Ski: 2015-2016 Salomon Q-115, 188cm
Dimensions (mm): 139-115-131
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 187.2cm
Sidecut Radius: 21 meters
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Firearrow F1 / Salomon Guardian 16 (DIN at 10)
Mount Location: Factory recommended line
Test Locations: Las Leñas Ski Resort
Days skied: 3
[Editor's Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Rocker2 115, which was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, or 15/16, except for its graphics. (The ski's name was also changed to the "Q-115" for the 13/14 season.)]
When Salomon came out with an entire Rocker2 line of skis for this season, my attention was immediately drawn to the Rocker2 115.
The Rocker2 115 is marketed as the big-mountain, charging version of the original 122mm underfoot Rocker2, with a 7mm-narrower waist and half the tail rocker.
Cody Townsend gave up his 194cm AK board, the El Dictator, for the 115 and now uses it to check off his big-mountain lines. If you knew the late El Dictator, this might lead you to think the new 115 is another monstrous plank. But upon initial inspection, the 115 seems like a much friendlier ski.
In our preview of the Rocker2 115, I noted that it doesn’t seem scary stiff (at least from a hand flex), with what I’d consider an even, medium-stiff flex in the shovel and underfoot with perhaps a little more stiffness through the tail. So in heading to Las Leñas, one of the main questions on my mind was: how demanding is the Rocker2 115 really going to be?
After three days on the ski, the answer seems to be: not very.
But this First Look is very preliminary. I still need to put a lot more time on the the ski in powder and a wider range of softer conditions; even so, I already have a few very good things to say about the 115. I’ve found it to be very predictable, extremely intuitive, and surprisingly easy to ski on hardpack and in soft, spring slush conditions. In a nutshell, it’s been a blast to ski.
Hardpack / Groomers
For a 115mm underfoot powder ski, the 115 carves very well. While it’s not as locked down on groomers as the 11/12 Line Influence 115 (which has no tail rocker), I’m still still very impressed with how well the ski finishes a turn. On just the slightest amount of soft snow (really on anything but boilerplate hardpack), the Rocker2 115 provides surprisingly dependable edge hold. I felt comfortable laying the ski over quickly into a high-angle carve, making stable arcs back and forth across the fall line of groomed runs on the Vulcano lift and off the backside of the Marte chair.
The 115 has a stated turn radius of about 21m, which seems consistent with the way it performs; I was constantly surprised by how quick and responsive this ski is, given its width. (It reminds me a bit of the Moment Bibby Pro, another powder ski that’s surprisingly capable on groomed snow.) It’s no all-mountain carver, but the Rocker2 115 is easy enough to bend and drive that making fast, aggressive carves is still a lot of fun.
Short, scrubbed turns in soft, slushy conditions were also easy to execute. Even at very low speeds, the 115s feel quite light and maneuverable, a lot like the DPS Wailer 112RPC. Slightly longer smeared turns were very easy to make as well. The 115 feels like it has a set radius when it comes to carved turns, but it’s not difficult to feather out the tail and release the whole edge to make any turn shape. I really enjoyed this in firmer conditions, and felt a similar sensation in the little time I had on this ski in powder (more on than it a moment).
The 115’s edge hold on bulletproof, wind-scoured hardpack isn’t stellar, but it’s nothing less than I had expected given the ski’s relatively deep tip rocker. I found the edge hold sufficient enough to move around comfortably (albeit at pretty low speeds) in variable and hardpack conditions in the steep terrain around Telemaco and Mercurio.
Kästle has gone in a new direction with their fully symmetrical XX110 West, and Colby West and Kästle both deserve a standing ovation for this pow / jib ski that can handle big-mountain lines.
The Down Skis Countdown 3 is a serious, damp big-mountain ski well suited to cut big, fast turns on a pow day, but capable of smearing and surfing turns when you ask.
The MOMENT PB&J is a serious contender for the title of the best one-ski quiver on the planet.