Full disclosure; I have a bias toward Atomic and have worked with the local rep off and on for about 7 years. There is a reason though; I love what they do. I don't get free stuff or anything for praising them.
Size tested: 188
I'll start off by saying I never fell in love with the Vantage series after they left the Backbone design a few years back. They just never felt quite right for me. I had the Vantage 100 for two seasons, and while we got along, we never really clicked. When I found out they were redesigning the Vantage line I got really excited for two reasons; they were finally adding a 1-oh-something (107) to the line, and we would finally see a truly flat almost square tail.
I wanted both the 107 and 97, but rationale and a lack of storage made me realize I didn't need something over 100 when I have a 123mm ski. So I ordered the 97.
Fast forward to today and they have Shifts mounted at 1.5 behind the line. 5-12 inches of heavy Sierra Cement overnight and late start lead us to only take a few runs, but I already am in love with these things. This is not a playful ski, it doesn't like short turns, and it wants to go fast. It isn't the stiffest ski out there, but it is up there, and it's a clean, predictable flex. It handles chop better than anything I've ever skied, and even cut up cement on top of 3 week old bumps didn't phase them.
After about 16 inches of fresh not-quite-blower, I went up to Sugar Bowl with some of the kids I coach and took both the Bentchetlers and the V97. I skied the Bentchetlers in the morning, partially because it was less cut up, but mostly because I hadn't been on them in a while. It took me a run or two to get used to being on a fat center mounted twin again. After lunch, I switched to the V97 and holy frick I think I'm going to sell the Bentchetlers. My skiing "style" has changed (errr, maybe "developed" is the right word) a lot in the last three seasons, and I don't have a desire to ski switch or surf turns as much as I used to. Everything from the few untouched stashes we found to the cut up stuff on Lincoln, the V97 just demolished it. It floats, but not on the surface (more face shots? I think so) like a wider (115mm and up) ski will. It's like a well-ballasted submarine right at periscope depth.
Something that always frustrated me about the Vantage 100 was that it felt very pivoty and like it wanted to be playful but was still too serious (like someone who had spent their entire career in a very uptight corporate world and was suddenly put into a very easy going tech startup atmosphere) to be enjoyable. The V97 has no identity crisis at all; its all business when it's in/on the snow. But as soon as it's in the air, it is light enough to be maneuverable (no extra effort to move your feet for a shifty or grab).
A note on the Shifts... They do ski like an alpine binding, without a doubt. I'm beyond impressed. However, they seem to be a little hasty to release. I need to recheck forward pressure. One also switched into tour mode on more than one ejection. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I have no intention to stop skiing them.
All in all, I'm super stoked on this combination, and it's causing me to significantly rething my need for anything over 110mm, especially somehting as surfy as the Bentchetler.
As I get more days on them I'll keep this updated. I'm especially looking forward to skinning with them.
- Who is it for? Anyone who wants to charge but doesn't want a two-by-four on their feet.
- Who is it not for: Timid skiers. People who ski on their heels. Anyone who likes making small tight turns (except hop turns)
- Insider tip: Mount them at least a cm behind the line and ski it like you mean it.
Featured Individual Review Long term review: Atomic Vantage 97 Ti
I assume you are skiing the 189?
Here is my review from the spring...
Atomic Vantage 97 Ti
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 172, 180, 188
Design: All New
I was excited to get on this ski because the previous generation never wowed me. It was a nice ski but just kind of ... there. I was able to get on this ski very early with [name drop] Daron Rahlves [/name drop] and was impressed with how solid it felt. We are seeing some newer mesh technology from Atomic, which has pulled it off nicely. The 97 Ti holds well on the snow with a connection I haven’t felt from the Austrian company in recent memory.
Usually light means nervous in a ski, but skiing the 97 Ti on firmer early-season snow (a loose term), I felt no nervousness at all, just a solid attachment to the ground. The gradual tip shape works well for initiation, and I like that Atomic narrowed it to 97mm from the 100mm of the previous generation.
- Who is it for? Gentle giants; those who want to charge but maybe not all the time.
- Who is it not for? Backseat skiers: the tip wants to be engaged.
- Insider tip: Step up to the Ti for a bit more dampening.
Below is my take on the 97 Ti from the Copper test last year. I'd like to spend more time with this ski.
A fun, lightweight, off-piste-oriented ski that is exhilarating in the wind buff, bumps, and crud, the 97 Ti still serves up a quick, poppy ride on the groomed. Superior flex and snow feel complement a tip that makes entering turns easy. The solid tail releases on command. This IS the one-ski quiver for skiers in the West. My favorite of the Copper Mountain test.
- Who is it for? Skiers with imagination. The 97 Ti willingly goes wherever you want and performs admirably.
- Who is it not for? Groomer-only skiers. This ski wants to take you places.
- Insider tip: Don’t let the weight fool you, it is strong enough for the Clydesdales among us.
I skied Phil's 180 demo of this ski at Mother's Day, and I also enjoyed it. We purposely took it into bad snow (including coral reef) and it ate that up. I thought it was a strong and precise ski.
After reading the reviews and some discussions I decided to try both the new 90ti and 97ti. Both are in the demo fleet at Copper. Skied the 90 all morning and switched to the 97 and skied it all afternoon. I'm kind of surprised to not see the 90 being recommended more. What an easy going, cruise all over the front side of the mountain ski. Kind of a really good ski for current Copper conditions. For me, the 97 required more work and attention. Definitely skis different from the 90. I did take it in Spaulding Bowl and it seemed at home there. It was really stable as speed picked up and pretty easy to turn in the chop. Could have just been me but I didn't get the feeling it likes being skied in a more relaxed or neutral position.
Last edited: Jan 8, 2019