A-Z of Skiing: X Is for X-scream

This season's most highly-rated ski, a winner of tests both in Europe and North America, is Salomon's X-scream model. Oddly, the most highly-rated ski last season was also the X-scream. But it was different then. The name was printed in black for the 1998/9 season; now it's white.

This season's most highly-rated ski, a winner of tests both in Europe and North America, is Salomon's X-scream model. Oddly, the most highly-rated ski last season was also the X-scream. But it was different then. The name was printed in black for the 1998/9 season; now it's white.

In the ski-manufacturing business, where the garishly decorative aspects of their products are known as "graphics" (presumably derived from the phrase "graphic scenes of violence" rather than a reference to graphic design), it is almost unheard-of to leave a ski's appearance unmolested from one season to the next. Salomon did so with the X-scream, says its spokesperson Heidi Häcker, "because it had been so successful and we knew it would be again - we couldn't supply enough skis to meet the demand in 1998/9." This season sales have doubled, and the X-scream is now the company's best-selling ski

Yet the X-scream is a fairly specialised and expensive ski: in the UK the range is priced from between £275 to £375. Relatively wide all along its length but narrowing at the waist, it is worn longer than ordinary carving skis, and was designed primarily for off-piste use. But "off-piste" is a little like "off-road": just as, for reasons of fashion, Toyota Land Cruisers are habitually used for shopping trips and the like, so X-screams probably spend most of their working life on-piste. But Häcker says that the reason for the ski's success is that it is "unusually versatile: it offers good skiers - and even intermediates - exceptional performance both in deep powder and on-piste."

Personally, I find it too big and clunky to enjoy on-piste. Not the world's fastest skier, I prefer Salomon's best-selling product to its best-selling ski: the same company's Buzz snowblades are half the length, less than half the price, and - on groomed surfaces - twice as much fun.

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