Dimensions (mm): 130-104-122
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull): 179 cm
Sidecut Radius: 23.3 meters
Weight per Ski: 2,020 grams
Boots / Bindings: Black Diamond Shiva / Salomon Z12 (DIN at 8)
Mount Location: Recommended Line
Days Skied: 7
Test Location: Alta Ski Area
The Stella is the widest women’s ski in Salomon’s new Quest line for the 2013-2014 season.
The Quest series was designed to provide a more versatile, all-mountain alternative to the more playful and powder-oriented Rocker2 series. Quest skis are directional, big-mountain skis that are capable both inbounds and out.
Salomon will be offering several new Quest models on the men’s side, and in addition to the Stella, the 96mm-wide Lumen (review coming soon), and Lux (88mm underfoot).
All of the Quest skis have what Salomon calls, “Utility Rocker”—full tip rocker, camber underfoot, five-point sidecut, and a flat tail. This design (also found in the Salomon Rocker2 115) still caters to a big-mountain audience, but is meant to shine as conditions firm up.
My first day at Alta was sunny and beautiful, though the mountain hadn’t seen new snow in several days and conditions were firm. I took several runs in the morning on the Volkl Kiku, a fully rockered ski that comes in at 106 underfoot. Even though the edges were sharp, I kept sliding out on icier sections, and the skis felt pretty squirrely when I opened it up down the Collins Face.
I was thankful to swap the skis out for the Stella mid-morning, and my first run blew me away.
Laying the ski over into a deep carve was effortless, and I spent the rest of the day ripping down Collins and Extrovert at top speed. The Stella wanted to be pointed down the fall line, and its impressive edge hold on ice allowed me to hold nothing back.
Compared to other big-mountain skis that perform well on groomers—the Nordica La Niña, Blizzard Dakota, and Moment Bella—the Stella felt the most similar to a GS ski. But it was not nearly as demanding as a race ski, just very stable and poppy through the turn.
When carving big, fast arcs or making shorter, slarvy turns, the increased effective edge on the tail was noticeable. I was never concerned about the back of my skis washing out, and their grip was confidence inspiring in sections where I had lost the rockered tails of the Kiku. While the Stella’s longer sidecut radius (23.3m) and length (179cm) enabled me to execute longer, faster turns with ease, quicker, tight turns were also no problem.
Even though my years of racing instilled a deep appreciation for corduroy, there are only so many days to be spent solely on groomers, no matter how fun the skis are. The next several days saw no new precipitation and several melt-freeze cycles, leaving the off-piste zones bumpy and hard.
I cautiously made my way out to Alta’s Ballroom area and was expecting to get rocked through the unavoidable chunder. I pointed the skis directly down the fall line, and though the wind-scoured snow was demanding, the Stella cut right through the firm crud. I easily transitioned from quick, aggressive turns to sweeping arcs all the way down to the cat track, picking up enough speed at the bottom that would usually make me nervous on such variable snow. The skis had a nice dampening quality that smoothed out the bumpy ride at higher speeds.
The Stella is no noodle, but I was still surprised by how well the ski handled these conditions, for a couple of reasons: the tips have a honeycomb construction, which lightens up the front of the ski, and there is significant rocker in the tip, giving the ski a considerably shorter effective edge relative to the flat tail. Occasionally this resulted in feeling like I had less ski in front of me than I’m used to and the ski felt slightly unbalanced (which I will touch on later), but in hardpacked, low bumps, the Stella skied great and I experienced little to no chatter.
Fresh on Firm
By midweek, my prayers were finally answered, and the snow began to fall—and it continued to fall. After receiving a report of five new inches, I hustled out to Thirds for the first lap of the day.
Although the new snow was blower, and there were definitely pockets with up to a foot, the crust was still close to the surface. It was hard to contain my excitement, but I found myself having to hold back a little bit—I would make three perfect powder turns and then ram into a buried ice mogul. In some areas I would also punch through the crust layer. The conditions demanded that I be able to make quick adjustments in speed and direction, and I found the Stella to be really manageable.
Despite the snow’s inconsistency in places, I still had a blast on the Stella, where a lighter ski (Volkl Kiku, Line Pandora) might have tossed me around a little more. The ski powered through the shallower chop well, even at higher speeds, but I was also able to throw them sideways with little effort. And given the long, flat tails, recovery from the backseat wasn’t an issue.