MARCH 31, 2022 | WRITTEN BY Bob St.Pierre

It’s pretty rare to have a ski change twice in as many years, but that’s where we’re finding ourselves with the 2023 Head Kore 99. When this ski first arrived for the 2018/2019 ski season, we knew that something was up with it, but couldn’t quite put a label on it. That trend has continued forward to the 2023 version of the ski. The Kore line has always kind of tripped us up here in terms of who best for the ski, what it does well, and how does the build and shape compare to other skis in the ~100mm category. There’s kind of a lot to unpack with this one, but starting with the unique construction is as good as any place to start.

A brief history on the build: In 2018, the Head Kore 99 featured a karuba wood core, two sheets of carbon, a strip of graphene, and an application of koroyd. Graphene and carbon are both very light and stiff, while the Koroyd was just a weird material to use in a ski. It’s commonly used in bike helmet technology in a honeycomb shape to absorb impact and stay light, but it didn’t really seem to have a good energy about it. The Koroyd went away for 2022, leaving us with a slightly more active ski. Up until the 2023 model, the Kore skis also used a Polyester Fleece laminate as the topsheet, basically doing away with a traditional top laminate in the effort to save weight. Kore skis have always been known for their lightness, so this was a fitting method to accomplish that goal. The downside was that they were very soft, chipping and peeling pretty easily. That top layer has been replaced with a traditional topsheet for 2023, and in addition to making the ski look better for longer, it also quiets and dampens the feel of the ski quite nicely. For the 2022 version, we also got more size options. Whereas the previous models broke every 9cm (which is a pretty big gap), the new ones broke every 7. This is a lot better for most skiers who are looking to fine-tune the fit of the ski, and those sizes carry forward with the 2023 models as well.


2023 Head Kore 99 Skis





156, 163, 170, 177, 184, 191 cm

17 m @ 177 cm

134 / 99 / 120 mm

1840g @ 177 cm

This current construction puts the ski right about 1840 grams per ski in the 177 cm length, and for skis of this category, that’s on the lighter side of the spectrum. However, the stiffness puts it well on the other side. The upper carbon laminate is curved to match the chamfered sidewall shape, and any time you bend carbon in more of a three-dimensional format, that really makes the laminate quite a bit stiffer. In our 2022 Men’s ~100 mm comparison video, we organized the skis by stiffness, and in a crowd of dual-metal laminate skis, the Kore 99 was pretty easily the stiffest of the group. It’s this blend of relative light weight and substantial stiffness that gives this ski its enigmatic personality.

2023 Head Kore 99 Skis: 2023 Head Kore 99 Skis Camber Profile Image

In terms of shape and profile, there’s nothing really crazy going on here. One of the main things that we see, and is worth noting, is that the widths change per size, so the Kore 99 is only a 99 underfoot in the 177 cm reference length. In the 184, that goes up to 101, and down to a 97 in the 170. They do this in order to keep the turn radius more similar throughout the sizes so that the ski will feel the same regardless of length. This way, in the 156, you’re not on a straight ski, or in the 191, you’re not making a slalom turn. Mainly, the radius sticks to the 17-meter arc, regardless of length, even at the cost (or expense) of width. Taper and rocker are appropriate for a ski of this caliber, with the tip taper being a bit spoonier than some other skis in this range. This couples well with the stiffness, allowing for better flotation and a smoother entry into the turn. The rocker profile is more of a traditional and directional bend, making the ski feel reactive but not too hooky.

Performance is where we start seeing a bit of convolution. In my experience, the Kore 99 is my favorite Kore. I like the 93 a lot, but the 99 seems to have the appropriate combination of material for the flex. Something this stiff should certainly hold an edge on firm snow, and in a groomer or front side application, this definitely comes true. If you’re used to a heavy, damp, stable ski that holds tight to the arc without you thinking about it, the Kore 99 is probably not your ski. The skier has to stay engaged to the edge throughout the carve, and if you don’t the stiffness of the ski is going to let you know about it. We’ve vacillated quite a bit on what type of skier this works best for. I used to think that lighter skiers will prefer this because it’s easy to maneuver, but those lighter skiers may not be able to bend, and therefore, access the entirety of the sidecut. Creating high-edge angles is what it’s all about in a carved turn, and if that lighter skier does not possess a race background, they might not be able to take full advantage of this model. That said, many of these lighter, less-aggressive skiers will be totally happy making skidded turns, using lower angles, and making their own fun out there with a flatter ski. The weight and reactiveness of the Kore 99 are great for that type of skier. On the other hand, heavier skiers might find the Kore 99 to be a bit to jittery because of the lighter weight, but that same heavy skier will be able to flex and bend the ski in a carved turn in order to create a clean arc. I, at 6’2 225, was able to get this thing on edge and push it through the turn. Jeff, at 150/155, can carve the ski clean for sure, but he didn’t feel quite as confident as I did. As a result, we’ve somewhat concluded that there’s a gap of skier that this ski creates. That mid-weight, midrange technical skier who’s looking for something light might not fit in that great with the Kore’s personality. I think they fall into a bit of a pit with this ski, in that they have neither the weight nor the skill to fully appreciate the Kore 99. Again, this is kind of a tough nut to crack—there's no definitive way that we’ve found to effectively portray and paint the Kore 99. Personally, I love this ski. I think it’s reactive enough, light enough, and strong enough to handle a whole lot of different conditions and terrain, starting with carving turns on hard pack and groomed terrain. I also know, from extensive feedback from various skiers, that not everyone feels this way.

2023 Head Kore 99 Skis: Full Width Action Image 1 2023 Head Kore 99 Skis: Full Width Action Image 2

The Kore 99 is a fantastic tree ski. I don’t think this point will get through to enough skiers. It’s so incredibly maneuverable. The weight, combined with the shorter radius and the appropriate taper makes it easy to turn when dealing with shallower edge angles. They don’t create any type of jittery feeling when you’re in the woods, especially when the snow is on the softer side. Instead, they’re incredibly intuitive and fun—able to make a variety of turn styles and shapes at a bunch of different speeds. In the tight woods here in Stowe, the Kore 99 made quick work of both hardwood and softwood forests, floating easily when the snow was soft, and slicing and dicing when it was more packed in. I was pleasantly surprised in the deeper snow, as the tip shape floated much better than I expected. My assumption was that the shovel was too stiff and would want to dive, but that was not the case. It kind of half-floated and half-busted through whatever was in front of it, showing poise and balance no matter what.

In the bumps, all I can really say is that the softer the better. In wider spaced, fluffier moguls, the Kore 99 is great. Mainly, all skis are great in those circumstances. But when the chips are down and you’re facing some firmer and tighter bumps, the Kore 99 is definitely on the stiff and abrasive side of the spectrum. It's difficult to drive the tips of these skis into the front of a frozen mogul, and while there are very few skiers out there who enjoy doing that even on the best skis in that scenario, it’s particularly abrupt with the Kore 99. In this application, you can feel every inch of the ski directly transfer that rough energy into your feet, knees, and back. Not gonna lie, in firm and tight bumps, these skis are harsh. In reality, though, not many skiers are spending much, if any, time in that situation, so as far as grumblings are concerned, I’m still considering it fairly minor.

So, what are we making of these skis at the end of the day? It’s hard to make one blanket statement about them, rather it seems to make more sense to focus on the pros and cons. On the pro side, this ski rips on groomers. If you’re a more powerful skier, or if you have good technique, you’re going to be able to access the high-performance end of this ski. At the same time, lighter, less-aggressive skiers will enjoy the ease of turning and the skidability of the Kore 99. In the powder, they are surprisingly good, regardless of skier ability or depth of snow. This is a big group of people who will enjoy and benefit from the combination of shape, stiffness, and weight of the Kore 99. For some reason, I keep wanting to not like these skis, but every time I get on them, my experience is the exact opposite. It’s smooth, damp, stable, and energetic, and with the exception of hard and icy moguls, it’s one of the more intriguing skis on the mountain.

2023 Head Kore 99 Skis Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Bob St.Pierre on 03/31/22