2022 Salomon QST Blank Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2022 Salomon QST Blank Ski Review

The Salomon QST line has essentially been blurring the lines between all-mountain and freeride skis over the past five seasons. With widths ranging from 85 to 118, it’s been the home of nimble resort skis all the way up to powder-slashing beasts. The QST collection has also featured some innovative construction techniques, perhaps most notably their inclusion of flax alongside carbon in their C/FX material (flashback to asking if I could eat the core of the ski at a trade show… sorry, that was probably annoying). The 2021/22 ski season will mark the 3rd generation of QST skis, and along with that comes two completely new skis, the QST 98 that replaces the 99 and this QST Blank, which, at 112 mm underfoot, “replaces” the 118.

Salomon took an athlete-inspired approach in their development of this new QST Blank. Skiers like Alexi Godbout, Stan Rey, Chris Ruben, Leah Evans, Josh Daiek (ok this is getting long), Cody Townsend, Nico Vuigners, and plenty of others all expressed their wishes for a new ski and ultimately, their feedback. What I like most about the development story of this ski is that Salomon wanted to make a ski that worked for a wide range of skiers and athletes. Alexi Godbout and Stan Rey have very different skiing backgrounds and ultimately ski very differently. Cody Townsend is perhaps best known for his adventurous alpinist skiing. If one skier had a suggestion for the ski, as long as it didn’t take away from the characteristics a different skier needed, Salomon would integrate it into the ski. I like that idea. Give each skier what they want without taking anything significant away from differently styled skiers.

AT A GLANCE


2022 Salomon QST Blank Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

CORE

STRENGTHS

176, 186, 194 cm

17 m at 186 cm

138 / 112 / 127 mm

Poplar, C/FX, Cork, Double Sidewall

Surfy, Floaty, Agile, yet Stable


So, what’s the result? We get a 112mm waist ski that comes in 3 lengths, 178, 186, and 194. Yeah, 112 is narrower than 118, but this ski still absolutely loves deep snow, so don’t worry about that. In a lot of ways, Salomon is blending elements of the QST 106 and that 118 to create a more well-rounded ski that works in a variety of snow conditions and terrain. The turn radius is notably shorter than the 118: 17-meters in the 186 cm down from a whopping 26-meter “arc” in the 118. More than 50% of the ski is rocker, with 27% tip rocker and 26% tail rocker. The tip shape feels like a combination of the QST 106 and 118 with the tail looking a lot more like the 118, just a little narrower. It’s not really a twin tip, but going back to that athlete-driven development, it is designed to be skied switch if a particular skier wants to, which we’ll get to later when we talk about performance. That’s about it for shape… camber underfoot, lots of tip and tail rocker, some slight taper, and a 17-meter turn radius.

Construction follows the trends we’ve seen in previous versions of the QST skis with some additional elements. It starts with a poplar wood core, then Salomon adds in their C/FX material. This blend of carbon and flax has been tweaked multiple times since its introduction and is a perfect example of a manufacturer using a relatively unique application of materials to achieve the performance and flex pattern they want. Carbon, as we know, is very responsive and energetic, but can be “pingy” or chattery. Flax, then, effectively takes out a ton of those vibrations, giving the ski a much smoother, quieter feel, almost like it has metal. The tips and tails have Salomon’s Cork Damplifier, which is fun to say out loud, and makes the ski even smoother by further reducing any vibrations in the tips and tails. That’s really valuable, as your tips are often the first part of the ski to interact with, say, a random icy mogul you don’t expect. Having cork up there gives it a less jarring feel, which is nice. New for QST in 2022 is Double Sidewall Technology, which is essentially a high-density piece of ABS that sits underfoot, giving the ski a very strong feel in the cambered portion of the ski. Although a ton of Salomon athletes and other skiers will use these in combination with a touring binding like the Shift, it is worth noting that they’re not tremendously lightweight, coming in at 2200 g in the 186 cm length.

2022 Salomon QST Blank Ski Review: Camber Profile Image

Enough with the nitty gritty details. Who cares about on-paper stats when there’s powder to ski, right? That’s been the case with the QST Blank through our testing at Stowe. We’ve had such good conditions, it’s been hard to want to stop and start objectively analyzing the ski, but I suppose we have to at some point. The QST Blank is a fantastic ski. It’s very fun and impressively versatile considering the 112mm waist width. As it’s replacing the widest ski in the QST line, let’s start with powder and make sure it still shines in those conditions.

I personally really enjoyed skiing the QST 118. For such a massive ski, it was surprisingly maneuverable and agile, which really comes in handy here in Vermont in our tight trees. The QST Blank has a lot of the same characteristics of the 118 in deep snow and I never felt like I was missing out on 6 mm of extra width. This rocker profile works really, really well when things get deep. The ski wants to plane, it never feels like it’s diving, but because it’s narrower underfoot, it does allow you to auger into some deeper turns when you want to. Face shots are important, after all. The tip has a really interesting shape that features about an inch and a half at the very end of the ski with a more aggressive curve than the rest of the ski. I give that a lot of credit in the way the ski wants to bounce in and out of the snow. I like to think about how a ski is interacting with powder when it’s under the snow surface, and I can imagine that tip shape helping pull you back to the surface, which is cool. Ultimately, these things have such a floaty, smeary, surfy, and confidence-inspiring feel in deep snow. They are a true powder weapon, which I’m glad to report, as I would’ve been pretty bummed if they felt noticeably worse than the 118 in powder. It’s actually the opposite. Although they’re narrower, I prefer this ski in deep snow. It feels more agile and quicker without sacrificing any float.

Realistically, we’re not always skiing perfect untracked powder. It’s a tragedy, but that’s life. So, how does the 112 perform around the rest of the mountain? Well, simply put, a lot better than the 118 did. It definitely has some of the attributes of the 106 in terms of all-mountain versatility, although of course that ski is still quicker edge to edge and all that good stuff. The 112, however, does particularly well when skiing through chopped up powder and those leftover conditions that remain after a powder day. I really enjoy the way the tips and tails cut through the snow with their tapered shape, and then how much stability you get underfoot. I give a lot of credit to the Double Sidewalls. The cambered portion of the ski actually feels quite stiff, so you can stand on it in a turn and ski it fast and aggressively without feeling like it’s going to wash out or noodle away from you. The tail shape always retains the ability to release the edge and slash or pivot a turn regardless of the conditions you’re in, which is pretty sweet. That means you can ski fast, like recklessly fast, then shut it down quickly before you lose it.

2022 Salomon QST Blank Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 1 2022 Salomon QST Blank Ski Review: Full Width Action Image 2

That ability to release the tail edge really translates nicely to tight trees, and even some mogul skiing. These are pretty wide for moguls, but the way you can swing the tail around effortlessly really helps in those situations. That quickness is incredibly valuable here in Vermont, and I would be perfectly happy skiing the QST Blank through tight tree lines even without a bunch of fresh snow to slow me down. Its agility is admirable, especially considering it’s not exceptionally light. Some skiers might find them a little clunky for terrain like that, and I would understand that and then point that skier to the new QST 98, which has a lot of similar design elements, but being 14 mm narrower, is a lot quicker and would be a lot easier for most skiers in situations like that.

Do we talk about groomers with a ski that’s 112 underfoot? Yeah, I suppose so, especially because that’s arguably where you can feel the construction the most. I’ve always enjoyed the feel of QST skis and how they blend playfulness with a decent amount of stability and good vibration damping, and that feel definitely carries over to the 112. It’s smooth and supple. It’s rhythmic and fun-loving, even when you’re just on a groomer. The 17-meter turn radius is interesting, as it doesn’t always feel that short. Sometimes it does, depending on how you’re weighting the ski, but you can also kind of sit back and let it run, utilizing some of the smooth, early-tapered sections of the ski. In other words, big radius turns aren’t completely out of the question, as was evident on a groomer + 6 inches of blower powder run first thing this morning. Arcing big turns on what essentially was a groomer with just some aesthetic powder poofs was very enjoyable. Never felt like it was too sluggish edge to edge, which is great.

As someone who spends a lot of time on relatively center-mounted skis, it would pain me to skip over the freestyle influence in this design. The mount point is about 8 cm back from true center, but I opted to move the demo binding up as far as I could (which isn’t far… gosh darn 285 mm BSL…). That put me about 6 cm back from true center, and honestly, if I was lucky enough to own a pair, I might even go a little further forward, and I love that capability. They feel great as a directional ski, but I would put a whole heck of a lot of money on the idea that some Salomon athletes will go more centered and that we’ll see a bunch of switch takeoffs and landings on this ski. That idea of working both as a directional ski and as a more center-mounted ski goes back to the development with different athletes. I love the idea that this ski can work for a lot of different skiers.

If I had to choose just one word to describe the QST Blank it would be the same word I’ve been using to describe the QST skis for half a decade: smooth. They’re smooth in deep snow, they’re smooth linking carves, they’re smooth pivoting and smearing… they’re just a very smooth ski. It really is the best way to describe it, and the way this QST Blank combines deep powder performance with capabilities in other snow conditions in terrain might just make it the smoothest yet.

2022 Salomon QST Blank Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Jeff Neagle on 02/10/21

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