|Tested: 164 cm, r = 15m|
Sizes: 56, 164, 172, 180 cm
The great novelty that Atomic presented this season comes in two types - Vario Cut and Vario Flex. While Vario Cut features variable sidecut during the ride, Vario Flex comes with variable flex. It comes in two models - Vario Flex 72 and Vario Flex 82. The number in the name standing for the width of the waist. Vario Flex 82 models come in somewhat higher sizes than the 72 models.
The same as with the Vario Cut, we are speaking of new technology that is based on two decks, and it can be simply described as one ski on the top of the other. To be more precise, a large plate (the upper deck) is positioned between the bindings and the lower part of the ski (the lower deck). The key to the variable flex lies in the upper deck. While a skier makes wider turns, at the slower speed, or if they ski straight ahead, the flex of the ski is softer, in a way that its upper deck is idle, or it moves minimally. The greater the pressure exerted in the turning phase, the harder the flex. This results in a ski which is very athletic and has excellent tracking and precise turn control even at high speeds. It is due to a greater pressure that the upper deck freely glides along the lower deck, and is positioned a bit higher, if one looks along the longitudinal axe of the ski. The active suspension is determined by five connecting pieces made of elastomers between the upper deck and the lower deck. Depending on the rigidity of the elastomers (the commercial models are equipped with the softer ones and the ones that come with the WC models are very stiff) the ski stiffens more or less during a turn.
To put it more simply; the greater the tendency of the ski to flex during a turn, the greater the counter reaction of the upper deck. It results in a very interesing and palpable experience on the slope: the ski is intended for skilled recreational skiers, and has no race ambitions, as it is the case with many heavier and tougher Atomic's models. Despite all this, the ski is very lively; it likes speed and steep slopes. The very interesting thing about it is the impression that you get after comparing easy and a bit more aggressive ride. The ski acts with the same obedience in both situations and you have an impression that it is equally responsive at every speed. While other models are (primarily) intended for a certain type of skiing, that is, they perform best during either slow recreational ride or during racing turns, Vario Flex performs almost the same at both types of skiing.
It can sometimes get a bit awkward, since skiers are used to turning the ski onto its edges during aggressive ride, and putting a lot of effort in their turns so as to make them turn out right. With this, primarily moderately stiff ski, it is not the case. The impression is that thanks to active suspension of the decks, the ski asks for the same 'power consumption' during all types of skiing.
If you apply greater pressure, and start a sharp slalom turn more aggressively, with more circular movements of your knees, as you are used to with classical race models, you could end up in making a turn of almost 360°. Only after a short period of adjustment, you will realize that even the slightest motion of your knee is enough for the ski to transfer the impulse. This will come in handy for the skiers who are entering the world of short slalom turns, and want to ski fast and aggressively, even on somewhat steeper slopes. However, 'old-school' skiers used to precision and great possibilities of the classical race models could get the impression that this ski isn't exactly what they wanted, although it is very well balanced.
This is a very interesting model. It is, according to our taste and opinion, more interesting than its sibling Vario Cut. You should definitely test it, and then decide on your type of the double decks, or stay faithful to the well tested technology of other ski models. However, don't be misguided by somewhat strange impression that you will get after the first turns on the doubledecks. It takes certain time to get to know these skis.
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