[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 K2 Marksman, which is unchanged for 2018-19, except for the graphics].
The Roofbox is back for 2017-18, with one aim: No bullshit, in-depth ski reviews, by ski bums for ski bums. No sponsored athletes, no 'we took 3 runs at a ski test'. Brands send us the sticks and we spend a solid chunk of our own seasons shredding them. Then when, and only when, we've spent enough time on a ski to judge it fully, we tell you what we honestly think about the pros and cons of a ski and who we think it will work for. It's a matter of pride for us that 'NS Tested' means something and that we advise you as best as possible what you should be slinging in your roofbox.
Ski: K2 Marksman
Length skied: 177cm
Tip-Tail Length (Straight Tape): 178.5cm
Measured weight (each ski): 2206g/2223g
Mount: True Centre
Binding: Tyrolia Attack 13
Days skied: 11
Reviewer height/weight: 5'9, 145lbs
Review Location(s): Zermatt Glacier Paradise, Snowdome Bispingen, The Snow Centre
Conditions skied: Slush, refrozen-summer-boilerplate, glacier ice, rivers, summer 'pow', indoor
As mentioned in my Poacher review, K2 have been simplifying their line. The Marksman, the wider of the two new skis, occupies a space between the now discontinued Shreditor 102 and 112. They certainly aren’t the first asymmetrical ski to hit the market but they probably are the most mainstream and most freestyle oriented incarnation of the idea. With Pep Fujas reportedly heavily involved in the design process of these, you'd expect another playful K2 ski. So how do they ride?
Well the first thing I did, obviously, was try skiing them on the wrong feet and somewhat predictably it’s not great. They are of course just about skiable, but that asymmetric tip and tail shape hooks snow like crazy when reversed. Clearly that isn’t a big deal, the skis are designed specifically to have a right and a left, but for the park rats among you, it does mean definitely no switching to preserve edge life.
Mercifully, when you put these the right way round they rip. I’ve definitely never skied a ski with so much rocker tip/tail which carves so comfortably and predictably. The combination of two different sidecuts feels completely natural through the turn and the edge bite/hold, even detuned definitely surpassed my expectations. The tip shape knifes through cruddy chopped up snow like butter, and when you throw them sideways, they surf like a dream. The flex is damp and solid enough to hold a true line in almost any snow. Frankly, these are an all mountain weapon that can be either pushed or skied playfully. They outperform the Shreditor 102/112 in mixed all mountain conditions by a huge margin and even the Sir Francis Bacons, which I loved for all mountain, don’t match up to these. They are, to date, the most rippable of the jib oriented all mountain skis I’ve skied.
But the performance does come at a price. At north of 2,200g in a 177 these are by no means a light ski. 4 years ago that would be considered normal, but now most of the competition is lighter or at least shaves weight where it matters for swingweight. The K2 DNA is there plain to see in the damp flex too. You will probably know already if you prefer skis to be more poppy or damp/smooth and these are definitely the damp end of the spectrum.
The review period I had on these was during summer, thus largely park skiing and I did struggle with the swingweight of the ski, especially on 450s out of lower rails. The flex which works so well for charging the whole mountain also becomes a fair bit of work in the park. I’m definitely a buttery/surfy kind of skier and while I could still do playful tricks on these skis, it was more work than was comfortable. Especially at slow speeds indoors, I felt I was fighting against the skis rather than working with them to get tricks done in spite of what they wanted to do, which was go fast. At the end of days I had aches in my shins and calves that I simply don’t experience on softer jibbier skis like the Shreditor 102 for example. The fat edges are a nice touch though. I hate picking up a mid-fat jib ski and thinking “I will fuck these up in days if I go near the park”. Having a dedicated right and left ski will reduce the preservative effect of fatter edges but my edges are still fine after my summer park trip so these are tough enough for some park days. The Marksman is an all mountain ski you could take in to the park now and again but not what I would pick as a fat park ski.
Thanks to it being summer, I didn’t get to take these out on a proper pow day. But I did get to ski them in a river and hit a few summer pow drifts and you can tell that they would do a fantastic job for a 106mm ski in the deep stuff. The tip shape travels sideways with ease and the rocker profile floats beautifully, especially, it turns out, in glacier rivers. The flex doesn't make slow speed butters super easy, but when you get some speed up they are great and those tips go through snow like a knife through... butter. But even with the innovative use of shape, it's hard to see them floating as well as the Shreditor 112 with its significantly larger footprint. Another slight shape issue was that with the extra ski on the inside of the asymmetric taper, I found myself catching my tails on each other, particularly landing/riding switch. This improved as I got used to the skis but be aware that for the first few days this might feel weird. I also found that on landings of drops, they were fairly unstable thanks to the very generous rocker, though that is of course to be expected with that profile.
At the end of the day the Marksman is a stark departure from the Shreditors. Gone are the soft jibby skis of old. These are a serious ski with a side of fun rather than a ski you can play on and just about manage the rest of the mountain with. The change is reminiscent of that from the pre-2015 Sir Francis Bacon to the new model. Presumably it's a trend because the initial wave of jibby skiers is growing up, spending more time on the mountain, taking tricks to bigger features and more varied conditions. The Marksman is a fantastic ski for the right person.
If, like many people, you go away for a week with one pair of sticks unsure if you're arriving to pow or slush, park or big lines, then these would be a fantastic choice. They are a real jack of all trades. As part of a quiver their strongest suit is their all mountain performance. You will feel comfortable skiing these pretty hard, but they retain a degree of ‘jibability’. I don't think they'd be a good fat park ski choice but they’d do great as an east coast all mountain powder ski or a west coast daily driver for those who like to do tricks and dabble in park but don’t prioritize it over the rest of the hill.
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