Winning our Best Buy wasn't just a matter of price point; the Oracle 88s grabbed our attention by crushing all over the mountain in wide-ranging conditions. They did this even despite an unfortunate bias, at the start, against independent ski manufacturers — many of whom have yet to truly impress us with a ski. To overcome this prejudice, the Oracle 88 came charging over choppy snow with grace and flew through bump lines effortlessly. They were better at speed and edge-control than they should be for a softer ski, and we enjoyed them in light powder. While they're not a carving ski, we liked how nimble and easy to turn they are. Plus, there's the price point.
Icelantic Skis Oracle 88 ReviewPrice: $599 List Pros: Affordable, quick edge-to-edge, beautiful graphics
Cons: Slightly soft, lack of edge-hold
Bottom line: An independent handmade ski from Colorado which offers a fun ride on a slightly narrower waist and gorgeous topsheets.
Weight Per Pair (Pounds): 6.5
Available Lengths: 155, 162, 169
Manufacturer: Icelantic Skis
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Women's All-Mountain Skis of 2018
Our Analysis and Test Results
We all came to the Icelantics with various prejudices, but we all also came away with the conclusion that this is a solid ski for the price. It has its highlights and flaws, but overall it is an excellent purchase for many female skiers.
Stability at Speed
Considering they are not particularly stiff and are incredibly light, the Oracles are relatively confidence-boosting at speed.
There is minimal tip flutter, and they manage to coast through variable terrain without bucking their rider too much. For those skiers who love high-speed carve turns on groomers, consider the Head Great Joys or the Rossignol Soul 7 HD W instead.
The Oracles are a bit too gooey to really bend and arc with poise at higher velocities. However, they are a tad burlier than the K2 FulLuvit or the Atomic Vantage WMN 95 C when you put the pedal to the metal. Their edge hold in the steeps was better than we expected, but still, nothing impressive compared to the Volkl Auras. Some of our taller testers also felt the 169cm length wasn't quite enough ski to feel powerful at speed, and wished Icelantic made these in another length up.
With an 18m turn radius at the 169cm length we tested, the Oracles prefer to make a medium to large shaped turn.
They are a little too limp to lay down deep trenches, but this flexibility awards them high esteem in other arenas. For a ski that loves to tip and rip, seek out the Great Joys or the Soul 7s. The Oracles will carve if you're patient and deliberate, but it's not their forte. However, they still outdo the K2s and the Volkl 90Eights when it comes to railing a turn. The Oracle's edge-to-edge quickness is a high point, and after skiing so many fat-waisted skis, we loved how nimble these little 88's felt. We felt like we could change edges quickly, but then we had to persevere if we wanted to allow the shape of the ski to create our turn shape.
In up to about six inches of lighter powder, the Oracles are a blast! Anything deeper, or heavier, and they start to flounder a bit beneath the surface.
Obviously, their 88mm waist (which we loved in bumps and for its quickness) and lack of a large shovel contribute to their tendency to submerge themselves as the snow gets deeper. However, if you're only interested in delving into shallower powder stashes, or you've got more of an old-school philosophy that pow should be skied "in" and not "on," then these are excellent tools for the trade. For those seeking a new-age powder-specialized ski, nothing beats the Rossis. The Oracles performed better in soft snow than the 90eights, and better than their shape and width would suggest.
Once again, the Oracles surprised us with their ability to thrash through tricky snow states.
We found minimal (but some) deflection of the tips while skiing crunchy and difficult snow after some wet storms. While they are not the chop-busting monsters that the Auras are, they can still hold their own in a variety of conditions.
Some testers did experience being bounced around more than they'd like on these slightly softer, lighter skis. We thought their strength in crud is actually that they're so lightweight, they seem to soar on top of the chunky-funkiness, rather than trying to plow through it like the Auras do. Most of us did agree that we felt stronger in tracked snow on the Oracles than we did on the Atomics.
Weighing in at only 6.5lbs, the Oracles are certainly the featherweight of this fight, and they prance around the ring with all the dexterity and grace of the best boxers.
We loved how lively these skis are, their quickness to turn, and their capacity for flight. The only skis in our test which outdistance the Oracles for playfulness are the Elan Ripstick 94 W and the Soul 7s, and this has mostly to do with the Oracle's lack of notable rebound.
They do, however, show just a bit more bounce to their personality than the *K2s or the Dynastar Legend 96 W. The Oracles are so agile that the skier has complete control over how "fun" she wants to make her turns — pop into the air off a bump on one turn and then swiftly smear them across the top of the next one. The mountain is your oyster on these boards.
Their deftness from turn to turn makes the Oracle an ideal bump ski. While some testers were disappointed the company doesn't make them in a longer length, their 169cm span made them quite easy to maneuver in a mogul field.
The Oracles love to swivel from side to side, and trough to summit, and are light enough that a strong lady can even leap up and skip a bump if she pleases. Unlike the Great Joys, whose fatty shovels trap them in the gullies, and the Auras, whose stiffness doesn't allow them to bend across the rolling terrain — the Oracles have all the right attributes to create a fantastic mogul ski. Only the Elans beat them out in this realm of skiing.
If you are a strong intermediate skier looking for a ski that can take you new places, the Oracle might just be the one. Especially if you're on the hunt for something in a lower price bracket which still rocks it in a variety of terrain, this ski is an excellent option. If skiing mostly on powder days, or mostly on groomers, is your cup of tea, then perhaps the Rossi or the Great Joy (respectively) would be better choices. However, for those seeking a lightweight, fun, and adaptable ski for a killer price, go for the Icelantics.
As our winner of the Best Buy award, we believe the $599 Oracle is a screaming deal for a screaming ski. Icelantic packs a ton of merit into a <$600 ski since we found that you can take this ski all over the mountain and have a great time. Other people must be in agreement with our conclusions since the manufacturer's website is currently sold out of this ski, and many other websites which sell them are running low. The full sidewall construction should make it long-lasting and hardy. However, one of our testers did notice that the top sheet of one ski already had a minor flaw on it when we received them. One could say that this might suggest the possibility of other defects in construction, or one might say that this is a quaint signature of a hand-made ski from an independent (and local, depending on your definition and locale) company; we tend towards the latter. The graphics on these skis are stunning and get compliments on every chair ride. The geometric mountain scene reminded us of one of our favorite local artists here in the Eastern Sierra, Ann Piersall, and made us feel right at home.
The Icelantic Oracle performs well, especially for an independent manufacturer's ski, in a variety of terrain and for anyone with between intermediate and advanced abilities. The price point makes this an outstanding choice for those value-conscious ski-shoppers out there. If the Oracles could offer a prophecy, they would predict a lot of fun at little cost.
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Most recent review: January 24, 2018
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