Independent review from ExoticSkis.com

Independent review from ExoticSkis.com

We just received the review from a test conducted by the guys from Exotic Skis on our UpSlope model. This pair of skis underwent a couple weeks of extensive testing. There guys know how to test skis. The link to the review on their website is here. The guys at Exotic Skis pride themselves on providing unbiased reviews of small and micro brand skis.  “ExoticSkis.com does not sell or market skis for any manufacturers, so our reviews remain unbiased and accurate. We don’t take payments for testing skis or writing articles and we are not hired by any ski companies in any way.”

I am both pleased and humbled by their review of my skis. One of the most common comments I hear about my skis is that my skis are “pretty” or “beautiful”. I appreciate that as I spend a lot of time of the aesthetics of my skis but a review of this caliber is truly the highest compliment anyone could ever pay me. At heart, I am a skier who happens to enjoy and be pretty good at building skis. I want my customers to love what I build for them both from aesthetic and performance perspectives. The review below captures exactly what I am trying to do for each and every customer that puts their faith in me to build them their dream ski.

Manufacturer Info:

WhiteRoom Custom Skis
Vin Faraci
(802) 371-7871

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https://www.facebook.com/WhiteRoomCustomSkis
http://instagram.com/whiteroomcustomskis
https://www.linkedin.com/in/vin-faraci-b9420499

Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):

$950 usd (2016)

Usage Class:

Backcountry / Resort All Terrain

Background:

Vin Faraci’s own words say it best:

“My name is Vin Faraci. I’ve been a skier as long as I can remember. I grew up skiing at Ski Plattekill, a small family owned ski area in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Skiing is in my soul. Building skis is an extension of my passion for skiing, a labor of love and an expression of my own creative energy. With each pair I strive for perfection in all aspects, from the way I build the cores by hand, to profiling the cores to meet the flex pattern the customer wants, to hand cutting the top sheet veneers and hand finishing the ski. I build every pair of WhiteRooms as if they are going to be my own skis, anything less would be unacceptable. “ – Website 2016

Vin has been refining his ski designs and construction recipes for several years now, and in 2015 and 2016, his custom skis are in increasing demand from skiers all over New England and the U.S. to the point he is running full-tilt filling orders and boosting his creative expression through increasingly beautiful and artistic marquetry (hand-inlaid wood veneer design topsheets). The ski industry saw the first infusion of widely-available artistic marquetry in skis from Dave Mazarella’s SkiLogik brand (no longer in operation), which stunned skiers around the World with the fantastic look of hand crafted wood inlays at reasonable prices. In our mission to monitor the small, innovative ski builders around the World, we see a lot of wonderful, inspired craft work put into some stunningly beautiful skis. Vin’s fantastic labor of love and craft is really one of the new standard-bearers in the ski industry when you think of painstakingly created works of art you can ski on.

Rating (with comments):
(1=”get me off these things”->10=”I have to own a pair”)

8+ for packed powder groomers less than warp 9
9 for mixed conditions
Powder conditions unavailable for testing by press time.

Manufacturer’s Description:

None.

Summary:

“Performance Art” is the best way to describe the UpSlope design by Vin Faraci. We have skied a lot of very different skis over the last 12 years at ExoticSkis.com and while the measurements (137-105-122) might lead many skiers to think these are a backcountry powder-tool for the East, first turns on the UpSlopes shocked (yes, “shocked”) every tester, even on the early-season man-made snow at Killington in November. In short, the UpSlopes are quick, quick, quick both in edge-to-edge transitions as well as flat-ski directional or drifty changes on demand, but have a graceful authority and energetic security to their personality.

The early ski season in Vermont before the first heavy snowfalls is typically limited to a couple of strips of man-made snow groomed and re-groomed on a few short, narrow trails. Since tons of skiers are itching to get out on snow, these first few weeks of early season skiing see these short narrow strips of snow (“WROD “– White Ribbons of Death) resemble skiing on crowded, tilted sidewalks of Manhattan…except everyone is careening wildly around the trails with sketchy, rusty skills (us included) trying to get their ya-yas out with sometimes brand-new, untried equipment while staying off the dirt and rocks on the sides of the trails…meaning it resembles a pinball machine filled with skiers trying not to run into each other on waaaay too few square meters of snow surface. In short, you need to make very quick, often emergency-mode directional changes frequently (depending on the density of traffic that particular run). This is where Vin’s UpSlope shined at its remarkable agility to change direction with confident authority, despite its 105mm waist often being forced into some somewhat firm man-made surfaces. The same quick, responsive agility showed up on the Spring-like corn snow surface we skied on some days in November.

Get the UpSlopes “in” snow, they display a round, controlled, surprisingly quick turn behavior without feeling hooky or darty….just smooth, crisp arcs of different radii on demand without much effort. The key is the ease with which you can maneuver the UpSlopes and put them where you want them without washout, protest, uncertainty or anxiety. The UpSlopes have a huge fun-factor and essentially have a sweet spot along their entire length with excellent energy. You don’t have to muscle them or be in a constant state of vigilance while piloting Vin’s skis. You see where you want to go, point them, ride them, repeat…all while a grin slowly grows on your face. The UpSlopes control unwanted vibrations and buzz underfoot through three layers of VDS rubber strips sandwiching the edges and sidewalls really, really well. They have a snappy, responsive, playful feel with a masterful confidence on edge across surface types, without demanding athletic input from the skier. The relatively long, lowrise tip rocker and shaping produces a ski that skis shorter than it measures since the effective edge on snow is less than you imagine (our test ski was 179cm…order a little longer than you would normally…trust us). While we expected the shape and camber of the UpSlope to perform nicely off-piste, what shocked us (not just surprised us, but actually shocked us) was how well the 105mm-waisted ski performed at cut-and-thrust antics in tight, crowded trail conditions with manufactured snow surfaces. The WhiteRoom UpSlopes reset our reference standard for how nimble and quickly-grippy a ski this size can be.

Confidence at speed was excellent since this design can ride a long, GS-like edge if you want, tracking quietly and solidly, or run flat without wandering, absorbing ripples and undulations without deflection or getting knocked-around. This is not some super-damp, stiff charger, but more of a sporty, agile 105-waisted all-terrain ride with flotation abilities. We like that. We only had a few days on man-made surfaces to test the UpSlopes, but based on what little time we did have over several days, we are proud to have Vin Faraci creating such beautiful and athletic skis in our little Green Mountain State of Vermont. Get a demo ride on these if you can. Seriously.

Technical Ski Data:

Ash-maple-poplar vertically laminated wood core (sourced locally in Vermont)
22 oz. triaxial fiberglass
12 oz. biaxial fiberglass binding mat
3 layers of VDS rubber edge dampening
4001 grade PTEX bases
UHMWPE sidewalls
Wood veneer, UV-stabilized epoxy-coated topsheets
5mm Camber underfoot
Medium+ flex
4 Point sidecut
30cm Rocker tip 72mm rise
10mm tail flair
4 lbs, 5 oz each (1956 grams each)

Vin’s tuning specs:
2 degree side bevel
1 degree base edge bevel
2-3 degree base edge bevel in the tip rocker and tail flair areas (progressive base bevel)

Bindings, Boots, Wax & Tune Used:

Marker Griffon Alpine Demo Bindings
Salomon S-Max 120 boots.
Green Ice waxes, cold and warm
Designer-tuned as-is out of the box (see specs above)

Pre-Skiing Impression:

Cosmetically beautiful, artistically crafted topsheet veneer marquetry with multi-species strips of wood along the entire length. Glossy epoxy sealant. Fit and finish are excellent, mating surfaces are very well finished. Edges are not 360-degree wrap. Very well tuned and waxed right out of the box. No detuning or adjustments needed in our opinion (some may want a little tip detune below the rocker departure point for less immediate engagement on-edge…we liked it as-is). Medium-to-soft flex with rounded transitions tip-to-tail with moderate snap response. Torsionally compliant but pretty stout feeling twist resistance tip and tail. Tail notches for climbing skins. Really handsome looking. We felt guilty putting them into a rooftop ski box with other skis…worried about scratching them…that’s how nice they look. Obviously a hand-crafted labor of love.

Test Conditions:

Eastern corduroy, man-made dry packed powder, Spring-like corn and refrozen man-made hardpack boilerplate in places.

Hardpack and Boilerplate:

The WhiteRoom UpSlopes were delivered with a progressively-beveled, professional tune and man, it showed what Vin’s shaping can do on firm surfaces. We can only recall one or two other skis this size (137-105-122) over the years with such impressive security on packed snow. When you ski the East, you will find hardpacked, windblown, sometimes icy conditions on and off-piste, so Vin knows people need secure edge grip underfoot and along the entire length of the ski and he delivered it in spades. Turn initiation begins in the forebody with a tipping of the chassis and slight pressure…that’s all it takes. You don’t need to muscle the ski into a flexed arc or transfer weight forward and down at all…just tip it and apply slight pressure and the front of the ski grips, bends the midbody under your weight into the surface, then you decide if you want to ride it all the way along the tail to the end of the ski, or release the pressure and roll over into a flat ski or opposite turn in the same manner. For such a relatively large-bodied ski, the UpSlopes have a really nice carving behavior some narrower skis wish they had. Vibrations on hardpack surfaces are essentially neutralized, thanks to the generous layers of VDS rubber cradling the edges and dissipating the energy, so you never get any buzzing or nervous oscillations at speed. This is an Eastern-bred ski with serious hardpack skills seldom found in similarly-sized skis.

Mixed Conditions:

Vin’s gradual nose taper and gentle rockered rise creates some really well controlled, yet responsive handling traits in mixed-surface conditions (as much as we could find in November in Vermont before any significant natural snow storms). The skis traverse chopped-up surfaces with various types of snow smoothly and with confidence. They don’t deflect, don’t drift, don’t get knocked around and never seem to complain. They track where you point them, essentially absorbing and ignoring the snow and undulations along the way, yet you can pop in and out of compression and release modes to give yourself a choice of snappy, fun and responsive play with sometimes surprising agility and quickness, or a quiet, gentle ride…all without burning your energy reserves getting the ski to behave the way you want it to. “Broad spectrum fun” is the way to describe the UpSlopes in mixed conditions.

Bumps and Powder:

We did not get to test the UpSlopes in significant powder or bumpy terrain.

Analogies: (“This ski is like…”)

A hot rod in hand-made luxury bodywork.

Vermont Beverage Most Like This Ski:

Vermont Spirits Company #14 Maple Spirit
(http://www.vermontspirits.com/products-No14-maple.html)
Elegantly glowing, seductively silky, barrel-aged high-octane spirit with distinctive personality you can’t quite find anywhere else.

(NOTE: If you even THINK about turning Vin’s skis into shot-skis, we (and a large mob of like-minded ski geeks who appreciate what Vin and people like him are bringing to the ski scene these days) will take them away from you by force if necessary….just sayin…)

Things We Would Change About This Ski:

Nothing.

Short Answer When Someone Asks “What Do You Think About This Ski?”:

Vin Faraci’s UpSlope is an example of how much performance people should expect out of a chassis previously thought to be too large for anything but backcountry adventures. Beautiful to look at, exciting to ski and impressively created by a passionate designer with top-notch ski building skills.

Advice To People Considering This Ski:

Consider ordering a length slightly longer than you might normally use since they ski shorter than they measure.

Who and What Is This Ski Good For?

Backcountry enthusiasts who want a beautiful, Vermont-made, handcrafted ski with the ability to handle firm conditions and perform at very athletic levels in downhill mode, not just shuffling along in free-heel mode or climbing with skins on. These are also great for lift-serviced skiers who want a stunningly great looking work of art to arc circles around, and put to shame, the mass-produced skis claiming to excel at all-mountain performance in the 100mm+ category. Finesse skiers will love these. Muscle-heads look elsewhere.

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