Ski: 2013-2014 Epic Planks Ripper, 185cm
Dimensions (mm): 139-103-130
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.9cm
BLISTER’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,100 grams & 2,145 grams
Sidecut Radius: 17.2 meters
Boots / Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester Demo (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: Factory Recommended (-7 from center)
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley, Summit County, Colorado.
Days Skied: 6
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Ripper, which is unchanged for 13/14, except for the graphics. It will also be available in additional size options.]
No matter how straightforward a particular ski might seem on paper, there’s always a chance it will handle differently on snow than you’d expect. Every ski seems to have distinctive quirks and particular performance characteristics that product descriptions don’t communicate. There’s simply never a guarantee that what you see (or read) is what you get, even with a pretty typical looking, rockered powder ski.
Take an all-mountain ski that looks rather unique on paper, like the Ripper, from a young manufacturer, like Epic Planks, and the uncertainties and curiosities get ramped up a bit. As I mentioned in our preview of the Epic Planks Ripper, everything about the the ski seemed well thought out, though of course I couldn’t be 100% sure what to expect on snow.
Here’s what Epic Planks has to say about the ski:
“Once in your stable the Ripper will quickly establish itself as your go-to, high energy ski that excels in all types of conditions. Modest early taper, a generous tip rocker and a short turn radius come together to offer a ski that feels nimble and light in tighter spots, while remaining incredibly stable at high speed. Whether its fast turns on the groomers, shredding the trees, or dropping bombs in the steeps, the Ripper is an extremely versatile one-ski quiver that likes to be ridden hard.”
After 7 days of testing at Taos and in resorts around Colorado, for the most part Epic Planks seems right on the money with the above description. So far I’ve been able to get a good sense of the Ripper’s carving performance, swing weight, its feel through long, fast, surfier turns, tighter low-speed smear-turns, small and large bumps, and its handling in a few inches of soft, chopped powder.
The first thing I noticed about the Ripper was its relatively short turn radius, which was somewhat expected. For a 185cm, 103mm underfoot ski, the Ripper’s 17.2m arc makes for a quick feel as it pulls across the hill on edge. If you’re looking for legitimate carving ability and edge hold in your one-ski-quiver, consider the Ripper. The standard mount point and traditional, non-rockered tail allowed me to drive the ski on edge as I would any good all-mountain ski, making full and complete arcs back and forth across the hill. The Ripper’s edge hold is impressive and confidence inspiring, even over especially icy spots (I certainly slipped an edge here and there during early season testing in very firm conditions, but frankly I think any race ski would have, too).
On softer mid-season groomers I was able to really lay the Ripper over hard and carve it through its full, tightest radius. It feels a lot like a serious GS ski in terms of it’s radius and edge hold. Here the stiffness of the ski’s flex profile became obvious. The Ripper is stiffer than any ski I’ve ever been on directly underfoot. It is extremely hard to press the camber flat together with one hand while holding the skis base to base. This stiffness is only slightly lessened through the tail, and a little more so in the shovel (so I’d label the sectioned flex profile from tip to tail as medium/stiff – stiff – very stiff). Get lazy or tired and sit too far back on the ski while on edge, and the Rippers’ tails will hook up and run on you (similar to the Moment Belafonte, or a flat tailed ski like the old Line Influence 115).
The Ripper doesn’t feel unlike the Moment Belafonte on groomers as far as carving stability is concerned. However, the Belafonte definitely has a softer and damper feel underfoot ( it’s not at all a soft ski in its own right), and a noticeably longer turn radius (27.4 meters in the 187cm length). I don’t think the Ripper is too stiff underfoot, but it would likely feel that way to an intermediate or intermediate/advanced skier. (For a ski with very similar carving characteristics that has a generally more forgiving and softer flex, take a look at the Armada TST.) With good technique and a lot of edge pressure, a strong skier will be able to flatten the camber and end the ski through a carve. I actually spent a few groomer laps on the Rossignol Experience 88, a narrower, more dedicated carving ski, and the Rippers edge hold felt just as strong. It’s a great craving ski.