This post was written by Steve Seliger, an adviser and contributor to our site.
A ski review in March!? Absolutely. Many people believe (I among them) that March, April and May are the best months to be thinking about and / or buying your next set of boards. Why? A few reasons: One is that you can score some amazing end-of-season deals at ski shops and ski resorts from retailers who are eager to make room for next year’s inventory. The other reason are demo days. Lots of ski resorts have late-season demo days where you get to try out this and next year’s skis. If you ever get a chance to partake in a demo day, it is probably the best way to find the next ski to fall in love with. Usually it goes like this: Pay one price and get to try out all the skis you want all day long. If you don’t like a ski, turn it in after one run. If you think you’ve found “the one” take two or three runs on it. Then try one or two comparable skis and then back to the first one that caught your attention. You probably wouldn’t buy a car without giving it a test drive – why not do the same with a pair of skis if you have the opportunity?
A word on ski graphics (and why demo days are such a good idea)
In a different industry, fishing-lure manufacturers figured out decades ago that there was more profit to be made catching the fisherman’s eye than there was in catching the eye of the fish. Don’t be seduced by how sexy a ski looks. It’s so easy to be talked into a significant investment listening to the enthusiastic claims of sales people whilst being confronted by seductive graphics and enough data to require a spreadsheet analysis. The graphics on skis today are so amazing that it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that if a ski looks that good it must ski well too. How a ski feels under your feet, under the conditions you are most likely to ski it, and that it helps you to become a better skier is what really matters. The edgy, high-definition graphics are only designed to get the ski out of the shop, and dollars out of your pocket. It’s how the ski performs on hard pack, powder, crud, how it initiates / finishes a turn and it’s turning radius are what determines it’s real value for you. If you are on a gear budget, like most of us, getting a new pair of skis is a significant investment – one that we would like to enjoy for years. Being stuck with a ski that caught your eye but doesn’t improve your skiing wastes not only money, but significant life / experience time.
At a recent demo day at Solitude Ski resort, I had the opportunity to try out a few skis that I really liked. Ski design, material science, and manufacturing techniques have come a long way in the past few years and there are a lot of amazing skis out there.
I’m an all-mountain skier. I ski 85% off piste: mostly deep powder, powdery crud, mixed density crud, and the occasional groomed run. I never ski hard-pack or ice anymore. I’m looking for skis that float in powder, have enough backbone to punch through mixed density crud, and can hold an edge without chattering too much if I open it up on the dusty flats.
In this category, some skis that truly caught my attention were the Volkl Mantra, the Blizzard Bonafides, and one ski that I’d really like to talk about here, the DPS Wailer 112RP.
DPS Wailer 112RP Review
DPS is a company that stands out for me – an up-and-coming local manufacturer that bears keeping an eye on. Building their Pure3 skis right here in Utah, DPS was founded in 2005 with a, “vision to make perfect skis worthy of those who live and breathe the sport.”
I had the opportunity to take the DPS Wailer 112RPs out for an extended romp through conditions ranging from hardpack, crud, bumps, tight trees, steep chutes, open bowls and deep powder. I expected a good ride through the powder and I found one: When I charged straight down steep and deep they were smooth, supple and floated beautifully. They also turned with a springiness and finesse that caught my attention. The 112RPs were so responsive that at first I way over did it and found myself facing uphill. I’m used to a fat ski with a long stiff tail. When I get thrown into the back seat I’m used to being able to use that tail like a springboard to throw me forward again. This ski insisted that I stay centered or forward (as I should).
My next set of tests were in less fluffy conditions where I found that they carve exceptionally well. So well in fact that they helped me ski in better form than I usually do. When I laid rail on hardpack they were quite smooth and stable. Snappy edge to edge in the bumps and the trees too. These are one of those special skis that seemed to read my mind and turned effortlessly wherever I thought to go.
While they weren’t quite as stable in chunky bumpy mixed density crud as I’d like – no single ski can do it all. However, the Wailer 112RPs come pretty darn close.
Every few years ski technology takes a true jump forward – beyond hype, beyond gimmicks – technology that defines a new standard of excellence. Through the combination of the latest carbon fiber technology, aerospace construction techniques, and pioneering design, DPS skis has done just that. As a company, DPS is proving that an American company can create local jobs, manufacturing the highest quality products, using local experience, inspiration, and the ambition to innovate.
What you won’t find with DPS are skis that try to sell themselves by catching your eye with fancy graphics. Ever notice how easy it is to be seduced by the pretty pictures on the top sheet? A year or two from now you won’t be happy you bought a ski because art-history majors are talking about it. You’ll be happy because you’ll be talking about how your skis have taken you to places you’ve never been before.
The Wailer 122RP is priced at $799 for Hybrid Construction or $1249 for Pure 3.