I couldn’t quite tell if these were designed to ride like a trophy truck or a luxury sedan, but I wasn’t complaining either way. The 2021 Salomon Stance 102 is a new model for this year, and as the widest ski in the Stance line, certainly has a lot to offer skiers who spend a lot of time in softer snow, and at higher speeds. I like using the car analogy, because a lot of people can relate. Nobody is going to confuse these dual-metal laminated skis for a two-seated roadster like a Mazda Miata, and that’s kind of the point. The shape, build, and generous rocker profile put these skis into the upper end in terms of stability, strength, versatility, and smoothness. Salomon is taking square aim at some more established skis and it seems like there’s a bunch of hard-charging 102’s out there these days. To set yourself apart, you need a “thing.” In this 102, Salomon’s thing, in addition to the new burly build, is the implementation of a built-in rocker profile that gives the QST 106 such incredible float and playfulness.
Built with a poplar wood core and two sheets of metal, there’s no mistaking the ruggedness of this ski. As we touched on with our Stance 96 review, that second sheet of metal is not a full one, but rather one with a few cutouts to maximize power without the unnecessary weight. This makes more of a “frame” style second laminate—one that we’ve seen from a few companies and models, and it really works well, especially in this application. In the cutouts of the forebody and tail of the ski, Salomon has inserted its C/FX material that’s been effective in the QST as well as XDR models. This blend of carbon and flax weaved together makes for a light and stiff layup that does a fantastic job of boosting horsepower without the crushing weight of metal. Overall, this build creates a smooth and stable platform to stand on, with the wide metal underfoot and in the tips and tails. The power transfer is instantaneous and quick, and as always, we use the caveat “for its shape.”
102 is a good number. We often gravitate towards those nice, round 90’s, 100’s, and 110’s to give us a feeling of comfort when dealing with ski shapes. We’ll find ourselves thinking that since it’s a 100, it’s good for everything, including both groomers and powder! If it’s a 90, then it must carve amazingly! So what then, does a 102 do? Well it must float better than the 100 for sure, but not quite the carver, right? It’s not quite as simple as that, and this is where Salomon’s “thing” comes in to play. The build puts it in the category of an upper-end ski with a high gear, so yes, you can really rail carved turns on this thing, and the construction keeps it smooth and stable, much like that luxury sedan. Little to no speed limit can be found on this thing, as it simply motors along. I kind of lost track of how fast I was going from time to time because of the smoothness and stability—just an outstandingly competent ride, like you’re skiing down the hill on a big, comfy couch. But it’s by no means locked into the turn. The QST 106 and 118 have built-in rocker, especially in the tail, that is rather abrupt in how it breaks from the normal camber of the ski. They brought that into the 102, and I think it makes a lot of sense here. While some other 102’s will really hold tight to the carve, the Stance is easy to release, smeary, and playful. For a burly ski like this, that’s a big step. If the rocker is too gradual, with two sheets of metal, it’s still going to lock in, but with that sudden bend of the tail, it makes the ski totally enjoyable and able to suck up and absorb any type of terrain without bucking you around. This is the trophy truck part of the car analogy. You see the suspension of those trucks and how it’s able to absorb anything that gets in its way, and these skis have the same ability. A stiffer or more cambered tail would simply thrust you into the air, while the built-in shock absorber of the Stance 102 takes all that energy and sucks it all up. There is a moderate amount of tip rocker as well, which is fantastic for flotation and turn initiation, but it’s really the tail that does most of the work in the Stance 102.
We got a nice day for testing here at Stowe, and my only regret was that the 183 was the only available test length. I’d love to get a crack at the 190 at some point, as I loved that size in the 96. Even so, the 182 had a lot of merits, even if it was a bit short for me. Again, that pronounced tail rocker does affect the running length, especially on hard snow. Fortunately, we didn’t really have that issue on our test day, as most of the terrain was covered with some recent fresh and the groomers were perfectly packed powder. As such, the tail rocker and overall shape of the ski lent itself really well to large GS-style turns and while they didn’t love to be snapped around on the harder snow that I could find, they were more than happy to roll from edge to edge smoothly and efficiently. Like other 102’s with two sheets of metal, these skis are absolute tanks when it comes to carved turns on groomed snow and while I imagine they’d be a handful in eastern hardpack, especially on steep terrain, they absolutely demolished the softer snow we found ourselves on. Thanks to the recent snow and decent coverage, we hopped in some woods as well, and to nobody’s surprise, they were fantastic. The tails allowed me to steer effectively through the glades due to their reliability and predictability.
Whether you’re banshing through the Baja or hauling on the Autobahn, you need an appropriate vehicle. If the auto industry decided to make something that could more than adequately handle both, that’d be an accurate parallel to the Salomon Stance 102. The wide body, burly shape, and progressive tail rocker profile combine to make a smooth, absorbing, and engaging vehicle with a ton of upside in a solid field of competitors.