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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.

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New Skis 3 March 2010

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08/09 Rossignol Phantom SC 80

I’ve come to believe that upon arriving in skibumdom one ought to receive a ski-bum rubric for self-evaluation, and though I haven’t quite decide what needs to appear on the rubric, I feel certain of a few points. First, skis. The ski bum arrives without equipment — his family’s ten days a year have never made it necessary, so when the ski shop gear guy tells him, “You can pick skis now, but when you really know what you want in three months, you’ll be back” it barely registers. Two pairs of skis? That’s for Serious Ski People. No way. Yet it continues to knock around in the recesses of the mind for a while, until finally it begins competing for space with thoughts like “where are the single women?”

And at that point, the ski bum follows one of two paths. He inspects his bank account, finds his reserves adequate, and purchases a second pair of skis. Or, he inspects his bank account, finds his reserves inadequate, and purchases skis. This earns him high points on the ski bum rubric. Money in the bank signals foresight and security, therefore dealing the severest of blows to the ski bum’s score.

So as you might imagine, I bring all this up because I, too, have just purchased a second set of skis. (Ski blather follows.) I’d discovered the limitations of my Rossignol Phantom 80s. They chattered at speed. They dove all too happily in powder. They skittered in thick crud, worrying me about the possibility of deflection and disaster. But they also laid down railroad tracks on groomers and bounced through moguls without much effort. They were serviceable nearly everywhere. But serviceable left me wanting something more, so I settled on a pair of dedicated powder and crud skis: the Dynastar Huge Troubles.

08/09 Dynastar Huge Trouble

And they rock.

Sure the ski season won’t last much into April, and sure I don’t even know what I’ll be doing after that, but skiing will continue to figure into life here and there. The impulsiveness has once again subsided so I can once again move on, improving my ski bum score with each passing day.