Völkl Mantra, Ski of the Year 2014/15

It took the first couple of ski testers heading back into the centre with big grins and, “Don’t tell anyone else, but…” asides to their colleagues before the scramble to try the all-new Völkl Mantra became unseemly. “Look, there’s Jenny Jones wearing her Sochi medal!” Push, squeal, steal, run.

Fall-Line has always loved the Mantra because we are really clever at picking winners. Did we just say that out loud? Sorry, what we meant was: “Because it’s a powerful freerider with exactly the right mix of width, float, shape and stiffness to make it the perfect all-mountain to big-mountain ski – if you’re a good skier and pretty strong.”

That caveat has always kept the Mantra clear of our awards, because you really did have to be on your game to get the most from riding it. The good runs were great, but the bad ones exhausting.

Reality check required. Pistes are too easy on the Mantra. The rocker tips it in and the vicious grip of yore is still there, but it’s a lot more flickable and we don’t normally say that about 100mm skis.

We took it into powder and, despite being shorter than we’d like, it came to life. Again. 

It bounces turns, flies, lands and pivots like a K2 Hellbent, which is the most fun powder ski ever invented, ever, but then it charges like… a Mantra. Not being too wide it really grips the snow, but the shape lets it run at ever-increasing speed without burying the tip or chucking you off the back.

Hit the crud and it whips around like a snake gripped by its tail. You almost forget it’s a full-fat charger with all the wood and metal this means. Well, we did until the hike out of the back valley at Kühtai when the lightweights seemed so much more loveable, but that is the only downside to this ski. If you thought about a power freeride ski as your one-ski wonder before and held back because your pipe-cleaner legs weren’t up to it, it’s time to join the party. Oh, and they’re 50 quid LESS than last year.