In January 1999, Robert and I were at Steamboat for a week with Bill and Judy as usual. Robert hadn't skiied since spring of 1997 because last year his wrist was in a cast all January, and after six months of Los Angeles weather, both of us were ready for a great ski season. Of course, then I got a very heavy cold and cough, aggravated by being particularly out of shape, and Robert tore a muscle in his lower back early in the week. By the end of the week I was feeling better, though Robert still wasn't able to get back on the slopes, and so I was able to join Bill and Judy for a guided demo on some Volants.
I had read a review of the SuperKarve L in Ski Magazine and was excited to try them--they sounded like great skiis for me, stable but peppy, easy to turn, easy to carve, great on groomed runs and yet something that won't hold me back when I venture onto the bumps. Normally I ski on a 178 Elan DRC, a cap ski that came out just before the ground-breaking Elan SCX, and so included elements of its construction in a traditional ski with a very, very slight sidecut. I'd bought my skis when I was about a level 4 in the PSIA rating system, and now I'm an eager 7 who wants to learn to ski everything (except trees, which scare me a little too much). Three years ago, I'd demoed the Elan SCX, which has a more drastic sidecut than the SuperKarve, and loved it. Now, I was ready for the Volants. Volants are really different skiis from other brands because of their composition; they're supposed to be particularly good at holding an edge, in all kinds of terrain and at all speeds.
Our guide was very knowledgable and helpful, spending a long time picking our equipment out ahead of time, and then really helping us get the feel of the new skiis. Judy was skiing the same ski as I was, but since they only had one 163 at the demo center, she was using that one, which was probably the more ideal length for me as well, and I was using the 155s. I didn't notice that they felt short, but I would definitely like to try them a little longer--I don't want to buy a ski that will only be suitable for conservative skiing, even if that's mostly what I do. I love making perfectly controlled, rhythmic, up and down carved turns on groomed runs--that in-control, flying feeling is why I ski. The SuperKarves, first and foremost, were amazing at getting that sensation into my feet and brain earlier and easier in a run than my usual skiis. Our first run down Vagabond--albeit in absolutely ideal conditions, with excellent visibility, perfectly groomed terrain, and empty slopes--was the most enjoyable, effortless first run of a day I have ever had.
I felt my turns become much more connected on the Volants, and I could feel myself getting much more sideways "pinch" in my skiing than I usually do, without even concentrating on it. My legs were far less tired after a run all the way down Heavenly Daze and Vogue than they normally are, and overall, I was thrilled with the skiis. Apparently, so were Judy and Bill (who was on a pair of titanium-tipped PowerKarves), since that very afternoon they went out and bought the skiis they'd skiied on that morning. While I was very impressed with the way the ski handled, I would have liked to have tried it out in some less-ideal conditions (oh, where are the push-piles when I need them?), and certainly would do so before buying a pair. I was also slightly concerned about the weight of the Volants as opposed to my current, extremely light-weight, skiis: carrying one's equipment is not a trivial concern, after all. Our guide recommended I try the Volkl Carver Vectris or the K2 Black Magic for a similar ski in sidecut to the SuperKarve, yet for a slightly different feel and a lighter weight. At my next available opportunity, I intend to. It was really hard to go back to my own skiis after those two runs--I felt myself using more force to initiate each turn, and skiing seemed a somewhat less elegant thing. After a few runs on my old skiis, though, that feeling dispersed, and I knew I could get another year or two out of my slim, pretty blue skiis. Besides, most of the fun of a new ski is in the demo-ing of it.