict.php this is another freeride ski that lists for $600. It wont Outside Magazine and did very well in the Skiing Magazine tests. They recommend the 170cm if you are under 165 pounds. It's incredibly versatile as it can be used for telemark, for downhill or for alpine touring as "telemarkski.com":http://www.telemarkski.com/html/rvw_black_diamond_verdict.html points out.
By the way if you want to know from real users, "Epicski.com":http://epicski.com seems to be the place folks hang out and you can hear unscientific opinions. ;-0
So what binding would you pair with a ski like this, well, I normally use Marker (no reasons except that this is what I started with). So in that like, the "Jester":http://www.backcountry.com/store/MRK0006/c/s/Marker-Jester-Ski-Binding.html seems like the best fit. It is a freeride binding, so it is heavier which is bad, but more durable and it won't release forward which make a difference doing tricks. Probably too much binding for someone like me who isn't doing jumps, but looks nice in white 🙂 These by the way do require you swap out the ski brakes as they are a max of 90mm and the ski needs a 110mm brake. As "REI":http://www.rei.com/product/759064 says, it is for the big mountain. List for $330. There don't seem to be any reviews of bindings, so hard to say what is better.
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