Dimensions (mm): 129.5-100-121.5
Turn Radius: 20 meters @ 181mm
Boots / Bindings: Lange Exclusive RX 90 / Marker Griffin / (DIN) 8
Mount Location: Factory Recommended
Test Location: Jackson Hole, WY
Days Skied: 6
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 Access, which is unchanged for 12/13 & 13/14, except for the graphics.]
After last winter’s epic snowfall and rumors of a second appearance from La Niña (I’m still hoping she’s just fashionably late), I couldn’t help but do a little powder ski window-shopping last fall. It’s easy to think that bigger is better and get swept away by the array of beefy skis, but for some reason, I found myself curious about one of the slimmer options.
The Atomic Access can easily be overlooked on the sale wall when surrounded by its bodacious neighbors. Yet the majority of us don’t spend our time shredding big AK lines, which means that the more modest dimensions of the Access are pretty much ideal for the average skier.
At 100mm underfoot, the Access is one of the narrowest skis in Atomic’s powder lineup, and features tip and shovel rocker, traditional camber underfoot, and a non-rockered, partial twin tip tail.
New from Atomic last year, the Access came back unchanged for the 11/12 season. With the same basic geometry of the popular women’s Atomic Century, the Access is lightweight, playful, and very maneuverable. In a word, the Access makes skiing easy. The camber and sidecut make carving effortless, but the tip rocker enhances the Access’ performance in powder when the snow is deep.
During six days on the Access, I skied every type of terrain that Jackson had to offer, and I was impressed with the results. The snow in Jackson earlier this season let me hone my skills on icy hardpack, rock-studded bumps, and chundery off-piste snow. Although marketed as a powder ski, the Access excelled in these conditions.
For my first run on the Access, I went down Amphitheater trail, a wide groomer that just calls out for big GS turns. Initiating turns was effortless, and the skis were easy to control at both high and slower speeds. The camber of the Access extends into the tail, which made the ski really pop out of turns.
Considering that they have a medium flex, I was pleasantly surprised by how stable the Access was at speed. In addition, I wasn’t seeing a lot of tip flap like I have on other skis with more significant tip rocker, like the DPS Yvette.
Although I usually ski a 168, the 181cm Access felt more like 171 because of the considerable tip rocker and partial twin tip. The slight taper of the tip and tail also made it easier to turn the longer ski.
Armada didn't ditch the playful qualities of the JJ when they made the AK JJ, and you're certainly going to notice the family resemblance.
The 183cm Volkl Shiro offers a nice blend of versatility and powder performance, but demonstrated some finicky behavior that would likely be reduced by sizing up.
When Eric Hjorleifson comes out with a new pro model (especially a pro model that replaces the much loved 4FRNT EHP), it's time to pay attention. We've been running the new HOJI through the pillows and trees and pow of Niseko, and the ski is as dynamic and playful as the terrain around here.