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Trunk Thoughts: Armada Declivity 92 Ti 2021

Declivity 92ti Car Picture

Armada Declivity 92 TI Trunk PhotoWhat is trunk thoughts?
Trunk thoughts is a series by Basin Ski, Ride & Bike team members as they give their first impressions and thoughts on equipment we have in store. Today we are going to take a look at the Armada Declivity 92 Ti and give you a few thoughts about this new line for Armada. We encourage our staff to get out and try what they sell. These articles are meant to give you a snapshot of everyday use for a piece of equipment. Use this short snapshot and other reviews to make a strong decision if a piece of equipment is right for you. We encourage you to try out all equipment in person before buying.

New for 2021, The Declivity Series is a new approach for Armada while keeping to their roots. Many people know Armada as one of the freestyle powerhouses in skiing but the Armada Declivity 92 Ti is something completely new.

By Stephen Klepner

Armada Declivity 92 Ti Tech Specs

Declivity 92 TI Beauty Shot
The Declivity 92 Ti sure does look great on show. While it looks very minimalist on our ski wall, out on snow this ski pops.
Sizes 164cm 172cm 180cm 188cm
Width tip (mm) 130 131 132 133
Width waist (mm) 92 92 92 92
Tail width (mm) 116 117 118 119
Radius (m) 16.5 17 17.5 18
Weight (g) 1625 1725 1825 1925

Here’s a great link for more about the Declivity Series

Conditions

Ski Conditions on Dec 3rd 2020
Skiing was soft and friendly on December 3rd, 2020

 

I was able to get out to the mountain at 1pm, well after first tracks to try out the Armada Declivity 92 Ti. The day was overcast and about 36 degrees. We received about two inches of fresh snow the day before which was skied off well before I arrived. The conditions could be considered variable and man-made. There were large bumps of snow with harder pack in between. There was little to no ice on the hill and the slightly above freezing temps made the snow easy to turn on. In my mind this is what the quintessential early season East Coast ski day looks like.

About My SkisAbout Me & My Skiing Style

When looking at any review or opinion of a ski you have to consider the skier’s biases when reading. Here’s a little about my skiing style to help you understand my bias.

I am a male, 185 and 5’10. I grew up skiing in the Poconos and have an affinity for skiing the edge of trails to try to get the skied off snow. I would consider myself a skier that loves bumps and trees and rarely puts down long race turns on the middle of a trail. I thrive making quick and snappy turns.

On this particular day I was skiing the 180cm length ski that had an Armada Warden binding on it.

 

Thoughts On The Armada Declivity 92 Ti

I like this ski. A lot. I think that there is so much that Armada achieved excellently with their first version of the Declivity 92 Ti. It’s a beautiful tool that was honestly a pleasure to ski on.

The Declivity 92 Ti On Snow
The Declivity 92 Ti thrives in snow and crud. This ski definitely lives up to its all-mountain roots.

Design
The Armada Declivity 92 Ti at first glance may seem to be an unassuming ski. It looks like a black slab next to skis from Nordica or Black Crows. This is doubly true when looking at this ski on our ski wall. I strongly recommend you take it outside and let the light hit it because in natural light or on snow, The Declivity 92 Ti is stunning.

There are small patterns and designs that makes this ski look more like a futuristic race car than a ski. It has subtle green accents throughout that really make it feel like a premium looking and feeling product. The top sheet is glossy and I believe will be prone to scratching over time. I personally love seeing wear and tear on my skis. It shows that I use them and I think these skis will look amazing used.

The minimal lines on this ski are a huge departure from Armada’s other ski lines. It leads to a mature, and powerful look that I personally love.

How It Skis To Me
I was nervous about taking out the 180 length. Carrying The Declivity through the parking lot seemed like it would be a lot of ski for an early season day. I almost regretted not taking out a more on piste ski. The Declivity 92 Ti quickly proved me wrong.

My immediate impression of this ski is, it’s fast edge to edge. It loves to hop and jump and bounce through crud on the sides of trails. I think it really excelled in these mixed conditions. The Declivity 92 Ti absorbs bumps and crud like a champ. I didn’t get an opportunity to ski it in the trees but you bet the second they open this season the Armada Declivity 92 Ti is coming with me.

It is a somewhat soft and forgiving ski underfoot that never felt squishy or under supported. I think the word “soft” can be considered wimpy in the ski world. Let’s get something clear, this ski is not wimpy. In the short time I got to ride it today I pushed it through any and everything I could and not once did I feel like I was overpowering this ski.  Soft in this case, means my knees were not hurting nearly as much as they usually do after skiing bump runs.

Even with all these strengths, I feel the Declivity 92 Ti is not a unicorn of skis. While it skis all conditions well, it becomes abundantly clear this ski is designed as an all-mountain ski first. When you open up on this ski on harder, flat, snow you will feel the tips start to chatter. It’s not enough to really impact skiing or truly bother me but it’s there. I did notice that when you get the ski on edge you take advantage of the profile of the ski and the ski begins to feel a bit longer. I found it was a little bit harder to ski at higher speeds carving than it was flopping it back and forth in crud.

The Verdict On The Armada Declivity 92 Ti

The Declivity 92 Ti On Some Rocks

Greats
-Minimalist design
-Fun in bumps & trees
-Powerful all mountain ski
-Skis quicker than a traditional 92mm ski

Watch Outs
-Chatters at high speeds
-May not be a carver’s favorite ski

I really loved my time on this ski and can’t wait to take it out when we have a little bit more snow on the ground. I think it is going to be the perfect glades ski for me at Killington and you will be seeing an update to this as soon as I get more time on the ski!

 

Lets keep in touch! You can contact the author through email at socialmedia@basinski.com

Follow Basin Sports on social media:

Facebook – @basinsportsvt
Instagram – @basin_sports

 

Check Out The Armada Declivity at Basin Sports

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Tips for Skiing At Killington During the Pandemic

Kevin Wears a Gaitor

By Stephen Klepner

We have 6 tips to help make your next Killington trip as great as it can be. It may feel like quite a few changes have occurred for the 20-21 season at Killington and it may seem overwhelming at first to navigate. Our team at Basin Ski, Ride & Bike has been navigating the new normal at Killington for over a week and have a few tips and tricks to make sure you get the best out of your time at the Beast.

Overall, we are extremely impressed with Killington’s ability to give us an amazingly fun, safe, and enjoyable ski experience. We are confident that our home mountain will thrive this winter with these adjustments. Without further delay here are 6 tips for Killington that will help you get the most out of your next trip!

 

 1. Plan Ahead

The first of the 6 tips for visiting Killington is one you and your family don’t want to overlook. Before arriving in Vermont you should check out Vermont’s current travel regulations. You need to reserve a parking spot before arriving at the mountain. Make sure you plan for this in advance. Think of parking reservations as a boarding pass to the resort for your entire car. You are allowed to reserve 7 choice days any time for the 20/21 season and reserve any day up to a week away from the current date. If you have to cancel your reservation Killington has asked you to cancel your reservation 24 hours in advance.

Killington's Reservation System Overview
Killington has designed this graphic as an easy way to see how their reservation system will work. You can book 7 days any time and 7 week-of days.

 

2. Take a Screen Shot Of Your Parking Passes

How to screenshot a pass 6 tips for killington
Remember to take a screenshot of your parking reservation from your email.

Cell service at Killington can be a little spotty from time to time. When you arrive to the mountain you will be required to have your pass ready to go to be scanned before you can park. The worst thing that you can do is get all the way up to the mountain and realize that you can’t open the email to scan the pass.

Other Basin Team Members have printed out their passes to be double sure that they don’t run into any problems. Another bonus tip is that you can change the license plate numbers on your reservation right until you enter. Don’t worry too much if you decided to take another car right before arriving to the mountain.

 

Here’s a great article on how to take a screenshot on an Android phone
and here’s one for our Apple friends

 

 

 

 

3. Download and Use The New Killington App

A quick overview of the Killington App 6 tips for killington
Quickly create new parking reservations, check trail and lift statuses, and track your vertical skied all in one place.

The Killington App is an incredible place to find information on open terrain, ticket prices, and reserve your parking ahead of time. Whether it’s your first time at the resort or you are a local, you will find relevant information for your trip. Many people who have been using Killington’s website for the past couple of years will find the app familiar and friendly. It’s easy to navigate and works great while on the snow.  One of our favorite parts of the app is the ability to see wait times for lifts and track our vertical feet skied. Very cool!

Along with the new app, Killington has rolled out a text messaging platform. It’s a great idea since this allows Killington to contact a large number of guests if an issue occurs while on the mountain. Killington states they, “will use text messaging to communicate critical operations updates as needed, important information about upcoming visits and the occasional promotional message such as a season pass deadline reminder”. You can opt into text messages by texting Beast to 64600. Also, you can opt in to receive text alerts regarding Pico Mountain by texting Pico to 64600.

You can download the Killington App on Android and iOS

 

 

4. Bring More Than One Mask

We’ve found that skiing with a face covering is not all too difficult but depending on what mask you have at your disposal, you may want to bring more than one. Many people ski and ride with a full face balaclava that covers their mouth and nose. Depending on the material you may find it getting damp from breathing throughout the day and may want to have another one on standby in your pocket to switch out.

We also found having a traditional ear mask is great when you are in the lodge and allows you to sit down and warm up while being socially distanced. Bringing an “indoor” mask allows you to relax in a little bit more comfort while warming up. Not sure what to wear for any particular day? We have a ton of face covering options in store. Stop by on the way up to the mountain (shameless plug over). 

Kevin Wears a Gaitor 6 tips for Killington
Basin Team Member, Kevin, wears a gaiter while getting ready to scan his pass in an early season snowstorm.

 

5. Treat your car as a base lodge

Killington has preached this from the beginning and they mean it: there is limited space inside the lodges and you will be waiting to enter. Killington promises outdoor food options as the season goes on but the best bet is to bring food and water to stash in your car. We’ve even seen a few people bringing lawn chairs and having a full on tailgate!

You should expect to boot up in the parking lot when you arrive and be prepared to walk to the slopes in your ski gear. This year especially, you may want to look into purchasing a heated boot bag or socks. If you and your family have your ticket in advance, you can park by any of the open lifts and make the short walk right to the slope. Also, leaving the resort and returning can be a bit cumbersome. If at all possible you should have all the resources you need to stay for the day at the resort. 

Killington Lodge's Que
Extensive indoor waiting lines have been set up with vibrant social distancing markings for food. When we visited there were little to no lines to enter at any point in the day.

6. Be Patient

This is probably the most important of the 6 tips for visiting Killington right now. Things may be moving slower than usual. Lines will get long since there is significantly reduced capacity, and people may be frustrated with each other over masks and distancing. Staff will continue to do their best to make sure everyone is having a great time. You can make a difference in everyone’s day by remembering that skiing right now is something we are lucky to do and we should be celebrating that we even have the opportunity in this truly unique year. 

Kevin Wears a Gaitor 6 tips for Killington
Waiting in line a little longer is worth it when you get views like this from the top of the mountain.

 

We want to hear your tips and tricks skiing and riding. Send any comments or questions to socialmedia@basinski.com. Oh! and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram

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An Update For Season Lease Customers

This winter season was a bit unexpected for all of us. We understand that some of you are unable to return your leased equipment at this time due to stay at home orders put forth by your state. Some of you have been able to swing by and that’s great, Thank You! For those of you who can’t and won’t be able to visit the shop in the near future- it’s okay! We’ve got a plan for you.

Keep Your Equipment

No really, hang on to it. We might call and check in and see how things are going, but seriously hang on to your lease equipment. When things get back to normal next season and you do come up to the mountain to prepare for skiing we’ll be here waiting.

And if you decide you want to do a lease again for another year we’ll charge you $99 for the lease to make up for a shortened 19/20 ski season. We’re still working out some of the fine print for this package, but we want to be here for you, and support you in this unpredictable time. So keep calm, and carry on- we’ll see you in the winter.

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Customer Appreciation Demo Day #2

Basin Sports Customer Appreciation Demo Day

Customer Appreciation Demo Day #2

You’re Invited To Basin Sports Customer Appreciation Demo Day #2!

Our Season Tuners are invited to the 2nd Customer Appreciation Demo Day of the 19/20 season. One of the many perks of being a Basin Sports Season Tuner is the two seasonal demo days where you can test the latest skis from all our ski companies.
You are encouraged to sign-up and complete your waiver in advance at the store. Demo Days typically start at 8AM and finish around 1PM. If you’d like to try a specific ski let us know in advance! That way we can notify the rep for that brand and they can bring that ski.
Brands That Will Be Attending:
  • Atomic
  • Armada
  • Black Crows
  • K2
  • Nordica
  • Salomon
  • Rossignol
Customer Appreciation Demo Day #2

Basin Sports is the oldest businesses in the Killington community. In fact, the Basin Ski Shop opened ten days before Killington Ski Resort, on December 14, 1958.  For more than sixty years Basin Sports has been a leading mountain-sports retailer with a long history of outstanding customer service.
The Torrey family, owners and operators of Basin Sports since 1991, are determined to continue providing an unmatched experience, both in the store and on the slopes. The industry has taken notice too, awarding Basin Sports the Ski Magazine Gold Medal nine years in a row and twice naming Basin Sports the best ski shop in New England.
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New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021

K2 Mindbender 130 and 120 Flex boots

We’re back from another Outdoor Retailer Trade-show and have New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021. This year in the boot world the focus has been on four buckle touring boots withGripWalk and pin compatibility. We also saw more and more companies pushing for 130 flex and 98 to 100mm last in boots with an uphill mode. The biggest notable difference breaking out onto the AT Touring scene is the Lange XT3 130. Though we didn’t get to look at all AT boots for 2021 we did put our hands on a few. Salomon has a new Shift Boots collection and K2 and Rossignol have also improved upon their existing models.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Lange XT3 130

Lange XT3 130Lange’s new XT3 130 has improved upon it’s patented V Lock hike to walk system. The updated V Lock system adds an additional 2 degrees of rearward motion and 11 degrees of forward motion. This results in 53 degrees of total range in motion of the cuff- pretty impressive! The redesigned shell sheds weight (though felt heaver than any other boot in it’s category), providing a balance of agility for the climb up without sacrificing performance on the downhill.  The sole’s new construction, which sandwiches Grilamid between two layers of Polyurethane, was developed for durability. The Lange XT3 130 has (you guessed it) 130 flex so it’s stiff- and has GripWalk and pin compatibility. The boot is also available in 97mm and 100mm lasts.

Pro’s

  • True 130 flex. This boot is stiff!
  • Two Lasts Options
  • 53 degrees of total range in motion

Con’s

  • It’s heavy. Though touted as a lighter upgrade than previous models, the XT3 is on the heavier side.
  • Velcro cuff strap

Final Thoughts

If you are one of those people looking for the stiffest of stiff Alpine Touring boots, we’re not going to sway you away for the Lange XT3 130. With two layers of Poly and Grilamid, this boot is super stiff. It’s going to be warmer than a Atomic Hawx XTD 130 for sure, but it’s also going to take longer to warm up and longer to cool down. The strap is a standard Velcro strap which we suspect will wear out quickly. Other boot companies offer cinch straps so if we as a user were to purchase this we’d upgrade the strap to something aftermarket. Lastly, the weight of this boot was a big turnoff. Having skied in the Atomic Hawx XTD 120 this season, the XT3 felt like a brick by comparison.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Salomon Shift Pro 130

The Salomon Shift Pro 130 is the newest backcountry compatible alpine touring boot. The Shift Pro draws inspiration from it’s S/Pro collection but with a 4 buckle design and more durability for everyday resort use. The 100mm last boot includes a Sensifit insert, new instep geometry, lightweight construction, a customizable shell, a 40 degree range of motion cuff, and a seamless liner. Salomon’s Coreframe construction provides the power transmission and performance of a traditional alpine boot. GripWalk and Pin Compatible- the Salomon Shift Pro is also available in a full range of flex options.

Salomon Shift Pro 130

Pro’s

  • Performance, The Shift Pro really defines what an all-terrain, alpine touring boot should be. This boot performs well for touring but also will hold it’s own for downhill only days.
  • Seamless liner. No bunching our weird pressure points. Out the box the Salomon Shift Pro will feel good. Some of our employees who have tested this boot have yet to heat mold their liners- it’s just that good.
  • Easy to use flip switch from alpine to walk mode.
  • Wide range of flex options

Con’s

  • Price. This boot will put you back $970 (in-store may be cheaper) whereas other boots in it’s category are less.
  • Velcro strap. Like the Lange boots, velcro wears out fast. We prefer cinch straps for touring and higher flex boots.
  • Only comes in 100mm last. Most people fit in that category, but if you prefer 98mm last you’ll need to look at the S/Pro

Final Thoughts

The Salomon Shift Pro 130 is really filling in any loose ends that the QST and Shift collections had. We’re digging it because there’s a whole range of men’s and women’s options in flexes to choose from. You’re not just limited to a top tear option. The last is 100mm which is the most common footprint of skiers. We do wish they offered a 98mm last in the 130 flex but can settle for  finding that last in the S/Pro line. The Coreframe construction is simple and easy to use, though may be cumbersome in sub-zero temps. The price is also a bit high, which  would make us as a user consider other options. But if you’re deadset on salomon and want to be on a 100% Salomon Package, we’re not about to stop you. And if that price point really doesn’t bother you- we’re more than likely to convince you that this is the boot for you.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Rossignol Alltrack Elite 130

Rossignol Alltrack 130The Rossignol Alltrack Elite 130 offer’s a no-compromise with with tech fitting and enhanced downhill performance for an all-in-one ski boot. The Thinsulate liner is 100% compatible and comes pre-articulated, so out of the box the boot should perform well. The heel cup is also well designed and like many other 98mm last boots will really hold your heel in place on ascents. The Alltrack also has Dynafit compatible touring lugs, offering a secure connection to tech bindings.

Pro’s

  • Price. The Alltrack Elite 130 will put you back $699.95- Far cheaper than other 130 flex class boots.
  • Great out of the box liner
  • Easy and Efficent flip switch for walk to ski
  • Dynafit Compatible tech lugs
  • Higher quality Velcro strap

Con’s

  • Only uses Grilamid plastic. Not poly, Still a stiff boot- but in the softer side of 130
  • Only comes in 98mm last

Final Thoughts

Many who traditionally ski in the AllTrack resort model will have a hard time switching to the Alltrack Elite. I say this because the Resort Alltrack 130 is 100mm last not 98mm. So this touring model will feel snugger than typical. Many boot companies make their all-mountain touring boots in 98mm last for a more secure fit, especially while touring uphill- where your foot is likely to move around a bit. The price on this boot is superb for a touring boot though, and clearly other companies are finding it hard to compete. If you had trouble fitting into an Alltrack before, definitely try this one out- the fit is going to be much different and with that great price point you can’t go wrong here.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: K2 Mindender Boots

Relativly unchanged from last year the Mindender is back and is one of our favorites. We love the big “mitten compatible” buckes, the cinched cuff strap and the spring loaded walk to ski mode. Available in men’s and women’s models, the Mindbender offers up a lot of options for both men and women. The women’s 98 flex, and men’s 100 flex boots will both have 100mm last on them- the rest of the line will be 98mm last.

Price wise, the Mindbender 130 will put you back $699.95. Still cheaper than the Lange or Salomon options. K2 uses TPU in it’s boots calling this their Powerlight core. TPU typically regains it’s flex in the cold versus polyurethane which will get stiffer the colder it gets (to a certain extent). This results in a true to flex feel and is lighter than most plastics used in ski boots.

New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021Pro’s

  • Price, A decent and competitive price point in the touring market at $699.
  • Mitten friendly, spring loaded walk to ski switch.
  • Big easy to use buckles
  • Cinch cuff strap
  • Light

Con’s

  • Color (can someone just make a straight up black boot already)
  • Only TPU Plastic
  • Buckles stick out and snag on stairs and other objects. You may need to replace them.

Final Thoughts

This boot was the lightest of all the boots I touched. The price is right and the fit is pretty decent out of the box. The buckles are mitten friendly and easy to use but be warned, if you unbuckle your boots in-bounds, these do stick out and we’ve already seen people coming in with bent or broken buckles. The Mindenders also come in a whole range of flexes so you don’t just have to get into a 130 flex. This boot was our favorite at the show, it checked all our boxes for weight, multi-use compatibility and easy to use buckles. The K2 Mindbender is our 2021 pick for favorite Alpine Touring Boots.

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K2 Mindbender 88 Alliance Vs. Blizzard Black Pearl 88

A Comprehensive Review of these two 2020 Ladies All-Mountain Skis

K2 Mindbender 88 Alliance Vs. Blizzard Black Pearl 88- A Look At The Pro’s and Con’s Of Both

 

As the holidays of 2018 approached rumors started to swirl that K2 Skis had something psychedelic brewing. When our industry Demo Day rolled around and we had a chance to take out the Mindbenders we were blown away by their performance in a multitude of conditions. But the question we’ve been getting a lot is how it compares to the Black Pearl or Santa Ana (which we’ll do another review on). How does this rookie in the ski world compare to the best selling women’s ski ever? Well lets jump into is shall we. First we’ll go over each skis key features, then we’ll throw them head to head and let you decide who’s the winner.

 

K2 Mindbender Alliance 88 Ti

 

K2 has been struggling to create a ski that worked well for most skier types. Not to say the pinnacle wasn’t a good ski, it just didn’t necessarily perform well in the many “all-Mountain” conditions. The K2 Mindbender is here as a replacement to the Pinnacle and Luv Series. Speaking of Luv series skis- The Alliance series was created as a replacement for that. Why the name change? The women at K2 wanted to create a ski series that better connected with their audience base and resonated with female skiers, so Alliance was born. Though there is a full line-up of waist width options for men and women, the 88 Ti is the best east coast all-mountain option (in our opinion. This would translate to 90 in the men’s version too). The Mindbender 88 Alliance Ti comes with an Aspen Veneer core for it’s wood construction. This is going to be like the 90, but the veneer and sandwiching of the core makes the 88 lighter and easier to turn. Then there’s the Titanal Y-Beam. Think of a tuning fork used to tune pianos. The Y-Beam looks like that, laid into the ski. It makes the Alliance stiff and reliable underfoot while allowing the tip to flex more easily. There’s a carbon spectral braid on top of all this construction which also helps to reduce chatter as well as help power imitation through turns. The sidewall is ABS which is a standard for most ski companies. In the alliance it is oversized. This translates to you can lay the ski all the way over. Want to go from making Slalom turns to jumping into a mogul field and bashing bumps? Yep, this ski is going to do that. Another honorable mention is that K2 has a 2 year warranty on their skis which is awesome!

 

Blizzard Black Pearl 88

 

The Blizzard Black Pearl 88 is undeniably the best selling women’s ski- ever. There’s a reason for that too. Virtually any female skier can take this ski out and have a good day on it. It’s going to do well at most All-Mountain conditions and since it’s not over powering and easy to turn ladies love it. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts right? The Black Pearl is a light ski, made with what Blizzard calls their Lite Wood Core. In the case of the Black Pearl 88, it’s a poplar beech core that’s sandwiched into the Carbon Flipcore WSD. W stands for women’s. No metal here, just good old wood and carbon. This makes the Black Pearl poppy and maneuverable across many conditions. We personally found them to carve exceptionally well too. The topsheet is a duratec composite which helps with scratch resistance. Sidewall will be the same as the Mindebender Alliance 88Ti, made with ABS Sidewall. Since there’s no metal in the Black Pearl so it retails at $600 vs $650 for the Mindbender.

 

Head To Head

 

Head to head you’re getting so skis that are similar, yet different. The Mindbender 88 in our opinion is for more aggressive skiers whereas the Black Pearl is focused on intermediate level skiers. Both the Black Pearl and Mindbender were great carvers and the Black Pearl made longer methodical turns whereas the Mindbender could get laid all the way over and make tight slalom like turns then transition into smooth GS style carves. The Mindbender wasn’t limited to a select level of turning. Whatever your style was it responded. In deeper snow, both felt similar and responded the same, nothing really changed here. Then moguls- This was a game changer between the two. To be honest the Black Pearl just felt sloppy in bumps. It could be my style of bump skiing, or the lack of metal in the ski, whatever the culprit the Black Pearls felt dead and confused on how to respond in bumps. The Mindbender was different. The Mindbender snaped through turns easily and launched you into the next bump almost like you intended to do. The Mindbenders are just fun- and as I’ve been saying around the shop are totally psychedelic.

So my final thoughts? Both skis are great skis. The Black Pearl seems to favor softer conditions and intermediate level skiers more. When the terrain got more aggressive the Black Pearl struggled to keep up. The Mindbender is definitely stiffer and more aggressive than the Black Pearl but that’s not to say a beginner could take it out and not have a good time. The Mindbender is flexible and would be a great ski for someone looking to progress their skills over a long period of time. The Black Pearl is predictable though and is a great value for an All- Mountain Ski that does everything okay.

 

K2 Mindbender 88 Ti Alliance Blizzard Black Pearl 88
Core Wood: Aspen Venner Lite Wood Core
Metal Titanal Y-Beam None
Carbon Carbon Spectral Braid Carbon Flipcor WSD
Topsheet Unsure (looks like Duratec) Duratec
Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Sidewall Oversized ABS Full ABS Sidewall
Warranty 2 Year 1 Year
Price $650 $600

 

* Obviously this Review is extremely biased and based upon my skiing style and the brutally odd East Coast Conditions. Hopefully, we’ll put together a video soon. If you like this head to head style review and want to see more let us know! If this was crap let us know! We are only human after all.


We’re Ready To Shred, Are you?

Shop Now For the Latest Outdoor Gear

  • We can be reached 7 days a week at 802-422-3234
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Top 5 Skis For 2020

Top 5 Skis For 2020- From An East Coast Ski Shops Standpoint

These reviews are based on our on-snow testing, discussions with brand reps, and years of experience.

Top 5 Skis Of 2020

Basin Sports is a ski shop in Killington, Vermont. With access to the largest east coast ski resort at our door, we are able to provide accurate and intelligent insight to the state of the ski industry as it reflects our specific market.

K2 Mindbender Series

You’ve probably heard about the K2 Mindbender and Alliance-benders by now.  The replacement of the Pinnacle and LuvIt Series skis. K2 spent a lot of time testing and designing these skis to make them what they are. They wanted something stiff torsional but soft and floaty too. So what makes the Mindbenders so amazing? They’re incredibly light, yet stiff, yet powerful. The 90ti in particular for both men and women is stiff yet not. In our on snow test the ski was phenomenal on groomers and comfortable and controllable in the bumps. It didn’t feel like you had to overcompensate to make a turn. It didn’t feel too heavy or bulky either. One moment you’d be making beautiful racer carves on groomers, the next you’d be navigating tight New England trees. The Mindbenders want to float and dance over terrain- not bash and brawl their way down the mountain.

The Mindbender Series comes in many lengths. The men’s is 116C, 108Ti, 99Ti, 90Ti, 90C and 85. The Women’s or Alliance Series is available in 115C, 106C, 98Ti, 88Ti, 90C and 85. Yes, the Alliance series is a different mold. Everything is going to be the same about these skis except for the core. The main difference between the two is that the Men’s Mindbenders have full wood cores and the ladies Alliance have Aspen Vanier Core. Yes, that’s still technically wood- it just flexes differently than the full single wood core.

Top 5 Skis Of 2020

We’re on the east coast here, so we’re biased to the 99 and 90Ti (Or 98Ti and 88Ti) options. When we demoed these skis it was hero snow. Or at least what us east coasters call Hero Snow. Firm yet soft groomers, with plenty of packed powder in the trees.  We’ve been slimming down what the optimal waist width is for the East Coast and was planning on ordering more 90’s instead of 99’s. That’s not to say one was better than the other. Both skied excellently. By this point, it’s more personal preference.

We’ve been asked a lot to compare the Mindbenders against the Nordica Enforcers, and we’ll probably end up doing a blog and video comparing the two, but for now, we’ll give you this. The Enforcer Series is a great All-Mountain ski. It does everything well and is incredibly fun to ski on. One main difference between the two is the rocker profile. The Enforcer is going to want to power through everything- we refer to the Enforcer as a brawler ski. It’s fun, enjoyable and strong- but it would rather power into snow than float. The Mindbender is going to feel more familiar to skiers who maybe raced or spent a chunk of time on groomers- expect the Mindbenders allow you to ski off trail comfortable. You can go really fast on the Mindbenders and not feel out of control with twitchy rocker in your tips. The Mindbenders carve, they don’t smear. You know that famous quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”? That pretty much sums up the Mindbenders. They float and dance, they didn’t come to muscle their way through. They’re precise, agile and responsive.

Nordica Enforcer 88 & 104

Top 5 Skis Of 2020

Speaking of Nordica, There are some new additions to the Enforcer Family. The Nordica Enforcer 88 and the Enforcer 104. Both skis come with new technology and so far, our staff have been raving about the changes. The 88 was designed with us East Coasters in mind. It’s a true on-piste carver. You can read our review on these skis here. The 104 is a wider option but not overly cumbersome like the 110.

What Makes the 88 So Great? It’s different than it’s big brothers because It has less ABS sidewall. The ABS Sidewall is essentially plastic. Plastic is damp and non-responsive on impact. Nordica reduces the amount of Sidewall and filled it in with more wood to make the ski more snappy and powerful. Then they added a carbon grid to increase snap. It makes the ski much more maneuverable at speed and not quite as unstable.

The 104 has the same technology as the 88 and made many of our employees who own the 100 consider upgrading to the 104. A positive aspect of the 104 is that it offers more drive and stability at speed without increasing extra weight. The 104 allows you to explore more of the mountain with stability and control. One of the positives in the new designs is the power in and out of turns. One thing I’ve found in the older designs is that due to its shape I often feel like I lose a lot of my speed in and out of turns. The 104 certainly does not have that problem. Same goes for the 88. Both are responsive and power out of the turns effortlessly.

These skis are great for one ski quiver shredders or enforcer series collectors. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 20/21 series of Enforcers don’t all have the new carbon technology incorporated into their design.

Salomon QST 92

The Salomon QST 92 has got it’s S—t together this year. In it’s first iterations it was one the softer side of all-mountain skis. Now it’s back and in it’s series (so the 92, 99 and 106) have the same technology throughout. But it’s an entirely new ski. So new tip design, new sidewalls and new core construction. I’m generalizing but all three waist widths will be the same construction. We’re digging the 92 because it’s probably the lightest All-Mountain ski that’s isn’t made of foam, fiberglass or unicorn dust. It’s rocker profile would make it great for a east coast skinning ski but also as a weekend warriors ski.

If you ski anything like me you may have thought that the QST was a fun ski but it was a bit soft and chattery on harder snow. Beefed up sidewalls have eliminated this chatter to a minimum and torsionally increased stability in turns. Win, Win!

The carbon, basalt, and flax are blended together in the new models from tip to tail, and there’s an extra layer of flax plus cork tips to optimize dampness at a lower swingweight. This is translated onto the women’s Lux, Lumen series too. The tip shape is new too and this reduced taper. The cork in the tip and tail makes the skis less chattery, and reduces swing weight making turns pretty darn fun. The graphics aren’t half bad either on these skis. Sticking with solid tones and less flair. Mounted up with the oh so toted Salomon Shift Bindings and you’ve got one heck of a ski set-up.

Black Crow Camox & Camox Birdie

We also are going to talk about Black Crow. They’ve been around for a while but really have exploded onto American markets more recently. The Camox is the showcase twin ski and has really stayed tried and true to its roots. It’s a true twin tip ski with classic rocker, camber, rocker profile.  Nothing overly fancy or technical, just the stuff that works- which is why it’s one of their bestselling skis.

But, the Camox is on the heavy side. So this year Black Crows reduced the weight of the ski and shortened the taper without overly changing the performance of the ski on snow. It does have a shorter turn radius- which can just mean it will get edge to edge quicker. An Advantage here is that as a true twin tip ski the Black Crow Camox and Camox Birdie will have an increased playfulness feel on snow. This will make for more a lighter, but tried and true ski that anyone can have fun on.

Atomic Redster X Series

An honorable mention and one ski that’s not really getting a whole lot of attention is the Atomic Redster X series. This skis was redeveloped last season and can be distinguished from its World Cup counterparts by it’s lack of red coloration. We’ve been jokingly calling it the greenster since the 18-19 skis was bright neon green. This year It’s not as bright but still a gunmetal grey with green highlights. Of the Redster X series the one that caught our eye the most was the Atomic Redster X WB (WB= Wide Body). The Redster is a series no F-ing around ski. The Redster X WB is the same nutty ski but minus the servotec. At 75 underfoot (versus 65) the WB is just a bit more forgiving. With true race camber underfoot the Atomic Redster X WB is still an extremely powerful ski. It’s just nicer to play with.

Coming in 152, 160, 168 and 176 you have a few options to choose from. The WB still has the multi-radius sidecut, full sidewall (hence 0/100/0 camber to rocker), Powder Woodcore, Titanium Powered, Structured Topsheet, and World Cup Base Finish. It still has all of those goodies. The reason we’re mentioning this ski is not that we enjoy it (I mean we do, we wouldn’t be writing this review otherwise) but because it enables you to still carve aggressive groomers, but still be able to walk the next day. We will be pushing this ski towards our Ski Bum Race Series competitors who want a fast ski for race day, but a comfortable ski for groomer days.


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2020 Nordica Enforcer 88 Ski Review

Nordica Enforcer 88 Ski Review – Tried and Tested

What to expect in the narrowest waist width Enforcer

2020 Nordica Enforcer 88 Ski Review

Since its inception, the Enforcer Series has been rapidly growing as the most sought after skis in the industry. Nordica has been careful to release new waist width options and technological tweaks steadily over the years and people are eating them up. With this year’s release, all the ski industry aficionados are buzzing about the two newest additions to the pack, the Enforcer 88 and Enforcer 104. We were fortunate to ski the new waist widths for both men and women (so be on the lookout for the Santa Ana 88 review) and have a good feeling of how the industry will accept the skis, and what customer s should expect out of them.

This review is solely regarding the Nordica Enforcer 88, though we’ll get a review out about the 104 as soon as we can. Luckily for us, we hold one of the biggest Nordica accounts in New England and have access to early release gear like the Enforcer 88. This particular waist width caught our eye because we live in New England and very rarely do we really need to ski on sticks wider than 100.

The Enforcer lineup is reminiscent of an old Helldorado but with less rocker and metal- and that’s one of the reasons it excels in the east. But the Enforcers of yesteryear are bulky and some would describe as brawlers, not ballerinas. So to alleviate some of this extra meat the Enforcer 88 has vibration dampening tips. This helps alleviate some the meat, the weight and adds more nimbleness to the skis maneuverability.

These tips in technological terms are called True Tip Technology and essentially reduce weight and tip chatter. Basically, Nordica has trimmed the amount of ABS plastic in the sidewall in the tip and extended the lightweight wood core into the area now void of plastic. Plastic is not exactly a pliable material when it comes to skis, and will impact something with a thud, not a spring or rebound. That’s one of the reasons why True Tip Technology works. It makes the ski more lively and snappy. It’s also lighter so you can turn more effectively and build energy in and out of turns.

The other new construction is the Carbon-Reinforced Chassis. As mentioned early, the Enforcer could be referred to as a brawler. Where it would rather plow and power through snow than glide over snow. The Carbon chassis essentially makes the Enforcer more nimble. We’re not going to get full ballerina status on snow but it won’t feel like a brawler either- Nordica is finding a happier medium between brawler and dancer.

Another notable difference in the Nordica 88 Is that it comes in different lengths than previous enforcers. That means a completely new mold and serious “back to the drawing board” concept. With the Enforcer 88 you get to choose from the sizes of 165, 172, 179 and 186. This could throw a rope in the Enforcer Collectors wheelhouse but, if then again it could be a good thing. This ski is considered a hard carver and that divides the skiers into two categories- the slalom skiers or the super g skiers. I myself like to shorten up my carving skis. I like to make fast precise and short turns so I lean towards a shorter length. But, if you like to go fast, take minimal turns on piste and lay over edges then go longer. It’s all in how you ski.

2020 Nordica Enforcer 88 Ski Review

So our first day of testing was at the New England Ski Industry Demo Day. This is where people in the industry have a chance to demo skis for the 19/20 season. This was held at Pico Mountain this year and the temps were hovering at 32 degrees so the snow was hero like. When we were able to ski the 88 we got next to perfect conditions for New England so yes, this review is biased towards the conditions we tested in. That being said the Enforcer 88 did just fine on and off-piste. On-Piste, the 88 was quite responsive and was easy to maneuver. It glided across the snow easily and was powerful yet forgiving. One notable change in turning was that the ski powered out of turns. In the past, the wider widths would lose some of that momentum in turns because of the rocker and its width. That’s not the case here and we truly feel the 88 is the perfect ski for the east. This ski is distinctly focused on performance on piste, and it does okay off-piste too. But if you’re a bump lover and tree hugger then consider the 93- otherwise you should consider this nimble machine to be in your quiver.

The Enforcer 88 will be fine off-piste but it wasn’t designed to do that. It was designed to be an on-piste carver and it does that well. The 88 wants to stay on edge and hold that turn, making consistent and thoughtful turns down the slopes. Compared to the Navigator 85 the Enforcer 88 is heavier and has more rocker to it. Edge to edge the Navigator will win- it’s quick and lighter. All around maneuverability and being as All-Mountain as they get, the Enforcer 88 will win. It just does everything well and really defines what an all-mountain ski should be.

To summarize, the Nordica Enforcer 88 for 2020 is going to perform best on firm conditions. It’s going to slay groomer runs and turn well. It’s light, but not as light as a navigator. It’s well-rounded too and when you’re in a pickle it will perform at a level that’s just plain necessary. As an east coast Enforcer lover, this is the ski you need in your collection. It works, it does its job well and is fun.

 

2020 Nordica Enforcer 88 Ski Review

 

Convinced and want one? We have the 2020 Nordica Enforcer 88 and 2020 Nordica Santa Ana 88 available for purchase.

Nordica Enforcer 88

Santa Ana 88

 

Not convinced and need to ski it first? We have full-size runs of demos available at the shop. Call us for more info regarding that. 802-422-3234


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The State Of Skiing In Killington November Report

Will Killington make their World Cup Deadline? This is the State of Skiing in Killington, November Report

The State Of Skiing In Killington November Report-1
Photo by Basin Ambassador Trish

Winter started off with a bang this season with an opening day of October 19th. Since then The State Of Skiing In Killington has well really just gotten sweeter. We started as usual on the North Ridge and walked the catwalk both ways to access skiable terrain. Soon after we were skiing down and only walking back up. Confirmed for Wednesday too we’ll be skiing top to bottom as well. Which is great for me who’s been hesitant to get out there and get those turns. Maybe I’m spoiled, maybe I’m still daydreaming about summer. Either way skiable terrain is expanding rapidly with no real end to this momentum in site.

Turning over to the south side of the mountain, World Cup preparations have been moving along swimmingly. We were worried for a second there when it poured rain for two days. But that worry was quickly put to bed by 6-8″ inches of snow. Definitely 6 inches by the steps of Basin Sports, 8″ most likely up on the mountain. Since then temps have stayed cold and below freezing. I was going to say bitterly cold but if you were around this last December when it was -20 for two weeks its well hard to call anything bitterly cold anymore- we’re seasoned Vermonters after all. But I’m getting of subject here. On Superstar yesterday they began crushing snow. This is part of two reason- one, there’s a lot of snow already made on Superstar and it’s time to push it down and measure snow depths. Number two is more important in that today (Monday, November 12, 2018) marked inspection day by the FIS. Slopes had to be looking good to get the green light to host the Women’s World Cup this Thanksgiving.

So far so good and everything looks in tip-top shape. If you were planning on skiing this upcoming weekend be worry free about walking because we won’t have to do that anymore. Keep in mind that pretty much until Christmas that we’re still in early-season conditions and generally blue to black terrain. Remember the season gets better and better from here and that there’s a lot of early season hype so far. Now get off your phone or computer and go shred!

The State Of Skiing In Killington November Report
Photo by Basin Ambassador Trish

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