Ski: 2016-2017 Line Magnum Opus, 188cm
Available Lengths: 188 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 187.0cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 148-124-146
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 147.5-123.5-144.5
Stated Weight per Ski: 2100 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2083 & 2097 g
Stated Sidecut Radius: 17 meters
Core Construction: “Cloud Core” vertically laminated balsa plywood with flax fiber reinforcements
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 63 / 63 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~5 mm
Mount Location: Eric’s Choice (-2cm from center)
Days Skied: 6 Total
If you haven’t already done so, you may want to first check out my preview of the Magnum Opus for some detailed notes on the ski’s design and development.
But if you want to know what this ski is about, the short answer is that the new Opus is one of the more specialized powder skis out there.
The Magnum Opus is a wider—yet lighter—version of the Mr. Pollards Opus, and it’s been built to provide even more flotation and full-on excel as a playful, freestyle jib ski in deep snow.
I’m still eager to get the Magnum Opus in some really deep and light conditions, but after two days on it at Craigieburn Valley—including a fun, late-season pow day less than 48 hours ago—I’m in a good position to make some initial conclusions about the ski.
Soft, Wet & Heavy, Tracked Snow
My first time out on the Magnum Opus was on a warm day at Craigieburn, in soft spring conditions. I spent most of my time spinning laps down “The Guts,” a series of short gullies and wide chutes that run down Craigieburn’s main face.
A 124mm-underfoot ski wasn’t warranted in these conditions, but the wet, heavy snow was quite soft and smearable so, for the most part, I could make turns and throw slashes wherever I liked.
The Magnum Opus’ wasn’t difficult to manage in these conditions, largely because it is so light and has a pretty tight 17 meter sidecut radius. With the mount position set on the “Eric’s Choice” line (which is two centimeters behind true center), I could snap the ski across the fall line very easily from a light, centered stance.
Slushy, Bumped-up Snow
In more bumped-up terrain, where I needed to navigate small moguls with quick, sudden turns, I gained a better appreciation for the Magnum Opus’ flex profile.
The ski has a solid medium to medium/stiff flex underfoot that gets just a bit softer in the tips and tails, but is generally very consistent. In this bumped-up terrain, I needed to stay light on my feet and work with the skis to keep my turns smooth and fast. It’s not that the Magnum Opus’ flex feels harsh or unforgiving, but again, the skis are just so light with so much surface area that they can get kicked around fairly easily.
Pollard has said that part of his goal with the Magnum Opus was to create a ski that maintained the all-mountain versatility of the Mr. Pollard’s Opus. While I’m not sure that has been achieved, if you can stay balanced and smooth as you’re working the Magnum Opus through variable conditions, the ski’s performance in firmer, tracked-up terrain—considering how wide and light it is—is very respectable.
More importantly, I think, the more substantial flex of the Opus’ tips and tails helps make it nice and supportive on landings, as I’ll get to below.
Sun Softened Spring “Pow”
After the snow had softened up even more, I took the Magnum Opus into Cragieburn’s Middle Basin Chutes, a set of short, steep chutes, each with an hourglass shape.
Quick hop-turns were often required in the chokes at the top of the chutes, but bigger turns were possible above and below the chutes The aprons were only minimally tracked up and, having been hit with direct sun all morning, I found some untouched pockets of 3-4” deep, softened snow. While not super challenging, the snow was relatively wet and grabby, and the Magnum Opus cut through it really nicely. Using the same light, balanced stance, the skis initiated medium-sized turns easily, providing plenty of float through every turn, even tighter ones at slower speeds.
Windblown, Wet, Maritime Powder
On the last day of our New Zealand trip, the Canterbury club fields got hit with ~40cm of late season powder. Brought in with a lot of wind, the coastal snow was warm, dense, and sticky—the kind that’s perfect for making snowballs—so it only allowed skis to sink in around 11-12cms.
There was plenty of space to make big, top-to-bottom turns in mostly untracked snow down Craigieburn’s Hamilton Face and Castle area, a good opportunity to see how the Magnum Opus performed at speed. For the most part, the ski was nice and stable through fast, sweeping turns and long drifts, though it still needed to be skied with a more upright centered stance.
Especially in shorter turns, I had to be careful not to over-pressure the skis’ shovels. If I leaned into my boots too much, the front of the ski started to get a bit twitchy, eager to hook up and snap up the hill. If and when I shifted my weight too far back, the Magnum Opus’ fat tails (which are only 3mm narrower than the ski’s shovels), were reluctant to sink into the wet, dense snow. This meant I still needed to stay nicely balanced over the ski through each turn, and while skiing over any heavy piles of consolidated pow that the ski couldn’t break through.
Again, to be clear, while the snow was fresh, it was very dense and grabby. I’m not surprised the Magnum Opus handed the way it did, and in fact, I’m sure any ski would have felt at least a little unpredictable and touchy in those conditions. I don’t think this occasional tendency to want to “overturn” will be a problem in lighter powder, because I hadn’t noticed it all in the thick, sun-softened snow I had skied a few days earlier.
I expect the Magnum Opus’ sweet spot will feel plenty big in slightly drier pow conditions, and its relatively tight sidecut radius will only make it better suited for the playful approach to terrain that its super low swing weight encourages. Speaking of which…
After I’d put only a couple hours on the Magnum Opus, and before I’d even gotten it into the air, it was obvious that the ski would have a light feel and spin well, given how quick and pivot-y it felt on the snow.
I spun a few 3s off of a cornice above Cragieburn’s Middle Basin Chutes, and sure enough, the Magnum Opus felt perfectly balanced in the air—eerily light given its width and length.
These weren’t big spins, as I didn’t have much hang time, but I was still able to set the rotation and bring the skis around easily.
In his review of the original Opus, Jason Hutchins mentions that it will “change your skiing in a playful sort of way, and change the way you look at terrain features on the mountain.” I think that’s also the case with the Magnum Opus. I’ve never been on a ski that feels better suited for sending tricks into pow.
Its light weight and near-symmetrical shape certainly have a lot to do with this, but its flex pattern gives it a nice, supportive feel in landings, too. I’m really excited to put more time in the air on the Magnum Opus, and into deeper, softer landings.
2015-2016 Line Magnum Opus vs. 2015-2016 192cm Atomic Bent Chetler
In addition to the Magnum Opus, we’ve also been testing the other big-name ski in the world of flow-y, freestyle pow skiing: the Atomic Bent Chetler. I’ve now put more time on the Magnum Opus than I have the 192cm Bent Chetler, but it’s been interesting to see how (and how much) the two skis differ.
Most notably: the 192cm Bent Chetler is considerably heavier than the Magnum Opus – ~2500 grams per ski, vs. ~2000 –grams per ski for the Opus – and has a longer 20.5m sidecut radius, while its flex profile is practically the same.
Given those differences, the way the skis handle on snow isn’t all that surprising. The Bent Chetler is more damp and stable in bumped-up conditions, requires more input to pivot at slower speeds, and, I’ve felt, is significantly heavier in the air.
I need to put more time on both skis to nail down more specifics about how they compare, but at this point I see the 192cm Bent Chetler as sitting in a pretty different class of powder skis.
Directional skiers who like to drive skis in soft snow probably won’t find the shape, light weight, and forward mount of the Magnum Opus all that useful for the sort of skiing they want to do, while those same skiers may find that the heavier 192cm Bent Chelter can work to their liking.
Having said all that, I haven’t written off the 192cm Bent Chetler in the genre of jib-friendly powder skis. Obviously Chis Bentchetler, who skis often with Pollard and the Nimbus crew, uses it for buttering and spinning around in soft, deep snow a whole lot. Still, while the 192cm Bent Chetler may prove to be a great, playful pow ski, my initial impression is that the Magnum Opus’ low swing weight and tight radius might be an advantage if a super playful approach to terrain is primarily what you’re interested in.
But before I say any more, I’m also going to put time on the 185cm Bent Chetler, which may ski quite a bit differently from the 192cm version, and is almost certainly the more apples-to-apples comparison to the 188cm Magnum Opus.
If you’re looking for a powder ski to take out on deep days to search for natural features to spin, flip, and drag, I can’t think of a better ski for the job than the Line Magnum Opus.
NEXT PAGE: Powder Performance Update & Comparisons to the 185cm Bent Chetler…