High Gear: 2015-16 Liberty Origin and Liberty Envy skis | SummitDaily.com

High Gear: 2015-16 Liberty Origin and Liberty Envy skis

Before I jump into things, get real familiar with the term quiver because I'll most likely beat it to death.

These days, the ski industry feels like the craft brewing industry. There's a flavor for literally everyone: powder hounds (IPA), speed freaks (pilsner), mogul junkies (saison), park rats (PBR), alpine touring (barrel-aged porter) — the list goes on. That's where the quiver comes in. With so many options, skiers can (and sometimes feel compelled to) build a collection of three or more skis for all conditions. Hence, a quiver, like what Robin Hood would carry if he were into powder turns instead of holding up royalty.

If only all of Robin Hood's coin could pay for a pro-level quiver. It's an expensive commitment, especially when boutique skis run upwards of $700 per pair. But, if you get more than 30 days of skiing per year in Colorado, a quiver should be an option.

The revamped Liberty Origin isn't quite the definition of a quiver ski — it does just fine on a variety of resort conditions — but it demands a quiver skier. If you've spent most of your life on normal, run-of-the-mill rental shop skis, stepping up to a specialized boutique model like the Origin might be a shock at first. The 2015-16 version of the company's flagship men's ski is a beast, with a full 116 millimeters underfoot and a whopping 145 mm on the nose. It's the true definition of a fat ski, and, in the right conditions, it works like a dream.

Field test

On Dec. 17, just a day after Chair 6 at Breckenridge opened for the season, I took the fatty Origins out in search of untracked stashes. I'll admit: I'm personally new to fat skis but not new to powder, which makes me the exact audience that companies like Liberty are trying to reach. And, since we're being completely honest, you might as well know that I'm a snowboarder first and a skier second. I don't think anything will convince me to give up my snowboard on a deep, deep day — but hey, I was willing to give these new-fangled fat skis a try.

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After just two runs, I was impressed. The Origins floated wonderfully in the pockets of wind-loaded snow off of Chair 6, to the point I was nearly shocked at just how smooth the ride was. They're mounted slightly back from center, just like any good powder ski, but I didn't even have to lean back or keep an eye on my tips. They just stayed up, even through patches of two-plus feet.

Just like all good powder days, though, the soft stuff wouldn't last. When I funneled into tight (and steep-ish) gullies of chop, the skis made their presence known. It wasn't a fight exactly, but I was definitely starting to feel all 4.8 pounds of each ski after four or five runs. The alpine touring bindings on my review model didn't help in the weight department.

Which brings me back to the quiver concept. The full-sized Origin is made for folks who get a healthy number of powder days or make occasional AT trips into the backcountry and need something made for thick, endless snow. It weighs about the same as standard AT setups, but still be aware that a fatter ski means a heavier ski when skinning, hiking, charging, riding the chairlift, whatever.

The quiver killer

This season, Liberty introduced a slightly smaller (but no less impressive) version of the Origin. This one is just 96 mm underfoot and weighs a full pound less per ski than the original. That makes it skinnier than its female counterpart, the Envy, but with an extra 15 centimeters in length.

Those dimensions also mean the Origin 96 doesn't float quite as effortlessly in powder. But, if there's such a thing as a quiver killer, this is it. The ski features everything an expert wants — plenty of float, a rocker tip and tail, reliable construction — with everything anyone of any ability wants. The 96 doesn't clatter or wobble on hard-pack like its bigger cousin, and the weight was much more manageable for an occasional skier like myself.

But I needed a second opinion — after all, I'm new to this whole quiver ski thing — and so I let a skier friend borrow the 96 for a day. He agreed with everything I liked about the skis, although he still felt like they turned squirrely on hard-pack.

Bottom line

The Origin is a perfect addition to any quiver. It's made for the kind of powder we love so much here in Colorado, and, if you're willing to deal with a bit of weight, it will treat you well. If not, go with the Origin 96. Sure, it's more or less a standard mid-level ski (even the price is about the same as models from Salomon, Atomic and the like), but there's nothing wrong with that.

2015-16 Liberty flagship skis

Liberty Origin ($699)

Length: 174 cm, 182 cm, 190 cm

Underfoot: 116 mm

Nose: 145 mm

Tail: 136 mm

Weight: 4.8 pounds in 174 cm

Construction: Bamboo laminated with poplar, rocker tip and tail

Liberty Origin 96

Length: 171 cm, 176 cm, 182 cm, 187 cm

Underfoot: 96 mm

Nose: 130 mm

Tail: 118 mm

Weight: 3.7 pounds in 171 cm

Construction: Bamboo laminated with poplar, rocker tip and tail

Liberty Envy

Length: 156 cm, 167 cm

Underfoot: 105 mm

Nose: 135 mm

Tail: 125 mm

Weight: 3.3 pounds in 156 cm

Construction: Bamboo, light paulownia and durable poplar, light rocker tip and tail