Ski: 2016-2017 Volkl Aura, 170cm
Available Lengths: 156, 163, 170 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 170.5cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 132-100-118
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 1956 & 1936 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 21.5 meters
Core Construction: Poplar/Beech + Titanal Metal + Fiberglass Laminate
Mount Location: Recommended Line
Boots / Bindings: Lange RS 110 SC / Marker Griffin (DIN at 8)
Test Locations: Winter Park and Eldora, CO
Days Skied: 7[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Aura, which comes back unchanged for 15/16 or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
Last summer, Julia Van Raalte reviewed the redesigned Volkl Aura down in New Zealand in mostly variable conditions. Volkl claims that while they greatly improved the Aura’s soft snow performance, it is still just as good on firm snow. So it was my job to check out the Aura’s performance on firm snow / groomers … though I also was able to get the Aura into some pow, too.
The new Aura, now 100mm underfoot, is fully rockered, even though the rocker profile is fairly subtle. My first run on the Aura was down a steep, freshly groomed trail. With a dusting of new snow, the groomer was smooth, grippy, and soft enough to be extremely forgiving even though the skis did not have a fresh tune.
I had a lot of fun making quick, short-radius turns on the Aura. For most of the season, I had been skiing the 2010-2011 Volkl Kiku (106mm underfoot with a 23.6m sidecut radius), so the Aura’s quickness by comparison really stood out.
On softer groomers, I never felt that the ski’s lack of camber significantly decreased its ability to carve; in fact, the Aura was extremely responsive. The ski engaged nicely at the beginning of the turn and could hold an edge through the turn’s completion until I transitioned to the next, allowing me to make clean arcs all the way down the trail.
On firmer snow, the Aura didn’t hold its edge as well—though I’m confident that with a sharper tune the ski would have been nearly as capable carving as it had been on softer corduroy. On icier, harder snow, I was able to easily engage the ski at the beginning of the turn, but the tails would lose their grip and slide out, often resulting in a smear at the finish.
When making shorter radius turns, I felt I could really bring the Aura up to speed; however, once I gained too much speed to maintain these quicker turns, I had to widen the radius. Here, the Aura felt much less stable and I usually ended up skidding at the top of the turn to stay in control. It’s probably worth noting that as a 5’10” woman, the 170cm Aura (the longest length the ski is offered in) does feel a little short for me. When charging at higher speeds, I don’t think I would have had as much of an issue with the ski’s stability if I had a slightly longer ski.
In the past few years, I’ve mostly been on skis that are wider than 100mm underfoot, but I’ve found that the Aura performs most similarly to the DPS Yvette 112RP Pure on groomers and hard pack. Though the Aura lacks the camber of the Yvette 112RP Pure, it also has a much narrower waist, and I’ve found both skis to be quick and lively on-piste.
The snow in Colorado has been quite sparse this season, and I nearly left the Rockies to go back home to Vermont for a ski vacation. When we were finally blessed with some snow, I admittedly cringed when reaching for the 100mm underfoot Volkl Aura rather than my other 110mm+ underfoot skis on the first—and possibly only—powder day of the season. As Julia mentions in both her Preview and First Look, the new Aura now has full rocker, and is supposed to have better powder performance. I was hoping this claim would be true.
Winter Park had been blanketed by almost a foot of new snow, and continued to fill in throughout the day. Fortunately, as Volkl claimed, the Aura did quite well in the soft snow. As I cruised through glades, open bowls, and down bump runs, the Aura floated nicely through the deeper pockets of powder.
When skiing powder on cambered skis, I usually have to lean back a bit to take the weight off the tips and keep them from diving. With the fully rockered Aura, however, I found that I could almost always comfortably maintain a neutral position in deeper snow. The slightly wider shovel deflected snow and pretty much always kept the tips on the surface. Built with two sheets of titanium, the Aura feels a bit heavy compared to the carbon DPS Yvette 112RP Pure or the Black Diamond Element, and unsurprisingly, isn’t quite as surfy as either of those skis.
Though I had no regrets skiing the Aura on a powder day, I wouldn’t say that it floats effortlessly; the Aura definitely performs better in powder at higher speeds, and I had no issues making sweeping turns on open trails or through widely spaced trees.
When the glades tightened up though, the ski had a tendency to lose its ability to float as nicely. As I said, I could usually maintain a neutral stance in powder, although when I slowed down, I had to lean farther into the back seat to keep the ski smooth and on the surface. This made navigating tighter areas in trees slightly more difficult since I didn’t have as much control over the tips of the ski.
Halfway through the day, ski patrol opened the Cirque and I was one of the first to drop in. Jumping off the cornice into the large bowl, I gained some serious speed quickly. I found myself making larger radius turns than I had before, and was impressed by the Aura’s stability through the deep pow at high speed. I felt comfortable applying strong pressure to the front of my boots and skiing aggressively through the open bowl. Again, once I got going really fast, the 170cm length felt a little short, but in most other situations, I was fine with the length.
The Aura also did really well in soft, deep chop, and I was easily able to maneuver the ski through deeper troughs and bumps. The Aura could be skied hard, but I also felt like I could maintain good control over the ski through variable softer snow.
As the snow began to settle and condense though, I wished I had a heavier, damper ski. Even though the Aura is a directional ski, it still doesn’t feel like a super damp ride. Similar to Julia’s experience in heavy, wet snow, I also had to slow way down to maintain control over the ski. The ski didn’t quite have the power to make large, sweeping turns at high speeds, but rather I had to make quicker, short radius turns. Once again, I suspect that a longer Aura would have helped the cause here.
Volkl definitely succeeded in designing the Aura as a fun all-mountain ski that does well on both hard and soft snow. For a 100mm-underfoot ski, I was surprised by how well the Aura handled powder, and was also extremely happy ripping it down steep groomers.
Although I never spent time on earlier iterations of the Aura, the current model is quite versatile and seems well suited to a wide range of skiers. The Aura is a nimble yet stable ski that can be taken up to relatively fast speeds in a wide range of conditions.
NEXT: Rocker Profile Pics