Wil Rickards was born in North Wales and steeped in its rich maritime, mountain and river folklore. In response to the request to “get a real job” he became first a teacher then professor of adventure education and emigrated to where the sun shines for 300 days and snow falls for 100 (Colorado). During more than 25 years as an outdoor educator he worked Scottish winter seasons, taught canoeing, climbing, kayaking and skiing throughout the States, Europe and Australia, and regenerated the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Outdoor Education program. If his outdoor qualification pins were the size of shields, he likes to think they might fill a castle.
‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – JRR Tolkien
I had a feeling when I picked up my G3 Carbon Empires
mounted with G3 Ion 10 bindings
that I believe you may be familiar with: a touch of smugness from knowing that I made a good choice. I picked them up: candy floss isn’t this light! Hell, gossamer isn’t this light.
Let me put this into some kind of perspective. I skied the previous incarnation of the Empire with a G3 Enzo
(telemark) binding; it was my first extended introduction to rockered skis and I loved them. I’ve had many game changing tool over the years. My climbing grade increased with the introduction of sticky rubber. Plastic kayaks changed my paddling altogether. However, nothing has ever come close to increasing stoke as much as these guys did! My skis, like my kayaks, had been getting shorter over the years from a desire for increased maneuverability and reduced weight. The Empire’s rocker improved the turn shape and I could go with a longer ski, since the weight was lighter than my other skis. In terms of length my 179 turned into 190, and the width underfoot from 90 to 115. This is just numbers and doesn’t mean jack, so I will explain the experience.
The first time I skied them it was a rather icy day at Beaver Creek
(it does happen) I came across a large patch of steep blue and felt my heart beating in my chest. While debating whether to climb back up the hill I somehow side slipped onto the ice and found myself committed. Gingerly I tipped the ski and immediately the other edge engaged. The feeling of impending doom was replaced by the sound of flying ice crystals and hollering, I was having fun and all thanks to the sheets of titanal beneath my feet.
On another occasion, this time a powder day at Winter Park
, I found myself at the top of a large drop. A general inward gibbering ensued. Don’t ask me why, maybe it is down to watching too many ski porn videos but I spied a line of pillows and dropped in. Pop, turn. Pop, turn. Pop, turn and I was at the bottom looking back up at this thing towering above me with a huge smile on my face. What allows a spine-less, lily-livered man in his late forties to try something like that for the first time? Two things as far as I can make out, faith in the design and a large amount of ski behind you so you can pop back up when you inevitably find your ass bouncing off the tails.
The following year I replaced the Empires with Carbon Empires (pictured above). Now on the count of three and in your best pubescent, adenoidal accent, “OMGEEEE.” Big skis, mean speed, great stability, and float on powder in a world of buttery schmearness (yes it is a word). However, when they are made 20% lighter than the previous incarnation, it is a magical experience.
Added to that I changed the telemark binding for an AT one and not just any AT binding, I had them mounted with G3’s Ions
. Oh boy. Suddenly the skin track is effortless, the pivot point is so slick. I have brakes on my skis, no more unattached skis running away. The skis actually release from my feet when they need to however they also stay on when needed; somewhat of a bonus. The step-in is incredibly efficient, and I do not have to bend down to latch in.
The other thing that needs mentioning is that G3
provides great service; they raise the stoke and stand behind their product. Thank you G3
, I’ve had so much fun on your gear!
isn’t available on Prolink yet, you can shop them at full retail price here