The 2020 Atomic Vantage 97 C W is among the wider skis in this line of all-mountain skis from Atomic. Skis in the Vantage collection either use metal or carbon, with different benefits coming from each. This ski in particular relies on Carbon Tank Mesh, Atomic’s Light Woodcore, and their signature construction technique utilizing raised portions along the edge and an ultra-thin channel in the center of the ski. This construction allows Atomic to keep the weight at a bare minimum, especially in the models that use carbon. The Vantage 97 C W comes in at an impressive weight of 1600 g in the 164 cm length. These skis use relatively low-rise rocker profiles, and don’t have much early taper at all, which helps retain long edge contact through a variety of terrain and snow conditions.
Catherine Ferguson tested the 172 cm length in the Vantage 97 C W and was impressed by its stability, torsional stiffness/edge grip, and even its forgiveness, with each of those criteria receiving 5 out of 5. In fact, the only criteria that didn’t receive at least a 4 out of 5 was flotation, coming in at 3. That’s perfectly okay with us, as even though this ski is 97 mm in its waist, Atomic has other options in similar widths that are more geared towards powder, like the Bent Chetler 100 or Backland 102 W. Rather, Catherine found it was a “stiff ski that can really hold an edge. Was a lot of fun on groomers. Great for skiers that like to ski fast, but easy to mellow down as well. Easy to maneuver with short or long radius turns.”
Ariel Aidala had a similar response after skiing the 164 cm length. Her highest scores were for stability and quickness/maneuverability, both receiving 5’s out of 5, and we didn’t see any scores below 4 out of 5 from Ariel. “These skis crushed the groomers. Although this ski is nearly 100 mm underfoot, it still performs great on firm snow. Edge hold was great. This ski would be a good choice for the advanced lady looking for a wider everyday ski that performs on and off-piste.”
Elissa DeGolyer, someone who has plenty of experience on stiffer, heavier skis, was perplexed that the Vantage 97 C W achieves its level of performance without using metal. Calling it “pretty bizarre,” Elissa “did not feel like this ski lacked metal. Strong for high speeds through a lot of snow.” That’s a trend we’ve seen throughout the whole Vantage line. They might not have the rocker profile you need for quick pivoting turns in deep snow, but they can tank through choppy snow conditions while holding an edge. Elissa was on the 172 cm length during her test runs.
Nifer Hoehn, who also skied the 172 cm length, did mention that she would prefer a heavier ski. While the Vantage 97 C W does a really good job staying stable through different snow conditions, there will be some skiers used to the extra mass of a heavier ski. Still, Nifer had a lot of fun on the Vantage 97 C W. “In the turn, they held pretty well, and they’re easy to bring around to initiate. Nice lightweight ski, but I think I would have liked a heavier option.” If you’re like Nifer, you might prefer a ski that feels heavier on your feet, but keep in mind she has a formal race background and is used to driving heavy skis.
Shelby Parenteau fell on the other end of the spectrum. While she enjoyed the 164 cm Vantage 97 C W, she thought it was probably a little too much for her. “Felt like a little too much ski for me. Stiff, hard to engage and stay on top of, but if you’re on it, this ski held an edge well and could rip some turns.”
Most of our testers absolutely loved the performance of the Vantage 97 C W. If you think you fall into the higher levels of aggressiveness like Nifer, or rather the progressing intermediate stage like Shelby, there’s a chance it might not be for you, but those are small segments of skiers, and we think most women would be thrilled with the performance of the Vantage 97 C W.