Ski: 2016-2017 Kitten Factory Chairman, 189 cm
Available Lengths (cm): 189
Actual Length (straight tape pull): 187.9 cm
Stated Weight per Ski: 2000 grams
Blister’s Measured Weight per Ski: 2151 & 2165 grams
Stated Dimensions (mm): 133-112-126
Blister’s Measured Dimensions (mm): 133-112-126
Stated Sidecut Radius: 27.5 meters
Core Construction: Maple/Poplar + Carbon Fiber Laminate & Stringers
Tip & Tail Splay (ski decambered): 59 mm / 35 mm
Traditional Camber Underfoot: 2-3 mm
Factory Recommended Mount Point: -2 cm to -4 cm
“0” Line measures: -4.05 cm from center; 89.9 cm from tail
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 15/16 Chairman, which returns unchanged for 16/17, except for the graphics.]
Background & Confession
In case Kitten Factory still isn’t on your radar, KF is an indie company making carbon fiber skis out of Salt Lake City, Utah. We recently reviewed their dedicated touring ski, The Toors Light, as well as their ‘50/50’ inbounds / out of bounds ski, the All Mountain.
And just in case the cutesy name has you tempted to dismiss these guys as the latest goofball ‘garage’ brand (maybe none of you were tempted to do that, but I confess that I was), we’ve now spent time on enough of their stuff to assure you that these aren’t some dumb bros ‘livin’ the dream’ and making shitty skis.
When I first checked out the Chairman at the last SIA, I thought, We have to review this. Then when we received the ski and I started to examine it out more closely, I thought, This ski makes no sense.
But having skied the KF Chairman now, I can say that the ski makes a ton of sense, and that I’m not sure that there is another ski quite like it on the market.
Ok, but let’s back up.
What Is It?
Here’s what Kitten Factory has to say about the Chairman (I’ve added the highlights):
The Chairman is a stable, directional charger that likes to go fast. This ski will allow you to power through inbounds chunder and inspire confidence on big mountain lines. The toors tail, cruiser weight cores and straight carbon layup make the Chairman a no compromise touring ski or an everyday inbounds ripper.
There are some big claims in there. And to be honest, the note I immediately wrote upon reading that description was, “If this is all true … it will be the first of its kind.”
But there is, actually, one ski we’ve reviewed that is a pretty close parallel, and I’ll say more about that in a minute. But now back to the Chairman…
If you are going to design a “stable, directional charger that likes to go fast,” then the ski better have a pretty big sidecut radius. The Chairman does, with a stated radius of 27.5 meters.
We’re always a bit leery of stated sidecut numbers, but the Chairman certainly passes the eye test: this ski looks pretty straight, and I really like the shape given its intended purpose.
In addition to being pretty straight, stable chargers should generally be pretty stout, too, and the Chairman also ticks that box. Handflexing the ski, here’s how I would describe the flex pattern:
Tip: 8 out of 10
In sum, this is a very solid flex pattern, but the kind of flex pattern you’d want if you actually are looking for a stable charger.
Here’s where things get a bit unusual, and why — given the stated purpose of this ski, plus its sidecut radius, plus it stiff flex pattern — I thought, Wait, this doesn’t make sense.
Kitten Factory sets the “0” line / BSL line for this ski at -4 cm behind true center, which is a radical departure from pretty much every “stable, directional charger” ever made.
Skis in this class typically would have at a minimum a recommended mount of – 8 cm, and most of them are set back even farther, between -10 cm and – 14 cm. (That quintessential charger, the Rossignol RC 112, had a mount point of -14.4 cm).
And while Kitten Factory sets their “0” line at -4, their recommendations for mounting actually run even closer to true center: “-2 cm to -4cm”.
This doesn’t make sense.
Well, unless you aren’t trying to make an old-school version of a stable, directional charger. Or rather, you are making a new-school stable, directional charger.
As evidence of this, watch pretty much any Kitten Factory ski video. The guys designing and building skis there are skiing hard and fast … and at the same time, tricking.
And as I’ve argued before on Blister, mount points of -4 cm or closer don’t make much sense, unless / until you are spinning and flipping. Then those forward mounts make a ton of sense.
Often, hard-charging, trick-throwing skiers have tended to ski on softer, more jib-oriented skis that have more forward mounts. They’ve made the compromise of giving up stability on the ground (when nuking through variable snow) to gain the trick-friendly swing weight and butterability in the air of jibbier skis.
Well, watch this video of the late, great Matt Heffernan on The Chairman, and I think you’ll plainly see why this ski makes sense, and what it was optimized to do. (The cork 7 ender is crazy):
The Chairman is a ski for someone who can drive a traditional charger, but who also wants to ski switch some and jib and trick.
Remember at the top that I mentioned one ski that holds some similarities with The Chairman? Have you figured it out?
It’s the Volkl V-Werks Katana, another (1) carbon ski that is (2) positioned as a stable, directional charger and (3) has a pretty big sidecut radius, while it’s also a ski that (4) has been lightened up from a traditional charger so that it isn’t totally ridiculous to slap a pair of Kingpins on them and go tour.
(Our 184 cm V-Werks Katana weighed in at 1959 & 1975 grams — but it is the 191 cm Katana that will be the more apples-to-apples comparison with the 189 cm Chairman, which will close the weight-difference gap.)
Long and short: if you have liked the idea of the V-Werks Katana, but have been turned off by its super traditional mount point (184 cm Katana = -13.9 cm), then The Chairman might be the ski that you’ve been looking for.
Which is why we’ve just spent time this past week A/B-ing The Chairman and the V-Werks Katana. And we’ll be posting our thoughts on that comparison soon, and also answering some other questions, like:
- How strong / expert of a skier do you have to be to enjoy this ski?
- Does it work well at mellower speeds?
- Does The Chairman make sense if you aren’t tricking the whole mountain?
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