Good, Soft Groomers
One downside to skis that are flat underfoot is that they often don’t produce much energy when transitioning from one carved turn to the next, since there’s no camber to load up and release under your feet as you exit a turn. My 106 isn’t an exception in this respect, though in a few ways the skis are noticeably more energetic and entertaining on groomers than either the Director or the Cochise.
On soft, buttery groomers, the 106 takes some speed before I feel its sidecut really engage, but on a soft groomer that allows the edges to bite well, the ski can be arced back and forth across the slope pretty quickly with a little bit of speed. I can feel the tips and tails of the 106 bend as I drive it through a carve on good snow, so the ski certainly doesn’t feel planky or lumbering.
Though the 106 is not quite as snappy when carving turns as the Liberty Helix, it’s similar in terms of how reactive it feels. The Helix also has a longer 25.5 meter sidecut radius and a “medium” flex that makes that straighter shape more accessible. In terms of edge hold, the Helix is more locked in (given that it has some traditional camber and no tail rocker) but I’m still able to make big, round carves quite aggressively on the 106 on nice corduroy.
And when I’m not making full, round carves and just want to haul down a groomer, the skis’ less aggressive sidecut feels comfortable at high speeds—not too eager hook or bite. I have noticed my 106s can feel a little skittish when running bases flat, and are more settled when put on edge at speed. But I’ve experienced that on other skis with flat-underfoot profiles, too.
Both the Helix and 106 are rather light for their width (about 2,000 grams per ski), but the 106 is even more maneuverable and more fun a low-speeds. The flex of its tips and tails seem almost like a “medium” flex like the Helix’s, but they’re a little bit softer, while not being too noodly. So yes, I’d say their flex is “medium/soft,” just as Caleb and I had agreed upon.
The 106 light swing weight and flat profile make drifting the ski from edge to edge very easy and smooth, while the bendable, snappy tips and tails provide some pop out of one skidding turn to the next. For the same reasons, moving from a legitimate carve right into a skidded turn doesn’t take much input and feels seamless on the 106 – exactly the feel / characteristic I was looking for with this ski. On a nice groomer, it will will hook up and track through a carve as willingly as it will drift out into a playful smear.
As I’ve mentioned above, when running bases flat or at low edge angles, the 106 will pivot back and forth easily. In fact, compared to skis of a similar width (the Liberty Helix included) the 106 is the quickest and easiest to ski in bumps that I’ve been on. (I haven’t skied the Rossignol Soul 7 in bumps, and it has more sidecut that may make it even easier to weave through moguls than the 106, but I bet the two skis are quite comparable.)
The 106 feels light and maneuverable; its softer tips and tails make it rather forgiving; its sidecut shape doesn’t feel too hooky or awkward; and the rocker profile makes it easy for me to control speed and keep things smooth. No, my 106s aren’t as quick as a light ski less than 100mm underfoot, but I’m very happy skiing them in slushy spring bumps or firm, mid-season ones, on any day.
Awesomely Smooth Wind Buff
The week following a huge February storm cycle that dropped 73” of pretty wet snow on Taos Ski Valley, we got hit with some ripping overnight winds that buffed many of the steeps on the mountain to an awesome creamy smoothness. Castor (off of Lift 2) was magical – blown nearly flat with 2” of dense, cream-cheese-like, chalky snow.
Pretty much any ski wider than 90mm underfoot would have done well in those conditions, but the 106’s were fantastic. The predictable, on-demand smearable feel allowed by the rocker profile, paired with the stability of the 23m radius in longer turns, felt dialed. Fast slash turns to check speed: quick and easy. Long, McConkey style surf turns into fall-line carves: no problem.
I’ve yet to ski my 106s in deeper (more than 2-3”) of fresh powder. They may not float as well as the more heavily rockered Whitedot Director, but given what I learned so far, I think they’ll still do well for their width—certainly as well as the Liberty Helix, but likely with a more lively, playful feel.
3-4” of Soft, Choppy Snow
Below Castor, on all the runs leading back to Lift 2, was more ordinary soft, shallower chop, and here I definitely noticed the 106’s rather light weight. I didn’t really feel as though the skis’ flex was limiting how hard I could push them through the choppy snow, but they did get kicked around fairly easily if I tried to blow through heavier piles. This meant I needed to stay a little lighter on my feet and ski with a more dynamic style, working around and over those heavier piles of snow.
All in all, so far I’ve been quite happy with how the 106 handles soft chop, especially considering how easy and fun the ski is in smooth conditions, in the steeps, or on a decent groomer. And how light it is in the air…