Ski: 2014-2015 4FRNT Hoji, 187cm
Actual Tip to Tail Length (straight tape pull): 185cm
(179cm model): 128-112-120mm
(187cm model): 130-112-121mm
(195cm model): 132-112-122mm
Effective Edge Length:
(179cm model): 109cm
(187cm model): 112cm
(195cm model): 126cm
Turn Radius: 30 meters for all lengths
Weight Per Ski:
(179cm model) = 4.6lbs
(187cm model) = 4.9lbs
(195cm model) = 5.4lbs
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Enforcer 28.5 / 4FRNT Deadbolt (DIN) 13
Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line
Test Location: Niseko, Japan
Days Skied: 5[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Hoji, which is unchanged for 13/14 and 14/15, except for the graphics.]
4FRNT skier Eric Hjorleifson has been producing a pro model (well, two pro models) for a few years now; first came the EHP, then the Renegade.
The EHP retained the same name through a number of refinements over the years, but for 2012/2013, both the name and the ski have been retired. In its place comes an all-new ski to take its place: the Hoji.
According to 4FRNT, the Hoji is the product of everything Eric has learned from creating both the EHP and the Renegade. In fact, the Hoji shares many of the same design features as the Renegade, including the interesting sidecut matching rocker profile, which 4FRNT is calling Reflect Tech.
While the EHP certainly developed a cult following, the new Hoji is being marketed as being both more versatile and user-friendly than the EHP. 4FRNT believes they have accomplished this by reducing the EHP’s 40-meter turn radius down to 30 meters, slimming the waist from 116mm to 112mm, giving the ski a full-length rocker profile, and putting both the 179 and 187 Hoji on a diet: each ski is a third of a pound lighter.
So after five days of skiing the Hoji in Niseko, I have to come clean and admit that I’m going to have to finish up my “versatility” testing once I get back to Utah. For the past five days, Niseko has been hammered by a large, Siberian-originating blizzard.
I’ve definitely had my share of fun on the Hoji, but the limited visibility has kept us out of big, open runs; instead, we’ve been shredding pow in the trees and playing on small spines and pillows. So I haven’t been able to get the ski in a variety of terrain or snow conditions to give a proper, in-depth review. And this is especially important since 4FRNT is positioning the Hoji as a potential western resort, everyday ski.
But in five days on the Hoji in Niseko, I ended up with a pile of notes on the Hoji because it is so refreshingly different than everything I’ve been on for the past few years.
So here is what I’ve got to say so far. Let’s call it Part 1: Powder and Trees.
Of all the pro models I have skied, if I was given a blind test and forced to identify the athlete behind the design after a few laps, most correct answers would be little more than lucky guesses. Not the Hoji.
After rallying down through my first stand of trees littered with rollers and small pillows, there was no question I was riding a ski designed by Eric Hjorleifson. It was immediately apparent that the characteristics of Eric’s fast, playful, fall line style were also the defining characteristics of the Hoji.
The Hoji needs a little bit of space and some speed to deliver its full charm; this isn’t a “fun shaped,” S7-style tool for super tight trees, but that is not to say that it won’t work there. It’s just that the Hoji needs a little more speed to come to life than large shoveled skis with skinny tails require.
The Hoji likes to keep it pointed down the fall line, but in a very quick, dynamic, and playful way. This is very different than a big, metal, super long sidecut beast like, say, a Volkl Katana. Instead of feeling like a ski that allows you to ski fast by steamrolling variability in terrain and snow, the Hoji allows you to ski fast by being incredibly quick and agile, yet not excessively turny.
In fact, the more terrain abnormalities I could find along my line, the better, and skipping down the mountain from feature to feature was where the Hoji absolutely ruled.