Ski: 2016-2017 Line Supernatural 108, 186 cm
Available Lengths: 172, 179, 186 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (Straight Tape Pull):
• Production 108s: 184.1 cm
• Prototype 108s: 182.7 cm
Stated Dimensions: 137-108-126 mm
Blister’s Measured Dimensions:
• Prototype 108s: 137-107-125 mm
• Production 108s: within 1 mm of the above dims
Blister’s Measured Weight Per Ski:
• Production 108s: 2335 & 2399 grams
• Prototype 108s: 2493 & 2502 grams
Stated Sidecut Radius: 24.4 meters
Core Construction: Maple/Aspen + Titanal Metal + Fiberglass Laminate
Tip / Tail Splay (production 108s, ski decambered): 58 mm / 25 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot (productions 108’s): 2-3 mm
Boots / Bindings: Nordica Patron Pro & Salomon X-Pro 120 / Marker Jester (DIN at 10)
Test Location: Taos Ski Valley; Alta Ski Area
Days Skied: 8
[Editor’s Note: We’ve updated this review with a lot more specific information regarding the differences between the production Supernatural 108s and the prototype 108s that Jonathan originally tested. It should also be noted that the production 108’s were the 14/15 model, which was not changed for 15/16 or 16/17, apart from the graphics.]
In the summer of 2013, as we were preparing to head to New Zealand for our annual southern hemisphere review trip, LINE contacted us about a new ski they’d been developing, and they were interested in getting our feedback.
The ski didn’t have a name yet, so we just began referring to it as the Mystery Ski. But the mystery ski represents a re-shuffling of the entire LINE Skis lineup: for the 14/15 season, LINE’s “Prophet” series and “Influence” series are no more, but have been combined into the “Supernatural” line, which will include the Supernatural 115, 108, 100, 92, and 92 Lite.
The mystery ski that Will Brown and I have been testing (you might have seen a pic of it yesterday) is the 186cm Supernatural 108 … and it is a very, very good ski.
LINE describes the Supernatural 108 as “the next generation hard charging freeride skis.”
We’ll flesh out this statement below, but what we are already prepared to say is that, in the 105-110mm underfoot class, neither Will Brown nor I can think of anything we’ve skied that feels this playful and substantial, while being this energetic on groomers and hardpack.
The flex pattern is excellent, the dimensions and sidecut feel dialed, the tip rocker profile is great, the tail is great.
We’ve had some of the most fun days of the season pushing these hard in some pretty firm conditions at Taos—down bumps, groomers, steep trees, etc.—and A/B-ing these against the 13/14 187cm Moment Belafonte on repeat laps down Reforma.
The Supernatural 108 feels like a hybrid of two very different skis: the 13/14 Moment Belafonte and the LINE Sir Francis Bacon. And if you’ve read our reviews of those two skis, you know that’s high praise.
A Little Context
I absolutely loved getting back on the 13/14 187cm Moment Belafonte this week, and was reminded all over again how much I like that ski. And just a week ago, I was skiing the 190cm Sir Francis Bacon at Taos, and had a good time on that ski, too. Jason Hutchins’ reviews of the 184 and 190 Bacon are outstanding, and he’s got a lot more days on both the 184 and 190 than me. So I’m going to stick closer to the Supernatural 108 / Belafonte comparisons than the Supernatural 108 / SFB comparisons.
Both the prototype and the production models of the Supernatural 108 have stiff tails that rebound pretty slowly when handflexed. They are slightly but noticeably softer than the 13/14 Belafonte’s, and the Supernatural 108’s shovels are also slightly softer than the Belafonte’s.
In sum, the 13/14 Belafonte is stiffer overall, with tails that are slightly stiffer than its shovels. The Supernatural 108’s tails are noticeably stiffer than its shovels.
On snow, the shovels of the 13/14 Belafonte feel stiffer for sure than the Supernatural 108s. And at flat-out speeds in firm, bumped up conditions (like the runout of Taos’s Reforma) I personally preferred the shovels of the Belafonte here. Will Brown, however, who weighs ~160 lbs (I’m around 180 lbs) felt like he could go just as hard on the Supernatural 108s as he could on the Belafonte, while also working less hard.
But now, Moment has softened up a touch the shovels of the 14/15 Belafonte, and I’ll need to A/B the new Belafonte and the production Supernatural 108 to see now how these two skis compare. My suspicion is that the gap between the two skis in this particular area has shrunk.
I love the flex pattern of the tails on these skis. Not once, at any time, on any run, did I ever feel like the tails were either too stiff or too soft. That’s pretty remarkable, given everything I’ve skied this past week at Taos—very fast carving on groomers; slower, smoother, slithering through massive bumps down Spencer’s; pivoting through sun-baked, untracked snow around Billy Sol and North Face off of Highline Ridge; bashing and slamming through bumps at speed down Reforma, Moe’s, and Al’s Run.
I love the tails of the Belafonte, too, but in big bumps at slow speeds, they can feel a little cumbersome. I really like skiing the Belafontes in bumps when you can open things up and bash (the Belafonte’s not-super-wide tips are excellent for bump bashing, too), it’s just not a ski designed to go slow.
The Supernatural 108s are definitely easier to ski at slower speeds, while—at my weight—providing much of the Belafonte’s stability at speed in firm, bumped up snow.
Carving / Groomers
In some recent statements I’ve made in the comments sections on Blister, I think I have been underselling the Belafonte’s edgehold on groomers. Put a good tune on those skis, and you can fly.
But for carving, the Supernatural 108s are easier to bend and bring around. The Belafonte is a pretty straight ski … and it behaves like one.
In fact, it was so striking how much straighter the Belafonte was compared to the Supernatural 108, we had to break out the digital calipers.
Interlude For Some Measurements + Some Brief Remarks about the Dynastar XXL
(Measurements are taken from the widest point of the shovel, narrowest point of the waist, and widest point of the tails.)
13/14, 187 cm Moment Belafonte: stated dims: 135-106-124 mm // measured dims: 129-105-123 mm
LINE Supernatural 108: stated dims: 137-108-126mm // measured dims (prototypes & production models, within 1mm): 137-107-125 mm
The 13/14 Belafonte is simply a stiffer, straighter ski, and in my book, skis like a better, quicker, Dynastar XXL. I’ve recently put some time on Garrett Altmann’s 2008, unrockered XXLs, and I’d rather ski the 13/14 Belafonte in everything other than maybe pow. For those of you who lament the demise of the XXLs, you might want to demo a Belafonte or find a pair of Moment Garbones.
The prototype Supernatural 108s didn’t feel anything like a XXL; that’s why I’ve called it a cross between a Belafonte and a Sir Francis Bacon. It’s easier, more maneuverable at slow speeds, smoother, more versatile, playful yet substantial.
Back to Carving / Groomers…
On steep ice, the Supernatural 108’s won’t make you feel like you’re on a dedicated carver, but get them on anything softer than ice and you can drive and carve the crap out of these. The performance of the prototype 108s was not subtle, and I’d compare it to the best ~110mm, tip-and-tail-rockered skis I’ve ever skied, namely, the Fischer Big Stix 110, and the Nordica Helldorado. (And as you’ll read below, every single modification made to the production 108s – except for the slight reduction in weight – ought to enhance their performance on groomers.)
But the Supernatural 108 is a more substantial ski than the Big Stix 110, and I prefer its flex pattern to the Patron and Helldorado, both of which have soft tip and tails. The Supernatural has a more progressive / less abrupt flex pattern.
On groomers, the prototype Supernatural skied like it had more camber underfoot than it does. There is a lot of energy out of each turn, and the edgehold is very good for a tail rockered ski. But the production 108s have a couple of additional millimeters of camber underfoot, so once again, I’m looking forward to seeing if there is a noticeable performance difference.
I generally avoid isolating and highlighting specific design elements in my reviews. Marketing and sales people love that sort of thing, I really only care about how all the pieces do or don’t work together. And besides, it’s dangerous or dumb to try to isolate a single element and point to it (alone) for causing this or that. Having said that…