2024 Elan Playmaker 101 Ski Review: Lead Image

Ski Reviews

2024 Elan Playmaker 101 Ski Review

I always get so excited for reviews like this. A brand-new ski, an exciting new story, and there feels like a lot of momentum behind Elan right now. Ripsticks made a splash in the industry, they’ve made their way onto thousands of happy skier feet, and the brand feels like it’s more in the spotlight than it ever has been, or at least in the past couple decades. To tell the full story here, we need to go back about three and a half years to the first time I skied the current version of the Ripsticks. While testing the then-new Ripstick 96, I couldn’t help but think how cool it would be to have a twin-tip with the same feel. Light, snappy, energetic, but smooth and damp too.

Fast-forward almost 4 years to today, and we’re psyched to introduce and chat about this new Elan Playmaker 101. We get two new skis under the Playmaker umbrella, 91 and 101. They share the same construction and overall concepts, and we’ll take a deep dive into the 91 later this season, but for now we’ll focus on the 101. It’s not exactly a twin tip Ripstick, but there’s undeniably some Ripstick influence in its construction, feel, and attitude.


2024 Elan Playmaker 101






164, 172, 180, 188 cm

18.1 m @ 180 cm

132 / 101 / 122 mm

1,760 g @ 180 cm


Let’s look at construction first, but before we do, it’s important to note that these skis don’t use Amphibio tech. There’s no right and left ski, making them completely interchangeable rather than the directional Ripsticks. Makes sense when you consider potential terrain park application and edge wear. Anyways, if you’re familiar with Ripstick construction, this is going to be easy for you. We start with a Tubelite wood core that comes along with the energy and playfulness that we’ve come to expect from Ripstick. Then we get two Carbon Rods, although unlike Ripstick, they’re relatively short and essentially sit just underfoot, in the binding area. More on that later as we get to performance. One of my favorite things about it is the 360 Sidewall that wraps completely around the entire ski. It’s very reminiscent of the Ripstick Tour 104 (Plake’s ski), and if anything, the ski feels just as inspired by that one as it does the “normal” Ripsticks. All this construction adds up to a ski that’s 1760 grams in the 180 cm length we tested. As has become standard from Elan, that’s really light for a ski this wide, which feels like it's placing it in a category of skis with things like Dynastar M-Free 99, K2 Reckoner 102, Atomic Bent 100, Liberty Origin 101, etc. The last thing I’ll point out about construction is the Trapezoidal beveling to the topsheet. It’s shedding more weight, while actually improving power transfer. Superficially, it also looks pretty sweet.

Moving on to shape, we’re really starting to differentiate from those directional Ripsticks. Elan calls it Surf Rocker. It looks a bit like the tip of a normal Ripstick, but you get a very similar shape in the tail too, which is quite different than those directional skis. From our measuring, the 180 cm actually came out to about 178 cm, with 38 cm of tip rocker and 27 cm of tail rocker. That’s where we really feel like there’s some influence from the Plake ski, although the splay is more dramatic in the Playmaker. There’s a big range of mount points, the center of which is 7 cm back from true center. Then there are marked options of going up to 3 cm forward from that or 3 cm back. I can’t imagine a scenario where anyone would want to go further back, as with the length of tail rocker, you just wouldn’t have much ski behind you, but that said, there’s probably someone out there that would like it. I (Jeff) definitely prefer it all the way forward at what’s basically 4 cm back from true center. We tested it there, 5 cm back, and 7 cm back at the middle mark. With the difference in tip and tail rocker length, 4 or 5 cm back should be relatively close to the center of camber, which is generally where I want to be on a ski like this.

2024 Elan Playmaker 101: 2024 Elan Playmaker 101 Camber Profile Image 2024 Elan Playmaker 101: 2024 Elan Elan Playmaker 101 Rocker Profile Closeup Image

Time to talk performance! It’s a fun-loving ski, that’s for sure. Elan asked me to describe it, and I said something like “it’s like a Ripstick 96 meets a Ripstick Tour 104, but the meeting took place at X Games.” There’s a big range of capabilities all with a freestyle mentality and flair. There are, however, some limitations too. Starting with groomers, that’s where you’re going to find most of those limitations. With the shorter Carbon Rods, increased rocker profile, lightweight feel, and relatively soft flex pattern, you can’t expect too much out of the forebody of the ski. Don’t drive a turn like a race ski. If you do that, you’ll be a bit disappointed. Luckily, if you want to do that, just go buy a Ripstick 96 or better yet a Ripstick 96 Black Edition and go rail turns all day. I think I first skied the Playmaker through the lens of a Ripstick 96 Black Edition and was left a bit confused. After skiing it more and more, however, I found its sweet spot, how it likes to be weighted, and started making some really rewarding turns on groomers. If you stay centered and initiate laterally, it actually has a lot of grip. It’s easy to bend into shorter arced turns, which is a nice feature for a lighter skier like myself. There’s a lot of energy and spring as you exit a turn too, which gives it that rewarding feel we all like. You just can’t ski it too hard, which is fine. If you want more of a charger out of it, I would recommend upsizing to 188 for most skiers, at least anyone my size or bigger (5’10” 160 lbs). Shorter, skidded turns are incredibly easy, which allows for a rhythmic, fun, easy-going path down the sides of trails, and also translates to excellent off-piste performance.

Again, it’s not a charger in an off-piste scenario, it’s more of a dancer. It loves to be flicked around and pop off natural hits. The tail never feels catchy, which gives me a lot of confidence skiing more demanding and more technical lines. It also allows you to get away with some mistakes, which I think most skiers appreciate. Surf Rocker is a great name for the shape and feel. It’s undeniably a surfy ski, but it does it with some precision too. I was often reminded of the Reckoner 102 from K2, which shares a similar mix of maneuverability, torsional stiffness, and precision. Soft longitudinal allows you to manipulate the ski, but it’s strong and responsive from a torsional perspective, which means you can ski it with purpose and deliberately, rather than just swishing and smearing down the entire mountain. Mogul performance is pretty good, although if they’re really firm, the tips will get bounced around a bit. We found the 91 did a little better in firm bumps, which isn’t surprising given the width. There’s a superb amount of float for a ski this wide, thanks largely to the big, spoony, squared off tips and tails. There’s a lot of surface area, which comes in handy in soft snow. It also has an intuitive flex in powder. The tips bend, but don’t fold, allowing you to sink gradually, rather than not at all, or bending too much and feeling like you’re going over the handle bars at any moment. If you’re looking at the ski with a comparison between groomers and off-piste, I think it’s fair to say it leans more towards off-piste, but isn’t a slouch on a groomer either.

2024 Elan Playmaker 101: Full Width Action Image 1 2024 Elan Playmaker 101: Full Width Action Image 2

Then there’s the park application! And goodness gracious me, that might be where I like it the most. From day one on this thing, it felt like a really good rail ski. In all honesty, I’m not sure why that is, but I love sliding rails on this thing. I’ve done it a lot too and there’s no hint of an edge crack, which to me, is very impressive given its weight. 360 Sidewalls and Trapezoidal shaping doing its job? I think so. I don’t know where else to give the credit. It’s light, so it's easy to spin on and off rails, and the rocker profile makes it completely catch-free, which I always really value in a park ski. In the air on jumps, it’s fun too. Easy to spin, low swing weight, good pop off takeoffs, super fun. I don’t think I’d want to hit really big park jumps on it, but when I say really big, we’re talking like 60 feet or more. The types of jumps you generally don’t find in your local terrain park. I took a couple landings pretty deep, and the softer flex can wash out on you a bit, but for the most part, I had a blast jumping on it. Logged a lot of 540s, some rodeos, and a few 7s, so it’s perfectly capable in the park, is agile and fun on rails, then you can go smash some tree laps in between.

There’s probably some touring application here too given the 1760 g weight, but I’d rather ski the Ripstick Tour 104 as an AT ski and keep this thing as an alpine ski. Will some skiers choose to throw a Shift or Duke PT or something similar on it? I suppose so, and I certainly wouldn’t look at you funny in the lift line, but I think the better application is as a playful, fun-loving resort ski.

Playmaker… Britannica defines it as “a skillful player in sports like basketball, soccer, and hockey, who makes plays that help a team to score during games.” Use basketball, soccer, and hockey as analogies for different terrain. Use “score during games” as an analogy for how much you’re going to smile. Is it your team's enforcer? No. Is it you’re leading scorer? Probably not. It’s your Playmaker. It’s going to let you put together sequences out there you typically only draw up in the huddle. It’s fun. It has its own attitude and strengths. It’s not afraid of having limitations. A point guard is a great playmaker. Can most dunk? Not really. Can these skis go 60 mph without limitation? Not really, but that’s not why they’re on the team.

2024 Elan Elan Playmaker 101 Ski Review: Shop Now Image

Written by Jeff Neagle on 02/08/23

5 thoughts on “2024 Elan Playmaker 101 Ski Review

  1. Nice, comprehensive review. I will definitely pick up the 91 when it is released (the 101 will be too similar to my Bent 100).

    I have four pairs of Elan skis but feel they lost their way with Ripstick. They bet the entire company on Ripstick and dropped their Free Ride and Park/Pipe skis. Good to see them back.

  2. I can see why these would float well for their width. How much powder do you think these reliably handle? Up to a foot?

    1. The 2024 Elan Playmaker 101 is a terrain park oriented twin tip, while the 2023 Salomon QST 92 is a directional carving ski with a splash of freeride. Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *