On Ski Reviews and Your Reviewer:
This is the first ski review that I have written. In my experience, reviewing skis is largely about making comparisons that people understand, and has quite a bit to do with who is on the skis that are being reviewed. If you gave a 60 year old purist racer a pair of Armada Edgeless Bdogs(A very soft park ski), they would likely come back and say that the ski is a soft butter stick that has major trouble holding an edge, and is a terrible ski in their opinion. Give that same ski to a park skier, and they would likely say that all of their dreams had come true while riding this ski, and they are suddenly able to perform double cork 1080s after landing their first 360s. I may have exaggerated a little, but you get the point, a ski review is extremely dependent upon who is over the sticks.
It is much more accessible for a reviewer to be able to say, it skis like a _____, but with __ different in ___ ways. I would like to be able to write a review in this style, but personally, I have not skied a large quantity of skis, or different types of skis. I like skiing the same ski for the entire year, and I don’t try out other skis very often. Therefore, I will tell you what I know based on my skiing of this ski. Also, I would like to add that I am not sponsored by anyone, nor am I writing this review because someone told me to. Jskis gave me a T-shirt and a small discount off of sticker price for which I am very grateful, and did not deserve. By no means is this a review that was bought and paid for. I just like skiing, and writing about skis.
Here is some information about me:
Weight: 200 lbs, somewhat athletic, but could stand to drink a couple fewer beers or run more.
Relationship Status: Single
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 or cossacks. 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(After reading draft one of this review, I must clarify I’m talking about skiing, not drugs). 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.
Skis used previously:
Fatypus D Sender 194: A big ski with a 30+ meter turn radius at 112 underfoot that gave me the confidence to hit bigger lines. Not terribly playful, but had some pop before I decambered it through heavy use. This has been my main ski for the past few years.
Jskis The Vacation 180 cm: Took it out on a whim last spring, and I thoroughly enjoyed a softer, buttery ski to learn tricks on before lifts shut down.
Now, on to the actual ski review:
Jskis Hotshot, 189 cm with Attack 13s, skied for about 14 days and counting thus far(includes12-4 Afternoons).
Mounted at +1 cm from recommended, or about 6 cm back from true center.
Jskis Stated Dimensions and Info (The right side is the version I am on):
BigPurpleSkiSuit’s Measured Dimensions:
Yup, after a beer and a visual inspection right out of the box, the above looks about right to me, perhaps things are off by 0.07 mm in some areas, but you could never tell. Yes Blister, this is a shot at that exact measurement section you guys have.
Icy chunder(Poor and good Visibility)
Powder(6 inches of fresh on 8 of slightly denser on a few runs), chopped up crud for the rest
Chalky Stuff (Poor and good visibility)
Bumpy stuff (Both going straight and turning some depending on mogul formation)
Conditions yet to be skied in:
A real pow day
Spring slush and corn(will be way too much fun to talk about)
Taking a note out of Blister’s reviews(Which I am unashamedly using as somewhat of a guide to refer back to while writing this), here is how I would characterize the flex pattern on these skis 1 being the softest, 10 being the stiffest:
Shovels 6-7/10(but damp and not flappy)
What I had heard Before Skiing the Hotshot and First Impressions:
I had talked to a few people who got to ski the hotshot prototype at the Freeskier Ski test in early 2020, as well as some of Jskis athletes, and I had heard that it was an awesome ski. I was very excited to hear that Jskis was finally making a long boi version for us taller folk. I will mention that one particular madman who has his own ski with another brand and is known for landing switch claimed it was a bit too soft for his liking. I am not a madman who likes to land switch on crazy things, so I took this with a grain of salt. I’d never bought myself a new ski before, and was on the fence about whether or not I should buy this one. Cy Whitling has written a piece about the importance of ski topsheets, so I won’t delve into the topic too far, but I will say this much: I am a complete, and total topsheet whore. You could give me the sickest ski in terms of construction, and if I don’t like the topsheet, I won’t ski it. When I heard that Ryan Schmies would be working on this topsheet, I was extremely excited. As soon as I saw it, I pulled out my credit card. Nice work Ryan, I have gotten quite a few compliments from people about the topsheet already. Some older folks have also looked at it perplexedly and given me a somewhat concerned look which means Mr.Schmies should be happy.
First day on snow:
Let me start by saying that I was terrified my first day on these sticks. Previously, I had been on a 112 underfoot 30+meter turn radius ski. While that ski was fantastic for going very fast, and making very broad turns, I had completely forgotten what it was like to be on a ski that could actually hold an edge in something other than corn, and could turn at speeds less than 30 mph. It was like going from a muscle car with a ton of horsepower and a 9 second quarter mile to a formula one car Equally fast, but 100 times the maneuverability. Jskis talks a lot about how as soon as you put this ski on edge, you can feel the rockered portions edges engage, and they are right on the money with that statement. Once I learned to trust the skis, I exuded pure dad carve energy with every turn. Women twice my age took me to be 40 years old, and were extremely interested. The camber underfoot gives it some explosive pop out of each turn as well. I have never had this much fun carving a ski. It could hold an edge in conditions I would never have dreamed of being able to carve on, and I suspect it can do far more in the hands of a true racer.
Equally impressive was the skis’ ability to release and maneuver instantly. I was able to be in the most powerful part of my carve, and still release my edges seemingly telepathically. There was no effort, all I had to do was think to the skis, okay, time to let go, and I’d release into a nice controllable slide. As a weekend warrior, this is invaluable. You have to be able to shut it down on a dime when less experienced skiers make moves that only a person with a deathwish would choose. These include:
-Deciding to suddenly turn uphill across the mountain in a flat zone where people are routinely travelling at speeds exceeding 40 mph
-Catching an edge on nothing and penguin sliding in front of you
-Trying to high five you after a cattrack launch into a bumpy run out in the middle of said run out. I forgive the kid, but still one of the scarier things I've seen in front of me.
Anyway, It wouldn't have mattered if there was a spontaneous meteroite shower in the middle of my run. On these sticks, I could dodge, duck, dip dive, and dodge my way around anything or anyone.
(Yes, I call it switch not fakie, feel free to argue in the comments):
Disclaimer: I am not the best switch skier around. I can ski switch fairly well, but I am not comfortable bombing down open runs switch because my field of vision is greatly reduced and I don’t want to hit anyone. That said, the hotshot goes backwards quite nicely. On some of my playful jibby laps, I’ve had no problems landing switch on hardpack, and I have yet to have a major catastrophe going back to forwards even though the edges are sensitive. My switch 1s are more shuffled than anything, but I know that this ski will have no trouble with those either in the hands of a better skier. Later this year, it will be my ski of choice for redemption in regards to the incident that occurred 2 years prior.
Bumps, Cliffs, and Variable terrain:
I’ve taken the hotshot off a fair amount of drops between 5-15 feet now, both cliffs, and cattracks, and it has a nice big sweet spot to land in. I’ve landed too far forwards, to the sides, and backseat. I have mine mounted at +1 from recommended because I wanted a tiny bit more tail support as a taller fellow, and it works like a charm. The tails on the hotshot are by no means the stiffest I have ever skied, and they will not give you the same support as skis like your Moment Commander 118, or a Blizzard Bodacious. However, to the best of my knowledge, neither of those skis are anywhere near as fun to ski to as the hotshots are.
Now, one thing you may have noticed about the hotshot is its weight. These skis have 2 sheets of titanal in them, and the 189 cm version weighs in at 2450 grams/ski. This is not a light jib stick that will be perfectly happy to levitate at will. The camber gives it some pop, but if you’re looking for the ski to make hop turns on all the way down the mountain, you will be absolutely exhausted. Of course, if you’re doing that, I’d recommend some ski blades. Despite its weight, I’ve found the hotshot to be pretty maneuverable. I’ve taken it through bushy moguls, tried my best to ski a zipper line, and found that it will move back and forth if you’ve got some legs. After a few runs of this, I was pretty exhausted, but that’s more on my physical fitness level than the ski in my opinion, and by late season, it won’t matter. Of course, take this statement with a grain of salt because my previous ski was longer, and far less happy to make tight quick turns through trees.
Now on to where this ski really does a fine job:
I’m not a great freestyler, but damn if I can’t handle a bumpy run out after 4 years at snowbird. The weight of the hotshot and the titanal in the ski seem to do a great job dampening the ride over variable terrain when you’re flying through stuff you should probably be turning more on anyway. I’ve hit unexpected bumps, gotten backseat, and been flung around eating moguls on the nose in survival situations where a crash would mean certain ego death. The skis handle rough stuff very nicely, and I feel extremely secure on them. I’ve taken these skis through some really rough terrain in bad visibility(See Great Scott/early season lower cirque at Snowbird), and felt great trusting the hotshots. Chunder? Check. Chalky moguls? Check. Wind buff? Check. Rocky Chutes? Check. All of the above with flat light? check. I also took a run down a nice long steep slope called regulator out here at Snowbird which is a groomer about the length of 2 football fields where I can legitimately say I’ve reached speeds in excess of 60 mph, or as I call it: The Mach Dummy Zone. At first I was extremely wary of taking the hotshots up to this speed because of the sharp edges on them and shorter turn radius, but now that I have a better feel for the ski, I can say that I would be fine doing that. I wouldn’t say they have no speed limit, but unless you’re hitting Mach Dummy, you’re not going to find it. A word of advice: being able to handle bumpy run outs and charge on variable terrain has far more to do with you as a skier than any ski. Don’t tell anyone I said that though, otherwise the industry would never be able to convince Greg from Los Angeles that buying the brand new big mountain charger from Rossignol will be the game changer he’s looking for.
In the air, the swing weight seems to be fairly low. I did not feel comfortable tossing 360s on my previous 194 cm set up, but the hotshots come around very nicely on my low to the ground 360s. They felt very similar coming around to the 180 vacations I skied last spring in this regard. I’m not going to say much more about swing weight, because I haven’t spun anything else apart from those 180 cm skis. I don’t have the skill, nor the experience to be able to judge swing weight in the air. From my perspective, it might be a little harder to bring around big tricks on a heavier ski like this one, but I don’t do those tricks, so I haven’t a clue. In addition, I’m pretty sure that a lot of the J Skis athletes are skiing the hotshot this year, and you can be damn sure they’re still going to be doing crazy tricks. What I do know is I’ve had no trouble doing daffies, cossacks, and spread eagles. I don’t feel like I have lead shoes on, the skis do what I want in the air and I’m sure the bases look great to onlookers when they’re over their heads. I'd love to be working on putting more butter in my skiing but for the past year and a half, I've been growing a nice Haglunds deformity on my heel which has put a damper on doing butters. I love doing nollies though and I had to do just one and found the hotshots to have a nice nose you can really get some bounce off of. Tail butters feel good on the hotshot too since the tail naturally has some give in it and isn't a stiff plank.
Powder: While I’d love to be able to say, yeah, I took these out in a 4 foot storm, and they were great, Utah is having one of the roughest snow years in recent memory so far…(come on Ullr)
This year today vs last year today(Keep in mind about 3 feet of that 126” fell in November):
I know you East Coasters are out there dreaming of the conditions we have in Utah now, saying, "Give me a break," but we’re spoiled pompous powder puritans out here. We need more snow. You want some? Get out here, it’s great, trust me. That said, I was able to take a few softer runs in some secluded glades in a zone called mid baldy that no one else wanted to get into due to a rocky traverse. The skis did float rather nicely in about 6 inches of powder over 8 inches of denser powder. The shape of the ski seemed to give great surfability, and I never felt my tips dive down, but I was skiing a little more backseat than usual due to the low base and not wanting to find any rocks. I may refresh this review, later this year, but I felt like writing this today, so this is what you get on powder for now. If I were out heli skiing a fresh track on a truly bottomless day, I probably wouldn't choose the hotshots as my first choice. For resort powder days(which are more like powder hours) I have confidence that the hotshot will be great because of the stability I've seen it have in rough chop, and the float I experienced on those couple of untracked runs through the trees. I wasn't going that quickly, and the ski felt like it naturally wanted to plane.
Durability: Usually, I wouldn’t be able to say much to durability after skiing for 14 days, but the upside of no snow is more rocks to hit...upon reflection, this is not an upside, but more of a negative side effect. Snowbird is known in Utah for having some of the rockiest terrain open in good snow years, and this is not a good snow year. The patrollers opened some rock filled boneyards covered by 8 inches of light powder this year for skier compaction, and we got this kind of a scenario:
In the time I’ve been skiing the hotshots, I’ve clipped rocks, tree branches, and other people’s skis(just friends). Thus far, I am pretty impressed by how little wear and tear they’ve had. There’s a few light scratches on the base, but nothing that won’t buff out with a good tune, and they haven’t slowed the skis down at all. I don’t hit rails on these, or really at all, so there are no edge cracks whatsoever, although there are a few darker spots where you can tell a rock came into contact. In terms of the topsheet, there’s been some light chipping on the tips and tails, but nothing out of the ordinary. I have been trying my best not to click them together on the lift and that seems to help more than anything else. I've definitely skied over some rocks already this year, and gotten no core shots, so I'm starting to feel a little too comfortable for being on fresh sticks.
Sidenote: I wrote this review yesterday and I will provide an update that was bound to happen. I hit a rock pretty solidly and got a little ding in the ski today. Nothing some Ptex won't fix, but I definitely set myself up for this when I wrote that line about having no major shots in the ski yesterday.
Jskis made an awesome, versatile ski that does exactly what it says it does, it gives you a nice smooth ride, even in variable terrain with that playful fun factor I’ve always found Jskis to have. The only thing I would change on this ski is to give it a stiffer tail for a little more confidence on a chundery runnout or when I want to hit Mach Dummy. If you want to call something a freeride ski, you have to be able to give it to the guy who hops over a 40 foot cliff into a bad runnout and have him feel confident on it. For my little drops, it felt great, so if someone who does that kind of crazy stuff wants to comment on what they think of these, feel free to do so. On top of that, it has made me realize that I don’t need race skis to be able to carve like a racer, and I had that ability within me all along. Eat your heart out racers, I've never raced a day in my life, and I'll measure my edge angle with a protractor next time I'm out and I bet it's bigger than yours.(Damn, I should be a racer)
I wouldn't recommend the hotshot to a beginner because it’s heavy, and harder to pull around if you fall over, but for people who aren’t falling down every run, it is a superb option due to it's carving ability and ability to release from those carves. The only other skier I might not recommend it for is the guy who wants the uber chargey big ski to go straight out of everything after hucking a 60 foot cliff, and that's is only because the tails aren’t the absolute stiffest out there. But that ain’t me, and if that’s you, you might still find that you’re having a little too much fun on a pair of hotshots to go back to your 2 by 4s after you try them.
I would highly recommend this ski to a giant group of skiers that still refuses to admit to their existence: The all mountain skier. No, skiing groomers 90% of the day at snowbird, or any resort out west does not make you a big mountain skier, it makes you an all mountain skier. Since I’m finally writing a review, I have to set the record straight. I am not a big mountain skier. I don’t hit every cliff every day, and there are a lot of days where all I want to do is ski groomers, hit sidehits and launch cat tracks while venturing into the occasional chundery straight line. I know I’m not alone in this, and if you’re reading this, I would take some time to consider if you too are an all mountain skier. There’s no shame in it.
Thanks for coming along with me as I ramble about my experiences on the hotshot which I hope you found to be somewhat informative, and mildly amusing. I really like these skis, and I think that comes across in the review without sounding like an ad because that's not what I set out to write. If you liked this review, I’m sorry to say that I have no plans to get into the ski review game. I like to be on the same gear for at least a year, and as such, I don’t plan to get any new skis for the rest of the year, but who knows...stay tuned if I ever get my hands on some K2 Reckoner 112s. As they say, the perfect amount of skis is N+1