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New boxes of skis are arriving daily in stores. The feeling of fall is in the air. A few conversations about winters’ past with some of my customers got me thinking it’s time we start dreaming about that next gear purchase!

Last spring just before leaving for Kokanee Glacier Cabin I was able to get my hands on the 2014 G3 ZenOxide C3 105’s. It had been almost three years since I had skied anything short of a big-powder ski. The past few seasons I have been venturing farther off the beaten path, so the need for efficiency has become a high priority. Having already upgraded my boots in 2013 (see Scarpa Maestrale RS review), I thought it was about time to take the weight off my skis as well.

My last point of reference was the award-winning G3 Saints. This was a lightweight, traditional-cambered ski. With new early rise skis in my arsenal, the Saints sat in my closet collecting dust and were pulled out for corn-hunting days or when the snow cover was going to be marginal.

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They look good…

 

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…but the black coloured retail version looks badass

Like every gearhead knows, no matter how many pieces of gear you have, there is always reason to add another to the quiver. But what if it was possible to find that one piece of gear that will actually do just about everything, in every type of condition? This is a tall ask, as I’m a strong believer that the right tool, made specific for the job is a better go-to philosophy. Inevitably, the deep winter planks win, opting for great soft snow performance, over the pains of handling long days and challenging conditions.

First Impressions: Stiffness

The new Zen’s are stiff underfoot which is atypical of skis in this weight class. The carbon reinforcement provides a confidence to lay into the ski without worry about getting thrown around, or having them fold like a cheap lawn chair. The Zen features an early rise tip with a good amount of camber. It is a good compromise for the stability it provides, but it does give up some flotation in deeper snow like its bigger G3 brothers with EarlyRise 2 camber profiles. The G3 District allows for variable technique and is more user-friendly to guide you through turns, whereas the Zen depends on being driven with a little more skill in order to fully unlock its performance. Those who can find the sweet spot, will be smiling from ear to ear on the way up and down!

Second Impressions: Skillset

The Zen rewards good technique and balance due to its scaled back, more traditional touring geometry. It is really suited to the person who spends time predominantly in the backcountry, and wants to maximize vertical and have versatility for all conditions. The Zen will excel in the harder/challenging conditions, and with the right operator, are a blast in powder. It’s a fond reminder of what skiing used to be like, honing technique, before the age of early rise easiness.

Third Impressions: Everyone else seems so slow

The biggest upside is definitely the weight, which tips the scales at under 6 lbs for the pair. Blasting vertical faster and easier will most definitely inflict pain on your touring mates. It’s a motivator to go on longer and extend further in the backcountry than ever before. Now my biggest problem, is my touring buddies planting rocks and heavy gear in my pack to slow me down.

I rode a total of ten days on the skis near season’s end; in deep powder, marginal schmoo, through late season corn, and epic long glacier ascents. A perfect mix to get a good initial impression of the skis. As the 2014 season kicks off, I will share more details as I tour through more varied conditions. This ski will serve as my main workhorse for the season, and allow me to be a little more selective in the days that I use a big wide powder plank. If you haven’t considered this ski and are looking for a light versatile weapon, it should be high on your list.

Check an interesting comparison from wildsnow.com, the C3 has one of the best weights per surface area on the market. This is a pretty good argument for adding this ski to your closet.

G3 ZenOxide C3 Skis
Sizes: 88, 93, 105
MSRP: $829 – $879
genuineguidegear.com
 

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