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2012-2013 Liberty Variant 186cm

2012-2013 Liberty Variant
145-113-132mm, 186cm R=26m

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Manufacturer Info:

Liberty Headquarters
281 Metcalf Road, #208
Avon, CO 81620
Fax. 303-474-3960

Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):

$839 usd

Usage Class:

High-performance Freeride

Rating (with comments):

(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")



[Warning: Hardpack review 3D snow was available for this it is incomplete.]

The Liberty Variant is a high-octane game-changer in its category of 113(+-) waisted skis, much like the DPS Wailer 112 was (but a different style). The Variant is a simply stunning display of GS-like grip and carving power on the hardpack without being an over-burly, big mountain plank with huge radius.  The Variant is a ultra responsive, surgical cutting tool with an immense range of power and a carbide-liike personality without requiring olympian-level input from the driver.  While most skis in this category are either floppy, surfy powder dolphins with varying degrees of hardpack prowess or brutally strong, big-mountain chargers with giant radii, the Variant has taken a completely different approach…sort of like a Maseratti for the 3D snow.  This is an expert's ski for people who are enthusiastic about quick, accurate power and directional integrity under pressure. The ski's graphic design is gorgeous, befitting its performance.  I have to reserve my judgment about its 3D snow performance until we get a chance to find some real snow, but it feels like the design is right-on.  I hung out at the Liberty demo tent for a while listening to some others coming back from their rides on this new ski, and they seemed to think the same thing.

Technical Ski Data:

Vertical laminate bamboo core with perimeter-ring layer of titanal, quadraxial fiberglass, PTex2000 bases, Rockwell 48 edges, UHMW sidewalls at 78 degree angle. Low-profile tip rocker, camber underfoot. Notches for skins.

Pre-Skiing Impression:

Superb fit and finish with really handsome partial see-through topsheet revealing bamboo grain below.  At first, it looks like a SkiLogik graphic copy, but once you look at it, it is quite different.  The graphics really grow on you.  Relatively stiff mid and tail flex for a ski in this 113mm waisted category, but not "burly".  Progressive, large-radius flex without hinge points or flat spots.  Really nice rebound feel and response with hand flexing.  Torsionally impressive.  Intoxicating tip and forebody shaping (for some reason..maybe it's just me).  This is a more businesslike look for Liberty than its previous model offerings.

Test Conditions:

This initial report is the result of two runs on hardpack, ice, frozen granular and hardpack chalky groomer surfaces at a multi-day demo event in Vermont. Terrain was intermediate-level only, so this initial review should be taken with a couple grains of salt. More reports as conditions change. I'm hoping to get back out on this ski as soon as three-dimensional snow appears to give it a fair test in its real design element.

Test Results:

The first impression I got was skating to the lift through the 3 cm-deep granular at the base.  With every push-off from each foot, I got a little flex and zing propelling me forward.....hmmmmm....that was unusual.....As soon as I made my first turn, I realized this was no ordinary fat ski, and in fact it carved better on the boilerplate sections better than some of the narrow, frontside carving skis I had been testing earlier.  The second thing I realized was the Variant wanted speed.  It craved higher speeds and pressure.  It was fully capable at slow speeds, friendly and well-behaved.  When you turned it loose, then layed into it, it set its edge with authority along its entire length, acquired its target and began a trajectory to it with confidence and acceleration more akin to a GS ski than some 113mm waisted freeride ski.  This is not a personality I have found in a ski like this before. 

Until recently, fat skis generally fell into two camps: Soft and floppy powder surfers with varying amounts of hardpack grip ability (DPS RP112 being an excellent example of the hardpack champion in this category - in my opinion), or strong, burly chargers with the personality of a freight-train (take your pick of any of the burly, pro-stock big mountain sticks).  Sure, there are plenty of in-between examples...but generally, people tend to put them into one or the other category at this waist width.  The Variant seems to beg for a new category, the precision, surgical freeride.  With lots of freeride skis, you either generally aim for your desired line and guide the ski to its destination as it happily surfs and sluffs its way with some desired edgehold along the way, or you force the freight train into an arc and hope you don't need to do any radical changes along the way because once it's set in motion, it wants to stay there, crushing anything in its path.  Both types of skis have their place and are fun.  The Variant seems to change edges like a GS ski, with instant grip and immediate direction change, and then holds that line until you release it, ready for the next change.  The one difference is the Variant can vary its turn shape mid-stream with no sluff, no slide, no resistance...and the behavior keeps working that way as your speed increases. 

While the surfy freeride skis get a bit less precise with line holding at speed, and the freight train freeride skis are just plain gnarly, but stay on-line securely at speed at the expense of low-speed handling and versatility.  The Variant has a degree of nimbleness and security at speed that's really addicting.  Never nervous, and tracks like a race ski across frozen ruts.  I can't say how it handles in soft or windpacked 3D snow or crud yet, but the way it handled in my short couple runs has me staying awake at night.  This skis has a completely different shape and personality than the Helix or Double Helix and is a bold new departure for Liberty into new territories of performance....and rumor has it next year will see a narrower version of this design for those who crave a tighter radius.

Analogies: (this ski is like...)

A Maserati in freeride clothing.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:

Nothing (but I have not tried it in anything but hardpack)

Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":

This is a high-speed freeride machine for those who crave smooth control and GS-like hardpack behavior.  I did not try it in soft snow, so I can't comment on its behavior in its intended element.

Advice To People Considering This Ski:

If you are less-than-expert ability, demo this ski in the appropriate length to make sure it is not too much for your daily usage.  It is a high-octane ski.

Self-Description of Skiing Style, Ability, Experience, Preferences:

5' 11", 180 lbs. 52 year-old expert groomed-surface carver, "old-style" race inspired, "foot steerer" with fairly sensitive edging feel. Loves to hold long arcs with lots of pressure on the downhill ski (you know the type),  but also loves the feel of both skis on-edge leaving tiny railroad track edge tracks.  Loves powder when it's not tracked out. Trees and odd terrain angles are fun.


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Notches in tails for skins
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By: e.edelstein  Posted: Saturday, February 11, 2012 2:55:47 PM
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