Dimensions (mm): 151-119-135
Turn Radius: 26.4 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 182.0 cm
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Supercharger Ignition / Marker Jester (DIN) 12
Mount Location: recommended
Test Location: Niseko, Japan
Days Skied: 3
With the addition of the Shiro for the 2011-2012 season, Volkl added a new dimension to their Freeski lineup. Since its inception, the Shiro has been a hit with both weekend warriors and Volkl team riders alike, and as a result, returns unchanged for 2012-2013 except for a new graphic.
This ski is meant to bridge a gap between the versatile Gotama and the enormous Kuro, which is designed for “phat powder turns.” (No, really, that’s what Volkl’s website says.) I think the Shiro does a good job of fulfilling this purpose, offering a nice blend of versatility and powder performance.
My first run on the Shiro I found myself in the tightest trees the Super area at Grand Hirafu had to offer. In these close quarters, the Shiro was very intuitive and easy to handle. Feeling confident in the foot of sparsely tracked snow, I quickly accelerated to speeds that I hadn’t felt comfortable reaching on the Blizzard GunSmoke or the Line Influence 115.
Carrying speed out of the trees into a wide open bowl, I was pleasantly surprised by the Shiro’s performance. I was able to rip turns comfortably through the moderate chop in this area. Large splay and carbon fiber in the core gave the Shiro a snappy yet smooth and predictable feel from edge to edge in this snow.
The Shiro provided a comfortable ride on consistent, firm off-piste trails and groomers, producing this same smooth, snappy sensation. Both in chop and on firmer snow it was easy to slash and quickly get back on edge.
Quick turns were fun in cut-up conditions, but I wanted to see how the Shiro handled a little additional speed. I picked a direct route down one of the steeper fall lines in Mizuno no Sawa for the test.
After opening up my first couple of turns off the top, I wasn’t inspired to point it down the rest of the face. I felt rock solid when engaged in Slalom- and GS-length turns, but it felt like I was getting knocked around a bit when I was going straight. As the chop got firmer and the ruts became deeper, I definitely felt the need to make more turns in order to stay in control. I couldn’t rail in this snow as well as I was able to on the Blizzard Bodacious (no great surprise), or even on the more comparable Blizzard GunSmoke.
I also wasn’t able to rage down chopped up, late-day groomers. The Shiro had a hard time getting a solid edge on the icy patches and got bucked around by the cut-up mounds of snow that separated these patches. Skiing with bases flat and straight-lining didn’t feel comfortable either; I just had to take it slower in these conditions.
In wind-blown, variable-density powder, I felt the Shiro working against me at times. It took a little while to find the right balance point in this snow, as I was feeling the skis pitch forward and back like a boat pointed into an ocean swell. The tips would dive a little as I hit denser patches, forcing me to shift my weight back slightly; then, as soon as I broke into lighter snow, I would feel myself slowly rolling back onto my tails.
Rocking back and forth prevented the ski from optimally floating through the snow and slowed me down. This was particularly frustrating when cruising through low-angle glades. I eventually settled into a balanced, centered stance trying to anticipate these transitions. Working with the ski’s finicky tendencies, I was able to float fine.
Eric Pollard and Line have created a playful pow ski with a backbone. Freestyle-minded skiers ought to be excited.
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