D3’s design methodology is to evolve proven designs into new skis rather than attempt to develop new designs from scratch. The 2018 D3 EVO is a blend of the best attributes of the D3 ARC and the D3 NRG.
For this review I rode the 66 and 67 inch EVO. At approximately 180 pounds, I found specific attributes that I preferred on each ski but eventually found the smaller 66 inch version to be superior for my hardest passes.
The EVO is arguably a faster ski than any previous D3. In this case, the speed is most noticeable from the second wake to the ball. The ski makes speed into the wakes and then does not bleed speed approaching the ball.
After a mistake at any line length, the EVO is easy to repoint in the right direction and scrap for additional balls.
Toe Side (Off Side) Turn
Off Side turns have been the hallmark attribute of D3 slalom skis for years. The Off Side turns on the EVO are the best yet. The ski is stable as it flows out to width and then the nose of the ski automatically pulls back under the line at apex. Then the ski grabs just a little extra angle at the very end of the turn. The Off Side turns are the best thing about the EVO.
At my hardest pass my Off Side pre turns and turns on the 67 are among the smoothest of my career. The balance of the ski makes it easy for the skier to be centered and calm approaching apex. The ski draws a decreasing radius arc out to apex and then finishes with massive angle and an unexpected measure of aplomb.
Off side turns on the 66 are not quite as flowing but is still smooth and consistent.
Heel Side (On Side) Turn
On Side turns on the EVO are unlike any D3 before it. With skis like the NRG and the ARC, the skier must manage rope tension and weight distribution carefully to ensure consistent On Side turns. With the EVO, the On Side turns are more automatic and less technically demanding.
The above comments about On Side turns are largely reflective of the 66 inch ski. At my hardest passes the 67 inch ski is too fast approaching the apex of On Side making those turns less consistent. Skiers working at 32 off or longer may find the 67 ski to be suitable and skiers skiing at shorter lines may prefer the 66 ski.
Second Wake to the Ball
Both the 66 and the 67 inch versions cast out wide of the ball without issue. Both skis require only a moderate amount of strength and technical skill from the skier to achieve width.
The 66 inch version has a more tactile feel flowing out to On Side and the 67 is ridiculously stable and easy to ride approaching Off Side.
From the Ball to the Second Wake
Regardless of size the EVO, creates ample speed and angle into the wakes. The 66 is slightly more nimble; therefore, more forgiving after a mistake.
The EVO is surprisingly insensitive to fin and bindings settings. It is still important to have the correct settings but during the review period I moved the fin and bindings often with less impact than expected.
At my weight and height the 66 inch EVO is a ski that I can ski smoothly on or scrap for one more ball at my hardest pass. The 67 inch EVO delivers remarkable Off Side turns but is just a touch too fast into On Side.
The 66 Inch D3 EVO is now one of my all-time favorite skis.
The HO Syndicate Omni is the best Crossover ski from HO to date. This ski has a remarkably wide performance envelope. It could be a great first ski or a great ski for cruising for miles on open water, and it is a great ski for chasing buoys.
For many skiers, the Omni would be a better choice than a more expensive and less stable traditional slalom ski. For this review, I ran numerous 32 offs on the 67 inch ski and through 35 off on the 65 inch ski. You can certainly take the Omni to shorter rope lengths, but past 35 off, a ski like the Syndicate Pro would be a better choice.
Compared to a ski like the Syndicate Pro, the Omni is a little wider at the front binding and significantly wider at the tail. One of the benefits of the extra width is that the ski is more stable side to side as well as from front to back. This additional stability makes it easier for skiers to be in a better skiing position. Approaching the turn, this ski instills confidence and allows the skier adjust their stance as needed.
In terms of speed, the Omni creates ample speed and then maintains that speed. For all levels of skiers this means more skiing with less fatigue and less sore muscles. In the slalom course, the Omni gets very wide around the balls with minimal skier effort. As the rope gets shorter than 32 off, the skier needs to be mindful to not create excess speed.
Turns on both sides are fast and crisp. The Omni delivers more of a snap at the finish of the turn than a carving turn. The On Side turns on this ski are particularly forgiving and fun. The Omni turns best with front foot pressure but is forgiving for less than ideal technique.
The one thing about this ski that stands out the most to me is how comfortable I feel on it from the second wake to the finish of the turn. During the review period, I was able to work on technical aspects of my turns that would be much more difficult to learn on a traditional shape ski.
The NRG represents a departure from D3’s reputation of conservative and incremental ski development. This ski looks different than previous D3s. The one thing that the NRG shares with all previous D3s is that it feels comfortable the first time you ride it.
The NRG turns smooth on both sides, makes ample speed to the wakes, and then slows down quickly approaching the next turn. From the gate pull out to the exit gates, the ski does nothing unfriendly or unexpected but getting the most out of this ski is a nuanced affair.
Ball to the wakes:
If mistakes are made at the ball, one of the NRG’s best attributes is that it allows the skier to regain position and repoint the ski across the lake.
Skiers who do not lean harder than necessary will generate enough speed to be wide and early at the next ball. Skiers who apply excess load heading into the first wake may find the path to the next ball to be not as fluid as it could be.
Wakes to the ball:
The NRG creates plenty of space in front of the ball and slows down quickly approaching apex. The ski is very stable both side to side and front to back making it easy for the skier to stand where they need to. As noted below in the On Side section, keeping the handle close to the skier’s center of mass after the second wake is the key to unlocking this skis full potential.
The Off Side turns on the NRG are absolutely phenomenal. The ski consistently carves a smooth tight arc under the line and heads for the other side of the course. Its stability in the pre-turn is especially apparent approaching Off Side.
When running wide and early it is recommended that the skier temper aggression at apex to avoid over turning.
When the skier is at their hardest pass and starts to scramble, the Off Side turns happen automatically. This one characteristic of the NRG will result in additional balls.
On Side turns on the NRG can be almost as good as the Off Side turns but require the skier to maintain connection and outbound direction off the second wake. Skiers who release the handle (lose connection) too early after edge change will experience inconsistent On Side turns. This issue is more critical on the NRG than on any other ski tested to date.
Skiers whose technique emphasizes connection off the second wake will find that the On Side turns are as dependable as the Off Side turns. The NRG is remarkably tolerant to other technical mistakes approaching On Side.
Is the NRG a fast ski or a slow ski? Impressions of the amount of work the ski requires are dependent on fin and binding settings. The NRG consistently gets wide enough even if the skier makes technical mistakes so I would call this ski “fast-ish”.
Another outstanding quality of this ski is how it preforms when the skier is desperately scrambling to run a pass. After a substantial mistake is made, if the skier can stay calm and just keep skiing they will round more additional balls than expected.
Skiers may have to adjust their gate pull out technique to avoid losing width before turn in. This is because the NRG slows down so effectively. This trait is not a bad thing, but it does require an adjustment.
For a skier who maintains good connection off the second wake and can resist being too heavy on the line, the NRG draws a very smooth path through the course. For a skier who struggles with connection, the NRG still offers nearly magical Off Side turns but inconsistent On Side turns.
Over 35 rides I tried 6 or 7 different settings. The below two worked best for me on the 67" ski.
Crawford / Bush
The KD brand has returned to the US market with a completely new KD Platinum. The ski’s design is heavily influenced by Terry Winter. Perhaps the best endorsement of the ski is the fact that Terry ran into 41 off during 31 consecutive* tournament rounds and increased his tournament personal best to 3.5 at 41off this year all on the Platinum.
If you had to describe the Platinum with just one word it would be “consistent”. This may not sound like a sexy description of a ski, but in a world where many high end skis are twitchy and quirky, consistency is a good thing. In many ways, the Platinum is a throwback to classic designs that are less finicky and more dependable.
If speed is a measure of A) how much physical effort is required to run passes or B) how easily the ski gets wide at the ball, in both measures the Platinum is faster than most.
The Off Side on this ski is simply bulletproof. You almost can’t screw it up. The front of the ski pulls to the inside more than the tail slides around. The stability of the ski makes it easy to be in the right position, and even if you are not, the ski will snap off a sharp turn anyway. Because the tail of the ski rides deep, it is almost impossible to blow the tail. The turns themselves are decisive and fast.
With the settings used for most of this review (29 1/8 - 2.465 - 6.890 - .779 - 9), the Platinum requires more front foot pressure than most high end skis to make on side turns as consistent and crisp as the Off Side turns. By focusing on a few key technical points, I was able to make the ski turn as well on the on side as the off side. If I am skiing at my technical best, these settings are preferred.
At the end of the review period Terry Winter suggested shallower and longer settings (29 1/8 - 6.950 - 2.450 - .79 ). These settings alleviated the need for extra front foot pressure and made the on side turns much less technically demanding.
Ball to the wakes
Leaving the ball, the ski goes where you point it and errors at the ball are easily compensated for. It holds more than enough angle and speed into the wakes. One of the keys on this ski is to not be overly aggressive into the wakes.
Wakes to the ball
The Platinum flows out wide and draws an early path in front of the ball. The ski carries much of its speed out to the ball line making width somewhat automatic.
One of the unexpected attributes of the ski for me was more consistent and more forgiving gates. The hardest part of the whole ski testing process is adjusting for the gate on each different ski. The gate on the Platinum basically just worked from the first ride.
At 180 pounds, I prefer the 66” version of the ski. I suggest that skiers consider sizing down on the Platinum.
The appeal of this ski is high performance without overly technical or finicky requirements.
How consistent was I on this ski? The weekend of the NorCal MasterCraft BallOfSpray Cash Prize I took two practice rides and two Class L tournament rides. The first practice ride was all back to back 32s and 35s. The second practice ride I ran my 7th 38 of the year. The first tournament round I ran 4 @ 38. In the second tournament round, I ran 2 @ 39 to equal my best of the year. Over four rides, this is about as good as I can ski.
*This string of consecutive 39s ended in a head to head format where Terry did not need to run the pass to move on.