Ski: 2014-2015 H2O Gear Kodiak, 184cm
Dimensions (mm): 151-120-132.5
Sidecut Radius: 22 meters
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): ~172 cm
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Hot Rod / Rossignol 120 (DIN at 6)
Mount Location: Factory recommended
Test Location: Alta Ski Area
Days Skied: 8[Editor’s Note: our review was conducted on the 11/12 Kodiak, which has not been changed for the 14/15 season, except for graphics.]
I admit I was a little nervous when I first saw the 174cm Kodiak. I mentioned in my review of the Line Pandora how the Pandora was relatively large for me, and the Kodiak was both a couple of centimeters longer and significantly wider. After testing the Kodiak in several days of spring skiing conditions, however, I was impressed by how well it handled.
I started with a few runs cruising down groomers on Collins at Alta, and the first thing I noticed about the Kodiaks was how unbelievably fast they were. At the top of each run they took off down the slope and didn’t let up until the bottom. This can be attributed to both an incredible wax job by H2O and simply that many larger, heavier skis such as the Kodiak feel more stable at high speeds.
Going that fast on some skis might be terrifying, but because of how stable and predictable the Kodiak felt, I was able to ski confidently without worrying about the tips hooking or getting thrown by unpredictable bumps. Even when I did hit uneven snow (after a brief moment of surprise), I was immediately impressed by how well the Kodiak recovered, never losing its solid, smooth feel.
The Kodiak has tip rocker and a subtle amount of tail rocker, with traditional camber underfoot and a relatively large side cut of 22 meters. Applying pressure to the edges of the skis allowed almost the entire length to contact the snow. This made carving down the groomers in large, swooping turns very smooth and controlled. Additionally, H2O uses a proprietary dampening process in their construction to complement their all-wood linear core, which reduces the chatter of the early rise tips and contributes to the overall stability of the ski.
As I became more comfortable on the Kodiak, I took them off-piste into soft, variable snow and hardpack bumps. I could turn the skis quickly enough to stay in control through consistent bumps at slow speeds, but once I began to open up my turns and increase my speed, I found myself struggling to slow the skis back down. The Kodiak’s subtly rockered tails are slightly turned up, but I still found them getting caught. While trying to force the tails through the finish of each turn, I was getting slightly backseat.
After testing the skis in deeper mashed potatoes and chopped-up snow (conditions that were even harder to turn in) I began experimenting with my stance to see whether this helped break the tails free through the finish of the turn. What I found was that maintaining a more forward stance to drive the tips through the turn was more effective than trying to force the tails to come around.
As I unweighted the skis after each turn, the amount of tip rocker decreased, which placed more of the tips and tails (and therefore almost the entire edge length) back in contact with the snow and allowed for easier initiation and grip going into the next turn. Learning the technique required to ski the Kodiak efficiently took some time, but once I got used to them, I enjoyed charging through chop with speed, control, and stability.