Ski: 2016-2017 Coalition Snow Abyss, 180cm
Available Lengths: 173, 180 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 140-118-135
Stated Weight per Ski: 2495 g
Stated Sidecut Radius: 24 meters
Core Construction: Birch + ABS sidewalls
Mount Location: Recommended Line
Boots / Bindings: Lange RS 110 SC / Marker Griffin (DIN at 8)
Days Skied: 3
Test Locations: Winter Park and Eldora, CO[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Abyss, which was not changed for 15/16 or 16/17, apart from graphics.]
Coalition Snow is a new ski and snowboard company out of Lake Tahoe, California, that was founded in the fall of 2014. What makes this company different is their mission: to design skis specifically for women, by women.
It’s no secret that the ski industry is heavily male-dominated and, as a woman, it’s refreshing to see a new female-specific ski and snowboard company take hold. Since it’s undeniable that there are many strong female skiers who charge, the founders of Coalition, recognizing this, designed a line of women-specific skis that they claim are not dumbed down.
The Abyss is Coalition Snow’s big mountain powder ski, which I spent some time on toward the end of the season. While I was able to get the Abyss in a pretty wide range of conditions after just a few days, this review will serve as more of a first look, and I plan to update it once I get more time on the ski.
I’m 5’10”, and it can be hard to find women’s skis that are an appropriate height. So I was really excited to see that the Abyss is made in a 180cm length. In fact, the shortest length the Abyss is offered in is 173cm, which is longer than the longest option for many women’s skis that manufacturers make. As a ski that is meant to do well in powder, I was happy to have the option to ride a longer ski.
My first day on the Abyss happened to be during a late-season snowstorm that dropped over a foot at Eldora. I had no time to warm up on a groomer, and jumped right into the conditions that this ski was designed for: powder. The Abyss is 118mm underfoot and built with rocker in both the tip and tail, with a bit of camber underfoot. The rocker in the tip is more exaggerated than the tail rocker.
The Abyss has a full birch core, and feels more substantial than other skis I’ve been on, such as the 12/13 DPS Yvette 112RP Pure or the 12/13 Black Diamond Element. The tips and tails both feel pretty stiff, and the tails are just a bit stiffer than the tips.
Compared to other soft-snow oriented skis I’ve been on, this was a pretty different feeling for me. For example, the Yvette 112RP Pure has a wide and soft shovel that flexes easily, while the 11/12 179cm K2 Obsethed, a ski with exaggerated tip and tail rocker, is pretty soft on either end making it quite playful.
The Abyss flexes more similar to, though not exactly like, the 15/16 Volkl Aura. The tips of the Abyss are noticeably (but not significantly) softer than its tails, while the Aura has a relatively even flex from tip to tail, while still being a touch stiffer in the tail.
On my first run, I was lucky enough to get first tracks down a steep, open trail. At first, I found myself struggling to keep the Abyss’ tips above the surface of the snow. I leaned back and felt the burn on the front of my thighs as I picked up speed. Since Coalition Snow calls the Abyss a powder ski, I expected that it would be floating much better; that is, until I looked around and saw that everyone else was struggling to stay on the surface, too. Since it was so late in the season, higher temps and wet snow made the snow much heavier than the Colorado snow I was used to.
I didn’t stay in the backseat for very long, and started skiing with more of a neutral stance. Even though the tips sunk a little and I had to slow down, I didn’t feel out of control as I had expected in the heavy snow. In similar conditions, the Yvette 112 RP Pure felt very unstable; the soft, wide shovel would often catch in the dense snow and shoot off in a different direction.
As I got more comfortable on the Abyss, it felt supportive and stable as I started to make larger, sweeping turns down the slope. It was actually pretty easy to control the Abyss in such challenging conditions, and my confidence grew, so I started pushing the ski more and more. In a neutral to slightly forward stance, I was able to have enough control over the ski without getting much tip dive.
I didn’t have the chance to get the Abyss in light powder. Because it’s a pow ski with a wide waist and tip and tail rocker, it should do well in these conditions; however it’s also quite heavy. I’m not sure how surfy it will feel compared to other lighter pow skis, but will be sure to provide an update once I get it in some lighter powder next fall.
The Abyss truly excelled when the powder got tracked out. Skis with a lot of rocker and a softer flex, like the Obsethed or the Yvette 112RP Pure, perform beautifully in fresh, light powder, but often become difficult to direct once the snow gets chopped up.
The Abyss is a stiffer and more directional ski – the tail, though rockered, is stiffer and isn’t too splayed out, which allowed me to charge through chop in a similar manner to the Aura. Combined with the longer length, I was able to push the Abyss hard in deep, heavy chop, conditions that I would normally feel hesitant to push the limits.
The Abyss felt damp and powerful, and it easily cut through the heavy, inconsistent snow. I never felt like I had to work hard to direct the tips; in fact, the skis did most of the work for me. The tails did not grab and easily released, which made for smooth transitions from turn to turn. Pressuring my shins on the front of my boots and skiing in a more aggressive stance increased the ski’s power.
Trees / Bumps
There are skis better suited for trees (the Yvette 112RP Pure and the Moment Bella are excellent in tight spots), however, considering its length, I was impressed by the Abyss. I was able to maneuver through tight sections without any serious problems. It definitely took more strength and energy to ski through dense woods on the Abyss compared to a shorter, softer ski, but it wasn’t impossible.
Though I really enjoy making quick turns through moguls, I wasn’t able to do so on the Abyss. Since the tails are fairly stiff, it took more energy than I could produce to pressure the ski in such away. Instead, I had a blast making bigger, sweeping turns over the smaller mogul fields.
Groomers / On-Piste
The traditional camber underfoot helps the Abyss feel significantly more capable on groomers. On moderately firm groomers, I was able to pick up a lot of speed and roll the ski easily up on edge. It wasn’t difficult to engage the Abyss at the top of the turn, creating a clean carve throughout the completion of the turn. Not once did I feel like I was skiing on a pair of 118mm underfoot powder skis.
Surprisingly, the Abyss actually felt comparable on groomers to the Moment Bella, which has a 106mm waist. The Bella and Abyss have a somewhat similar profile (tip and tail rocker and camber underfoot) and both perform quite well on groomers. The Abyss is a bigger and burlier ski (in width, length, and stiffness) than the Bella, and it takes a little more forward pressure to engage the tips. The Abyss has a bigger sidecut radius than both the Bella and the Aura, though, so it prefers to make larger, sweeping turns.
Still, with a little more effort, I found that I was able to work the Abyss in tighter-radius turns. Underfoot, the Abyss is poppy, making it responsive enough to make quick, tight turns on more consistent snow. The tails were more noticeable on groomers, holding through the completion of the turn and never slipping out, even when I pushed the ski to make more smaller turns.
As the sun warmed the snow, the fresh groomers developed a thick layer of slush—spring skiing paradise. Since it was pretty much impossible to hold an edge on any ski, I began smearing the beginning of each turn, which resulted in basically smearing the whole turn. Even though the ski was eager to carve on hardpack, it was just as willing to smear in the softer, more-forgiving snow. Though it was nearing the end of the day and I was really tired, I was having so much fun that I continued to lap the lifts until they closed.
I had the most fun bringing the Abyss up to speed since it handled high speeds better than most skis I’ve been on. Though the Aura is stiffer, it’s not as long as the Abyss and starts to feel shaky at higher speeds. While I could work the Abyss into smaller turns at slower speeds, it was obvious that it wants to go fast, and when I tried to carve at slower speeds, it was less responsive and more difficult to bend.
Considering how new of a company Coalition Snow is, I was initially a bit skeptical about how well the Abyss would stack up against other skis I’ve been on. After getting the Abyss in a range of conditions, I must admit that I’m more than impressed. With a background in ski racing, I’m always looking for a ski I can charge on, and I’ve yet to find the upper limit of the Abyss.
The Abyss will work best for advanced to expert skiers. It is forgiving enough that intermediate skiers may also enjoy it, however, a more aggressive skier will get a lot more out of the ski.
I would recommend the Abyss for someone who is looking for a powerful all-mountain charger that does well on-piste. The Abyss really shines in more challenging conditions, such as heavy powder and chop, but is surprisingly fun on groomers, too.
So far I’ve loved the Abyss and it has become one of my favorites—it’s aggressive, it’s responsive, and it’s fast.