Monday, April 11, 2011

2012 Icelantic Skis Review Gypsy, Keeper, Shaman Nomad, Nomad SFT: Be An Animal!

2012 Preview of Icelantic Skis: The Ski of Colorado

This year Icelantic has once again outdone itself, bringing a strong 2012 lineup with a couple of new additions. Tune in to check out the full lineup as I go ski to ski, and give you the business behind this independent company’s motivation, mindset, and how it quickly became the Ski of Colorado in 2010.

A little background to get you lifted . . .

Icelantic isn’t your average ski company. I characterize it as more of a cultural awakening to the ski industry. Founder, Ben Anderson, is a Colorado transplant from Toledo, Ohio, but he quickly traded his Midwest hills for Rocky Mountains and never looked back in terms of finding innovative ways to enhance the ski industry. After conceptualizing the idea of filling a void he saw in the industry, it seems he pretty much said, f$c$ it, bought a used ski press, and started making skis in his parent’s garage in Evergreen Colorado. In 2004 the Scout pioneered the line and paved the way for what Icelantic stands for 7 years later – a group of passionate individuals who truly believe in the products that they sell: from the quality materials and American craftsmanship, to the unprecedented graphic artwork and amazing performance, all the way back to the down-to-earth, approachable style that everyone who makes up that company will extend to you. The whole team truly emobodies and lives by their Mission Statement:

"Icelantic is a progressive, independent ski company that represents a lifestyle supporting, art, adventure, creativity, passion and innovation. Icelantic skis are high performance and totally unique, guaranteeing the evolution of the snow sports industry. We employ American craftsmanship, top of the line materials and cutting edge graphic art to provide our customer with the best product and experience possible. We are committed to building lasting, enriching relationships with every customer, to ensure that they believe in our product and company as much as we do. It is our mission and our nature to live a lifestyle inspired by passion and we invite you to join us."
Icelantic's quality construction layer by layer.
 Check the Scene for Yourself
Simply typing into your web browser will give you a pretty good idea of the nature of this company. I’m not going to get into it too much because clicking through the site is the best experience it, but I will say that Icelantic is definitely all about skiing, keeping their company independent, American made, and full of good-natured people that you can see are doing something they love to do. Take for example their International Sales and Marketing Manager, Annelise Loevlie, who also writes a weekly First Degree Newsletter that serves up everything from music picks, reviews, event information, and some good old-fashioned story-telling of her trips far and wide that will have you wanting to smell that same mountain air, float on the same powder, and definitely have you smiling at your computer screen. Anderson also gets the writing urge, sending off reviews of the skis he designs and stands behind with a 2-year warranty. 
It is pretty refreshing to have the owner of the company be so hands on and writing to you about the progression of the Icelantic line. I mean I’ve heard the saying, “I need to hear it from the horse’s mouth,” but that still seems ridiculously cool to me. I’ve never received an email from Mr. JoJo K2 telling me about his lineup – man that guy needs to get off his high horse. Not to pick on K2, they make good stuff to, but I bet they don’t host First Friday parties in Denver with live music and free beer. I’ll tell you a company who does though.
Be An Animal!
Speaking of horses, Icelantic’s theme this coming year is, BE AN ANIMAL, sparking the inspiration behind Icelantic’s trippy graphics ’12. Co-founder and friend of Icelantic, Travis Parr, is the man who brings Icelantic’s lineup to life. Parr is a successful artist who naturally thrives in the conscious world of skiing, and pushes the limits of that reality to express creative symbiosis with his canvas. Two organisms – man and canvas – living in close physical association with one another, each benefitting and giving life to the other. As soon as this symbiosis is complete the skis part with Parr and find another to live harmoniously with ripping stashes, living life to the fullest and possibly taking on new ownership until eventual evolution of a new year, a new line, and a new theme begins the cyclical process again.  
Artist Travis Parr
Well, that is the way I see it anyways and if you check out his artistic philosophies and his stunning work, you will see how I came to that conclusion. It is how it should be. Breath life into a company through art, music, and overall consciousness for quality in product and life, and you will gain loyal customers. Be stagnant, money grubbing, stuffed-shirt, ego maniacs with inflated ideas that your product must be everywhere, and at the same time, to the point that you start believing it really is, then you might as well change your company’s name from whatever it is to “Ubiquity” and you will lose, if not your business, surely you soul. So, the moral is before you lose – lose the ego and all will be fine. That’s my rant now on to the lineup.
Icelantic Lineup 2012
Everyone has gone camber crazy these last few years and why not, it’s frickin’ cool stuff when used correctly and you have not skied Powder until you float on a pair of reverse camber skis and Icelantic has got their Gypsy on point. Like a Gypsy, this thing is a rambler with the mystique to back it up, which is probably why Travis Parr chose the Walrus to represent this NEW diddy. The walrus is quick, nimble and sports the best moustache in the animal kingdom. The Gypsy has nearly symmetrical dimensions enabling you to bounce through the POW and pillow drop your way to blissful face shots that will have you donning a white ‘stache and bragging to your mates that You Are the Walrus, as you calmly sip four fingers of peppermint schnapps. 
Furthermore, the Gypsy isn’t what you think – on hard-pack you can still rip. No need to smear across the cord’ on traverses to your secret stash, lay it over, butter around, make the backcounty your backyard and go play because with these skis the only thing it is lacking is an open mind. It is the reverse camber ski that can simply do it all. What is that slogan? “Rethink Impossible.”  Sucks that AT&T has that slogan because I drop calls all day, practice what you preach AT&T, rethink your whole network.
152, 125, 145
170, 180, 190
19, 22, 25
Represented by the Elk, a western mountain beast with the strength, stamina and power that embodies the very core of this ski. The Keeper has early rise tip and tail giving it flotation through the light stuff, but the traditional camber underfoot allows skiers to engage the full potential of the edge without feeling squirrely at all, set it and forget it. 
Icelantic’s signature sidecut is becoming something of a legend in the industry these days and the Keeper could be the benchmark example of such lore. All joking aside, these things are seriously the most of fun I have experienced on variable condition days when you are not quite sure what you are going to get, but you want to be ready for everything so keep these in your quiver.  Not to mention the turn radius on the Keeper is razor sharp for being 119 on the waist coming in at 16 meters on the 178s. You can take these babies home to mom and when they go to get you another beer from the fridge, mom will whisper to you, “Their Keepers honey.”
150, 119, 136
167, 178, 189
13, 16, 18

Ahh, the Shaman, evoking images of Ayahuasca Ceremonies in the jungles of Peru, but that’s another post altogether. The Shaman is represented by the Turtle, the most ancient of any vertebrate animal and symbolizes the portal between earth and sky.  The turtle may be the most symbolically celebrated animal in literature, mythology, and folklore, and the Shaman is rapidly becoming the most celebrated ski in Icelantic’s catalogue. The first time I took a few turns on the Shamans was in 2007. Ben Anderson was kind enough to send a pair out to a shop I was working at in Michigan at the time. They were shorter then, but still designed the same with their unique diamond shaped shovel, tapered tail, and 110mm underfoot. 
Mock Turtle
My friend who was also trying the skis with me was skeptical. I went into it with an open mind being that I was skiing a fairly wide ski at the time on Michigan packed granular, but I ripped these things with a smile on my face that literally couldn’t be smacked off. I know this because my buddy smacked me when I wouldn’t let him try them out right away. I felt just like the Mock Turtle in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland without the calf appendages. I just kept going on and on about them on the chair ride to the top of the mountain.  So, in a few words: amazing and unbeatable, which is probably another reason why the Turtle was chosen as the themed animal. Unbeatable, like facing turtle, King Koopa in Super Mario Brothers for the first time.  Quite simply they rip, built with unrivaled torsional rigidity and a 160 mm tip that can float Pow and crush Crud all in the same day with an aggressive sidecut that is stupid-sweet (that’s very good). You want a one-quiver ski. This is it friends. Be an animal and go buy a pair now.
160, 110, 130
161, 173, 184
19, 22, 25

***I will review the Nomad, Nomad, SFT, Oracle, Pilgrim, Da’Nollie, Scout, and the new Gemini splitboard applying Never Summer’s patented rocker-camber technology this week so stay tuned and Be An Animal!***

The Nomad & Nomad SFT

The 2012 Icelantic Nomad is cosmetically and spiritually symbolized, with good reason, by the mountain goat. Mountain goats have a natural ability to descend down precarious rock faces, traverse across jagged cliffs, and shuffle down sloughing slopes faster, and with more grace than Sly Stallone dodging a melee of gunfire while cascading a two-step down a mountain cliff hanger. Yeah - that fast, and that graceful!

A fitting creature to represent a ski with an equal amount of versatility and maneuverability. I know I've said it before, but this ski is the one quiver ski. With a narrower waist than the iconic Shaman, the Nomad surfs in at a cool 105 mm underfoot. Another brilliant ski from Icelantic that is a crowd favorite due to its adaptability and explosive power. It's as shapely as Marilyn with dimensions running 140 mm in the tip, 105 mm on the waist, and 130 mm in the caboose, and as balanced as Daniel LaRusso, Crane-Style against the Cobra Kai nemesis, Johnny Lawrence. Although, its sidecut is not as drastic as the Shaman, it provides a different style of all terrain shredding.

The turn radius runs 14, 17, and 20 meters respectively for its 156, 168, and 181 cm lengths. I'd categorize this ski under anyone looking for one ski to literally do a little bit of everything. If you like hitting little booters in the BC - no problem - with its balance and exceptional control, it's super fun and playful. If you run into groomers a lot in the Midwest and out East, it can handle it, and handle it well - holding edge on hard pack with surprising side to side quickness. If you make it out west a couple times a year and hope to stumble upon some blower conditions, or you want to hike a ridge you've had your eye on, then no need to demo a powder ski, ride your Nomads with pride and feel the solid planks keeping you confident on that precarious ridge, and floating you to the promised land. 

The Nomad SFT is a lighter, more flexible version of the Nomad. It features Icelantic's soft Nollie Flex Core. It's a big mountain jib ski that allows skiers to take their front-side antics to the BC. One rider I spoke with on a lift was rocking the Marker Schizo binding on his SFTs and was grinning from ear to ear talking about how fun his set up was. He remarked, " . . . it has awesome flex for park days (and the Schizo adds ability to turn your traditional mount into a center mount (with a few key turns on the toe piece ) and even with the 105 mm underfoot, it's light enough to go back side on tree runs and throw down, and so easy and effortless when you want to carve around with your Grandma." I added Grandma.

If you feel the call of the mountain goat, and have spoken to him in your dreams, ask him why his cousin eats leather, and tell him to guide you on your journey to skiing nirvana with the 2012 Icelantic Nomad and Nomad SFT.

140, 105, 130
156, 168, 181
14, 17, 20

Currently, Icelantic can be found at the following Midwest and Great Lakes Shops for the 2011-12 season.

Dealers interested in carrying Icelantic can contact Josh at

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