The Vantage 97 Ti is the second-widest ski in Atomic’s unique collection of all-mountain skis. What makes them unique, you might ask? Their construction is, with some arguable exceptions, quite different than what we see from any other brand. Material has been removed from the center of the ski, creating a channel between raised portions along the edge. Sure, we’ve seen similar concepts before, but few get as thin as the Vantage skis do, and few achieve the same level of stiffness and responsiveness. Atomic calls it Prolite, and it’s designed to be lighter and stronger all at the same time. Titanium Tank Mesh builds in some vibration damping and increased stability. One look at Atomic’s Vantage line and they’re obviously something a little different.
David Wolfgang certainly thought they stood out, as his first response to the Vantage 97 Ti after testing the 180 cm length was, “in this width category I found the Vantage (97 Ti) to be one of the quietest and most stable.” What David didn’t mention in that response is that it’s also one of the lighter skis in this category. Combining stability with a lightweight feel is challenging, and Atomic has done a very good job of it. “Velvety smooth turn initiation with plenty of power.” Atomic has tweaked the flex pattern of their Vantage series for 2020 to make them a little smoother. A slightly softer flex has also increased forgiveness, but it doesn’t sound like David thinks they’ve lost any power.
Atomic has multiple skis in this width range including the Bent Chetler 100 and the Backland 95. The shape of the Vantage 97 Ti is arguably the most focused on firm snow performance out of those 3, and Brad Schauerman’s response supported that concept. Brad tested the 180 cm length and found it to be a “good groomer ski.” He thought it was a little unstable at times in cruddy snow conditions, which isn’t tremendously surprising given how light it is. A lighter ski will get deflected more easily in choppy conditions. “Great from edge to edge on groomers. Not the quickest or nimblest ski in its class, but very stable at high speeds and great for carving.” A ski with more rocker is going to feel nimbler off groomers, and a heavier ski will track better through choppy snow, but for responsive carving turns in this width range, it doesn’t get much better than the Vantage 97 Ti.
Brooks Curran seemed to agree after testing the 188 cm length. He thought it had a “race-inspired” feel and found that it “loves the smooth, hard snow.” Again, it’s important to note that Atomic has other skis in this width range that are more focused on soft snow performance, and that makes statements like Brooks’ “less friendly in chunk or at slower speeds,” not surprising, and not necessarily a downside. A ski like the Bent Chetler 100 with its increased rocker profile will be easier to maneuver at slower speeds in variable snow than a ski like the Vantage 97 Ti, and that’s okay.
Annie MacDonald was impressed by its ability on firm snow, reflected in her score of 5 out of 5 for torsional stiffness/edge grip. “Stable, but also lightweight. Holds well and liked big radius turns, but also pretty quick turning when you need to.” Annie actually found the lightweight feel made it “very maneuverable,” but if we consider Brooks’ reaction, we can extrapolate that it’s going to take some good technique to maneuver it; it’s not just a smearing, slow-speed ski. Overall, Annie thought it would be “good for aggressive skiers for all-mountain use.”
The Vantage 97 Ti is going to be best on the feet of skiers who value edge grip, precision, and responsiveness. It’s a great all-mountain ski, but skiers that want to smear and skid their turns may find it’s not the right ski for them. Those with solid technique and a traditional skiing background will feel right at home unweighting the tail to get it to maneuver and will fall in love with its lightweight feel, responsiveness, and impressive, stable feel.