There is no question Jason Levinthal is a skiing living legend. He has played arguably the biggest individual role of anyone in making sure that many of the younger folk reading this aren't standing sideways right now. Three years ago, with masterminding Line Skis and Full Tilt boots pride of place on his curriculum vitae, J took yet another massive career gamble and moved on to a new microbrew venture. The aptly named J Skis has made waves in skiing ever since with limited runs of all manner of graphics on a growing number of ski models. The lineup now contains six skis and our editors have spent time on four of them. We'll have in-depth reviews coming this winter, but for now, check out our take on some of the most fun skis on the market.
The Whippit - Lemuel
These are an awesome park ski. I would say they are more at home on rails than on jumps, but they were definitely fun in the pipe too. I wish there was a longer length (I believe J is going to make a longer length). I would love this ski in something like a 186. I put about 5 days in at Okemo on these and have had no issues. The edges are super thick, the base is really tough (a bit on the slower side though). The topsheets and sidewalls have been fine, they seem to resist nicks and chips better than your average ski (Rossi's capwall is the best in my opinion). They are also decently light. Nothing that'll blow you away, but they aren't a pair of bricks. The swing weight is really low, you can whip these around pretty quick off rails.
I would call them a medium flex, similar to a pair of Chronics. They are on the damper side as well, they soak up bumps and I experienced no chatter at all. They hold up on jumps (even at a small size, the 178 was too short for me), but I flipped them over a couple times doing presses and nose blocks. They are decently poppy but they also butter very well, you can put all your weight into them and get some nice presses. Skis with more rocker will be easier to press but I liked the stability of the butters I was doing on the Whipits.
Who would they be good for:
Park skiers looking for a narrow ski that will be perfect for rails. The Whipit is definitely at home in the park.They are also comfortable on groomed snow and in the bumps. But they are too narrow to be an all mountain ski, and get sucked under heavy spring snow like all narrower skis.
The Allplay - Lemuel
The Allplays are great option if you are looking for one ski and are a playful skier. I didn't ski any park on these because I was lucky enough to test them at Snowbird for 4 days. I was skiing all mountain and jumping cat tracks, finding tranny, laying down hard turns, and generally playing around on the mountain. The first day we had about 8 inches of fresh that got chopped up pretty quick. The next 3 days were everything from ice to moguls to chopped up dense snow to spring slush.
It's hard to analyse durability in a short test but these skis have the thickest edges I have ever seen. And I saw no major damage except a couple of large topsheet chips. They are a nice medium weight, the demo bindings make them a bit heavier obviously, but the swing weight was about average. The Allplays have a nice feel to them while skiing. These are not 2x4 stiff nor are they Lizzie soft, they are smack in the middle. Definitely a nice flex for a park skier that rips up the whole mountain. I love a damp ski and the Allplays are slightly towards the damp end of the spectrum but retain some decent pop. I have never been able to butter as well on another pair of skis. They are soft enough that you can press them really well, stiff enough that there is no folding point, and damp enough that they are predictable. I did a nose butter 3 in some soft spring mash potatoes and the tips drove through it at 180 where it was like water skiing. Absolutely amazing. .
The one thing that let me down a bit on these was the stability. The conditions weren't ideal, but they were fairly chattery and a lot to handle in crud / chop. Then again, this is not a charging ski, and I didn't expect it to be a beast in the crud. Super fun in the bumps and if you like finding tranny, these will ride them out really smoothly.
Who they would be good for:
Someone who likes to do a bit of everything and prefers a ski on the narrower end of the scale. If were to go back to a one ski quive, I would definitely pick up a pair of these. Some people like wider skis for the park, I went through that phase. If that is your thing, give these a look.
The Vacation - Matt Kretzschmar
I rode the Ahmet's Brother Vacations last spring in Wisconsin shredding slushy, spring groomers, park laps, and sending it off side hits wherever possible for 5 days. The dimensions of the skis are 135-106-124 (Tip - Waist - Tail) which, for the Midwest, can be a bit much for some people in the park but ripping groomers/trees should be no problem for fairly advanced skiers.
As a pretty big guy (6'1 200 lbs), I was able to flex the skis with ease which was perfect for buttering and never an issue except for when I was taking extremely tight, high-speed turns, where the ski sometimes over-flexed and I ended up washing out. In the park, I had a fucking blast buttering around, pressing on boxes, and bouncing on features a la The Bunch. I can't comment on the durability as I was only able to ride them for 5 days. Overall, the ski that bears my Instagram brother's name, is a real joy to ski all over the mountain as advertised. Kudos to you J!
Who they would be good for:
Someone who truly values a ski that can rip groomers/trees/some pow at the top of the lift then dip into the park at the end of the run to slay a few rails and jumps with ease before heading back up for countless laps.
The Metal - Matt Sklar
I got the Metals from J last spring, and skied them about 10 days here in the PNW. It didn't take long to get used to them at all on my first day, a sunny, slushy day at Crystal Mountain. The dimensions are nothing crazy, neither is the ski really, but that's kind of why it's awesome. They do a really good job of balancing ease of skiing and stability. This balance means you don't need to think too much about the way you're skiing, which is cool, you can just go rip.
They do have a 'top speed', and even though they have a metal laminate, as suggested by the name, they can feel a bit light charging hard on choppy snow. Though I may have noticed this more as I was coming off of 191 ON3P Billygoats, which are long and stable.
The hard snow, and groomer performance was pretty fun. I ripped a couple laps on Palmer while at West Coast Sessions, and found that you can drive them well on groomers. I can't comment on durability, as I only got about 5 or 10 days on them, but the construction gave me no reason to worry.
Who they would be good for:
The Metal was fun, and easy to ski. I think It would be a great ski as an (almost)everyday inbounds alpine setup. The metal helps dampen the ski, so it can handle tracked snow easily, and the rocker makes them fairly quick to throw around. I'd imagine they'd surf and slash well in pow, and that the 106mm underfoot would be plenty wide for most days. I'm not much of a jibber, and I'd say they lean more towards a traditional skier like myself, I don't see issues with popping around and launching airs though. They can still charge, and pop, but it's a ski your dad would love as well, because of the mix of stability and nimbleness. Plus, if you get your Dad on J Skis, he'll be the coolest Dad around.