REVIEWS AND TESTS
Ski Tests & Reviews
Zero Lignum 174cm (2020-2021)
Zero Lignum (2020-2021)
116-66-101 r=15-17m @ 174cm
Via Torriani 17/a,
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
Rating (with comments):
(1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9 packed groomer carving
5-6 crud and mixed surface conditions
Zero Skis was founded in Como, Italy in 2011 by Claudio Valsecchi and Andrea Bonacina. They have applied high-quality, artisan topsheets containing exotic wood veneers, gold leaf, gemstones and layers of slate and other materials to create a series of customized, high-end skis to appeal to the luxury sector of the World ski market. Their dedication to craftsmanship and artistry brings artful designs to high performance carving skis to satisfy expert skiers looking for beauty as well as athletic personality in their skis. Zero's marketing efforts are aimed squarely at the fashion/luxury segment.
"Lignum skis are realized through a structure in okoume wood and a surface in precious rosewood. Solid and elastic at the same time for a precise skiing on any kind of surface.
The elegant and refined appearance of Lignum is achieved through the careful selection of the finest essence, the rosewood. This wood, traditionally used by lutists, is combined with subtle lateral steel edges creating a truly timeless design.
Due to the excellent absorption properties of rosewood, skiing is smooth and easy on all types of snow.
Zero Lignum combines materials such as Okumè solid wood in the internal structure of the skis in order to enhance elasticity, giving a sense of safety and precision on every track.."
"Design, precision hand crafting, pure materials, technical experience and passion for details. This is Zero. Zero brings a new concept and style of skiing where technology and design come together to create something precious and unique. Personalized and customizable 100% in all aspects of design and structure, each Zero ski has its own history.
Exclusively made from Italian design, Zero workshop is located in the heart of the Alps; where for generations skiing has not only been a sport, but a profession and a passion as well.
Zero philosophy consists in creating products that matches the needs of any single skier, and for this reason, every production is followed together with the client in any moment of its realization. The objective is to create a ski which satisfies the technical and esthetic requirements of the customer, in order to create a unique piece of craftsmanship, which will endure in time."
- Website - 2020
Technical Ski Data:
Bindings and Boots Used:
Tyrolia PowerRail PRD 12 adjustable bindings
Salomon S-Max 130 Carbon boots.
The first word that comes to mind when you see the Lignum skis is "Elegant". The deep and glossy protective finish over the rosewood gives the topsheet the look of something that should grace the interior panels of a custom Alfa Romeo or Rolls Royce. "Gorgeous" is a term some people used when they saw this ski. Zero has utilized a solid, superb-quality ski upon which to layer its artistic topsheet. Fit and finish are superb, and even with this test pair being put into service as demo/test skis prior to our receiving them, they were essentialy flawless except for some minor scarring of the glossy finish in some spots. The flex is moderate to stiff throughout the ski, withvery solid torsional strength and moderately energetic rebound when flexed. The ski feels damp and silky to flex. The geometry looks like a narrow, traditional Euro-carver with a 15-17m radius at 66mm underfoot (depending on length) should, so it looks like it wants to slice narrow cuts on packed surfaces in a graceful arc. The ski feels substantial and gives the impression of being a serious performer, and not just another pretty, veneered topsheet ski.
Fresh, dry natural powder (15cm ~ 6 inches),skied-out packed-powder, corduroy, soft-packed and hard-packed groomers, short portions of boilerplate surfaces.
The Zero Lignum is a no-holds-barred, authentically classic Euro race-carver craving medium-to-long turns at high pressures at speed. This ski is for technical carving enthusiasts and afficianados of silky-strong edging.
The Lignum telegraphs its preferred radius underfoot as the skier rolls it on-edge and pressures it, quickly settling into its sweet-spot and politely resisting efforts to tighten the radius below it's design unless you can generate intense pressures to flex the ski into a deeper arc, where it delivers a strong and unwaivering grip resulting in impressive G-forces. The Lignums prefer a bit of speed before they engage enthusiastically, and feel solidly attracted and attached to the surface at all speeds, including ticket-pulling velocities frowned upon by ski patrols.
This is a ski that shines on-edge under pressure at speed, delivering GS-like turns across firm surfaces with impeccably quiet manners and confidence and a high-precision feel underfoot. The turn execution feels surgical and accurate, letting you apply pressure and take a line with impressive precision at moderate to very high speeds. "Refined Intensity" is a phrase that frequenty came to mind when testing the Zero Lignum in its natural habitat of firmly packed groomers. The Lignums are a classic example of what a highly-refined race carver can be. They don't require the attention and vigilance of a pure race ski, and can be skied all day by someone craving high-level carving intensity and performance without exhausting their energy reserves. Smooth, elegant, intense carving behavior is what the Lignums deliver.
Crud and 3-D surface conditions reveal the 66mm-waisted Lignums are really a dedicated on-piste design since they, like their Sten siblings, yield a slightly cumbersome feel when submerged "in" snow instead of "on top" of snow. They can navigate fresh conditions perfectly well, but with the availability of rockered all-mountain skis allowing soft-snow performance with little skier effort, the Lignums remain specialty race-carvers and prefer groomed conditions to 3-dimensional snow.
The Zero Lignum is a classic purebred European race-carver with a highly-precise, highly-refined top-performance personality wrapped in a gorgeously appointed wood veneer package. Zero has created a ski ideal for people who want a top-shelf race-carver making unique and artistic statement. These are beautiful skis with seriously impressive carving prowess and mannerisms.
Hardpack and Boilerplate:
The Lignum takes to hardpack like a fish released into water. The ski immediately begins to engage as soon as you tip it on-edge, which can happen quickly with a 66mm waist width, elegantly drawing you into a turn with its entire length being engaged in the turning process. You dont't need to fight to keep it engaged like some race skis, and you don't feel locked-in to your turn....but you want to keep pressing and increasing intensity because the feedback is so rewarding. While a pure race ski is viciously tenacious and demands you keep the power on to keep it on-track, the Lignums hold their line nearly automatically, letting you "ride the ski" if you don't want to "drive it", but reacts enthusiastically if you drive it in race-mode. The edge grip and acceleration are nearly on-par with a race ski, but detuned enough to be skied all day on firm surfaces by expert carving enthusiasts. The Lignum cancels out vibrations on firm sufaces really well while communicating snow density and grip underfoot with excellent precision and no over-damped feel...a great balance for afficianados. This is a classic statement of what a Euro race-carver can be.
Mixed Surface & Variable Conditions:
The relatively narrow (66mm) midsection and moderately stiff flex of the Lignums produces a somewhat balky feel in crud or cut-up powder conditions where the body sinks below the surface. The tracking behavior is rock-solid and purely directional since the Lignum is a carving ski at heart and its damp character and strong edgehold delivers an authoritative cut through the mixed surface materials without any deflection or instability. There is no real "surfy" feel to the Lignum in mixed conditions, but it will track solidly in the desired direction and ignore any changes in snow conditions in its path. The Lignum is a race-carver, pure and simple. Pick your conditions accordingly.
We took the Lignum on some laps in 8-12 inches of fresh snow, but its narrow body and somewhat stiff flex pattern made it feel like a balky race-like ski, so we parked it until the next day when the groomers had manicured the surface into a packed surface.
Turn Initiation, Apex & Finish:
The Lignum initiates turns with a simple tip of the ski on-edge and you can feel the whole ski attach itself solidly to the surface. The ski's geometry craves being weighted and pressured to get its edge to set into a silky-feeling arc. Advancing intermediates will get the feel of their first carving experience with a ski like the Lignum, and they'll be hooked if they can resist the urge to drift the ski. The apex of the Lignum's turn is something you can linger on in a wide-GS style, or punch through to change direction. The finish of the Lignum's turn can be held into a deep trench-digging action, or feathered-off with a decrease of edge angle and pressure/weight. Over-turn it or force it to turn tighter than it likes, and it will resist and may feel like it's digging-in underfoot because it is a narrow chassis. Composure across different densities of snow surface while in its carved state is unfailingly confident, smooth and authoritative without being demanding. The Zero Lignum would be an ideal ski to teach someone the art of race-carving without requiring a race ski.
Manufacturer's Mounting Position:
We found the stock mounting position was the best balance point for the Lignum. Moving the demo binding fore and aft from the factory mounting point produced an unbalanced feel in the ski's forebody and tail behaviors.
Analogies: ("This ski is like...")
A top-end club touring coupe set up for racing with 20 coats of customized, hand-rubbed laquer.
Things I Would Change About This Ski:
Nothing. It does what its design intended and looks stunning doing it.
Short Answer When Someone Asks "What Do You Think About This Ski?":
The Zero Lignum is a perfect example of a classic, highly-refined European race-carver with performance at the top-end of the scale, yet wrapped in a disarmingly beautiful wood veneer topsheet. Definitely a collector's item, with carving cred to back up its good looks. Luxury artistry meets highest-level race-carving performance.
What kind of skier is this ski good for and not suitable for?
Beginners or off-piste skiers are not a good match for the Zero Lignum. Off-piste skiers need to look elsewhere. Drifting, smeary-style skiers need not apply. Carving enthusiasts, ex-racers and afficianados of high-speed cruising on-edge will be addicted to this ski.
Advice To People Considering This Ski:
Be prepared to get "oooohs" and "aaaahhhs" in the lift line, along with all the stereotypes that go along with someone who has a glossy wood-veneer luxury brand ski. Be prepared to protect it during transport with a nicely padded bag. Take some carving lessons from an expert and up your game if you're going to ski the Lignums. Like the Zero Sten, the Lignums deserve a good pilot to go along with their good looks.
Pics: (click for larger versions)
Zero Sten (Left) All-Mtn. and Zero Lignum Racecarver (Right)
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