post #1 of 1
Thread Starter 
Another review here:
http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/273265-Mini-Review-DPS-s-14-15-Wailer-105-Ski

*Location of review: Arapahoe Basin and Breckenridge
*Runs Taken: Steep off-piste, 35-45 degrees
*Snow Conditions: Chalky firm snow, deep powder, deep crud, shallow crud, moguls

Me: 5'10, 175lbs, 31 yrs/old, 40-60 days per 29 seasons, expert skier with an athletic, dynamic, powerful style. Parents were both pro bump skiers. Prefer damp, charging skis with good high-speed stability.

Quiver:
186 ON3P Billygoats (2009/2010)
183 Head Monster m103s
183 Head Monster 82s
180 Blizzard Bushwackers

2014/2015 DPS Wailer 105 185cm
136-105-119
24-28m Radius
2300 grams per ski?

Click image for larger version. <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Name: wailers.jpg <br /> Views: 14 <br /> Size: 1.81 MB <br /> ID: 150103

This ski is completely overhauled for next year. It has a new hybrid construction, new camber/rocker profile and new sidecut. This is a stiff ski. It flexes very close to my Head m103s, but is much lighter. The Wailer is a little stiffer in the tip, and a little softer in the tail. Apparently a larger radius 191 version is in the works. The production tip rocker is going to be a bit less than in the photo, so expect longer effective edge and possibly a tad bit less pow performance.

Marshal contacted me back in September and asked if he could send these out to me sometime this season. He knows I love the Head m103 and damp skis, and I assume that it's reputation that makes it a good comparison for the target market of the new Wailer 105, though it's designed to be quite a bit more versatile (and it is!).

FIRM SNOW/ALPINE CHALK

I skied these for a couple days at A-Basin after a 1-2 week stretch of relatively dry weather with TONS of wind. A-Basin has lots of above treeline terrain and this kind of weather pattern creates chalky firm snow and keeps it from being bumped up too heavily. These conditions are perfect for skiing aggressively and going retardedly fast. After taking a few runs on my Head m103 to calibrate, I hopped on the Wailer. On the ride up the lift, it made a clinking resonant sound that reminiscent of the Volkl Explosiv. I don't particularly like this sort of feedback when skiing, and even though the Volkl Explosiv was a stable ski, I never liked it because of this. However, the Wailer actually quiets down once you start skiing it. I've never experienced this before. Usually if it has that sort of resonance, you often notice it when you ski, also. Odd.

The first couple runs, I noticed right away that I was skiing right on top of the sidecut, and it was exhibiting some hookiness. I moved the bindings back 1.5cm (BSL 300, boot-center 80.5 from the tail). This got rid of the hookiness and I immediately felt more at-home on the ski. I drive skis quite a bit, tend to prefer traditional mounts, and just got off my Head m103s, so take that into consideration, but I think more aggressive skiers would prefer a further-back mount point. I would even be tempted to try -2cm. Very different personalities between on-the-line and -1.5cm.

Impressions:
1) Damp, but not quite the silky dampness of the Head - you get a little more feedback out of the tip and tail of the ski
2) Despite the rocker, it doesn't quite release as well as the Head m103. When thrown sideways, the tip and tail of the sidecut like to catch a bit. This could be the tune, but I keep my skis pretty sharp, so I'm guessing it's more likely the sidecut: 28m vs 37m.
3) Felt comfortable when airing through mogul fields, but a little unforgiving in more difficult mogul fields, like most stiff skis are.
4) However, I could straightline out a chute, launch off a mogul, stay forward, comfortably land at full speed, and transition to quick zipperline turns as the moguls tightened up.
5) The rocker cuts down on the running length. You could feel that the effective edge was shorter when placed on edge at stupid fast speeds. There is no 'magic' engagement of the rocker portions when on edge in firm snow, even when skiing fast and bending the ski.
6) Edgehold was solid on the few icy patches I encountered and was of no concern.

Honestly, I'd still keep my Head m103s in these conditions. However, I think the larger radius 191 version would probably meet my needs. It would have the larger radius to release smoother, and it would have a longer effective edge that I felt was missing (especially since production will have less tip rocker). I don't think the dampness impacted how confident I felt when going fast - it was merely different and less damp than my Head m103s. Overall, I didn't notice myself going that much slower. There were just random occasions here and there where I didn't feel quite as comfortable due to the effective edge and release characteristics.

POWDER/CHOP/CRUD

My next time out on these skis were for a couple days during a HUGE storm cycle. Breckenridge received almost 2 feet of snow overnight, and more the next day. While some may feel undergunned on a 105mm ski, I figured, 'why not?'. Breckenridge has a good mix of steep tree'd terrain off the E-Chair, as well as wide-open alpine terrain off the T-Bar, Imperial and the new Peak 6 lift. In the steep tree'd terrain, it was deep blower powder. In the alpine terrain, it was also quite light snow, with very little wind affect (unusual for Breck). On a few of the steeper pitches, most of the new snow had been sluffed off by patrol work, leaving a firm surface with a few inches of fresh snow on top.

Impressions:
1) It resists diving and floats well, but you will ride a little deeper than other more powder-specific skis. More faceshots, but a bit slower. You don't have to pump your legs, old school style (like I did with my Gotamas on deeper days).
2) It maneuvers and slarves well in steep tight tree runs. I had no problem opening it up and being able to throw in a quick slarve when necessary.
3) The stiffness allows it to resist bending into a smaller radii. Awesome. I can't stand when a ski folds up while maching through open untracked snow (feels like the ski throws you across the fall line).
4) It was confident when transitioning from soft snow into the sluffed off sections, and felt pretty composed when re-entering the really deep sluff at the bottom. No over-the-bars. Did this a few times and the results were consistent.
5) It machs through crud. I spent quite a few laps, later in the day, making about 3 turns down Horseshoe at ridiculous speeds through crud. Really good ski for this kind of thing. It stayed well composed, didn't get hung up in clumps of snow, and you could just drive right through anything. Airs well off piles. For a ski this burly, I really like the lighter weight of it here.
6) Visibility was very bad on Imperial, but it felt comfortable enough for me to open up the throttle and 'ski-by-brail'. Hoots from the chairlift were common when doing this test, as I was probably skiing 3-4x faster than anyone else.
7) Sent it off a cornice a few times, and the landing platform felt fine from about 10-15' into deeper snow.
8) As I started making bigger turns down a chute, I didn't see a 5-6' avalanche crown and was in the air before I knew it. I slammed down onto the firm crust and was able to cut my speed in time before I hit the debris pile. I couldn't really tell how fast I was going, due to visibility and ended up going through the debris pile faster than what I had wanted, but I was able to keep loose and trust the ski to get me through it.

I can't speak to how it'd work for someone who isn't as aggressive of a skier, so I'll let others do that. But overall, I think this ski is a real winner for someone that aggressively skis a lot of resort snow. I'd pick this ski most resort powder days, if your resort gets tracked quickly and you prefer rallying through chop and crud, like I do (as opposed to searching all over the place trying to find a stash or two). I'd prefer this ski for sure, up to around 18" in these cases. Otherwise, if you tend to ski a lot of untracked, I think it's the right ski up to around 12". It's nice to be able to go back to a skinnier ski again. You can go a bit faster in chop/crud.

As far as durability, I don't think the base material is as tough as the Durasurf 4001 that is used by Praxis, Moment, PM Gear, and ON3P. The base material is also quite a bit thinner than what I'm used to, but is probably on par with the industry standard 1.2mm. However, it may also have been ground a fair amount due to other testers? I do very much appreciate Marshal taking care of that part for me, after I was done with them. Left a couple core shots and scrapes in them after finding a scree field. The topsheets seem to be a different/new material, and does an awesome job resisting chipping and scratching - best I've ever seen, I think. Edges came REAL sharp. Love it.
Edited by Brian Lindahl - 2/6/14 at 8:59am