We’re diving into gear reviews here at Earlyups. We’re kicking things off with our take on the Praxis Concept, an innovative ski from Tahoe based Praxis Skis. In short, this 117 waisted ski is versatile, light, playful and somewhat like the drug Viagra. Confused? Read the review to get the scoop…
Before I get into this review, I’m assuming most have read the product feature we put out on this ski a few months ago on the ski. It highlights the basic features, specs and general theory behind the Praxis Concept. Missed that one? Here is the Cliff’s notes: This ski is unlike anything else we know of out there. It features a rather bizzare camber and sidecut profile that is just easier to show than try to explain in words. The idea behind this shape is to create a ski that combines certain attributes of a reverse camber/sidecut ski (spatula) with the versatility of a conventional sidecut/camber.
- Length (CM): 177 or 187 (featured)
- Tip (MM): 139
- Mid (MM): 117
- Tail (MM); 125
- Camber Height (MM): 4
- Camber Contact (CM): 127
- Turn Radius (M avg): 26
- Side Cut Length (CM): 143
- Weight: ~5lbs/ski (187)
This is our first review of sorts here on Earlyups. Reviews are subjective. One persons’ “perfect ski” might be another skier’s nightmare. Hence, take this with a grain of salt. We can promise we’ll stay objective where we can, test every product we review over a “real” period of time (more than a few hours) in a variety of conditions and try and be as comprehensive as one can be. Again, no review is going to be perfect as there are so many variables that play into one product working as it should. That said, we still feel putting our thoughts down on the site offers some insight toward how something works and if it’s the right product for you.
Name: Jeff Brines
Years on Snow: 21
Binding: Salomon 997 14 DIN
Boot: Dalbello Krypton Pro ID
Mount point: Suggested
Skis liked: Praxis Pow 195, Volkl Gotama 190, 4FRNT EHP 193, Rossignol RC112
Skis disliked: Rossignol S7 188
Location: Teton Pass, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, SnowKing
Duration of test: 20 Days (unsure exact number)
In a few words: Unique, playful, precise, light, versatile, fun, different.
Short Version: Unconventional yet versatile, floats well, reasonable running length, incredible amount of edge bite under foot, light weight, handles variety of virgin snow conditions better than most powder specific skis, very durable, somewhere between “charger” and “playful”, great touring setup option, great in bounds pow ski, not for those looking for something totally normal.
If this ski was a girl (or guy) she would be the smart secretly nerdy type from a small town in, say, Northern California who does things differently, dresses edgy, is a bit quirky, seems a bit scary at first, and has a look that grows on you. After getting to know her you’d realize she’s easy to be around most of the time, likes to have fun, often makes you look better than you really are and not overly serious. The only cost is she’s a bit quirky…and she’ll freak out every now and then if you treat her like “most girls”. Demands a different type of respect and style but if you understand her, she’ll be there for the long haul. For many, this could be the one…but not for everyone.
So I lost you on my girl analogy? That’s fair. It was pretty bad. Lets begin the review shall we? To start, one of my all time favorite skis is the Praxis Powder 195 (similar to the Volant Spatula–reverse/reverse). When conditions are right for the Powder Board, there are few skis that can make skiing as fun, effortless and overall rock-star like than this ski. Any turn shape, any speed, video-game skiing. Problem is, in the wrong conditions, this ski is equally as un-fun and down right scary. Hence, I’ve been on a perpetual search to find a ski that bridged conventional versatility with reverse/reverse soft snow performance. Enter the Praxis Concept 187.
The slight bulge and bizarre camber underfoot was designed to give a reverse/reverse slarvy and surfy feel when desired yet still give the skier normal side cut and camber versatility in harder snow. Does it work? Sort of.
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Unintended (yet good) side effects:
- Amazing amount of edge hold and bite under foot in firm conditions
- Gives skier unparalleled level of precision and control in harder conditions for a ski of this width once on edge (again in firm conditions)
- Can take some getting used to in hard snow.
I’m going to diverge here for a minute. Back in the early 90s, a little known drug known as sildenafil citrate was entering clinical trials for hypertension treatment (blood pressure problems). The drug wasn’t a major success for treating hypertension but had one interesting side effect, specifically in males. The drug company, Pfizer, scrapped this drug for hypertension and instead started looking at it for its unique side effect. It is now sold under the brand name “Viagra” and we all know what Viagra does.
What does this have to do with the ski? Well, similar to how Viagra was developed for a completely different purpose, this bulge under foot and unique camber profile giving the ski 3 contact points has a completely unintended “side effect” that is in many ways more notable than its intended effect. (no, it does not usually give you a boner) Remember, the intended effect of the fatter underfoot shape and camber profile was to give the skier a “slarve” option when turning. Much to my surprise, in harder snow, the ski actually has the opposite feeling of a “drifty” or a loose ski. In fact, the ski has more bite and grip underfoot than any conventional ski over 100mm at the waist I’ve ever been on. (editor’s note: the ski is especially drifty/loose/neutral in virgin snow, this portion of the review is on applicable in harder conditions).
At times, this attribute allows the skier to be very precise and controlled in chalky, steep, conditions or on an icy traverse. However, this behavior is a double edged sword; sliding an extended bump style turn can be challenging, especially when fatigued as the ski just wants to immediately shed speed or change direction. This could possibly be reduced to more manageable (useful) levels by increasing the bevel underfoot to something such as a 3 or 4 degrees base bevel effectively tone down the level of bite. That said, when the legs are fresh in mixed/harder conditions I found myself skiing more directly in the fall line with confidence as this ski can shut it down or change directions in a manor you need to experience to understand.
Carving & More on hard snow performance
- Carving is possible, if you are balanced well and pressure the front part of the sidecut
- I found myself doing more of a hybrid slarve/carve at higher speed on harder snow
- Running length adds to stability and in bounds performance
Considering the bizarre shape, one question I’ve continually gotten is “how does it carve”. First, nobody is going to buy a 110+mm ski for its carving abilities but the way a ski reacts when rolling it edge to edge is an important behavior attribute for certain conditions (rallying through crud for instance). The softer the snow, the more ‘normal’ it feels in conventionally initiated carved turns. As conditions become firmer, one must pressure the front portion of the sidecut and be patient or (if you are out of control) the back portion of the side cut, and again be patient, to get the ski to “carve”. If you stand in the middle of the ski and roll the ski on edge, you’ll get some odd behavior similar to a reverse/reverse ski where the skis want to react differently with the added attribute of an incredible amount of edge bite.
In practice, skiing run outs or on a groomer at speed I found myself making hybrid carved/slarved turns. Something completely unique to this ski and must be experienced to fully explain. Don’t confuse this with the sliding sidways semi-out-of-control type turn often seen with heavily rockered/fat skis. It is quite different but again, something unique to this ski that is better experienced than explained.
In short, in harder conditions, those comfortable with a bump style turn will have an easier time adjusting to these skis than those who have a more race oriented background.
- Easy to ski
- Netural feeling in untouched soft snow, no surprises.
- Able to ski in an aggressive stance in deep snow.
- Very little hookiness. Perhaps the best non reverse/reverse ski I’ve ever been on when it comes to varying turn shape.
- Awesome in tight spaces
Attributes I look for in powder include the following: Float while maintaining an aggresive stance, variety of turn shapes possible (not locked into the side cut), playfulness, stability at speed, neutral feeling (doesn’t overreact to pilot input or want to do anything unintended. This is huge), easy to shut down, not terrifying on harder run outs (not a powder attribute but it matters on a pow day)
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This ski meets all the above attributes in powder. Its not quite as loose or drifty or floaty as my powder board, not as stable as my FRNT EHP 193 and not as charger as my Rossignol RC112 but it does everything pretty dang well on a powder day either between the ropes or out the gates. Enough so my powder boards have been on the bench more and more.
While I wont confuse them with my Praxis Powders in these conditions, (I’m not going to pull super long McConkey turns) they are still the best versatile shape I’ve been on and have choosen the Conept over the Powders on plenty of sidecountry (Teton Pass) days where the Powders shine just because the Concept is more playful with less weight. In a word: Fun.
In tight spaces and terrain where controlling your speed is everything, they are easy to get edge to edge, throw sideways, put in the air or shut down.
- Best non full reverse/reverse ski I’ve ever been on in funky virgin snow.
- More I ski it in said conditions more I realize how special it is.
Maybe where this ski shines the most. In variable conditions, such as crust, wind effect or heavy cream cheese snow the ski is not hooky, very predicatable and overall easy to ski. Stand in the middle of the ski and just ski. You don’t need to think about it or be careful in all but severe/nasty crusts (in which i’ve not found any ski that is “easy”). In short, besides the Praxis Powders or DPS 138, the Praxis Concept is the best shape I’ve been on in these conditions.
This brings me to a separate point. Considering the skis’ ability to ski variable “wild snow” (sorry Lou), powder and its light weight, I’d highly considering mounting this ski with touring binding and making it my go-to touring setup.
Crud is a pretty generic term when talking about snow conditions. I’ve had these skis in a bunch of semi-skied out to fully skied out conditions between the ropes. In tight places, the ski is awesome. The skier has a ton of control under foot, a solid platform for landing and a good shape to cut through the snow.
However, the ski is simply too light to be a great crud-buster. That, and those who are used to tipping a ski on edge and maching Super G style turns through crud will have a tough time doing that on this ski. This is more for those who want to be precise and place their turns rather than mow everything down in their path.
Honestly, this hasn’t been the year to tackle big lines at speed so the jury is still out. My gut is this probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but I highly doubt I would back off a line because I have these on my foot. That should say a lot. The ease they perform in soft snow gives you confidence even if they aren’t the most stable at mach loony speed.
So long as you land balanced, the ski is fine in the air. Again, due to low tide it hasn’t seen a ton of air but so far, its performed well. A touch more tip rocker and slightly stiffer flex would help the ski be a bit more forgiving (balance point wise) on landings but so far on the 15-20 foot airs to flat-ish landings the ski has done fine.
What would I change
- Extend tip rocker 10cm
- Make a longer ski (192-194)
- Stiffen the ski slightly
This ski is pretty danged good for its intended purpose. That said, I’d be curious to try a variation with slightly toned down bulge under foot (it already is very subtle), longer tip rocker to combat the occasional tip dive in punchy snow and a longer length to help stability at speed (192-194).
Craftsmenship and Durability of Praxis Products
As long time Praxis skiers, durability of Praxis product is the bar in which all other skis’ durability is measured against. I realize that sounds preachy and a bit over the top but they are the longest lasting skis we’ve been on. To my point, I still have my original pair of Powder Boards as does another member of Earlyups. Well over 200 days and still kicking. That says a lot here in the Tetons…especially with some of our often ill conceived decision making.
Flex & Weight
These skis feature a medium-stiff flex from a fairly conventional contruction featuring a wood core, carbon stringers and fiberglass. The flex isn’t charger like (Rossignol RC112) but its no noodle either (Line Pollard or similar). Stiff enough to be stable, soft enough to be playful. We have been extremely impressed with the weight of recent Praxis’ offerings. Light enough to be a viable touring option in fact. Weight of this ski is similar to offerings from DPS in their “hybrid” construction. (this ski is around 4.5lbs)
Very cool ski. This has been my go to ski in Jackson thus far this year. It is awesome in chalky steeps, very playful in soft snow, ski able on the entire mountain and overall very neutral in variable conditions. Oh, and the light weight is certainly awesome when hiking these parts! If you have a bump style and a strong balanced skier looking for something to ski everywhere in the West, take a look. If you are more of a racer, and you want to mach huge turns on stiff boards, keep shopping!
Want a pair? Check out the website here.