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Scott Crusade – A One Week Review

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just returned from a week on some new Crusades so thought I’d give some first impressions, especially given the glut of “all-mountain” skis out there at the moment. I bought them to replace some ageing Scott Aztec Pros and was looking for something with a bit more width, better stability and a few more “guts”. I’ve always liked the feel of Scott skis so I went with these in 179 cm. The skis had a stiff flex in the tips (similar I’d say to a Mantra) but noticeably softer in the tail (again, relative to a Mantra).

I’m a 70kg wire with somewhere between 15 – 20 weeks experience, ski 3 weeks a year (so I want one ski for everything), fairly agressive and generally spend half my time upwards off-piste. The snow conditions last week were superb: the low temperatures and regular snowfalls meant the pistes were firm and grippy whilst the off-piste was powder. Not much ice but I found a bit of scraped stuff on Le Face.

Groomed/marked runs:
I’d had the skis re-tuned and hot-boxed by spyderjon before using them so I figured they’d grip but even so, I was surprised by their impressive performance on piste. They gripped as well as some Volkl ACs I tested a few years ago and had genuine carving ability. The other aspect they had in common with the Volkls was stability when on edge – far superior to the Aztecs and Missions I’d skied before. Despite their short radius (15m), they preferred GS turns when on edge.

Short skidded turns were impressive for a wide (92mm) ski and skiing the zip line in moguls (albeit soft ones!) was feasible and almost enjoyable. Their width meant commitment to turns was essential but once I had a rhythm, I found them relatively quick edge-to-edge; probably helped by the large-ish sidecut and huge shovels.

They didn’t respond well to lazy skiing and had a much narrower sweet spot than the Aztec Pros…being forward was essential to drive the stiff tips and the more aggressive I skied, the better they felt. Very stable when on edge, they didn’t flap and I never found their upper speed limit (I tried…).

On ice/scraped snow, they were far better than the flappier/springier Aztecs but again, required decent technique to get an edge and hold it before you disappeared at Mach 3.

On the negative side, if they weren’t on edge they were trying to find one. Not one for straight-lining and this was also a prominent feature in their performance in powder.

This is where I really wanted them to perform and fortunately the conditions were perfect for testing them on open untracked slopes, steeps, trees and chopped-up powder.

On open slopes with powder up to knee deep, they once again preferred longer and faster turns and felt superb when being driven. They were definitely well damped and hence very smooth but they had enough rebound/pop to retain plenty of liveliness. They floated very well but I couldn’t really tell whether the venturi tips had their designed effect (although they definitely provided additional stiffness). The rise in the tips was fairly long – Salomon would call it tip rocker Wink This certainly helped their performance in soft snow. There was no evidence of the tips diving and unlike the Aztecs, I was able to apply a fair amount forward pressure in powder to drive the skis without ending up over the handlebars. The soft tails seemed to give them a nice flex in softer snow and the skis felt very well balanced even though there was a noticeable difference in stiffness between tip and tail.

They didn’t seem so well suited to shorter “old skool” powder turns unless the gradient was steeper and their flex could be brought into play. As with firm snow, they preferred to be tipped slightly rather than gunning it straight in powder thanks to the sidecut but in general I was surprised at how stable they were for a “freeride” ski given their shape.

In the trees, they were very nimble…however, they needed plenty of pressure (speed or gradient!) to hit their sweet spot or they were hard work. Once you hit it though, they were superb.

Their piste performance translated well to chopped up powder and once again, they preferred aggressive long, fast turns to shred through it rather than bimble over it.

1) A powerful stiff ski that requires an aggressive style (or just a fat rider) and plenty of driving to get the best out of it but with one hell of a sweet spot. Not for someone looking for a first freeride ski IMHO.

2) Smooth, well damped and stable on edge – not as springy as other Scott skis and more like a Volkl or Head in character. Confident at speed.

3) On piste they prefer long, fast carved turns although they are also relatively quick edge-to-edge.

4) Off-piste, they prefer GS powder turns. Shorter turns work best on steeps.

5) Very adaptable – IMO they do most things better on average than the Aztec Pros and they provide a good compromise between hard and soft snow conditions.

6) Not for cruising. However, the softer tail means that if you get in the back seat, they don’t kill you, they just feel crap.

7) As near as I could get to what I was looking for and expecting (a one-quiver ski). Perhaps they could be a little straighter to improve lateral stability in soft snow.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Did spyderjon sent them to a 3 degree edge angle? It would have been intereting to see if you'd skied them with the factory edge angle and how you felt the difference was!
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
He set 'em to 2 deg. side. Had a 3 deg. put on the Aztec Pros and the increase in grip was definitely noticeable on those. The Crusades gripped like poo-poo to a blanket - only GS skis have gripped better IMHO Toofy Grin
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What Volkls have you skied, have you tried the Karmas, how do the Crusades compare in stiffness to them? I have never skied the Mantras to compare. Have you skied any Icelantic skis? I have skied the Shamans which I loved and these look like a slightly thinner version, I have also skied the Pilgrims which I found quite soft. I quite fancy the Crusades so would be interested to hear if you have skied any of the other skis I have tried.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
The Volkls were AC 30s from a few years back. I've not skied the Karmas or Mantras...yet. I've skied either the Icelantic Shamans or Pilgrims (whichever is the ~100mm waisted version). It was a while ago but I'd say a bit more springy than the Crusades. They also feel similar to the Head Monsters although a little lighter and less damped (the Heads were really smooth).
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Excellent review and very helpful - thanks.

In fact, your review was so spot on that it confirmed what I was thinking all along but just needed a more experienced skier to confirm it for me i.e. these ski's definitely need an aggressive skier to perform at their best of which I am not. Wish I was better informed when I bought my pair! Oh well, they definitely make me work hard and not be a lazy skier or else my day is not a very enjoyable one at all. If I was able to get away more frequently during the ski season I reckon I would love these ski's as they should be loved.

What are your thoughts about using these ski's for the odd bit of skinning/touring?
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