Pugski Ski Tester
- Nov 1, 2015
- Reno, eNVy
After we requested ideas for Cage Matches, many asked us to compare this against the new Rossignol Experience 94 Ti or that against the new Völkl Mantra M5. So we decided that instead of doing a bunch of one-to-one comparisons, the Rossi and Völkl should take on the world. But first, go back and read the Cage Match between these two very important skis. For those who don’t want to click or open another window, here are the bullet points:
- Why choose the Experience 94 Ti? Versatility. Even the biggest skis can charge, but this one does not require you to. The 94 Ti is a powerful ski for powerful skiers who still want to relax at times.
- Why choose the Mantra M5? The M5 is for people who thought they wanted a Mantra but didn’t have the strength for the most recent ones. This one goes back to when the Mantra was the reference mid-90mm ski.
Atomic Vantage 97 Ti
I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the 90 or the 97 in this comparison; I ended up doing the 97 Ti because I have spent more time on it. In this segment, this is the charger of the bunch, offering power and precision. I really like what Atomic has done to give these Vantages a personality.
- Why choose it? You like GS turns and want to let the ski run. If you scout out wind buff and firmer snow, this is the weapon of choice.
Blizzard Rustler 9
The Rustler 9 is so much more than the Regulator it replaced in Blizzard's line, but here it is like sending a knife to a gunfight. Put the Rustler into a knife fight and it will hold its own -- but this is why Blizzard makes the Bonafide.
- Why choose it? It skis like a narrow powder ski, so Easterners looking for a playful one-ski quiver hit the jackpot.
DPS Foundation Cassiar 94
The all-new Cassiar is closer in shape to the Rossi than the other skis in this category; while it doesn’t have the same dampening, it is still very smooth on the snow. The Cassiar is unique without being quirky.
- Why choose it? You ski to the beat of a different drummer and don't want a mainstream brand. Well, I hate to tell ya, DPS is pretty much mainstream. Seriously, this is a smooth operator that will handle whatever you throw at it.
Dynastar Legend X96
Dynastar, one of the first brands to entrench and commit to the mid-90mm segment over a decade ago, has offered some great skis here, and the Legend X96 is no exception. Again, the Legends are on the playful/finesse side of the spectrum, yet skiers will find that they reopen parts of the mountain where they used to feel intimidated. The short wheelbase lets the 96 pivot around yet will be a blast when you want to downshift and take off.
- Why choose it? It's a good one-ski quiver for the skier who has trouble getting a 98-100mm ski up on edge.
Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition
Elan's Amphibio design has tip and tail rocker on the outer edge of the ski and full-length camber on the inner edge; this is what separates the Ripstick from the rest of the skis discussed here. The design is subtle and transparent when you ski it; it really becomes appreciated when you get on a ski without it.
- Why choose it? Technology is your friend; you appreciate anything that makes skiing easier.
Fischer Pro MTN 95TI
The Pro MTN 95TI almost feels like the old man in this test, because it has been around for a while in one aspect or another. It has matured very well, like a fine wine -- and like some wines, the Fischer is an acquired taste. The cosmetic finish of the 95TI is one of the nicest in the industry, but make no mistake, it isn't just a pretty face. The gradual tip profile is similar to the Rossignol, but the sidecut design is where the two skis differ; the Fischer’s profile extends past the running surface where the Rossi’s starts to taper back. This tip design combined with a flared tail (à la the old Experience) makes the Pro MTN one of the turnier skis in this comparison.
- Why choose it? You want a wide technical ski but not at the cost of mixed snow performance.
Head Kore 93
Head captured a whole segment last season with the Kore collection. The Kores are light yet damp, stiff yet easy to ski. The Kore 93 has an easy feel on snow and does not require your attention. Another great aspect is that the sizing is scaled to the waist width so dimensions are proportionate to every size of skier who pulls it off the rack.
- Why choose it? You don’t want to think -- you want to click in and ski. This just as easily could have been called the Automatic 93.
Kästle FX95 and FX95HP
The FX collection from Kästle is another thought-less ski: just tip and turn. As with other Kästles we have skied, you are buying refinement. These are some of the better skis in three-dimensional snow.
- Why choose the FX95? Lighter, more finesse skiers will find this a playful ski.
- Why choose the FX95 HP? Chargers, or even the finesse skier who wants a damper feel, will want this one.
K2 Pinnacle 95
The Pinnacle 95 is on the playful side of the spectrum in this category. The long rise in the tip makes it very different from the EXP 94 or M5, and it shows in firm conditions. If you are one to head first to trees and soft bumps, the Pinnacle is a fine weapon of choice.
- Why choose it? Tree huggers who spend their time in glades and bumps will love the Pinnacle 95.
Liberty V-Series V92
Take a look at the new kid on the block. Liberty hit a home run with the all-new V-Series skis and particularly the V92. There is very little like it on the market. The large flared and elongated tip design creates a turn on demand: the more you lay it over, the more it wants to turn. Or you can relax and ski upright, and the V92 backs off. The tail is slightly rounded and can be worked well, too.
- Why choose it? Damn, I cannot think who wouldn't choose it. Yeah, it is that good.
Nordica Enforcer 93
While it is not the old man in the segment, it feels like it. Well, maybe "old man" isn’t fair; more like it's the reference ski in the class. Nordica knew it had something with the Enforcer 100 and immediately added the 93. I guess the one word that describes the Enforcer is "versatile."
- Why choose it? It is a great Eastern powder tree ski or Western daily driver.
Stöckli Stormrider 95
Like the Kästle, the Stöckli is a step up. The 95 won't do anything different than the other skis mentioned; it just does it more smoothly and with more class.
- Why choose it? If I have to tell you, it’s not the ski for you.
To sum up, there isn't a bad ski in the bunch. I have skied them all and quite frankly would have trouble choosing; I could make a case for owning every single one. Now, the tough part for you: which one will make you pull out your credit card? Oh, and please don’t ask me which binding I would pick .…