When I try to ski the Freeride at really high speeds in these conditions its tips definitely get pushed around and fold up a little. It also tends to deflect a little easier than heavier skis of similar widths, but that’s the compromise you make when skiing a fairly lightweight ski in choppy resort conditions.
Firm Chop / Crud
As the chop gets shallower and there are fewer deep tracks / trenches, the Freeride starts to feel a little more intuitive again (the same applies to soft chop that’s lighter / lower-density than what we often get in Alaska). Whereas the shovels tend to deflect in the deeper chop mentioned above, the overall loose, drifty feel of the ski starts to work better in shallower snow and allows for easy skids and speed control. I still find myself going quite a bit slower at times than I would on other heavier and/or more damp skis in this category. But especially on more technical, steep terrain like Alyeska’s North Face, a few days after a pow day, the Freeride is a fun ski for skidding and sliding down little ribs and other features, looking for small airs or patches of pow to slash.
What the Freeride does not do very well in these conditions, or really any conditions, is carve. Even when really focusing on edge angle and downhill ski pressure, I never felt like the Freeride wanted to hold a clean edge. I was constantly getting bucked off edge. I often doubt my own technique in situations like that, so I frequently did back-to-back runs on the same terrain with a variety of other skis and consistently found that I struggled more to hold a carved turn, especially at higher speeds, on the Freeride. For those who love to skid and drift around, this isn’t a bad thing but in my experience, these are not skis that you can tip into a hard carve and knife through variable conditions. And of course, this is a 110mm-wide ski, so it’s never going to be an amazing carver, but there are better options if that’s a priority for you.
Moguls, Trees, & Tight Terrain
The quick, drifty nature I’ve described above, combined with a relatively low swing weight, makes the big teal Norse feel quite intuitive in tighter terrain. I can’t think of a ski this wide and long that is easier to pivot and drift around in tight terrain and I had a lot of fun finding tight lines through Alyeska’s limited but steep tree runs in a variety of snow conditions. Similarly, pow bumps were a hoot on these and I was able make quick edge transitions and control my speed fairly easily.
This is probably where I least enjoyed the Norse Freeride compared to other similarly wide skis. It’s certainly possible to carve big clean arcs on the Freeride but with its tapered tips and long sidecut radius, its turn initiation is sluggish and its edge hold is well below average, even for a fat ski. I have >120mm skis that hold an edge on firm groomers better than the Freeride. Once committed to a carved turn, the Freeride will hold an edge, but it doesn’t take a lot of interference from snow or technique for it to break free. The Freeride feels like a ski that’s at home in off-piste terrain, and while it’ll let you predictably skid your way across groomers to get to that terrain, there are many better skis for really making the most of groomed slopes.
I mounted the Freeride on the recommended line (-7.2 cm from true center) and never felt any need to change it, which is frankly fairly rare for me (I’m pretty picky when it comes to mount points). But on the recommended line, the Freeride felt well balanced.