Dimensions (mm): 134-108-122
Turn Radius: 27 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 175.1cm
Weight Per Ski: 2,098 grams / 4 pounds, 10 ounces
Boots / Bindings: Lange Exclusive Rx 90 / Marker Jester / (DIN) 8
Mount Location: Factory Recommended
Test Location: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Days Skied: 15
I must admit that at first the Dakotas and I butted heads a little. There was a bit of a power struggle that resulted in lots of speed checking and me repeatedly getting kicked into the backseat. The Dakotas are sturdy, powerful, and fast, and they demand nothing less from a rider.
After a couple of days, however, we warmed up to each other. As I became familiar with the Dakota’s characteristics, they became surprisingly responsive and maneuverable, and we’ve gotten along great ever since. As fellow reviewer Will Brown said in his Blizzard Cochise review (the men’s version of the Dakota), “they won’t do anything you don’t tell them to do.”
When I first grabbed the Dakotas and headed to the tram line, I was struck by just how heavy the skis were. I’m ashamed to admit that carrying any skis through the maze is never easy for me, but the Dakotas really gave my biceps a workout. I knew right then that these were not your average women’s skis—and it only made me more excited to get them to the top of the mountain.
As I came down Rendezvous bowl, the light was flat, and I couldn’t make out much of anything in front of me. Luckily the Dakotas cruised smoothly over everything that came across my path. The snow was choppy but light, and the skis ate it up.
On steep pitches and runouts, the skis picked up speed quickly and easily. But I found that to avoid being tipped into the backseat I had to adjust my stance farther forward and really drive the skis.
In Julia Van Raalte’s review of the Dakota, she noted that the skis seem to be most comfortable skiing big turns directly down the fall line at high speeds, and I completely agree. With a 27-meter turning radius, these skis love to arc big, fast turns across the slope; making short, tight turns takes considerably more effort.
The next morning I woke up to bluebird skies and a high of 38° Fahrenheit. In sticky, choppy snow the Dakotas were significantly less forgiving and didn’t let me get away with much. I had trouble controlling my speed and kept finding myself in the backseat. It felt as if the skis kept trying to tail gun out from under me.
Also, as Julia mentioned in her review, the rocker splay is extremely subtle in the Dakota’s tails, which can cause them to catch the snow while turning. I had the same experience, with the tails catching most during sharp, quick turns in bumps, trees, or choppy crud.
Eventually I found that the key to getting over the Dakota’s initially steep learning curve was understanding just how much I could slide these skis around. With that discovery, I reached that completely synced state where the Dakotas wouldn’t do anything I didn’t tell them to do….