This is a downright excellent ski. Now, I'm no race-ski savant -- I've skied about half a dozen different pairs over the years, but only have extensive experience with one other set of race sticks (Dynafit PDG, which I skied for multiple seasons and at a couple dozen races of different types). That said, after about 35 days on them, the Ascent is my clear first choice for any of the race skis I've been on, and has even started to supplant some "real" skis in my quiver during casual skinning days and backcountry outings. They have great edge hold on hardpack and refrozen surfaces, drive well through mank and chowder and handle both bigger and tighter turns quite well for a 163cm ski. Most of all, the Ascent pushes through conditions where I would expect it to deflect, torque, wobble, and/or turn me into a quivering wreck.
Why? Well, I'm no ski scientist, so the technical side may remain a mystery to me. But from a pure "feel" perspective, it's something about the mix of a firm (but not stiff) layup, rockered (but not too rockered) tip, consistent flex pattern, high torsional rigidity, and perhaps those extra 3cm over a traditional race ski. While the tails aren't a super-stiff rear that makes backseat skiing unpredictable, they are reasonably "firm" and not liable to come out from under you when washing out a turn on some chunky groomed snow. Much like on the Hagan's 76-waisted Cirrus/Ultra ski, the semi-rockered squared tip allows you to drive through lots of mixed chop (yet to test in deep-deep pow, but as the adage goes, anything will ski powder well). Maybe the most heartwarming aspect of how the Ascents ski, though, is that they just don't deflect in the way that my trusty (well, not so trusty) PDGs did. Not only does this mean that skiing fast(er) during races is a comfortable thing, but also that taking this ski out touring is not an insane idea. They've handled chalk, bumpy chowder, corn-y snow, and wind-affected layers without that feeling of jerking from side to side that I constantly had with race sticks in the past.
I've got the Ascents paired with the Hagan race binding and Alien 0.0s, which, while not the most carbon-ated combination you'll see at races, is a great value for the JV rando racer like me.
Highly recommended (especially at the current price point!) to any aspiring randonneur who wants something dependable, versatile and just plain excellent.
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