Two years ago 3 brands introduced high-end models with vertical laminates made from metal or carbon. Liberty’s version, with two aluminum ribs trisecting the bamboo/poplar core, earned the highest scores from our panelists. Last season, Liberty added a third metal strut to the men’s V-series models it introduced the prior year. Liberty’s Vertical Metal Technology (VMT) is as effective a system for maintaining snow contact as any extant, short of loading the ski up with every dampening agent known to man. Theron Lee of Bobo’s succinctly describes how it feels: “damp but not dead.”
One reason the V82 skis so well is that the metal ribs don’t work alone. Two 1cm-wide swathes of carbon straddle the center strut, poured PU sidewalls have a calming effect on the edges they rest on and a carbon base layer adds bonus buffering. The result is very close to race-ski grip without having each run feel like a workout. If one word could characterize what it feels like to take a spin on the V82 it would be “natural.” There’s nothing to adapt to, nothing to figure out.
The V76 imparts a thrilling cocktail of sensations that don’t normally mix. It’s inherently both lively and damp, urgently on and off a steeply angled edge or content to ride a relaxed, languid arc. Best of all, it’s instantly accessible; you don’t need to adapt to it because it’s already one move ahead, adapting to you. For this reason it’s a brilliant re-entry vehicle for skiers who have been out of the sport for over a decade and want to try something that is both new and yet familiar.
The unique construction that allows the V76 to simultaneously maintain world-class snow contact and sensuous snow feel is Vertical Metal Technology (VMT). VMT consists of vertical aluminum struts that run tip to tail. When it was introduced last season, the V76 had two such struts; for 20/20, Liberty has added a third to boost its effectiveness on hard snow. As you might imagine, a longitudinal vertical strut will resist any force that tries to bend it, which is how the V76 is able to achieve such unshakeable edge grip.
“The ski was quiet but not dead,” notes master ski technician Theron Lee. “The ski follows terrain well and its liveliness was much appreciated.” The V76’s full range of talents is certainly best appreciated by a skilled technical skier like Lee, rather than someone who still stems their turns. Its 15m-sidecut radius favors the skier who like his turns tight and tidy, although it only takes a tweak of edge angle to extract a longer turn.
Of Head’s four Supershape models, the one that underwent the most telling transformation for 20/21 was the e-Titan.
It’s not just that the e-Titan has plumped up to a 84mm waist; it’s also been trimmed down at tip and tail. By taking some of the shape out of the sidecut, the e-Titan has become more adapted to uneven terrain and even powder, while the e-Rally remains an unadulterated carver. To put it more plainly, the e-Titan is more at home in a big-bellied GS arc while the e-Rally is genetically inclined to SL turns.
Comparing the new e-Titan to the Titans of yore, the latest issue feels smoother flexing and easier to compress at less than rocket speeds. Reducing the core profile underfoot and making the middle of the ski softer allows it bend more fully, unleashing the e-Titan’s flawless grip. The flex pattern is matched to the sidecut and baseline of each length to achieve a more fluid, balanced flex pattern that makes skiing feel as natural as walking.
Some carvers can be finicky – they’re wonderful to ski as long as you do it according to their definition of what’s right. But the shallower sidecut of the e-Titan makes it more open-minded. Pick a turn shape, any shape, and the e-Titan can dance to it. Pretty much anyone can hop on a pair and have fun as its slick blend of carving power and drift-ability opens up the bottom end of its ability envelope as well as ungroomed side of the mountain.