Lighter, Fresh Snow off Marte
When I found pockets of untracked, lightly wind-affected snow (about 3 inches on a firm base in Eduardo Variante), the Watea 106 planed well at speed. The wide shovels floated to the surface and were stable and easy to control if I was making fall-line turns. With some speed in this softer snow, I was able to feather the tail, pivoting the ski into more of a slarved turn. If I tried to slarve at lower speed, the Watea felt far less responsive. On the whole, performing these surfier turns did not feel as natural on the 106 as on the Atomic Ritual (a more playful ski with a softer, rockered tail).
I imagine that in deeper, lighter snow, the Watea 106 will be easier to throw into slashes and pivots in order to control speed (I’ll be sure to explore this more in some deeper snow this winter in North America). But for now, it seems that due to the Watea’s stiffer flex and traditional camber through tail, the ski largely prefers more traditional turn styles in powder.
Big-Mountain Chutes off Marte and Cerro Martin (chalk, crud)
At the top of Penélope, and Eduardo Variante, and on some of the bigger lines off Cerro Martin, we encountered some sloughed-off, harder, chalky snow. For one of the lines that I filmed for our edit, I tried to rage down this firmer snow through the steep, narrow entrance to Penélope, and the Watea 106 held up well as long as I was on top of the ski. There was clearly a fine line of control: when I was aggressive with the ski, I could keep it together, but I sensed that were I to get lazy or let down my guard, I could have easily lost control.
In the Tanga and Banana chutes off Cerro Martin, I had a similar experience. On the very steep upper sections, where the snow was consistent, grippy, and soft, the Watea 106 was predictable, exactly what I needed for the exposed 45-degree no-fall zone. Through the middle, the snow again was sloughed off and firm, and the Watea 106 was predictable and maneuverable as I skied cautiously and deliberately through the new terrain. When I got through the choke on The Banana, I yelled out to let the others know that I had made it through as I opened it up on the soft, consistent apron. On the apron, my fitness was the only speed limit; as long as I had the energy to make big, strong turns, the ski could comfortably go as fast as I asked it to.
In light crud on the run-outs below Eduardo and Penélope, the small amount of rocker prevented the tips from deflecting, and the Watea 106 was damp and stable. I comfortably attacked the aprons with an aggressive stance, making GS to Super-G-sized turns through a few inches of lightly tracked-up snow. Again, as long as I had the energy to stand on the ski and was thinking ahead, the Watea 106 could charge. As soon as I got tired and needed to make turns across the fall line, this ski became a ton of work. In the lightest, cut-up snow, it was possible to slash the 106s with significant effort, but, as in powder, there was more resistance from the moderately stiff, non-rockered tail of the Watea 106 than in the tail-rockered Atomic Ritual.
Later in the week, the crud got heavier, and the 106 did well when being skied directionally and powerfully. I found myself shifting my weight slightly back to lighten the tips, while still driving my shins on the front of the boot. This shift in weight was fine for making make big, directional turns at high speeds on the aprons of Penélope and Eduardo. But, again, when I got tired and lazy at the bottom of the Marte chutes, or needed to do unexpected speed control, the Watea 106 was a handful. I could not slash or pivot in thicker and heavier crud without being bucked by the stiff tail. This ski cannot be skied from the backseat.
NEXT PAGE: GROOMED SNOW CARVING
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