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Salomon Sentinel 2012 Ski Review

After our 2011 review of Salomon’s all mountain gun and much chatter between peers, I gave in and acquired a pair of Sentinels for 2011-2012. The 2011-2012 Sentinel is the same ski as the 2010-2011 Sentinel – only the graphics have changed and only a touch – good so far.

Salomon Sentinel 2012

Ski Statistics - Length (cm) / Sidecut (mm) / Radius (m)

170 / 129-93-119 / 17.8
177 / 129-94-120 / 19.8
184 / 129-95-121 / 21.1
191 / 129-96-122 / 24.3

Manufacturer's Description

Mountain professionals for resort and backcountry skiing. Very solid in all conditions, the Sentinel is your partner when exploring the high mountain and all the terrain and conditions that come along with it.

Ski Review's Verdict:

In my shopping list I wanted a medium fat all mountain ski with a slight bias for days when fresh powder was available but a few days after a storm so getting to or from it might be tough (e.g a hike or a skin). For the inevitable crud I wanted burly sticks to blast through anything that was in my way. I wanted some rocker for the little bit of extra oompf in powder, but not an excessive amount to remove the fun from hitting the pistes. I wanted it to be on the stiffer side and not have a chance of washing out on groomed runs at 8.30am.

Enter the Sentinel. To be honest, even though the Sentinel does tick all the boxes above I was unsure. All the marketing describes this ski for big, strong skiers. I’m neither. I hand flexed this ski prior to it’s debut and the thing is an ox. The Sentinel is stiff. I ended up taking a leap of faith on this after being unable to demo for one reason or another. I figured that if I took marketing material literally then 90% of skiers could only select about 4 pairs of skis per brand because their skiing ability is not considered “expert”.

At the beginning of the season, I was in crossover mode. By that I mean I’ve taken my usual default pair of short piste carvers out just once this season, instead almost exclusively favouring a (much softer) all mountain freeride ski with early rise tips and tails but regular camber underfoot (Amplid’s Rockwell since you ask, and yes, they are ace) in an attempt to nail my powder and off piste skiing. I picked a good season to do that. A fantastic season really (I live “in” the Swiss Alps) but it’s all been lift served and the Rockwell is just a little too soft for getting my kicks on piste and in the worst post storm crud. Plus I am lucky enough to be able to have a quiver if I choose, and in this case I did so choose.

I ended up with the 177’s after much debate vs the 184. I could probably swing the 184 but with such a stiff ski I figured the shorter length would even things up a bit. After we decided to do a series on Ski-Review documenting our experiences dabbling in ski touring, the Sentinel duly received a pair of Marker’s finest – the Duke. I was never going to do more than odd skin to or from some lines so the Duke fit the bill. I mounted on the Salomon marked line which is quite way back from center.

As a quick reminder the Sentinels have a bamboo and double layer titanium core, full sidewall construction, rocker in the tips and a flat tail.

So, after a weekend touring and hiking which coincided with my first decent runs on the Sentinel on every imaginable snow condition how did they stack up?

To be honest – they were fantastic. They are a workout around the groomed stuff (I’m 75kgs at present) - they just feel like a slow race ski edge to edge, but they’ll hold on like a rail and never ever let go. It’s not going to be race ski snappy at over 90mm wide underfoot, but it just encourages you to drive them harder trying to lick your tips in an effort to get forward. Wide empty blue? Nobody will have more fun than you. Not a ski when you are not feeling your best, with low energy levels or if you are hungover. But they’ll work with whatever you give them in all sizes of carved turns. Anything slower or skidded requires really really good technique and good legs. I don’t have the strongest legs but the Sentinel’s will help me with that in short order. I ran them with the factory wax and the bases are quick. I get the feeling that the rockered tips saved me once or twice where I would have otherwise caught an edge at speeds where it would not have worked out well.

We rode a lot of fresh and perfectly dry powder lines from steep to shallow and at no point did I ever need anything fatter than the Sentinel. I’m an advancing freerider (not an “advanced” freerider) and these gave me a tonne of confidence to smear through anything. Stable at speed, they cut through the snow in a consistent arc rather than smash through. I might be tempted to move the mount forward just a touch for powder if I was mounting again. Nothing major, but a little more pivot up front would be nice and help you drive the tips a bit more.

So they are beasts on the piste and happy in the powder. What else? Skinning.

A lot of our turns were from bootpacking up ridges and the Sentinel performed fine attached to the side of the backpack. With the Dukes on these are not as heavy as they look so no drama. But to get some really good and really long lines we decided to ski a face where the only real option was to skin out. And so we did. I am not going to go into too much detail, but I would just say that the binding mount made some of my first kick turns on some very steep and powder laden terrain interesting. No issue on more gentle gradients but as a new skinner I struggled. The skin was about an hour and a quarter and the weight was fine – it was just my fitness that let me down. However the Sentinel was great when it came to edge grip when you needed it, especially with straight rather than shaped skins.

So if you turn down selecting the Salomon Sentinel because the brochure make it sound like you need to have legs of steel and ability to match, you might just be missing out. But act quick, Salomon won’t be making the Sentinel for 2012-2013 nor will they be replacing it with any similar and that’s a shame. Evo have the 184 and the 191 for less than half price at less than $400 which is a steal even if it is last years graphics!


Real time prices for the Salomon Sentinel 2012, or similar ski products:

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