|Lengths||163, 174, 185|
|Turn Radius||19.1 meters at 174 cm|
|Construction||Custom top-skin, Sterling silver inlay|
|Core Material||Wood laminate|
|Recommended Use||Racing, Carving|
Bob Peters Review for Sterling Skis
I got a chance to ski the Sterling Matterhorn today here at Jackson Hole. The owner, John Mansell, and his wife were here putting a few prospective buyers on pairs and they were kind enough to let me make some turns on a pair of 184's.
First off, the photo in the other review thread really doesn't do justice to how beautiful these skis are.
They are absolutely a work of art, with beautiful wood topsheets inlaid within a surrounding layer of titanal. The topsheet Sterling logo is (fittingly enough) genuine silver, and these skis just "feel" good to carry around.
Okay, so they look great but how do they ski?
I'm 6'1", 195#, have been skiing a long time, teach all levels of adult private lessons at Jackson Hole and spent a bunch of winters as a backcountry guide here. The skis I prefer tend to be smooth, powerful, damp, and capable of blowing through crud snow while not being SO demanding than I can't relax and teach on them. The two skis I like the most right now are the Head SuperShape Magnum (177cm) and the Head iM88 in the 186cm.
The Sterlings have a similar feel to the Head iM82. I think the 184 Sterling has a turn radius of around 19 or 20m and are pretty similar in feel to the Head iM82's, which are an outstanding all-around ski. The Sterlings are not so turny as to get deflected in crud but definitely turny enough that if you tip them over and put some weight on them they'll come around plenty quick.
I skied them on a new-snow day with about 8" of fresh snow over several days of cut-up snow and soft moguls. The only groomer I tried them on had 8" of fresh untracked fluff on it and those skis were like heaven on that.
What I liked about these skis was that they were very predictable and didn't want to lock me into any one kind of turn or radius of turn. They could be skied low and fast in long-radius GS turns or they could be easily swung around in tighter, steeper trees and bumps. I felt very confident on them and didn't hesitate to take them through some pretty skinny holes in the trees (no worries, John, I didn't whack anything ).
So, I would call this a really, really fun ski that could take on most anything a big mountain has to offer. I know that you wide-ski afficionados out there will want a bigger platform, but this ski will do it all very nicely if you give it a try.
Enough has been said in the other review threads about the cost of these skis that I'm not going to dwell too much on it. These are handmade skis and it's very obvious that John and Rhonda (I hope I remembered her name correctly) are very passionate about making a great ski. There are a zillion comparisons to cite where a finely crafted product performs essentially the same function as something more mass produced. Homes, cars, wines, whiskeys, fly rods, shotguns, watches, etc. The list goes on and on.
Are there skis out there that ski as "well" as the Sterlings? I'm sure there are. Are there skis out there that LOOK as good? Not that I've seen lately. Are there skis out there that are as lovingly and meticulously made? Maybe, but I don't know that I'm aware of them.
So, I'll leave it up to you readers to decide if the price differential is worth it to you. What I can tell you is that they ski really darn well.
Exotic Skis Review for Sterling Skis
First Impression (right out of the box):
Wow. It was like unwrapping a new Ebel or Breitling watch. I felt like I should have white gloves on. Very shiny surface, excellent workmanship and finish. (see pics below). Nice exotic wood inlay inside the titanal topsheet cavity. A real beauty. Everyone who saw them said "wow...beautiful."
Second Impression (hand flex and inspection):
This is not a fluffy "doctor-lawyer ski" (no hard feelings to the doctors and lawyers out there who love skiing...it's just a phrase...lighten up) for the fuzzy-boot sundeck lizards...this ski has a very nice hand-flex and dampening, with beef underfoot and substantial tail strength. This is a "skier's ski" with carving in its nature. I really, really wanted to try it on some fresh hardpack at speed. (first impression - it's not a backcountry powder ski or some gnarly crud-buster...this is mainly targeted for on-piste terrain of all types, but compliant enough to definitely handle nicely in the powder, cut-up crud and thicker stuff. I will bet this is a superb one-ski-quiver candidate.
Camber. Repeat - Camber. This ski has perhaps the highest camber I have seen in a ski recently. Check out the pics. That means this ski could be particularly touchy at the helm...let's reserve judgement until Monday's on-snow test...!
Third Impression (reflecting on the price):
Ok. These skis cost $3,000 usd. : (remain calm). $3500 if you want the carbon poles and a really, really nice velvet-lined wooden box package (see the Sterling website for pics). A little mental adjustment is needed here. I don't expect this $3,000 ski to outperform some of the fine $1,000 racing skis on bulletproof surfaces, nor do I expect it to outperform powder skis in powder, big mountain skis on hard-core terrain, or some of the fine all-mountain skis already out there. I do expect it to be really, really good and perfectly suitable for a wide variety of terrain. I expect a very high degree of performance on all these surfaces and terrain...so much so I could live with it as my only ski. Tall order? Yes.
I talk myself into it this way:
A Jaguar or Mercedes automobile will probably not out-perform some of the excellent cars by Audi, Nissan, BWM...etc. but people love Jaguars, Mercedes, Alpha Romeos for the beautiful products they are. Sure, they perform really, really well, and are works of art to some people, but the fact is, premium products are about more than performance. They involve a degree of artistry, craftsmanship and elegance beyond the statistics of performance. That's what Sterling Skis is all about. Highest degree of quality materials and craftsmanship used to produce a very high-performance product. Not for everyone, but then again, John is only manufacturing 140 pairs this year...so the market is full of enough people to sell out the production run for 2007-2008.
VIST BINDING HARDWARE
Sterling Matterhorn 174cm, 116-76-102mm (19.1m radius)
Sterling Skis - Boulder Colorado USA
Suggested Retail Price (MSRP):
$3,500 includes carbon poles, bindings, velvet lined wooden box
$3,000 for just the skis.
Luxury market, premium price "One Ski Solution" according to Sterling (all mountain ski)
Your Rating (with comments): (1="get me off these things"->10="I have to own a pair")
8 for performance.
10 for finish and workmanship/appearance
Premium priced, highest quality, exclusive ski for expert front-side skiers who appreciate Jaguar automobiles, Ebel and Breitling watches, fine cuisine, fine art and exquisite cabinetry and furniture workmanship. Not a fluffy intermediate ski. This ski has the feel of a race-bred core and "Euro Carver" architecture reshaped and re-flexed for civilian usage in more types of conditions. Definitely performs its best on groomers and hardpack, although handles cut-up surfaces and softer snow just fine if you pay attention and don't expect a floaty ride. It really begs for wide-open groomed or windswept cruising surfaces, but remains agile enough to navigate bumpy runs or in the trees with some effort. It will go through the crud and soft stuff just fine, but you should pick a different ski in your quiver for such conditions, especially with the great selection of mid-fats out there now.
This ski rewards the skier posessing a strong technique. I don't think I would put Granny on this ski. It feels like a detuned race ski with a wider shovel, spruced up underfoot with a VIST plate for really nice grip to lay down some serious arcs on the firm surfaces at speed with nice tail acceleration, but soft enough to enjoy the scenery as you head down the slopes to your hillside condo for a nice '47 Latour. Very good edge-to-edge performance, security and quickness on groomers and hard surfaces. A little unforgiving, but dead-stable and nicely damp in the the heavy chop since it is so good on the hard surfaces...but that's to be expected. Very responsive to skier input. No dead zones.
I picture the ideal candidate for this ski to be a skier with strong skills, no longer chasing racers, who likes to carve on many types of terrain and stays predominantly on the frontside, but ventures all over the frontside and finds the little out-of-bounds shortcuts here and there for fun on the way down. Anyone who owns this ski will have another ski for powder days and the backcountry. While you could buy a really nice powder ski, race ski and general-purpose ski all for the price of this one pair of Sterlings, you do get a really beautiful work of craftsmanship that carves some great turns on-piste at any speed. The quality of the materials should mean this ski should last a long time...time will tell. Is it worth $3000 usd? That depends on the person.
Although you can buy any number of automobiles with the same or better performance than a Jaguar or Alfa Romeo for less money, you just don't get a Jaguar or Alfa Romeo. It's that simple. My $15 Timex keeps the same accuracy of time as a $15,000 Rolex, Ebel or Breitling, but thousands and thousands of people love their premium products because they want something more than just simple performance. They want a thing of beauty at the same time. That's what the Sterling skis are. Great performance for those who know how to carve a ski, but also thing of beauty and craftsmanship...or....to put it another way...a great thing of beauty and craftsmanship that can really lay down some arcs at the resort.
Definitely a collector's item for those who care to spend $3,000 on their winter toys. (I know some people who spend 10 times that much on their bass fishing boats...but that's another story...)...
Ski Designer (if known):
Unknown..."feels" like a Swiss ski...maybe Austrian. Sterling isn't telling!
Technical Ski Data (if known):
116-76-102 @174 (19.1m radius)
Proprietary wood core.
"Trapezoidal" sidewalls (not quite straight)
HRC48 stainless edges
carbon bases (PTEX 4000?)
Titanal topsheet inlaid with choice of 3 exotic woods.
I tested in less-than ideal conditions for this ski. 8 inches of fresh, cold snow relentlessly cut-up in all directions by skier traffic (endless undulating troughs and piles). Smooth surfaces were hard to find, but rewarding when discovered. Edges of the trail had nice powder where people hadn't cut it up.
Very nice, very capable carving ski with the ability to lay down really nice arcs without extreme effort. Elegant turn shapes are possible at a wide variety of speeds. Not a mid-fat "all mountain" ski, although it handled the softer surfaces without complaint. It really came alive when it found hardpack and the speed increased, along with edge angles. Nicely damp and secure underfoot. Not a trace of skittish feel at speed. Feels Austrian or Swiss in the way it handles. This ski wants to race all over the frontside groomers. Fully capable of a drifted turn when asked, this ski wants to be pressured and turned to be at its best. the high-camber of this ski probably helps this feeling. It's geometry is suited for a carving environment on groomed slopes, but its flex and dampening allow it to venture into the fresh snow and bumpier terrain just fine. If you're going to make a one-ski solution, you have to either make it mediocre at everything, or good at somethings at the expense of others. This ski wants to haunt the groomed terrain to show its stuff. Overall, a really nice carving ski. You could probably even jump into your local beer league race night course with these and do just fine as long as the ruts didn't get too bad. You could remove the VIST plate and get a much more compliant and soft flexing softer-snow ski, but you'd loose the great underfoot grip. I think it's a good combo. Is it better than any other carving ski out there? No. Is it a work of art? Yes. Really nice ski. Really scary price. Anyone who saw the ski in the lift line, gondola or hill was immediately stopped by its beauty and workmanship. "Wow, those are beautiful!" was the standard response when someone saw the skis for the first time.
Analogies: (this ski is like...)
Really nice European luxury touring coupe (think nice-tight Alpha Romeo)
After Skiing These, I Want To...
Find someone to buy them for me.
Self-Description of Skiing Style, Ability, Experience, Preferences
Expert groomed-surface carver, "old-style" race inspired, "foot steerer" with fairly sensitive edging feel. Loves to hold long arcs with lots of pressure on the downhill ski (you know the type), but also loves the feel of both skis on-edge leaving tiny railroad track edge tracks. Not an instructor, but 10 year coach for youth race team in New England (bulletproof is the norm).