I Don’t Believe in Fairy Tales, But Unicorn Skis are Real
This fall I went to Gear West to meet up with Matt Liebsch to give me the rundown on my ski quiver. I had a couple pairs of Rossi classic skis that performed well for me last year and was looking to dial in their kick pockets. Matt carefully hand squeezed each pair and then verified what he felt using the flex tester. These were nice skis but Matt said he had something better. He ran to the back room and came out with a pair of Rossignol 208cm WCS Xiums. The first thing I noticed were that the tips were a good inch and a half taller and had a ton of splay, definitely not your typical Rossi. Most production Rossis are made in Span, with a select few being handmade in France. This pair that I was holding was one of those. The ski was flexed for someone 15 pounds heavier than me, but Matt said to take them out to Yellowstone and give them a try. I took them home, threw on a couple coats of cheap blue wax and headed to Yellowstone.
Eighteen hours of travel later and eager to be on snow I grabbed my two best pairs and Matt’s French skis and hit the trails. I started out on my skis, verifying that I indeed remembered how to ski. The blue glide wax was too soft for the cold sharp snow, but the kick was there and both of my pairs were as how I remembered them. With a baseline established I switched over to the French skis, fully expecting them to be difficult to kick because of their flex, but when I started striding the skis easily locked down giving solid kick. The skis also felt a little freer. I turned a corner, started on a downhill and the skis came alive. These things were blowing the doors off of my other pairs. My glide wax was completely wrong for the conditions but I was passing skate skiers on the downhills. The big floppy tips easily followed the tracks, making high speed corners a breeze. If my old skis were bottle rockets, these things were a Saturn V. These skis weren’t “better” than my other ones, they were in another league.
These skis are now my go to classic race pair. I only bring them out on special occasions but when I’ve got them on I know it’s going to be a good day. A special thing happens when a handmade ski is carefully tested and chosen by someone who knows what makes a ski fast, you get a unicorn. There’s not many of them out there, but I now know for a fact that they do exist. Go out and get yours.
Vive la France,
-Posted by Andrew Brown on Dec 8th 2015