Ski: 2016-2017 Praxis Protest, 187 cm
Available Lengths: 163, 177, 187, 192, 196 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 186 cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 139-128-132
Blister’s Measured Dimensions: 139.5-128.5-132
Stated Weight per Ski: 2140 grams / 4.72 lbs.
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2176 & 2178 g
Sidecut Radius: 30 meters
Core Construction: Maple/Ash/Paulownia + Fiberglass Laminate (custom options available)
Tip & Tail Splay: 71 / 34 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2 mm
Boots / Bindings: Lange RX 130 / Marker Jester / (DIN) 10
Mount Location: +1 centimeter of recommended line
Test Locations: Niseko, Japan; Silverton, Colorado; Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 9[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 Protest, which is unchanged except for the graphics]
The main trick in writing a review of the Praxis Protest is to make clear just how good this ski is, while also conveying a relatively accurate sense of the ‘feel’ of the ski, its limitations, and what sort of skier is most likely to dig it.
So let’s start with the business of making clear just how good this ski is:
The Praxis Protest is a phenomenal deep-snow ski. There are a number of truly outstanding pow skis, but I have skied none that is clearly better than the Protest. Different, yes. Better, no.
The Protests performed exceptionally well in Niseko. In fact, of the 14 skis we took to Japan, if I had to get rid of all but one for the full 17 days, it would be a close call between the Protest and the Rossignol Squad 7. But that is a comment about the versatility of the Protest, and we’re talking about pure powder performance here, so I digress….
On the many bottomless runs we skied at Niseko, and on a practically bottomless day at Rusutsu, being guided around by Black Diamond Lodge and Tours owner Clayton Kernaghan, I never experienced any tip dive on the Protest, ever. To me, tip dive is the single greatest sin of a pow ski. If I have to get back on my heels to keep the tips planing, what’s the point of having 120+ millimeters underfoot?
Mounted at +1 of the recommended line, the Protest feels very balanced, and while it works best when skied from a more centered stance, the Protest doesn’t get weird or dive on you if driven through the shovels. It also has a large sweet spot, and doesn’t begin to wheelie out if you get in the backseat a little.
The Protests love going fast down the fall line, but they aren’t beasts to turn at slower speeds. (The DPS Lotus 138 Pure is probably even better at executing quick turns at slow speeds in very tight trees, but the Protest isn’t far behind.)
From heavy, wet untracked to light blower, the Protest feels at home. Keep the bases flat, pivot, and enjoy a surfy ride; or put it on edge, and the ski is solid enough to carve through the untracked. I don’t feel like the Protest has a preference.
If the Protest wasn’t such a good pure pow ski, I would say that its strength is soft, cut-up pow. These skis encourage you to fly in both soft chop and snow with deep trenches. The stiffness of the shovels feels perfectly in sync with the minimal sidecut of the forebody and the narrow tips, resulting in little to no tip deflection or hooking, and little fear of diving a too-soft tip in a deep trench, which was an issue I had with the otherwise excellent Armada AK JJ.
Speaking of the AK JJ, I mention in my review that I felt that its nice stiffness underfoot moves too soft too soon through the shovel, and if it didn’t, that ski would be getting really close to perfect. The Armada AK JJ and the Praxis Protest have a pretty similar feel in deep snow, but to me, the flex of the Protest is spot on, helping it to excel exactly where the AK JJ struggles.
The combination of the Protest’s playful shape with a solid flex is what makes the Protest so much fun. There are, of course, skis that can blow through such conditions with ease (e.g., 191 ON3P Billy Goat or 191 Volkl Katana), but the Protest feels more playful than these skis while preserving much of their stability.
(By the way, it just occurred to me that I just compared a 128mm underfoot ski to a 118- and a 111-mm ski, and I think it’s a little telling: the Praxis Protest is a rather playful pow ski that can still charge.)
Jumping off pillows and landing in soft chop in Niseko Village’s Mizuno no Sawa, the Protest felt stable, and I wasn’t getting bucked around. Land too far in the backseat and you will wheelie out, but given that the width of the Protest is concentrated in the middle of the ski, I tend to worry less about getting too far forward, burying the shovels, and going over the handlebars.
In deep pow and soft chop, the Protest is a relatively forgiving ski that won’t noodle out at speed, and doesn’t deflect all over the place in cut up snow. It’s a ski that will allow you to arc huge turns, but it also pivots easily.
Basically, if you are looking for a dedicated pow ski, the Protest ought to be on your radar. And if you are looking for a dedicated pow ski for big lines, then the Protest ought to be smack dab in the center of your radar.
Because this ski is 128mm underfoot, this review could end right here, at tracked and untracked pow performance. But the Protest is so capable that it’s the sort of ski you think you’ll pull out only when there’s at least 6″ of fresh. But then you start pulling it out when there is only 2″ of fresh. And then you start taking it out 3 days after a storm….
So if you’re certain that you’ll get on other boards when there’s less than six inches, stop reading. But for the rest of you…
Firm / Variable Conditions
The Protest is a ski that you can hop on and immediately appreciate the ride, but it’s a ski that feels better and inspires more confidence as you spend more time on it. That’s what makes this section of the review so difficult: the question of how well the Protest handles firm conditions seems even more subjective than it is with other skis, and the line of what it can and cannot handle tends to shift as you learn how to ski it.
Plus, Protest owners love their skis kind of like Republicans love Ronald Reagan, Bears fans love Coach Ditka, and BLISTER reviewer Joe Augusten loves Justin Bieber: They see no shortcomings, and to suggest otherwise is to find yourself in the middle of a fight.
I first got on the Protests last season at Silverton and was blown away by just how capable they were on big lines in deep pow. Then the pillows of Niseko showed me just how playful this ski is, and also that, with a bit of speed, the Protests can ski trees really well, too. But I wanted to get the Protest up on the ridge at Taos to get a better sense of the Protests strengths and weaknesses.