Product: 2013 Dynastar Cham 107
Length/size Tested: 184 cm
Environment and Conditions:
*Location of review: Squaw/Alpine
*Runs Taken: 1 day
*Snow Conditions: Hardpack, some windpacked spots, some afternoon glop, plenty of bare spots
*Demo or Purchase: Starthaus demo
3-word capsule review: BBR for a real man.
I got a chance to take out a pre-release sample of the new Dynastar Cham 107 (184) length this weekend (thanks Starthaus!). This is an entirely new series of skis for Dynastar, replacing the venerable Legend series. The 107 sits in the second from the top position in the line, so this is Dynastar's big mountain ski, the replacement for the Legend Pro105, and on specs alone it is most likely comparable in purpose to a ski like a Cochise, Gotama, or Shogun: the ski to own if you ski a big western mountain and do not want to run a quiver.
I own the last generation of the ProRider (also 184) and I have been skiing it a fair bit this season due to the rocky conditions (I have not been willing to take out my new Bonafides on some days). The shape of the Cham is completely different it has been described before in the SIA report thread, so I am not going to dwell on it too much. The defining feature of the ski is the tail, it is unlike anything you have seen before. It is fairly normal up to a point and then about the last 10-12 inches it has this distinctive pintail section that keeps camber up to the very end. So if you rest the ski on the floor, it will not rest on the widest part of the tail, instead it will rest on its very end. This is actually important because it has a consequence on how the ski manages heavy snow. The tail is also uber-stiff at least on the pair that I had. The only other ski that I flexed that gave me the same stiffness was the B-Squad. There is plenty of camber in the skis and they feel pleasantly solid and heavy.
Groomers: First thing that surprises you is how good these feel on groomers. You would never say that it was a 107 ski under you. The ski predictably engages from the point where the rocker starts, the wide shovel pulls you into the turn quickly. Again the stiff tail defines how the ski feels, it releases with good amount of energy. I ended up spending almost half of that day on groomers, and just had a lot of fun there. The pintail does not participate in the hard surface skiing, thus the effective edge ends at the two widest points of the ski, which, combined with the early taper tip makes the Cham feel like a wide stiff short slalom-ish ski on groomers. That short edge also makes it less grippy than Pro105, but there is still plenty of hold.
Off-trail it has the familiar Dynastar traits- solid, damp, plenty of energy, the rockered tip makes skiing cruddy surfaces a breeze. Again, it is very quick for a 107, fully comparable to my 100-mm skis. Trees were a blast. The stiff tail makes it very tolerant to position mistakes, if you get to the backseat you have a long platform to lean on and push you back. I believe the camber going all the way to the end of the pintail has a lot to do with that secure stable feel. However, the tail never feels grabby or unwieldy and releases very easily because of the tapered shape. Pretty neat.
Bumps (and there are a lot of them at Squaw) were just OK, the Cham is too wide and too stiff for that. At times I felt like I was almost suspended over a trough on two contact points and I could feel how the ski was flexing under me.
I'd like to take it out again in a more 3D snow conditions, but so far the impression is very positive, it is a worthy replacement to the Legend series. As with previous ProRiders I would be happy skiing the Cham 107 every day at Squaw, it is enough fun on groomers, it is solid, stable, and quick in crud, and I cannot imagine that a tip-rockered 107mm ski would suck in powder.
Compared to the old ProRider and Pro105: Cham gives a bit in edge grip, nothing in stability, and gains a lot in quickness. If Pro 105 is a truck, Cham is luxury SUV, a bit less gnar-slaying capacity, but a lot easier, much quicker, and just as comfortable ride. But it is still a Dynastar big-mountain ski, so it won't let you down anywhere. I am glad Dynastar makes solid true expert level skis again after the Sutan 94 dumb-down experiment. This is by far the best ski I have seen from Dynastar lately and should be on the demo list for every expert who skis a big western mountain. Note: this is he 2013 ski which should be released for the 2012-2013 season.
Compared to my 187 Bonafide: Very different ski, totally different approach, but Cham does achieve a lot of the same goals. However the shape is very different, and it does not have the same kind of "magic" as the Blizzard. At high speed on edge the 184 Cham feels like a rockered 184 ski, the 187 Bonafide feels like a true 187. The tradeoff is of course in the sweet spot size, the Cham is a lot more tolerant to position mistakes, especially off-trail, this is where the stiff cambered pintail back truly comes into its own, Bones need to be driven fairly precisely. Given the choice between the two I will probably take the Bonafide. I have not been on a Cochise yet, so I will let others chime in.
Compared to BBR: Just not a fair comparison, Cham is infinitely better at everything, better grip, better damping, better release, better on hardback, better in crud. The shape is not so extreme, the tail actually has some decent width to it, so the Cham feels very "normal", while BBR felt a bit weird.
One other thing- Cham 107 is 100% directional ski, zero tolerance for going backwards, the tails will dig into the snow in no time (again, this is because camber goes all the way to the end). That actually can be an important issue for people who ski trees and tight spots when they may need to back up. That may be problematic on the Cham.
Graphics: I hated it when I saw it, now it grows on me some. I wish they switched blue and green, that would have made for a more handsome ski. I still prefer the busy elegance of the late LegendPro graphics to any other Dynastar top sheet designs of late.
Edited by alexzn - 2/26/12 at 9:47am