Individual Review 2020 Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition

Tony S

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Me: 140 lbs, 57, 5' 7" east coaster, beer leaguer, finesse skier, skiing 52 years

Ski: Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition @ 174cm, mounted on the line with Attack 13 AT binders. (This is just a smidge over top-of-head height for me.)

Bought these skis new on spec over the summer, mostly on the strength of my infatuation with the Wingman 82 CTi. They came immaculately packaged and well-priced from @SkiEssentials, who went out of their way to source green bindings to match the sidewalls of the otherwise all-black ski. Suh-weet.

I needed a western one-ski quiver and I hadn't found it by demo-ing yet. Knew I didn't want a "charger" ski like the Bonafide. Knew I didn't want an annoying little barky-dog poser ski either. I needed a skier's ski that I could nevertheless bend at low speed if needed.

It's been a tough season in the East, so I only had two marginally appropriate days on them prior to my recent week in New Mexico. But at the Taos Gathering I spent the large majority of a full seven days on them, which allows me to post some informed notes here.

Honestly I didn't bond immediately with the Ripstick. But after sticking with it for six mornings of lessons and seven afternoons of Pug-chasing over a lot of very mixed terrain, I have come to like the ski a lot.

The shape is very versatile, with ends that don't catch but are also easy to engage when needed. The longitudinal flex is great - which is to say soft enough on the ends to ski bumps well, but even enough to produce a predictable energetic arc on the corduroy without folding when pushed. With a sidecut and rise pattern that nod toward a five-point design, they ski a bit on the short side, so don't size down. They're very pivot-friendly in trees. They are stupid light, which also helps in tight quarters, not to mention on the bootpack. (Don't discount this last item if you are an aging flatlander like me!)

The most surprising attribute of these skis for me is that they can really rip carved turns on groomers, assuming the snow is not rock hard. Obviously edge-to-edge transitions are not lightning fast, but the snow feel while skiing arc-to-arc is amazingly smooth and secure for this kind of a ski, especially at such a light weight. The higher the edge, the calmer it feels. We spent most of a morning in my class at Taos working on clean tight GS turns. My instructor, who is a Nastar pacesetter with a 6 handicap, riding on Stoecklis, was really pushing the speed on a couple of occasions, and I had no feelings of shakiness whatsoever from the ski while hanging right on his tail. Fellow Pugs skiing behind can attest to this. A lot of base was showing that day! To the casual observer, the Ripstick may look a little like a Sky 7 or a Fischer Ranger 98, but it absolutely does not ski like one when you lay it over; it is solid.

Unfortunately I have never skied the standard "green" version of this ski. Others have complained that there is not enough "there there" with the green one. While I'm sure a big talented guy like @Drahtguy Kevin could overpower even the Black Ripstick, I suspect the security I'm feeling at speed on this ski is where the Black Edition has upped the game vs. the standard edition, and has pulled it into contention for the skilled but average-sized skier with high expectations.

"So Tony," you might be saying, "these things sound amazing. Why did you have a hard time getting used to them?"

Well, here's the thing. Most of the hours I have on this ski have been in basically 2D snow. And in 2D snow in the bumps they just seem kind of grabby along the entire length between contact points. This was exaggerated on the super-dry Taos chalk. After the first day I took a gummi stone to the edges, fairly aggressively, full-length. That helped a little. The rest of the week I tried really hard to stay off the edges when in the bumps, doing a lot of conscious feathering with really soft feet. This helped more, and is clearly the solution, but ... habits are hard to break, and I don't recall having this experience with any other ski of this width and design. My hypothesis about this is that in an effort to make a light and fairly soft ski good on the groomed, Elan has made it super-stiff torsionally. (Elan, dudes, if you are listening: Loosen it up just a little.)

When I got the skis I had my shop put a 3-degree edge on them, which has been standard practice for me for a long time on almost all of my skis (except race skis, which have a 4-degree edge). I think the next step is that I'm going to back this down to 2 degrees to see if that helps with the grabbiness. Report to follow at some point.

Meanwhile I'm aware that by all rights I probably would have been better off on a slightly narrower ski in the conditions that prevailed. That's not the Ripstick's fault. I didn't switch to another ski mostly because I didn't want to be changing variables during my lesson week; I wanted to focus on skills, not skis. Plus theses puppies did give me a ton of confidence on the really steep stuff, where the snow tended to have a modicum of depth. They are GREAT tools for narrow chutes and challenging tree shots, being agile and light and yet gutsy enough to deal with chunky snow, blown-off areas, and what have you. If you like to billy goat, take heed.

I am REALLY looking forward to having an opportunity to ski these in more thoroughly 3D snow, where I fully expect them to shine much more brightly than they already have. When I do I'll update the review.

Who is it for? You are light on your feet but precise and accurate in your technique. You make honest race turns on groomers but don't want to struggle with "fat race ski" weight or profile when you peel off into real terrain. @Lady_Salina, looking at you here.

Who else is it for? Billy goats.

Who is it not for? Your preferred ski is yellow and says "CATERPILLAR" in big black letters on top.

Who else is it not for? You need your ski to accommodate sloppy habits. (Forget what Ski Magazine says, the precise response to edging means this is not a particularly forgiving ski, unless your idea of skiing is to make it down the hill with a couple of expensive black toboggans on your feet.)

Insider tip: Don't overdo the edge work. Keep them clean, obviously, but don't strive for razor sharpness.
 

no edge

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Very good report, what do you ski on otherwise? I understand your torsional rigidity concerns. I am looking for something a bit more supple than my Head I titans. I would like a ski that can give quick response without tossing me around in bumps. I am 185 and I am 66. I am quick footed but I am also very aggressive much of the time. What about the Black?
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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Very good report, what do you ski on otherwise?
I have a pretty good quiver. Blossom FIS SLs 155 for hard snow. Older Rossi women's FIS 23m GS for beer league. Völkl 100Eights @ 173cm for powder. Cluster of skis in the mid 80s that I need to thin out, but includes Kästle FX 85s and MX 84s, plus the Elan Wingman 82CTi. I think I'm selling the MX.


I am looking for something a bit more supple than my Head I titans.
Well that doesn't narrow it down much. The Titan is a blast, but a totally different category of ski from the Ripstick in a bunch of ways.

What about the Black?
Don't understand this question. Did you read the post title?
 

BS Slarver

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No Edge - I believe Tony is on the black edition.
IMO, these things rock and are FUN FUN FUN !
As a western OSQ these are about as close to checking all the boxes for someone on the finesse side that goes bell to bell.
They’ve been the ski of choice for 40 of my 48 days this season up against the Stöckli and Renoun in the van.
Me 58 / 175 / 5’9” Lvl 9

Other skis that I demoed before making the decision were the QST, enforcer, Völkl and Blizzard rustler line

Been great in up to 12” - this weeks storm totals are looking at 12-24, we’ll have see if something wider needs to be utilized.
 

no edge

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Yes it's the black edition. Missed the title.

A bump friendly ski is needed. This is important.

At 185lbs 5 10" and in most terrain I am a very good skier. I call myself an 8 a nine in terrain. Any recommendations for size.

I have trust in Elan.
 

James

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Nice!
Was this the pair they had there after the NE Gathering?
I thought it might be good. The regular was like a brain dead golden retriever. But, it may be different for skiers on the lighter side.
 

rmcintosh

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Been on that ski in 188cm for 2 seasons and it is a blast. Hard packed tiny Ontario ski hills are no problem for this ski. Thinking of getting a 2nd pair as a back up.
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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Hard packed tiny Ontario ski hills are no problem for this ski.
I hope, for the sake of the 188cm x 96mm ski's sanity and self image, that you manage to get it out in real terrain from time to time. Otherwise 165cm x 65mm would seem like a better fit. :roflmao:
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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Nice!
Was this the pair they had there after the NE Gathering?
I thought it might be good. The regular was like a brain dead golden retriever. But, it may be different for skiers on the lighter side.
Not sure if it was the exact pair. I don't think so, actually. Might not be your cup of tea, James. You and Geib seem to like the meaty, uncompromising Austrian items.
 

bbinder

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Nice review Tony. As I read it, “though”, I couldn’t help but wonder: is this a case of a decent ski having quirks that you needed to get used to by skiing it for a few days, including adjusting the tune and modifying your technique? In other words: I wonder, if you had skied several similar skis back to back, would you have left this one on the rack and bought a different one?
 

BS Slarver

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Can’t speak for Tony but for me it lived up to the Ripstick name in the first few turns right out of the wrapper -
I’m on the 181s
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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Nice review Tony. As I read it, “though”, I couldn’t help but wonder: is this a case of a decent ski having quirks that you needed to get used to by skiing it for a few days, including adjusting the tune and modifying your technique? In other words: I wonder, if you had skied several similar skis back to back, would you have left this one on the rack and bought a different one?
Yeah. Your comments show that I communicated my thoughts accurately.

The jury is definitely still out on whether we will settle into a comfortable friendship or start to grate on each other. I'm encouraged by the fact that I liked the ski better at the end of the week than at the beginning.

As for that theoretical other ski in the rack, I'm not sure what it might be. Would be nice to find it, but I'm not exactly stressed about it either.
 

Lady_Salina

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Well it's demo week this week, i'll have a look and see if there is some to try out in the Elan tent if I get a chance to get up there and try some.

Hope so.

Sounds very interesting, thanks for the tag Tony.


Me: 140 lbs, 57, 5' 7" east coaster, beer leaguer, finesse skier, skiing 52 years

Ski: Elan Ripstick 96 Black Edition @ 174cm, mounted on the line with Attack 13 AT binders. (This is just a smidge over top-of-head height for me.)

Bought these skis new on spec over the summer, mostly on the strength of my infatuation with the Wingman 82 CTi. They came immaculately packaged and well-priced from @SkiEssentials, who went out of their way to source green bindings to match the sidewalls of the otherwise all-black ski. Suh-weet.

I needed a western one-ski quiver and I hadn't found it by demo-ing yet. Knew I didn't want a "charger" ski like the Bonafide. Knew I didn't want an annoying little barky-dog poser ski either. I needed a skier's ski that I could nevertheless bend at low speed if needed.

It's been a tough season in the East, so I only had two marginally appropriate days on them prior to my recent week in New Mexico. But at the Taos Gathering I spent the large majority of a full seven days on them, which allows me to post some informed notes here.

Honestly I didn't bond immediately with the Ripstick. But after sticking with it for six mornings of lessons and seven afternoons of Pug-chasing over a lot of very mixed terrain, I have come to like the ski a lot.

The shape is very versatile, with ends that don't catch but are also easy to engage when needed. The longitudinal flex is great - which is to say soft enough on the ends to ski bumps well, but even enough to produce a predictable energetic arc on the corduroy without folding when pushed. With a sidecut and rise pattern that nod toward a five-point design, they ski a bit on the short side, so don't size down. They're very pivot-friendly in trees. They are stupid light, which also helps in tight quarters, not to mention on the bootpack. (Don't discount this last item if you are an aging flatlander like me!)

The most surprising attribute of these skis for me is that they can really rip carved turns on groomers, assuming the snow is not rock hard. Obviously edge-to-edge transitions are not lightning fast, but the snow feel while skiing arc-to-arc is amazingly smooth and secure for this kind of a ski, especially at such a light weight. The higher the edge, the calmer it feels. We spent most of a morning in my class at Taos working on clean tight GS turns. My instructor, who is a Nastar pacesetter with a 6 handicap, riding on Stoecklis, was really pushing the speed on a couple of occasions, and I had no feelings of shakiness whatsoever from the ski while hanging right on his tail. Fellow Pugs skiing behind can attest to this. A lot of base was showing that day! To the casual observer, the Ripstick may look a little like a Sky 7 or a Fischer Ranger 98, but it absolutely does not ski like one when you lay it over; it is solid.

Unfortunately I have never skied the standard "green" version of this ski. Others have complained that there is not enough "there there" with the green one. While I'm sure a big talented guy like @Drahtguy Kevin could overpower even the Black Ripstick, I suspect the security I'm feeling at speed on this ski is where the Black Edition has upped the game vs. the standard edition, and has pulled it into contention for the skilled but average-sized skier with high expectations.

"So Tony," you might be saying, "these things sound amazing. Why did you have a hard time getting used to them?"

Well, here's the thing. Most of the hours I have on this ski have been in basically 2D snow. And in 2D snow in the bumps they just seem kind of grabby along the entire length between contact points. This was exaggerated on the super-dry Taos chalk. After the first day I took a gummi stone to the edges, fairly aggressively, full-length. That helped a little. The rest of the week I tried really hard to stay off the edges when in the bumps, doing a lot of conscious feathering with really soft feet. This helped more, and is clearly the solution, but ... habits are hard to break, and I don't recall having this experience with any other ski of this width and design. My hypothesis about this is that in an effort to make a light and fairly soft ski good on the groomed, Elan has made it super-stiff torsionally. (Elan, dudes, if you are listening: Loosen it up just a little.)

When I got the skis I had my shop put a 3-degree edge on them, which has been standard practice for me for a long time on almost all of my skis (except race skis, which have a 4-degree edge). I think the next step is that I'm going to back this down to 2 degrees to see if that helps with the grabbiness. Report to follow at some point.

Meanwhile I'm aware that by all rights I probably would have been better off on a slightly narrower ski in the conditions that prevailed. That's not the Ripstick's fault. I didn't switch to another ski mostly because I didn't want to be changing variables during my lesson week; I wanted to focus on skills, not skis. Plus theses puppies did give me a ton of confidence on the really steep stuff, where the snow tended to have a modicum of depth. They are GREAT tools for narrow chutes and challenging tree shots, being agile and light and yet gutsy enough to deal with chunky snow, blown-off areas, and what have you. If you like to billy goat, take heed.

I am REALLY looking forward to having an opportunity to ski these in more thoroughly 3D snow, where I fully expect them to shine much more brightly than they already have. When I do I'll update the review.

Who is it for? You are light on your feet but precise and accurate in your technique. You make honest race turns on groomers but don't want to struggle with "fat race ski" weight or profile when you peel off into real terrain. @Lady_Salina, looking at you here.

Who else is it for? Billy goats.

Who is it not for? Your preferred ski is yellow and says "CATERPILLAR" in big black letters on top.

Who else is it not for? You need your ski to accommodate sloppy habits. (Forget what Ski Magazine says, the precise response to edging means this is not a particularly forgiving ski, unless your idea of skiing is to make it down the hill with a couple of expensive black toboggans on your feet.)

Insider tip: Don't overdo the edge work. Keep them clean, obviously, but don't strive for razor sharpness.
 

neonorchid

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Well it's demo week this week, i'll have a look and see if there is some to try out in the Elan tent if I get a chance to get up there and try some.

Hope so.

Sounds very interesting, thanks for the tag Tony.
Well, if those demos are 20/21 skis I think the Black Ripstick's are discontinued for 20/21.

20/21 Ripstick's feature what they've dubbed "carbon line tech" which is carbon reinforcement over the inside edges about half the width of the ski and from around the widest point of the shovel down to around the binding toepiece. They still have the carbon rods.

In the 20/21 Black Edition Skis, I'm only seeing a Porsche design Elan amphibio Fusion X and the Insomnia Black Edition power shift.

Will be interesting to learn how the new Ripstick's compare with the outgoing season Ripstick's and Black Ed Ripstick's.
 

Pdub

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Great review Tony.
I was in Snowmass recently and demoed the green edition of the Ripstick 96 in a 174 (I'm 140 lbs) and loved them in crud/cut up powder, steeps, and trees; they were lively and easy to swing around. Was not so impressed on the corduroy/hardpack, where they felt a little squirrely/ unstable at speed (around 40 mph). Also demoed the Enforcer 93 (169 cm) and found them superior on groomers but a chore in the 3D /crud. Finally I took out a pair of Head Kore 99s (171 cm) and was generally unimpressed. Then I got back on my old Kästle FX94s (166 cm) and realized they are the most versatile and refined of the bunch. But they are about 8 years old and full of dings, not sure how much longer they will last.

So I'm wondering if anyone can compare (from experience) the green and the black edition Ripstick 96? And/or 167 feel vs 174? And while I'm at it can anyone compare the Ripstick 96 to the updated version of my FX94, i.e. the FX96 HP? Should the Rustler 9 be on my demo list?
Thanks
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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Should the Rustler 9 be on my demo list?
Yes. But it's not at all like the Ripstick. The Rustler 9 feels narrower, stiffer, more energetic, more fundamentally interested in groomers. It's quicker and turnier, with more bright snowfeel, than the FX94. It's poppy and it's a hoot. You should totally try it. I was on the 172 and it seemed like a good length.
 

AmyPJ

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I'm hoping to get on some Ripsticks this week during testing. I just really have a hard time with the whole "left ski/right ski" thing. To me, that means they need to be tuned twice as often. And, I have to pay attention when I'm clicking in. And, I ride gondolas 80% of the time, so I have to pay attention a lot :geek: But, I really do want to get on a pair or two of this line, as I've not skied them before.

And, nice review, Tony!
 

Noodler

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@Tony S - as we discussed in Taos, take some time and experiment with the binding delta. I think you don't have adjustable bindings on these, correct? Because binding location would be the other variable. Those would be the more obvious ways to modify the way they ski.
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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And, I ride gondolas 80% of the time
:P

I know, right? It's like trying to explain to people how much more slippery that bone spoon is when you're eating your Ossetra.
 
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Tony S

Tony S

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I just really have a hard time with the whole "left ski/right ski" thing. To me, that means they need to be tuned twice as often. And, I have to pay attention when I'm clicking in.
This is all true. Everyone mentions it. And everyone is right. Still, it's no skin off your nose to try them to see.

PS: If you have a choice between a Wingman CTi and a Ripstick, try the Wingman on groomers first. Special.
 
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