Things are heating up out there, the sun is higher in the sky, and the days are getting longer. Naturally, around this time, everyone should be looking for that perfect deep powder ski. There might not be any powder, but there is a serious argument to be made for fat skis in the springtime. Not only will everyone see you riding them and know you are a better skier than them, but the lack of any ice will make it super easy to leave railroad tracks through the fresh corn. I know the design hasn't changed on these for a bit, but there really aren't too many reviews out there that I can find on it. In addition, all kinds of deals are going up on ebay and KSL for people trying to get money for climbing and biking gear, so you might find someone selling these for cheap somewhere(definitely not me though)
It's been an interesting season here in Utah. We had almost no snow until February, but it sure came on strong once it rolled in. In a previous review, I once said, "I like to ski the same ski all season." There comes a time where I must admit I was wrong and that time is now. The first powder day of the year rolled around, and I took out my trusty Jskis hotshots for some first tram action at Snowbird on a 2 foot day. After one run down some fairly dense powder, I realized I needed something wider than what the hotshot offers. Don't get me wrong, the hotshot is a great design, but at my height and weight, I needed something more akin to the friend from Jskis for that day. I couldn't put any weight on the front of the ski and found myself riding the backseat. I could feel the onset signs of shin bang and my dorsiflexors tiring. I needed a solution, and I needed it fast. Fortunately, we had a 45 minute lift line to wait in(thanks Ikon) before any more skiing was to take place, and an idea came to mind. I dialed up my friend in the shop, and asked, "Do you guys have any kind of a big pow ski I could demo for the day." There was a brief pause, before he said, "We've got a Magic J in a 190, come get em." 15 minutes later, I was headed out for the chair on a pair of boats, anxious, and excited for the rest of the day. By the end of the day, I knew I had to get a pair.
About Your Reviewer:
Weight: 200 lbs, somewhat athletic, but could stand to drink a couple fewer beers or run more.
Status: Happy to be skiing
Skier Ability: I am by no means the best skier on the mountain, nor am I a slouch. I am not a big freestyler, but I go pretty fast, and it’s rare that I find someone passing me. I enjoy skiing technical terrain including steep straightlines and I can hit cliffs to about 10-15 feet in the middle of my lines. Every now and then I toss a 360 or a 180 off of a side hit, and I have landed 2 backflips to this day. I don’t spin much, but I prefer to go big and do daffies, cossacks or a steezy tuck. I have some crazy friends who will do all kinds of things, and every now and then I get pressured into doing those things with them. Most of my skiing is on chopped up crud and bumpy groomers at Snowbird, but every now and then we get some nice sun and snow.
Ski Info + Specs:
I have the 190 cm version, riding on STH 16s(great binding by the way)
Fatypus D Sender 194 in frame to reference girth
First Impressions/First Day on Snow:
I was trying these skis out of necessity, but once I put eyes on them, I knew exactly where I'd seen them before:
John Spriggs @JahSpriggs is 6'5 and has a serious claim to gnarliest pow/pillow skier of all time. If the Magic J works for him, then I figured it would probably work for me.
However....my only other experience with a ski wider than 112 was on a pair of 2015 Bent Chetlers. That day was not the right day for that ski, and I had a pretty terrible 3 runs on a hardpack, cloudy day before I got my other skis out of my car. I was very anxious to see how a ski that was even wider than that would perform on a groomer, if at all, before getting into the powder. I took my first turn on a low angle groomer off of Snowbird's Tram, expecting the worst, and was pleasantly surprised when the ski did exactly what I asked it to. It took about 3 turns before I immediately felt comfortable over these fatties, and was absolutely elated.
Tanner Hall made this ski with one thing in mind: Burly deep powder skiing with freestyle. The Magic J's float is unparalleled to anything else I've ever ridden. Sure there are those ridiculous 140+ underfoot skis out there, and maybe those do float better than 127 mm underfoot, but I feel no need to go any wider than this. The tips on these just rise up effortlessly in any kind of soft snow, and they will not go down. I've heard many people talk about the JJ as 'not stiff enough'. The Magic J upped the stiffness while keeping the playfulness throughout the ski. The rocker and tip design makes pivoting this ski in powder effortless, and even in some very tight tree sections at Snowbird, I found myself able to throw the ski back and forth with very little resistance. On another, more recent day, I got an untouched run in about 2 feet of open powder for 600 vertical feet, and I will definitely say it was the best powder run I've ever taken. When you have the room, these skis are happy to open up the throttle and let you take as much speed as you want and throw it sideways just as quickly. I was literally screaming with joy taking that run and a big part of that was the hardware under my feet. The Magic J is pretty medium weight as well, so if you wanted to tour with these, you could definitely give it a go and enjoy the down quite a bit.
Tracked Out Powder/Variable Conditions:
At Snowbird, this is what we ski most of the time when it snows. Sometimes it's hard underneath the pow, sometimes it's soft, but with everyone and their mom flying in from out of state on Ikon passes, you get one or two runs of untracked on any new terrain opening. After that, it's time to shine in the glory of tracked out pow. The Magic J's design seems incredibly attuned to this as well, and I found them very fun and poppy in the tracked out stuff. I never worried about front punching, and I've landed in all kinds of positions on these. The ski, while not incredibly stiff in the tips and tails, is very supportive of you, and seems to have a great sweet spot. It will flatten out patches of powder, while flexing over the harder stuff to give a very smooth ride. Even in the moguls, this ski seems easier to maneuver than other long wide skis I've tried take through bumps. The contact points of the ski are fairly close to center, so the whole ski will feel shorter than other skis while giving you long ski stability, absolutely genius.
The first shot in this edit is me on the Magic Js hitting a stepdown into classic snowbird tracked condish:
Groomers: Fat skis in the spring just look great. Sure, you might not have the same turn radius as your average head supershape enthusiast, but with a 22m radius, it's surprisingly easy to carve the Magic J, and look 10 times cooler than someone on race skis. On another note, when the groomers get bumped up from slushy turns, the Magic J becomes a very fun ski to play long jump off of moguls with. I've taken the Magic Js up past 60 a few times, and found them to be a very stable ride, particularly on corn, so if you're worried they aren't supportive enough, or stiff enough for a really fast skier who likes a big sendy stick, I'd reconsider. In addition, if you're looking for that wide ski to try your local pond skim on, it'll definitely float you up there.
Freestyle: As some of you may know, I'm not a huge freestyler, but I did try 3 backflips on these puppies along with some 180s. I didn't land the backflip once, but that's on me, since Tanner can land 3 backflips in one jump on these. Switch skiing on these feels really nice, even in the powder because of that width underfoot. The mount point on these is fairly close to center, so if you want to try big tricks on a big stick, let her rip. The air time I have been getting feels great, and landing in pow on these is an absolute dream. Though the skis are on the heavier side of the spectrum, they aren't super heavy, and I have a feeling my binding is the heavier part of my setup on these. Daffies, Cossacks, and spread eagles are all feeling great as are my attempts to grab blunt for the first time. If you have any questions about freestyle on these, watch any Tanner Hall pow segment from the past 7 years. If you ski these on rails, you have no soul.
Durability: It's been a rocky year here in Utah, and when I got these at first, I put in one core shot landing on a rock, and I'm honestly surprised that was all it was from that impact. After a little bit of Ptex, they were easy to fix. Apart from that, it's been smooth sailing. There are the usual tiny scrapes and scratches, but I've definitely taken it over enough not snow that it should be far worse. Another thing I've noticed is that a particular lifty friend of mine loves standing on the shovels riding along on them while I'm in the liftline, and the top sheet has no sign of being worse for the wear there. Love you Tom
Final Thoughts: The first thing that springs to mind riding the Magic J is, "Wow, this is it, this is the ski." What you get is a playful, stiff, but not too stiff pow ski that can also rip groomers if you trust the edges. For the size of the ski it gives an incredible blend of maneuverability and stability that I noticed and loved immediately. I'd recommend this ski for anyone except an absolute beginner, and maybe even them if it's a pow day. People talk about how you should be able to ski pow on skinnier skis; to them I say, "Why??" Get some fat skis and have way more fun. I fully intend to take the Magic Js out on any day where I might want the extra float and stability, because I don't think of the ski as being overkill on a day where conditions aren't pristine powder. Another fun fact is you can now tell anyone who has Bent Chetlers that they need some wider skis. (I am not responsible for any fights started with East Coasters on Bent Chetlers) The Magic J's' design is almost 10 years old, but I hope they never change it, it's an absolute banger.
Hope you have enjoyed review number 2 from me this year, 1 more than I intended to write, but here we are. Feel free to leave any thoughts you have, or questions, and I'll get to them.