Ski design and construction innovation continues to give riders the potential to push the sport forward in ways that would have early pioneers stopped in their leather boots. While advancements have occurred across all categories, perhaps the greatest (outside professional racing) is those in powder skis. While skiers were once content to trace neat figure eight patterns in untracked snow, riders at the top of the sport are now dropping stylish 540s into steep lines, confidently lacing up natural features with arcing slash-like turns all while facing backwards. Oregon-based skier and artist Eric Pollard is one of the chief originators of bringing terrain park style into the backcountry, committing himself to playing a key role in the design process for this niche, albeit accessible, variety of ski. His latest—and self-proclaimed best—creation is the Magnum Opus from longtime sponsor Line Skis. On a recent trip to British Columbia, we put the Magnum Opus to the test in a range of conditions, from serene powder to glazed ice.
The Magnum Opus isn’t designed for all abilities and should be reserved for advanced and expert skiers confident in variable snow conditions and terrain. One can easily gauge their suitability for the ski simply with a glance. If the 124 millimeter waist (the average all-mountain ski is in the 80 millimeter ballpark) and 188 centimeter length inspire possibility rather than fear, you’re in good shape. Make no mistake, the Magnum Opus is a lot of ski, but on snow it’s nimble and deceptively light. At just 2,100 grams, it’s one of the lightest powder skis on the market. If you’re throwing spins, flips or nose-buttering your way through a pillow line, the skis have an extremely low swing weight and behave more like a park ski in the air.
The skis owe their light weight in part to Line’s Cloud Core technology, a blend of balsa wood and flax composite. In addition to saving weight, this proprietary blend makes for a responsive, even flex throughout the ski that is stable at high speeds yet bouncy and playful in powder. Further reductions in weight lie in the slimmed-down tip and tail—arguably the ski’s most formative design feature. “We spent a lot of time completely re-designing the tip shape,” Pollard explains. “We built a taper into the tip shape itself, which in turn allowed us to move the widest point in the ski toward the tip and tail.” Along with lengthening the radius in the tip profile, the result is a ski that is faster and more versatile than previous iterations.
The Magnum Opus shines in fresh powder first and foremost. Far from making turns, the ski transforms the whole mountain into a playground. Natural features like cliffs, ridge lines and cornices become your terrain park. As we all know, optimal conditions aren’t the norm and this is where the Magnum Opus shows its real value. While other skis will have their owners reviling Mother Nature for subzero temperatures, too much sun or the wrong dew point, the Magnum Opus gives creative skiers the possibility to have fun in any conditions. Punching through sun-baked styrofoam is a joy thanks to early rise (a lift in the tip and tail) while traditional camber underfoot allows for enough edge control on hard-pack and groomers.
“When I first began designing skis with Line over a decade ago, I had no concept of the fact that Line would eventually need to turn some of my prototypes into actual skis,” Pollard says of the design process. “That sounds crazy, but I was young, and Line gave me the license to create pretty much anything I wanted. It was a very fun time, and we created a lot of skis. When Line began to release some of my skis they were wildly unpopular. The waist widths, flex patterns and overall look were a big change from what people were used to. I didn’t react to the negative reception because I liked the skis, they were exactly what I wanted, so I just kept working toward that end. I never let other people’s reactions change the way I designed skis, I just kept designing skis that I wanted to ride. Today people like my skis, which is amazing, and feels a lot better,” he adds. We’re glad the rest of the industry and market finally caught on.
Pick up the Magnum Opus from Line Skis for $799.
Images by Hans Aschim