Product: 2011(?) DPS Wailer 112RP (AKA the Banana Ski)
Length/size Tested: 190
Environment of Conditions:
*Location of review: Squaw Valley
*Runs Taken: 1 day
*Snow Conditions: powder
*Demo or Purchase: demo
3-word review: what the S7 should have been
(funny looks, killer performance and killer versatility)
I got to take out a pair of 190 Wailer 112RPs from on my birthday (thanks Phil!). This is the bright yellow "banana" ski that started to show in the lift lines at Squaw recently, so I was intrigued. Rockered tips and tails, normal camber section under foot. The defining feature of the ski is definitely it's huge rockered tip. That rocker is bigger than anything I have seen on a mainstream ski and in combination with the bright yellow color of the top sheet, you can spot a Wailer from a mile afar. DPS graphics are very minimalist, but classy, and the ski looks very well made. I skied the Hybrid construction, which is the cheaper of the two they make.
Conditions. The day was typical Squaw storm day- poor visibility, windy, lots of snow, and even more people cutting up that snow, so the skiing was a typical resort powder- not many first tracks, but lots of soft bumps and cut-up powder.
Skiing impressions. This ski totally defied my expectations. I spent this season on another indie double-rockered powder ski, Bluehouse Maestro, so I was expecting a typical indie ski ride- great geometry in smooth 3D snow in the morning, then deteriorating as the day goes on and snow gets cruddier. When I looked at the ski I thought that the tip would flop around, catch in bumps, and transmit everything to the boot, basically a ski to slay the hero snow on your next Heli trip.... Not even close... The Wailer rocked in the "resort powder", and the more the day went on, the better I felt.
Any ski with that much rocker and 112 underfoot is going to be a blast in smooth deep snow, so no surprise there, the ski felt great, and had more of a surfy feeling, the tips definitely pull it to the surface. The ski turns very predictably in powder, the tip raises so high, that it it is not hooky at all, and the taper helps a lot. The sweet spot is HUGE, I was able to go through the cut up powder while being so far in the backseat I was ashamed of doing it. A couple of times going through the bumpy slope in near whiteout I got thrown forward so hard that I was afraid my goggles would hit the ski tips- no problem, I felt the tips rise and pull me up. However funny Wailer geometry looks, it works very well. The tail feels soft but it is there. I was also surprised by how damp the ski felt, this is quality construction, very smooth. It definitely skis short, on anything remotely firm it feels like a 170-is ski, very nimble. Unlike my Maestros the torsional stiffness is there in spades, Wailer feels very secure on steeps, and its as competent of a carver as a 112 mm ski can be (granted, on that day there was not a trace of ice, so he jury may be still out on that part). These skis fly through trees, point and shoot type. Amazingly quick for the 190, you can toss then sideways in a split second. I am usually a very cautious tree skier, but I was having a blast.
Soft bumps were nothing short of a revelation, the Wailer skis bumps so much better than a long (190!) 112 mm ski is ever expected to do. The tips are so tall, that you can almost stuff them into the bump and they would nor catch, the front has the right stiffness pattern, and the rockered tails release easily. A couple of times I caught myself skiing through the soft bumps almost without thinking, which almost never happens to me on any ski. That same huge tip does a good job smoothing the terrain when going fast, so I was not able to find a speed limit to the ski. It was so much fun to ski a bumpy powdery pitch until my legs could not take it anymore, and then straight-line the last portion in whatever position I found myself in - you can ride that ski off it's tails, or you can stay forward and let the rocker do its job, the sweet spot is so big that it will take it all without complaining.
Negatives: I sometimes felt that 112 width was a tad too narrow, but that is probably nitpicking.
Conclusion: This ski is a surprising winner, the geometry looks funny, but it works incredibly well and it makes it unusually well-rounded for a real resort powder ski. This is one of those skis that you can ski all day and not want to go to the car to change to something less radical. A "fun shape" ski for a real resort should feel like: fun, effortless, and still plenty of muscle. That ski should be a hit with good skiers who don't ski virgin powder all the time and who don't want to put in an effort required for a competition-level pair of boards. It addresses most of the complaints the Rossi S7 is getting by managing to work well in both smooth and rough snow. DPS markets this ski as a one-ski quiver, I am not sure I will choose to ski it on icy groomers, but as a powder ski in Tahoe this is one of the leading contenders and maybe the best I have tried so far. The Banana rocks...
Other skis in class:
110+ resort powder skis: Rossi S7, Atomic BentChetler, Dynastar HugeRocker, almost every indie company makes a ski in this group. I also really liked how the Dynastar ProRider115 skied on a similar day, but PR115 was much more demanding, compared to that ski the Wailer is on autopilot.
P.S. I am not sure the Nano (the more expensive pure carbon construction) makes as lot of sense, as the lighter weight should take away some of the dampness. I would be happy skiing the Hybrid.
P.P.S. I hope I will be able to get one for next year.
Average days on snow: 0-10, 11-25, 30+ (pick one)
Years Skiing: 0-5, 6-15, 15-30, 30+ (pick one)
Aggressiveness: Conservative / Moderate / Aggressive / Competitor (pick one)
Pictures of the front shape and the rocker profile (sorry for the powder cord obscuring some of the camber underfoot).
Edited by alexzn - 4/4/11 at 10:09pm