Can a ski be too easy to turn? I’ve been asking myself that question of late, as I continue my quest for the plank that compensates for my lack of ankle flexibility (left, fused). In a previous blog post, I related how I’d experienced a ski that for me was too hard to turn.
I’ve now gone to the other extreme. And I like it.
A few years back, G3 introduced their Elle ski line, for women. I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the gender designation of outdoors gear. With the exception of a few feminine specific products relating to realities of anatomy, body types in the real world vary so much as to moot anything specific. Humans, whatever gender, come in heavy, light, short, tall, skinny and bulky versions. To name a few.
Sure, any boot fitter will tell you that women’s calf muscles “tend” to require more room at the boot liner cuff, and I’d agree from experience that sometimes female feet involve narrow ankles. But do they all? No. Likewise, a backpack maker might design a waistbelt with a taper for the wider pelvic bone structure of female anatomy, but doesn’t an adjustable waist belt with adequate padding accomplish the same thing? I’m told by Lisa that it does. If you think me wrong, please comment.
Moreover, consider the male side of the equation. If we’re going to have women’s skis, how about a line specific for men because we’re “bigger and stronger”? Yeah, wrong on so many levels.
So how about this? Instead of designating gear with a gender prefix, sell it for body type, style, and recreation goals?
For example, sell a backpack in a few versions for different torso lengths, with a proven unisex waist belt. Or in the case of ski boots, design the liner so it molds adequately for any leg size. Or, in the case of skis, just give us options, ever more options.
Well, G3 has done just that. They scrapped their Elle women’s line and morphed it into what they’re calling the “Swift” version of their ski physics.
In G3’s marketing words, Swift is “not a ‘female series,’ a ‘youth series,’ or a ‘beginner series.’ It’s for smaller adults and youth…”
Funny they use the word “smaller” instead of “lighter weight,” perhaps a bit of PCnoia? I’ll let that one go, and add my own spreech. This is the perfect ski series for older, physically compromised, skinnier skiers. In other words, beat up, lean veterans like me.
Hence, last winter I acquired a pair of G3 Seekr Swift 100 testers and wrung them out. And yes dear reader, they’re too easy to turn. The G3 Swift series has thus become my daily driver, and is something you might consider as well. Here’s why.
Weight: My 170 cm testers came in at 1,375 grams per ski (average of pair). While that’s not exceptional, it’s light. That’s a score of 73 on our weight/surface chart, right there with the other lower-mass skis. Would I prefer them to be somewhat lighter? Probably. But I think G3 nails it here with their blending of durability, skiability, and mass. In this case, that would be a full-thickness base, PU sidewalls, beefy tip-wrapped edges and of course a ski that actually skis.
Geometry: Most importantly, a key element of the Swift series is it provides a 154 cm option, one step below the 162 cm shortest of G3’s regular ski lines. I’m using the 170, but those of you in the “smaller” category, do note that here is a fully formed performance plank you can get in the appropriate length for your body type.
As for shape, the Seekr Swift 100 boasts a 16.4 meter radius, with 31 millimeters sidecut. I wouldn’t call this radius “relaxed,” but neither did I find it to be too squirrely. Simply put, it’s a good compromise between stability and turnability.
G3 apparently doesn’t like the word “rocker,” they instead call it “early rise.” Whatever, these boards have plenty of it. With my 170s held base-to-base, the tip rocker extends 45 centimetres to a flat spot. Soon after that, under the foot, there’s a small amount of classic camber, then the tail rocker begins about 25 centimetres from the binding heel.
Overall, this is a complex geometry that could be over-thought. But in this case, it works. You can feel the camber pop you from turn to turn, and the rocker does it’s usual job of providing tilt-and-turn ease when the snow gets difficult.
Length: I’m using an admittedly short 170 cm length ski for my ~180 cm height. What with all its rocker, the Seekr Swift skis short for me — it’s no speed freak. But with controlled velocity, a shorter plank is just plain easier, quick to hop around, a snap to butter or slarve. And they fit sideways in my truck without scratching the door panels. Sure, as a professional skier I’m blessed with an extensive quiver, and some of my skis are long, but as the years pile on I trend to the shorter options. In the backcountry, anyway.
Construction: What with multiple carbon fiber layers, wood core and PU sidewalls, G3 does not compromise.
Flex: This is where the sweetness resides. While the shape of the Swift series skis is virtually the same as their namesake’s lengths in G3’s regular line, they bend easier. Gone are the days of standing my skinny carcass on a pair of steel-stiff planks and waiting for something to happen. In this case, I can honestly say the flex is perfect — and something does happen.
More: You get G3’s cool embedded magnets — they hold the skis base-to-base for casual carries. A Titanal binding mount plate inspires confidence and saves shop employees from playing strip-the-screw.
Field testing: I skied the Seekr Swift 100 on everything from icy morning frozen to blower pow. They were scary on the ice — to be expected — while playful and yes, easy in the pow. I hit my nemesis a few times as well: classic Colorado trap crust. In that best avoided event, I found the rocker and poppy camber helped me shift from turn-to-turn, but I would have enjoyed a more relaxed radius and more length. In general, the reasonable weight on the up and easy turns on the down made this a plank I highly recommend, given your body type and physical condition require an “easier” platform.
Conclusion: The Seekr Swift 100 is not the lightest touring ski out there. But its mass is reasonable and it checks every other criteria on the list. It’s too easy to turn, and that’s what I want.
Length 170 cm (available as 154, 162, 170, 178)
Sidecut as measured 131/100/119
Verified weight per ski, average for pair: 1,375 grams
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.