Black Diamond Power Play — Overview of the BD Power Series Skis

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This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

You’ve got to be amazed at what Black Diamond has done with their ski line in just fifteen years or so. Not only are they a serious player in ski alpinism, but they’re sandboxing with the big boys by going after the resort skier market as well. Last week I grabbed this photo of all the planks in their “Power” series. My shot is not quite as perfectly conceived as the one BD just started using as their homepage background, but hey, I’m just a blogger. Question is, what’s with all the tele bindings? A new telemark boom in the making?

BD Power Series skis, 2009-2010

Black Diamond Power Series skis, 2009-2010.

Shop for Black Diamond skis here.

The line shakes out like this (following the photo from left to right, fatter to thinner, all widths for shorter lengths):

Megawatt (147/120/126)
No camber, lots of rocker, some sidecut in the binding area so you don’t totally loose it in the hardpack. A specialized machine I’m not sure I’d want to haul around while under human power, but then…

Justice (138/115/123)
Said to be a less agro version of Megawatt. I think that just means it’s a bit narrower and hence lighter weight. After all, it’s the skier who’s agro, not the ski, right?

Zealot (136/110/126)
Now we’re getting over to more conventional territory, basically a wide GS style ski with some rocker.

Verdict (127/100/115)
This of course is not the Verdict of old. They just kept the name. Basically an all-mountain ski without rocker. Could be a good do-it-all backcountry plank. Looks like the sweet spot in the line for my Colorado style, anyway. So I’ll give these a test eventually.

Kilowatt (121/95/109)
Not the Kilowatt of old. It’s a bit damper and softer. That’ll make some people happy and some sad. Again, could be a very nice all-rounder for human powered vert.

Havoc (119/88/111)
Again, the name stays the same but it’s a different ski. Said to be a “softer adaptation of a classic model” that is “super turny.” We’re thinking this is more of a hardpack ski by conventional standards.

Joule (121/95/109)
We’d guess this is pretty close to being a Kilowatt, only softer. It’s supposed to be the fem version. I like the graphics, does that have some sort of meaning?

Velvet (119/88/111)
Again, looking much like a Havoc, said to be “turny” and good on consolidated snow from the “Alps to Aspen.”

Comments

33 Responses to “Black Diamond Power Play — Overview of the BD Power Series Skis”

  1. Pierce September 24th, 2009 8:59 am

    Lou,

    Sorry to go off-topic, but did you hear that the Fowler-Hilliard Hut burnt down? Probably old news since this is in your paper:
    http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20090924/NEWS/909249997/1058

    Bummer!

  2. Nathan B September 24th, 2009 9:01 am

    Lou, my sources say that last year’s Kilowatts were a bit stiff for soft snow, especially in the tail which was a bit too snappy and would launch the skier out of turns. This years is said to correct the problem. We’ll see. Might be a nice, damper and more resort-oriented second ski for someone who likes Manaslus? :) I also just got a pair of last year’s Joules for the Significant Other, at a gigantic discount.

  3. Lou September 24th, 2009 9:09 am

    Pierce, yeah, I added to my Twitter feed over to the right in the sidebar. Perhaps that’ll be a good item for a news digest when more info comes available.

  4. Lou September 24th, 2009 9:17 am

    Nathan, I tried the new Kilowatts and they were okay, but I think I’d like the Verdict better. That said, for Colorado I want skis with rocker or a at least a slow rise tip like Manaslu.

  5. SB September 24th, 2009 2:10 pm

    I was excited about the Rocker tip on the new Zealot, but I’m not sure I can handle the 182. I wanted a new in-bounds soft snow ski. I guess I could go for the 175 Justice, but thought it might be too power specific.

  6. SB September 24th, 2009 2:11 pm

    That last post should read “powder,” not power.

  7. Fred September 24th, 2009 2:15 pm

    No doubt, what is up with all the tele bindings!?!? :biggrin: Most of these models end up with Marker Dukes on them from what I see out there.

  8. Tom Gos September 24th, 2009 2:42 pm

    Lou, I’m surprised to read that you want a rockered ski for Colorado. After reading this blog for several years I’ve come to think of you as a pretty traditional guy when it comes to ski touring gear – lightweight and softer boots, narrower skis, etc. What’s changed so that now you’re desiring 100mm skis with rocker?

  9. Lou September 24th, 2009 3:49 pm

    I got older and want all the help I can get (grin). But seriously, I use a quiver, not just one ski, and I do like having a pair of fairly wide skis with slow rise or rocker tip for Colorado mid winter. In spring I go back to using narrower more tradition gear, and do use that gear mid-winter when I go for big vertical and feel I need the weight savings.

    One thing you’ve got to watch out for with me is I learn and study and sometimes even change. What a concept! :angel:

  10. Stretch September 24th, 2009 7:07 pm

    Interested in seeing your review of the Verdicts Lou. I’m a newbie to Touring and can get a good deal on BD skis here in New Zealand. I can’t afford multiple setups and am trying to decide between the Verdict or Stigma. The Verdict looks great for those fields days but they look so heavy next to the Stigma. For one ski would you go light or go perfromance?

  11. Dana September 24th, 2009 9:41 pm

    Stretch,
    For what it’s worth.
    I ski the Verdict with BD 01s mounted up. I ski Colorado (Crested Butte) and the surrounding backcountry. A lot of what we do around here is pretty straightforward up/down missions, a few thousand vert at a time. For that sort of BC skiing, the Verdict is nice, especially when matched with a free-pivot binding like the 01 or any AT binder. Yeah, it’s heavier than some. But when you don’t have to pick it up off the snow that much, thanks to the free pivot, it feels much lighter. So if you are up for a ski that, given some effort, will go uphill just fine and crush the downhill, then the Verdict is the way to go. If you want to do a lot of touring, i.e. valley cruises, ridge traverse, some down, some up, a bit of everything, then maybe think more seriously about the stigma.

    2 cents.

  12. Stretch September 24th, 2009 9:46 pm

    Thanks Dana. I guess I’ve got to make my mind up; is it all about the down or touring comfort? Wish I could afford two rigs!

  13. Mark W September 24th, 2009 9:53 pm

    Skied the Verdicts at the snowsports demo day and liked them the most of the BD lot. Guess I need some time–and soft, deeper snow–to learn to like the rockered sticks. I have a coworker who skis deep Utah snows regularly, and loves the Megawatt like you can’t imagine. Shane McConkey certainly was onto something with out-of-the-box ski design.

  14. Matt Kinney September 24th, 2009 10:55 pm

    Verdicts (on 01′s) have made a nice one-quiver ski around here for the past two season. You won’t need a snowmachine or a heli if you just put some skins on them, Its true!! They do feel a bit ” fat heavy”, but I just call it training weight for some future endeavor. The added performance and stabitlity afloat in all conditions elimnates down time in favor of …..more ski time.

    BD has done pretty good with their skiis in recent years, They pretty much replaced TUA in regards to supporting market trends in the BC side of skis performance along with my own preference for brand loyalty though product dependability.

  15. faskism September 25th, 2009 7:11 am

    sorry, but megawatt & gt; all :-\

    Feel free to have a look at my freeski-blog at http://www.faskism.com

    thanks

  16. Ptor September 25th, 2009 9:43 am

    I gotta say, I’m gonna try the new Zealots because the old ones were amazing on the steeps but lacked some extra tip for pow and variable conditions but… it’s gonna be super tough to miss a day on the Megawatts. I’ve got a pair mounted with Dynafits and they totally rock on everything, I don’t tour on anything else (seriously!!!). Been skiing 55 degree firm snow couloirs and everything else for that matter. (Yeah, yeah, I don’t go searching for icy pistes). On the steeps you get a new dimension in the turn as you can go way forward on the tips while passing through the fall-line.
    Also for touring in powder, the rocker and fatness far outweighs the extra bit of weight in ease of breaking trail. With the massive surface area you can tour straight up the steep hard snow. They’re pretty darn light anyways and with Dynafits and split skins, for me there’s absolutely no going back.
    The ultra fat scenario has changed the game again and the dream of riding the terrain with what equals a double backside snowboard turn, self-induced faceshots from smear/stalls, unlimited speed capability and speed control, insane crust nullification and carveability realized with the Megas (instead of traditional fall-line management) has made all other skis obsolete.

    For those who are still worried the extra weight, try situps and crunches.

    Oh yeah, ski-mountaineering IS freeriding and therefore there should be no distinction between skis for either, especially now with BD’s lightweight performance scenario. I don’t understand why people are still riding slightly modified piste skis for riding wild snow just because they are lighter, especially those foam toothpicks.

    Yes, I’m an opinionated, crusty, aging bastard!!!

  17. rod georgiu September 25th, 2009 12:00 pm

    Ptor, where do you ski?

    I ski (on Volkl Mantras) in the Eastern Sierras. I find that in steep couloirs, a few days after a storm, the snow skis hard, even though I sink to my knees when I boot up the couloir?

    What ski would you ski in these conditions?

    Thanks for you (coming) advice.

  18. Ptor September 25th, 2009 12:44 pm

    Hey Rod,

    I live and ski mostly in La Grave, France.
    I would ski Megawatts in any conditions personally. I even find they do great on frozen crust. But to ski Megas properly, you gotta be aware of your hips, then it’s the easiest thing ever.

  19. Dave B. September 25th, 2009 7:23 pm

    Well Ptor, sounds like I’d better go look for some Megawatts; might make me the skier I dream of being. Any idea how they might ski in really tight trees such as we have here in the northeastern US?

  20. Mark W September 25th, 2009 9:52 pm

    Ptor, you are definitely among those who have thoroughly earned your opinions, and I welcome them. I am a newbie to the rockered mega fat ski, but I’m open, because I learned back when the shaped skis came out to keep an open mind. The extra weight is a bit of a concern with the super fat boards, but perhaps a better fitness base is something we all can benefit from.

  21. Ptor September 25th, 2009 11:48 pm

    Man, I especially love the Megas in the tight trees. They pivot very fast. The smear/stall effect is exactly what keeps you going when it gets tight. Not sure?? Just drop it sideways till it opens up again. It’s just aligning your brain with the manoevering possibilities. Then when you really stand on them and generate a hard arcing turn, they really respond.

    Mark, just put some Dynafits on them and you’ll be blown away at how light they end up for what you get! That’s the thing, that you can get away with touring with such a ‘huge’ ski that tours like a snowshoe with glide. They’re so smooth and stable that there’s no need for a binding like the Duke unless your out for hucking.
    They’re like a dual suspention downhill mountain bike made out of carbon fiber that rides uphill great.

    I honestly did absolutely every day last season on the Megas (over 80 days touring with Dynafit bindings) and I have a pair with racing bindings for skiing the lift.
    But the Justice’s should be a consideration too for the lighter skier but I think the fatter the better.

  22. Mark W September 26th, 2009 6:52 am

    Dynafits are a given for me–all I use. Ptor, what boots are you using?

  23. mb September 26th, 2009 10:09 am

    Ptor — can you expand on this a little:

    “But to ski Megas properly, you gotta be aware of your hips, then it’s the easiest thing ever.”

  24. Njord September 27th, 2009 8:53 am

    Rod,

    The Mantras make for a great “one-ski” quiver… handles just about anything out there! I’ve got about 6-7 pairs in the garage at anyone time, and the Mantras are the ski it take when I have not idea what to expect or when I’m going to see a little bit of everything (I just wish they were a tad lighter)

    Njord
    :devil: :devil: :devil:

  25. Ptor September 27th, 2009 10:44 pm

    Mark, I’m using the Factors, which I love but I’m sure there’s a few other makes that have great performance.

    MB, I mean to say it’s all in the hips. Because of the wideness of the skis, it’s much more difficult to simply roll the knees for edge setting (travelling edge to edge) and that’s why people have problems skiing them on hard snow. Once your hips are more involved and you exagerate the sideways extention of the legs, you’re way out over the edges quicker and able to use the leverage the ski width provides to carve the turn. Hope this helps!!

  26. Mark W September 28th, 2009 6:55 am

    Ptor, are you skiing Methods for the Dynafit-mounted skis?

  27. Ptor September 29th, 2009 5:11 am

    Mark W. – no, Factors.

  28. Mark W September 29th, 2009 8:05 am

    Ptor, do the 2010 Factors have tech fittings, or did you luck out and get a pair with fittings? Thanks for answering my questions.

  29. Lou September 29th, 2009 9:48 am

    All the BD AT sole blocks have tech fittings. The Factor is sold WITHOUT the AT sole blocks but they can be bought as a separate item.

    In other words, you can set up any BD AT boot to work in Dynafit, Onyx or any other tech type binding.

  30. Mark Donohoe September 29th, 2009 11:55 am

    Ptor,

    Don’t you find the turned up tails on the Megas a pain when trying to shove them in into the snow as anchors or when ascending a slope? I also don’t see a good way to attach the heel unit for skins, maybe there is a small notch that just is not visible in the photos? (on the BD site as well!).

    I currently ride at 90 underfoot, looking to go fatter!

  31. Mark W September 29th, 2009 9:35 pm

    Lou and Ptor, thanks for clarifying. These days I want even a really burly boot to have tech fittings. Apparently a good share of the AT boot market does as well!

  32. Ptor October 1st, 2009 11:06 am

    Mark D,

    When I shove them in the snow, I always start on an angle and then it curves in ending up straight. However, personally I use my skis in a t-slot when using them as an anchor. Much more solid!!!
    No problems when ascending.
    I don’t have have tail attachments and I cut the skins away just before the rise begins. I always figured, if you really need tail attachments, it’s time to reglue your skins.
    Once you go real fat , you’ll never go back. I don’t know anyone that’s skied on a pair of Megas that hasn’t refused to ski anything else anymore.

  33. FCphun December 5th, 2009 11:31 pm

    To dig deeper on your “tele binding” comment:
    What are your thoughts on rockered skis and telemarking? I have heard from some good skiers that they aren’t sold on the idea… that the rocker causes tip dive on back ski. Sounds counter-intuitive, but they think it is because there is less push back from the shovel, so less float.
    Any opinions? Or is rocker more for alpine turns?

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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