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Sterling Skis, Matterhorn Pre-Ski Evaluation

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I have been meaning to post my pre-review review since I got my set of Sterlings two weeks ago. Here we go:

Sterling Skis, Matterhorn, 174cm, Palisander Santos veneer, VIST Speedlock bindings


The case looks like an oversized shotgun case. Although it is rather heavy to tote around, I imagine that I will only be using it for off-season storage, and for air travel. Its is bulky, wheels would be nice. The soft black velvet interior is quite striking. THE POLES are lite and thin, but similar to my other pair of carbon fiber poles.


I was prepared to be impressed when I opened the case, but this was something else entirely. They are gorgeous. They are a work of art. There is a high gloss finish over the wood that has a museum quality glow. The slight twists and tones of the wood are perfectly matched in each ski, vertical wood grain striping from toe to tip. I didn’t want to get fingerprints on them!

But, I took them out right away and turned them over in my hands for a good 15 minutes, admiring the colors and lines and camber and bases. BASE: I noticed that it was a decent stone-ground base for a factory tune, but not as pretty as some of the other production skis or the tuning I can get from my local shop. SIDEWALLS: slightly off vertical, appear to be hand shaped.


I took the skis down in my basement to the work table and went to town on flexing and comparing. I got out my two old favorites- Stockli Stormriders XL and Dynastar Legend 8000. All the skis have a similar binding setup. Below is the results of my compare and contrast testing.

WEIGHT = Sterling was considerably lighter than Stockli and Dynastar

FLEX = Sterling seems stiffer underfoot than both Dynastar, Stockli. The nose has a similar bend to Stockli, but the tail is slightly stiffer on the Sterlings. Engaging the flex in the center of the Sterlings I noticed a rebound quality that the Stockli + Dynastar do not share. It has some interesting response muscle/energy, could be the high camber.

TORSION = Sterling seemed to have greater torsional strength than the others.

CAMBER = Sterlings have a significant amount of camber, a lot more than the others.

VIBRATIONS = Using an interesting test I read about online, I delicately clamped the Sterlings to my bench with some top sheet protection and flipped the tips and tails. Sterlings responses were compact and short, Stockli much longer and bouncy, Dynastar in between. Sterlings seemed to damp the vibrations faster.

This weekend I finally got to ski them and all I can say is Wow! Before I write my review, I want to ski them again on different conditions and do some more compairing and contrasting with my Stocklis and Dynastars.

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 5
I wonder if these are AK's.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
This took long than I thought to post but I wanted to test the skis on different conditions before I posted the review.

PRODUCT: Sterling Matterhorn, 174cm Palisander Santos.

REVIEWER: I am – male, 5’10", 165lbs, age 38, between Level 8 & 9, 30+ ski days / year, 29 total seasons of experience, 15% frontside groomed, 40% backside bowls and trees, 45% bumps and steeps

LOCATIONS: Three days of skis at A-Basin, Vail, Copper,

CONDITIONS: Groomed, Packed Power, Powder, Skied Up Powder/Crud, Some Ice

REVIEW: My review is a compare & contrast to my Stockli Storm Riders XL and Dynastar Legend 8000. Over the past few years these two skis have been my skis of choice. I have been demoing other skis for the last two years but have not found any that are a better all mountain or freeride ski. Last year, I began testing some of the indie company skis, most were good but were not what I was looking for. The Sterling Skis President told me that if I buy the Matterhorns and did not like them, he would refund my money. I jumped at the opportunity. Over the last three weeks, I have been putting them to the test and below is my review of the Sterling Matterhorns.

Groomers/Packed Powder: I could not compare/contrast my Stockli’s or Dynastars to the Sterlings. The Matterhorn is in a different league. It has been years since I have been on a true race ski but these are the fastest skis in my memory. You point them down hill and they are off to the races. At speed they are remarkably stable, solid, quiet and responsive. Turning the ski at speed was ez and controllable. They have a fun pop when exiting out of the turns. On GS turns, they track like no other ski I have been on. I pushed them as hard as I could and found no limits. I don’t always have the best form and they were forgiving even when I got back on the tail.

The Matterhorn liked the steep terrain and easily transitioned from light powder to packed powder to ice without missing a beat. They were also good at short turns and were very lively. They may not be the fastest edge to edge ski I have ever been on but they are fast and they practically beg for speed and big turns.

Bumps: I am an average bump skier. I like to spend a lot of time in them, if the conditions are good. For bump skiing, I typically like my Stocklis. They are quick and do a good job. The first day of testing, I found the Stocklis quicker and easier to control through the moguls. The Sterlings seem to be slower and did not like it when you got back on the tail. On the second day of skiing the bumps, the Sterling came to life for me. I was working my form and trying to keep my weight forward and noticed the Sterling responded completely different with my weight forward rather than skiing them in a more neutral position. By the third day of skiing, I had found the Sterling’s sweet spot. They were quick, responsive and had a lot of pop if I kept good form and weight forward.I think the Stocklis are easier to ski in the bumps and more forgiving but when I got dialed into the Sterlings they really did perform better. It takes a little better form and effort to get this result.

Powder/Chopped Up Powder: When conditions are boot deep or less I grab my Dynastars. On deeper powder days you will find me on my fatties. The Dynastar ski powder ok but I really like the way they handle tracked up powder, crud and heavier conditions. In Vail, I went to the back bowls to give the Sterlings a test on heavy, boot deep skied up terrain. I was completely surprised by their performance. Like on groomers, the Sterlings are speed demons.

On the first run, I was way outside my speed comfort zone but found myself in complete control. The Sterling handled the mounds, holes and chop like it was a groomer. They were unfazed by the conditions and easy to handle. I thought my Dynastars were good but the Sterlings are much better. I think the Sterlings are the best chopped up/crud ski I have been on. I spent almost all day skiing on those conditions and just could not get enough.

Now, things were a little different on untracked power. The Dynastars float and ride better than the Sterlings. The 76cm under foot and direct stiffness tend not to be your first choice for the powder. They performed as you would expect 76cm under foot would in powder. If I am the first on the mountain following a 16-inch dump, it’s my fatties. If I am skiing the second day after a 16-inch dump, it’s the Sterlings.

Conclusion: After three days of skiing, I can firmly say, these skis are for me. They have completely exceeded my extremely high exceptions. I will not be asking for my money back; I am keeping these babies. If they were a few millimeters wider in the waist they would handle deeper powder better and would be the "perfect" ski. The only thing I don’t like is that the heavy gloss varnish on the wood veneer already has a couple of scratches from crossing my tails. It hurts to see these beauties get marked up. I am very hard on my skis and I will have to see what they look like at the end of the season.
Bottom line, these skis are true high-octane performers. Yes, I paid for the style, uniqueness and performance, but I have no regrets… They are the hottest skis I’ve been on.
post #4 of 5
I have the Stormie XL's as well and if I'm in alpine boots they are my go to ski. If the Sterlings match or exceed the XL they must be quite some ski.
post #5 of 5
Nice report, rockdude.

It looks like I'm going to be able to take a run or two on a pair next Friday (12/28).

I got to flex a pair yesterday and I have to agree with you that they are gorgeous indeed. More like a piece of fine furniture or cabinetry than a pair of skis. I also agree, though, that a few days of shuffling through liftlines would have to be a little heartbreaking.

Anyway, they feel good and look great and maybe by a week from now I'll be able to report in on what they're like to ski.

That's some VERY serious dough, however.
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