The 2014 Volkl Aura Ski Review: Powerful Yet Playful // Ski Reviews
"Is that another pink noodle with bindings?" It could be... but naw, girl! This is the 2014 Volkl Aura! Returning by popular demand, with the exception of graphics, the Aura hasn't been tweaked or changed in any way. Women that ski the Aura unanimously agree they're perfect the way they are. My personal fantasy is that Volkl designed the Aura while jamming to a mashup of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" and poppy tunes from the Spice Girls. Why? Because this women's specific ski is the antithesis of the standard "pink noodle." The Aura is lively, mows down crud like a boss, stokes confidence as your skiing becomes infused with greater skill and precision, makes you feel like a rock star, and shines the brightest when you're hammering down and having fun!
The Aura is comprised of a lightweight Sensorwood core reinforced with two sheets of Titanal; an ideal "one ski quiver" for my East Coast roots. The metal and wood make these skis perfect for both hard pack and powder, as the metal sheets provide stability for plowing over crusty crud and smoothly cruising at higher speeds; lastly, the lightweight wood core flexes and pops for softer, powder days. The Aura features a 96mm waist with early tip rise, and a traditional directional and cambered profile which assists in it's versatility all over the mountain, in a wide variety of conditions. These gals are nimble in trees and moguls, great for surfing and floating through fresh snow, and hold a steady grip on groomers at higher speeds. Because they retain a traditional camber profile but embrace early tip rise, the Aura performs well both on and off-piste, particularly for expert women and women seeking to advance their skills.
On another note, experienced and traditional lady skiers who have normally skied on narrower shaped skis will appreciate the Aura as a comfortable transition to a slightly wider ski. Often times I hear from confident and strong women skiers that they're in disbelief about the "water ski" profile of newer skis. And admittedly, yeah, the skis look and ski slightly differently than your trusty old Rossi Bandits, much like your skiing has progressed and changed since you initially purchased them 10 years ago. My advice is this: don't be intimidated by the waist width of the Aura! The traditional camber profile will feel familiar, but thanks to research and innovation in ski technology, things like early rise and rocker, as well as a lighter core materials make the Aura's both easy to turn and stable. The added benefit of some extra junk in the trunk (ie: more surface area underfoot,) keeps you easily floating on top of the snow when the hill gets a fresh coating of powdery goodness.
I first tested the Aura on a typical crusty, hard pack day at Stowe (welcome to Vermont!) where upon clicking into, cruising and carving down Gondolier, these ladies kept up with my edge to edge demands while remaining stable when I straight lined and charged. I like to ski fast and carve a lot, so to me, nothing is worse than a ski that fights or crumples when you punch the accelerator and lay down turns. Excited to see the Aura's potential on other parts of the mountain, I proceeded to energetically speed down a steep and groomed Hayride, and bop down a moguled Starr. On a softer ski I would've been sitting backseat and skiing conservatively; but with the Aura's I was able to confidently commit to speed on the steeps, trust my edges on icy snow, and not get bucked by crud.
Anxious to test the Aura's in powder, I got my chance not long after our first play date. When the next storm rolled in covering Stowe with 6" of light freshies and counting, I was stoked. Spying a perfect upper and lower Liftline from the Quad, I knew what was first on the agenda. Quickly slashing down upper Liftline and savoring a big ol' drift at the bottom, I effortlessly surfed six turns into lower Liftline. Stopping to beam at my tracks and the jealous looks from the chairs overhead, the Aura's sure put a smile on my face. For the rest of the day off-piste woods were the agenda, of course. The Aura's quickly and playfully negotiated between trees, and surfed through the new snow like buttercream frosting. As for the occasional spot under fresh snow where the base was still fairly firm and slick, I was grateful for the Aura's trusty edge grip.
Having skied the Aura's sisters within Volkl's women's freeride series, the 88mm Volkl Kenja and 107mm Volkl Kiku, I'd say that the 2014 Volkl Aura is like Goldilocks said: "juuussst right." 96mm underfoot with a trusty edge hold, and a profile that inspires playfulness while dialing in advancing or advanced technique, the Aura is a great do-it-all ski for lady skiers that ski on whatever Mother Nature dishes out!