Once again I’m reviewing Stuff I Like (And Paid For*) *not always retail. My Salomon Equipe 10 Soft Ground Skate Skis are my favorite in the quiver. Full disclosure – I am a member of the “Salomon Athlete Force” and received a discount. But I did buy them. Here’s the scoop.
I’m relatively new to the sport of Nordic skiing, but coming from a place where I know good equipment when I see it. Or ski it. These skis are specially designed for use on “soft ground”. Translation: newly fallen snow that has been groomed recently and not rained on. The construction is different from its “compact ground” counterpart because it is built with softer sidewalls and a more flexible tip that resists “plowing in” to soft, new snow. It is also one of the (if not the) lightest skis on the market, which may only be a few grams, but it makes a difference over 25 or 50km of skating. The idea was to eliminate unnecessary stiffness in situations where it simply isn’t necessary and come up with a ski that excels in soft snow.
So how does it do? The first time I skied them last year I loved them. (If you know me, you know that’s a HUGE deal). I felt like they stayed in contact with the ground more, and in theory that is faster. The tips float over and brush aside loose snow rather than diving into it, which is also faster. An unintended bonus I discovered was their excellent performance on multi-use trails that have huge divots from feet and snowshoes. The soft tip rides over the rough track and keeps them in contact with the ground rather than reacting harshly like a stiffer ski. I equate it to lowering the tire pressure in a mountain bike or cyclocross tire on rough terrain for better traction; in this case it means better glide.
Since the Intermountain West is almost always full of soft snow, I skied them often. They became my “go to” ski in almost every condition, and if I was waxing a few days ahead of traveling and I didn’t want to spend a ton on wax, I would just assume I was skiing these. After a year I was finally presented with an opportunity to test them against the stiffer ski when I headed to Soldier Hollow in extremely cold temps to race on hard, man-made snow that had been groomed multiple times and closely resembled an ice rink. I tested the Soft and the Compact on a set distance with the same wax. In the end I chose the Soft because it was just as fast, and I love how it handles in anything that is imperfect. Let’s face it, most courses are not perfect.
Most people who skate ski recreationally only own one pair of skis. In most cases the Soft Ground ski would be seen as a “specialty” ski; you’d only own it if you had a large quiver. I can’t speak for all areas of the country, but for the West, where snow tends to be more abundant and very soft, I would recommend this ski as a fantastic “only” ski. It handles hard conditions very well, rides over defects in the trail most likely found outside the confines of a race setting, and is priced the same as the competing high-end ski from just about every manafacturer. If I could only have one weapon in my quiver, this one would be it. I’ve been told by many a ski coach to always ski the softest ski you can handle in a given set of conditions. I haven’t found conditions in the Intermountain West where I couldn’t handle this ski, and I keep going back to it every week.
If you live in the Salt Lake area you can get your Salomon Soft Ground ski AND expert fit advice here: http://www.wildrosesports.com/
If not, visit Salomon’s site to find a great dealer near you: http://www.salomon.com/us/activity/nordic-skiing.html