ALL MOUNTAIN SKIS STILL EXIST?
Allmountain is dead. That seems like a bold statement, but I do believe that the end is in sight for this specific type of ski. By “all-mountain” I really mean the “one-ski-quiver” that skies on hard-hard slopes for a whole week as well as in the deep powder. We have been able to enjoy those skis for the last ten years or so. But now it seems ready. If we look at the current line-ups of the brands, we don’t actually see them anymore.
The label ‘all mountain’ (or ‘side country’, as Nordica called it – in between the prepared ‘front side’ and the pristine ‘back side’ of the mountain) was meant for people who literally put all possible snow conditions on with one ski wanted to ski the whole mountain. Those were skis between roughly 80 and 100 mm width below the foot and at least some tip-rocker.
Furthermore, that range has always been very diverse. There were simply very wide ski skis, which were also very good especially on hard snow (the first generation Rossignol Experience series, Blizzard Brahma and Bonafide, the ‘old’ Dynastar Powertrack, the also over-aged Salomon Enduro and X-Drives, etc.) . On the other hand, there were the more soft snow-oriented skis such as Atomic Vantage series, the current Dynastar Legend X, Salomon XDR. Of these skis, only the widest models really had enough float to stay in the powder; these skis were a bit of a help on hard artificial snow slopes.
There have been a few skis that were really all-rounders (in that broad definition of “all-mountain” as mentioned above). The Völkl Kendo (2016-2019) was one of them, the current Rossignol Experience 84 Ai (2019-present), the Nordica Nrgy (2015-2017). But I can’t think of more than this.
So those all-rounders are disappearing more and more. They still want to be more specialized. More people also don’t mind being on the road with more than one pair of skis. And that means that the all-rounder is replaced by a ski slope that works well in all conditions on the slopes and a ski for soft snow that you can also ski back to the lift if you want.
The technology in skis also makes it possible, for example, to keep that ski ski firm and jerky, but at the same time widely applicable in, for example, buckels, slush and some fresh snow. And thanks to cleverly used materials and shapes, freeride skis of around 100 mm width nowadays have the same float for which you needed a ski of 120 mm below your feet eight years ago. A narrower ski with the same float, that is already skiing a lot better on the slopes.
Instead of the 50-50 ski, the 80-20 or 20-80 skis become much more fascinating for manufacturers. A ski that is really designed for the one (for example, grip on the slopes), but is not immediately useless in other circumstances. And of course a ski that is made for soft snow, but also possible on hard snow. The latter category is – provided it is light enough – also interesting for an ever-increasing ski tour market. So no wonder that almost every brand has something like this in its range.
What’s in a name
You also see a shift in the category labels that brands use. “Allmountain” is not used that much anyway anyway. But some brands make it very colorful. Elan, for example, calls their piste line “all-mountain”. The Amphibio 16 TI and its brothers are ski skis with a full-camber inner edge of the ski (that is part of the Amphibio technology). The skis are narrow (around 73 mm) and made for the slopes. Call them “all condition” at most (but then on the slopes). But under the current label the suggestion is made that with these skis you can also ski really well in the really deep snow. Well, I think a good skier will probably come down, but it is certainly not the intended use. And many people would curse themselves if they were powder-coated on these slats.
You should also pay attention to the skis that are designated as “all mountain” in North America. They like wide skis there. They effortlessly use a 90 mm ski below as a “hard snow carver” in the Rocky Mountains. For many Europeans, that is the widest thing that they dare to hold on to in the field. The ski that I have been using for a while as a freeride ski, the K2 Pinnacle 105, is seen there as a versatile all-mountain bar. I have also skied that ski on the slopes for a whole day. But whether my knees would last a whole week? I’m not going to try. The snow is a bit different there in the US, that must be said. But you have to be careful when using the terms when you read American reviews.
The all-rounder is being phased out slowly. We want more, we want better. But we still want everything. And that is possible, but we have to divide that more and more into several pairs of skis. I still like my Kendo’s for those trips that I really don’t know what I’m going to encounter