Last season the model turnover rate in the Big Mountain category was so low, it seemed suppliers had accepted the fact that the market for fat powder skis was limited to a trickle of sales per season. Perhaps the snows of two seasons ago spurred them into action, for this year the Big Mountain field produced a bigger than ever bunch of Recommended models, headlined by nine new or significantly tweaked skis.
One of the best new models is also one of the oldest, Line’s Sir Francis Bacon. Re-designed this year to make this seemingly eternal model more like its first incarnation, the 2020 SFB might be the finest Finesse ski in the genre. Sad to say, you won’t find it in our coverage, as your esteemed Editor was the only one of our far-flung cast to try it. I took it out in the crud of Snow Basin and it was as sweet as honey fresh from the hive. If the grail of off-trail skiing is mindless ease, Sir Francis Bacon should be credited with its discovery.
Perhaps the reason the SFB didn’t get any love is because a trio of new arrivals stole the spotlight. Volkl followed up the launch of the M5 Mantra with a Mantra 102, a take-no-prisoners Power ski with mayhem on its mind. Speaking of minds, K2’s new Mindbender 108 Ti should attract the attention of the small army of skiers who should retire the Sidestash, Obsethed or Kahuna gathering moss in the storage shed.
Perhaps the most significant new Big Mountain ski of 2020 is Nordica’s Enforcer 104 Free. Its significance lies in its size: at 104mm underfoot, on paper it would seem redundant in a line that already has an Enforcer 100 and 110, but it only takes one run to see why Nordica had to make this model. It’s so much easier to ski than either of its siblings, without diminishing its Power quotient, that’s its destined for overnight stardom.
If you’re currently flailing in new snow, you’re on the wrong gear. Powder is the one condition in which the choice of ski can actually improve your skiing experience, without actually requiring you to improve your skiing, if you catch my drift. A properly sized and selected Big Mountain model will make you a better powder skier a lot faster than a great Technical ski will turn you into a proficient carver.