2013-2014 Armada VJJ

2013-2014 Armada VJJ

Armada VJJ, Blister Gear ReviewSki: 2013-2014 Armada VJJ, 175 cm

Dimensions (mm): 126-136-115-133-123

Sidecut Radius: 12 meters

Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 173cm

Weight Per Ski: 2,041 grams / 4.5 lbs.

Boots / Bindings: Nordica Firearrow F3 105 / Marker Squire (DIN at 7)

Mount Location: Factory recommended

Test Locations: Alta Ski Area; Silverton, Colorado; Snowbird

Days Skied: 40+

[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 11/12 VJJ, which is unchanged for 12/13 & 13/14, except for the graphics.]

The Armada VJJ entered the market last fall as the lady-friendly version of the popular men’s JJ ski, and, obvious jokes and nonsense aside, this ski is awesome for expert female rippers and for intermediate and advanced skiers who are looking to take their skiing up a notch.

The VJJ was the first dramatically rockered ski I’ve owned, and while I expected awesome performance in powder, I had some doubts about how they would hold up on harder snow. With little early season snowfall, my VJJs patiently resided in my closet until a January trip to Silverton, Colorado. By the time my trip came, however, Silverton still hadn’t seen much snow, and conditions were firm. Still, I eagerly anticipated my first run on the VJJs.

As we rode up the double chair, I couldn’t help but admire the gilded top sheets. I know top sheets are never a good indication of a ski’s prowess, but it doesn’t hurt to ride a gorgeous pair of sticks.

Our group warmed up on a run called “Riff,” where the snow was hard, icy, and unforgiving. I adopted an aggressive forward stance and made a few slow turns, gaining confidence with each arc. At 115mm underfoot, I was shocked how easy it was to initiate turns on the VJJs. I swooped down the icy face of Riff, enjoying the stability and impressive edge grip while other skiers struggled to maintain control.

Armada VJJ Ski, Blister Gear Review

Lexi Dowdall on the Armada VJJ, Alta Ski Area.

Armada utilized AR50 construction on these skis, meaning they have rigid ABS sidewalls underfoot for stability, and lightweight cap construction on the tails and tips to reduce swing weight. I could definitely notice the lighter weight of my VJJs compared to my 2008 Salomon Czars (166cm). As a petite skier (5’3″, 120 lbs.), this reduced swing weight meant I had a much easier time initiating turns and had better overall control of the ski.

Many of the runs at Silverton Resort are accessible only via hiking, so our next move was a 30-minute bootpack up to “Billboard.” We surveyed the beautiful panorama at 13,480 feet before dropping into the wind-scoured Hidden Valley, where the snow was chalky and smooth.

Here I really let go, to see what the VJJs could do. Massive sweeping GS turns were excellent, and the stability of the ski gave me the confidence to lay out smooth arcing turns on the packed powder. This ski carved much better than my 2009 Line Pandoras (162cm), which are actually narrower underfoot at 110mm.

The VJJ was incredibly stable at high speeds on smooth snow, though when riding through rougher, choppy conditions I did notice a slight flapping of the tips. The tip flex on the VJJ is just a bit softer than the flex underfoot, but I’ve only ever noticed flapping at higher speeds. Otherwise, I found the flex to be stiff enough to bust through crud pretty admirably. Leaving Silverton, I was pleased to have erased my doubts about the performance of the VJJ on hard, icy snow. Their ability to grip—and rail—down both chalky and icy slopes left me even more eager to test their chops in powder.

Comments:

  1. Lexi:

    I quite enjoyed your review. I am 5’8″, 128 pounds. I enjoy skiing the trees, pow, and crud. I am interested in the VJJ, Rossi S7,or La Nina in the 170+ length. How would you compare the three? Which is the best “one ski quiver”?

    Lisa

    • Hey Lisa!

      Thanks for reading! I unfortunately am woefully unable to fully answer your question. I am a newer member to the Blister crew, so I haven’t yet had the chance to try out the La Nina. Though we do have a review of the La Nina from one of our ladies, See here:

      http://blistergearreview.com/gear-reviews/2012-2013-nordica-la-nina.

      The VJJ has a bit smaller sidecut radius (12 m) than the La Nina (16.5 meters), so I’m tempted to say that it may be a slightly more nimble choice in tight trees. I scored one day on the women’s S7 last season, and based on that one experience I would say the S7 has a much more “buttery” feel to it than the VJJ. Though I have heard user complaints about the tips of the women’s S7 fluttering at high speeds. From my limited experience with the S7, the VJJ seems to perform much better in crud.

      For what it’s worth, I used my VJJs as a ‘one ski-quiver’ here in Utah for the duration of last season, even though our powder storms were few and far between. I have 5 or 6 pairs of skis in my closet, and VJJs were inevitably always at the top of that stack. I’m actually slated to review Armada TSTs in the very near future. They are a bit skinnier than the VJJs, a bit stiffer, and they have no tail rocker. I’m thinking this is actually going to be an excellent all-mountain tool if you are located somewhere less snowy than a [typical] Utah winter. Be sure and stay tuned…

  2. Hi Lexi,
    I happened to stumble onto your reviews and really enjoyed them. Thanks for your insights!
    I’m considering getting a pair of VJJ’s as my first ever pair of full rocker skis. I am 161cm and have been pretty happy with my current pair of Line’s Celebrity 100 at 165cm as sort of my one quiver skis. After reading your reviews, I am thinking 165cm VJJ might ski too short for me and just wondering if I should go with 175cm though I’ve never skied anything longer than 165cm. I am no expert but quite an aggressive skier and love to go fast on groomers but also do a variety of things including tree runs, some smaller cliff jumps, etc..If I get VJJs, I’ll probably take them out mostly for deep powder days and some slackcountry country touring so it would make sense to go longer but just not sure if 175cm might be an overshoot..what do you think? I’d really appreciate if you could share your thoughts. Thanks! – Heather from up in the Canadian Rockies

  3. Hey Heather!

    Thanks so much for reading!
    So I am about your same exact height, and before skiing the VJJ I was using skis in the 168-165cm range. Because the VJJ ski has such dramatically rockered tips and tails, the 175cm length skis as if it were a much shorter ski. Armada has done a great job with keeping this ski lightweight, so the extra length didn’t add a troublesome amount of swing weight so it’s still easy to initiate turns.
    I was pretty nervous when I sized up from my 168cm Czars to the 175cm VJJ – but I am SO glad I did, I would have been very unhappy with the shorter length.

    I think you are definitely going to appreciate the longer length when you are ripping groomers, they are going to be much more stable for you. If you are hitting small cliffs, that’s a pretty good indication that you won’t be overwhelmed by the 175cm, you know what you’re doing! : )

    I also think that if this is going to be your DEEEP pow ski, the extra length is going to give you noticeably better flotation as well. If possible see if you can demo some different women’s skis in that 175cm range to get a feel for longer sticks before you purchase. That’s always the safest bet, but based on the info you provided, I think you would be able to handle the 175s with no issue.

    • I just went ahead and ordered a pair in 175cm! I’ll be honest, the idea of skiing on 175cm skis still makes me a bit nervous but I’m sure I’ll be very happy once I take them out for some turns. Can’t wait for snow! Thanks a lot for your advice Lexi.
      Heather

  4. Heather!

    So excited to hear you pulled the trigger! Let me know how the 175cm goes! I’d love to hear your feedback!

  5. Lexi,
    Your review was great! Thanks so much. I am currently deciding between the Rossi S7 and VJJs. I am 5’5, 120 pounds, and a fairly aggressive skier (although I need to work on my technical skills). I mostly ski in Vail, CO, and the surrounding resorts (Breck, Beaver Creek, Winter Park), but also take 2-3 backcountry hut trips a year. I would like to put AT bindings on them – possibly the Marker Tour F12s. Do you have a strong opinion one way or the other for the skis and any recommendations on a good touring binding to pair? Thank you so much for your help!

  6. Howdy Claire,

    Thanks so much for reading! Normally I would recommend a Dynafit setup for touring because that basically changed my life! But it sounds like you are primarily looking to do resort skiing with the occasional hut trip, in which case you are going to want a more resort-centric alpine style binding with touring capabilities.

    I tried the Duke for a couple seasons, as a smaller skier with little legs, I had a pretty difficult time keeping up with my buddies lugging the Dukes uphill. They have great skiing performance, but the weight is prohibitive for smaller bodies like you and I. If you are thinking Marker I would 100% skip the Dukes and grab the F12 instead. They weigh 4lbs 12 oz and the Duke’s weigh 6lbs 2 oz. That weight difference is pretty enormous! Keep in mind that weight on your feet is crucial to consider since each added pound will slow you down (Here’s an interesting read: http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/outdoor-activities/hiking/one-pound-off-feet-five-pounds-off-back.htm)

    You will also definitely want a boot with a walk mode. There’s tons of exciting options out there nowadays for a solid Alpine style boot with a walk mode to make touring more comfortable. I made the mistake of going on an overnight trip with my traditional alpine boots. I was so blistered and sore by the time we made camp, I literally couldn’t ski. I sat in our snow cave and got lost in the twilight zone because it was so hard to tell what time of day it was inside the cave! Basically, it sucked!!

    I hope this helps! Sounds like you have an awesome winter planned! : )

  7. Hey Lexi,

    Thanks for all your comments and recommendations on the Vjj’s, regarding length etc. I’ve just picked up a pair and am mounting Dynafit ST bindings. I’m considering mounting them 1.5 cm back of centre to help get the tips up in the deep pow. I ski mostly backcountry in BC Canada, Rogers Pass and surrounding areas.

    Any thoughts on my mounting choice would be appreciated.

  8. Hey Cathy,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read my review :)
    You will be SO stoked on that setup in BC, I’m excited for you!

    I do however advice against mounting your Dynafit ST bindings back of the factory recommended line. A couple reasons. 1. The VJJs are SO generously rockered in the tips that keeping the tips up in deep snow isn’t really a concern. As long as you are centered or fairly forward this ski won’t dive, it’s meant to gobble powder and they are just really solid in deep snow.

    I actually connected with one of the Armada reps to double check my theory on this one. He admitted that many backcountry skiers want to mount behind the factory recommended line thinking the ski was more specifically recommended for freestyle skiers, which is not the case. JP Auclair dialed in the mount point for Armada on the JJ (and VJJ) with the intention of shredding powder. If mounted back, the ski tends to have a wheelie effect when powering through the end of your turn in powder – which is obviously not desirable!

    Summary Statement: Mount ‘em up at the recommended line :)
    Many wonderful backcountry powder days to you, Cathy!

  9. Hi Lexi,
    I have just bought VJJ 2013/165 cm. I have to chose bindings.
    Are Marker Griffon bindings better than Marker Squire (DIN at 7)?

    • Hey Berin!

      Those bindings are pretty similar.
      The Squire’s DIN range tops out at 11, where the Griffon maxes out at 13.
      If you are setting your DIN around 7, you probably don’t need the Griffon.

      The Griffon is also about a pound heavier, so that too is something to consider.
      Because I am small, I always go for the lighter option, as it’s easier for me to transfer power to my skis with a lighter binding.

      It depends on what you plan to do with your VJJs.
      If you have a racing background, like high speed, or plan to be hitting jumps and cliffs, the burlier Griffon may make the most sense. If you’re just cruising around and hunting for powder, I would go with the Squire.

      Congrats on the VJJ! You’ll love them!

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