2017 Salomon QST 99 Ski Review: Surfy, Stable, and Lightweight // Ski Reviews
We had a chance to take out the new 2017 Salomon QST 99 at Stowe Mountain Resort this week. This is the first 2017 Salomon ski we’ve reviewed thus far, so we should take some time to chat about what’s changing in their line. The QST line is Salmon’s brand new all mountain series and the 99 sits right in the middle of a range of five different widths ranging from 85mm all the way up to 118mm for varying applications. They use varying amounts of camber, rocker, and early taper, with the 99 coming in with a good amount of tip rocker, camber underfoot, subtle tail rocker, and some slight early taper. The entire QST line boasts versatility stemming from their relatively unique construction, and Salomon has done a very commendable job on these new skis.
The three big pieces of technology in the new QST skis are a Spaceframe Woodcore, Ti Power Platform, and, perhaps the most unique of all, Salomon’s CFX Superfiber. Let’s take a look at each individually then discuss how they work together to create a pretty special feel. First off is the Spaceframe Woodcore. Salomon has been throwing around the term Spaceframe for about 15 years now, but this is certainly the best version we’ve ever seen. On the new QST skis the term “Spaceframe” refers to using specific materials in specific places of the ski. What does this accomplish? The basis of the Spaceframe technology is that is provides superior ski to snow stability, underfoot power for hard pack, all while retaining lightweight agility. The mock up is a combination of a wood core, Ti plate underfoot, full 360 degree ABS sidewall, and lightweight Koroyd inserts in the tip and tail. The Ti plate is what Salomon refers to as their Ti Power Platform, which really helped provide strength and torsional stiffness right underfoot where you need it most.
And that brings us to the biggest innovation in the new QST skis, Salomon’s CFX Superfiber. This Superfiber is a combination of carbon and flax fibers. Yes, you read that right, it uses flax fibers. No, we don’t recommend trying to eat the core of your Salomon skis, but it’s pretty impressive what this material accomplishes in the construction of a ski. We’re seeing carbon used in all sorts of skis in the industry right now, and most skiers are pretty familiar with the positives and negatives of the material. Carbon increases torsional stiffness without adding a lot of weight, but alternatively can make a ski feel “twitchy”, “pingy”, and a little unstable. By weaving flax fibers with carbon fiber, Salomon has given the skis increased stability without the downsides of carbon. Instead of feeling twitchy, the QST 99 is exceptionally smooth, yet still retains solid torsional stiffness.
So, how did the ski perform? We took the QST 99 out on a great day for testing at Stowe Mountain Resort. We got about half an inch of rain the day before followed by 6 inches of snow overnight. This meant we had a really nice mix of snow conditions for testing skis. There were straight up boiler plate ice patches, but also some deep pockets where the wind blew it in, and even some skiable conditions in low angle trees. It provided perfect conditions for testing the versatility of the QST 99, and the ski performed admirably!
The first few runs on the QST we were searching for soft snow from the night before. We skied a low angle tree run followed by some steeper, ungroomed terrain where we were seeking out deep snow. In the trees, in chopped up snow, and in 6-8 inches of untouched snow the QST 99 was an absolute blast. The shape and construction result in a ski that’s extremely maneuverable. It releases its edges exceptionally easily for effortless pivoting, slarvy turns. Our testers, and myself included, were initially impressed by how “surfy” the ski feels for only having a 99mm waist. Normally the ability to slash, pivot, and sideslip in deep snow is reserved for skis with waist widths well over 100mm. The QST 99, however, makes you feel like you’re on a wider ski when you’re in soft snow. The float, stability, and maneuverability is extremely impressive. It’s got a really nice turn radius of 19.4m in the 181cm length which allows you to make relatively quick turns without sacrificing the skis ability to release its tail edge.
It all results in a pretty effortless ski, which you can probably notice in our review video. I (in a tan jacket in our video) found that it was incredibly easy to ski, but still provided plenty of performance. I was able to relax and kind of just let the ski do the work through some tricky conditions (combination of ice moguls and soft troughs) and it left me smiling and wanting more where with some other skis in this category I would’ve been exhausted after navigated similar conditions.
The skis are so maneuverable and playful that after our first few runs I started to question whether it would hold up to more aggressive skiing. We switched our focus to “groomed” terrain so we could initiate some higher speed turns to test the skis stability at speed and edge grip. It’s doesn’t have the most powerful feel when you’re really pushing the ski, but it certainly provides enough stability for aggressive skiing. You don’t get an energetic “pop” out of your turns, but it does make really smooth, nice carving turns. The groomers on our test day were pretty soft, so we didn’t really have a chance to see if it held an edge through ice, but we think it would do just fine. It’s not going to give back like a race ski would, or even like a competitor ski with more metal, but the combination of CFX Superfiber and the Ti plate underfoot does provide plenty of torsional stiffness for those who want to shred firm groomers without having to switch to a narrower ski.
So what’s our overall take on the new QST 99? It’s perhaps one of the most versatile all mountain skis that we’ve skied thus far going into the 2017 ski season. Its real strength is definitely in off-piste conditions. Powder, wind buffed terrain, and even icy moguls were all an absolute blast to ski on the QST 99. Its ability to release its edges and make multiple different turn shapes relatively effortlessly is apparent from the moment you make your first turn. It’s definitely a confidence inspiring ski, especially when you’re in tight terrain or weird, tricky conditions. On groomers, however, it’s definitely no slouch. As we mentioned, it doesn’t make the most powerful, energetic turns, but it does provide plenty of torsional stiffness for those looking to charge down groomed terrain. CFX Superfiber and Flax Fiber both sound pretty gimmicky, right? They’re not. It works. We’re seeing so many different mock ups across the industry with carbon fiber and Salomon’s new Superfiber is right among the most impressive and best performing.
If you’re the type of skier who prefers spending their time in off-piste conditions and likes making shorter, pivoting turns, this ski is absolutely perfect. It’s also, however, going to make a great all mountain ski for a wide range of skiers who want an everyday ski that performs really well in essentially every condition imaginable. Unlike a lot of other all mountain skis in this width category, there aren’t really any major downsides to the new QST 99.