Philpug

Notorious P.U.G.
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Here is the first of many segments of 2020 ski reviews.

Dynastar Menace 98

Dimensions: 132-98-120
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 169, 175, 181, 187
Size tested: 181
Design: Mostly New

The Menace 98 is in that playful, youth-oriented 98 range at a price point hundreds less than many other options. Dynastar went back to a proven design to offer the Menace, or as one rep calls it, “the Menache.” If you are looking for a ski that won’t break the bank for that tweenager who just keeps growing and won’t embarrass them with their posse or crew or whatever the kids call their compadres of late, look no further.
  • Who is it for? Cheapskates ... oops, sorry, the budget-conscious ... who want a good, playful ski.
  • Who is it not for? Chargers, you might need more.
  • Insider tip: Yes, there is some familiarity with a previous model.


K2 Mindbender 90Ti
Dimensions: 127-90-114
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 163, 170, 177, 184
Size tested: 177
Design: All New

Yes, the word on the street is true, the new Mindbenders are the real deal. The 90Ti is just a solid ski, a working-class, lunchpail-carrying, blue collar ski. It clocks in on the first turn of the day and keeps its head down and doesn’t stop until your legs give out on the last turn. K2’s Y-beam Titanal construction starts the turn with a solid feel and allows you to make whatever shape you want. K2 just nailed this new collection.
  • Who is it for? Your apple pie option in a buffet of European contenders.
  • Who is it not for? Can’t really think of anyone.
  • Insider tip: Seriously, K2 hasn’t had a collection this good in this segment in this century.


K2 Mindbender 99Ti
Dimensions: 138-99-123
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 170, 177, 184, 191
Size tested: 177
Design: All New

See Long-Term Review HERE.


Kästle FX96 HP

Dimensions: 133-96-119
Radius: [email protected]m
Sizes: 172, 180, 188
Size tested: 180
Design: All New

The FX96 is a ski on many people's radar. This replaces the outgoing FX95/FX95 HP, which was somewhat polarizing, ie people either loved or liked it (very few haters). The all-new metal-less Tri-Tech and all-new 3D shape will bring any fence-sitters into the the "love it" category. The new FX96 HP takes the best of the previous FXs: it has the precision of the FX94 and the playfulness and ease of the FX95 HP, and really you cannot ask for more that -- but wait, yes you can! How about a new, lower price?
  • Who is it for? A skier looking for versatility in the 90-something category with the Nth degree of refinement.
  • Who is it not for? Kästles are not for everyone; some cannot justify the premium price. That's fine, there are viable options at lower price points.
  • Insider tip: I find it odd that every other FX model is available in a 160-something length including the FX116 (165), but this is the only FX that is not, and it will very well be the volume leader. Plus, the mold is already there for the women’s version. Missed opportunity.

Liberty Evolv 90
Dimensions: 132-90-114
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 165, 172, 179, 186
Size tested: 179
Design: All New

The Evolv was a pleasure to ski. Liberty integrated its VMT (Vertical Metal Technology) into a shape that is more akin to the traditional Origin than the newer V-Series skis, but dang it all goes together like peanut butter and jelly. The Evolv 90 is on par with mainstream contenders like the Brahma, Kendo, and even the upcoming Mindbender 90Ti. Liberty is showing that it really deserves to be at the adult table.
  • Who is it for? Again, like the other Liberties we have tested of late, the noncomformist.
  • Who is it not for? Those with with old thinking; Liberty is on a roll and it's not waiting for you.
  • Insider tip: Between this and the V92, I am glad I don’t have to decide.

Line Vision 98

Dimensions: 131-98-119
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 172, 179, 186
Size tested: 179
Design: All New

Like some other skis for this coming season, get rid of your preconceived perceptions of Line and how a light ski should ski. Yes, the Vision 98 is definitely on the lighter side, but its unique construction has a dampened feeling that allows it to hold well on the firm yet remain playful enough to be flicked around. This is not a Supernatural but a ski that has a much more playful personality.
  • Who is it for? Weight weenies who are tired of sacrificing performance.
  • Who is it not for? Bigger 11/10th skiers; no worries, there is still the Supernatural 100.
  • Insider tip: Crank your bindings up a bit, because if you lose this all-white ski on a powder day, it might take a while to find it.

Rossignol Black Ops 98

Dimensions: Unpublished
Radius: Unpublished
Sizes: 162, 172, 182, 192
Size tested: 182
Design: All New

Many of our testers got on the Black Ops at Copper and raved about this originally shop-only and now production model. I have to say, the ski is damn fun. The Black Ops is a playful 98, a great alternative to the mainstream options. If you are looking for something different, give it a spin: like our testers, you might be pleasantly surprised.
  • Who is it for? Skiers who think this sport should be fun.
  • Who is it not for? 11/10th skiers; bigger skiers need to size up.
  • Insider tip: With 10cm increments, some will fall in between sizes.

Salomon QST 99
Dimensions: 134-99-116
Radius: [email protected]
Sizes: 167, 174, 181, 188
Size tested: 181
Design: All New

It is tough to change the image of a ski, once it is labeled finesse ... or power, or easy, or demanding, or whatever. Why do I say this? Well, when the QST 99 came out a few years ago, it was one of the lightest and easiest skis to ski, but at a cost. The ski's reaction in crud and at speed was its Achilles heel. For 2019, Salomon went back to the drawing board and reinvented the whole QST collection, on both the men’s and women’s side of the wall. Yes, the names stay the same; we are talking about the evolution of the series in both shape and construction, but the differences can be felt more in the latter. Along with changing the wood layup, Salomon replaced the light-feeling Koroyd in the tip with cork, and that's what really changes its character. The all-new QST 99 has a much stronger feel due to the dampening of the cork. The new QST feels more like the old Q-Lab, a ski that villages wrote ballads about.
  • Who is it for? Those who want a light and damp ski, a rare combination.
  • Who is it not for? Those who want a loose tip? Sorry, I'm stretching.
  • Insider tip: It has unique sizing options in a class where some can fall in between sizes.
 

firebanex

Getting off the lift
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Apr 16, 2018
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396
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Fairbanks, Alaska
I got to ski on the Black Ops 98 for a run at Snowbird back in April, man that is a nice ski. It honestly reminded me of my Renoun Endurance 98s but heavier and normal feeling. If that makes sense at all. I wish I had a spot in the quiver for them because they are just that good.
 

Tony S

thread drift a specialty
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Maine
The Evolv 90 has an especially nice snow feel and flex. Very adaptable - lets the skier control the turn shape. I also like the way they did the textured topsheet. Looks and feels like quality.
 

SkiMcP

At the junction of 89 & 93
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10
Anyone able to offer some compare/contrast thoughts on the Mindbender 90Ti v the Mindbender 90C?
 

GregK

Out on the slopes
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Mar 21, 2017
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Ontario, Canada
Anyone able to offer some compare/contrast thoughts on the Mindbender 90Ti v the Mindbender 90C?
90C will be lighter and softer flexing with it geared towards “intermediates or experts looking for a ski without metal” according to K2. It’s designed with a similar philosophy to the Ti version using tighter carbon web at the front of the ski for more rigidity and more spread out carbon web from the middle to tail of the ski to make it more playful/forgiving in the tail.

Haven’t actually skied any of the Carbon Mindbenders yet though so can’t tell you how they actually ski but have heard good things about the Mindbender 116 which uses similar carbon web instead of Metal in that ski.
 

Michael Kane

Kano
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Nov 12, 2015
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309
Any idea when we may here something on the skis in the 80-90 range (or did I miss that one)?
 

BMC

Putting on skis
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I’m very interested in your comments about the new construction channeling the QLAB. I absolutely love the QLab and was wondering when Salomon would get back to that sort of performance/feel. I own both the QLab and Gen 1 QST 99 (I bought the QLab after the QST99). I do really like the gen 1 QST 99 but my thoughts on it are exemplified by me putting a Dynafit binding on it. I’m not saying it’s a noodle (it definitely isn’t) but for my preferred “feeling” in a ski, that’s where I put it.

I think I’m now up to season 4 on the QLAB. This coming January they’ll have their 3rd Japanese trip, plus Australian winters (they may only get 3-4 days use a season in Oz though, if that). Time to mount my Shifts sitting in a box on some QST 106s in the new construction I think.
 

Comish

Putting on skis
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LaLa Land / Mammoth
Anything that is super damp and smooth? Everything these days is "playful". If you were someone that liked the recent Monster 98, OG Dynastar Legend Pro, old skool Stormrider 95's, what ski is closest to those?

I also like the Qlab in that 105 underfoot realm, but want something beefier/damper as I go narrower.
 

James

So much better than a pro
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Anything that is super damp and smooth? Everything these days is "playful". If you were someone that liked the recent Monster 98, OG Dynastar Legend Pro, old skool Stormrider 95's, what ski is closest to those?

I also like the Qlab in that 105 underfoot realm, but want something beefier/damper as I go narrower.
The 4frnt Msp kind of straddles the two. Not playful in the slarvey tail pushing fest. More technical. Probably because of the sidecut. It’s got some good beef though.
 

ski otter 2

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I like the same, but I want them to charge (when asked to) as well as just carve up a storm.

And since I'm at a lighter weight than most (150 lbs./6'10"), there are some skis that fit that bill for me (and light to medium weight also) that wouldn't for heavier folk.
(For example, the 2nd generation Rossi Sickle 111/ 181, whereas the 1st generation Sickle 184 was/is such a damp, smooth charger/carver for medium to larger, stronger folk.)

Note: there's a pair of apparently lightly used 1st Gen. Sickles for sale on ebay right now, at a very good price.
Believe it or not, these would match your Monster 98s well, and in addition are hard to beat as a crud/powder/soft snow charger (but not floater). Usually, they are still priced high because of how much some Blistergear folk loved them.
 

GregK

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Ontario, Canada
One person asking on Newschoolers about replacing his 2015 Rossignol Slats(98 underfoot) with something in that width range and I mentioned the Dynastar Menace 98 and Black Ops 98. Luke from Blistergear(he’s around 160lbs I believe and rips trying the 182cm BO 98 and 181cm Menace 98) with lots of time on both of them said this:

“If you want to go narrower, I'd suggest the Menace 98 over the Black Ops 98. While they seem similar on paper, the Black Ops is way less stable in rough snow and a lot less forgiving if you get backseat. The BO 98 does feel more solid on big landings, but it's not particularly damp or stable at speed. Another good narrower option would be the ARV 96Ti, though for PNW, I'd probably opt for one of the wider skis for a 1-ski quiver.”

I thought the heavier weight, longer turning radius and flex pattern made the Slicer/Menace 98 quite stable for a twin and nice to see others agree. Mount a few cm ahead of the line for make the Menace 98 more playful and back a cm to make the BO 98 more stable which puts both around 5.75cm behind center which is a good “all mountain” position.
 

Noodler

Missing making turns :(
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Denver, CO
I know the Stockli wasn't in Phil's original list, but I had a chance to fondle the 2020 Stockli SR 95 yesterday and was really surprised at the changes. This is a much lighter ski than even the 2019 model (that was already lighter than previous generations). In comparing the 2020 to the 2019 side-by-side, you can see how the bottom titanal layer has been removed in the 2020 version. It now has a thinner profile and a softened flex too. Has Stockli "dumbed down" the new version too much and removed much of what we appreciated in the older generations of the ski?
 
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