"The Shaman" 2008-2009
(160-110-130) 18m radius @ 184cm
948 W. 8th Avenue
Denver, Colorado USA 80204
Tel: +1 303 670 6804
Forward-stance, cambered powder ski
Your Rating (with comments): (1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
9+ for tight turns on demand in powder (tight trees)
7 for casual, lazy powder surfing
8 for mostly soft snow terrain with occasional groomer trips
A front-floating "powder carver" with special emphasis on skiing the forebody of the ski, capable of very quick direction changes in powder and perfectly secure carving behavior on groomers when required. Requires vigilance since its shape results in very fast changes of direction in soft snow with minimal input. Quiet on harder snow due to rubber layers. Definite hybrid shape doing what it was designed to do very well. Somewhat different feel than "traditional" cambered powder skis. Not for hard-charging or stomping big landings. Try before you buy. Good tool for tight tree skiers or boulder-dodgers.
Technical Ski Data:
Poplar wood core
Rubber foil between core and base
Fiberglass (unilateral and matte)
Durasurf 4001 P-Tex bases
Price: $649 retail usd.
This test pair had some miles on them and some scrapes and scratches, but the flex and camber were all still good. Definite adventure-comics graphics and interesting color scheme. Fairly soft, damp flex and rebound with the wide forebody having some stiffness you might not expect. Moderate torsional strength but not remarkably twist-free. Very interesting geometry with the "spade-like", elongated tip and relatively vibration-free "bang-the-gong" response (pinch midpoint between fingers and bang the forebody with hard rap and feel the reaction to vibration...not scientific but gives a nice feedback about the plank's behavior to being vibrated) due to rubber foil in the construction.
Cold, dry, powder snow 1 day old, boot-deep powder, tracked-out boot-deep powder and nicely packed groomers with small bumps on the sides if you look for them. Les Grand Montets - Chamonix, France. January 2009.
I skied these and another powder ski of similar dimensions (155-112-133 21m radius @ 189cm from White Dot Freeride) the same morning, so I will mention the differences between them a bit as the review goes on...First turns immediately told me this was a spunky turner; not a powder plank. You could carve it pretty well on-piste if you roll it up and over onto its preferred edge angles. The Shaman is definitely damp...not quite a "rubbery viscosity", but not floppy either...keeps itself planted nicely on the snow across changes in surfaces, and wants to transmit the density and depth of cut-up snow to the tips because of their massive surface area. Bumpy surfaces are not a problem for this widebody...it handles them pretty well, just be on your toes because the big tips with lots of edge will grab (or be grabbed) by the surfaces they run into. Plenty of pop if you want it to leave the ground off any size hump or bump. This makes the Shaman very "responsive" and reactive to the surface you're in or on at any time. You can make remarkably short, quick, jabby turns if there is any surface depth to use the geometry of the ski. If you're navigating a field of cut-up powder, you can dance left, dance right and pretty much change directions at will. No pushing, no slurring, cut-and-thrust is easy. If you pick up the speed and get planing over the cut-up surfaces, the Shaman will go where you point it, but don't get sloppy, because if you tip it slightly on-edge or feed the tip into a pile of snow with a bit of angle, it will pull you in that direction. Great if you're in tight rocks or trees - maybe a little "busy" at higher speeds in the junk. Definitely fun and innovative design. After comparing the White Dot Preacher to the Shaman (since they are very similar dimensions, but different geometries), the "traditional" geometry of the Preacher was more cruising-smooth and less richocet-rabbit. If I was in open powder fields or in big-radius territory, a traditonal geometry powder ski would be less active, but if I was in trees or navigating boulder fields, the Shaman would be the turning machine of choice. The Shaman does not have a burly tail or midbody, so I don't think it would be a cliff-hucker's dream or high-speed runout freighttrain. The Shaman is all about floating your tips in the powder, carving through the fluff using trees as racing gates. The design works really well, almost too well at times. The ski is definitely all about being forward and concentrating on feeding the ski into turns from the shovel. The tails feel like their just along for the ride, following whereever the shovels want to go. I did not get to ride the Shaman in real fluff (I think of "real powder" as at least over my knees-deep...you may differ...), so I couldn't test its porpoise-like behaviors. If you want a floaty turn machine that is easy to drive and will zip left or right by wiggling your ears, the Shaman is the ticket. It does grip the groomers very well, considering its dimensions, but I found the White Dot Preacher to rail the hardpack with more authority. The tight-tree or short-turn powder crowd on plenty of Internet ski forums definitely likes this design. The wide-open, high-speed fanatics might want something else. Try a pair and see what you think.
Analogies: (this ski is like...)
A powder wheelie machine dialed-in to dart left and right on command.
After Trying This Ski, I Want To...
Try some deep fluff and see if its depth can be adjusted, or if it only wants to surface like a breaching submarine with its nose in the air all the time.
Self-Description of Skiing Style, Ability, Experience, Preferences:
Expert groomed-surface carver, "old-style" race inspired, "foot steerer" with fairly sensitive edging feel who loves the feel of powder floating and banking. Loves to hold long arcs with lots of pressure on the downhill ski (you know the type), but also loves the feel of both skis on-edge leaving tiny railroad track edge tracks. Not an instructor, but 10 year coach for youth race team in New England (bulletproof is the norm).
Here is what you see underfoot with the Icelantic Shaman