After a year of skiing on various borrowed Dynafit AT skis – thanks to a friend with skis and boots to loan – I was hooked on the beauty, serenity, and freedom of alpine touring and was determined to find a set of skis for myself. Naturally, Dynafit was at the top of my list; but I had read about some of their wider skis being either more-prone to breakage, or a bit finicky. So, as a product developer myself, I did what I do and put in the time and effort to get a clear picture of the state of the market and who in that market had the best fabrication methodologies.
My underlying assumption was that if I could figure out how everyone was making their skis, and if I could find differentiation between the various manufacturing processes and materials, then I would be able to identify the best brand to buy, and from there could hone in on what the best model would be.
Weeks into my investigation it became clear that virtually every ski on the market is a variation of HM Christiansen’s first laminated ski that was developed in the 1890s. Sure, the materials used are cooler, the shapes are better, and the engineering is more advanced, but looking at the way every company makes their skis (and there are hundreds of you tube videos you can watch and patents that you can read to learn where the state of the art for the industry is) showed that what made one company better than another was going to be more subtle than I had initially hoped.
In the end I settled on two companies that were doing things a little different, and who had two technologies that I believed would make a better product: Movement and White Dot. For those not familiar with White Dot, it is a smaller UK brand that is utilizing a flax-fiber fabric in their composite layups. Flax has been shown to provide enhanced vibration damping in composite structures, which can be beneficial, particularly in lightweight skis.
Movement, on the other hand, is a more-well-known Swiss company using North Composites Thin Ply Technology. Being familiar with TPT from work in the cycling industry (where it has been used for bicycle frame fabrication), and trusting Swiss ski designers more than British (it’s not even a question who has the better mountains, why would it be surprising to be biased that the same would be able to design better skis?), I chose to focus on Movement for my first set of skis.
It may also be worth mentioning that I was able to purchase a set of Movement skis for far less than the White Dot skis would have been; and being my first pair of AT skis, I felt that being conservative with the amount I spent was a good idea.
Finally I should note that this is an El Nino winter, and every skier I know who also turns into an amateur weather forecaster during the winter was promising unbelievable amounts of powder. Between the friends and experts that I talked to the consensus was that a 95- to 105-underfoot ski was the best general touring ski dimension for Colorado.
So, in late November, a thin, long package arrived with a 169cm pair of Movement Shift skis inside.
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At 1430g each the Movement Skis were not much heavier than the 7Summits that I spent most of last season on (1380g listed weight for the 179cm length), but they were 18mm wider underfoot and unquestionably stiffer. As part of my plan to reduce the per-foot-weight of my new setup versus what I had skied the previous year I opted for the Dynafit Speed Radical bindings over the TLT Radical ST bindings that were on the the 7Summits skis. As a result, I ended up with skis weighing 1889g and 1898g each, saving approximately 150g per foot.
The combination of the Shift skis and Speed Radical bindings, to me, seems to really hit the sweet spot of what you would look for in a Colorado touring ski – it is reasonably light, and with a nice Mohair skin, you can definitely make your way up efficiently; it is reasonably fat with a 135 tip and 123 tail to compliment the 98 underfoot measurement; and it will plow through anything.
Some people have negative impressions of ‘light’ skis and carbon skis, believing that they can not plow through crud like a heavier ski, or that they will chatter like a group of 3rd graders hopped up on sugar when things get icy and fast. Any apprehension that their beliefs had given me were immediately dispelled the first time out on these skis. They are solid and muscular. If anything, the designers could probably have taken more weight (material) out and still ended up with a ski that will crush just about anything.
Make no mistake, these skis are crushers. Despite their tight radius (17.5m), the stiffness of the skis makes them want to gently arc through long, open turns blazing full speed down the mountain. These skis love and reward speed.
If you’re the kind of skier who likes to really drive their skis, you can take advantage of the 17.5m radius and cut your way back and forth across a face, with the stiffness of the skis popping you out of each turn with every bit of energy that you put into them. The traditional cambered tail on the Shift accentuates this, providing that feeling of cornering on rails.
In order for these skis to really perform they need a lot of energy going into them – that can either come from the speed of blasting down the run, or the skier putting that energy into them. What they don’t like – and don’t reward – is cruising a gentle run. They don’t care if you’re tired, they don’t care if you’re hungry or hung-over or anything else. These green machines are always strapped to your feed saying, “Feed me, Seymour. Feed me…” like the plant from the Little Shop of Horrors that could never get enough.
The other great thing about this ski is that if you are really going after it, they don’t care what the conditions are: ice, breakable crust, chop, chunder, slush, powder, corduroy, or corn – you name it. While many skis excel in a specific range of conditions, the Shift doesn’t seem to care what the snow is doing, as long as you are pushing them hard, they’ll handle just about anything.
There are a couple caveats about the Movement Shift that should be noted:
- While you can learn on them, they favor a more advanced skier. If you are a beginner or beginner-intermediate and thinking about these skis, know that they will challenge you and definitely not show you their best until your skills and strength improve.
- As a 98-underfoot ski, some will suggest that it can be skied with a variety of boots. Given the stiffness and energy of this ski I believe that you are best served by a boot like the Atomic Backland Carbon, the TLT7 Performance, La Sportiva Spectre, or another boot that is designed to transfer all of the energy and input from a skier down to their edges. While I can easily ski my La Sportiva RST 2.0s with the tongue removed from my Backland Carbon boots, the Shift just don’t want to cooperate without the extra force-transfer that the tongue provides.
- Men should look at mounting your bindings back at least 20mm behind the suggested neutral position marked on the skis. I tried them at the neutral position and then moved them back 25mm. Because of the stiffness of the tail and the rocker at the tip the skis perform much better when you are a little further behind them. I imagine that women who select this ski would also want to be back a bit from the neutral position, but I do not have a recommendation as to how much.
There is no question that Movement made a beast of a touring/freeride ski with the Shift. If you have the skills and strength to get the most out of this ski, it is truly addictive. And since the durability seems solid, so you should have no concerns about going out and riding the hell out of it over, and over again.
The skier that should definitely look for something other than the Shift is a finesse skier. Unless you are a 350-pound finesse skier, maybe… (Do they exist?)
MOVEMENT SHIFT SKIS
Size (cm): 169 177 185
Radius (m): 17.5 18 19
Nose (mm): 135 137 137
Waist (mm): 98 98 98
Tail (mm): 123 125 125
Length tested: 169cm
Weight: 1390g claimed, approximately 1430g measured
Key features: Lightweight Karuba wood & composite core, Cap construction with North TPT Carbon laminates, Round/rockered tip with traditional flat tail
Pros: Liveliness, power, edge-hold, surface to weight ratio, performance to weight ratio
Cons: Sidecut too deep for steep ice, demanding, not a ski for the timid