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Ski Review: Icelantic Keeper and Icelantic Nomad 29 November 2011

Posted by magicdufflepud in Reviews, Skiing.
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Hope you folks had a happy Turkey Day, enjoyed the tradition of watching Detroit lose and managed to get some skiing in on either side of it. There’s been precious little snow out here in Colorado, relative to last year at least, but with all the new terrain opening anyway and the ski movies on tour, it’s hard to stay gloomy for more than a moment, especially when you’ve got new skis to demo.

Icelantic brought its entire line-up to Copper a couple weekends ago. If you’re unfamiliar with the company and live in the area, they’re worth checking out in person. Icelantic runs a First Friday event in conjunction with the rest of the galleries on Santa Fe that features boards and beer at their Battery 621 headquarters (6th and Kalamath). Take a look at the topsheet graphics and you’ll understand why this company feels okay showcasing products alongside area artists. And although Icelantic creates those graphics and designs the skis themselves, Never Summer, another Colorado company, does the construction, so you can be fairly certain the things will withstand a beating.

I’m reviewing Icelantic’s Keeper and the Nomad this time around, but you can also check out last year’s review of the Shaman. Conditions were the early season norm of hardpack, crust and some crusty lumps on their way to becoming moguls. Nothing special.

Icelantic Keeper 

As tested dimensions: 178 cm. 150/119/138. 16m radius.

I’m not even sure I should be reviewing these since powder is their purpose, but if I get them again on a Powder day, I’ll come back and add some thoughts. Anyway, the Keeper name, I think, is supposed to indicate that this is a ski you’ll always have around, but having it around doesn’t mean that it’s the ski you ought to select for an early season day. That said, for being this huge, these boards rip. For featuring an early rise tip, these boards rip. Come to think of it, they just rip, period.  You won’t be running gates with the ski teams at Copper, but you’ll definitely enjoy blah conditions on the Keepers more than you ever would with a pintail like the Pontoons.

Icelantic has been slow to get into the rocker game, and now that they have, they’ve stayed true to the idea that a ski ought to be fun—not just usable—anywhere on the mountain. So, yes, you can get these up on edge, though it takes a bit of work to get the tips to engage.  They’ll slide just where you want them through bumps. And they’re flexible enough that lazy skiing will still get you down the mountain. Just don’t expect expect a ski that will offer much feedback through any of that. But if you find yourself looking for a little more enjoyment as you take the groomers home from Vail’s back bowls, then the Keepers will do you right.

Icelantic Nomad

As tested dimensions: 178cm. 140/105/130. 20m radius.

Over the last couple years, I’ve gotten tired of all-mountain skis. Buy yourself a groomer-specific pair and something else for powder, and you’ll enjoy every day more, but if for whatever reason you have to buy just one ski, then I guess you’ve gotta do it right. Typically, my suggestion is the Volkl Mantra, but if you’re willing to give up some hard snow performance, you’d do well by the Nomads, too. In the all-mountain category, these are pretty playful skis, not really poppy enough to launch you out of turns but still happily willing to hang on to whatever radius you select. The Nomads had me feeling fairly comfortable at any speed and they’re damp enough that you won’t feel every change of surface condition. Your call on whether that’s a good thing. In many ways, these are the indie equivalent of the Dynastar Huge Troubles in my quiver, with a little extra sidecut thrown in for good measure.

Edge to edge, they’re considerably quicker than you’d expect for a ski that’s 105 under foot, something I recall enjoying on the even wider Shamans, but that’s the thing: given that the Shamans also appear in the Icelantic lineup, I’m not sure what to think of the Nomad. Maybe you can’t live without twin tips? Maybe you can’t stand the turtles on the Shamans’ top sheet? Maybe you’re all about backcountry jibbing? Near as I can tell, the Nomads are the closest thing Icelantic makes to a “normal” ski, and I just don’t think you can make the case for them in the face of the other options. Buy Icelantic, yes, but you’ll get more for your money by choosing the Shamans.

Ski Review! Liberty LTE, Salomon Twenty Twelve, Icelantic Shaman 15 December 2010

Posted by magicdufflepud in Skiing.
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Reviews are better than commentary, so if you’re impatient, scroll down to skip this first part. I also review the Icelantic Keeper and Nomad here

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? From the reports rolling into Colorado, it appears the Midwest is experiencing Snowmageddon 2010, in an attempted repeat of Snowmageddon: Washington, DC edition. 30″ in Minnesota? It’s a shame to see so much powder wasted on folks who’ll do nothing more than wreck their cars in it. But here in Denver, it’s 65 and sunny—not bad given that a foot and a half of snow blanketed the mountains in the days leading up to the weekend.

And of course, a foot and a half of snow means one thing: skiing must occur. Lots and lots of skiing. I won’t bore you with story after story of fresh tracks at Vail, so instead, let’s discuss new skis. With the advent calendar (and the regular calendar, too, I guess) indicating that only 10 gift-buying days remain, the Winter Park demo days this weekend arrived at just the right time: late enough keep memories strong and early enough to get everything shipping from Amazon.com (or Level9) before Christmas. We got the chance to check out a few pairs, so let’s take a look here.

Skier Specs

Male, 5′ 10″ 145 lbs. Advanced/expert.

Currently skis on

– Dynastar Huge Trouble 185cm

– Head Monster i.M. 88 175cm

– Rossignol Phantom SC 80 165cm

Skis reviewed: Liberty LTE, Salomon 2012, Icelantic Shaman

Terrain/Conditions

Although other terrain exists, Winter Park is known almost exclusively for its bumps, and to a lesser degree, for its trees. When we skied on Dec. 12, a couple inches had fallen overnight on top of five from the day before and temperatures had risen to the upper twenties. Snow in the trees was still fairly soft and untracked in places. Bumps skied soft for the most part. No open bowl skiing to testcrud/chop performance.

Liberty LTE

As tested dimensions: 171cm, 116/83/105 sidecut, 18.5m radius

Liberty’s based just up the road a ways in Avon, home of Beaver Creek, but if you think forging skis in the shadow of the state’s poshest resort would make them more luxurious, you’re in for a surprise. Liberty’s all about twin tips, bamboo cores and crazy topsheet graphics—not what you’d expect on the slopes where fresh cookies arrive every day at 3:00 p.m. The LTE fits into the Liberty line-up as the narrowest of the bunch, designed, as the rep told me, to be an “all-mountain ski that’s fun in the park.” I guess so.

It’s a floppy, forgettable ski. On groomers, it held an edge fairly well and easily snapped into turns, almost feeling hooky in the process. At speed, however, they gave out. I’m used to my Monsters which, when skied lackadaisically, flex about as well as I-beams, and when skied aggressively, feel like aiming a freight train. On the other hand, the LTEs twitch and chatter too much for their own good. I definitely sensed a speed limit—and that speed limit fell way short of the fun threshold.

In bumps, the performance improved. These skis are fairly narrow (83mm underfoot) and light, so they respond well in moguls, but there again, they felt like I was overpowering them. I’d rate the pow performance, but honestly, I doubt many folks will buy this ski with deeper snow in mind. The one tree run we explored confirmed that the LTE isn’t much of a floater, not that you’d expect that with dimensions like these. These simply don’t provide enough ski for all-mountain skiing. If I played around in the park more often, maybe I’d give the LTEs another look, but as it is, they can stay in Avon.

Salomon 2012

As tested dimensions: 179cm, 123/91/116 sidecut, 21.9m radius

Nearly everyone’s offering rocker this year, and I think K2 even went so far as to include some form of it on every ski in its lineup. Seems consumers really bought into the idea that reverse camber tips and tails are the best thing since sidecut. They might be right. I tested the 2012s after coming off the Liberty LTEs mostly because the line at the Salomon tent was shortest and this was the only available ski with rocker.

Turns out a lot of the marketing hype carries some truth. Taking the 2012’s through the trees on the first run, I skied with a fairly natural stance and couldn’t get the tips to dive. This is another soft ski, but the 2012 refuses to take itself too seriously. Salomon’s not shooting for the all-mountain market with this thing. Or at least I hope they’re not. It’s playful in the pow, and the rocker makes it ski much shorter than the listed 179cm, something I noticed in the easy turn linking in fairly shallow snow. It just takes less work.

In bumps, I felt like the ski was again doing a little of the work for me. The rockes and the soft flex (bordering on noodly) absorbed a lot of the impact that would have gone straight to my thighs, and with the center mount, they swung with relatively ease when I needed to change direction. Somewhere along the line, I recall thinking, “these are a lot of fun.” The 2012’s a fun ski, nothing too aggressive and nothing requiring too much precision. They forgive sloppy technique, although don’ t expect any sort of edge hold on groomers regardless of technique. Seems like the usable edge stretches about 30 of those 179 centimeters. I suspect this is the kind of ski you want if most of your day is spent poking around in the trees and finding little cliffs to stomp.

Icelantic Shaman

As tested dimensions: 173cm, 160/110/130 sidecut, 15m radius


I fell in love with these skis, although I can’t for the life of me figure out why the company spelled the name as they did. Did someone make a typo filling out a federal form? At any rate, these were, hands down, my favorite skis of the day. Once you get past the gaudy/artistic?topsheet graphics and the WTF shape of the Shamans, you realize you’ve found something special. How did did Icelantic get a ski like this to carve a 15m radius? How did they ensure that the same ski promises even more fun in powder? I don’t know. I wish I knew. The Shaman lays down railroad tracks, at speed even, and never feel chattery doing it. Edge to edge it transitions faster and surer than an 90+ mm ski I’ve tried, yet in reality it clocks in at 110mm.

The huge tip refuses to dive in powder. This is a ski happy to float at an speed, and I’d like to get it out again to see out it performs in open bowl pow conditions. I’d expect a fairly surfy feel. In the trees at least, they came around with relative ease, never feeling like too much ski to handle despite the width.

No report from the bumps, unfortunately since I managed to squeeze in just two runs on these at the end of the day. We’d dropped in several times over the course of the afternoon only to find that everyone else wanted to try out the Shamans too. An accommodating rep gave us some extra time as he closed up shop.

I never thought I’d recommend anything over 100 as an all-mountain ski out west, but the Shaman may well be it. It’s that good.