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What Skis Should I Buy: Comparing Men's 100mm All Mountain Skis - 2019 Edition

Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition // Helpful Hints

A couple weeks ago we took a look at 15 different all-mountain skis in the 90 mm waist width range. This time, we're doing the same thing, but we're looking at 100 mm skis! You may notice that a lot of the comparisons we made in the 90 mm article carry over to this 100 mm range, but we also start to see a little more variety in shapes and intended use as skis get a little wider.

As a reminder, here at SkiEssentials.com we don't believe one ski is better than another. All of our reviews, ski tests, and comparison articles are rooted in that belief. These skis aren't listed from best to worst, we don't believe that a certain ski is just downright better than any other ski. Each of these skis offers their own unique set of attributes, performance characteristics, and overall feel. As always, we invite you to learn more about each of these skis in our 2019 Ski Test Results, our full-length reviews on Chairlift Chat, or if you want to talk to a skier directly, contact our Customer Service Team!

Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Kastle MX 99 Ski Image

2019 Kastle MX 99:

The Kastle MX 99 is stiff, powerful, and holds an edge better than just about anything in the 100 mm category. It uses a wood core made from silver fir and beech, sandwiched between two full sheets of titanal metal, and finished with carbon and fiberglass. This construction is similar to what we see in race skis. The MX 99 also has a full camber shape and doesn't use any early taper. The shape and construction combined give the MX 99 an exceptionally strong, precise feel. It will hold an edge like a GS ski on firm snow, and has a preference to complete a carving turn, as opposed to letting the skier release the tail edge and smear the ski. Its focus is arguably more on firm snow performance than soft snow, although with its 99 mm waist width it will let a skier take their carving turns from firm snow to mixed snow conditions, softer snow, crud, and just about anything else.

Who it's For: Aggressive skiers who prefer carving over smearing, slipping, or pivoting turns. Skiers that value edge grip, stability, and a stiff, powerful ski will fall in love with the MX 99.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Blizzard Bonafide Ski Image

2019 Blizzard Bonafide:

In a lot of ways, the Bonafide is quite similar to the MX 99. It uses two sheets of metal sandwiched around a wood core, and also uses some carbon in its construction. The difference here is that Blizzard builds in some rocker into the tip and tail, and there is also some very subtle early taper. The shape of the tail in particular is quite a bit different. Where the MX 99 has a flat, squared-off tail similar to a race ski, the Bonafide is more rounded, which enhances the ski's ability to release its tail edge. Overall, however, the Bonafide is still right up there among the stiffest, most powerful skis in this category. Its vibration damping and stability at speed rivals anything else in this article. Perhaps you don't get the same preference to finish a carving turn as with the MX 99. You could, however, argue that the Bonafide just accepts skier input a little more easily than the MX 99. It's not an exceptionally forgiving all mountain ski for most skiers, but it has that high level of power, vibration damping, and stability that comes along with that much metal.

Who it's For: Similar to the MX 99, you should be a relatively aggressive skier who is comfortable driving a ski. You probably spend a lot of time on firm snow, but want to be able to venture into soft snow conditions without getting bogged down.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Volkl M5 Mantra Ski Image

2019 Volkl M5 Mantra:

Volkl changed up the Mantra for the 2019 season! Unlike the previous version, we're back to a Mantra with camber. The construction of the Mantra marks the introduction of Volkl's new Titanal Frame construction. They use their classic multi-layer wood core, a full sheet of titanal along the base of the ski, but the metal along the top of the ski is focused only along the edges of the ski and does not meet underfoot. This new construction delivers high-end vibration damping and stability, but allows the ski to flex more naturally right underfoot. Like the Bonafide, it uses tip and tail rocker and some early taper, but both are quite subtle. This gives it a great feel on firm snow as you get full length edge contact, however the M5 Mantra is impressively maneuverable in softer snow conditions as well. It's slightly lighter than a ski with two full sheets of metal, and its willingness to flex naturally under your feet allow you to play around with different turn shapes more easily than a stiffer ski.

Who it's For: You want a precise, stable, relatively-powerful ski for groomers, but you want some versatility in your skis both in its ability to ski different terrain and its ability to make different turn shapes.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Atomic Vantage 97 Ti Ski Image

2019 Atomic Vantage 97 Ti:

The Vantage 97 Ti shares a relatively similar shape to the Bonafide and M5 Mantra, but its construction is much more focused on weight savings than anything we've looked at so far. Atomic removes a serious amount of material from the center of the ski, which really brings the overall weight down. Add in the fact that the Vantage 97 Ti still has really high levels of torsional stiffness due to its innovative construction and you've got a ski that's very responsive and easy to flick around. It's going to hold an edge really well on firm snow, and it will respond to skier input really quickly. It won't have the same tank-like feel of some of the heavier skis we're looking at in this article, but manufacturers are making strides in retaining stability and vibration damping while bringing down the overall weight. The Vantage 97 Ti is a perfect example of that concept. Because it's lighter, it's going to be easier to maneuver compared to some of the heavier skis in this article. Swing weight goes a long way, and a ski like the Vantage 97 Ti is going to be easier to maneuver and less tiring than a heavier ski.

Who it's For: You probably still spend most of your time on groomers, but you really don't want a heavy, race-construction-style ski. You don't want to have to fight a ski to maneuver it in softer snow conditions, but you don't want a super-rockered shape either.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Nordica Enforcer 100 Ski Image

2019 Nordica Enforcer 100:

The Enforcer 100 starts to feel like a ski with more of an even mix of performance characteristics for different terrain than some of the skis we talked about above, but the important thing to remember with this ski is it still uses two sheets of metal. While that metal is thinner than we see in most skis with this style construction, it's still there. That gives the Enforcer 100 excellent vibration damping and stability, but because the metal is thinner it softens up the flex a little bit from tip to tail. Combine this with the fact that the Enforcer 100 uses more rocker than anything we've talked about so far (50% total) and you've got a very smooth ski that stays stable on firm snow, holds an edge well, but also allows you to pivot and smear the ski. It crosses over between different terrain and snow conditions very well, and is a more forgiving ski than those with lots of metal and less rocker, but don't forget about that metal. An intermediate skier may struggle with its level of power.

Who it's For: You like the feel of a ski with metal laminates, but you want more maneuverability and forgiveness in soft snow conditions. You're willing to give up some edge contact on firm snow for the extra soft snow performance.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Fischer Ranger 98 Ti Ski Image

2019 Fischer Ranger 98 Ti:

The Fischer Ranger 98 Ti is another ski that bridges the gap between weight savings and stability. Fischer uses a number of different methods to shed weight from the Ranger 98 Ti. Their Aeroshape design uses less overall material, while retaining high levels of torsional stiffness. Their AirTec core sheds even more weight by removing strips of material, which is then supported by a titanium laminate. Fischer also uses a very thin tip construction by integrating carbon into the ski's construction. The Ranger 98 Ti offers the stability and vibration damping that aggressive skiers value, but in a weight that's light enough to justify using it as an alpine touring ski. In fact, the Ranger 98 Ti has a built in skin clip on the tail, a nod to its intended use as a potential AT ski. Because it's lighter, it will get deflected more than heavier skis. It won't track through heavy choppy snow quite as well as a heavier ski, but it's not unstable by any means. If you value a lighter overall ski, but don't want to give up metal, the Ranger 98 Ti is a great choice.

Who it's For: Skiers who like to do a bit of everything. It has the torsional stiffness to hold an edge on firm snow, the stability needed to ski fast and aggressively, yet it's also light enough to tour with without being exhausting.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Head Kore 99 Ski Image

2019 Head Kore 99:

If we were to pick two words to describe the Kore 99 from Head they would be stiff and lightweight. Head is another company focusing on delivering high-end performance in a lightweight package. Their blend of Graphene, Koroyd, carbon, and karuba wood results in a ski that is not only unique in its construction, but also impressively stiff for how light it is. That stiffness also translates to torsional stiffness, meaning the Kore 99 will hold an edge with the best of the best in this category. A stiffer overall flex pattern compared to the Ranger 98 Ti above, which is going to make the ski very responsive to skier input. It's like Head took race ski performance on firm snow, somehow made it super lightweight, then changed the shape to add in some versatility. The rocker and early taper gives it smooth performance in soft snow conditions, but the key thing to remember here is that it's still quite stiff. It doesn't have a distinctly playful feel in soft snow and responds to skier input almost immediately.

Who it's For: You want a lightweight ski, but you don't want to sacrifice power, stability, and overall stiffness. Because of its stiffness, you should be at a relatively high ability level, it's a ski that rewards good technique.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Salomon QST 99 Ski Image

2019 Salomon QST 99:

Salomon added basalt and doubled the amount of carbon and flax in the QST 99 for 2019. The result is a "boost" in the ski's power and stability, but the overall feel of the QST 99 stays more or less the same. In terms of versatility, the QST 99 can be described as a ski with a very even mix of performance characteristics for different terrain and snow conditions. It's not the most powerful or more precise ski on firm snow, but it's no slouch either. It doesn't have huge amounts of rocker or early taper, so its shape isn't totally focused for soft snow, but it still performs really well even in deep conditions. Its ability to transition through different snow conditions is perhaps its most impressive attribute. It goes from icy moguls to powdery troughs to firm groomers without missing a beat. It's relatively lightweight, but feels a little heftier than some of the really lightweight contenders in this list. An all mountain ski with some distinct freeride influence is a great way to describe it.

Who it's For: Salomon added basalt and doubled the amount of carbon and flax in the QST 99 for 2019. The result is a "boost" in the ski's power and stability, but the overall feel of the QST 99 stays more or less the same. In terms of versatility, the QST 99 can be described as a ski with a very even mix of performance characteristics for different terrain and snow conditions. It's not the most powerful or more precise ski on firm snow, but it's no slouch either. It doesn't have huge amounts of rocker or early taper, so its shape isn't totally focused for soft snow, but it still performs really well even in deep conditions. Its ability to transition through different snow conditions is perhaps its most impressive attribute. It goes from icy moguls to powdery troughs to firm groomers without missing a beat. It's relatively lightweight, but feels a little heftier than some of the really lightweight contenders in this list. An all mountain ski with some distinct freeride influence is a great way to describe it.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Fischer Ranger 102 FR Image

2019 Fischer Ranger 102 FR:

The first ski in this comparison that could be described as a twin tip, the Ranger 102 FR is another ski with some obvious freeski influence in its design and construction. It's construction is very similar to the Ranger 98 Ti, although the 102 FR is a little bit heavier. It can make proper turns on firm snow, but its highlighting features are its performance in soft snow and its blend of playfulness and stability at speed. It's somewhat like the Nordica Enforcer 100 in the sense that its construction provides the stability and torsional stiffness, while the shape gives it a more maneuverable feel than lots of the skis in this comparison. Tail rocker combined with the twin tip shape allows you to release the tail edge quite easily, yet it will hold an edge on firm snow even when you're skiing aggressively. Arguably a bit much for the terrain park, but we've seen some of Fischer's athletes ripping this thing in the park, which is a nod to its playful nature and versatility.

Who it's For: Skiers that love soft snow and/or like to jump off stuff. If you like skiing switch (backwards) you don't have too many options, especially out of the skis in this comparison article. That said, you don't have to be a park-style skier to enjoy it, it's kind of like a Ranger 98 Ti that's more focused on soft snow performance.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Blizzard Rustler 10 Ski Image

2019 Blizzard Rustler 10:

The Rustler 10 is to the Bonafide as the Ranger 102 FR is to the Ranger 98 Ti. Ratios are fun. The Rustler 10 takes the performance we're familiar with in the Bonafide and repackages it in a more playful, maneuverable, freeride-inspired shape. Underfoot, it's a lot like the Bonafide, but the metal tapers and ends as it reaches the tips and tails, which use more early taper and rocker than the Bonafide too. This gives the Rustler 10 more of a soft-snow focus, although it can still hold an edge on firm snow too thanks to that metal and the resulting torsional stiffness underfoot. The tips and tails also have a softer flex pattern compared to the portion of the ski underfoot, which helps boost forgiveness in off-piste terrain. Imperfections in the snow surface won't affect the performance of the Rustler 10 as much as a ski with stiffer tips and tails. This flex pattern also enhances maneuverability as it's designed to work alongside the increased rocker and early taper.

Who it's For: Like the Ranger 102 FR, it's best on the feet of a relatively playful skier, or at least a skier that values soft snow performance. Arguably one of the most soft-snow oriented skis of this article. Who's making that argument, you might ask? Well, I guess we are.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 K2 Pinnacle 95 Ski Image

2019 K2 Pinnacle 95:

As the narrowest ski in this comparison article, you might expect the Pinnacle 95 Ti to be one of the more firm-snow-focused skis, but that's not necessarily the case. The flex pattern and shape of the Pinnacle 95 Ti give it really good performance in soft snow. It uses some of the longest rocker in this comparison article, especially in the tip. This boosts its soft snow performance and helps the ski float in soft snow, despite only having a 95 mm waist. Like Volkl and Atomic, K2 has positioned metal along the edges of the ski. While the construction is slightly different between the three, the overall concept and goals are similar. It retains good torsional stiffness and stability when you've got the ski up on edge, while resulting in a lighter weight overall. That long tip rocker also helps smooth out turn initiation on firm snow, helping you to link carving turns. Maneuverable in soft snow, holds an edge on firm snow, it's a very versatile ski.

Who it's For: As the narrowest ski in this comparison article, you might expect the Pinnacle 95 Ti to be one of the more firm-snow-focused skis, but that's not necessarily the case. The flex pattern and shape of the Pinnacle 95 Ti give it really good performance in soft snow. It uses some of the longest rocker in this comparison article, especially in the tip. This boosts its soft snow performance and helps the ski float in soft snow, despite only having a 95 mm waist. Like Volkl and Atomic, K2 has positioned metal along the edges of the ski. While the construction is slightly different between the three, the overall concept and goals are similar. It retains good torsional stiffness and stability when you've got the ski up on edge, while resulting in a lighter weight overall. That long tip rocker also helps smooth out turn initiation on firm snow, helping you to link carving turns. Maneuverable in soft snow, holds an edge on firm snow, it's a very versatile ski.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Armada Tracer 98 Ski Image

2019 Armada Tracer 98:

Armada describes this ski as a 1-ski quiver you can take anywhere from the resort to the backcountry, and we agree. It uses their Ultra-Light wood core, which is supported by Innegra Mesh throughout the ski. There is also some metal and rubber underfoot that helps boost stability and also helps with binding retention. The Tracer 98 is light enough to use as a touring ski, yet the Innegra Mesh adds in the torsional stiffness you need to hold an edge on firm snow. That said, the shape of the Tracer 98 leans more toward soft snow performance and maneuverability than edge grip. It uses a fair amount of rocker and early taper, which like a lot of skis in this article is more pronounced in the tip than the tail. The shape combined with the ski's light weight make it easy to maneuver. The weight allows you to just flick it around, while the shape gives it the ability to smear, pivot, or slip through a turn. One of the more forgiving skis of this article, although like the Pinnacle 95 Ti, that doesn't mean it wouldn't be enjoyed by an expert.

Who it's For: You like to seek out soft snow, yet you don't want your skis to be so focused on soft snow performance that they're no fun to ski anywhere else. Maybe you want to do some AT skiing too, the Tracer 98 is a good candidate for a touring binding.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Rossignol Sky 7 HD Ski Image

2019 Rossignol Sky 7 HD:

The Rossignol Sky 7 HD was re-invented for 2018 and is back unchanged for 2019. Like the Tracer 98, the Sky 7 HD is more focused on soft snow performance than firm snow performance. It uses a lot of rocker, and relatively pronounced early taper too. The flex pattern is also one of the softest in this category, which really boosts the ski's forgiveness in variable snow conditions and tricky terrain. Rossignol's Carbon Alloy Matrix does give the ski an impressive level of torsional stiffness, but because the effective edge is relatively short when you're on firm snow it's not going to hold an edge quite as well as some of the other skis we've looked at in this comparison. It loves to make quick movements and really reacts well to skier input. Rossignol is willing to give up some stability and vibration damping in this ski in exchange for maneuverability and forgiveness, which is a popular choice among skiers who like to spend most of their time off trail in the trees, moguls, etc.

Who it's For: You're not the most aggressive skier on the hill and you like to spend more time off the trail than on it. It's a blast in powder, trees, and other off-piste scenarios and its lightweight feel and relatively soft flex pattern offers an important choice in this category.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Liberty Origin 96 Ski Image

2019 Liberty Origin 96:

The Liberty Origin 96 is the second twin tip we've looked at in this comparison article. Liberty has updated the ski for 2019 with a new rocker profile, which actually reduces the total rocker in the ski. The lower rise rocker gives the ski better edge contact on firm snow, which has improved carving performance. The ski's construction consists of bamboo, poplar, and carbon, which gives the Origin 96 one of the more explosive, energetic flex patterns out of the skis in this article. It loves to pop and hop around the mountain, while this new version really lets you lay it over on firm snow more than the previous Origins. This is one of those skis that could double as a terrain park ski, but that doesn't mean you have to spend time in the park to enjoy it.

Who it's For:Anyone that wants a fun, versatile, playful all mountain ski that will perform well in a variety of terrain and snow conditions will really enjoy skiing the Origin 96. Liberty is growing up as a brand, and the Origin 96 is a perfect example of how their skis continue to evolve.

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Which Skis Should I Buy? Comparing All Mountain Skis in the 100mm Range - 2019 Edition: 2019 Atomic Bent Chetler 100 Ski Image

2019 Atomic Bent Chetler 100:

The Bent Chetler 100 is another twin tip ski with a focus on soft snow performance. If you're a playful skier that likes to use the entire mountain as your terrain park, a ski like this is right up your alley. Think about it alongside the Origin 96 and the Ranger 102 FR, although its construction gives it arguably a more playful feel than either of those skis. It has a relatively soft flex pattern that will allow a skier to butter, smear, and play in all sorts of different terrain and snow conditions. Atomic's HRZN Tech is a nod to its soft snow performance. The boat-hull inspired shape in the tip and tail boost the ski's float and overall performance in deeper snow conditions. Chris Bentchetler is known for taking freestyle and park-inspired tricks into the backcountry, and this is his pro-model all-mountain ski. It's not the most powerful ski and doesn't have the strongest torsional stiffness, but edge grip on really firm snow at speed definitely isn't the focus of this ski, that's why Atomic also has the Vantage 97 Ti.

Who it's For: An adventurous skier that wants to play around the entire mountain. Maybe you spend a little time in the terrain park, but don't want to be limited by a narrower ski. Throw some tricks in the park, ski some powder, maneuver through trees, and do it all with Chris Bentchetler's signature style (maybe…).

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Written by Jeff Neagle on 10/06/18

70 thoughts on “What Skis Should I Buy: Comparing Men's 100mm All Mountain Skis - 2019 Edition

  1. I love my Bonafide (crushing it yesterday at Breck) but I'm getting old and pushing 2 sheets of metal wearing me out. So with that said what would you recommend for an old east cost bump skier who wants to soft it up and have quicker edge to edge? (I have to mount my BC 100 but afraid may be to soft?)

    1. Hi Kevin!

      Awesome! Psyched you're already back on snow! Stowe opens this Friday, so we're not far behind you 🙂

      The Salomon QST 92 comes to mind right away. I love that ski in moguls, and I think it would provide a refreshing alternative to your Bonafides. Much lighter, more rocker, less metal, etc. I would go with the 92 over the 99, as you'll get that quicker edge to edge performance you're looking for. The Head Kore 93 also comes to mind, falls into a similar category, although its flex pattern is a little stiffer than the QST.

      Hope that helps! Happy to chat more about it if you have other questions.

      SE

  2. Have you guys skied on or reviewed the 2019 Line Sick Day 104? I'm looking for a 50/50 ski to mount my shifts on and have narrowed it down to the QST 99, Ranger 98 and the Sick Day 104, but haven't been on the 104's yet, so looking to get some more info. I'm definitely more of an aggressive skier (want a confidence inspiring ski when testing the speed limit), but also want something versatile and playful to hop and jump around on, as I'm always looking for natural features to hit. I really like the versatility/profile of the enforcer 100, but I'm worried about all the weight. Any help on the SD 104 or advice on a ski?

    Thanks a bunch and keep all the great ski reviews coming, you guys do a great job 🙂

    1. Hi Pete!

      Unfortunately we don't really have access to Line skis right now, with the exception of big industry demos and other events like that. Someday that might change, but right now I don't have much personal experience on the new Sick Days.

      That said, from everything you've said, the Salomon QST 99 feels like a really good choice. How you describe what you're looking for is basically how I describe the QST 99. It's versatile and playful and loves to hop and jump around, but you can also ski pretty darn aggressively and fast on it and it really doesn't become unstable. It has a similar shape and profile to the Enforcer 100, but is lighter and more energetic. It's really a super fun all mountain ski and it sounds like it would really match your skiing style. It has some obvious freeski-influence in its design, loves natural features.

      Hope that helps! Wish I could give you more info on the Sick Day 104, but I will say considering my experience with all these skis, I don't think it would be quite as playful as the QST.

      SE

  3. After being a Snowboarder the last 20 years this year I will "have to" get back to skis to teach my kids skiing. Before switching to a snowboard I was skiing for 12 years. I would describe me a as a good skier and I can go down all trails without issues. I am 40 years old, 5ft 9inch and weigh 235lb. My new ski should work great off piste, work ok on piste (ideally even if it is icy), turn easily so that the ski teaching will be easy. The ski doesn't have to be super damped on high speeds – off piste properties are more important to me. After seeing your youtube video I have narrowed it down to the following skis: Salomon QST 99, Atomic Bent Chetler 100, Nordica Enforcer 100 or Fischer Ranger 102 FR. What ski would you recommend? If you think another ski would fit better I am open to that. From the length I was thinking to 180cm.
    What binding would you recommend? I heard the Marker Griffon 13 makes trouble sometimes (even out of the box). Have you seen that too? Maybe a Tyrolia 13 or Warden 13 would be an alternative. I think because of my weight I shouldn't go to the 11 series. Is the 13 sufficient or should I go for a 16? Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Peter!

      Welcome back to skiing! Twice as good as snowboarding, obviously, as we have twice the number of edges. 😉

      Jokes aside, you'll be blown away by the performance of skis since the last time you were on two planks. At your weight, I think you can rule out the Bent Chetler, as it's a little too soft flexing for someone your size. Even the QST is potentially too light to really support your size and provide a confidence-inspiring feel. The Enforcer 100 or the Ranger 102, on the other hand, both feel like great choices. Both are good skis for someone your size. Not overly stiff, but stable enough to support a heavier skier. Between the two you can kind of just decide whether you want a little more soft snow performance or a little more firm snow performance. The Ranger 102 is a little more soft snow focused, while the Enforcer 100 performs a little better on firm snow. The Enforcer 100 is arguably a little more versatile in terms of an even mix of performance characteristics.

      For bindings, you shouldn't have any trouble with the Griffon. I have seen them not release to the correct newton meter values during torque testing, but only for really lightweight skiers. They're solid bindings. The Attack 13 is great too, low stand height, wide platform, and the twin cam heel piece makes them a little easier to click in, but you won't have any problems with that.

      Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

      SE

  4. Thank you so much for your insightful reviews and comparisons! I've got a question where I'm not sure whether it's time for new skis this season. Can you help? I'm 6'4" and about 200 lbs, and currently I have the 2016 Vantage 90 CTi in 184 cm with about 70 ski days on them. Over their three seasons I've progressed from blues and some blacks thrown in to doing mostly the ungroomed blacks and double-blacks; it's all in bounds, and while mogul runs all day got a lot better, I'm still having trouble with tight trees and powder. Sometimes, I'm also doing the exposed, steep and icy kind of slopes, so I like having reliable edges when I need them. I'm having fun throwing in Super G hills like Birds of Prey when in tourist conditions, but definitely no ambitions at racing, and I don't see myself out of bounds or heliskiing within the lifespan of the next skis. Last year, a ski instructor whom I trust suggested that a somewhat stiffer ski might help, especially since 200 pounds of moguls all day might be a bit more than what the Atomics are built for. My style is probably fairly timid for someone doing these runs all day long in the first place.

    The question then would be what the right place to go might be. I'm looking for something that supports conditions as one finds them on the doable on a random ski week (I fly in, so I don't get to take advantage of powder days except by coincidence with my travel days) out west, with the limitation of a one-ski quiver. So there might be some powder, some crud, or the moguls might get skied out to become fairly icy; there's only so much soft stuff one gets to see inbounds during a holiday week. I guess there are three elements to my question: How wide--should I stay with the 90 mm class or would the 100 mm class be more appropriate given that I don't do many groomers? How long--the 184 cm don't seem to be overly short, and 193 or so is only available for so many models in the first place, but then again, I'm 6'4". And finally, how firm--I've currently got, so to speak, half a layer of titanal in my skis, so two layers seems a bit much, but I've never tried it.

    I suppose I'm also a bit confused because with much of my skiing being on moguls (of the sort that develop as a steep slope is left alone, not regularly shaped competitive ones), specialized mogul skis would be close to slalom skis, whereas skis for variable surface conditions get quite a bit wider--so what does one best use on moguls with variable surface conditions? Do you have any suggestions what to look for or to buy?

    1. Hi Oliver!

      Quick answer: Stay in the mid-90 mm range, stay in the mid-180 cm length, and dedicated mogul skis are basically only designed for competitive mogul skiers who ski really direct lines. They're very narrow, and mostly camber, so not exactly a forgiving skiing experience for us non-competitive mogul skiers.

      Long answer: You feel like a really good candidate for a Blizzard Rustler 9 or a Nordica Enforcer 93. Going with a wider ski would actually slow your progression a little bit. Because you're not skiing exceptionally deep snow very often, you really don't need to go wider than those skis. Also, narrower skis will be a little quicker edge to edge, which really helps in moguls. Because you're a fairly big guy, you can definitely justify some metal in your skis. The Enforcer 93 uses pretty thin sheets of metal, which reduces weight and softens up the flex a little. It's not an overly stiff ski, and I think would perform really well for what you're looking to do. The Rustler 9, which is quite similar, is actually a little more maneuverable because it uses more pronounced tip and tail rocker. That would really help in tight moguls and trees, and it still has solid torsional stiffness and good vibration damping so will hold an edge really well on firm snow too.

      Let us know if you have any other questions! Happy to chat more about it.

      SE

      1. Thanks a lot for the insight! (re: my question below) So to summarize, with the two models you mentioned in the 90mm-class and in the mid-180s, we'd be talking about an Enforcer 93 in 185 or a Rustler 9 in 188, right? (They don't seem to make it strictly in the mid-180s.) For my curiosity, where would the Head Kore 93, presumably in 188, come in? On paper it seems to be basically an Enforcer with more modern materials and thus a bit lighter and hopefully nimbler. Is there a reason it didn't end up on your list for me?

        Oliver

        1. Hi again Oliver!

          Yup, those are the lengths I was thinking of.

          Could the Kore 93 work? It certainly could. I typically, however, recommend it for lighter weight skier more than skiers your size. You're right in the sense that it's a lot like an Enforcer 93 with different materials. You could argue that it's more modern construction, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's better. There's still a huge benefit that comes along with a classic wood core, sandwich construction with metal. In your description of your skiing, I got the impression you spend a fair amount of time on groomers and like to ski somewhat fast sometimes (Birds of Prey is what comes to mind). Both the Enforcer 93 and Rustler 9, for someone your size especially, will handle that type of skiing a little better than the Kore 93. The Kore, in my opinion, feels more focused on off-piste maneuverability than anything else. It would help your progress in moguls and trees, so if you wanted to focus more on that progression than firm snow, you could pick up a Kore.

          Hope that helps,

          SE

  5. Hi SE,

    I'm 40 year-old, 5'8",170 lb male skier who likes to spend most of my time in the trees, off-trail or diving into powder. That said, I also spend a good amount of time cruising down groomers with my family members, so I need a ski that can do it all. I value maneuverability and quickness over pure speed and I'm definitely not the most aggressive skier on the mountain anymore.

    All of my skiing is out west. Montana in December, Colorado in February, and a few trips to Mammoth and Tahoe throughout the year. Last year I demo'd the Sky 7, which I really liked in the powder we got in Montana. They were very maneuverable and fun, but not great on the hard chargers. Good, not great. I also tried the Bonafides when I was in Tahoe. The Bonafides did really well on the groomers but felt a little heavy to me and a bit stiff.

    This year I am looking to buy a new pair of skis and have been looking at the Sky 7, Rustler 10, QST 99, Ranger 98 and Enforcer 100.

    1. Hi Noah!

      You sound like a really good candidate for the QST 99. That ski essentially blends the performance of the Sky 7 and the Bonafide that you demoed. It's relatively lightweight and noticeably quick to maneuver, like the Sky, but it has better torsional stiffness, more stability at speed, and a longer effective edge because the rocker isn't quite as pronounced. On the other end of the spectrum, they don't have quite the firm snow performance of the Bonafide, but they're much less demanding and a more forgiving ski overall. It also is a great ski for someone who values maneuverability and quickness over speed, as you mentioned.

      For length, I would think the 174 cm would perform well for you. That's just barely taller than you, which usually works well for the QST 99.

      Hope that helps!

      SE

  6. Hi there. I'm 5'10 and 150lbs, age 30 and a reasonably advance and aggressive skier, mostly in CO. Probably 70/30 on/off-piste, enjoy moguls and glades, and powder when I can find it but not terribly often. I am switching from Rossignol Scratch BCs from 10 years ago and demo'd the M5 Mantras yesterday and couldn't believe the ease in carving up groomers, but it's a much heavier ski than I'm used to. While the M5s were a dream at speed, I'm willing to sacrifice some stability for something a bit more maneuverable, and I would like the ski to be at least serviceable on powder days. Based on what I've read, I think the Rustler 10, Kore 99, and QST 99 are probably the best candidates. Do you have a suggestion, including length for my size and weight? Thank you!

    1. Hi Dave!

      Kore 99 probably isn't the way to go, because that ski is actually very stiff. Although it feels different than the M5, it's not exactly more playful, forgiving, etc. Rustler 10 or QST 99 both feel like good choices, however. The QST is an absolute blast in moguls and trees. It's quick and responsive and really performs well across a variety of terrain. It can still be skied aggressively on firm snow, too. Not quite the power of the M5, but it's certainly no slouch. The Rustler 10, in my opinion, starts to feel like more of a freeride ski. Although it's close to the QST 99 in width, its overall design feels more focused on soft snow performance. That said, it sounds like you might like that in a ski. Definitely the best in powder out of the skis you're considering, and super fun in moguls and trees too. It's just a matter of whether you're willing to give up a little bit of responsiveness on firm snow. It still holds an edge well and actually has good vibration damping, but not as quick edge to edge as the QST. For length, in either ski, I would go right around 180 cm. For comparison, I'm pretty much exactly your size and like both these skis in the 180 cm length.

      Hope that helps!

      SE

  7. Hi Dave,

    First off, I love your reviews. I have been spending hours reading through all of them while on Christmas vacation.

    I'm 5'9" 150lbs, most of my skiing is in the East, Tremblant, Stowe, Sugar Bush, Holiday Valley and the mini hills near Toronto when the kids are in ski school. I have been skiing on K2 Amp Phantom 160's since about 2013. This year I purchased new boots and feel much more connected, but this has in turn made me feel as if I'm skiing at the limit of the K2 and also it's likely a bit short for my height/weight. So in the end I feel that my current ski is holding me back.

    Most of my skiing is on groomers 50%, glades 25% & icy chop 25%(Ontario crap weather). Usually green runs at slower to moderate speeds when I'm with the family, and then blues/blacks when I get a chance to charge down some runs solo. When solo I do like to blast through the chop and challenge my limits.

    I'm looking for a ski that will push my ability into a more advanced realm. I currently consider myself to be a 50/50 mix of Intermediate/Advanced.

    That being said what would you recommend and at what size? I'm leaning toward the M5 Mantra, but also like the QST99 and the 98TI. When the kids are in ski school I may end up using my old K2's so my new skis don't get thrashed in the lift line (the hill where they learn is like 80% learners so it's a mess).

    Thanks in advance.

    Adam in Toronto

    1. Hi Adam!

      My name's Jeff, I assume you were looking at the last person to leave a comment. No worries, our owner's name is David, so we'll just pretend that what you meant 😉

      Glad to hear you've got some new boots that are working well for you! A proper fitting boot is a key piece of equipment to take your skiing to the next level. Now, to skis. All the skis you listed are great. The M5 Mantra is the most precise and the most powerful on firm snow, at the cost of some forgiveness and maneuverability in off-piste terrain. It's not the most demanding ski, but it's also not the easiest. The QST 99 is quick, playful, and responsive. It's really quite versatile for a wide range of terrain, and also performs a little better at slower speeds than the M5, so might work better when going slow with the family. The Ranger 98 Ti falls in between those to, although in my opinion it's a little closer to the M5.

      Considering your weight, I'm thinking either QST 99 or Ranger 98 Ti would be best. I just imagine the M5 would feel like a lot of ski when skiing slowly, and it's also not the most maneuverable ski in trees. In my opinion, the QST 99 would help you expand your ability and try new terrain, although the Ranger 98 Ti would give you slightly better groomer performance.

      What do you think? Does that make sense? For length, the 174 cm QST 99 feels about right, or the 172 Ranger 98. You could go closer to 180 if you want to, but probably not necessary. The only benefit would be increased stability at speed, but I don't think that's a huge concern here.

      SE

      1. Thanks Jeff. Sorry for the name confusion, I noticed right after I hit the submit button. Doh!

        Thank you for confirming what I was thinking as well. I love the idea of the M5 when I'm not with my family, but most of the time I'm skiing with my 9 and 13 year old. My wife is still working up to the level of the kids. So I'm always teaching. 🙂

        Plus last year my kids just wanted to ski the glades all day, we love it in the trees when the weather gods allow.

        I really like the Ti but can't find them in Canada. So will likely go with the QST99.

        Cheers from the Great White North.

        Adam

      2. Update, I went with the 98ti and purchased them SE. 172's with the marker bindings. Not bad for $719 ($990 cdn). Can't wait to hit the slopes, thanks for your help.

        Adam

  8. Hi,

    I am so glad one of my colleagues told me about your reviews on YouTube, because they have inspired me to finally replace my 2012 Volkl Mantras. I have loved these skis for their ability to bust through crud, carve up wind-buffed pow, and of course lay it down at high speed on groomers to get the legs warm. I learned to ski in demo/racing programs in VT, so have a pretty aggressive style, but these days do the majority of my skiing out west - especially at Big Sky on the tram. I have been thinking of getting something new that might have a bit more float in pow and playfulness in the trees, but the one other ski I have tried to date (a one-day demo of faction candide 3.0s) felt edgeless and soft.

    I've had to stay away from the mantra the past few years due to their lack of camber..is the 2019 M5 the year I should come back? The fact that they're 2mm narrower at the waist seems like a step back from what I have. I have also had a few folks recommend liberty origin 106s as they will supposedly be a blast on the tram but still hold up when I need an edge. Does the metal in the kastle or blizzard's make those a more appropriate choice? The mantras are heavy as *** but I am really only hiking to a bit of sidecountry, not any real touring.

    I am hoping to try a few things while I am out in big sky so I can finally and purchase something with confidence. Any advice is appreciated and thanks again for the great reviews!

    Will

    1. Hi Will!

      I think the best thing to do here is to get a ski that blends the power and precision of the Mantra with a more playful, soft-snow oriented ski for your sidecountry and soft snow adventures. You certainly don't "need" metal in your skis, but if you're a pretty aggressive guy I think you'll appreciate at least having some. A few skis come to mind that I think you'd enjoy testing if you have the opportunity. Nordica Enforcer 100, Fischer Ranger 102 FR, Blizzard Rustler 10. We'll start there. Those skis all blend power and playfulness. All use some metal, but are also way more playful than the Mantra in soft snow. I'd get on the Origin 106 too if you can, you might be surprised by that ski. I'll admit it had better edge grip and more stability than I was expecting when I skied it. You should also, just for the heck of it, ski the M5 Mantra. I'm guessing you'll ultimately choose another ski, but I also think you'd enjoy finding out what the new Mantra is all about.

      Hope that helps!

      SE

  9. Hey Guys -
    6'3" 200 pound mid-40s ex-racer & instructor here. Currently skiing the 2017 Brahma in 187 (from you all of course).

    Love it but on slushy days or out west I feel as if a little extra girth might come in handy. Still charge pretty hard and value edge grip and carving abilities along with quickness off-piste.

    Seems like the Bonafides, M5 Mantras, and Enforcers should be on my short list. Can you describe some of the nuances between these?

    1. Hi Gian!
      If you are familiar with the Brahma, you'll be familiar with the Bonafide--same ski just wider. The M5 is a bit softer than the Bonafide, and with a new type of construction with the Titanal Frame, you get a precise edge feel with a more playful overall character. We like how they've put the camber back underfoot in the Mantra, it really makes the hard snow performance stand out once again. The Enforcer is the most all-mountain and versatile ski of the lot. They are a bit wider and have longer rocker profiles, so maneuverability is a bit more pronounced in this ski than the other two. Additionally, the metal layers used in the Enforcer are thinner than those in the Bonafide, so although you get the damping, you don't quite get the same stiffness. Overall, you'll find more similarities than differences between these three. Hope that helps!

      SE

  10. Hi SE!
    I am enjoying reading all of the reviews, comments and responses and figured i'd ask for some input before making a decision on my ski purchase.
    I'm 6ft 210lbs and typically ski 50/50 east/west coast and 30/70 on/off piste - i tend to ski aggressively, but also like to play around in the soft stuff. I demoed the 106 QST's last week in CO, and really enjoyed them. However, I think I would prefer a ski in the 98-102 range. I'm really leaning towards the QST 99, Bent Chetler 100 or Enforcer 100 - I'm not sure how to decide between the group nor 100% certain on the length - I think i was on a 181 last week, but I think i'd also be comfortable on the 188. Whats your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Mark

    1. Hi Mark!

      If you loved the feel of the QST 106, but want to go a little narrower, I'd go with the QST 99. Basically the exact same construction between the 106 and 99, and you already know you like that feel. The Bent Chetler 100 is significantly softer-flexing, and the Enforcer 100 is heavier. So, while I like those two skis a lot, you already know you like the QST feel, and I'm not convinced you'd like either of those skis more. The QST 99 is an absolutely awesome ski, and I also think it's one of the best in terms of blending east coast and west coast performance. Power and precision on groomers, but also a surfy, floaty, fun feel in soft snow.

      For length, you know, honestly, I'd stick with 181 cm. Part of what makes the QST so fun is the blend of power and maneuverability, and I would worry a little bit that the 188 cm would take away some of that. I don't think you're too big for the 181 cm length by any means, but if you really felt like the 181 cm 106 felt short, you could size up. Just be aware that the extra length takes away some of its maneuverability/forgiveness, so only make that decision if you really think you need the extra stability.

      Hope that helps!

      SE

  11. Hi guys

    Pumped to have found your site/reviews.

    I'm a advanced skier from western Canada. Im 6'0, 200lbs.
    Mostly skiing Fernie, Lake Louise, and smaller hills in the area. Have decided to invest in 100mm ski.
    I consider myself a pretty fast skier - Love ripping groomers, but if there is deep snow thats where I'm at. Like to rip through the trees, love the steep and deep and am enjoying the bumps more and more all the time. I never took a ski lesson in my life, so am probably not the best technical skier.
    I demoed the Salomon QST 99 in the 188 length last weekend and really enjoyed them. Snow conditions weren't the best, but found them nimble in the trees. Felt a little chatter on the hard pack at times but they were better than i thought they would be on fast groomers.
    I have pretty much narrowed it down to the QST 99 or the Nordica Enforcer 100. Should I just flip a coin or do you guys recommend one over the other for me.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Trent!
      Sounds like you're right on the money with the QST 99 assessment. They will chatter at speeds on the hard pack. The Enforcer 100 will not. That said, you might not get the same "playful" feeling from the E100 in the softer snow, so it's a bit of a tradeoff. At your size, I'd recommend the E100 in the 185--don't overthink it!
      SE

  12. Hey SE!

    I am an advanced skier (5'10'', 170-ish, 31yrs) who spends 95% of my time skiing the North-East. I've currently got a pair of Blizzard Magnums (I think low 80s underfoot) which I love for the groomers, however, I am finding myself sometimes spending the entire day off-piste in the trees. I am looking for a dedicated tree/off-trail ski, so something wider and more forgiving in un-groomed snow, but can still grip given the ice that so often lurks in the glades of New England. I have been eyeing the Blizzard Rustlers (both the 10s and the 9s) as well as the Kores, but am wondering if I should go for a more flexible ski? I've read that some of you Ski The East, so any advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks!

  13. Hey guys!

    Love the review. Getting down to the final few candidates but curious on your advice to make a final decision. I'm a fairly big guy 6'2" about 210lbs depending on the apre the night before. I have demo'd the Liberty Origin 96 and Rustler 9. I felt the origin to be too soft and the rustler was great but I'm definitely looking for something more in the 100mm width category. I'm a snowboarder that skis 20 days a year and my style is probably best described as fast and loose! I like to charge hard and am starting to play around off piste in Vail and on chowder days with skis. I want something that'll allow for my more freestyle mind as I get more comfortable on skis, 180s to 360s and some cliff hucks but still able to lay it down at high speeds. Thinking either Rustler 10, Fisher Ranger 102 FR or the Nordica Enforcer. Maybe the Salomon QST 99? Obviously I'm still torn so your advice is super appreciated. Demo'd sizes were a 182 (too small) and 188 which felt good but on the Enforcer idk if I would go 193 or 185??

    Thanks!
    Matt

    1. Hi Andrew!
      I'd go with the Rustler 9. I am super-impressed with the versatility of that ski from moguls to trees and groomers and powder. The Kore (93 I'd recommend for you) is light but stiff. The Rustler is stiff underfoot but has more accessible tips and tails. Hope that helps!
      SE

      1. Hi Matt!
        I'd go with the Enforcer 100 in the 184 or the Ranger 102 in the 184. I'm about the same size as you, maybe a bit heavier, and I found those two models and sizes to be just about right. They're both super-versatile and a ton of fun. The Enforcer will be a bit better on-piste and the Ranger will be a bit better in soft/fresh snow. Happy skiing!
        SE

  14. Hi There,

    Thanks so much for the reviews! I'm 5'9, 165 pounds, and I'm a predominantly east coast skier. I've been on an old 165cm 2007 Fischer RX6 that's delaminating pretty badly, and I'm looking for some new gear. In the past few years, I've started loving going off-piste, so I've been looking at some wider skis, but I still spend time on groomers because that's where my friends are. Last weekend I demoed the 171 Kore 99s and had a blast -- great maneuverability in the trees, awesome pop on the groomers, no chatter at speed or in crud, and overall far better than what I'm used to. I then demoed the 180 Rustler 10s, but they didn't do it for me -- they felt about the same in the trees as the Kores, but I had a lot of trouble getting a nice carving rhythm with them and they just didn't feel as stable. Based on your reviews, I'm thinking my next demo should maybe be the Enforcer 100, the Bonfide, the Mantra, or the Fischer 98 Ti -- or something else? What do you think?

    Dan

    1. Hi Dan!
      If you liked the Kore 99, I'd certainly check out the Fischer--same type of lightweight performance but still has a good amount of stability. The Bonafide, Mantra and E100 are all great skis but you'll likely lose a bit of maneuverability because of the increased weight. If you're just on the groomers, that's not a big deal, but it sounds like you're having fun in the woods, and that's where maneuverability really matters. If you're looking for another choice, check out the K2 Pinnacle 95--very maneuverable and super-fun on the groomers. Have fun!
      SE

  15. Hey SE!

    I am an advanced very aggressive skier (5'9'', 165-ish, 21yrs) who spends 100% of my time skiing in Austria. I took skiing lessons from a very young age (6 years or something) so I am also a technical skier. However I've grown tired of groomers and like to challenge myself some more. so I spend 30% on piste(that where my friends are) and 70% off piste. I always skied on frontside skies(65mm – 80mm underfoot) until last week I rented a pair of Kastle FX85 Alpine Skis(2017). And I have to say that I fell in love with those skies, I've never skied so fast on and off piste. So ive decided to invest in some 100mm all mountain skis. I also like to ski in switch and do some 180s and 360s and some silly stuff like butters occasionally(not looking for an insane twin tip or super wide ski that will give me an hard time at the cabin lifts). I was planning to visit the rocky mountains and maybe also go heli skiing next season. I was kinda looking for a do it all ski. I've heard some great things about the Salomon qts 99 and 106(an all mountain ski with an freeride feel to it). But I have not tried those skies jet. But you're the expert what kind of skies would you recommend me?

    1. Hi Dennis!
      Check out the Blizzard Rustler 10. They're 104 underfoot and have a turned-up tail (but not a true twin-tip) and they are tons of fun. You can use them most days when the snow is soft. The Salomon's are great skis for sure, but the partial metal layer in the Blizzards are a step up in terms of performance. Hope that helps!
      SE

  16. I'm currently skiing 2009 K2 Apache Xplorer in the 177 length. I am an advanced skier @ 6' and 175lb and live in the Midwest, so the typical conditions that I see are hardpack to icy, with occasional soft snow. I do get out west occasionally and will ski the entire mountain with a preference to ungroomed soft snow. Considering the Mantra M5 as a one-ski quiver, as from what I have read and heard performs well in all conditions. Do you think this would be an appropriate ski for me? Any others that I should be giving consideration to?

    1. Hi Bernie!

      The M5 Mantra is a great ski. Performs really well on firm snow, but is also fairly capable in soft snow. It's not the easiest, most forgiving ski in soft snow, but considering the amount of precision and power you get on firm snow, it performs in soft snow quite well. The Enforcer 100 would be another good one to consider. You give up a little bit of precision on firm snow, but you gain some maneuverability in soft snow and in un-groomed terrain. If you really wanted to increase maneuverability and playfulness, the QST 99 is great too. Not the same stability and vibration damping as the Enforcer 100 or M5 on firm snow, but it's also no slouch, and is a super fun ski in off-piste terrain.

      Hope that helps!

      SE

  17. Hi SE!

    Very informative site and chats. Need some advice on ski purchase.

    I'm a strong intermediate to advanced skier, 53yo, 6'1" 205lbs in Alberta, ski mostly Louise, Sunshine, Kicking Horse.

    I like to ski mostly softer snow in the trees and moguls. I generally avoid groomers, when I do have to take them I'll link a few quick carving turns but I find myself generally sticking to the edges to find some softer stuff to play in. I do love pure powder but I'm not as experienced in that yet, I think someday when I retire I'll buy a powder-dedicated ski for those times. But currently I'm looking for a one-ski quiver that will be maneuverable enough for some quick tight turns but will also let me float a bit in the soft stuff and hold a carving turn or two at mid-speed when required.

    I've been renting for the last few seasons (nothing special) but now I want to buy something. What do you think would be a good fit? Should I be looking more in the 90-95mm range?. Any advice would be great!

    Murray

  18. I am (6', 205 53 year old), have been skiing off an on for 45 yrs. I'm a fairly advanced skier but not a ripper. Will ski pretty much anything, anywhere on the mountain and prefer exploring off piste then zooming around on groomers all day (70/30). Ski mostly Tahoe. After suffering a catastrophic spiral tib/fib in 2010 I hung em up. Kids and a new wife have re-energized me and I got back out this winter, surprised how fast it came back to me, SUPER STOKED!!! Anyhow, I demo'd a pair of M5's on a big snow day recently, way too much ski, once things were chopped up, I was getting thrown all over the place and really tiring. Tried some Kore 99's the next day, much better ski for me in the chop but not as agile in tight spots as I might like. Had a hard time bleeding off speed when needed. Not a particularly "fun" ski anywhere but a competent ski that didn't wear me out like the M5's (meh). Now I'm confused, I'm looking for a ski like the Kore that will absorb the big blows in chopped up snow, vs throwing me. That will float well when conditions allow and is agile enough to turn in the trees. All that but still fun and capable of being opened up once I hit the groomers back to the chair. Want a ski that I control vs it controlling me if that makes sense. Thinking 100 under foot but maybe thats the problem. Need help please.

    1. Hi Murray!

      I love the Blizzard Rustler 10 and the K2 Pinnacle 105 for soft-snow performance. They're both playful and super-fun, which is what sounds like you like. While not groomer skis by any stretch, they do have some snap and pop to them on the corduroy. The Rustler is a bit more of a twin-tip shape, so the tail releases easier than the Pinnacle. The Pinnacle has a longer tip rocker profile, so is a bit better of a floater than the Rustler in powder. I think for your application and where you ski, the low 100's underfoot is the place to be rather than 90-95. That said, the K2 Pinnacle 95 and the Rustler 9 are simply narrower versions of the 105 and the 10, so that's worth a look as well. Hope that helps!

      SE

      1. Hi Todd!

        Check out the Blizzard Rustler 10 and 9 (104 vs 94 underfoot) as well as the K2 Pinnacle 95 and 105. They're all pretty maneuverable, and if you didn't like the metallic nature of the M5, you'll probably like these more. The Volkl 90Eight and the Rossignol Sky 7 are two other choices, but you're probably pretty well covered with the versatile Rustler and Pinnacle series. Hope that helps!

        SE

  19. Hi,

    Thanks for all the reviews and helpful information on your site! I'm looking for an all-mountain ski in the 100mm waist range. I would consider the dominant ski in a two ski quiver for resort based skiing in the Pacific NW. I do have a pair of lightly used K2 AMP-Rictors I would still use for cruising/carving in very firm snow conditions as the other ski. I'm 6' and 200 and ski probably 60/40 on-piste vs. off-piste. I'm aggressive on-piste and more moderate off-piste, especially in narrower chutes and trees. I demo-ed the Blizzard Bonafide 180cm and Nordica Enforcer 100 185 cm this year, and of those two I really enjoyed the E100 for it's versatility. However, I feel like that would have been a better ski for me in my 20s and 30s, but at nearly 50 years I found it pretty tiring at the end of the day due to the weight and not as quick as I'd like (or I'm no longer as quick as I'd like!). Which of the lighter skis on this list would have the same versatility, smear-ability, and maybe be a little more nimble if I'm willing to forego a bit of dampness and charging of the E100? Also, would you consider the Soulrider 97? The commentary in your review rates it pretty highly as an all-mountain ski, but it doesn't make this list so I'm curious if that might fit the bill.

    Tom

  20. Hey SE!

    I am a stocky 5'10" at 215 lbs. I am an intermediate level skier who likes to go between aggressive and laidback skiing. I am looking for a ski that will progress with me as I push my skill level further between more off trail runs and improving on my mogul riding. I live close to a hill that has mixed conditions throughout the season in Wyoming but I also have a short distance to travel for resorts known for good powder. I had in mind either the QST 92&99 or the Rustler 9&10 are there any other skis that might fit my needs better? And should I stay around 90 or go with 100? Any help is much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  21. Hi SE,

    I decided this year to upgrade from 10 year old K2 Apache Recon. (78mm waist) About 5 years ago I demo'd Volkl Mantras on an epic day in Colorado and loved them. I demo'd them again this year with the new M5. I liked them. But felt they were a bit too heavy and burly for me. I mostly do blues and some blacks in the Sierras. I liked to dart into the trees and find some fresh powder on the backside when I can. I tend to avoid mogul runs.

    After doing some more research it seemed like the Salomon QST 99 would be perfect for me. I found a great deal on a pair, just used once for 20% off. So I snagged them. Your review of them was spot on. I really like them, they are especially great in powder and a lot more forgiving and lighter than the Mantras. But I'm not sure I love them -- you described their feel as 'surfy' which makes sense. They seem to lack some oomph on the groomers, where if I'm being honest I'll spend more time. I've got a friend who wants the exact same ski, so I can sell it to him.

    I'm 5' 7'', 175 lbs, mostly ski in Tahoe. The QST 99s I have is 174cm.I am just wondering if there's something in between the Mantra and the QST. Nordica Enforcer? Or is it that I'm adjusting to a much wider, differently shaped ski than what I'm used to, and that my technique can change/improve with these skis?

    Your reviews are super helpful and informative, btw.
    Scott

    1. Hi Tom!
      I love the Soul Rider as an all-mountain ski. I own an 87 and use it pretty much every day here in Stowe. Along those lines, I also really appreciate the K2 Pinnacle 95 and the LIberty Origin 96 as lighter-weight alternatives to the Enforcer/Bonafide heft. As always, there's a trade-off, and in this case, it's stability and damping, so be prepared for that. But for a mid to upper-90 underfoot ski, I love the Soul Rider!
      SE

      1. Hi Nick!
        If you're looking for that one pair that really does a good job of hard snow and soft snow versatility, the Rustler 9 is pretty hard to beat. At 94 mm underfoot at 180 cm length, it's not that narrow, but it still has great edge grip, especially underfoot. You'll get more stability at speed than the QST 92, but the turned up tail also allows for easier short/slow turns. The K2 Pinnacle 95 is another strong and versatile ski that can make a variety of turn shapes and styles in a bunch of different conditions. Hope that helps!
        SE

        1. Hi Scott!

          Certainly, there's some technique tweaking that takes place with wider skis, but it sounds like you know what you're feeling. Check out the Rossignol Experience 94 and the K2 Pinnacle 95 for comparison. They're a bit more user-friendly than the Mantra, but a bit better on-trail than the QST. They both have metal in them, so they're damp and stable, but not the full two-sheet style of the Mantra. Hope that helps!
          SE

  22. Hi SE!

    I've been devouring your videos and ski tests since I discovered them while shopping for new skis; you provide a fantastic resource for those of us who don't have the opportunity to demo everything!

    I'm looking for some advice - I bought my first pair of skis 5 seasons ago as a low-intermediate. They're 2013 K2 AMP Velocity, 172cm, 72mm underfoot, nearly full camber. Up until this winter, I was skiing entirely in the east, mostly smaller NY and PA hills, with a few trips to Whiteface. While they've served me well, I feel I've outgrown them. This winter, I've spent ~20 days at Taos, and am now skiing 75% ungroomed terrain, mostly blacks and doubles, with about 50% of my time on moguls or ungroomed bump runs and 30% in the trees. Needless to say, my skis are not at their best in these conditions!

    For next year, I'll be skiing almost entirely in the west (going to try to hit all of the Mountain Collective in North America), though I don't have the luxury of timing my ski days around fresh snow, so I'll be skiing the mountains as they are. I'd like a pair of skis that will let me fully appreciate the west coast snow, and let me further my skills in ungroomed areas. I'm definitely not the most aggressive skier; I appreciate being able to ski in control at moderate speeds, especially in the steeper off-piste stuff.

    I'm thinking that I should be looking at something in the 90-100mm range, with a bit of flex to it. Specifically, I've been eyeing the Sky 7 and the QST 99. What do you think about those for my needs? Also, I'm thinking I should be looking at a longer ski (maybe 180cm+)? I'm 6', 165lbs without gear.

    Let me know if you have any thoughts or advice, and keep up the good work!

    -Tom

    1. Thanks Tom!
      If you're looking for a quick turner with a soft-snow personality, the Sky 7 is a great choice. The QST 99 is a bit more heavy-duty, and for a ski without metal, is pretty stable and stout. For that dual-coast one-ski quiver, the 95-100 underfoot range is pretty awesome. Also check out the K2 Pinnacle 95 and the Blizzard Rustler 9 for comparison. All of these skis are very versatile and have high-performance ceilings while remaining accessible. I think the 180ish length is just about right. Have fun!
      SE

  23. SE,

    I've demoed a few of these skis; M5 Mantra, Enforcer 100 and Head Kore 105(aware its out of this category) and wanted to get your thoughts on the 2020 Rustler 10 vs the 2019? Blizzard mentioned the 2020 getting a little beefier wood in the core for stability/power vs the 2019. I found the M5, precise and easy to bend into shorter carving turns but lacking float due to the shallower rocker profiles. The Enforcer was smooth and quick edge to edge with decent float but not super stable at high speeds and the Kore 105 was fun with good float although lacking true carving ability on firm snow and was easily deflected in chop. I found the Enforcer the "funnest" of the three with the best mix of performance but was looking for something with similar stability but more soft snow performance and slashy/pivotable in steep/deepish west coast powder. I raced and currently coach racing so I've decided I need something that I can demonstrate drills on but still take the kids into the trees when they lose focus and need a break. Its killing my race skis(and me) to go off piste and am looking for something that will bring a smile to my face while still providing a solid platform. I'm 6'2"- 205lbs.

    Also, how would you compare the DPS Phantom 2.0 to a good glide wax put on by a very experienced race ski tuner?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Aryn!
      A bit beefier wood used for 2020, but it's not really that noticeable. I just skied the 2020 Rustler 10 two weeks ago and it felt a bit more damp, but not a ton--certainly not a whole new ski or anything like that. I've found that former/current racers prefer skis like the Mantra and Bonafide to the other models on your list due to the construction. Between those, the Mantra has more of a metallic feel while the Bonafide is more woody. As far as Phantom is concerned, I've found that it's not faster than a good temperature-matched wax, but the permanence of the treatment is appealing to a majority of skiers who don't normally wax. You can also wax on top of the Phantomed skis for added glide. Hope that helps!
      SE

  24. Hi,
    I just demoed the Mantra M5 184cm at Park City. The snow was fresh, wet and chopped up. I loved how it busted through the crud and slush and held an edge on the corduroy. I like to charge hard and make nice big super-g turns, but also looking for a ski a bit more agile in the moguls and trees. Any suggestions? I skied the Pinnacle 95 in a 186 and a 191 a few seasons back and enjoyed it, but felt they were easy to overski. I'm 6 ft tall and 215 pounds. Thanks, Rudi

  25. Hi Rudi!
    We've talked about the Rossignol Experience 94 Ti filling that gap of a less-demanding and more playful Mantra. It's stable and stout, but has lighter and more maneuverable tips and tails, making moguls and trees a lot more accessible. It comes in a 187, and I don't think you'll overski it like the Pinnacle. The Blizzard Rustler 9 is also in that area, but is more like the Pinnacle than the Rossignol. Hope that helps!
    SE

  26. Hi. I used to be expert and haven't skied a lot the last few years. But now have the bug again and was hoping you could give me a comparison and recommendation between the Bent Chetler 100 and the Enforcer 100, as well as sizing. I am middle of the pack in the aggressive category. All over when it comes to terrain - bowls, trees, bumps from time to time, and on groomers just depends on the day between tighter turns and super g turns.

    I demo'd the Bent Chetlers last month and liked them a lot, although the size was a bit short (164's as that was what they had - I'm 5'8" and 190). My buddy's kids all have the BC's (aged 12-20 and expert) and love them. I was looking at the Nordica's (haven't demo'd but all the reviews look really good) but then tried these. Sizing wise, the 172's in the BC's seem right, but in the Enforcer, I think I would go to the 177.

    Thanks,
    Eric

    1. Hi Eric!
      The Enforcer is certainly a lot more stiff and demanding than the BC 100, so take that into account when sizing. The 169 Enforcer 100 would probably be more akin to the 172 Atomic. If you're looking for a more playful ski, than the BC 100 is a great choice, but if you're looking to ski on the more aggressive/hard-charging side of things, the Enforcer 100 is pretty tough to beat. Hope that helps!
      SE

  27. Hi,
    I've been skiing on the Rossi s3 since 2013 so it's time for an upgrade.
    I'm an ex-racer who skis aggressively. I have slalom skis for the groomer days but I ski on my Rossis on everything off groomers. I'm frustrated by the lack of edge hold from the Rossis, but I love the playfulness in the ski and how it's performed in bumps, powder, and trees. On many windy East coast ski days, I'll ski both conditions in the same day and same run (firm & wind blown trails, but soft bumpy trees).
    A friend recommended the Nordica Enforcers 100. That seems like a great ski, but I'm wondering if I will then miss the playfulness of the Rossi s3 (which I believe has been replaced by the Rossi Sky 7 HD). Please let me know if you have any advice between the two or recommend another ski. I have heard good things about the Black Crows line.
    Thanks!
    -Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew!
      It's all about compromise, right? Yes, you will certainly miss the playfulness of the Rossi versus the E100, but I think it's worth it. Ex-racers certainly appreciate the metal construction of the Nordica, and you'll learn how to make it more playful. The Sky will give you the same fits regarding edge hold and the Black Crows are nice, but lack the metal build of the Nordica. The Daemon is probably what you're looking for in that lineup. Have fun!
      SE

  28. Hi SE. I'm looking for a recommendation on some powder skis. After a number of demos and research, I purchased the Rossignol Experience Ti 88s (173cm) earlier this season. I liked these skis because they are so maneuverable and forgiving. I'm having fun on them. However, I'm having a rough time in deep tracked powder and crud, which I know these skis aren't ideal for. I'm bouncing around all over the place with little control and getting tired fast. I'd like to buy a pair of skis for these conditions.

    After doing some research and reading through your advice to others, it seems like the the Kore 105, Salomon QST 106, K2 Pinnacle 105, and Blizzard Rustler 10 might be what I'm looking for, but I can't decide if I want a heavier or lighter ski. What do you think?

    Height: 5'10"
    Weight: 170 lbs
    Skill: Intermediate (I ski groomed advanced and some tree runs)
    Ski area: Lake Tahoe, CA, 10-15 days a season

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Joe S!
      You have some great skis on your list! I own a pair of Pinnacle 105, so I'm pretty biased. They're fantastic in fresh snow--they're on the heavier side, along with the QST, but they're not bulky or dull so the weight isn't really an issue. The Kore and the Rustler are definitely lighter, with the Rustler having great poise and maneuverability thanks to the shape and build. The Kore is stiff and light, and I suspect you'll find the same "bouncing" feeling that you get from the E88. For your light option, go with the Rustler, but if you're looking to go a bit heavier (again, not much), I'm a Pinnacle 105 fan. Have fun!
      SE

  29. Firstly, thanks for all the reviews, they have been really great and helped me narrow down my search A LOT for a new pair of skis.

    I have been skiing Line Chronics for the past 5 years, they are pretty narrow underfoot and only like 176 in length. I am a bigger guy at 6'2 250 so those were a bit small for me but easy to learn on after 7+ years of skiing. My friend who got me into skiing (my favorite activity now) didnt help me at all and said buy what you think looks cool, which I have come to realize was terrible advise.

    I tried out the blizzard bonafides last year and loved them in comparison to my chronics. I felt like an Olympian (again in comparison) out there in the moguls, trees, and turns in general. I think the combination of them being wider and longer helped a lot.

    I am a mixed bag skier because I like ripping groomers, carving, jumping (limited spinning), skiing switch/buttering, but at the same time love moguls, soft snow, trees etc. and am a pretty aggressive overall when I ski.

    I live in the North East and go to VT and NH a decent amount but at the same time take 1-2 big trips out West. So ski days are pretty even East vs West.

    The skis I have been gravitating towards are as follows: 2020 - Blizzard Bonafides, Rustler 10s, Armada ARV 106 TIs, Ranger 98 TIs, Ranger 102s, Atomic Bent Chetler 100s, 2018-19 Kaslte 95 FX HPs.

    Like I said I loved the bonafides in comparison to the line chronics but am afraid I am going to lose all the playful and poppy aspect if I go the stiff charger route.

    I don't want some chattery noodles when going fast but I also don't want lifeless sticks that will leave something to be desired for off-piste runs.

    What would you recommend as a quiver of 1 for my first real purchase? I am just going around in circles it feels. Every day and am about to pull the trigger on a pair then flip flop between them and am right back to the drawing board. Please help.

    1. Hi Chase!
      If you liked the Bonafide but want something a touch more forgiving, I'd lean to the Rustler 10. It's wider, so be prepared for that, but the metal underfoot really adds to the stability of the ski. I'd stick to something with metal in it, so the Bent Chetler might not be the best option. The Rangers (98 better on-trail, 102 more freeride) both have partial metal while the Kastle is built more like your Bonafide. The FX 95 HP is certainly worth a second look--high-end feel for sure. There's a lot out there for sure, but they're all really good, so it's harder to make a wrong choice. Definitely keep that Rustler 10 at the top of your list.
      SE

  30. Hey Jeff, thanks for the great reviews. Wanted to get your input on ski choice.

    I'm looking for a 1-ski quiver. I like slashing through the trees and in moguls - so I need something that will turn quickly but also give me some float. I usually stay away from groomers, or if I find myself on one, I'll cling to the edge and dip into the treeline as much as possible. I do like to carve some turns occasionally but not at high speeds. I'm in western Canada, so I ski Banff, Lake Louise, Kicking Horse. I'm in my 50s and 6'1 205, consider myself advanced intermediate skiier.

    I have a connection that can get me any Armada ski at a discount, but wondering whether something like the Rustler 10s would be a better ski for me than the Tracer 98s? I read your comment about metal, not sure if the Tracer has any. Also is 180 a good length for what I'm trying to do?

    thanks
    Murray

    1. Hi Murray!

      I think you're on the right track here and I do think the Tracer 98 could potentially work for you. It's a great ski for someone like yourself who tries to stay away from groomers whenever possible. Would the Rustler 10 be better? Not necessarily. Do you need metal? Also, not necessarily. The Tracer 98 doesn't have any metal, but it should be stable enough for how you ski given your description. The Rustler 10 has metal underfoot that tapers towards the tip and tail of the ski, so it feels more stout underfoot, but since you don't ski terribly fast, you might not need that metal. Metal is just making the ski heavier without really providing any benefit if you don't need the extra vibration damping and stability at speed. The maneuverability of the Tracer 98 in the 180 cm length would be off the charts for you, and shouldn't feel too unstable. If you're worried about that, you could consider going with the 188 cm length. Because it uses so much rocker and because it's fairly light, it skis a little short. 188 cm might seem huge, but at your size and given the shape of the ski, it could definitely work.

      What do you think?

      SE (Jeff)

  31. Hi SE,

    Thank you for doing this in-depth analysis of the best skis around 100mm. I'm currently in the market for a new pair of skis and could use some help choosing from the huge amount of ski options out there. I ski about 50% west (Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming) and 50% east (Vermont and New York mountains). I'm looking for something that can handle both hard and soft snow well, but not looking for something on either end of the spectrum. For real powder days, I'd demo something meant to handle powder. I'm an advanced skier, there's not much on a mountain that I won't try. I usually ski bowls, trees, moguls, etc, but will find myself on groomers, run-outs, etc. on occasion as that's mostly what the east has to offer. I would say that my ski style is somewhat hoppy - I like quick turns in the trees/moguls and short radius back/forth carving on the more open areas. I'm not a speed demon, more like ability to turn freely and easily. I've been skiing on the Rossignol Experience 83's for about 6 years now and I think I'm ready for a new pair of skis that more suits my style. Let me know if there are some good options you might recommend.

    Thanks,
    Josh

  32. Love the reviews guys and your youtube vids! I'm trying to narrow down a choice for my 1 ski quiver, ripping both east and west coasts. Mostly stick to the groomers, no moguls or trees really and love charging hard with a race background, but when it dumps, especially out west I want a ski that wont punish me in the soft stuff and crud. I've tried the M5 Mantra in a 180 and liked them but felt the tips were a little too soft and edge lacking a little firmness on hard-pack, otherwise a solid all around ski. I have little to compare to other than a dedicated onpiste type ski like the Volkl RTM models. I think I'd like something with a little more edge grip, especially when we get icy conditions! I've also considered the Armada Invictus 99 TI which is not on this list but probably compares?

    Would love your recommendations.
    5'10" 185lb
    thanks!
    Kyle

    1. Hi Josh!
      I think that on the 100 mm list, it sounds like you should stick to the narrower side, given your proclivity for shout turns and tree and mogul skiing. If you're going to demo on pow days, then I'd recommend getting something on the 95ish side. The Mantra M5, Rossignol Experience 94, Salomon QST 92 or the Blizzard Rustler 9 should be at the top of your list. I'd say the Experience and Rustler are a bit more user-friendly while the Mantra has a leg up in terms of carving and edge grip. The QST is a great mix of performance and is on the lighter side, but it's still a fantastic all-mountain ski for any and all conditions. I'd look to those and see if something strikes you! Have fun!
      SE

      1. Hi Kyle!
        The Invictus is a great choice, it's a pretty hefty ski if you thought the Mantra was a bit soft in the tips. I'd also put the Enforcer (probably 93, but you're on the 100 thread) on the list as more of a freeride choice with a sandwich sidewall construction and two full sheets of metal. The Bonafide is worth a look as well, with a 98 mm waist, the thing holds a really good edge. Very fun ski with no speed limit. Another sandwich build with multi-titanal laminate. Have fun!
        SE

  33. Thanks for the in-depth reviews. Have you skied the Enforcer in the 193? I skied the 185 last year and found it decent stability-wise, but not amazing.

    1. Hi Luke!
      I skied the 193 for a couple of years and liked it more in soft snow, but that's about where my preference ended. I liked the shorter radius of the 185 as well as the increased maneuverability. I didn't find the 185 lacked for stability, but the 193 was smoother. Have fun!
      SE

  34. Hi SE,
    Thanks for the great reviews. A co-worker sent me over this review the other day as I had been spending a bunch of time talking to him about skis and some of the skis we were talking about were on this list. I am 5’9” ~ 175 lb and consider myself an advanced skier. Basically, I can ski anything on the mountain but maybe not with the greatest of form or flow.
    Right now I am skiing the 4Frnt MSP 99 in 176 cm that I bought back in February. Unfortunately, I am not in love with these skis at all. I was skiing a few years old Liberty Origin 106 – 176 cm which I like but wanted something that ripped groomers better without all the tip chatter but was also good in bumps, trees and something I could tour in. I think the biggest issue I have with the MSP 99s is that they are just not forgiving if you get in the backseat at all in the trees or bumps. They rip on the hard packed groomers but like I said I am just not in love with them.
    This has led me to start looking for something else. I would say I ski 60/40 groomers to off-piste with an uphill dawn patrol trip 1 -2 times a week. I think unfortunately I have a pretty big list of skies that I am trying to narrow down and so am looking for a recommendation. I think I am understanding that I am less concerned about ripping down groomers, although fun, and more interested in a ski that will be fun and more manageable in the trees, bumps and lighter for uphill touring.
    So with that being said the list looks something like this: Armada Tracer 98, Atomic Bent Chetler 100, Salomon QST 93/99, Liberty Origin 96 and the Faction Prime 2.0. Like I mentioned above I am skiing 176 cm ski but am wondering if that might be too long or if it is just the ski I am on currently. Any ways, I am looking for some help, guidance and/or opinion on what I should focus on. Thanks a lot I appreciate your insight.

    1. Hi Jon!
      Since you're 60% groomers, I'd recommend staying closer to 90-95 than 100 if you can. The QST 92 should be at the top of your list, as should the Blizzard Rustler 9. They check all your boxes in terms of groomer, fun, bumps, light weight, and manageable. I think in terms of length, the 176 might be on the long side, so if there's a low to mid 170's ski, I'd take that. Have fun!
      SE

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