Despite only working for George Fisher for two weeks, I was asked to attend a Salomon Ski Test Day at Snow Factor in Glasgow. A chance that was far too good to miss. Not only would I get the chance to have a day’s skiing, I would also be able to have a go with some new shiny kit and broaden my understanding of one of the top brands in the skiing world.
During the drive up I was starting to get a little nervous. Despite spending all of the 2015/16 ski season working as a ski instructor in Mallnitz, Austria, I was worried that I wouldn’t remember how to ski!
I have used a lot of Salomon products in my time skiing, and I am always impressed with what they bring to the table. Last season I spent a lot of time on the X-Race skis. Designed as a high end performance ski, I thought no other ski kept an edge better last year. The newly installed carve rocker made it super easy to initiate the turn and hold your speed. My favourite All-Mountain ski that I used last year was the X-Drive, with its all terrain rocker and reinforced X-chassis it performed amazing over anything you came across.
Once we arrived and got changed it was time to ski. Walking up to the entrance of the snow dome there was a vast selection of skis. Feeling like a kid in a sweet shop I spent a few minutes deciding which I should try first, before realising that I would be able to try them all out! In the end I went for something new and shiny, the QST 99. Brand new for winter 2016/17 Salomon has shaken up with a line of free ride skis and called them QST series. The QST 99 sits slap bang in the middle of this new range. I could not wait to have a go!
As is the case with skiing, it took me a few runs to get to grips with it all again. This was speeded up by having such a great pair of skis on my feet. The snow conditions were not great, but luckily that's where these skis should be at their best. The QST 99 is designed to break down the barrier between piste and backcountry. They are surprisingly light, listed at 1700g, this is due to their all wood core and the inclusion of a tip rocker help the ski float across soft snow. The CFX super fiber (a combination of carbon and flax) running down the middle of the ski prevent it from chattering on the snow, and give it a very smooth feeling across a very wide variety of terrains.
After I had gotten used to the ski, it was an absolute joy. I was very impressed with their ability to hold their edge for longer turns and their responsiveness to short sharp turns. They are one of the most exciting skis on the market. I want a pair and cannot wait to use them again. If you want an off piste ski that you can use whenever you want, this is your ski.
The QST series skis all vary by width; 112, 106, 99, 92, 85. I managed to get my hands on a pair of the QST 85’s, which despite being the entry level ski to this range is a great park ski.
Before pushing the boat out and skiing with the QST 112. Their exceptionally wide waste does make them hard work on compact snow. But I would sell a kidney to be able to fly off and use them in fresh powder right now.
After playing around on free ride skis for a few hours, I thought I should ‘do some work’ and have a look at some of the other skis. Next on my list was the X-Drive 8.0, I wasn’t out of the sweet shop yet! I make it no secret that I have been an admirer of the X-Drive for a number of years now. It is, in my opinion the most versatile ski, and my favourite ski to teach on. For those who like all the facts and technical jargon that Salomon tells us, the ski has a reinforced carbon composite X-shaped frame that improves power and edge for maximum precision. The all terrain rocker helps the ski deal with all snow conditions. Dampening material integrated into the on piste rocker shape reduces vibrations at the tip for improved stability. The X-Drive is a great introduction to what a top of the range ski feels like, without the weight of a racing ski. Despite it being easy going and forgiving, it feels sturdy through a range of speeds and terrain. A truly great all round ski.
The final ski I managed to have a go with was the X-Race. As the name suggests they are THE ski for racing. Heavy and flat the ski is built for raw speed and they hold their edge like nothing else. I could have shaved with the edges. Another ski I want to use again!
The day had been a success. I had remembered how to ski, and hadn’t fallen over. I had gotten my head around the new and very impressive QST range, and I had been reunited with my old friend the X-Drive. I left Glasgow very excited about the winter to come. Had I been allowed I would have left with at least 4 or 5 pairs of skis! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
26 September 2016 by Jacob Tonkin
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