Everything You Need To Know About The Salomon Stance Ski
Salomon skis continues to impress me. From one skier to another I was never the biggest fan of Salomon. Their skis were too soft or too stiff and really didn’t fit into my style of skiing. That was until the redeveloped the QST 92 ski and now the Stance Series. Saying I’m a Salomon Fan-girl may be an overstatement but right now from 2020 into 2021 I’m really digging their skis.
Before I even dive into the technical details of the Stance Skis let me lay out the typical skier who might be skiing this ski. I’m going to focus on the Women’s Stance 88 and the Men’s Stance 90 ( Though I reference the 88 most of all). These were my two favorite out of all the Stance’s I tried at the industry test fest back in January. The Stance is a ski for the everyday recreational skier. It’s the all-mountain, daily driver, hard charger of skis. For those familiar with the XDR series this is the new inception of that. I ski like a Slalom skier. I take short and aggressive turns. I’ll lay my edge over but it’s a precise turn and I don’t like to draw it out. The Stance ski clicked with me because it was precise and edge-able. When I gained speed and wanted to make a turn I felt in control and confident that my edge would hold.
Eventually I will have a full review video for your viewing pleasure but for now you can take a look at this clip from on-snow at Pico back in January. I’m 5’9″ and 150Ilbs- and with Salomon’s Sizing this year I could either try a 168cm or 174cm. I opted for the 174cm ski and tried that across the entire collection. In the 88 in particular it felt almost short. I got the same precise turning response that I would on something in the 165 range. That was comforting to me in a way. I knew on a longer ski I could make my short aggressive turns and be confident in my edge and the skis ability to come around quickly. To give you an idea, I came down the first pitch of the day on these skis, having never skied them before. This pitch was the 49er trail at Pico. A wide trail, yet probably the steepest pitch on the entire mountain. My friend and I stop at the bottom of the first pitch and I exclaim, “Holy S–T! These skis are phenomenal!”. This same little section of trail hadn’t felt nearly as confidence inspiring on any of the other skis I had tried that day. I cannot reinforce how stable on edge the Stance Series is. It’s pretty much putting all other skis to shame in it’s waist category with it’s edge stability and dampening absorption at speed. These skis are so good in fact that I’m planning on selling my narrow waisted ski this fall and buying the Salomon Stance 88 in it’s place.
Salomon Stance 88 Specs:
Lengths (cm): 154, 161, 168, 174
Sidecut Dimensions (mm): 120/88/102 (@161)
Radius: 17m (@161)
Weight: 1,520g (@161)
Salomon Stance 90 Specs:
Lengths (cm): 168, 176, 182, 188
Sidecut Dimensions (mm): 126/90/106 (@176)
Radius: 18m (@176)
Weight: 1,775g (@176)
The Women’s Salomon Stance 88 is essentially the same as the men’s ski, yet the core is made of karuba/poplar not just poplar (Men’s skis are full poplar). Similarly both skis will have traditional metal titanal. Nothing to fancy, all designed with a full poplar wood core, race-inspired sidecut, full sandwich sidewall, and double Titanal construction for increased edge grip. Both the men’s and women’s Stance skis will feature a new technology to reduce weight and torsional rigidity of the core: laser-milled windows in the upper Titanal layer reinforced with a blend of carbon and basalt. The idea here is one, to replace the now dated XDR collection and to bridge the gap between the QST line and X/Max Collection. For skiers who need an everyday daily drive type ski the Stance is the best choice on the market. Though we focus on the 88 here, the women’s skis come in 88 and 94 underfoot- whereas the men’s is available in 90, 96 and 102 underfoot.
Personally having skiing the 94 and 96 I preferred the 88 and 90. The wider the ski got the less playful it became. I think if I were to choose a wider waist ski from Salomon I’d end up going to a QST. When the ski gets wider I still want it to be playful and forgiving, not overly damp and heavy which is the impression I got from the Stance line. A no brainier to me though is as an east coast skier (or even a west coast skier), if you want a reliable and trustworthy ski that will perform well for an intermediate to advanced level skier, the narrower Stance options are a great addition to a quiver. For carving or even east coast powder days, the stance is a great choice.
We’ll have these skis available for demo before this season is over, and purchase for early fall 2020.
We’re back from another Outdoor Retailer Trade-show and have New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021. This year in the boot world the focus has been on four buckle touring boots withGripWalk and pin compatibility. We also saw more and more companies pushing for 130 flex and 98 to 100mm last in boots with an uphill mode. The biggest notable difference breaking out onto the AT Touring scene is the Lange XT3 130. Though we didn’t get to look at all AT boots for 2021 we did put our hands on a few. Salomon has a new Shift Boots collection and K2 and Rossignol have also improved upon their existing models.
New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Lange XT3 130
Lange’s new XT3 130 has improved upon it’s patented V Lock hike to walk system. The updated V Lock system adds an additional 2 degrees of rearward motion and 11 degrees of forward motion. This results in 53 degrees of total range in motion of the cuff- pretty impressive! The redesigned shell sheds weight (though felt heaver than any other boot in it’s category), providing a balance of agility for the climb up without sacrificing performance on the downhill. The sole’s new construction, which sandwiches Grilamid between two layers of Polyurethane, was developed for durability. The Lange XT3 130 has (you guessed it) 130 flex so it’s stiff- and has GripWalk and pin compatibility. The boot is also available in 97mm and 100mm lasts.
True 130 flex. This boot is stiff!
Two Lasts Options
53 degrees of total range in motion
It’s heavy. Though touted as a lighter upgrade than previous models, the XT3 is on the heavier side.
Velcro cuff strap
If you are one of those people looking for the stiffest of stiff Alpine Touring boots, we’re not going to sway you away for the Lange XT3 130. With two layers of Poly and Grilamid, this boot is super stiff. It’s going to be warmer than a Atomic Hawx XTD 130 for sure, but it’s also going to take longer to warm up and longer to cool down. The strap is a standard Velcro strap which we suspect will wear out quickly. Other boot companies offer cinch straps so if we as a user were to purchase this we’d upgrade the strap to something aftermarket. Lastly, the weight of this boot was a big turnoff. Having skied in the Atomic Hawx XTD 120 this season, the XT3 felt like a brick by comparison.
New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Salomon Shift Pro 130
The Salomon Shift Pro 130 is the newest backcountry compatible alpine touring boot. The Shift Pro draws inspiration from it’s S/Pro collection but with a 4 buckle design and more durability for everyday resort use. The 100mm last boot includes a Sensifit insert, new instep geometry, lightweight construction, a customizable shell, a 40 degree range of motion cuff, and a seamless liner. Salomon’s Coreframe construction provides the power transmission and performance of a traditional alpine boot. GripWalk and Pin Compatible- the Salomon Shift Pro is also available in a full range of flex options.
Performance, The Shift Pro really defines what an all-terrain, alpine touring boot should be. This boot performs well for touring but also will hold it’s own for downhill only days.
Seamless liner. No bunching our weird pressure points. Out the box the Salomon Shift Pro will feel good. Some of our employees who have tested this boot have yet to heat mold their liners- it’s just that good.
Easy to use flip switch from alpine to walk mode.
Wide range of flex options
Price. This boot will put you back $970 (in-store may be cheaper) whereas other boots in it’s category are less.
Velcro strap. Like the Lange boots, velcro wears out fast. We prefer cinch straps for touring and higher flex boots.
Only comes in 100mm last. Most people fit in that category, but if you prefer 98mm last you’ll need to look at the S/Pro
The Salomon Shift Pro 130 is really filling in any loose ends that the QST and Shift collections had. We’re digging it because there’s a whole range of men’s and women’s options in flexes to choose from. You’re not just limited to a top tear option. The last is 100mm which is the most common footprint of skiers. We do wish they offered a 98mm last in the 130 flex but can settle for finding that last in the S/Pro line. The Coreframe construction is simple and easy to use, though may be cumbersome in sub-zero temps. The price is also a bit high, which would make us as a user consider other options. But if you’re deadset on salomon and want to be on a 100% Salomon Package, we’re not about to stop you. And if that price point really doesn’t bother you- we’re more than likely to convince you that this is the boot for you.
New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: Rossignol Alltrack Elite 130
The Rossignol Alltrack Elite 130 offer’s a no-compromise with with tech fitting and enhanced downhill performance for an all-in-one ski boot. The Thinsulate liner is 100% compatible and comes pre-articulated, so out of the box the boot should perform well. The heel cup is also well designed and like many other 98mm last boots will really hold your heel in place on ascents. The Alltrack also has Dynafit compatible touring lugs, offering a secure connection to tech bindings.
Price. The Alltrack Elite 130 will put you back $699.95- Far cheaper than other 130 flex class boots.
Great out of the box liner
Easy and Efficent flip switch for walk to ski
Dynafit Compatible tech lugs
Higher quality Velcro strap
Only uses Grilamid plastic. Not poly, Still a stiff boot- but in the softer side of 130
Only comes in 98mm last
Many who traditionally ski in the AllTrack resort model will have a hard time switching to the Alltrack Elite. I say this because the Resort Alltrack 130 is 100mm last not 98mm. So this touring model will feel snugger than typical. Many boot companies make their all-mountain touring boots in 98mm last for a more secure fit, especially while touring uphill- where your foot is likely to move around a bit. The price on this boot is superb for a touring boot though, and clearly other companies are finding it hard to compete. If you had trouble fitting into an Alltrack before, definitely try this one out- the fit is going to be much different and with that great price point you can’t go wrong here.
New AT Touring Ski Boots for 2021: K2 Mindender Boots
Relativly unchanged from last year the Mindender is back and is one of our favorites. We love the big “mitten compatible” buckes, the cinched cuff strap and the spring loaded walk to ski mode. Available in men’s and women’s models, the Mindbender offers up a lot of options for both men and women. The women’s 98 flex, and men’s 100 flex boots will both have 100mm last on them- the rest of the line will be 98mm last.
Price wise, the Mindbender 130 will put you back $699.95. Still cheaper than the Lange or Salomon options. K2 uses TPU in it’s boots calling this their Powerlight core. TPU typically regains it’s flex in the cold versus polyurethane which will get stiffer the colder it gets (to a certain extent). This results in a true to flex feel and is lighter than most plastics used in ski boots.
Price, A decent and competitive price point in the touring market at $699.
Mitten friendly, spring loaded walk to ski switch.
Big easy to use buckles
Cinch cuff strap
Color (can someone just make a straight up black boot already)
Only TPU Plastic
Buckles stick out and snag on stairs and other objects. You may need to replace them.
This boot was the lightest of all the boots I touched. The price is right and the fit is pretty decent out of the box. The buckles are mitten friendly and easy to use but be warned, if you unbuckle your boots in-bounds, these do stick out and we’ve already seen people coming in with bent or broken buckles. The Mindenders also come in a whole range of flexes so you don’t just have to get into a 130 flex. This boot was our favorite at the show, it checked all our boxes for weight, multi-use compatibility and easy to use buckles. The K2 Mindbender is our 2021 pick for favorite Alpine Touring Boots.
A Comprehensive Review of these two 2020 Ladies All-Mountain Skis
K2 Mindbender 88 Alliance Vs. Blizzard Black Pearl 88- A Look At The Pro’s and Con’s Of Both
As the holidays of 2018 approached rumors started to swirl that K2 Skis had something psychedelic brewing. When our industry Demo Day rolled around and we had a chance to take out the Mindbenders we were blown away by their performance in a multitude of conditions. But the question we’ve been getting a lot is how it compares to the Black Pearl or Santa Ana (which we’ll do another review on). How does this rookie in the ski world compare to the best selling women’s ski ever? Well lets jump into is shall we. First we’ll go over each skis key features, then we’ll throw them head to head and let you decide who’s the winner.
K2 Mindbender Alliance 88 Ti
K2 has been struggling to create a ski that worked well for most skier types. Not to say the pinnacle wasn’t a good ski, it just didn’t necessarily perform well in the many “all-Mountain” conditions. The K2 Mindbender is here as a replacement to the Pinnacle and Luv Series. Speaking of Luv series skis- The Alliance series was created as a replacement for that. Why the name change? The women at K2 wanted to create a ski series that better connected with their audience base and resonated with female skiers, so Alliance was born. Though there is a full line-up of waist width options for men and women, the 88 Ti is the best east coast all-mountain option (in our opinion. This would translate to 90 in the men’s version too). The Mindbender 88 Alliance Ti comes with an Aspen Veneer core for it’s wood construction. This is going to be like the 90, but the veneer and sandwiching of the core makes the 88 lighter and easier to turn. Then there’s the Titanal Y-Beam. Think of a tuning fork used to tune pianos. The Y-Beam looks like that, laid into the ski. It makes the Alliance stiff and reliable underfoot while allowing the tip to flex more easily. There’s a carbon spectral braid on top of all this construction which also helps to reduce chatter as well as help power imitation through turns. The sidewall is ABS which is a standard for most ski companies. In the alliance it is oversized. This translates to you can lay the ski all the way over. Want to go from making Slalom turns to jumping into a mogul field and bashing bumps? Yep, this ski is going to do that. Another honorable mention is that K2 has a 2 year warranty on their skis which is awesome!
Blizzard Black Pearl 88
The Blizzard Black Pearl 88 is undeniably the best selling women’s ski- ever. There’s a reason for that too. Virtually any female skier can take this ski out and have a good day on it. It’s going to do well at most All-Mountain conditions and since it’s not over powering and easy to turn ladies love it. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts right? The Black Pearl is a light ski, made with what Blizzard calls their Lite Wood Core. In the case of the Black Pearl 88, it’s a poplar beech core that’s sandwiched into the Carbon Flipcore WSD. W stands for women’s. No metal here, just good old wood and carbon. This makes the Black Pearl poppy and maneuverable across many conditions. We personally found them to carve exceptionally well too. The topsheet is a duratec composite which helps with scratch resistance. Sidewall will be the same as the Mindebender Alliance 88Ti, made with ABS Sidewall. Since there’s no metal in the Black Pearl so it retails at $600 vs $650 for the Mindbender.
Head To Head
Head to head you’re getting so skis that are similar, yet different. The Mindbender 88 in our opinion is for more aggressive skiers whereas the Black Pearl is focused on intermediate level skiers. Both the Black Pearl and Mindbender were great carvers and the Black Pearl made longer methodical turns whereas the Mindbender could get laid all the way over and make tight slalom like turns then transition into smooth GS style carves. The Mindbender wasn’t limited to a select level of turning. Whatever your style was it responded. In deeper snow, both felt similar and responded the same, nothing really changed here. Then moguls- This was a game changer between the two. To be honest the Black Pearl just felt sloppy in bumps. It could be my style of bump skiing, or the lack of metal in the ski, whatever the culprit the Black Pearls felt dead and confused on how to respond in bumps. The Mindbender was different. The Mindbender snaped through turns easily and launched you into the next bump almost like you intended to do. The Mindbenders are just fun- and as I’ve been saying around the shop are totally psychedelic.
So my final thoughts? Both skis are great skis. The Black Pearl seems to favor softer conditions and intermediate level skiers more. When the terrain got more aggressive the Black Pearl struggled to keep up. The Mindbender is definitely stiffer and more aggressive than the Black Pearl but that’s not to say a beginner could take it out and not have a good time. The Mindbender is flexible and would be a great ski for someone looking to progress their skills over a long period of time. The Black Pearl is predictable though and is a great value for an All- Mountain Ski that does everything okay.
K2 Mindbender 88 Ti Alliance
Blizzard Black Pearl 88
Wood: Aspen Venner
Lite Wood Core
Carbon Spectral Braid
Carbon Flipcor WSD
Unsure (looks like Duratec)
Full ABS Sidewall
* Obviously this Review is extremely biased and based upon my skiing style and the brutally odd East Coast Conditions. Hopefully, we’ll put together a video soon. If you like this head to head style review and want to see more let us know! If this was crap let us know! We are only human after all.
Gone are the days of the standalone Nordica Enforcer. As we enter into the 19/20 winter season Nordica has not one, but 6 options to choose from- divided into the Enforcer and Enforcer Free Series. The Nordica Enforcer 104 offers up a new waist width with new technology that makes for a lighter, and snappier shred stick on the slopes. This new technology is only found in the 104 and 88- the newest waist additions, and we suspect the rest of the line will follow suit if the new technology is proven successful in these two skis.
So what makes the 104 so special? One difference between it and the 88 is that they have different shapes. The 104 is more freeride and will resemble a narrower Enforcer 110. The core is made up of Poplar, Beech and Balsa with 2 sheets of titanal for stiffness.
The biggest difference between predecessors and the latest 104 is that the wood core extends up and down the ski further and replaces some of the ABS Sidewall which has been slimmed down. This makes the ski more snappy and responsive on snow and less damp. Then there’s the carbon laminate that’s new. This makes the ski engage better on edge and gives you a little more “umpfh” and power that you’d normally loose on the original models.
Side by side next to the Enforcer 110, the Enforcer 104 is going to share rocker profile lines but be more slimming allowing for the ski to be more manageable in all conditions. Still though, slim rocker lines in Nordica Skis is still quite a bit of rocker compared to other 104 waisted skis in its class.
On Snow, the 104 is going to feel lighter and more manageable at speed. It’s still going to be incredibly stiff but maneuver better through deeper snow due to the new construction. The Carbon laminate is going to offer more stability at speed, less chatter, and more control through turns.
So what’s the biggest difference between the 100 & 104?
The 100 is going to have Nordica’s traditional rocker profile, called All-Mountain Rocker
The 104 is going to have more Rocker, so think old Helldorados. They’re deeper and more hammerhead-shaped.
The 100 is the OG Enforcer. Wood, Titanal, ABS, Fiberglass Topsheet
The 104 is the lighter and sexier(though that’s up for debate) Enforcer. Wood, Titanal, Slimming ABS, Carbon, Fiberglass
Nordica Enforcer 104 Specs:
Turning Radius: 18.5
We are located on the East Coast, so having any ski wider than the Enforcer 104 will be seldom used, and may be overkill for most east coast powder days. But, if you want something wider, for spring skiing days or maybe you’re a west coast skier who needs a reliable daily driver the 104 is going to be a great option.
Top 5 Skis For 2020- From An East Coast Ski Shops Standpoint
These reviews are based on our on-snow testing, discussions with brand reps, and years of experience.
Basin Sports is a ski shop in Killington, Vermont. With access to the largest east coast ski resort at our door, we are able to provide accurate and intelligent insight to the state of the ski industry as it reflects our specific market.
K2 Mindbender Series
You’ve probably heard about the K2 Mindbender and Alliance-benders by now. The replacement of the Pinnacle and LuvIt Series skis. K2 spent a lot of time testing and designing these skis to make them what they are. They wanted something stiff torsional but soft and floaty too. So what makes the Mindbenders so amazing? They’re incredibly light, yet stiff, yet powerful. The 90ti in particular for both men and women is stiff yet not. In our on snow test the ski was phenomenal on groomers and comfortable and controllable in the bumps. It didn’t feel like you had to overcompensate to make a turn. It didn’t feel too heavy or bulky either. One moment you’d be making beautiful racer carves on groomers, the next you’d be navigating tight New England trees. The Mindbenders want to float and dance over terrain- not bash and brawl their way down the mountain.
The Mindbender Series comes in many lengths. The men’s is 116C, 108Ti, 99Ti, 90Ti, 90C and 85. The Women’s or Alliance Series is available in 115C, 106C, 98Ti, 88Ti, 90C and 85. Yes, the Alliance series is a different mold. Everything is going to be the same about these skis except for the core. The main difference between the two is that the Men’s Mindbenders have full wood cores and the ladies Alliance have Aspen Vanier Core. Yes, that’s still technically wood- it just flexes differently than the full single wood core.
We’re on the east coast here, so we’re biased to the 99 and 90Ti (Or 98Ti and 88Ti) options. When we demoed these skis it was hero snow. Or at least what us east coasters call Hero Snow. Firm yet soft groomers, with plenty of packed powder in the trees. We’ve been slimming down what the optimal waist width is for the East Coast and was planning on ordering more 90’s instead of 99’s. That’s not to say one was better than the other. Both skied excellently. By this point, it’s more personal preference.
We’ve been asked a lot to compare the Mindbenders against the Nordica Enforcers, and we’ll probably end up doing a blog and video comparing the two, but for now, we’ll give you this. The Enforcer Series is a great All-Mountain ski. It does everything well and is incredibly fun to ski on. One main difference between the two is the rocker profile. The Enforcer is going to want to power through everything- we refer to the Enforcer as a brawler ski. It’s fun, enjoyable and strong- but it would rather power into snow than float. The Mindbender is going to feel more familiar to skiers who maybe raced or spent a chunk of time on groomers- expect the Mindbenders allow you to ski off trail comfortable. You can go really fast on the Mindbenders and not feel out of control with twitchy rocker in your tips. The Mindbenders carve, they don’t smear. You know that famous quote, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”? That pretty much sums up the Mindbenders. They float and dance, they didn’t come to muscle their way through. They’re precise, agile and responsive.
Nordica Enforcer 88 & 104
Speaking of Nordica, There are some new additions to the Enforcer Family. The Nordica Enforcer 88 and the Enforcer 104. Both skis come with new technology and so far, our staff have been raving about the changes. The 88 was designed with us East Coasters in mind. It’s a true on-piste carver. You can read our review on these skis here. The 104 is a wider option but not overly cumbersome like the 110.
What Makes the 88 So Great? It’s different than it’s big brothers because It has less ABS sidewall. The ABS Sidewall is essentially plastic. Plastic is damp and non-responsive on impact. Nordica reduces the amount of Sidewall and filled it in with more wood to make the ski more snappy and powerful. Then they added a carbon grid to increase snap. It makes the ski much more maneuverable at speed and not quite as unstable.
The 104 has the same technology as the 88 and made many of our employees who own the 100 consider upgrading to the 104. A positive aspect of the 104 is that it offers more drive and stability at speed without increasing extra weight. The 104 allows you to explore more of the mountain with stability and control. One of the positives in the new designs is the power in and out of turns. One thing I’ve found in the older designs is that due to its shape I often feel like I lose a lot of my speed in and out of turns. The 104 certainly does not have that problem. Same goes for the 88. Both are responsive and power out of the turns effortlessly.
These skis are great for one ski quiver shredders or enforcer series collectors. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the 20/21 series of Enforcers don’t all have the new carbon technology incorporated into their design.
The Salomon QST 92 has got it’s S—t together this year. In it’s first iterations it was one the softer side of all-mountain skis. Now it’s back and in it’s series (so the 92, 99 and 106) have the same technology throughout. But it’s an entirely new ski. So new tip design, new sidewalls and new core construction. I’m generalizing but all three waist widths will be the same construction. We’re digging the 92 because it’s probably the lightest All-Mountain ski that’s isn’t made of foam, fiberglass or unicorn dust. It’s rocker profile would make it great for a east coast skinning ski but also as a weekend warriors ski.
If you ski anything like me you may have thought that the QST was a fun ski but it was a bit soft and chattery on harder snow. Beefed up sidewalls have eliminated this chatter to a minimum and torsionally increased stability in turns. Win, Win!
The carbon, basalt, and flax are blended together in the new models from tip to tail, and there’s an extra layer of flax plus cork tips to optimize dampness at a lower swingweight. This is translated onto the women’s Lux, Lumen series too. The tip shape is new too and this reduced taper. The cork in the tip and tail makes the skis less chattery, and reduces swing weight making turns pretty darn fun. The graphics aren’t half bad either on these skis. Sticking with solid tones and less flair. Mounted up with the oh so toted Salomon Shift Bindings and you’ve got one heck of a ski set-up.
Black Crow Camox & Camox Birdie
We also are going to talk about Black Crow. They’ve been around for a while but really have exploded onto American markets more recently. The Camox is the showcase twin ski and has really stayed tried and true to its roots. It’s a true twin tip ski with classic rocker, camber, rocker profile. Nothing overly fancy or technical, just the stuff that works- which is why it’s one of their bestselling skis.
But, the Camox is on the heavy side. So this year Black Crows reduced the weight of the ski and shortened the taper without overly changing the performance of the ski on snow. It does have a shorter turn radius- which can just mean it will get edge to edge quicker. An Advantage here is that as a true twin tip ski the Black Crow Camox and Camox Birdie will have an increased playfulness feel on snow. This will make for more a lighter, but tried and true ski that anyone can have fun on.
Atomic Redster X Series
An honorable mention and one ski that’s not really getting a whole lot of attention is the Atomic Redster X series. This skis was redeveloped last season and can be distinguished from its World Cup counterparts by it’s lack of red coloration. We’ve been jokingly calling it the greenster since the 18-19 skis was bright neon green. This year It’s not as bright but still a gunmetal grey with green highlights. Of the Redster X series the one that caught our eye the most was the Atomic Redster X WB (WB= Wide Body). The Redster is a series no F-ing around ski. The Redster X WB is the same nutty ski but minus the servotec. At 75 underfoot (versus 65) the WB is just a bit more forgiving. With true race camber underfoot the Atomic Redster X WB is still an extremely powerful ski. It’s just nicer to play with.
Coming in 152, 160, 168 and 176 you have a few options to choose from. The WB still has the multi-radius sidecut, full sidewall (hence 0/100/0 camber to rocker), Powder Woodcore, Titanium Powered, Structured Topsheet, and World Cup Base Finish. It still has all of those goodies. The reason we’re mentioning this ski is not that we enjoy it (I mean we do, we wouldn’t be writing this review otherwise) but because it enables you to still carve aggressive groomers, but still be able to walk the next day. We will be pushing this ski towards our Ski Bum Race Series competitors who want a fast ski for race day, but a comfortable ski for groomer days.
What to expect in the narrowest waist width Enforcer
Since its inception, the Enforcer Series has been rapidly growing as the most sought after skis in the industry. Nordica has been careful to release new waist width options and technological tweaks steadily over the years and people are eating them up. With this year’s release, all the ski industry aficionados are buzzing about the two newest additions to the pack, the Enforcer 88 and Enforcer 104. We were fortunate to ski the new waist widths for both men and women (so be on the lookout for the Santa Ana 88 review) and have a good feeling of how the industry will accept the skis, and what customer s should expect out of them.
This review is solely regarding the Nordica Enforcer 88, though we’ll get a review out about the 104 as soon as we can. Luckily for us, we hold one of the biggest Nordica accounts in New England and have access to early release gear like the Enforcer 88. This particular waist width caught our eye because we live in New England and very rarely do we really need to ski on sticks wider than 100.
The Enforcer lineup is reminiscent of an old Helldorado but with less rocker and metal- and that’s one of the reasons it excels in the east. But the Enforcers of yesteryear are bulky and some would describe as brawlers, not ballerinas. So to alleviate some of this extra meat the Enforcer 88 has vibration dampening tips. This helps alleviate some the meat, the weight and adds more nimbleness to the skis maneuverability.
These tips in technological terms are called True Tip Technology and essentially reduce weight and tip chatter. Basically, Nordica has trimmed the amount of ABS plastic in the sidewall in the tip and extended the lightweight wood core into the area now void of plastic. Plastic is not exactly a pliable material when it comes to skis, and will impact something with a thud, not a spring or rebound. That’s one of the reasons why True Tip Technology works. It makes the ski more lively and snappy. It’s also lighter so you can turn more effectively and build energy in and out of turns.
The other new construction is the Carbon-Reinforced Chassis. As mentioned early, the Enforcer could be referred to as a brawler. Where it would rather plow and power through snow than glide over snow. The Carbon chassis essentially makes the Enforcer more nimble. We’re not going to get full ballerina status on snow but it won’t feel like a brawler either- Nordica is finding a happier medium between brawler and dancer.
Another notable difference in the Nordica 88 Is that it comes in different lengths than previous enforcers. That means a completely new mold and serious “back to the drawing board” concept. With the Enforcer 88 you get to choose from the sizes of 165, 172, 179 and 186. This could throw a rope in the Enforcer Collectors wheelhouse but, if then again it could be a good thing. This ski is considered a hard carver and that divides the skiers into two categories- the slalom skiers or the super g skiers. I myself like to shorten up my carving skis. I like to make fast precise and short turns so I lean towards a shorter length. But, if you like to go fast, take minimal turns on piste and lay over edges then go longer. It’s all in how you ski.
So our first day of testing was at the New England Ski Industry Demo Day. This is where people in the industry have a chance to demo skis for the 19/20 season. This was held at Pico Mountain this year and the temps were hovering at 32 degrees so the snow was hero like. When we were able to ski the 88 we got next to perfect conditions for New England so yes, this review is biased towards the conditions we tested in. That being said the Enforcer 88 did just fine on and off-piste. On-Piste, the 88 was quite responsive and was easy to maneuver. It glided across the snow easily and was powerful yet forgiving. One notable change in turning was that the ski powered out of turns. In the past, the wider widths would lose some of that momentum in turns because of the rocker and its width. That’s not the case here and we truly feel the 88 is the perfect ski for the east. This ski is distinctly focused on performance on piste, and it does okay off-piste too. But if you’re a bump lover and tree hugger then consider the 93- otherwise you should consider this nimble machine to be in your quiver.
The Enforcer 88 will be fine off-piste but it wasn’t designed to do that. It was designed to be an on-piste carver and it does that well. The 88 wants to stay on edge and hold that turn, making consistent and thoughtful turns down the slopes. Compared to the Navigator 85 the Enforcer 88 is heavier and has more rocker to it. Edge to edge the Navigator will win- it’s quick and lighter. All around maneuverability and being as All-Mountain as they get, the Enforcer 88 will win. It just does everything well and really defines what an all-mountain ski should be.
To summarize, the Nordica Enforcer 88 for 2020 is going to perform best on firm conditions. It’s going to slay groomer runs and turn well. It’s light, but not as light as a navigator. It’s well-rounded too and when you’re in a pickle it will perform at a level that’s just plain necessary. As an east coast Enforcer lover, this is the ski you need in your collection. It works, it does its job well and is fun.
Convinced and want one? We have the 2020 Nordica Enforcer 88 and 2020 Nordica Santa Ana 88 available for purchase.
Top 3 Skis of 2018 And Why You Should Be Taking A Closer Look
Pre-Season Purchase Coming Soon!
I did it, I narrowed down my selection from 5 Top skis to 3. I wasn’t wildly impressed by the ski industry this year. That’s not to say there weren’t amazing skis by all the ski companies because when isn’t there really? In a way it felt similar to the slump that the bike industry is having. Maybe I’ve just gotten pickier about my choices. I’m like a food critic but for skis! Typically I would do top 4 or top 5 skis of the year but really got strict on my preferences and requirements to make it onto this list. Two of the skis on this list are entirely new skis the other is hitting it’s 1 year birthday. I’ll explain my reasoning as I progress through the skis.
2018 Nordica Enforcer Pro
This ski will be available for pre-season purchase at Basin Sports. Nordica has been hugely popular with the Enforcer line and as we move into next year will be offering narrower and wider waist width options. The Nordica Enforcer Pro is unique though. Boasting 115 underfoot the 2018 Nordica Enforcer Pro will only be available in the 191 length. The rocker in itself is also different. With a rocker profile mirroring the retired Helldorado this ski will be perfect for the shredder looking to replace their old black on black ass kickers. Big Mountain minded the 2018 Nordica Enforcer Pro is no joke. With a 21.5 meter turn radius this ski is for advanced level skiers. A mention in itself for the Top 3 Skis of 2018 due to its appealing name and joke inspiring name. Do you think your pro enough for the 2018 Nordica Enforcer Pro?
9 Meter Turn Radius
Only Available in 191
Big Mtn Inspired and a direct replacement of the Helldorado
Unique Rocker Profile
Same Layup as other enforcers
2018 Atomic Vantage x 83 Cti
This ski will be celebrating its 1st birthday this year as it’s been around for a year but is notable in the Top 3 Skis of 2018. I’ve noticed an interesting trend with any and all Atomic Skis though. They almost never get the recognition they deserve in their debut year. It isn’t until their second season that they start racking up awards. Think about the Atomic Vantage 100 Cti and the Women’s Vantage 95 C. Both won awards this year but this is their second season in existence. So I predict that the 2018 Atomic Vantage X 83 CTi will win some awards next season and here’s why.
First off not much has changed, just minor tweaks to make it better than it already is. This ski is perfect for those hard pack ski days or groomer days. They’re in fact quite forgiving in bumps too which I found incredibly surprising. For 2018 you’ll see a new graphic on the 83. Less loud and in your face. Last year’s ski was Neon Orange vs the 2018 which is blackout with orange highlights, much more sexy if you ask me. The only other major difference between 2017 and 2018 is the beefed up layup underfoot. Not that it wasn’t all there, it’s just more there than ever before.
I like this ski because at 174cm it has a 16.4 turn radius. It’s got a carbon mesh and Ti backbone construction. All while keeping that 10/90/0 rocker profile that the iconic Atomic Redster has. Don’t forget the plate system that looks incredibly similar to the race plate on the Redster. All this at $899 (bindings included). A hell of a deal and a hell of a diverse ski. I wouldn’t overlook this ski this coming season. Often passed by, this ski has rockets attached to the tails of it….At least that’s what it feels like.
Beefed Up Underfoot
4meter turn radius @ 174
AMT Rocker 10/90/0
Ti Backbone 2.0
Carbon Tank Mesh
Plated System Ski
2018 Armada Tracer 98
Basin Sports Staff Favorite and all-around 2018 Pick of the year.
The 2018 Armada Tracer 98 was the third Top 3 Skis of 2018 and was number 2 on my list of favorite skis at the New England Test Fest this year. I skied the test fest the day it decided to drop a foot of snow on us. My number 1 ski was 115 underfoot for reference. A 98mm ski on a powder day was #2?! Yes, yes it was. Also I should note that this ski has no metal in it. But don’t let that turn you away. See Armada came out with this tech called Xrystal Mesh. It feels like metal but it isn’t. This ski was light, playful and nimble. A foot of champagne powder? No Problem. Tight New England Trees to wide open powder fields I was surprised and amazed at how well this ski handled. The 2018 Armada Tracer 98 is part of the Tracer collection and comes in narrower and wider waist widths. Ladies should look to the Trace series which boasts the same construction but with a better graphic.
Armada has come a long way since its Freestyle Days. I love the older generation whose been taking out the invicta skis by Armada and say how surprised they are that a “freestyle” rooted ski company has such a diverse collection. Don’t overlook Armada, they’re legit.
The 2017 K2 ALLUVit 88 Ski Review Revolutionizing and Finessing the Women’s Ski Industry
The 2017 K2 ALLUVit 88 Ski is relentless but in a good way. Relentless in the since that you can ski all day with ease. You can navigate variable terrain and feel right at home. For the woman who’s an intermediate to advanced level skier and wants an affordable stick to shred gnar on, well yeah the 2017 K2 ALLUVit 88 is going to rock your socks off.
So let’s get into the nitty gritty right away shall we? The sport of skiing has exploded in popularity in the last 5 years thanks to rockered ski technology. At the forefront of this wave stood K2 and its Women’s ski line. Believe me when I say it but “women’s” skis weren’t always badass and well-constructed as they are today. For a little while companies believed “women’s” skis needed to fit what was thought to be the typical female skier- an intermediate level skier who was cautious and well weak. K2 was NOT one of those companies and the LUV line proves it.
Durable, not to aggressive but not too soft either. Perfect pretty much sums this ski up. The 2017 K2 ALLUVit 88 Ski is for the women looking for adventure. The lady who loves to ski but wants something that does everything. This ski embodies a do all, go everywhere and fit into a few different levels of skier types. In fact, K2 is so anti “Women’s Specific” they even wrote this in their product description on their website.
With the same Bioflex Konic genes as its bigger sisters, the 2017 K2 ALLUVit 88 Ski slims down and bridges the gap between versatile freeride and confident all-mountain skiing. We don’t throw the term “women’s-specific” around lightly – the 2017 K2 ALLUVit 88 Ski was built for the lady shredder who stuns the slopes in deep powder, over fresh cord, and through wily bumps alike.
So the dirty details are this. You’re getting a 88 underfoot ski. This is a good width for the All- Mountain skier that’s mainly east coast based. If you’re out west possibly consider going wider. It’s a flat mount ski so you’re responsible for your binding option. It comes in 156, 163 and 170 which is great if you’re tall like me and ski a 170. The 2017 K2 ALLUVit 88 Ski has K2’s All- Terrain rocker which enables off-piste skiing while maintaining control on the groomers. It’s got a metal laminate in it for snap and control at high speeds and in bumps. That mixed with a Fir- Aspen core makes this ski fast, light and fun. For some reason the Beach Boys Song, Fun, Fun, Fun just popped into my head- fitting for the image this ski portrays.
For the lady looking to get on a new All- Mountain ski, well look no further. Give us a shout if you have any question too, we love to just chat about skis. If you’re already convinced that this is the ski you want, the ski you need well Click Here for free shipping and smiles!
Salomon QST 99 Ski Review And A Look At How Far Salomon Has Come
The Salomon QST 99 Ski Review is more than just a review of the ski. It’s a testament of how far Salomon has come as a company. Salomon has been making skis for a long time and they’ve had some good ones and some bad ones. I see a lot of people on Salomon out on the slopes, but I’ve never been really impressed with the company. Mainly, the construction just seemed lousy. It wasn’t constructed well. Yeah the skis were fun to ski but durability wise not so much. So I’ve not exactly had my eye on Salomon.
This year something changed, something called the QST series. This collection has changed the way I see Salomon as a company. From afar these skis look solid, they look stable and they look durable. Picking them up and flexing them straight off the wall you can just tell that these skis want to rip and go fast. No wonder the Salomon QST 99 and QST 106 were freeskier gear guide picks.
The Salomon QST 99 is a great All- Mountain ski for the intermediate to advanced level skier. I prefer them in crunchy hardpack than anything else for their reliability on edge. The Salomon QST 99 has carbon woven laminate with a sheet of titanal. That seems to be the name of the game this season for most ski companies and for good reason. They’re exceptionally snappy and have a ton of power out of turns. Enough power to make you go, “holy $#!t!”
This ski does bumps but isn’t great at it and in my opinion were pretty comparable to the Nordica Enforcers that I found were a little sloppy in bumps. That just because of the rocker profile though. Chundry, corny snow or slushy spring snow is what the Salomon QST 99 excels at and is definitely not a ski for the faint of heart. Make sure you’re a speed chasing maniac before you decide to purchase these sexy sticks.