THE BIG STRATTON SKI SHOW
by Paul Maraschiello
Stratton Mountain played host to the biggest ski show in the East. Every manufacturer of skis, snowboards, skiboards, boots, bindings, poles, helmets, goggles, waxes and more was represented. I had a chance to ride a lot of skis and pass my impressions on to you. This was my first time at Stratton and I liked this ski area very much. It is an "up-scale" ski area and the village reminded me of Vail. They have six-seat chair lifts and a cute little stand-up gondola that can get a dozen skiers and riders up the mountain in a hurry.
The Pro Carver GS was the first ski I tested. It was a fast racing GS with a lot of balls. It was a little too much ski for me and it had a tendency to get away from me whenever I got back. It made nice turns and held very well on the ice. I tested these skis on Little Griz to Bear Bottom. This was a great place to let these SG skis run. The snow was perfect, even though it got a little cold. I had lunch in the Mid-Mountain lodge and was very happy to find this refuge from the cold half-way up the mountain.
I tested all the Blizzard skis that were at the show and the Blizzard staff was very helpful., including the Sigma Race Carve. It was very fast edge-to-edge and held very well on the ice. It is a GS racing ski that makes making GS turns a snap. The X-Mountain ski is Blizzard's all-mountain ski. It isn't as stiff as the GS racing ski and is more versatile. As my e-racers had arrived, I had a chance to compare these two skies to the one I selected for myself. Although the GS and X-Mountain skis are nice skis, for me the e-racer was the best choice. This ski holds on the ice, works well in the bumps and likes to go fast. It has a very big sweet spot and even if you get back, doesn't run away on you. In fact, you can make this ski carve, even from the back seat. This ski is described as an expert carver that works well on groomed conditions. If you are an Eastern ski, this is the best ski I have ever skied for the icy conditions often found in the East. I liked this ski as much as I liked any ski I have ever ridden.
I tested these skis under the Gondola on Upper Standard and on Upper Spruce. These were excellent runs, Upper Spruce had some bumps, as did the upper part of Upper Standard. The trails were well groomed and in excellent condition for testing skis.
I tested three skis in the P-40 line, including the Platinum, F1 (green) and F1 Energy (red). I liked the Platinum and now know why so many of the stores are sold out of this great ski. It is east to turn, holds well on the ice and has a big sweet spot. The F1 in a GS ski with a racing plate. It is a lot of ski and not as easy to ski as the Platinum. The F1 Energy was the same ski without the plate and I liked it less than the other two skis. I took the Volkls on North America, Upper Tamarack and Little Griz and I had a blast seeing what they could do on the groomed corduroy. These trails were in excellent condition and really fun to ski.
I rode a green ski with the new Pilot system, an interface that mounts the bindings to the ski with pins mounted on the side. This system eliminated the "flat spot" and directs the boot's energy directly to the ski. This was the easiest ski to turn. In fact, turning was effortless. I wan not too impressed with this ski's ability to hold on the wind-blown hard-pack and ice. It is a great ski for the beginner who needs to learn to carve turns.
I tested the Race Carve Pro and was somewhat insulted when the gave me a 180 to ski on. The ski had a racing plate and was very stiff. It held well on the ice and made nice, fast turns. I was surprised to find that the shorter length did not make any noticeable difference, except it would be a little easier to maneuver in the bumps. The ski was responsive and one of the ones I liked the best. I took these short skis over to the Sun Bowl via upper Downeaster and did Rowley's Run. These was the toughest runs I encountered at Stratton and had a blast making short-swing turns on these narrow trails.
I did a test run on Beta Carve 9.18. This was a nice ski but nothing special. It was less than fabulous on the ice but was easy to turn.
I rode on Look, Marker, Rossignol, and Solomon bindings. They all held my skis on and promised to release when necessary.
I demoed a pair of Scott poles and they worked just fine. It was an aluminum pole and felt pretty good in my hand.
I tested a Boeri helmet and it kept my head warm on a very cold day. I refrained from crashing my head into trees or rocks and can only assume that it would do a better job in protecting my head than a knit ski hat.
I had a good time on my first visit to Stratton. This is a nice ski area and it is a lot bigger that I had expected. The trails were all well maintained and the moguls were just the right size. There was terrain for skiers of every ability. It was unfortunate that I had to keep returning to the base area to return equipment. I would have loved to spend more time exploring the areas I did not have a chance to visit. The Kidderbrook area offered some interesting runs. I only got one run in the glades at the Snow Bowl and I want more. Bear Down looked like a challenge and I didn't get a chance to try it.
The people I met at Stratton were all very helpful and friendly. The restaurants all had excellent up-scale selections and the bar was fun. I liked the band that was playing a lot and I can guarantee you a good time if you head for Stratton for a ski vacation. I know that I will be making another visit to Stratton as soon as I can.