Ski: 2016-2017 Armada TST, 192cm
Available Lengths: 165, 174, 183, 192 cm
Blister’s Measured Length (straight tape pull): 190.0cm
Stated Dimensions (mm): 120-133-103-124
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski (grams): 2,025 & 2,045
Sidecut Radius: 18.9 meters
Core Construction: Poplar/Ash + Fiberglass Laminate
Boots / Bindings: Salomon Falcon Pro CS / Marker Jester (DIN 10)
Mount Location: Factory Recommended Line
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley
Days Skied: 4
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 12/13 TST, which was not changed for 13/14, 14/15, 15/16, or 16/17, except for the graphics.]
Armada promotes the all-mountain TST as the most versatile ski in their line, and after four days of testing in a wide range of conditions—from hardpack to light, fresh powder—I think they’re right to do so.
Camber & Flex Profile
We’re testing the 192cm TST, which may sound like a lot of ski because, usually, 192cm is. However, this 192 might be the lightest, most cooperative 190cm+ ski I’ve ever been on. The TST has a lot of tip rocker that significantly shortens its effective edge on hard snow. This frees up the forebody of the ski, making it easy to work through slower, tight skidded turns.
The TST is built with a good amount of traditional camber underfoot and no tail rocker. On the whole, it feels balanced and predictable on hardpack, yet not demanding. The traditional camber doesn’t feel all that stiff underfoot, it just gives the ski a nice, lively snap through scrubbed turns.
The twinned tail of the TST has a workable, supportive, medium flex that helps maintain a very directional feel.
Armada provides a “Flex Pattern” rating for each of their skis, which is something we’d still like to see every company provide. It’s a relative scale, of course, but it is helpful to see how a particular ski measures up against the rest of a brand’s line.
For example, Armada rates the flex of the TST’s Tip, Waist, and Tail as 6, 7, and 6.5, respectively, which is exactly how Armada rates the flex of their very popular JJ: 6, 7, 6.5. And it’s no stretch to view the TST as a narrower, directional JJ.
Groomers / Hardpack
The TST feels very light on your feet, making it that much easier to swing around quickly on firm groomers or in any soft snow. (Armada employs their lightest core construction with the TST, a low-density wood that has an “unusually high strength to weight ratio.”)
The 192 TST has a listed 18.9 meter sidecut radius, which is fairly short for a ski of its length. In opening things up into longer-radius, high-speed smeared turns, I did feel like I needed to work on holding the shovels on track a bit as the relatively aggressive sidecut tried to pull the light, nimble ski farther across the fall-line than I wanted. Some detuning of the shovels with a gummi stone helped alleviate this, and I found I could confidently take quick, aggressive lines down heavily wind-scoured aspects and big patches of manmade snow. In short, the TST’s feedback and responsiveness on smoother, firm snow is great, and its carving performance is superb.
The TST feels a whole lot like a tighter GS ski as far as its sidecut radius is concerned. The ski is easy to tip on edge and will enter into a nice carve without too much speed. The more speed you carry, the more lively the ski feels and the stronger its edge hold seems to become as the camber is depressed and flexed.
The TST can rail like a race ski, but doesn’t have the heavy, metal weight or harsh stiffness to it. It’s an excellent carving ski that, again, considering its light swing-weight, feels surprisingly sturdy on edge. Furthermore, for as manageable as the TST’s flex felt underfoot (and given that Armada actually says the ski is softest in the shovel), I was somewhat surprised that the rockered shovels chattered and flopped very little while carving and skidding around on groomers, even when the snow surface was less than smooth. I was glad to find this, as it suggested the ski could also do well when things get chopped and bumpy, and you don’t feel like dialing back your speed (more on this in a bit).
All in all, the TST’s performance on firm, even snow is great. If you spend a lot of your time on groomers or, like me, really like to carve or smear things up on the way back to the lift, the TST isn’t likely to disappoint.
Christmas Day brought 9-10” of super light powder to Taos Ski Valley. Eager to get the TST in some softer conditions, I snagged several long runs with lots of untracked turns down Zagava, Porcupine, Powderhorn Bowl, and Moe’s on the backside of the mountain.
By today’s standards, 103mm isn’t all that wide underfoot, so I wasn’t expecting the TST to float and surf like a 120mm, more dedicated pow ski. (It, is, after all, an all-mountain ski with some great hardpack capabilities, and one-ski quivers are full of tradeoffs.)
However, I was still pretty impressed with how well the TST did float and track in fresh snow, and the generous splay in the tip coupled with the deep rocker line (that helpfully reduced its effective edge on groomers) certainly came into play here. I was able to assume a traditional, forward stance on the ski in untracked snow. The snow was so light, the shovels were often submerged, but they still felt supportive, and never felt as if they were about to dive on me. The skis tracked very well, demonstrating no real hookiness in fresh snow, thanks to that aggressively tapered tip shape Armada launched with the JJ a few years ago. This, along with the supportive, non-rockered tail helped stabilize the skis in the boot-deep pow, but they maintained their light feel as I was able to throw the tails out in slashes and bob quick turns rather easily. (The TST wasn’t designed to provide that very loose, surfy feel of the JJ, but it is not difficult at all to break the tails free.)