Variable / Crud
I traversed along Ballroom and dropped in to one of the gullies in the Baldy Shoulder area. Conditions consisted of 2–3-day-old tracked powder that had rotted and dried out a bit (so I wasn’t actually sinking all that much in the snow), but there weren’t any real bumps or troughs to dictate my route.
As I took some fairly aggressive lines directly down the fall line, I was glad to have the RPC’s lighter swing weight and sidecut available to me. I was able to pivot and swing the girth of the skis in back and forth to control my speed, kicking out the tails easily when I wanted. In the shallower runout of the Shoulder, things were a little more bumped up, but I decided to maintain my speed and cut hard turns across and through the variable snow.
In these fairly firm, demanding, variable conditions, the RPC felt more like a true directional, tapered powder ski than it had on smooth groomers. In other words, it now felt a little out of its element.
When dealing with inconsistent edge contact in the semi-soft conditions, if I wasn’t expecting it—and if I wasn’t in a strong, stable, position—one of the ski’s shovels was likely to catch and get kicked uphill. And if I got thrown into the backseat at all, this felt more dramatic, and the RPC’s stiff tail did very little to counteract any pulling or hooking from the shovel.
Interestingly, in these conditions, under moderate speeds, the RP’s flex felt noticeably more forgiving. I didn’t feel like I was able to carry more speed on the RP, but I wasn’t liable to be punished as much for a weak or sloppy move.
However, if I was able to see and anticipate weird, tricky undulations in the snow that I was about to skid over/through, I could easily adjust my stance and/or unweight the skis in order to avoid any catching/instability from the ski. While the RPC remained very maneuverable, it really felt like my legs were tasked with shock absorption and dampening through these hard-edged, skidded turns (the RPC’s rigidity and light feel wasn’t helping me in that respect). Not surprisingly, the softer the snow and chop, the less of a bother this becomes on the RPC.
RPC vs. Moment Governor
The 186cm Moment Governor, which I skied back-to-back with the RPC in these conditions, has a comparable turn radius and camber profile, but the Governor is heavier and actually has a softer flex to it.
The Governor did better at busting through the funky snow, providing a more predictable feel that let me carry more speed more confidently than the RPC. If I wasn’t ready to compensate for some bump or ridge, but still plowed into it, the ski helped to bust through and absorb it (rather than kicking me off balance).
After making several runs of these aggressive, medium-sized turns on the RPC, I decided to see how the skis felt running faster down the fall line, thinking that less lateral moves and less edge pressure would alleviate the rigid, harsh feel in the variable conditions.
Abandoning those harder-edged turns and letting the skis run more or less bases flat through the runout of the Baldy Area, the RPCs did much better and felt more similar to the Governor (though the latter still has a heavier, slightly more stable feel when straightlining).
Now, obviously the Governor isn’t at all the same ski as the RPC on harpdack and groomers. There, where the RPC feels powerful and precise, the Governor feels much more sluggish and “freight train” like, so you’d have to decide what performance balance you’re looking for: the hardpack precision of the RPC that will force you in variable snow to stay light on our feet and ready to make a quick move; or settle for the heavier, slower feel of the Governor on groomers, and gain some easy stability and speed in crud.
Wailer RPC vs. Wailer 112RP
The splay in the RPC’s tip rocker is less dramatic than the 112RP, so the RPC’s shovels didn’t exhibit nearly as much chattering as the RP’s when moving down the fall line in this same variable snow.
The RPC is definitely a more stable ski than the 112RP at speed, but the RP is more forgiving and feels damper at slower speeds—again, especially when you’re dealing with lots of varying edge contact.
This also means that the RP is a far more manageable ski in moguls. Really, unless you’re skiing very spacious bumps (with the kind of space in which a 192cm ski could swing around easily), I don’t think you’ll want to be exploring any on the RPC. The lower splay in the shovel makes the ski feel very long through any ordinary, narrower trough. No matter how light and maneuverable the RPC is, when you don’t have sufficient room to move the material length of the ski around, it becomes a hassle. Plus, if you do get caught in a tight trough, the RPC’s stiff tails won’t give much at all.
Bottom Line (for now)
The DPS Wailer 112RPC is an impressive, specific ski. It’s remarkably responsive and precise on groomers and any conditions where (a) the snow surface is relatively smooth and consistent or (b) when conditions are not consistent, you’re able to react and work the ski on the snow in order to smooth out the ride.
The RPC rewards deliberate, aggressive skiing with immediate precision and feedback, but, as a trade off, isn’t going to help correct clumsy moves or crush crud and variable snow—you’ll be the one absorbing and taking the hits, not the ski.
While I consider myself a strong skier, I’m not the heaviest 6’2” dude out there. If you’re bigger than me, and have put some time on the RPC in variable conditions, let us know how your experience with its dampening qualities compares.
Jonathan Ellsworth has also been getting time on the RPC, and he’ll post his thoughts in a bit.
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