By Chris Dehnel
business editor / Snowsports colunmnist, Journal Inquirer (Conn.)
Associate Editor, SnowEast magazine
President, Eastern Ski Writers Association
Ski test - Salomon X-Wing Tornados 

We teased you with a video, now here is the real test.

March 16, 2008

Adding to the pure joy of a Sunday at Okemo was a ride on the 2008-09 Salomon X-Wing Tornados.

Along a double-black bump run called Big Bang, the surface was - hardpack. OK, it was a combination of crust, frozen pellets, and big chunks of hard snow, the most difficult test of the day. It was just too hard for the groomers to do anything substantive, so they had to leave it alone. What could have been an ordeal was made bearable by the skis. They held up well when asked to make hard, defensive turns and cruised well on the sections that were easily navigated.

Things became easier working downhill left to right. Over on the South Face, conditions were just perfect. Everything was soft and silky smooth, the product of a good season.

And in between was classic groomed cruising.

So the entire eastern gamut was run over the first 60 minutes of the day, and in that hour , it was quite obvious that the Tornados were great skis for the region.

Yes, that's all it took.

Seriously, that's ALL it took.

At first glance, the Tornados look fat - and they are. We're not talking Jobba The Hut here, but a burly linebacker that can cover a wide receiver with finesse when asked to and also run around the lineman and plow into the quarterback with reckless abandon when the opportunity presents itself.

On a steep, rough, bump run that the sun didn't have a chance to give any love yet, the Tornados changed speed on demand, dug in when necessary, and produced no clatter whatsoever.

On a blue cruiser, the skis glided through some big old GS turns, and shot downhill like a rocket when pointed that way - kind of like that Evel Kneivel Snake River motorcycle, the difference being they worked well.

The skis were absolute superstars in the trees. They handled the tight turns like fine-tuned race cars on a challenging road course, and even produced a little air when asked to jump over a ledge. They were stable along steep sections and maintained an entertaining speed on the flats.

The ski shop staff was quick to say that the new red graphics were a sharp improvement over last year's white design. On the hill, the skis felt even more durable than this year's model and turned a little quicker. The design is so sound that, even at just 170 CM, the Tornados do not resist the strength of a larger skier and will not try to overwhelm the smaller person.

No price has been given yet, which means we will have to monitor the Salomon Web site for more details.

The skis were good last year and now have to be considered one of the best all-mountain sets on next season's market.

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