2013-2014 Armada Norwalk

2013-2014 Armada Norwalk

armada-norwalkSki: 2013-2014 Armada Norwalk, 189cm

Dimensions (mm): 126-141-116-132

Actual Tip-To-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 186.7cm

Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2,179 & 2,213 grams

Sidecut Radius: 21 meters

Boots / Bindings: Fischer RC4 130 Vacuum / Marker Jester (DIN 10)

Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line

Test Location: Taos Ski Valley, Monarch Mountain, Summit County, CO.

Days Skied: 9

[Editor's Note: Our tests were conducted on the 12/13 Norwalk, which will return unchanged for the 13/14 season, except for the graphics.]

First, if you’ve been waiting for this review and you just want to read about how the thing skis, skip down to the “Groomers/Hardpack” section. (Kirill Povarintsev, this probably applies to you, and you probably deserve the ‘Most Patient Blister Reader’ award. Please don’t strangle me if we ever meet in person.)

A Word About the Armada JJ, TST, and Norwalk

I’ve always appreciated the JJ’s fresh snow performance, super easy feel, and lighter weight, but I didn’t love how it handled outside of predominantly smooth, consistent conditions. The JJ is excellent on groomers and in fresh pow, but I wanted more when it came to variable conditions and the older tracked powder you’ll always find in resort, and that you want to make the most of.

In that sort of stuff, unless I remained relatively light on my feet, upright, and wasn’t carrying too much speed, the JJ’s shovels tended to fold and flop. With a seriously tight sidecut radius and a short effective edge, it felt almost too easy to throw the ski sideways, let the tails wash, and get bucked around in crud.

All and all, the JJ is light and smeary when things are fresh, but I always wished that fun, friendlier feel could be translated into a slightly “chargier,” more aggressive package.

And that’s exactly what the Norwalk is.

Simply put, the Norwalk is a fatter TST, or a more stable, directional JJ.

Groomers & Hardpack

The Norwalk’s camber profile is basically identical to the Armada TST, a light, quick, all-mountain ski that really rails turns on groomed snow. Not surprisingly since it’s a wider TST, the Norwalk also does well in firm conditions.

A 21-meter radius makes the ski pretty carvable for its size and width. At 115mm underfoot, the Norwalk feels a little reluctant to get up on edge if you’re not going very fast, but big high-angle carves are definitely doable with some speed.

I was a little worried that the relatively tight sidecut radius would make the ski feel unstable through longer carved turns—the sidecut might try to pull the ski farther across the fall-line than I wanted—but this wasn’t the case.

The Norwalk has a traditional tail and a lot of camber underfoot. These create a stable platform that you can press some real edge pressure into (either from a forward, more traditional stance while trying to crank the ski into its tightest radius, or by making longer, ripping carves). On groomers, I had more fun on the Norwalk when railing huge, fast turns, but it also makes quicker, skidded turns quite well.

Again, just like the narrower TST, the Norwalk has a lot of tip rocker that significantly shortens its shovel’s effective edge on hard snow. This frees up the forebody of the ski quite a bit, making it fairly easy to smear the shovel into slower, tight skidded turns on hardpack. You’ll still have to make a deliberate, strong turn to scrub out the ski’s full edge though its tail, but it definitely feels like the rockered shovel’s shortened running length makes this a lot easier than it otherwise would be.

The Norwalk is stable and powerful on groomers at speed. This is compared to a more sluggish, lumbering feel that some similarly sized but heavier and stouter skis can have (which I’ll compare to the Norwalk at the end of this review). However, the lighter swing weight and relatively nimble feel at low speed become even more noticeable when I got it in some fresh snow.

Fresh Powder

It started actually snowing in Colorado a couple of weeks ago, and Monarch Mountain has been getting hit fairly consistently with some heavy storm cycles. The scene is small and mellow with old, slow lifts and not a lot of vert, so if you want to get the hell out of Summit County for a change of scenery (and you can’t make it to Taos), head to Monarch on a storm day.

With 38” in 48 hours, a group of friends and I did, and it did not suck. Most of the untracked snow we skied in Mirkwood Basin was ~12” deep due to a little wind effect, but softer, more sheltered areas in the trees would let you sink into pockets of 24-inch-plus blower.

Norwalk - Monarch sidecountry

Moving through a mix of predominantly tight trees, the Norwalk was surprisingly quick to pivot and swing across the fall line. If there is a distinctly JJ-esque part of this ski, it’s the option of getting a quick and easy smear from the shovel.

When I did happen to pick up some speed in more open pockets, I could make a very quick move to throw the ski sideways as long as I was fairly deliberate about it. It’s not at all hard to dump speed or slash the tail out on the Norwalk, as again the ski does feel light and very willing to turn in powder. But it’s only going to if you really tell it to.

Float was never a problem on the Norwalk. Even in those deeper pockets when the shovels were well submerged, the generous splay and tapered shape let them track and glide really well, while the tails kept things supportive and in line with the tips.

There the JJ, or any relatively light powder ski with some tail rocker, will feel immediately more playful and won’t require a more traditional stance to really stay on top. If you’re not using the “short” shovel to intentionally press the tail out, the Norwalk is happy cutting very smooth longer turns. The tail never felt all that stiff in slightly heavier snow or when I wasn’t carrying much speed, but it definitely demands that you be ready to make a strong turn. Otherwise, as I’ve said, the tail will push back and the ski will more readily make larger and faster turns down the fall-line in fresh snow.

That supportive, fairly poppy, but not harsh flex of the Norwalk—particularly in the tail—makes it great on landings if you’re a little lighter like me, or just don’t need the stiffest, dampest board out there.

Some Stats

A bit more about the ski’s flex:

Armada provides a Flex Pattern rating for each of their skis, which is something we’d still like to see every company provide. It’s a relative scale, of course, but it is helpful to see how a particular ski measures up against the rest of a brand’s line.

Armada rates the flex of the Norwalk’s Tip, Waist, and Tail as 6, 7, and 6.5, respectively, which is exactly how they rate the flex of the TST and the JJ.

Not surprisingly, I feel the same way about the flex of the Norwalk as I do about the TST. As I’ve already said, the tail is not soft by any means, nor is it terribly stiff—firm and supportive, but still somewhat snappy. I’m not surprised to see that Armada rates the Norwalk’s tail the same as the JJ’s, but the difference that a traditional vs. generously rockered tail makes is huge, and ultimately more important in my mind when it comes to chop/crud stability.

Comments:

  1. Hi Will,

    Awesome review, I was waiting for it since a couple of month :] !

    I have a good offer for either a TST or a Norwalk and after reading your review I still have two questions:

    – You say that the Jaguar Shark and Katana are obviously better than the Norwalk in crud, chop and other kind of variable snow but would you say that the Norwalk handles better this kind of snow than the TST or the added width doesn’t change anything?
    - I once spoke with an Armada representative who told me that Armada’s flex pattern isn’t always accurate and that sometimes two Armada skis will have the same grade on the flex pattern but one will actually be stiffer than the other; so is the Norwalk exactly as stiff as the TST or is it maybe a bit stiffer?

    Thanks,
    Jeff

    • Hi Jeff,

      Wider skis tend to not get kicked around as much in chopped snow as narrower ones. So yes, more than anything, the added width of the Norwalk definitely adds a bit of material weight and dampening ability that lets it handle variable, crud, and chopped snow better than the TST.
      As for flex, the Norwalk is wider, a slightly different length, with a different sidecut radius, so those other factors make it hard to say that it’s flex is “exactly the same” as the TST. All I can really say is that the Norwalk’s flex seems to mimic that of the TST as a bigger, wider version – it’s not obviously a much stiffer, or disproportionately stiffer ski. I wasn’t surprised that Armada rated the two the same. I hope this is clear, let me know if it’s not.

      Will B

      • Ok thanks a lot for the answer, I’ll get the Norwalk and let you know what I think about them in a few weeks!

  2. Award accepted :)

  3. Great review. Thanks for the beta. You have steered me towards the rocker2 115 to replace my bibby pro’s and I love them. I was wondering how this ski compares to the rocker 2 115. From the gist of your reviews in order of playfulness/ease of skiing in the versatile pow sk it goes (from easy to charger). Automatic, rocker 2 115, bibby, squad, governor, billy goat. Where does the Norwalk fit in this spectrum?

    • Hey Tom,

      In the line-up you’ve set up (which seems correct to me), I’d slot the Norwalk in between the Automatic and 115. The Norwalk has a wider tail than the Automatic, giving it a more balanced, less tapered feel in chop. As for the 115, see the comparison I lay out toward the end of the review – I think that communicates the differences about as concisely as I can, but let me know if you have any other questions.

      Cheers,

      Will

  4. Sorry will – missed the last part of the comparisons. Thanks for the very thorough review.

  5. Hi,

    Thanks for the review. BG has by far the best reviews out there. I am considering getting the Norwalk, although your review makes me think perhaps it isn’t the best choice for the heavier tracked powder I experience in the Pacific Northwest. I am looking for a more powder oriented ski to supplement my current quiver-of-one, a Head Johnny 94 at 187cm. I don’t experience fresh powder all that frequently and definitely want a ski that excels in tracked powder,chop and crud. I have been considering the Bibby Pro as well, in large part due to the reviews here. Any other skis you can recommend? I primarily ski in Washington State, with periodic trips to BC.

    • Hey Mark,

      If I was out to ski a lot of heavier, tracked powder, along with the I think I would reach for something like the 186cm Moment Governor, 191 ON3P Caylor, and then maybe the Bibby Pro before the Norwalk. The Caylor has a little heavier, damper feel than the Bibby, and the Gov is a more directional, damper Bibby. Take a look at those reviews and see what you think. Also if you wanted a big, damp, more big-mountain style chop/crud ski, take a look at the Volkl Katana or Blizzard Bodacious. Hope this helps!

      WB

  6. Hi Will,

    Thorough review, as always, thanks. I am really interested in the Norwalks, but they are hard to find, so taking them out for a demo just hasn’t been an option for me thus far. Nonetheless, I think I’m going to take the plunge and buy them untested. My biggest dilemma is what length to get. I am 5′ 10″, 155 lbs, and like to ski fast (but not insanely so), especially through the trees. And I’m about to move to Revelstoke, where the soft tree and pillow skiing is perhaps unparalleled. If I weren’t interested in the Norwalks as predominantly tree-dancers and pillow-hoppers, then I would likely go with the 189s. But now I am leaning towards the 179s. But not without hesitation. I feel like they could ski just a little bit shorter for me than I would like. As a reference, my 2 other skis are Salomon Rocker2 122s in 184cm, and DPS Lotus 138s in 192cm. The pattern here is that with most skis I usually slot into the middle length of the three offered. With the Norwalks, should I instead be thinking of sacrificing that little bit of extra manoeuvrability in the name of a bit more running length and stability? Care to wade in with your $.02 here? Regards.

    • Hey Jeff,

      I think you’ll be ok with the 189s. The Norwalks are surprisingly light and maneuverable in the air and have a super easy turn initiation. You could likely make the 179s work in docile trees and pow, but I also worry that they would feel too short and lacking in stability if you’re ever trucking out a runout or taking some hits on pillows. I feel better about recommending the 189.

      Cheers,

      Will

  7. Great Review! Could you please compare the Norwalk with the Atomic Automatic? Thanks!

    • Hey Luca,

      I haven’t skied the Automatic in a whole lot of fresh snow, but from what I know the two skis feel mainly similar in pow. The biggest difference I see between the two is that the Norwalk feels more symmetrical in terms of its tip and tail widths – in fresh snow this means you can feel the tail push back at you as you move through the turn, where the Automatic’s is more willing to smear out and pivot initially. For the same reason (though as I say in the review, there are better crud/chop busting skis out there), the Norwalk is a little more predictable in really tracked up conditions. It’s also more stable on edge, and will make a more powerful, clean carve given the maintained width through the tail.

      Hope this helps, let me know if there are other points you’re wondering about.

      Best,

      WB

  8. Spot on review! I bought the Norwalks in the 189 back in December. I mounted them up with dynafit vertical st’s. They have truly been a game changer, both in bounds and out. I skied about 75 days on them over the course of the season, here in telluride. Early season we diddnt get any snow, so it was pretty much just icy hard packed bumps and groomers. These skis became my go to, even though I have a much stiffer and narrower ski, the BD Kilowatt. The norwalks were just plain too much fun to ski in any conditions. They would open up on the groomers, with literally no speed limit, even with such a light binding. Skiing variable conditions just became pure fun, instead of work. Once the powder started falling in February, the skis steeped it up again. The JJ tip, combined with a TST tail just ripped through the powder, totally without any effort. The rocker allowed them to plain over the snow when exiting steep chutes in Telluride and Taos, while allowing easy turn initiation in the narrow chutes themselves. I’ve toured with them three times, and they are light enough that I still take them out over my kilowatts, something I did not expect when I bought them. Overall they have been an awesome ski for anything that I have been able to throw their way. I would strongly recommend them for anybody in need of a ski that will do it all with no speed limit what so ever! Buy them up while they are cheap in the off season!

  9. Hi Will, superb review as I’ve come to expect from Blister!
    Do you have any thoughts about the Norwalk vs Mr Pollard’s Opus as a one ski quiver for back and sidecountry New Zealand skiing with the odd Niseko pilgrimage thrown in?

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hey Matt,

      They’re both great powder skis, and either could be great for what you’re looking to do, but they’re each geared toward slightly different styles of riding. As I say in the review, the Norwalk is a little friendlier (lighter, less stiff, and easier to swing around in the trees) compared to other directional big-mountain skis – but it’s still a directional big-mountain powder ski. The Opus much softer, and is set up for throwing tricks, landing and skiing switch in pow. It’s not going to hold an edge as well though the tail (as it does have tail rocker, where the Norwalk is flat). So if you’re interested in a playful powder jib ski, that’s the Opus. The Norwalk makes much more sense for the directional skier who want’s more stability in chop and doesn’t want to ski switch. Hope this helps!

      WB

  10. Awesome review! I love these skis! GS turns on groomers to hitting big open powder lines, to stomping big drops. These skis rock!

  11. Hi Will,

    Big thanks for another great review. Slight tangent, but have you guys got your feet on the Magic J yet?

    Would be great to get your view.

    Best,
    Ruse

    • Hey Ruse,

      We haven’t put time on the Magic J yet, but we’ve been listening, and it’s on the hit-list for this season. Stay tuned!

      WB

  12. Any chance you guys could get on the Armada Bubba this year?

    • Hey Vail,

      We haven’t made any firm plans to get on the Bubba, but will certainly take note of your interest in it, along with others’ in the Magic J.

      Cheers,

      Will

  13. I’m thinking about buying these skis but not sure what length to get. I’m not a big gut- 5’9, ~153 lbs, but I ski hard and tend to go fast, even drop small stuff, mostly in Tahoe where there are also some trees and things tend to get bumped up quite a bit as well. Currently on deep days I ski a 181 Lib Tech Pow NAS and think it’s the right length for me. It’s stable at speed but doesn’t get away from me or have a mind of it’s own when I get in the backseat. It just has crap edge hold, which is why I’m looking at the Norwalk.

    My question is do I go with a 179 or 189? I know the Norwalk is easy to turn and “skis short”, but 189 seems really long. I was on skis that were too long for me for a few years a while back, and don’t want to fall into that again.

    Appreciate any advice!

    • Hey Pallavicini,

      The Norwalk obviously has traditional camber through the tail, so it’s automatically going to feel more locked in on edge that your 181 Lib Tech’s (which have tail rocker). Unless you think your 181s are verging on too short, think you’re right about going with the 179 Norwalk. The 189s, are roughly 4cms taller than my height, and the 179s are roughly 4cms taller than you at 5’9″ – so it seems like you would get a similar feel from the ski.

      Hope this helps, and let us know what you decide and how it works out!

      Will

  14. I was looking at this ski and i’m debating on getting the Armada Norwalk 2014 or the Line Sick Day 110. I ski all the mountians in the Summit County, and most everything on the mountain (trees, mogels, groomers, couple laps in the park for fun). I wanted to know which would be the best ski for me.

  15. I was also wonding how it would do tight trees and really quick turns

    • Hey Will,

      For Summit Co, either ski could be made to work, but it sounds like the Sick Day might make a bit more sense for you. The Norwalk is light and quick in the trees and holds an edge very well considering that it is primarily a powder ski, but I wouldn’t think of taking the Norwalk in the park, and I would definitely want something a little narrower if I planned to be skiing bumps much at all. I haven’t skied the Sick Day 110 (I hope to do a 2nd Look to Dana Allen’s review soon), but I think that ski is more what you’re looking for. Dana says the ski is light and quick, so you should be able to work it through really quick turns well for it’s size.

      Hope this helps – you might consider asking Dana about the Sick Day for tight tree skiing in his review.

      Will B

  16. Hi Will,

    I’ve just bought the Rossignol Scimitar in 178 (it was a bargain) but although I’ve found them to be fantastic on smooth groomers whether soft or firm, I worry that I didn’t give myself enough credit when I decided the 178 would be enough for me. I’m 27, 6 feet and 155 pounds and I’m a fast and aggressive skier.
    I bought the 178 thinking it would give me an easy time in tight trees, where I’m a less confident skier, and I’ve had a great time on them in leaner conditions, but after a pretty big fall of quite heavy snow last night I found myself leaning back quite a lot to keep the tips planing in deep snow, and even skiing fast down chopped up groomers to the lift I felt as if I had to ski on my heels to stop myself from lurching forward all the time. I can’t help but think I might be better off on a slightly longer wider ski. I don’t really care for bumps, so I’m looking for a ski that will be good in a variety of off piste conditions without being a complete tanker in the trees, and can rage down chopped snow and hold an edge on hardpack. Given what I’m feeling about the 178 Scimitar, how would you feel recommending the 189 Norwalk?

    Thanks,
    Tom

  17. Sorry if it seems like I’m asking a dumb question, but I haven’t had much experience on a variety of skis and lengths!

    • Hey Tom,

      No problem at all. At 6′ I’m not surprised the Scimitar feels a little short in choppy snow and at speed. As for the Norwalk as an alternative, it is going to feel a whole lot more stable in general, and still fairly quick in the trees, for its size and width as a powder ski, but not in the same league of quick-and-light as the much narrower Scimitar. Thinking about skis that might be somewhere in between, you could check out the 190cm Salomon Rocker2 108, Line Sir Francis Bacon, or Blizzard Peacemaker. They’re all more playful skis, but have a little more width and length to give a bit more stability than the Scimitar. Another more directional option could be the Armada TST. Give those a look and see what you think. Hope this helps!

      Will

  18. Will,

    Thanks for your comments and advice. I managed to try a pair of TSTs and had an absolute blast on them, go anywhere and they like a good bit of speed, so they’re really my kind of ski. In the end I was able to find a better price on the Norwalk, so I went with them reasoning that if I like the TST and I already have the smaller more nimble Scimitar, I might as well go with a big chunky ski to complete my accidental quiver of two.
    I’ve been on them for about a week now and I’m pulling bigger and bigger grins the more hours I get to ski them. They’re happy hooning at loony speeds on groomers, and in fresh powder I’ve found they’re really easy to ski. I can easily slow down and make tight turns in chokes and trees, but with a bit of room to run they feel fantastic making huge arcs and generally going as fast as possible. I’ve got a bit out of shape off some drops and fast airs but finding myself sitting on the backs of the skis at goggle peeling speed has always been save-able. These things slow down time.
    I do have my work cut out if I’m trying to make short turns in nasty wind affected snow or heavily tracked out pow, where I agree with your comment about the tails wanting to grab and point down the fall line, but I’m happy to work on my technique to get the most out of the Norwalk in those conditions. I’m stoked on these skis – they’re helping me take my skiing to the next level.

  19. Hey Will,

    I live in the NW, but in a town that doesn’t have a ski shop with much variety. I am in the market for some powder skis (~115 mm), and demoed these about 3 times this year, yesterday being the most recent of those days. I LOVED them and am extremely tempted to buy them, but I am also very much interested in the Nordica La Nina’s, mainly based on the their reviews. They are the same ski as the Helldorado and the Patron (one has metal, the other doesn’t), and was wondering what your opinion is on what the more appropriate ski would be in this climate. I am 140, female, 5’6″, fairly aggressive skier who will mainly use these during the deeper days. My everything ski is the Kastle BMX98. Do you know how they compare to the La Ninas, other than having non-rocker tail and a traditional camber? What are both of their pros and cons? Thank you!

    • Hi Andrea,

      In general the Norwalk feels more directional, meaning its tail is more locked as it pushed back at you in soft snow, where the La Nina is going to have a looser tail and, slightly more playful feel. So for true, deeper powder days, either ski would do, but they’re each going to offer a bit of a different feel. The one advantage, I suppose, of the Norwalk is that due to its traditional, flat tail, it’s going to be more stable and offer a stronger edge hold on groomers. But given that you have your BMX98 as an everyday ski, I don’t think that should factor in as much. If you liked the feel of the Norwalk, then go for it. If you are pretty confident you’d rather a ski with a looser, surfier style, then the La Nina would probably suit better.

      Hope this helps!

      WB

  20. I recently bought the Armada Norlwalk’s in a 189 and took em out in a couple days of fresh up in Tahoe, Heavenly and Kirk. Let me start off by saying I had been skiing with 174 Atomic SXB5. This was my first venture into the new technology and man, I was missing out. I charged the norwalk’s really hard in every different type of snow that both Kirk and Heavenly could thrown at me, fresh powder, crud, heavy crud and groomers, they handled everything great, especially on the groomers, I was a little scared that they wouldn’t have the speed or edge control that the atomic’s had but they did and were very fast and almost effortless edge to edge. All in all, a great ski and I believe will be a one ski quiver.

  21. Hi- up front- a great review!

    I’m now tossing up between the Line Supernatural 115′s or the Armada Norwalks. You mentioned they are pretty similar.

    To save you having to read a long explanation of my ski style and preferences, can you highlight the main differences between the two? It’ll help me decide which would be best as I’m unable to demo the Norwalks.

    Cheers!!

    • Hey Sam,

      I mentioned the Line Influence 115. The Influence series was still around during the 12/13 season when I wrote this review, but it was replaced this past season (13/14) by the Supernatural series. I put a little time on the Influence 115 a few seasons ago, but haven’t skied the Supernatural 115. However the skis are almost identical; they have the same dimensions and turn radii in a 186cm length. While I can’t be certain, I believe the only difference between the Influence 115 and the Supernatural 115 is their sidewall material. Knowing that, I’ll make some guesses about the Supernatural 115 vs. Norwalk.

      They’re certainly both part of the same genre of lighter, less demanding, more directional powder skis and are more similar than they are different. I think the most significant difference between the two is that the Supernatural 115 has a little tail rocker. As a result, it’s probably going to favor a slightly lighter, center-balanced, more upright skiing style (though nothing like a truly center-mounted jib ski). With it’s flat tail, I would imagine the Norwalk will let you lean into it more on a turn and drive the shovels harder; it’s going to provide a little more stability in crud, I would think, and let you carve it harder on groomers. So I’d say if you really like the feeling of a flat, traditional tail, but still want something relatively light and maneuverable in this class, go with the Norwalk. If you want something that’s going to be a touch more playful, but still be able to be skied aggressively, opt for the Supernatural 115.

      Let us know what you go with and how you like it!

      Will B

  22. Hi Will,

    I really appreciate your reviews!

    I have a good offer for either a Katana or a Norwalk and after reading your reviews about both skis I still have some questions: I am searching for a 2nd ski to my racecarver that works well in powder, but still stays maneuverable and controllable on groomers. Over here in Germany, unfortunately it is not often that there is so much powder that you can ski in the deep snow the whole day. Therefore I need a powder ski that can rail on some groomers, too.
    Which of the two skis is better in powder and which is better on groomers?
    Which one suits better for me?
    By the way I am 18 years old, 5’8” and I weight 160 lbs, I have been skiing for 15 year now…
    I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    Many thanks for your help in advance.

    • Hey, Daniel – I’ll jump in here:

      For powder, Best to Worst I would rank this way: Automatic, Norwalk, Katana.

      For groomers, it’s harder to say. The Katana doesn’t really do short turns on groomers. The Automatic can. The Katana is a serious, stiff ski that is amazing at highspeeds and bigger turns. It doesn’t want to be skied slowly or casually, while you can do that on the Automatic or Norwalk.

      At your height and weight, it seems to me that the Norwalk might give you the best blend of all of the characteristics you’re looking for: maybe not quite as much float as the Automatics, but it doesn’t sound like you’re skiing really deep snow anyway. And the Norwalk won’t be as burly as the Katana, but maybe that’s a good fit for what you’re looking for? I’d be leaning Norwalk for you.

  23. Hey, fantastic review (as I’ve come to expect on BG). Sizing question: trying to decide between Norwalk 179 and 189. I skied 185 JJs for 2 seasons and loved them esp the playfullness in pow and low swing weight — I mounted the JJs tele last year and they work great as a tele ski and now looking to fill the gap in my alpine quiver and looking at the Norwalk – the one complaint I had about the JJs was a little lack of stability at high speed – generally I like a similar ski for tele vs alpine but like the tele skis a little softer/more forgiving/quicker than alpine setups – so the Norwalk seem like they could be perfect if I want a feel similar to JJ but with more beef for charging alpine – so given that JJ 185 seemed the right size for me I was assuming the Norwalk 179 would be the right size given the longer running length – would you agree with that?

    Other skis I’ve owned for relative comparison on size (all seem about the right size): JJ 185 (sweet), Opus 185 (too heavy), Cochise 177 (tail a bit too stiff), BD Convert 180 (very nice, used for AT), Legend Pro 2007 176 (just right used on firm days), Huge Trouble 185 (nice but they’d work better with a bit of nose rocker); also SFB 178 but these were too short and should have gone 184 (in fact the SFBs measured short and the 178s were more like a 172). Me: 150, 5’7″ aggressive expert – ski mostly in PNW and BC. Norwalks would be mounted alpine for resort, cat ski etc on pow days but would take em out for crud busting / variable snow as well. I do ski the trees a lot. Thanks!

    • Hey Bill,

      If you’ve been mostly happy with your JJs in 185, but want a little more stability, then the Norwalk in a 189 would seem to be the ticket; the flat tail will do that for you, plus the touch of added length. I wouldn’t think they would seem worlds bigger and more demanding than your JJs, just noticeably more stable in chop while requiring a little more input to pivot in the trees. I worry that the shorter 179 Norwalk wouldn’t get you enough of the added stability you’re looking for over your 185 JJs, even though it has no tail rocker.

      Hope this helps you!

      Will

  24. Hey Will,

    awesome review! I have been skiing the Katana for the last 2 years and now I am looking for a new powder ski. The Norwalk sounds really interesting…
    I often spent time on groomers with my Katana, how does the Norwalk perform on groomers? I can not believe that you can ski groomers with the Norwalk because it that much tip rocker.
    My Katana floated well in powder, does the Norwalk float a lot better?
    What are both of their pros and cons?
    Thank you!

    Peter

    • Hi Peter,

      I talk about the Norwalk’s feel on groomers on the first page of the review, so I think your questions should be answered there. As for pow performance, I would say the Norwalk does float a bit better than the Katana in so far as it will plane up more quickly (at a lower speed) in deep snow and provide a little more float in general. But this comes with a trade-off in terms of the Norwalk’s stability in rough, hard conditions (see my comparisons to skis like the Jag Shark and Katana on the second page of the review).

      Hope this helps!

      Will

  25. Hi Will,

    Again, here’s someone trying to decide on the right length of Norwalk, having read all of your -great- review and all the comments… I am an advanced (and improving) skier, like to do a mix of touring and resort skiing in the Alps, 163lbs 5’11”. Currently I ski Black Diamond Aspects @176 (130-90-117), and would like something to step up my game, especially on deeper days.

    My story in brief: While not as strong a skier that I would like one of those Völkl crud busters, I would like something more stable than the Aspects in tracked snow, and that will also go faster, float better and not have the tip-catchy feel in powder. On one 50cm dump day in Corvatsch I found myself getting stuck and leaning back in the medium-steep parts- so I want the rocker and the extra width. I also prefer directional over surfy. When trying to go quicker on top of deep snow, I find it difficult to balance forward/aft, and also find the Aspect’s a little too eager to turn in. Apart from the above mentioned issues I found I could handle the length of the Aspect’s well, and am not sure about the 189 Norwalks… Would they possibly feel similar in handling length to the 176 Aspects considering they have a distinct tip rocker?

    Any thoughts- or is my input not conclusive enough?
    Many thanks and regards from Austria,
    Andrew

Questions? Comments? Tell us what you think.








Subscribe without commenting

Related Posts:

2013-2014 Armada AK JJ, 195cm

2013-2014 Armada AK JJ, 195cm

Aug 10, 2011
Array
21

Armada didn't ditch the playful qualities of the JJ when they made the AK JJ, and you're certainly going to notice the family resemblance.

2013-2014 Armada VJJ

2013-2014 Armada VJJ

May 4, 2012
Array
17

After a full season on the Armada VJJ, BLISTER reviewer Lexi Dowdall has found her new favorite, all-mountain ski.

Update: 2013-2014 Salomon Rocker2 108

Update: 2013-2014 Salomon Rocker2 108

Jan 3, 2013
Array
46

With more time on the Salomon Rocker2 108, Will Brown is now asking the question, "Best One-Ski Quiver Ever?"