If Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs were to select a single ski for his one-ski quiver, it would be the Liberty Helix. Tested on hardpack and powder, the ski's playfulness and energy was the highlight throughout.
"In deep lunges, the bamboo core helped bring energy to the rebound," Gibbs said of the ski headquartered in Avon. The bamboo core is a trademark feature of Liberty's skis. "I like an all-around ski. I have one or two pairs that are my go-to skis for everything. The Liberty Helix is that."
He took the Helix on the groomers and bumps of Breckenridge as well as through steeper powder on Arapahoe Basin's West Wall. It was there that the skis found their home, Gibbs said. He doesn't need to take them anywhere else to see how they'll fare - though he wishes he could have had these skis when he raced in the Telemark Student Championships in Vemdalen, Sweden, while he was studying abroad in 1998,
Gibbs and fellow tester Jody Thompson set out for Arapahoe Basin on Thursday's bluebird, but chilly, day. Faced with a camera fiasco, they tapped into their creativity and connections and found themselves hooked into the Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol, who lent a hand in forming a true test, giving access to conditions outside of open terrain. Gibbs and Thompson skied the West Wall, courtesy of patrol, and sailed through more than a foot of powder in a stash between terrain obstacles - Check out the video online!
Meanwhile, Gibbs found the Ski Logik Rave to be an ideal balance between elegance and performance.
"It's beautiful to look at," he said of the ski, whose design is various shades of inlaid wood and gems to form an image. He added that the ski earned plenty of comments at Breckenridge. Gibbs likes the idea of a wooden ski because it hearkens back to the days when that's all there was.
"It's a throw back with an edgy twist," he said, adding that it's not only nice to look at. It also skis well.
Though Gibbs was unsatisfied with its performance on hardpack, he can imagine it being an ideal ski on Crested Butte's headwall or north face, so long as its filled with snow.
Gibbs rated the Black Diamond Warrant well, though he found it more generic than the others.
"Black Diamond knows tele gear," he said. "It's their specialty in my opinion."
The Warrant had enough flex to be playful, but was stiff enough to handle hardpack. Meant less for powder and more for all-mountain conditions, Gibbs said its performance fit the specs and is a satisfying all-around ski.
As for the bindings, Gibbs prefers his G3 Targa Ascent bindings over the 22 Designs AXL, but that's mostly because he's looking for lightweight, but durable, performance for the backcountry. The spring resistance and reduced range of motion of the AXL makes it ideal for skiing with gravity, but not the best for climbing uphill.
"The AXL is bomber, but not good for touring. It's too heavy," he said, adding, "They're indestructible. I've never seen one of these break."