Ski Review: 2018-2019 Åsnes Ingstad BC
“People are underrated”
• Elon Musk
I admire Elon.
This is not just because he believes in people- in the intelligence, creativity, innovation of humans…
This is not just because he fires front-line supervisors that actively suppress workers that critically question procedures and come forward with innovative ideas…
This is not just because he hires innovative Millennial nerds from Newfoundland (one of the most special places and people in the universe juice- and an awesome Nordic ski touring destination BTW):
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfound ... -1.4663270
I admire Elon first and foremost because he must appreciate Mel Brooks’ classic movie “Space Balls”- and I like to tell myself that this tells me something important about Elon - enough to name a drive mode in a Tesla car off of LUDICROUS SPEED from that movie:
So I recently got up to Ludicrous Speed on my new 205cm Ingstad BC....
I have been skiing in hilly and mountainous terrain on long Nordic touring skis for some time now…
Since ancient times, a long narrow Nordic touring ski was completely supported by the snow when skiing in deep soft snow:
• When XC-skiing, the elongated-raised tip carved and plowed a channel through the deep snow for the rest of the ski to follow.
• When downhill skiing, the ski stayed submerged in the snow and the snow itself provided support to the skier as she rode long, open turns through the deep snow.
Then Åsnes went and built the Ingstad BC- a XC ski with a full-length stable XC flex, and a low-profile camber-and-a-half underfoot for crushing miles on soft backcountry snow. Oh- and Åsnes also built in Nordic-rocker into the tip- a lot of it.
A rockered tip does a lot of things for a ski when downhill skiing- not limited to:
• Reducing the effective edge of the ski.
• “Moving” the mounting point further forward on the effective edge of the ski.
• Early-tip rise- causing the ski to want to rise up and plane on top of the snow at downhill speeds.
Modern downhill skis designed for powder skiing not only have a lot of tip rocker- producing early tip rise- but they are also very wide underfoot and round flexing, so that the skier can surf and smear on top of the snow as the wide, rockered tip keeps planing on top of the powder. Modern powder skis are wide enough underfoot that they feel stable when planing and surfing on top of the pow.
The Ingstad BC is not wide underfoot. It is a meagre, waspy 62mm underfoot…It might seem wide underfoot for a XC touring ski- but man, it is not wide at Ludicrous Speed...
The Ingstad BC has a stiff stable tip. It has a ton of Nordic rocker- when the camber is compressed, not only do the tips open waaay up, but they also rise waaaay up- more than any XC ski I have ever seen or heard of.
On consolidated snow, the rockered tip makes these skis feel remarkably short and maneuverable (I have a 205cm Ingstad). When I pounce on and pressure this ski the turn initiation is quick and effortless on consolidated snow.
On deep soft snow- when downhill skiing- this ski feels long and round and smooth- the tip wants to rise and the ski wants to ride wide open smooth magical Nordic turns.
About 10 days ago, I kinda got carried away by the Gnardisk Mahgik…
I was making a downhill run- on about 18 inches of powder- through an open hardwood forest glade and got caught up in the Gnardisk Mahgik and I just let it all go and let the ski take me away…
I reached ludicrous speed and this ski rose up right on top of the powder like a hydroplane boat…And then due to the narrow nervous waist- I twitched a few millimetres and completely wiped out- it could have been bad- I was lucky, I did a couple of somersaults- but it could easily have been bad- real bad.
What can I tell you?
The completely stable rockered tips on the Ingstad are the stuff of dreams for XC Nordic touring in hilly/mountainous terrain.
I challenge anyone to find a better turning true-XC ski on the planet- in the history of the XC ski. It outpaces and outturns the most curvaceous S-Bound or Karhu XCD ski ever made.
Is it a downhill ski? No- it is a cross-country ski- a ski that wants to crush miles on soft snow and yet also make wondrous turns.
But I come with a warning.
With great power comes great responsibility.
This ski can take the mortal XCD skier to speeds and heavenly heights that cannot be managed by mortals.
At Ludicrous Speed, this ski rises up into the heavens to the point that even the slightest twitch sends a mere mortal like me crashing down into the abyss…
The solution-do not get intoxicated at downhill speeds with this ski- keep it turning and you will survive!!! Keep it turning and you will keep smiling- and you won’t reach Ludicrous Speed.
Here are the specs on one of Åsnes’ many current masterpieces:
• Sidecut profile: 84-62-74mm
• Effective sidecut: 76-62-74mm
o Stable, stiff, Nordic-rockered tip
o Full-length stable flex
o Flat, stable tail
o Low-profile, resistant, camber-and-a-half underfoot
• Traditional, broad, raised tip
• Full-wrap steel edges
• Wood core
• Sintered waxable base
• X-skin/Skin-Lock inserts
The current Ingstad BC is on the cutting edge of backcountry Nordic touring design, innovation and experience. It is an ultimate example of innovation steeped in ancient tradition.
With the Ingstad BC, Åsnes takes advantage of the last 20 years of downhill ski innovation and brings it to Nordic ski touring (and is clearly paying attention to what other manufacturers of BC-XC skis are doing- like Fischer for example…)
The Ingstad remains a “wide” distance-oriented Nordic touring ski- specifically designed for distance-oriented skiing on deep, soft, backcountry snow and in hilly/mountainous terrain.
In the ancient tradition, “powder” Nordic skis have taken two different forms:
• Short and fat for skiing through the dense Northwoods.
• Very long and stable for covering distance on trails, watercourses and barrens.
The Ingstad width and length is clearly for covering distance on soft snow. The full-length stable flex and low-profile resistant camber is perfectly tuned for soft snow.
But despite all of this tradition, the Ingstad BC is new- completely new. Saint Sondre is likely dancing a jig in Valhalla over this ski!
What is new? A stiff supportive tip with oooooooodles of Nordic rocker- that is new.
A lot of traditional backcountry-XC skis have had soft tips- soft tips intended to deal with variable snow and terrain, and to hopefully facilitate downhill turns. I must be honest with myself here. Do soft tips really, truly, make a ski easy to turn- especially when it is stiff and resistant underfoot?
For comparison- take the legendary Karhu XCD 10th Mountain/Madshus Epoch. This ski has a soft, supple tip. This ski is relatively easy to turn- but, not really because of its tip, but because it has lots of sidecut, has little camber and has a soft round flex that is easy to pressure into a turn. But that soft round flex makes the Epoch unstable when XC skiing, and a wet noodle when pushed hard downhill skiing…
IMHO, the modern innovation of rocker makes soft tips somewhat redundant.
The tip is already pre-flexed- pre-engineered to reverse flex- like a rocking chair. Rocker allows a ski to be as stiff and supportive as a racing ski yet be hardwired to rise to the surface and TURN!
Things I can guarantee:
• The Ingstad BC has a stable tip and full-length stable flex.
• The Ingstad BC is a XC ski with enough camber and resistance to offer excellent XC performance- specifically tuned for soft backcountry snow.
• The Ingstad BC wants to turn- wants to turn in all conditions- and wants to rise and plane- to a fault- don’t get carried away- this is not a modern downhill ski- don’t get out of control- you could get hurt- bad!
I have tested this ski in a fairly wide range of conditions already this season including:
• Soft snow on top of a consolidated base: DREAMY in every possible XC and downhill context.
• Refrozen breakable crust: the stable and substantial tip rises and breaks through the crust-it’s not great in this context- nowhere near as effective as the Combat Nato- but, much better than the E-109/Eon/E-99 Xtralite…
• Windswept packed snow (I don’t know the precise name for this kind of snow- wish I spoke an Inuit language)- the snow that is consolidated by wind such that the surface is almost like Styrofoam, but won’t quite support your weight: this ski reasonably carves its way through this snow. The rockered tip seems to almost fight with itself- it wants to rise up on top of this snow but it is stiff and stable enough that it survives and carves a path. Again- not as good as the non-rockered tip of the Combat Nato, but MUCH better than the soft wimpy tips of skis like the E109/Eon/E99…
• Dense, consolidated snow:
o This ski feels short and unstable when XC skiing on dense consolidated snow- due to all of that tip rocker.
o This ski skis short and feels aggressive and carvy when downhill skiing on a dense consolidated base.
There remains one condition that I have yet to test this ski:
Cross-country skiing in truly deep soft snow.
I remain skeptical that all of that tip rocker will be an asset when XC-skiing in deep pow.
There is no way to glide fast enough for a ski to rise up and plane when XC skiing…
As a comparison- the Fischer E109 and the Madshus Eon both have very soft wimpy tips that rise up to the surface of soft snow, leaving their waspy waist in the abyss- they are both miserable when XC skiing in deep soft snow.
I am thinking that the Ingstad’s tip is stiff enough that it should be reasonably stable in truly deep soft snow…
I will keep you updated…
Comparison #1: Ingstad BC vs. Combat Nato
• The Ingstad is waaay turnier, in all conditions. As a note- I think that the Combat Nato makes wonderful open, long-radius turns- but I need a lot of room to make complete, linked turns on my 210cm Combat Nato!!
• The Combat Nato is truly a better XC ski- in all conditions.
• The Ingstad has a stiffer more supportive tip.
• The Combat Nato has a more effective trail-breaking, crust-breaking, tip.
• Both tuned for soft snow- the Combat Nato is “acceptable”- if not superfast- when XC skiing on dense, hard snow.
Comparison #2: Ingstad BC vs. Madshus Eon
• The Ingstad is a better XC ski.
• The Ingstad is a better downhill ski.
• The Ingstad is more stable- in all conditions.
Comparison #3: Ingstad BC vs. Fischer E-109 Tour Xtralite
• Both are equally good soft-snow XC skis.
• Both are equally turny.
• The Ingstad is easier to pressure in a downhill turn.
• The Ingstad is much more stable in deep snow.
• The Ingstad is much more stable in difficult snow and breakable crust.
• The E-109 is completely unstable in deep soft snow and breakable crust.
• The E-109 is noticeably more cambered underfoot (I am noticing that all of Asnes’ Fjellskis- except perhaps the Amundsen- have “low"-profile camber- compared to a conventional double-cambered ski…). The stiff resistance underfoot is awful close though…Without actually objectively measuring it- I would say that the E-109 is a little bit stiffer underfoot…
Comparison #4: Ingstad BC vs E99/Gamme 54
I include this “apples-to-oranges” to perhaps help someone choose (comparison between the E99/Gamme 54 to come in a later review!). The E99/Gamme 54 class of ski is definitely more versatile than the Ingstad BC, offering a wider range of performance and efficiency. Though not as floaty and certainly not as turny the E-99/Gamme 54 class offers these differences:
• E99/Gamme quite supportive and decent in deep snow
• E99/Gamme 54 much more efficient when XC skiing in general- except in truly deep soft snow (though I am not certain about the Ingstad BC in this context- certainly the Combat Nato is a better deep pow XC ski than the E99/Gamme 54.)
I feel confident- at this moment- in saying that the current Åsnes Ingstad BC is the best distance-oriented Nordic touring ski for hilly/mountainous terrain ever made. (I know that is a mouthful- but I don’t know how else to say it…)
YES- this ski is still a XC ski- an unapologetic XC ski- made for crushing miles on soft backcountry snow.
But it is also made to be able to deal comfortably- with joy in fact- steep slopes on that XC trek.
It is not a downhill ski- definitely not.
This ski is the stuff of dreams for skiers that want to cover distance on soft snow in hilly/mountainous terrain.
2018-2019 Åsnes Ingstad BC
Cross-Country*: 100/100 EDIT: 90/100 (The Combat Nato is 100/100)
EDIT: * I give these ratings purely in a soft backcountry snow context .
December 31st, 2018
Stanley, New Brunswick
BTW- I now openly challenge Fischer and Madshus to do better!