Powder / Soft Snow
The only true powder runs I logged on the 115 in Las Leñas were off Cerro Martin. However, conditions were pretty inconsistent, varying abruptly from shallower, windblown chalk at the top, to deeper, slightly heavier snow at the bottom of runs with spots of nasty “zipper” wind crust throughout. Not able to trust the snow completely, and seeing as we were in some pretty exposed, high-consequence terrain, I was hesitant to really open the throttle. I’ll need more time in powder to fully understand the way the 115 ski handles, but here’s my general sense.
Pretty fast, big GS turns at the bottom of Casco and Tanga (where the snow was dense, probably 4” deep, but not wind affected at all) felt very balanced, yet easy to initiate and feather into shorter more “surfy” turns. And given that I was so impressed with the ski’s carving performance on hardpack, I was a little surprised to find that the Rocker2 115 had a pretty surfy and playful feeling in this soft snow. In those pow turns, the ski didn’t feel like it preferred to immediately hook up and track when engaged in a turn (which is more the feeling I got initially from the Down Skis Countdown 3). Rather, the Rocker2 115 felt as if it was ready to smear through a variety of turn shapes, while remaining very stable and predictable.
I want to make clear that while I’ve found the Rocker2 115 to be extremely predictable and intuitive in a wide range of conditions, the ski still feels substantial and confidence inspiring at speed. While I was skiing quickly through the choke of Tanga, the soft chalk at the top of the run turned into denser powder with a hard but brittle windcrust. Caught off guard and gaining speed quickly, I made an awkward, weak turn to throw the skis across the fall line. The 115’s tail is rockered, but only enough to help it release, and still has a substantial, stiff flex on snow. Pitched momentarily into a very weak, rearward stance, I felt the skis begin to bite and run away from me before I was able to regain my balance. That punishment for a slip-up in form wasn’t as severe as it would have been on a stiffer ski like the Völkl Katana, or something with a more conventional tail profile like the Belafonte or Jaguar Shark, but the 115 still has a bit of an attitude, and still requires good technique and control to be skied well.
So if the flex of this ski isn’t particularly intimidating, by no means would I call the Rocker2 115 an intermediate-level, big-mountain ski. It’s easy to ski, and doesn’t require a ton of input to steer—nothing I’ve found has me doubting its ability to really rage. Yes, the ski’s flex may be softer than you might expect, and its swing weight seems lighter than similar, metal-strapped skis in the same class, but these two factors seem to work perfectly with the shape and rocker profile of the ski, and that’s probably what I’m most excited about moving forward.
The splay in the 115’s tip rocker is fairly conservative, and the shovel remains surprisingly stable and damp moving over uneven terrain. As I’ve mentioned above, the tail has enough rocker to let you smear things out without having to really drive the ski or work too hard, yet not so much that the overall stability seems compromised.
Bottom Line (For Now):
At the moment, I’m somewhat hesitant to call the Salomon Rocker2 115 “forgiving” outright. It’s certainly very manageable in a range of conditions, but not so much so that very aggressive skiers are likely to find it unsubstantial and want a lot more ski. Rather, I don’t find the 115 so soft, so light, or so easy to ski that I’m worried it won’t be able to deliver during more aggressive riding. In fact, I can’t wait to get this ski in 11:30 a.m. pow day chop to see how it handles fast, GS turns through trenches.
If the Rocker2 115 can hold it down during some really aggressive riding in demanding, less than pristine resort pow conditions, I’ll probably be praising it as a big-mountain gun for the masses: something that’s easy enough to ski on any day when there’s the tiniest bit of soft snow, even if it’s only on groomers, yet will still make the experts and hard-chargers happy on those big pow days, in the resort or in the backcountry.
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