2023 K2 Mindbender 99 Ti Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2023 K2 Mindbender 99 Ti Ski Review


When K2 released their Mindbender series in 2019, a new approach to all-mountain, freeride performance became the brand’s new claim to fame. Including both metal-laminate and lighter weight carbon models, each with their own distinguishable technology and performance, this collection of freeride skis blatantly stood out amongst many of its competitors as far as directional all-mountain skis go. Designed to optimize the torsional flex of each ski, specialized technology was utilized in designated areas in order to achieve a more ideal combination of precision, stability and maneuverability. With each new iteration, K2 continues to dial in new strengths and versatile capabilities in their freeride lineup, building off of previous models to reach the ultimate pinnacle of performance.

For the 2022/2023 season, K2 decided to up the ante with the Mindbender line, focusing specifically on the skis using the Titanal Y-Beam construction. While the Mindbender “C” skis return structurally unchanged with the exception of new topsheet graphics, the Ti skis receive several updates, from construction to rocker profiles. As a result, the men’s line introduces a new and improved 89Ti, 99Ti, and 108Ti and for the women’s line, a new 89Ti and 99Ti. With changes to the core, as well as the shape, the intended goal was to adjust the weight and placement of the Y-beam layer to better distribute the flex away from the mount point and into the ends of the ski. Performance-wise, this approach would allow for enhanced stability and composure in the extremities with maximum edge grip underfoot.

AT A GLANCE


2023 K2 Mindbender 99 Ti Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

PRICE

154, 160, 166, 172, 178, 184, 190 cm

19.6 m at 184 cm

134 / 99 / 120 mm

$749.95


Focusing on the Mindbender 99Ti, this model arguably received the most substantial upgrades, significantly enhancing its performance and versatility as a hard-charging, all-mountain freeride ski. Starting with the construction, we see an aspen veneer wood core without the addition of maple, which reduces the overall weight of the ski. Next up, and this is where we see the major difference, the new Y-beam technology features a different shape and placement on the ski. Looking at the previous generation, a similar “Y” shaped titanal laminate was incorporated, running edge to edge underfoot and splitting into two “prongs” over the edges near the shovels and a single strip extending towards the tail. This new approach places a noticeably shorter and wider layer of metal in the tip and tail and then tapers into a narrower shape. As you get closer to the midpoint of the ski, the metal reaches full-width directly underfoot. The idea is that you get precise turn initiation thanks to more torsional stiffness in the tip compared to the tail. Underfoot, the ski is at its strongest, allowing it to hold an edge through an aggressive turn on firm snow. In both the tip and tail, the metal more or less ends exactly where the rocker begins, which goes a long way as far as performance goes, allowing for some looseness when you want to pivot or smear turns.

2023 K2 Mindbender 99 Ti Skis: 2023 K2 Mindbender 99 Ti Skis Camber Profile Image

Looking at the shape, we see a relatively similar design to the previous model with some slight changes that might otherwise go unnoticed. With significantly deeper rocker lines, most notably in the tail, you achieve more of a freeride feel yet with an all-mountain shape and design. You also see quite a bit more early taper in the tips, which ultimately moves the widest point of the ski closer to the bindings. One of the other major alterations was to the sidewalls, moving away from the Powerwall technology and utilizing full vertical sidewalls. K2 also dedicated focus to the turn radius, adjusting the new 184 cm in length from an 18.5 meter turn radius to a 19.6. This is a relatively significant jump up, which is noticeable both when initiating carves and when making quicker, shorter turns through technical terrain. Something that’s often worth a reminder, a longer turn radius ski can actually feel more maneuverable when pivoting or skidding turns as the ski has less tendency to hook up and try to take you into a carve.

This brings us to the performance. I had the opportunity to test the Mindbender 99Ti on two different occasions: first at the annual ski test at Stowe and then on my trip to Big Sky, Montana. On the day I skied them at Stowe, the conditions were variable- firm in the morning and spring-like mash in the afternoon. I took a pair of 172s out and that length in combination with the 99 mm waist width lands right smack in the sweet spot for me as far as my ideal ski. As a mid-fat, all-mountain ski, I was curious about the versatility and on-piste performance given the shape and profile. Within the first few turns, I instantly noticed their effortless ability to not only initiate a turn but hold an edge confidently and smoothly. The moment I tipped the ski on edge, it willingly locked into a turn. That said, just as easy as it was to engage a turn, it was even easier to release from the tail out of a turn. Thanks to the distribution of metal, the behavior in the tail allowed for plentiful versatility and maneuverability. Lively and responsive, they withheld fantastic grip in firmer conditions yet when I encountered softer snow, they were exceptionally playful. The way in which K2 designed the Mindbender 99 Ti allows for just that-a playful, freeride personality yet with power, stability, and strong edge grip. You get the freedom to maneuver and pop in and out of snow through the tips all while having a solid foundation underfoot.

2023 K2 Mindbender 99 Ti Skis: Full Width Action Image 1 2023 K2 Mindbender 99 Ti Skis: Full Width Action Image 2

I was so fond of this ski following the ski test that I insisted on bringing them to Big Sky, Montana where I knew I would have the chance to ski them on wider, more open terrain. As expected, with more room to open up my turns, the Mindbenders really came to life. Given the longer turn radius, I could really engage in a turn and rip confidently across the fall line. With variable conditions on my first day, I found myself in some moguls/tight trees and despite the firmer snow, they remained snappy from edge to edge and highly responsive. After a refresh of 8-10” of snow overnight, I was able to truly put these mid-fat skis to the test. Thanks to the deep rocker lines and early taper, I was bouncing in and out of fresh snow with ease and grace. Incredibly stable and damp underfoot, I felt strong upon any and all landings, with a truly intuitive feel when in the air. In general, my style of skiing trends more towards aggressive/fast with freeride style. The overall build and shape of the Mindbender 99Ti truly enhances my skills and techniques, allowing me to ski with confidence and speed. No matter what I put these skis up against, they powered through, leaving me continuously impressed.

K2 has done a commendable job revamping the Mindbender Tis, most notably the 99Ti. To successfully strike that perfect balance between all-mountain, frontside performance and freeride flair in a ski with a significant amount of metal is not easy. The appropriately distributed titanal laminate with the Y beam technology and lightweight aspen veneer core truly delivers a torsionally stiff flex yet with plentiful snap and maneuverability. It goes to show that K2 continues to grow and diversify as a brand, as they have always stood out as a freeride/freestyle focused line. That said, this display of ingenuity shows K2’s breadth of capabilities in the realm of directional freeride skis. I look forward to seeing the progression of not only the Mindbender series but the entire K2 product line as well. In the meantime, the Mindbender 99Ti will most certainly become a new member of my personal quiver.


Written by Emily Crofton on 08/25/22

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