Our Test: Karhu Mini – Good Fun, Maxi Convenience

What is it? The Karhu Volcan Skating Mini, top-line skating skis from a storied Finnish manufacturer – with a twist.

What makes them special?: to paraphrase Henry Ford, you can have them any color length, as long as it’s black 166cm. Fixed. In other words, they are as tall as your skating poles. The camber is so stiff that it is good enough for a grown up male specie up to 110kg. (yes, you could – and should – select Minis according to your weight)

What is it good for? well, we could tell you, of course, that you spend 20% less on wax but do you really care? It’s all about convenience. Try fitting full-size skis into a VW Golf. Tad inconvenient, isn’t it? Well, Volcan Minis would fit into any Mini, Golf, Corolla or any other car you happen to own or rent.

It drives surprisingly well on wet spring snow and fresh snow powder – it’s just so much easier to pull them out of the snowy mess that the trail fast becomes in that weather!

Much – and we mean it – easier to navigate in the crowd at the mass marathon bottlenecks (Engadin’s St.Moritz climb, anybody?)

Additional bonus: an icebreaker/conversation starter on every occasion. Once fellow skiers see you on Volcan Minis, they all want to know how it feels.

Is there a catch? Yeah. Well, two actually:

If you happen to be an elite racer, you’ll probably notice a slightly adverse glide – 30cm less does make a bit of difference, although surprisingly little considering the difference in length.

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It’s illegal. Yes, we mean it. At least, for many of us. In January 1985 the FIS Congress, running scared of the visibly unstoppable onslaught of skating technique in cross country skiing, ruled that the skis in official competitions can not be shorter than height of a sportsman, -10cm. Therefore, fixed length Volcan Mini are only ‘street legal’ for skiers 176cm & less. The short skis prohibition survived till now, unchanged. In biathlon, BTW, the ski length rules are even tougher – nothing shorter than height -4cm!

Personal impressions.
Fun to ride and surprisingly responsive. I’ve tried the Volcan Mini on the spring snow in Apatity mountains and they have been good! This year’s model is carbon-reinforced on the sides as well as on the top surface. They look and feel like a quality product, which is not that surprising, considering the materials used – and the price (MSRP circa 400 Euros)
And yes, travelling on the train with skis have never felt so easy – Volcan Minis fit on every shelf.

Conclusion: Good addition to ski quiver of any pro or ambitious amateurs, for training purposes – or just for having fun. An interesting option for a “weekend ski warrior” who’s prime concern is usability and convenience – Karhu Volcan Mini shines in both categories.

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