I basically dropped everything, and within 90 minutes had a fresh i5 grind on the skis, wax pocket marked, and race wax on the skis.
There was a carload of local hotshot ladies heading to Canada at 2 p.m. sharp (well, as "sharp" as a carload of our local hotshot ladies can be...), and these brand new skis made it into their rocket box with no time to spare. It was a ladies' weekend, with a little 30km classic race tossed into the mix for entertainment. In the Methow Valley, the women are strong and good looking and all the children are above average (except for math and science, where I think they might lag a bit).
The instructions were to give them a try. Test them with the other race skis, and if they were the best, then by all means feel free to race on them. No pressure, no favors, no special requests - "Only use them if they're the best."
And so, the new Atomic SDS World Cup Classic skis were on the top of the women's podium the next day, setting a new course record for women (waxed with Start N-series glider and SF30 Powder, and with Rode Weiss grip wax over Toko Green binder). The short report was, "These were better than any of the other skis - easy to kick but with a nice pop! The glide was great, I could double pole and keep up with the elite men!" This coming from a reliable ex-olympian who knows a thing or three about skis.
It wasn't until the skis returned home to the shop that I had enough time to really get a look at the skis, to carefully check out how the SDS camber worked, how the skis flex and close easily. Then, at that point, I was pretty happy with everything. They can make the cut as race boards, but they also measure-up nicely on the bench.
|The Atomic SDS World Cup Classic ski on the flex bench at Nordic Ultratune|
By now you may have heard some of the details, read about them on some Atomic infomercials with Rick Halling or Roman Toferer. A new camber with a special lay-up schedule and materials, to allow the kick zone to stay up off the snow until crunch time, then - Bam! - drop down with perfect kick, etc. If you read about it and were a bit skeptical, well who could blame you. Others have made similar claims...
|Easy to read flex info, and very closely matched wax pockets on this pair.|
The magic inside is, naturally, inside and thus not visible. What is visible to see are the strips along the edge on both sides of each ski that help maintain some uniformity of the kick pocket - they keep it from sagging in the middle, I think. So when the kick engages, it drops-in relatively uniformly on a section about 50cm long. The whole section engages smoothly and with good solid contact. These skis have grip and also some pop - they feel like you're gliding smoothly until it's time to kick and then they're ON.
Hairsplitting details: The skis weigh 562 grams each. Add 120 grams for a ProPulse binding, and you're up to 682 grams for ski+binding. That's 1.50 pounds for Americans. About 75 grams per ski heavier than last year's ski, but still light by current standards for a 197cm classic ski. Good. The klister pocket (0.5mm high at the ends) is about 40cm long, while cold hardwax can go about 55cm long. Camber height max at half-body-weight is about 1mm, which is great for hardwax skiing. Some experimenting with klister will be needed to see how thick that can go without being draggy (on this particular pair, of course).
Let's summarize. Overall I'll say that these SDS World Cup classic skis are very nice. They do everything a good hardwax classic ski is supposed to do. Are they a complete game-changer? No, you still have to ski with good technique and you still need to get a pair that's fitted well and prepared well. Naturally, I'd like to see NIS plates on these skis, the NIS plates would make them better. But, even with screwed-and-glued bindings they're going to be very easy to select and prepare as go-to classic skis. As I saw in February, they can easily go straight to the top of the test results - even among your favorite classic skis. And that says a lot. Very nice.
I'll definitely have a bunch of these in the shop at Nordic Ultratune in the fall of 2012. If you'd like a pair reserved, you can drop me a line any time.