This is a quick report on a demo of DPS Wailer 99 in 184 length. I must preface that the conditions were all manmade groomed snow on one run at early season conditions at Squaw, so this is in no way a comprehensive evaluation of the ski capabilities. Nevertheless, DOS positions this ski as an all-mountain one ski quiver weapon, so putting it on an icy scratchy slope was fair game. I hope to get another chance to put it through more varied terrain later in the season.
This is unmistakably a Wailer, despite claims from Phil and Msolson that this is a different ski, it looks almost like a virtual clone of their big brother the 112. See the pictures at the end of this post for a comparison. It is not necessarily a bad thing, as the 112 is a great soft snow ski. In hand flexing I noticed a pretty stiff midsection up to the rocker, followed by a softer (and quite rockered) tip and less rockered tail. The construction and finish is typical DPS: quality vertical sidewall with not a lot of flair or flourish. My ski had "test" engraved on it, so I am sure it was a prerelease unit.
Skiing impressions: At least to my early season legs the 99 skied like a rather short ski. They initiated very quickly and pulled you into a turn with no effort, but once in the turn the short edge proved to be a big disadvantage. That ski does not have this locked on edge feel as a good carver or a good all-mountain ski would. Again DPS knows how to make a damp ski, so I did not notice much tip flapping. What surprised me the most was a pretty anemic feel of the tail of the ski, there was not much energy there. The good part was in some sort of the bumps that developed on the left side of the slope, the tall tip is a huge help there, you just can never stuff that into a bump, and the rockered tails release beautifully. This is something that I loved in the 112 and 99 has the same character.
So why was this ski a disappointment on the hardback- the answer is simple, the early taper rockered tip and tail do not give that ski enough edge to be a good carver, and with no metal the stiffness and dampness is not on a slalom racing ski level. Take a look at how much of the ski forebody is off the snow in this turn.
Just for comparison, here is a shot of the Bonafide (in much better conditions last year), notice that the ski edge is engaged tip-to-tail, despite it also being a rockered design.
As a counterpoint, the Dynastar 105 shares a similar early rise/early taper design to some extent and that ski was a great carver, and also in 184 length =. But the 105 is a beefier ski with quite a bit of metal, so maybe this is the key to hard snow carving.
Some additional pictures to give you a better idea of the ski shape. I put it next to my brand new 112RP:
Tip rocker profiles:
Now the obligatory BeyondAct disclosure: I am NOT an employee of either DPS or StartHaus. I own a brand new pair of DPS 112, so presumably I have an invested interest in promoting the DPS brand to prop up the market value of my recent purchase. I also own a pair of Bonafides, so presumably I have and invested interest to not make the 99 the next best thing and not to prop up the DPS to protect the market value of the aforementioned Bonafide skis. On the other hand, as a presumed viral marketer I have an interest in creating the next best thing, being it DPS or Blizzard or another brand. On yet another point, my wife has an invested interest for not creating any kind of the next best thing to protect our family budget next year, and I have to respect her wishes. I will let you all figure it out. (hint: Sarcasm).
Edited by alexzn - 12/10/11 at 12:42am