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Dec 28 2011

Review: La Sportiva GT Skis

One of the surprise skis of the mid-fat review quiver from last season was La Sportiva’s GT ski. It shouldn’t have been, considering the reputation for quality from La Sportiva, but it is hard to overcome that natural tendency to automatically disregard first generation skis from any manufacturer, let alone the inaugural effort from a company known for performance on rocks and dirt, not snow.

La Sportiva GT Skis • 123-89-111 (mm) • 6 lbs. 3.5 oz./pair

Looking past the graphics to the dimensions of these planks was the first step to viewing them on the same level as more established ski brands. In fact, if it weren’t for the graphics it would be easy to mistake La Sportiva’s GT for K2 Waybacks because of the dimensions.

Not only were the dimensions nearly identical, so were the utilitarian holes in the tips and tails for conversion to a rescue sled, or for using climbing skins with the same tip and tail hook system as K2 provides with their climbing skins. Funny thing about that, La Sportiva plans to offer climbing skins using those same tip and tail hooks too.

Utility holes in the tip and tail work with dedicated climbing skins from La Sportiva or K2.

On snow there are the type of similarities you would expect, such as similar flotation in powder which is only to be expected considering the surface area of the two models is nearly identical. But the construction of the two brands is different, and thus so is the response. The most obvious difference comes on hardpack and in-bounds bumps. La Sportiva’s GT is a snappier, more lively ski. No doubt this can be attributed to its lightweight vertically laminated Karuba wood core and two laminates of fiberglass, one tri-axially braided, the other bi-axially braided with carbon for stiffness without the weight of metal.

One of the more obvious features of the GT is the weight. The 177cm version weighs in at a svelte 6 lbs. 3½ oz. (2.82 kg) per pair. Pair that with a lightweight tech binding or Switchbacks and you’ll be whistling Dixie on the skin track.

Tradition might suggest that a lightweight ski would be a liability when charging back down, especially on hardpack or through in-bounds leftovers the day after a storm. Fatter planks might ride through the crude with more panash, but the 177cm GT had no problem driving through the junk and held an edge easily on firm and icy stretches whether that was to maintain control in the steeps or simply hang on without losing your grip at speed. Although the GT has a smooth flex, it is stiff and shallow, not soft and deep.

Fatter skis will float better simply by virtue of having greater surface area. For backcountry versatility, where performance is measured on a scale and the ability to handle a variety of conditions well, La Sportiva’s GT is a solid choice.

La Sportiva
GT
MSRP: $700
Dimensions: 123•89•111 (mm)
Lengths available: 170, 177, 184 (cm)

© 2011

  • DavidN

    What length ski is this report based on?

    Thanks

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    David,

    Whoops. Major oversight. That’d be 177cm.

  • RinBoulder

    Sounds like a well performing ski, how did the GT’s lack of rocker compare to a rockered ski such as the Wayback in powder and crud? Are people too obsessed with every ski having long tip rise?

  • http://www.earnyourturns.com Dostie

    Hard to say how GT compares to Wayback with regard to the tip. Very similar dimensions, so they have a similar turn radius. The Wayback is damper, the GT snappier. Although the Wayback has an early rise tip, it is a slow early rise tip. The overall tip height is, like the dimensions, nearly identical between GT and Wayback. The most obvious difference was the apparent weight between the, with the GT being the lightest. When breaking trail I think this will have more impact than the early rise tip of the Wayback (relative to each other).