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Waxless Wonders: Thrill on the hill
If we had normal northern Vermont weather, we would have had ideal conditions for testing metal-edge waxless touring skis. Meaning within ten days we’d see powder, rain, ice, glop sludge, corn. What we got? A couple of weeks of cold pow, some of it wind-stiffened—sifted, you might say, if you’re a baker.
But the rides were good. As I wrote in the February issue of BCM, the game changer for the ski industry was the Karhu Guide. They sold numbers that made competing companies take notice.
So for this year’s testing we had the perpetrator—the Karhu Guide that’s now the Madshus Annum, altered only in its graphics and a new bevel for better edge hold—and the contenders: the Fischer Sbound 112 and Sbound 98, along with Rossignol’s big BC125—all named after tip size. We also had—as a curiosity—the stubby form of the Marquette Backcountry ski. All were mounted with the venerable—and just re-introduced—Voile 3-Pin Cable tele binding.
We skied on an array of touring boots, three of which (Alpina’s BC 2175, Fischer’s BCX 875, Rossignol’s BCX 875) incorporate the hinged plastic cuffs of Cross Country skate boots, along with them, the all-plastic Garmont Excursion. We weren’t doing a simultaneous boot test, but all were capable of powering the biggest skis.
We ran all the rigs up and down Cote Hill, a notable, tree-studded slope north of Stowe, Vermont whose 20-30° pitches my neighbors and I have been skiing for 20 years: Prime backcountry terrain, though close to a road.
Here’s the quick take after several hours of testing: the Fischers climbed the best, the Rossis floated the best and the Madshus melded those two capabilities. Click the skis below for a review of each.