Ski Reviews

2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review

2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review: // Ski Reviews

Skiers have a lot of options these days. It often feels more challenging to decide what your next ski will be than your next car. Luckily, however, manufacturers are doing a great job differentiating their skis from competitors. Gone are the days when everything was sandwich construction with a vertical sidewall (although there are still plenty of those skis). New materials and new construction techniques have resulted in a much bigger range of ski performance, allowing skiers to dial in which performance is right for them. This week's review is a perfect example. The Vantage 90 Ti from Atomic falls distinctly into the ~90 mm all-mountain category, and it has plenty of company there, but it sets itself apart thanks to its unique construction and lightweight feel.

For 2020, Atomic has tweaked their new Prolite construction resulting in slightly different performance out of the Vantage 90 Ti compared to 2019. Before we jump into performance, however, let's summarize that construction. Prolite construction starts from the group up to ensure lightness and zero waste. Atomic has essentially carved out central channels in the fore and aft body of the ski, leaving it extremely thin in those spots. You basically just get base material, the top sheet, and their Titanium Tank Mesh material, which runs the full length of the ski. Underfoot and along the edges, however, Atomic builds in a thicker beech and poplar wood core, which they refer to as Energy Backbone. The resulting ski is extremely light for this category, coming in at just 1750 g at the 176 cm length. For comparison, a 180 cm Blizzard Brahma 88 comes to around 2000 g. Being lightweight, however, does not mean it's a soft-flexing ski, which we'll talk more about in performance.

2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review: Ski Spec Image

The profile and shape of the Vantage 90 Ti isn't quite as innovative as its construction, but that's not a bad thing. You get 85% camber and 15% rocker in the tip, with no tail rocker whatsoever. There's not much early taper in the tip or tail, although the sidecut doesn't extend all the way through to the ends of the ski like we've seen from some other designs. The 176 cm length has an 18.4 m turn radius. The shape is, well, pretty straight-forward. The ski's performance and how it differentiates itself relies much more on that unique construction rather than any kind of game-changing shape concepts.

2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review: Full Camber Image

The first thing you'll notice when you click into a pair of Vantage 90 Ti and start pushing or skating over to the lift is how light they are. It's one of those skis where you want to pick up a foot and pivot the ski around in the air as you're waiting in the lift line. You'll be so impressed with the low swing weight that people will be giving you funny looks as you go from one foot to another contemplating how they made it feel this light. If you happened to hand-flex the ski before clicking in, which a lot of us do whether it's at a demo, in a shop, or the first time we take a ski out of the box, you'll also notice it's pretty darn stiff.

Alright, alright, so how does it feel when you're actually skiing? Simply put, really good. Let's talk about that stiffness a little. When a ski is this light and very stiff, it's going to be exceptionally responsive. The 2019 Vantage 90 Ti was even stiffer than this 2020 version, most notably in the tail, which gave it somewhat of a twitchy feel. At times, it felt too responsive. If you made a mistake, it reacted so quickly that it felt like it accentuated that mistake. This new 2020 ski is still extremely responsive, but it's more forgiving than the 2019 version. Now, that responsiveness is 100% a performance benefit. This thing feels amazing when linking carving turns. Not only is it responsive and energetic, it also holds an edge really well. It doesn't, however, have the ultra-damp, tank-like feel that the heavier, 2-sheets-of-metal skis do, and we're happy about that. Going back to the start of this article, it's pointless to have a bunch of different skis that all feel the same. Skiers who value precision, edge grip, and responsiveness on groomers, but don't necessarily want or need a heavy, super-damp ski will love the Vantage 90 Ti. It's right up there with the best of the best in terms of its ability to hold an edge on firm snow, but because it's lighter, it's a little easier to ski and much less tiring over a long day.

2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review: Wide Action Image2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review: Wide Action Image 2

The 2019 ski sometimes felt really locked into a carving turn, often to a fault. It can be unnerving when you're skiing fast and feel like you're stuck on edge. By softening up the tail of the ski, it's much easier to release your tail edge. It's also easier to play around with turn shape when holding that carve. How you weight the ski will change turn shape more easily than it did on the 2019 ski. Also, if you get into the backseat by accident, it's not going to punish you. That's the situation where we felt the previous version accentuated your mistake rather than helped compensate for it. The 2020 Vantage 90 Ti, instead of feeling like it's fighting you, just feels supportive. It's stiff enough that there's some stability back there and you can get your weight back to a forward and balanced position without washing out, but it's not so stiff that it huts your legs.

What about when you take it off the groomers? The biggest highlight in un-groomed terrain is its quickness. It's quick edge to edge and it's also quick when making sweeping, pivoting turns because of that low swing weight. Watch the video review that goes along with this article to see Bob picking his way down a steep, tight tree line by making a series of super-quick pivoting turns. The new flex pattern makes this easier than before as you can keep the ski on the snow and still get that tail edge to come around. On the previous version, there was a lot of un-weighting of your tail edge to get the ski to come around, but that feeling is pretty much gone entirely. No, it doesn't smear like a ski with tail rocker, but it does it pretty darn well for a cambered tail. Technical terrain is another application where the ski's responsiveness really shines. It gives the ski a rhythmic, balanced feel when maneuvering through trees and moguls. It lets you slide your turns, but not too much; the ski wants to snap you into the next turn sooner than later.

So, who's it best for? You want a performance carving ski in the 90 mm waist width, but you don't want a heavy ski. That's the simplest way to describe the ideal skier for the Vantage 90 Ti. Maybe you've had one of those heavier skis in the past and you just find it beats you up a little bit, especially on those after-lunch runs. You don't want to lose performance on firm snow, but you'd rather not be totally exhausted on the drive home from a full day of skiing. On the other hand, maybe you've skied one of those heavier skis and you felt like it was too boring. Those skis require a lot of speed to come alive, but the Vantage 90 Ti feels responsive and energetic even at slow speeds. It's arguably a more engaging experience, especially if you're skiing at moderate speeds. Maybe you're moving up from an intermediate-level ski, but those heavy expert skis seem like too much. The Vantage 90 Ti could fill that roll nicely too. All things considered, a lot of people will enjoy the Vantage 90 Ti. If you're in the market for a performance all-mountain ski in this width range, don't rule it out. Because it's different, take a closer look.

2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review: Buy Now Image
2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review: 2020 Ski Test Results Image


 

Written by Jeff Neagle on 09/11/19

16 thoughts on “2020 Atomic Vantage 90 Ti Ski Review

  1. Hey, Jeff.

    Good article. I'm wondering if you meant to include the video for the 2020 Blizzard Black Pearl embedded in the article? It took me a min. to find the video for the vantage (but not too long). Luckily, I was able to find that video using the link in the see the results area.

    Anyways, your content is quite good. Found you guys last season from your YouTube channel. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

  2. Looks like a great ski for me. But would demo if possible

    I am old skier that is used to setting turn and lifting heals. My Nordica skis are heavy and at age 72 am looking for lighter, more responsive ski. I am a carver and not GS skier.

    Suggested price please ?

    1. Hi Sally!
      Definitely worth a demo! If you're ever in Stowe, we'll have them for demo this upcoming winter at our Pinnacle Ski and Sports retail store. Currently, we're offering those skis with bindings for $675 thanks to our pre-season sale that ends next week. Item #AA0027616K if you're interested. Thanks and have fun!
      SE

  3. Hey Skier,

    I was all set to make a decision on an eastern biased all-mountain ski, for the coming seasons. I'm 54yo, 5'8" and 165 skier. My main ski is the '14 Bonafide, but I look to get in the glades a lot and it wears me out later in the day. At the end of last winter I demoed the Enforcer 93 for four days. I was dog tired at the end of the last three days.
    I'm getting tired of getting tired. So I was settling into the idea of the Rustler 9 for a demo. This atomic 90ti for 2020 seems like a perfect antidote for performance, without the young legs. Would you give me your thoughts on side by side and any other suggestions?

    1. Hi Joe!
      If you're looking for a lighter, yet still stiff and expert-level ski, it's hard to go wrong with the Vantage 90 Ti. Definitely check out that Rustler as well, as it's a great choice, too. The Head Kore 93 is another choice that is light but doesn't skimp on performance. Have fun!
      SE

  4. I'm looking to buy new skis and am fairly new to skiing but quickly progressed to upper intermediate/lower expert skill level. 5'10", 185 pounds, 29 years old and ski about 20 days a year. I ski almost exclusively in Colorado and spend a lot of time on groomers but also like to get into trees and moguls. I want a ski that will be good for me now but will also allow me to grow as skier and get more into those glade and mogul runs. I'm stuck between the m5 mantra, sky 7 and vantage 90 or 97. Any recommendations on what would be best for the groomers but allow for easy transition to the glades and moguls?

    1. Hi Andy!
      Well, the Mantra is best for groomers and the Sky is best for bumps and trees, so the Atomic models lie somewhere in between. The 90 certainly lacks a bit of flotation compared to the 97, but makes up for it with quickness and carving prowess. I would say that the Mantra is a better overall choice versus the Sky, as the Sky prefers slower speeds and shorter turns while the Mantra can do a bit of everything, including high-speed carving. It's a bit heavier come mogul time, but if you're improving, it'll grow with you versus the other choices that might seem a bit light after a few days/weeks. Hope that helps!
      SE

  5. Hey Ski Essentials.
    How does the 2020 90ti compare to the 2018 CTI. I'm skiing the 2018 in a 184, love it just wish it was a little better in crud. Would the 2020 90ti be an improvement. 54 years 5'11 200lbs advance skier finesse style. East Coast and the 4-5 trips out west. Love out easy, stable and edge hold on the CTI. Any thoughts on size, comparison or do I need to look at another ski

    1. Hi Kendall!
      I'm not sure it's going to be as adept in crud. Smooth conditions and lighter snow don't seem to be as much of an issue, but the light weight of the 2020 Vantage puts it at a disadvantage when it comes to choppy snow. If you're looking for a slightly burlier 90 mm underfoot ski or slightly wider, check out the K2 Mindbender 90 Ti, Blizzard Rustler 9, or the Salomon QST 92. All still pretty grippy with more off-trail skill. In terms of sizing, I think the low to mid-180's is the place to be. Have fun!
      SE

  6. Hey Jeff & Bob,

    I'm 52, 6'1" and somewhere between 200-210. Similar to you Bob.

    I've been skiing 180 2018 Brahma 88's these last two seasons out here in the East. I had not skied them before purchasing them but went on advice from you and others. I was choosing between Brahma's and Kendo's (90 at the time) which I had skied a few times and was pretty pleased with their performance. Here are my thoughts on the two: the Kendo's (184) are quite versatile compared to the Brahmas and above a certain speed lock into a carve as if you were on a rail track - amazing at carving sweeping turns until unweighted. Zero hesitation at Mach speed. But, I found I could still maneuver in tighter terrain at slower speed and a few inches of fresh. The Brahma's (180), on the other hand, are phenomenal at equivalent Mach speed but I actually feel
    I can overpower them and find myself having to bleed speed in order for them not to require further leg strength to keep them tracking. I attribute this more to the length than anything else and often wished I'd bought the 188's to obtain similar performance to the Kendo 184's. Problem is at 188, you have a one trick pony GS like ski which isn't very useful in many other conditions. In fact, this is where I found the Brahma, even at 180, lacklustre. Until it's moving it really is a rather dull and somewhat unfriendly ski.

    Moving on, I also own a pair of 2018 QST 92's 185 and a pair of 90Eights 184 both of which I find a blast in their appropriate terrain. I actually ski the QST's most of the time as I find I can get the most of my day on them. The Volkl's I skied for 30 days this year (almost in a row) in Europe in different conditions and I learned a lot about what they excel at and their limitations (basically a top speed below mine). Both great skis to me though. Upon returning from that trip I found myself wanting to try something similar to the Volkl's but with a higher top speed limit. Among others I demo'd, I tried the Atomic Vantage 97 TI's in 188 and found myself grinning the whole time I had them underfoot. I felt they were exactly what I was looking for - a 90Eight but a touch stiffer and capable of charging when needed or
    wanted. I really enjoyed those skis and found them to be very different (lighter and playful even in 188!) from my old and massive Blackeye TI 181 which gave me noodle legs after 5 hours on them (way too heavy).

    Getting to the point, I'm back at searching for a piste oriented ~90 mm ski that will give me more versatility than the Brahma's. I do feel ~185 length is best for me and find I'm "flipping" 180's even with two sheets of metal. This is what has been steering me away from Blizzards as they don't have this intermediate length other than possibly in the Rustler 9's. In short, I'd like a Brahma/Kendo large radius (>20 m) carver at speed (the 90Eights are actually remarkable on this front with a ~23 m radius they lock in quite well provided the hill is not too steep) with a "playful soul". Would the Vantage 90 TI 184 be that ski?

    Other choices I'm considering probably in order of "best fit":

    K2 Mindbender 90 Ti 184
    Stöckli Stormrider 88 186 (ehm, I wish?!)
    Blizzard Rustler 9 188
    Nordica Enforcer 88 186
    Head Kore 93 189 (too similar to the QST's?)

    Thoughts?

    1. Hi David!
      Ha! It's hard to overlook that Stormrider even at the price! I was very impressed with those skis for sure. This is Bob responding by the way. The one thing I'd say about your list is that they vary quite a bit in terms of weight. The Atomic is on the light side while the K2 and the Enforcer 88 are on the heavy side. If you liked the Vantage 97, there's little to no reason why you won't like the 90--very similar in terms of construction and overall concept, just narrower and less rockered. The Enforcer and the K2 will be more similar to your Kendo/Brahma in terms of dampness and higher-speed performance. I love the Enforcer 88, and skiing it in the 186 length here in Stowe is a pretty perfect match. I didn't personally feel that I could open up the Vantage 90 as much as either the Enforcer or the K2, but I did like the maneuverability and the quickness for sure. If you've watched those ski review videos, I'm the one in the blue coat, so you can actually get a good sense of how I ski on those three skis (Vantage 90, Enforcer 88, and K2 90 Ti). Sounds like you're looking for more stability at speed than the Rustler and Kore are willing to provide, so I'd stick to the 88-90 underfoot skis. Hope that helps!
      SE/Bob

      1. Hey Bob,

        thanks for your helpful reply. It definitely is a catch 22 situation. What does one ski if one wants a ski that can rip when the legs are fresh and you want to get your blood flowing at -20C and then just want to have fun in the trees and off-piste in the afternoon once the sun is up? It's almost as if one needs to take two pairs of skis to the mountain and swap at lunch time. I actually have tried that when I was on the Atomic Blackeye's (my now standard reference for heavy system skis or generally just weight) and would switch to the QST's in the afternoon. It worked (albeit tedious) but it won't for the scenarios I have planned which include a safari trip where we have one pair of skis for 10 days. In a way it's similar to the backcountry "conflict" where one wants a certain type of ski (light) for the uphill and something different for the downhill (heavier and stiff). I'm always amazed when I watch guys like Jeremie Heitz hike up a pair of Scrappers (practically water skis!) on his back to 4000m. But I digress.

        I had the opportunity to try out some Stormriders in Europe as the entire group I was with were on various Stockli's (based on my pressuring the rental shop 🙂 but unfortunately I didn't capitalize on the opportunity as it would have required adjusting the bindings for my larger boot (and the fellow wasn't too keen on that though he did want to try out my 90Eight's!). In any case, I did get a sense of how they skied by watching the fellow on them. Despite being torsionally stiff, the one thing that puts doubt in my mind is the softer tip. I might be wrong given the finessed sheets of full TI on them but the soft tip is my only concern with my (no metal) 90Eights (which BTW I still feel are a pretty good choice for both the Alps and Dolomites which are very different terrain grounds) - the tips are a tad too soft when moving at speed. On the mentioned safari which takes place in the incredibly well maintained Dolomites (almost too much for my taste), I decided I'd like to take an 88-90 underfoot which can ski as that terrain allows you to. So basically a ski that is stiffer yet still somewhat versatile at slower speeds. I figured a Kendo would do the trick better than my Brahma's but not sure the new 2020's are all the 2018-2019's were (track like locomotives) and are as playful as the new weight loss top TI might lead you to believe. Because of this I actually considered a pair of 2019's as it's a ski "I know". Another option I figured would be the Mindbender 90's. The weight is ok with me as all skis feel relatively light today compared to my still imprinted standard (4 kg underfoot total!). For sure, I can tell the "weight" difference between the light 184 90Eight's (~1800g) and the 180 Brahma's (~2100g) but to me it's more in the ski design than the 300g difference between them.In short, I can live with Brahma like weight in the 90 underfoot skis. Getting back to the Vantage 97 188's, I though those skis ripped and maybe it was the length and/or width but I felt like I could carve at equivalent speed on them as on the Brahmas and actually felt less concerned finishing turns compared to the Brahma's. I'm sure those extra cm have something to do with it (maybe only in my mind) but I suspect the effective edge between the two is similar if not a tad more on the Vantage despite being more rockered. It seemed to me that their backbone construction was incredibly stiff and yet they had amazing pop out of a turn practically launching you into the next. Because of that experience I though I definitely needed a pair and my question was - do I go for a pair of these in 90 for the safari trip planned or a pair of 107's for the powder days we expect to ski beforehand in the Alps? The latter question arose seeing that even at 98 underfoot I wanted more ski in the mostly non-piste Western European environment (e.g. Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa). My idea was to take two pairs on my next trip: ~110's for the West (including back to BC in the not too distant future I hope) and ~90's for the East (Canada, New England and Dolomites).

        While this appears to be opening up more questions than answering my original, I thought it might give some context to my choices for the upcoming season:

        90 underfoot piste:

        - Atomic Vantage 90 TI 184 (or is this the wrong direction to go with my 97/188 good experience?)
        - Volkl Kendo 88 184 (2019 or 2020?)
        - K2 Mindbender 90 TI 184 (No idea how these ski but I like their "hybrid" feel claims)
        - Nordica Enforcer 88 186 (Are these going to give me that additional versatility that the Brahma/Kendo lack or is it just a smoother variation?)
        - Stockli 88 186 (I like their slightly longer length but like the Enforcers is this just needed due to the additional rocker they have?)
        - Salomon QST 92 185 (their 2020 design is supposed to be more piste oriented with a longer effective edge and damper tips due to the cork)

        110 underfoot versatile powder:

        - Atomic Vantage 107 TI 189
        - Salomon QST 106 188
        - K2 Mindbender 108 TI 186
        - Blizzard Rustler 11 188
        - Stockli Stormrider 105 188
        - Volkl 100Eight 189 (full rocker going to be something I dislike having always been on cambered skis?)

        Man, those 105 Stockli's sure look amazing! I figure 6 pairs in each category is more than I should have in order to converge on decisions but I figure the sharing of minds can only help me. 🙂

        What would your top two choices in each category be given the planned use of these boards?

        Thanks again for all you guys do for us and the community.

        David

      2. Bob,

        As a quick follow up to my previous reply, after re-viewing the video on these Vantage 90's, I'm wondering if one of the aspects I really liked about the 2019 188 cm Vantage 97's actually was their stiff tail (compared to the new 2020 models) and super pop on exit. This might be something guys of our weight enjoyed more than lighter skiers as Jeff points out as it wasn't as "punishing" as it probably was for Jeff. At 188 I really felt they tracked very solidly and then bam!, you were almost airborne if you wanted to the moment you unweighted. Coming off lips in a turn required a little more attention but if you were on them, they made me feel like I was 20 years younger (though I believe I probably ski better today than I did then)!

        I don't know how appropriate it is to compare this ski's design to their Salomon sister company variant but these Vantage TI's (with the tank mesh rather than full sheets) seemed to me to be a hybrid between a Kendo/Brahma type of ski (in stiffness) and a QST (in playfulness) with the latter being a super fun ski but a little lacking when it comes to approaching 90-100 kph speeds. Speaking of which, once or twice a day those are the speeds I may hit if the piste lends itself and there aren't other skiers present. That will probably have to change in the near future as one is not young forever...

        Feel free to leave this comment out if it doesn't add to my earlier post.

        Thanks, David

        1. David,
          I definitely like the idea of the 88/110 split--it gives you enough distance between the intended uses of the skis that you don't really have to think too hard about which one to use. Companies these days are getting really good at making similarly feeling skis in different widths, and I think it's fun to look at those. The K2 90 Ti paired with the 108 is a fantastic combo. You get the best of everything in those two widths. The builds of the skis are pretty much identical, so you're going to have a more consistent feel no matter what. The Enforcer 88 and the 110 is another good combo, as is the dream setup of the Stockli 88 and 105. For me, I'd take the K2's as I like skis with metal in them, but not too much. The 108 is super fun in the soft snow and the 90 is a blast everywhere else. Have fun!
          SE

          1. Bob,

            thanks for the all the feedback. It sounds like you converged on what I was thinking of at the beginning before delving into my thoughts more deeply 😉

            I am going to try and find a local K2 rep or demo shop to try out the Mindbenders. I'm particularly keen on the 108 as it should fill the gap in my quiver for now. Of course, we'll have to wait for the white dust to fly!

            Thanks again,

            David

            P.S. Do you guys have any of these skis discussed for customers to demo before purchase?

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