After skiing on 186 Dynastar Big Troubles (92 mm waist) for years and on one of the deepest days I’ll ever experience (48″ at Jay Peak, February 26, 2012), I quickly realized it was time to find a ski that allowed me to progress faster in deep powder. Don’t get me wrong, the Big Troubles are a crud busting ski with an ability to float fine in less than 6-8″ of fresh snow – but when I took them into the trees at Jay where there laid over 3 feet of fresh stuff, I realized I was in for some tiring turns if I wanted to maximize my face shots through the day.
And, as it turned out, it was one of the more tiring powder days I’ve had. Now, this is due in part to my lack of sleep, excessive dehydration, and questionable fitness at the time, but nonetheless the skis didn’t exactly allow me to float through with ease. This is the part where I segway into the wondrous, breathtaking, nearly magical flotation of the Moment Night Train.
With over 30 days on this ski, I will start by saying these things took a little getting used to. Upon initial inspection, they are center-favored, have a considerable amount of tail rocker, and are just massive on the by and large. On the surface (pun intended), they appear to be the ultimate tool for charging deep snow and jibbing in the backcountry – so that is what I went ahead and did.
When it came to charging through light, dry, deep snow on a backcountry day in Big Jay, Vermont, these were the bees’ knees. When it came to making quick pivot turns among dense trees or blasting through untouched white rooms, I was instantly feeling at home on the NT’s. My first few turns were confidence inspiring and left me smiling as I wiped the snow from my beard. As I progressed down the gladed terrain with Powder Moose, I began to notice that putting weight on the tails of skis did not come as naturally as it did with a traditionally cambered ski (sidenote: this is my first fully rockered ski). For instance, I could really dig the tails of my Big Troubles and float the tips in order for best travel through deep blower. This was not so with the Night Trains – these skis yearned to be centered and did not allow for much lean-back through powder. Although this sensation was somewhat foreign to me, I began to appreciate it the more turns I made on the down. The rocker profile really allows you to stay in a neutral stance while maintaining effortless float through each turn. Moreover, because you can maintain such a neutral stance, you can pick up speed very quickly. Fear not, however, because slashing these skis sideways on a dime is as easy as can be. As much as I was hesitant to admit it, the Night Trains were affecting my learned skiing style – and I was not at all unhappy about it.
I had several Western opportunities to give these things a go in the backcountry – sending cliffs, booters, and natural terrain features. Again, these are aspects that the ski really shines in. Even mounted with MFD Alltime plates, the skis feel light underneath your feet and can be swung in any direction fairly easily. Compared to my Big Troubles, spinning 3’s and flips is quite easy. Additionally, the medium-stiff overall flex of the ski really lends to its stomp-ability. Typically, a ski with a good amount of tail rocker is known to wheelie-out on hard, fast landings. Not so with the Night Trains – the flex of the ski pops you right back up from potential backseat wipes. Go ahead and huck, send, spin, and flip any which way you want with the ‘Trains. You will not be disappointed.
As we all know, any good review needs some sound criticism. During a late February trip to the Pacific Northwest, I ran into some drawbacks of the ski which were unveiled in some disgustingly classic PNW conditions. To be fair, no skier and no ski in particular truly shines in heavy, wet, rainy mank. It simply cannot be enjoyed and cannot be skied with much fluidity. You’re a liar if you say otherwise. That being said, the NT’s were not particular maneuverable in this kind of slop and were slow to initiate quick turns. I would say that due to the smaller waist of the Big Troubles and the greater sidecut radius, they would probably have been easier to maneuver in such conditions. Then again, the Night Trains really aren’t meant for the kind of 42 degree, high moisture-content shit that was falling onto Mount Baker that day. Moreover, when that kind of snow began to develop a crusty top layer, the ski did no better in that regard either. Surprisingly, the ski performs fantastic on groomed terrain for a ski of its girth. It takes a little more leverage to get it on edge, but carving long arcs is simple once you get the feel for it. Taking cat tracks and groomers back to the lifts is a joy – especially when the ski’s lively characteristics make it easy to hop and skip around the sides of trails.
All in all, if you want a lively, energetic ski that will allow you to charge deep snow, make quick pivoting turns, slash sideways on a dime, and be super versatile in backcountry environments loaded with natural features, this is the ski for you. It is also adequate on groomed terrain and even performs fine in soft moguls. I use it for backcountry touring, daily resort use, and even on days when the fresh snow totals are only a few inches. This ski did require me to adjust my techniques slightly, but this was all for the better. If you maintain a somewhat neutral stance and let the ski do the work, you will soon notice its versatility and ease of use in soft snow. Moment has been making this ski for 5 years now without any major design changes – and I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!