2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Ski Review

Salomon continues its freeride legacy through their famous QST line. Since their initial QST release in 2016, we have seen a handful of changes over the years, keeping pace with the progressive nature of freeride and building off of noteworthy successes. Focusing on the QST 98 and QST Blank at the beginning of the 2021/2022 season, with new technologies and revisions to the ski shapes and rocker profiles, a similar approach was taken with the 2023 Stella 106. A beloved ski for many, including myself, there is a lot to like about the Stella 106, which left little room for necessary upgrades. Salomon disagreed, however, and with each year’s alterations to the QST line, it becomes better than the last.

It’s impressive, to say the least, that a company like Salomon can release a fantastic line of skis and go on to improve it, year after year. Following the trend of last year’s release of the QST 98 and Blank, Salomon focuses on their flagship freeride ski with a similar revamp. With a primary aim on shape and rocker profile, the construction remains very similar to the previous model. We still get a poplar wood core, Salomon’s C/FX blend of carbon and flax stringers, and Cork Damplifier in the tips and tails. This combination of essential materials is what gives this ski its lighter feeling and easy to maneuver personality that turns an otherwise heavy powder ski into a playful, approachable one. The newest addition to the construction is Salomon’s Double Sidewall technology: a high-density ABS material which is injected underfoot. Fusing cohesively with the full-length sidewall, this sturdy platform underfoot enhances edge hold and absorbs inconsistencies in snow to provide a significantly smoother ride.

AT A GLANCE


2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Skis



AVAILABLE SIZES

TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT

WEIGHT

157, 165, 173 cm

17 m @ 165 cm

137 / 106 / 124 mm

1810g @ 165cm


Taking the construction updates and balancing it out with the shape and profile, the differences start to take form. Incorporating deeper rocker lines and more taper shape to the tip and tail, the performance is drastically affected by this altered design. Upon first sight, I immediately noticed the more dramatic shovel shape, with noticeably early taper. With several additional inches of rocker in the tip as well as in the tail, this combination leaves you with a shorter effective edge, which is definitely noticeable when encountering firmer snow. Another change in the shape that I noticed right off the bat was the tail splay—the previous model boasted more of a directional profile with this year’s model leaning more heavily into a twin-tip style profile. Personally, I love it when a ski has the capability of going switch, even if it's intended to be a powder ski. Given the playful nature of the Stella already, adding more splay to the tail allows for the freedom to ski it more creatively and in more of a freestyle capacity.

2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Skis: 2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Skis Camber Profile Image

The Stella 106 has remained in my personal quiver for the past 5 years, first as my daily driver in Lake Tahoe, and now mounted with Salomon Shift binding as my backcountry set up. What has always stood out to me with the entire QST line is the overall approachability and intuitive feel of each ski. Salomon has done an incredible job at focusing on a high-performance series with a manageable construction and a fun, confident personality. What I have loved about the Stella 106 is the maneuverability and lightweight nature despite the mid-100mm waist width. I was quite excited to hop on the 2023 Stella 106, especially given my pre-existing fondness for the ski and Salomon’s continuous ability to enhance an already prized product. The modified shape and profile was what caught my eye right away. I was fortunate enough to ski the Stellas at multiple resorts and conditions, giving me a well-balanced view across differing terrain.

Speaking to the performance, given the similar construction overall, the shape and profile really played into how the ski behaved. My first day out on them was at Sugarbush in Vermont, with packed powder and a few inches of fresh. I quickly remembered why I held such high standards for the Stellas, since despite the width, I was able to pop around playfully and maneuver through bumps, trees, and variable conditions. Given that I was testing them on a day that wouldn’t be classified as a powder day, I was able to really lean into my carves and notice the double sidewall technology. With the previous model, the edge-to-edge transfer of energy felt less lively and required more effort, which was the opposite on the new model. Though I wouldn’t classify this ski as a carver necessarily, I had no issue initiating a turn and effortlessly releasing the tail. Given the shorter effective edge, I expected it to ski short and feel less stable underneath me. Upon encountering any crud or choppy snow conditions, the Stella had no problem blasting through with confidence and reliability. A quicker, more maneuverable behavior than last year’s model, I felt at ease in the tight trees and felt they were easy to pivot and control, which goes a long way here in Vermont. Requiring less physical effort, flicking it from side to side in the bumps felt more than manageable. This quality gets lost sometimes in wider skis, but not so with the Stella 106.

2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Skis: Full Width Action Image 1 2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Skis: Full Width Action Image 2

This brings me to my experience in snowier zones and more dramatic terrain. I was lucky enough to take the Stellas with me to Big Sky, Montana, a place I felt they would feel right at home. I spent the first couple of days on a narrower pair of skis since they hadn’t received new snow in a bit and conditions were icy. After receiving 10” of fresh snow, I took the Stellas out to play and to say I had a blast would be an understatement. While this ski performs quite well here in New England, it really came to life in deeper snow and wider, more open terrain. The new shape really spoke for itself, providing excellent flotation and powder performance. Between the tapered shovel and deeper rocker lines, the tips effortlessly bounded in and out of snow while the added tail splay allowed for more agility. I think what really stood out for me was the innate ability of the ski to move with you and respond to your movements. Upon any drops or airs that I took, I felt nimble and playful yet incredibly stable upon landing. To have this maneuverability in a powder-focused ski is huge for me and I had so much fun bouncing around the Montana terrain.

Salomon has done an excellent job revamping an already high-performance freeride ski. Taking the basics from a construction standpoint and building off of it in terms of shape and profile, the 2023 Stella 106 has the ideal blend of width, maneuverability, and responsiveness. Between my time spent on the Stellas in Vermont and Montana, I experienced the full scope of performance and truly found a high level of versatility for a variety of snow conditions. There is a wide range of skiers that would get along well with this 106, as it is not limited to one type of skiing or terrain. From agility and playfulness to effortless flotation, the Stella 106 is eager to please skiers both in the resort and in the backcountry.

2023 Salomon QST Stella 106 Ski Review: Buy Now Image

Written by Emily Crofton on 06/23/22

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