On 16 January, my 16-year old daughter and I got a chance to try a few different DPS skis at Alta. We each did 2 runs on each: the first run under the Collins chair and in the trees next to the lift on the upper half of the mountain (Fred’s Slot and Spring Valley), then cutting down and across Collins Face to Bear Paw (forgive with me as I don’t know the names of these runs and am looking them up on a trail map and quite possibly will get them wrong). For the second run we took Wildcat chair up, traversed through the gates, entered the second cut and worked our way down Wildcat Face [with the Lotus 120s I wussed out and took them down Johnson’s Warm-Up to Collins Face and into Bear Paw. The key thing to take away from the conditions this day was that it was raining and the snow was super wet; visibility was next to zero. The bumps were a mixture of soft snow on top of a hard base.
I am 6’1”, 175 pounds. I used to say that I was a level 8 skier, but some days I think that I’m closer to level 3; however, this was one of my good days (except on the 120s). I ski 50+ days a season in Utah, mostly at Alta and sometimes at Solitude. Keep in mind that most of my skiing is done off-piste and I mostly view groomers as a way to get back to the lift. I am a regular recreational skier who learned to ski on cross country skis and in the backcountry, and I have been skiing for 30 years. My resort downhill skis are: Stöckli XLs, 184cm; Elan Apex, 177cm; Stöckli DP Pro, 193 cm; Liberty Hazmat, 181 cm, Elan 1010, 183 cm, Praxis Protest, 188 cm.
My daughter is 5’7”, 145 pounds. She has been skiing for the past 8 years, 5 of those years as part of the Alta Youth Club (AYC). She is a solid level 7 skier and has skied all of Alta with the exception of Baldy Chutes and depending upon the conditions, I’ll probably let her ski them this year. She is also a basic telemark skier and has already skied 20+ days so far this year. Her downhill resort skis are: Dynastar Exclusive Legend, 158 cm, Volkl Kenja, 163 cm, Volkl Queen Ativa, 156 cm, Atomic Century, 166 cm.
Wailer 112RP “Banana” ski, 190 cm
Lotus 120 hybrid, 190 cm
Wailer 95 hybrid, 185 cm
My daughter demoed:
Wailer 105 hybrid, 178 cm
Wailer 95 women hybrid, 175 cm
For our first run, my daughter skied the Wailer 105 hybrids in a 178 cm ski; she had recently demoed a pair of Surface skis in a 180 cm length, but 178 cm is still long for her. I skied the Wailer 112 RPs or as everyone seemed to call them, the Banana ski. First thing is my daughter loved the Wailer 105s. They had a strength and presence to them that let her cut through the crud and soft snow, held on hardpack, but were nimble enough so that she could take them through the trees and moguls. Unfortunately for me, she said that they were the ski that she wished her Volkl Kenjas were. This is the ski that she now “has to have.” I have to admit that I was impressed watching her ski them: a 16-year old girl skiing a men’s 178 cm ski off-piste down black diamond trails and driving them wherever she wanted. I only wish that I had gotten a chance to ski them, too.
The Banana ski was a revelation. These skis are really good. They didn’t slide like I thought they would in the hard “icy” bumps and they turned wherever I wanted with little effort. The ski they reminded me the most of was my Praxis Protests, but at 112 mm underfoot, they turned much quicker (the Protests are 130 mm under foot). They are a more relaxing ski than my Elan 1010s and probably would be equally good in those conditions where I like my 1010s. This is a ski that would have really shined if there had been some powder. For all of that, I find my 1010s to be better suited to my style of skiing, and like that with my Elans, I can attack the hill much more than with the slarving style that the 112 RPs require even when there isn’t much soft snow—but that’s what’s amazing, you can even slarve a turn when the snow is hard without thinking that the ski will throw you.
For our second run, I skied the Lotus 120s while my daughter skied the women’s Wailer 95s. After the 105s, the 95s were a bit of a letdown for her. A women’s ski, she felt that they weren’t as aggressive as the 105s, didn’t have the same edge hold and just weren’t as good a ski. That is, not that they aren’t a good ski, but were more of a regular ski while the 105s are something special; the 95s were more akin to her Volkl Kenjas.
This was not the day for the Lotus 120s and the runs we skied were not where the 120s belong. While I was tempted to take them down Greeley Bowl, the lack of visibility meant that I really needed to keep them near trees so I could have some idea of where I was. These skis are a wider version of my DP Pros. This type of ski has its place, but one that is very limited.
For our final run, I skied the men’s Wailer 95 (I really wanted to try the 105, but no luck) while my daughter skied the women’s Wailer 95 again. My sense of the 95s is that they are a good ski, but nothing special. They are a capable mid-fat ski that can go most everywhere. Mid-90 skis are very common; the Wailer 95s are just as good as the other mid-90s out there, but there’s nothing to make them stand out. They are definitely worth trying out.
Overall, I was very impressed with DPS skis. The two skis to search out are the Wailer 112 RPs and the Wailer 105s. The Wailer 112 RP “Banana” skis have the potential to be a western daily driver while judging by my daughter’s take on the Wailer 105s, those skis are exceptional and have the potential to be the only ski you ever need—the perfect one ski to take on a vacation.