The 2016 Liberty Helix is a great all-mountain mid fat ski that handles a wide variety of terrain really well. This is probably my favorite category of ski because it’s very useful for the type of days I see most often here in CO. If you’ve read through my profile you know that I love to ride all over the mountain and there’s not a whole lot of terrain or conditions that I won’t ski in on a regular basis. I need a very versatile ski that can take me anywhere on the mountain at any given time. For me, the Liberty Helix is a ski that could definitely fill that niche.
Conditions: Soft Chop, Roughed Up Groomers, Soft Groomers
Boots: Rossignol Alias Sensor 120
Bindings: Tyrolia AAAttack 13
On the Snow Feel: When thinking about on the snow feel, I generally categorize a ski as either stable or playful with some outliers on either end of the spectrum (locked in, very surfy/loose). I am finding more and more often however, that many new all mountain skis strive to blend the two. The Liberty Helix is a perfect example of this, and I found it to be a pretty solid blend of stability and playfulness. On edge, the ski feels stable, predictable, and smooth, but if I wanted to play around more on the edge of runs or off piste, it was easy to do so.
Powder: I really like the mid-fat skis for versatility all over the mountain. I don’t get to ski in deep snow often, so having a ski that is capable in the powder, but also good everywhere else is really important for me. The Liberty Helix has that mid-fat 105mm waist that is almost perfect for everyday versatility. It has Liberty’s Stealth Rocker Profile which is a long and low tip rocker and a twin tip tail. This helps to keep the tips pointing up when in deeper snow, and allows for better maneuverability. Again I wouldn’t call the Helix super playful, but it was easy enough to “slarve” turns in deeper snow, and it has enough float to keep it from being too much work. Of course if you ski far more often in the deep snow, you’ll probably want to size up to the 121mm waist Double Helix, but I found the Liberty Helix to be the perfect versatile package for about 90% of days I ski.
Turn Initiation and Carving: The Stealth Rocker profile helps to keep the Liberty Helix easy to turn and maneuver. It also has a moderately soft flex that is relatively forgiving. The swing weight is pretty low, and I found it pretty easy to get the ski to respond without a ton of speed. It does have a relatively long turn radius of 24m @ 182cm. It was happier at speed, but it didn’t require a ton of it to turn. The softer flex is pretty uniform, and I thought it bent predictably throughout the turn. A lively bamboo core helps to keep things energetic, and although it’s not a frontside ski, I found it to be quite snappy, and powerful. The light weight also means you don’t have to muscle it into the next turn, and it was pretty quick from edge to edge. It’s important to note that I was riding mostly soft or smooth hard packed groomers. I thought the Liberty Helix shined here for a 105mm waist ski, but it’s also not going to handle roughed up terrain quite as well.
Speed: The Liberty Helix has a 24.5m turn radius in the 182cm ski, and I had a lot of fun just letting them run at high speeds on soft groomers. They are pretty stable, relatively damp, and pretty forgiving. On soft snow, they ride like a dream, even as it quite slightly bumped up. The flex is a bit soft though, and I did notice a slight amount of chatter and instability when things got really bumpy or firm.
Uneven Terrain: The Liberty Helix isn’t a ski that’s going to blast through the chop, but it was still capable in the crud and chop. It’s a relatively light ski and has a moderately soft flex so it prefers a bit more finesse in the chop. It was fun to bounce around soft chop, and it was maneuverable and nimble enough to keep from getting in trouble. It was damp enough to handle some speed through variable terrain, but it doesn’t eat it up as well as a heavier metal ski. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and I often prefer to “play” a bit more in chop than just blast through. It’s capable in the crud and chop, but requires more finesse and less speed.
Edge Hold: I thought edge hold was really good for a 105mm waist ski. I spent plenty of time on hard packed groomers and the ski held an edge really well. I’d be interested to see how it holds up on icy steeps, but first impressions were pretty good.
Flex: The Liberty Helix has a moderately soft flex overall. It’s a bit softer in the tip (but not noodly), and slightly stiffer underfoot. It does have a carbon fiber layup for increased torsional rigidity, so it still has great edge hold and power despite being softer and more forgiving.
There are a lot of skis in this mid-fat all-mountain category, and most of them do a pretty decent job all over the mountain. So how do you decide between skis? I think the biggest difference is going to be where you’re going to be skiing, and how you like to ski. This will determine what type of personality to look for in a ski. Do you want something playful? Do you want a charger? Or do you want something in-between? The Liberty Helix is good all over the mountain, but I found it happiest on smooth groomers or soft chop that wasn’t too deep. It’s not a crud busting ski, nor is it a super hard charger. It is however, lively on the groomers (more so than chargers), and a nice blend of stable and playful. I think those skiers who are bit more finesse and less charger will find it to be a really fun ski, but even though it’s approachable, it still felt powerful enough for advanced and expert skiers.