Groomed Snow Carving
On groomed snow, the Watea 106 arcs well, as expected. It felt locked down when carving on the groomed runs off the Vulcano lift, and I enjoyed linking arcs all the way across the hill.
The Watea 106 carved best from a more aggressive, forward stance than the Atomic Ritual.
At medium to high speeds, when I drove my knees forward and created substantial angles, I was able to bend the ski into a variety of turn shapes—from slalom to Super-G radius.
At the top of the turn, the tips hook up easily. Through the middle of the turn, the ski is very stable at high speeds on both freshly groomed snow and on more variable on-piste chop (i.e., afternoon spring mank).
The Watea 106 finishes turns very well for a ski that is 106mm wide, though it doesn’t throw you into the next turn like a more dedicated carver (e.g., the Kastle MX88). On hard, groomed snow, the Watea 106 was damp and stable, but never felt dead or rebound-deficient. Of all the skis we’ve had down in Las Leñas, including the ones I’ve skied (Atomic Ritual, Dynastar Cham 107, the Kastle XX110 and Salomon Rocker 2, 115), the Watea 106 was easily the best carver of the bunch.
Groomed Snow Sliding and Other Turn Shapes
At high speeds on trail, feathering the tail and other mid-turn adjustments on the Watea 106 have to be done deliberately, as the stiff, flat tail does not release or slide as easily as a rockered or turned-up tail would. If I stayed forward and aggressive, I could feather the tails, but if I was in the backseat, the Watea 106 wanted to stay on the original arc. It is possible to skid or slarve the Watea 106 at high speed as long as you are willing to work.
When I approached slow signs and was whistled at by the speed police, I slid some shorter-radius turns, and the Watea 106 was responsive and damp. At lower speeds, the rockered tip allowed me to steer the front of the ski easily at the top of the turn, and the flat tail slid through the turn predictably.
Mank / Corn
When the temperatures warmed up and the groomers began to corn, the Watea 106 ripped through the light mank masterfully. I did not have to adjust my technique from flat, cold groomed snow, and, if anything, the corn allowed me to make those slarvier turns on trail easier than I could when the groomed snow was flat and cold.
When the corn got to its peak and started to develop more into bumps than piles, I had to slow it down to retain the level of control I wanted with the stiff tail. I could steer the tips easily, but the tails did not absorb the bumps whatsoever. In the bumps, this ski requires effort.
As a result of the demanding nature of this ski and its very traditional mounting point, this ski felt like an off-piste GS ski. It wants to be charging at all times, and as soon as you throw in the towel, the ski will punish you. Heavier expert skiers will love this ski, and probably have less trouble than I had when I encountered variable conditions. Intermediate skiers who have tried rockered skis but prefer a more traditional style may enjoy this ski in a shorter length, but there are easier skis with similar design elements, such as the Atomic Access, that might be a better fit.
For all skiers, I would not recommend upsizing to account for rocker, as people often do with skis these days. With the exception of full-on hard-snow carving, the Watea 106 definitely skis like a 190.
For high-speed, aggressive big-mountain skiing in steep chutes, and open aprons in pow, crud, or chalk, the Watea 106 is stable and predictable. The Watea 106 also rails groomers and spring conditions with aplomb. But this ski is not for the faint of heart. If you have a tendency to get lazy or tired, or like a ski that “skis for you,” do not buy this ski.
If, however, you are an advanced or expert skier and want a tool with a precise, traditional feel and a solid backbone, buy this ski now.
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