Ski: 2017-2018 J Skis – The Friend, 186 cm
Available Lengths: 173, 180, 186 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 183.1 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 136-114-125
Blister’s measured length: 183.1 cm
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2348 & 2354 g
Stated Sidecut Radius (180 cm): 19.5 meters
Core Construction: Maple + Fiberglass Laminate + Carbon Fiber Stringers
Tip / Tail Splay (ski decambered): 71 / 57 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: ~3 mm
Factory “Standard” Line: -6 cm
Mount Location: “Standard” Line
Boots / Bindings: Roxa X-Face 120 / Marker Griffon Demo
Days Tested: 10
Test Location: Taos, NM; Targhee, Wyoming[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 Friend, which was not changed for 17/18, except for the graphics.]
We’ve already awarded the J Skis Metal a ‘Blister Best Bet’ award, and Scott Nelson has reviewed the all-mountain, jib-oriented J Skis Allplay, it’s time to weigh in on Jason Levinthal’s powder ski, the Friend.
At a width of 114 mm, The Friend occupies the more versatile end of the powder ski spectrum, and that’s reflected in Jay Levinthal’s description: “I designed “The Friend” to be truly the best of both worlds. Float, surf, slash, butter in the deep snow until it gets tracked out, then have equal fun maching top to bottom chop and groomers like it ain’t no thang.”
I spend most of my time on similar skis in this 105-115 waist range,, so I was excited to get to know the Friend.
In hand, the Friend definitely sits on the softer end of the spectrum. Its tips and tails are a little softer than the Line Mordecai, and it doesn’t stiffen up significantly toward the center of the ski. Overall, the flex pattern is pretty consistent, and I’d call it “a medium / medium-soft’.
On snow, there are no hinge points in the flex,
My first runs on the Friend coincided with the tail end of the storm that blessed Taos immediately after SIA. Most of the mountain was tracked out, but several chutes in West Basin still held very good snow.
The Friend was very easy and intuitive, even in steep, tighter lines. Although the snow wasn’t bottomless, I never buried the tips, and was able to intuitively milk the last of the storm snow that still lingered.
At higher speeds, I definitely noticed the Friend’s softer flex, especially in contrast to the ON3P Jeffrey 114 I’d skied the weekend before. I’ll dive deeper into that comparison below.
Later, while skiing a few inches of fresh snow off Teton Pass, my impressions were re-enforced: the Friend is very easy to ski in new snow. It floats well, and the soft flex and jibby shape and rocker make quick slashes and directional changes easy, even in heavier snow.
The majority of my time on the Friend has been spent skiing softer, tracked-out conditions, both the remnants of storm snow, and slushier, sun-softened snow.
In these conditions, the Friend is a blast. It responds best to an upright stance—its soft shovels are easy to fold if you get too far forward, but its soft tails are easy to load and pop off of just about anything.
The Friend is definitely not a charger. It does not enjoy nuking through crud, but instead, prefers to slarve and bounce through the rough.
The same is true in more firm conditions, too. This is not an easy ski to blast through chunder on. It gets washy at higher speeds, and feels very vague underfoot, not snappy and engaged. Keep in mind, however, that we’re talking about a soft, jibby, pow-oriented ski.
NEXT: Comparisons, Who’s it for, Etc.