The SUV of Skis: Deacon 84
What’s the best all round ski for New Zealand conditions? The Volkl Deacon 84 seems purpose built for the title. We’re dealing with South Pacific powder here. Firm snow with a dash of ice, windblown faces and chopped crud often feature strongly in a winter down under.
While there has been a trend for wide, 100mm plus underfoot skis, the reality is, unless you're out in the backcountry in soft snow most of the time, or ski in Japan, they can be pretty hard work on the knees.
The mid 80mm range of frontside skis has been around for a while, with some pretty bland, noodly offerings from a number of manufacturers.
The Deacon range has been developed over the past few seasons to upgrade the best selling RTM lineup using traditional race technology with a full sidewall, titanal frame and wood at its core. It's lighter than the RTM with less swing weight and the Low Ride XL binding is very responsive.
The result? A torsionally stiff ski with a hint of rocker that tracks on the firm stuff and is playful enough off piste to open up terrain that you might normally avoid with a high performance carving set up.
It's the SUV of skis that tackles early morning groomers and late afternoon chop or slush with equal enthusiasm.
Volkl International even set up a testing programme down under a couple of seasons ago to help develop the Deacon along with refining their more well established models, the Mantra and Flair.
Those first Deacon models off the production line came in 74mm - reviewed in 2018 - and 76mm underfoot. Both often sold out early in the season.
Then came the 84.
Geoff Mckeown has been bringing in Volkl skis for three decades now and he’s been hustling to keep up with demand for the ski despite C-19.
He says the response at demo days from customers is overwhelmingly positive.
“Just the visual technology references this skis position as the premium all terrain product.
A technical high energy piste and crud ski, people just love them.”
Strong skiers usually first opted for a few runs on the 15m radius, 177cm length, but then found the 172cm preferable.
Its 14m radius gives more agility for billy goating through narrow technical sections and more leeway in bumps, while still providing plenty of precision and stability at high speed on the groomers.