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Reviews & News

24 Year Leki Ski Pole Test....Whaaat?

Sometimes, a piece of ski gear really impresses us.  After 24 years of abuse (read on...), we thought we would say a few words about a pair of ski poles that will not die, deform, degrade or dissapoint.  We've never seen a really long-term review of ski poles, so ....since it's summer here in Vermont, USA, we present a quick summary of the history and condition of a pair of Leki Worldcup ski poles abused for 24 years.

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Ski Review: DPS Cassiar Foundation 82 and 87 (2018-2019)

Stephan Drake and the DPS crew have been tinkering with a lineup of relatively narrow (for DPS), frontside skis for several seasons now, intent on capturing some market share for resort-oriented, frontside skiers to widen DPS's appeal beyond exotic powder skis which launched the company years ago.  Recognizing the expensive, high-performance carbon prepeg constructions were a barrier to entry into this frontside resort market, Peter Turner ( DPS's innovative engineering guru ) and Stephan Drake decided on a "Foundation Series" construction utilzing bamboo,  poplar and fiberglass to create a series of skis retailing around $799 usd instead of the $1,299+ priced "Alchemist" line.  This "Foundation Series"  skis would be less reactive and demanding than their premium carbon models, and have a much more accessible pricepoint for skiers across a wider spectrum, including intermediates and advanced recreational skiers who wanted the DPS designs, but could not justify spending more than $1,200 for the carbon-infused high-end models craved by DPS's rabid, more hard-core expert followers.

DPS Cassiar Foundation 82 (L) and Cassiar Foundation 87 (R)

We skied the original Foundation Series last season, and found them to be a bit too compliant and insufficient to satisfy athletic skiers or skiers who frequent harder, Eastern-like surfaces, although DPS's goal of making them very light underfoot was met very well.  The revamped Foundation models for 2018-2019 have stepped their performance up a notch and are much more appealing to the wide audience DPS is targeting.  We tried the SL-like 82mm Cassiar Foundation 82, and the more all-mountain width Cassiar Foundation 87 for nearly an entire season in Vermont, subjecting them to powder, bumps, hardpack, cruddy and mamky conditions, groomers and good old-fashioned Eastern boilerplate conditions. 

We found DPS's shaping and camber profiles are indeed elegantly designed and produce skis with silky turn behaviors, quick edge-to-edge response with little effort and very lightweight feel underfoot.  These skis work really well in packed power and moderately hardpack conditions, but were a bit lacking in hardpack grip behaviors and composure under high-pressure situations.  These are elegant turning instruments which perform best on their preferred goomed, packed-powder surfaces, similar to way fine fountain pens mated to the right kind of cotton-content  writing paper produce elegant results.  They're great if the surface is suitable, but tend to skip a bit if you apply them to the wrong kind of medium in the wrong way.  DPS's quality and production finish is superb, and the Foundation series is very light and very well built.  Watch DPS in the coming seasons as they refine their designs and constructions for the frontside of your local resort.  They will probably develop a cult following on the groomers like they have in the powder-filled big-mountain and backcountry terrain.

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Ski Review: Shaggy's Ahmeek 105 (2017-2018)

We spent nearly an entire season putting the Ahmeek 105 from Shaggy's Copper Country Skis through its paces.  We first started testing Shaggy's skis back in 2011 and this is the newest iteration of the all-mountain Ahmeek model we first tested in 2016.  The Thompson family in Michigan never stops improving their designs and construction material choices, and the 2017-2018 Ahmeek is the latest version of one of their flagship skis that works really well nearly everywhere on the mountain.

Shaggy's Brockway 95 (L) and Ahmeek 105 (R)

The unique "triple camber" design provides sevaral zones of camber along the length of the ski (see pics in the review), and it has a remarkable bite for a 105mm-waisted ski.  Its relatively large surface area and rockered, broad tip provides nice floatation in crud and powder, while its somewhat stout flex and stable mass provides a crud-cutting/surfing experience to make high performance skiers happy without beating up more recreational skiers.  It's a balanced design refined over many seasons of tinkering, and delivers a versatile, super-stable, all-mountain, all-terrain  ride for a wide variety of skiers. 

It may feel a bit balky at slower speeds, but as soon as you get it moving, it comes alive and has the confidence to go pretty much anywhere, anytime as a one-quiver ski in the 105mm class.  You can get the Ahmeek customized by Shaggy's, and the Thomsons are happy to discuss your kind of skiing preferences and terrain types to get the ski to meet your needs.  We've liked the way the Thomsons have grown their family business over the years, and the fact they have been expanding each season means they are making more and more skiers happy!

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Ski Review: Northland Carving Skis 168 & 178cm

Northland is an ancient American ski brand born in 1912, rising to become a major brand for decades before its demise in the 1970s.  Peter Daley brought the brand name back to life in 2014, creating craft-built, specialty carving models in Steamboat, Colorado USA.  We were lucky enough to spend many weeks on the 168cm and 178cm versions across all kinds of conditions in Vermont.  The nostalgia factor is high with skiers who knew about the brand or perhaps even owned a pair "way back when".  These carvers are nothing like the old Northland skis, but are instead inspired by modern, contemporary Euro-carving specialty skis dedicated to technical experts who want to carve intensely, but don't want a race ski personality underfoot.  These are the real deal, high-quality hardpack carvers with pine-ash-hickory cores, hardwood sidewalls and full-360-wrap edges.  The construction delivers a dampened feel without any metal in the layup.  At $1,499 per pair, these are not inexpensive, but then again, they are hand-crafted specialty skis with a distinctive, unique personality and carving prowess.  Each length has a different turn behavior instead of being merely a different length of the same ski.  Beautiful to look at and a blast to ski. 

Northland is offering a discount on their skis for readers of our review at ExoticSkis.com (we don't get any compensation or revenue-sharing from this discount...we just wanted to pass along their offer to same some money on a new pair of skis). See the review for the discount code at the checkout cart of their website at Northland Skis.

Noel Lyons (one of our testers) said the Northlands are "...a celebration of life, a rocket ride...".

(Noel was a U.S. Ski Team member between 1976-1981, been an NCAA All-American, won a World Extreme championship, a U.S. Freeskiing Open skiercross, and a 24 Hours of Aspen race as well as being a ski tester for Ski Magazine...so we respect her opinon on skis!)

Advertising Image From Northland Website - March 2018

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Ski Review: Whitedot Ragnorok 190cm 2017-2018

The Ragnorok is Whitedot Skis big mountain, "fun charger" originally derived from a burly, hard-core, pro-developed set of planks for Fred Syversen, the wild and wooly big mountain skier who dropped a 351 foot cliff on film in 2010, making Fred a World-wide phenomenon across the Internet.  Today's Ragnorok is tuned to appeal to more civilized big mountain skiers looking for a hard-charging, but "accessible" ride for big lines in big snow.  We tested the "standard" build of the Ragnorok design, slighltly heavier and more damp than the more energetic and responsive Carbonlite version Whitedot offers.  The Ragnoroks quickly became a favorite of all our testers when the snow was more than ankle deep, and we found ourselves competing for turns on the Ragnoroks when storms were predicted.  The Ragnorok is a 118mm underfoot, rounds a 30 meter radius and comes in one size (190), so they're big skis with big fun built-in.  The Ragnoroks are a super-stable, strong and speed-loving platform to cover lots of hectares of terrain, but they won't beat up the pilot, so they will appeal to a wide audience who crave big skis on big days.  Since they are essentially flat (no camber), with aggressively tapered rocker in the tip and tail, they are surfy, but remarkably reliable on steeps and places you need to connect with the terrain in a confident fashion.  We loved these skis, and as it so happens, they're the favorite ski of Whitedot's Director.  These are more friendly to ski than their specs would indicate, making them a great choice for a wide range of big-ski fanatics.


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No Ski Ads.
No Affiliate Marketing.

Several companies provide discounts or donations to support our ski test program.

We can choose any poles. We choose Leki. They never fail & last for years.

Halti is our choice to stay dry and warm when testing in Nor'Easter storms.

Boots are the most critical element when testing ski behavior. We can choose any boots. We choose Salomon.

Green Ice Wax is our choice for non-fluoro, eco-friendly waxes.
Smith is our choice for head and eye protection.

Northern Ski Works is our choice for shop work and bootfitting.