Ski: 2013-2014 MOMENT Belafonte, 182cm
Dimensions (mm): 135-106-124
Turn Radius: 25.7 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 180.5cm
Boots/Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester / (DIN) 9
Mount Location: Factory Recommended
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley, Breckenridge, Vail
Days Skied: 7
(Editor’s Note: Our tests were conducted on the 11/12 Belafonte, which was not changed for 12/13 or 13/14, except for the graphics.)
Garrett Altmann and Jonathan Ellsworth have written quite a bit about the Belafonte already, and I tend to agree with everything they have to say about the ski. For my own part in the conversation, I’ll try to orient the Belafonte’s performance characteristics around the more freestyle-oriented MOMENT PB&J and the Blizzard Cochise, a more forgiving ski with very similar tendencies to the Belafonte. This should help to round out the picture of what the Belafonte does best.
I put in a few days recently on the well-balanced PB&J at Taos, mostly messing around in steep, bumped terrain, and found them to perform remarkably well in both firm and soft conditions all over the mountain. But as with any good one-ski quiver, the PB&Js are not exceptionally strong in any single discipline.
I had spent an afternoon lapping some of my favorite quick, hardpack lines down Reforma and Al’s Run on the PB&Js, which they handled well, but only up to a certain speed. I didn’t care to jib my way back to the lift again, and I wanted to push things a little harder in the steeps—to a degree of aggressiveness that the PB&J doesn’t always tolerate comfortably.
I needed a ski with more effective edge that could handle higher speeds with greater stability underfoot. This means something with a little less sidecut than the PB&J so that the skis’ shovels don’t fight to hook up and pull across the fall line when thrown sideways on hard snow. Additionally, I wanted a traditional, dependable tail for confidence in steep terrain and stability in variable snow.
In short, I was looking for a ski with more capability to charge than the PB&J, a ski that would be happy to be airing off knolls and boulders into firm landings, doubling over moguls, making fast turns over grabby, uneven, sunbaked snow, and straightlineing through runouts.
Relative to the PB&J, the Belafonte is that ski; but in many ways, so is the Blizzard Cochise.
The Cochise is a damp ski that loves stable, controlled slarves more than anything. (If you like what you’ve read about the Belafonte so far, please read up on the Cochise.) With a 108mm waist (comparable to the Belafonte’s 106mm), the Cochise sports a flat underfoot profile, very slight tip and tail rocker, and a smooth and snappy flex. This combination makes for an incredibly versatile ski that is suitable in many ways for both the intermediate and the expert skier.
The Cochise can rage, but will also accept a backseat slip or a less than roomy turn through bumps, thanks to a forgiving tail that has a nice, strong rebound (though I do not consider it soft). Everything the Cochise will tolerate, the Belafonte will not. The Belafonte is the Cochise with a serious attitude.
In his review, Jonathan talks about the need to carve rather than “slither” your way through bumps on the Belafonte, and I would agree. The ski can handle most bumps well, but it won’t let you get away with much and won’t do anything for you. Everyone on the lift will know if you get mixed up in your line and have to bang out a quick, awkward turn. But look a few turns ahead, stay forward, give the Belafonte enough room to make a smooth turn across the hill, and you’ll be happy.
One of the things I love about the Belafonte and Cochise is their ability to make many different skidded turn shapes. (Hooray subtle sidecut!) Long surf turns are possible on both skis, but are far from identical in feel. The Cochise is willing to remain sideways in a sustained slarve, where the Belafonte, while super stable, will be pushing back at you hard through the tails. With camber underfoot and a traditional, twinned tail, the Belafontes will not pivot and smear in soft snow without being deliberately told to do so. By default, they want to run straight down the fall line, whereas the Cochise reacts consistently regardless of which direction you’re pointing.