Friday, March 10, 2006

Review: Movement Skis: Pow-Pow & Pow-Pow LTD

Movement Skis, a rootsy Swiss company (“The Swiss Freeride Ski Company”), started manufacturing skis in 2002, and has quickly garnered a loyal following of hard-core skiers in Europe. They’re launching into the North American market for the ’06-07 season, and were kind enough to give one of their few new dealers, tramdock.com, some demo time on next year’s line.

Movement is defined by the freeride movement, and their skis reflect that focus in every way. Scrawled on the white underfoot sidewalls, you’ll find the slogan, “Fight the Power. Ride the Powder.” And it isn’t just smart, targeted marketing. This is a company that believes its product should be built to satisfy the demands and desires of dedicated freeride and freestyle skiers who push the boundaries of their sport every day.

I skied the Pow-Pow and Pow-Pow LTD (swallowtail) in varying conditions this week. These are skis built with care. The bases are perfectly flat and beautifully structured; the topsheets seem indestructible; edge impacts hardly leave a mark. Underfoot, a length of white vertical sidewall marks the stiffest part of the ski’s construction, lending incredible stability. Toward the tip and tail, the sidewall tapers and turns black, marking a medium, round flex pattern.

Monday was a bumped-out hardpack day at Alta, and it was the standard Pow-Pow’s turn on the hill. With a versatile 92mm waist, it railed on groomers as easily as it floated through crud. The first thing I noticed was, “wow, these things can hook up a turn.” With the super fast base, finely tuned edges, and a healthy sidecut, I felt like I was riding a pair of fine Wusthof cutlery. Once I got used to the ski’s mannerisms, it was time to let them start really exploring the mountain. Since the snow wasn’t great, we entertained ourselves with steeper, more technical lines on the mountain—bumped-out lines ending in cliff sneak-throughs and small airs.

The Pow-Pow’s performed flawlessly. Every turn was precision itself. I felt confident snaking through exposed cliff bands and eking past tight trees at speed. When dropping into a choke between cliffs, I encountered a small mandatory air into the chute. On a soft day, it wouldn’t have been a big deal, but with crusty hardpack and a bumped runout, I was a bit nervous. However I trusted the skis, and pointed it off the air—no problem. They maintained perfect stability through the nasty conditions with the stiff flex, but the softer tips allowed me to arc right into a speed-dumping turn in the apron. I’d pick these skis as an everyday ski in a heartbeat.

A few days later, we’d received several feet of snow and it was time for the Pow-Pow LTD’s to show their stuff. The LTD’s are a stiffer version of the standard Pow-Pow, with the same dimensions and their most obvious difference: a dramatic swallowtail. I’ll be honest—in Utah, a 92mm waisted ski is considered, at best, a mid fat; in some circles it’s practically a carving ski. I was worried about riding a ski this narrow on a Utah powder day. One day after the storm, the snow had set up a bit and I was looking at heavily chopped mashed potatoes where the mountain had been open, and about 24” of wind-affected, untouched powder just waiting for Ski Patrol to drop the ropes. It was sunny and going to be a great day.

The skis, despite being a bit under gunned, performed flawlessly. You really couldn’t afford to let your skis get too far under the snow surface since it was heavier stuff, and the Pow-Pow’s swallowtail seemed to make that task easier. I still had to backseat it a bit to get the tips up where I needed them in high-speed runouts. But cranking off mid-sized turns in the powder, these skis just shined. They are lively but damp and stable, make beautiful round turns but are stiff enough to hold up when carrying real speed through highly variable crud and powder conditions. On the groomers, the LTD’s shone as well—they were super stable, carvy, fast, and fun. I would have definitely liked a wider ski on this day, but I would choose the LTD’s over any other ski of the same girth for shredding the pow and then railing the groomers back to the lift.

Expect to see a lot of Movement skis across the North American freeride scene next year—especially in places like the U.S. and World Freeskiing Tours. Word on the street is prices will be extremely reasonable as well. These are sick skis. Josh Rhea

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