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2013 Dynastar Cham 97

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 



Length Tested: 178cm

Dimensions/Turn Radius: 113 / 97 / 133, 15m radius

Camber: Rockered Tip w/camber

Binding: Demo

Mount point: Suggested


Environment & Conditions:

Location of Test: Squaw Valley

Number of Runs: All day

Snow Conditions: Spring conditions, not quite corn

Demo or Own: Demo


Tester Info:

Username: Xela

Age: 41

Height/Weight: 5'9", 150 lbs.

Ski Days/Season: 30

Years Skiing: ~20

Aggressiveness: Aggressive

Current Quiver: 2012 Blizzard Bonafide 180; 2006 Dynastar Legend 8000 172

Home Area: Squaw Valley

Preferred Terrain: bumps, off-piste, trees


Conclusion: A fun modern all-mountain ski with some tail.


Pros: Nice "pop" out of turns.  Pivotable.  Rails if you lay it over.


Cons: Some tip flap.  Debatable tail.




My initial impression of the Cham 97 was that it was easy and familiar.  Having spent most of this season on Bonafides, that's not surprising.  The Cham feels pretty similar at first.  It has a similar pivoty feel and also needs exaggerated tipping to get it to carve.  It should be skied from the center of the foot.


What pleasantly surprised me was the energy of the Cham 97.  It delivered a nice pop at the end of the turn.  If the Bonafide is a hiking boot, the Cham 97 is a sneaker.


On paper, the Cham 97 has an aggressive turn radius.  Perhaps it was the soft snow, but I didn't really feel it.  To me that's a good thing.  I'm not looking for this size of ski to do slalom turns.  And I don't think any skis in this class are ice skates.


In chopped-up snow at speed, I noticed some tip flap, which is not surprising for a big, wide, rockered tip.  Still, the ski tracked fine and turned as desired.  Here's a look at the Cham 97's shape:






It's pretty clear from the picture that the tip rocker isn't matched by any corresponding rocker in the tail.  Instead, the tail appears more traditionally flat.  What the designers have done is to thin the sandwich fairly abruptly behind the binding, making the tail flexible, but present.


I think the tail of this ski is the most interesting and, probably, controversial part.  Likely, people will love it or hate it.  Personally, I had the tail catch on me a few times in off-piste conditions.  I don't enjoy surprises like that.  For a ski with tip rocker and a pivoty feel, having a flat tail like that seems a bit odd.


I could have switched these skis out for my Bonafides easily, but I ended up keeping them for the whole day.  I think by the afternoon, I had adjusted my skiing style to take advantage of the tail.  It can be reassuring to have it there, even if it sometimes prevents the ski from smearing cleanly around moguls.  I'm not sure, but it may be that the tail provides some of that pop that I liked.



In all, I think Dynastar has put together a fun, versatile ski.  I'm glad they haven't produced a clone of someone else's ski.  Variety is the spice of life and some people are going to snap this up for its tail.  Frankly, if I owned this instead of my current skis, life would be fine.



post #2 of 14

Awesome review, thanks. Please add to product page HERE. 

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

OK.  I've added it over there, too.

post #4 of 14

I wonder when/if Dynastar's athletes will start to actually use these.

post #5 of 14

I saw some Dynastar Athletes on them at Squaw the last few weeks. 

One of them was skiing with the Dynastar Rep. 

post #6 of 14
Originally Posted by ecimmortal View Post

I wonder when/if Dynastar's athletes will start to actually use these.

Well, the story is a little murky here.  Both Reine Barkered and Aurelien Ducroz competed in Verbier Extreme this year  on Pro Rider 105 with topsheets painted to look like Cham 107 (Barkered won, Ducroz came 3rd, although his run looked the best of all to my eye).  Obviously they felt like the ProRider was a better match for the terrain and skiing requirements on the competition.  Having been on both skis, I would not disagree; however, a Cham maybe a better choice for an average resort expert skier- it is a much friendlier ski, although I would not call the Pro105 super-demanding either.    

Here is Ducroz on the "Cham", look at the tail profile- this is NOT Cham, there is no Cham's pintail shape, and you can clearly see the tail rise that is absent on the Cham.  

Screen Shot 2012-05-04 at 10.54.42 AM.png

Edited by alexzn - 5/4/12 at 10:58am
post #7 of 14

Interested in getting the Cham 97's but concerned about them being too heavy. The Cham 97 High Mountain appears to be the same ski (with different graphics) only lighter because of no metal and different wood core. Is the Cham 97 HM an alternative for regular skiers who want a lighter version of the 97? In other words, can you mount regular bindings on the High Mountains or for some reason are they only suitable for touring bindings? Would there be any downside to going with the HM version?

post #8 of 14

I have the Dynastar Legend Sultans 94.  How do the Sultans 94 compare to the new Cham 97 design?  Would I notice a vast difference?



post #9 of 14
Originally Posted by TampaSkier View Post

I have the Dynastar Legend Sultans 94.  How do the Sultans 94 compare to the new Cham 97 design?  Would I notice a vast difference?



They ski much differently. Depending on how you ski and your technique, you will either like them or not like them more.

I would rather own the 94, thought it was a more versatile ski. Just the right amount of rocker, tail nice and firm but not too aggressive. Really well balanced.  Cham 97 was much more soft snow oriented, pintail wasn't for me in mixed conditions, especially bumps.  Skied short and stiff.

post #10 of 14
I got in one day on my Cham 97s and found a few things:

Extremely versatile, and whether you prefer to ski flat-bases smeary turns or engaged turns they will do either with stability. But the smeary turns don't give back any energy.

Pintail requires a different focus on turn finish if you want the tail engaged at the end of the turn, but you can use the tail. It just isn't the same kind of tail as a full radius ski.

Tip does move on hard snow engaged turns, but it's not perceptible through the feet. You can see it, but the ski doesn't feel flappy. And it goes away if the ski is more on edge.

The tail is relatively stiff, and when that's combined with the pintail shortening of the tail's effective length, it makes using the tail effectively a precision operation. Get the input wrong and the tail just feels planky. Get it right and it's a nice aspect of the ski.

Overall character is relatively damp, but not as quiet as the Elan 888 or Elan 1010 that I regularly ski.

I need more time on the skis to say anything more about them, but in general the ski seems to be both forgiving and demanding. It's forgiving to lower-skilled skiers because it remains stable in nearly all situations, but to maximize what the ski can deliver, you have to be more precise about the input you give. My initial impression is that I still prefer a ski that has a full radius sidecut and camber all the way through, but more time on the Cham 97 may cause me to change my views on that.

Some reviews have squawked about the weight of these skis. I have them with PX12s and compared to my Elan 888 with Pivot Jibs, they feel about comparable. They didn't feel heavy to me, but I guess relative to a DPS or similar, they may feel leaden.

FYI, I'm 5'10" and 145 lbs, ski more compact & forward (vs tall & centered), spend 85% of my time off-piste but still enjoy my fun time and skills time on groomers, and prefer to ski with my edges engaged. Also, I was on brand new boots with new footbeds and new alignment, so there were a lot of new variables in that first day. After I get more time in on the skis I'll do a full review.
post #11 of 14

Only 13 more sleeps and I'll be pointing mine down a Japanese slope (Madarao). Over a metre of fresh over the weekend there and it's still falling. Another huge Japow season looks to be developing.


Can't wait - thanks for the honest appraisal GV



post #12 of 14

I spent a day on the Cham 97 skis at Killington last weekend (2013-01-26) and greatly enjoyed them. The conditions were cold and icy except on one run (Superstar) on which they had been blowing snow continuously for about 5 days. I spent most of my time there and thought the skis were very fun in that softer snow. On the boilerplate and ice that was on most of the other runs, they were no worse than my normal ski (Volkl AC30); in fact, the tip on my AC30s tends to wander on hardpack (probably operator error) and I did not experience that on the Chams. On the moguls along the right side of Superstar I felt compelled to go fast -- faster than I normally do in bumps. I'm not sure if that was the skis or the steepness or the widely-spaced nature of the bumps.


Overall, I liked the ski and am tempted to buy a pair before my next significant trip if I can't reserve a demo pair in advance. The only thing that stopped me from buying them from the shop where I demoed (Basin Sports in Killington) was hesitation about spending $$$ after demoing only one ski.

post #13 of 14

Glad you liked them too Jeff - my like has turned into love yahoo.gif

I wrote a review after my 17 days on them in Dec-Jan

post #14 of 14
I demoed the Cham 97 yesterday along with the Soul 7 and the Legend 94s. I am an eastern skier and have a couple of sets of skis but ski my legend 8000 90% of the time. My powder ski is a Salomon Pocket Rocket with AT bindings that I use on deep days and in the backcountry. Good ski but not great. Was hoping one of these demoed skis would replace that ski.

Had a perfect demo day with 20+" of fresh in the woods, 1 foot of cut up powder in bounds, soft bumps, groomers and even some ice on a few popular runs where things had been skied off.

The Legend 94s won, hands down over the Chams. The Chams felt bloated and less reliable in comparison. The 94s felt rock solid, damp and no nonsense. In the cut up crud with variable snow conditions the 94s crush it with super damp, big lines at high speed. In bumps, they kept a reasonably tight line (not zipper lines like my 8000s) good enough to not need a trip to the car for my 8000s late into a powder day when things start getting bumped up. The Chams felt less obedient, and I found myself unpleasantly surprised how I got launched out of a couple of missed turns. maybe it was that weird tail. In pure powder, the Chams got on top quicker because of the rocker but not by much. they weren't very turny or surfy like the Soul 7s in deep pow.

My takeaway is to buy every variation of dynastar legend I can find before they are all gone. I will add the 94s and probably some 85s to replace my aging 80s.

If money and space were no object, I would also buy the Rossignol Soul 7 for pure backcountry, powder tight tree skiing. They were super fun in deep pow at slow speed making tight turns. They are too wimpy for crud at speed or big wide open lines. They can carve groomers at medium speed, but I broke them loose at the higher speeds I ski at. They skied a reasonable line through the bumps while the Chams busted out of the line and plowed through and over bumps, but were to wimpy to ski big lines through variable snow, bumps and crud.

Long live the Legends! It is funny the grizzlied veteran owner at the ski shop confided in me after my experience that he only skies his old Legends even though he has his pick of any ski in the shop on any day. If that isn't telling I don't know what is.
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