Head Great Joy ReviewJanuary 12, 2018
- Easy to maneuver
- Superb carver for size
- Versatile around the mountain
- Good soft snow performance
- Feels damp if in the backseat
- Small delay edge to edge in short turns
- Skied short
- Lacks kick out of the turn
The Head Great Joy is a multi-tasking, light and peppy ski with enough width, carving performance and flotation for a one-ski quiver. Overall, testers gave the 98-mm-waisted ski high marks for all categories, with its highest scores for Responsiveness and Carving. “It skis like a fat slalom ski,” said one tester. “This superb carver is easy to ride,” said another. The Great Joy mostly lacked criticism, though some testers felt that the ski was almost too strong-headed: “It wanted to initiate the next turn almost before I was done with finishing the last.” Others felt that the ski prefers a forward, aggressive stance favored by advanced to expert women.
Head says that Graphene makes the skis do all the work. Graphene – which was introduced as a women-specific material and has now matriculated into unisex skis – is a carbon substance that’s many times stronger than steel, yet used for its extremely lightweight properties. Head’s Superlite Sandwich cap construction further decreases weight and increases performance. The Great Joy was built using Head’s Era 3.0 (Evolutionary Rocker Architecture), which blends a specific rocker profile (20 percent rocker and 80 percent camber) with a progressive 14.8 m radius with Head’s vibration-absorbing Intellifibers in the tip. Testers felt that the Great Joy’s construction resulted in a ski that was easy to maneuver, solid underfoot and responsive. Though a great carver, one tester noted a small delay edge-to-edge in tight turns, but expected with its nearly 100 mm waist width.
Most testers recommended this ski for a variety of levels. “Here’s a go-to ski for most conditions,” said one tester. “It can be skied pedal-to-the-metal or less committed but it does favor a forward stance,” said another. All in all, the Great Joy ranks high in the All-mountain category, thanks primarily to its lightweight construction, easy maneuverability and well-rounded performance in all testing fields.
The Great Joy received high marks for Responsiveness, calling it “a superb carver” and “quick, like a fat slalom ski.” The lightweight construction adds to easy turn initiation, enhanced by the cap/sandwich construction.
Testers felt that the Great Joy was stable underfoot and easy to maneuver, which increased confidence. Head says stability is increased by the Graphene/Superlite Sandwich Cap construction. All in all, testers gave the ski high marks for Stability, citing that the width and construction created a versatile one-ski quiver for a variety of snow conditions and terrain.
Testers gave the Great Joy above average scores for Resort Float and kudos for its soft snow performance. The tip has a metal-lined milled out area for weight reduction, but it was an interesting result in powder: snow pours out like a fountain through the tip’s hole to create a pleasantly surprising waterfall effect.
Versatility is a strength of the Great Joy and tester scores and comments culminated in high scores for all of the testing fields. Testers called it “a multitasker” and “one-ski quiver,” thanks to balance created by the medium radius sidecut shape, light core, tip rocker and cap/sandwich construction. The only chink in the versatility armor, as noted by testers, was sluggishness in short turns. Otherwise, the Great Joy garnered praise for versatility in a variety snow conditions and for the range of ability levels of the intended end user.
The Great Joy scored high scores for Carving from all testers. “It skis like a fat slalom ski – quick, responsive and peppy,” said one tester. Another tester called the 98-mm-waisted ski “a superb carver, especially with its girth.” Some testers detected a slight sluggishness in the Great Joy, noting that it felt peppy in the turn initiation, but lacks kick out of the turn. All in all, however, the wide Great Joy carves like a much narrower ski, bringing much Joy in the turn.
The Gear Institute Women’s Ski test took place over three days at Snowbird, Utah, in March of 2018. Six female testers skied each of the skis in the test and completed a detailed test card after each test run. Testers ranged from Olympians, to former racers and coaches to ski instructors and skiers who prefer backcountry/off-piste conditions. Categories were concluded on the same day so that skis were tested during similar conditions and on the same terrain. An in-depth look into construction and performance of the skis took place in Vail, CO, during a December industry event where testers skied on all test skis under similar conditions.
Testers were instructed to view each ski as a “Tabula Rasa,” or blank slate. Test cards included initial rankings of Favorite, Excellent, Good and Awful. Testers were asked to list three things they both liked and disliked about each ski as well as answering the question, “Who is the ideal customer?” Lastly, testers rated the criteria in terms of best to worst in the following mini-categories; Responsiveness, Stability, Float, Carving and Versatility.
Krista Crabtree- Skiing
Passionate about women’s ski camps and women-specific gear, Krista organizes women’s ski programs at Eldora and Vail, including her own camp called She Skis. A former editor at SKI Magazine, she currently runs the ski test for OnTheSnow.com.