2011 Dynastar Sultan 94 full-length review
I was able to get several laps on the new Sultan 94 from Dynastar, in great conditions. The ski is new from Dynastar in 2011: early rise/rockered tip, similar flex to the Sultan 85, dual laminate construction, 17m radius (165, 172, 178, 184cm), shortened sidecut (the widest part of the tip is pulled back a few cm toward the center of the ski, making the ski feel shorter than 178cm when the edge is engaged). Mounded with Tyrolia DIN 13 demo bindings, 24mm stand height.
Light, good quality snow, temps in the low teens, bluebird powder, crud after a few runs, and blown-in buttery smooth windpack in the afternoon. 90% off-piste, with a couple of short groomers getting back to the lift. New snow was 6” to 16” deep, depending on exposure.
I am 5 foot 9, 155lbs, and like to ski fast, mostly off-piste , and can ski most any condition. Bachelor is our home mountain, Village Bike and Ski in Sunriver our shop. Ski 30-45 days/year. As a disclaimer, we do sell Dynastar on our website www.dawgatching.com
I try to be as un-biased as possible with my reviews. We carry lots of skis, but typically target those that are of high quality, and I have gotten into trouble by not pulling punches when it comes to reviews. Oh well, if a ski sucks, then don't make it....
When the Legend 94 was designed, it probably had a day similar to today in mind. Quite deep, but not bottomless new snow that gets skied out later in the day, and becomes bumpy, lumpy crud on the steeps. Some firm wind crust, and lots of high quality snow are also present. Basically, just a bit of everything, which calls for a classic 1-ski quiver. This is a great choice for your typical Western medium to large sized, lift served mountain.
Elan Apex 177cm, Stockli XXXL 178cm.
I got warmed up on the Apex. I followed the Legend with the Stockli later in the day. Apex is a ski I know well, and I have been on the Stockli a few times as well.
First off was some traversing out to the western side of the mountain and a bunch of untracked or barely tracked out above-treeline skiing. In untracked snow, the Legend seemed to float very similar to the Apex. Both had plenty for these conditions (the deepest snow of the day was probably 16” deep) and released easily at the end of the turn. The Apex, with less rocker, felt a bit longer and a touch more stable. The Sultan, was a bit turnier, as it has a shorter radius and running length. I felt the Apex needed to be engaged more: It wanted to be on edge, and carving, even in the untracked snow, and was very comfortable there. The Sultan was a bit surfier: it was happy with either edge (which had it railing the same as the Apex), but I could release the downhill leg a bit and let the ski roll toward flat, which had the effect of allowing the ski to surf downhill and yet across the fall line, while I decided how to set up the next turn. The Apex was more direct; with less rocker at the tip and a bit narrower waist, it was more eager to get back on edge. The width of both skis was really nice for this depth and quality of snow: enough float to keep from being bogged down, but still a feel that you are “in” the snow, not just skimming the top, and also the feeling of moving in and out of the snow on each turn, similar to skiing bumps. In heavy Cascade Cement snow of this depth, I prefer a wider and softer ski, but a Sultan-Apex style ski I enjoy more for the review conditions.
Next few runs were in lightly tracked to heavily tracked crud. The skis were more similar than different here. The Apex sucked up the terrain and was silky smooth. The Sultan 94 was just a bit stiffer, not quite as smooth, but had a bit more punch in the tail when springing in and out of crud piles. Again, it wanted to turn a bit more than the Apex, and was a bit shorter feeling in terms of radius and energy. When skied in smooth, round, low energy turns, the Sultan was very easy to pilot, and when skiing faster and more aggressively, it came alive and crashed through piles of snow. Also, it was quite nimble yet powerful; as if it could be a ballerina or somewhat of a gorilla, depending on the mood and skiing style of the skier. No real speed limit in crud, plenty of beef for most any skiers here.
On smooth, buffed out windpack, I found the ease and energy of the Sultan to be a lot of fun. It wanted to float, release, dive, then come up for air again. It was predictable and easy to stay on top of. I was skiing with a guy on MX88's, and dropped him in short order on the Sultan; in short, it was plenty of ski. Again, turn radius preference is more of a mid-radius, not a huge Super-G turn, which could feel a little loose. It was alternately “carvy” and “slarvy” depending on how you wanted to ski it.
In small bumps (nothing big with all of this new snow around) the Sultan and Apex were both predictable and smooth. Flex was very agreeable for flowing through bumped up terrain and pivoting the skis.
Finally, on groomers, there was a bit more of a difference between these 2 skis. The Apex had a very definite low-energy GS feel. Considerably damp, smooth, stable, big radius, and a huge sweet spot. The Sultan felt a bit more tight, precise, had more pop in the tail, less stable in big arcs, and was more aggressive once on edge. It was a bit more exciting, whereas the Apex was a bit more stable and smooth.
Overall, this is a great 1-ski quiver choice for many skiers A true 50/50 style ski, and one of the best wide skis I have had on groomers, considering how good it is off-piste. The Sultan can tackle any terrain, and will especially please those looking for a big-mountain ski with a ~17m radius, of which there aren't many choices. Also, for those looking for a ski that has a bit more energy than the typical crudbuster would be well served to check out the Sultan, and those that want a high performance ski with a bit more forgiveness than some of the power crudbusters on the market (the Sultan is easier to handle than many in this width). And, if you are improving and working on technique, but desire a ski that will take you off-piste with the best of them, then the Sultan, with it's short turn radius and dynamic nature, would serve you well.
Of note: this ski was in badly need of a full tune out of the box. It was extremely railed and required several grinds to get it flat. I wouldn't ski this until I had a full tune on one; it will feel hooky and balky at releasing if the tune on yours is as bad as mine was. Several of the Sultan 85's have been similarly poor as of late. Get a grind and a real 1 degree base bevel on there, and you will be good to go.
Oh, this is the snow we were skiing that day: