Ski: 2015-2016 Armada E-Dollo, 178cm
Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 178.4cm
Dimensions (mm): 133-98-123
Sidecut Radius: 20.5 meters
Mount Location: -1.5 cm from true center (1cm ahead of factory line)
Boots / Bindings: Dalbello Il Moro Comp I.D. / Rossignol FKS 140
Days Tested: 7
Test Locations: Camp of Champions, Whistler Blackcomb, BC
MSRP: $800[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Al Dente. Only the ski’s graphics were changed for the 15/16 season and it was renamed the “E-Dollo.”]
Introduced last season, the Armada Al Dente is Henrik Harlaut’s pro model. If you know Henrik, then you’re familiar with his larger-than-life personality, and his unique style of skiing that goes right along with it.
It maybe isn’t so surprising, then, that the Al Dente has a pretty eccentric design for a park ski.
What is surprising is that Henrik finished in sixth place in slopestyle at the Olympics this past February, and can pull off nose butter triple corks on the Al Dente. The Al Dente isn’t billed as a competition park ski, and I don’t think you should expect to use it like one—unless you’re name is Henrik, evidently.
I found the Al Dente to shine as an ultra-playful jib tool, so if you’re looking for a ski that will butter and press with absolute ease, keep reading.
Camber/Rocker Profile & Flex
The Al Dente has a significant amount of tip rocker (running 25cm from the tip of the ski to the contact point in the shovel), traditional camber underfoot, and no tail rocker.
The Al Dente has a relatively soft flex underfoot and through the tail. Its flex is slightly softer in the shovel around the rocker line / contact point, and it then goes very soft in the tip of the ski, ahead of the contact point. This creates a kind of hinge point, allowing the rider to easily load up the front ski when performing butters and presses.
The Al Dente’s soft, playful flex and rocker profile don’t provide a whole lot of stability, however, so Armada tried to counteract this somewhat by beefing up the ski’s width to 98mm, making the Al Dente the widest ski in their Park line.
Jibs & Rails
I had an absolute blast hitting rails, jibs, and side hits on the Al Dente, and also ripping around through the slush on the glacier at Blackcomb. The ski’s tip rocker helped it cut through crud and slush smoothly, but it also made executing nose butters and presses effortless and enjoyable.
Presses on rails and boxes felt more natural on the Al Dente than on any other ski I’ve ever ridden, including the Nordica OMW, which I had ridden the previous week and considered a fairly playful, fun jib ski in its own right.
Likewise, the Al Dente makes rail tricks that require working the skis’ flex really easy. Only a little pressure over the tip or tails is needed for a butter or nose slide, yet the skis never folded or flexed out completely on a rail. And in this way, the Al Dente’s name makes a whole lot of sense—it has a decidedly soft flex that makes performing butters and presses very easy, while still being just firm enough to push back and keep you from slipping out on the trick.
I found that the Al Dente’s wider, 98mm platform, while part of an attempt to counteract a loss in stability caused by its soft flex, also made the skis considerably heavier and more cumbersome in the air. Compared to a narrower park ski, I found the Al Dente’s width to feel laborious when performing any spin bigger than a 540. It wasn’t impossible to do bigger spinning/flipping jump tricks on the ski, but given the Al Dente’s larger shape, executing them definitely required some extra effort. All in all, I still find the fact that Henrik can pull off a triple cork on these skis pretty amazing.
The Al Dente’s wider waist does create a more stable platform for landing, unless you happen to land a bit nose-heavy. The Al Dente’s soft, heavily rockered tips don’t provide much support here, and I found the skis flying right out from under me on a few switch landings.
Armada Al Dente vs. Scott Jib TW
Another soft park ski I’ve tested that excels on jibs and rails is the Scott Jib TW. Like the Al Dente, the Jib TW’s soft flex didn’t do me any favors when reining in off-kilter landings, as its tips and tails offered little rebound and support.
However, at 86mm underfoot, the Jib TW is quite a bit narrower than the Al Dente, so even though landings were sometimes tricky on the ski, it’s light swing weight and skinnier waist make executing bigger tricks in the air quite easy (not so on the Al Dente).
If you want a decidedly jibby park ski, but one that you can still expect to handle well while in the air on bigger jumps, then you might want to consider the Jib TW over the Al Dente. The Al Dente really is in a class of it’s own as a wide park ski that makes no sacrifices when it comes to jib-oriented riding.