Dimensions (mm): 133-110-126
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 184.8
Sidecut Radius: 26 meters
BLISTER’s Measured Weight Per Ski: 2,119 grams & 2,124 grams
Boots/Bindings: Dalbello KRII Pro / Marker Jester Demo (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: Recommended (-6 from center)
Test Location: Las Leñas Ski Resort
Days Skied: 3
According to Praxis, the new MVP is the “Most Valuable Praxis” in their line. They also claim it to be as capable at shredding the backcountry as it is to making its way to a Freeskiing World Tour podium.
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews from Las Leñas, one thing is for sure: the 110mm underfoot category is stacked for the 2012/13, and as with all the skis from Las Leñas, more time in more conditions will really put these skis to the test. But the Praxis MVP might be at the top of the “Most Versatile Player” list in the category.
First things first, if you haven’t read Jonathan’s initial impression review of the Praxis MVP, you should. I’ll be skipping many of the specific details to avoid redundancy.
As Jonathan mentioned, this ski is right up my ally, and as soon as I laid eyes on the MVP, I was very excited to spend time on it. As Jonathan also mentioned, I didn’t have any of the issues he ran into concerning the tune. In fact, there were a few instances when I wished the skis were kept a little sharper for frozen, steep terrain.
Heading over to the Vulcano lift and taking a couple of laps on the lower mountain groomers, I immediately noticed the MVP’s longer sidecut radius compared to the other skis I had been riding. I didn’t, however, notice any issue with carving ability like Jonathan mentioned in his review. The MVP felt nearly as comfortable as the Kästle West XX110 flying down Vulcano 1 through the mix of firm sections, slush piles, and just-off-trail chop. As I said, I did notice the longer, slower sidecut, especially transferring from one turn to another. At slow speeds the MVP required a bit more steering action from my feet to initiate turns compared to similar skis like the Salomon Rocker 2 108 or Rossignol Sickle. Once through the initiation phase of the turn, however, the MVP effortlessly slid through small- and medium-radius turns.
Next, I took the MVPs up to Marte and Iris for some off-piste experimentation. Luna 3 had been an excellent hard-pack test run all week, so I jumped straight in. As expected, I found firm and chalky wind slab on the top half that transitioned to a bulletproof, rough, and wind scoured lower half. The MVP’s felt quite light on my feet, and with that in mind, I was very impressed with their damp and confidence-inspiring feel in these challenging conditions. I was able to set aggressive edges on the chalk and energetically move from turn to turn. As I made my way to the icier lower snowpack, I had more difficulty setting an edge (a difficulty I’d had with all the other skis I tested), but I felt totally comfortable smearing out medium-radius arcs over the very firm, brain-rattling conditions of this particular zone.
Continuing the remainder of the way to the base of Marte, I flew down the upper section of Apolo leaving long-radius railroad tracks. At the first opportunity, I cut skiers right, off the groomed run of Apolo and onto the open face just adjacent. This section of the mountain was excellent for letting the skis run, continuing to leave only railroad tracks behind, but this time down an off-piste slope filled with traverse tracks. The MVP continued to impress me by staying very calm as I cut through the slightly softer (due to lower elevation) chop.
With only a few runs under my belt on the MVP, I was quickly learning I could trust these skis. Feeling very comfortable, I decided to take them for a short hike up Cerro Martin to get into some more exciting terrain. The day before I had taken the Rocker 2 108s down Casco, and while doing so, I noticed that the unnamed chute just skiers’ right looked very appealing. I made it the destination for this hike, and took off up the booter from Iris. Upon loading the skis on my back, I noticed the MVP’s slightly lighter weight than other skis I’d been strapping to my back on this trip.
Conditions in the chute were much like those in Casco, variable wind crust. This chute turned out to be quite a bit narrower on the upper section, a little thinner in coverage, and steeper with even more exposure risk. I was thrilled after the first few turns as the MVP continued to provide a confidence-inspiring ride down the difficult conditions. To be clear, this section of the run wasn’t about being fancy or fast; I made quick, very deliberate short-radius turns, carefully controlling my speed. The MVP’s firm, predictable flex and mellow sidecut (especially in the tip) made navigating my way down in this manner quite easy.
About halfway down, the chute merged with a slightly larger chute to the right, and I was able to open the turns up a little, gaining slightly more speed. With this added speed and still very unpredictable surface conditions, the MVP started to feel a little too light, getting bounced around slightly more than I anticipated, but not so much I lost confidence. To be fair, the snow was incredibly difficult in this section, with soft wind effect interlaced with firm ridges and the occasional rock. The only downside of the light feeling of the skis turned out to be the distraction in focus it provided. As soon as I regained confidence that the skis weren’t going to do anything funky—like stuff a tip or grab excessively—I felt more at ease pushing the skis to the exit of the chute.
Reaching the bottom I entered the long wind-buffed apron. Trying to further enjoy the fruits of my labor, I picked up more speed and eased through some smeary medium- to long-radius arcs. This provided the only time of the day where I wished the MVP’s were slightly longer for additional high-speed stability. (I’ll touch a little more on length in a second.)
The Praxis MVP is a made-to-order ski. Our pair was made by—and for—Praxis' own Kevin O'Meara. It's a big-mountain comp ski built to play AND handle very high speeds. Two worlds collide.
Question: What ski is among the absolute best in its class, yet far too few skiers know about it? Answer: The Praxis Protest. It's a big ski that deserves to have a much, MUCH bigger following.
There are pro models and then there are Pro Models. The Praxis MVP is Kevin O'Meara's, and we are taking to Las Leñas the pair that Kevin literally built for himself to compete on this season. Not many skis out there appear to offer the MVP's level of playfulness, stability, and versatility.