2017-2018 Liberty Origin 96

Pow

West Basin has been skiing incredibly well over the past several weeks. And as we suspected, the Origin96’s deep tip rocker line and significant tip splay meant that this ski planes up just fine in shin-deep pow (and even in knee-deep, dry New Mexico pow).

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Liberty Origin96 for Blister Review
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Liberty Origin96, Taos, NM.

Not only that, but given how stout this ski is underfoot, even when hitting patches of wetter, thicker snow, the Origin96 tracked better in that stuff than a ‘twitchier’ ski would like the Armada TST. I’m not saying that there was zero deflection in deep, heavier snow, but all things considered, I’ve been pleased with how well the Origin96 tracked. And I’ll have to think hard about what sub-100mm-wide skis I’d prefer to be on in deep coastal or continental snow.

Reforma Test / Steep Bumps

This part got interesting. And the punchline is: with the current factory tune coming on the Origin96, I’d recommend that every single skier — unless you will only be carving these on groomers — heavily detune the tips of these skis an inch or two down past the widest point of the shovel.

This is what I wrote in my initial Flash Review:

“Over the last two days, I became more and more willing to push this ski hard. I will say, though, that in steep, bumped-up terrain, I’m not yet totally dialed in to the combination of the ski’s stiffness in front of the toe pieces coupled with the very deep tip rocker line. We’ll see if this becomes more intuitive over time, but there has been a bit of a learning curve.

Normally in steep bumps, I’m doing a series of airplane turns—jump turning on top of a mogul down to the trough below it, then repeating in the other direction. What I like to do is to jump, turn in the air, and consciously think about landing on the shovels of the ski—you don’t want to get thrown into the backseat in steep bumps, since you’ll immediately be out of control.

But I can’t say that these jump turn landings always felt smooth / seamless. It sometimes felt like I’d land a bit forward but still on the very stiff portion of the ski (right in front of the toe pieces), and the ski would barely flex. But sometimes (in firm steeps) if I then got more forward to get past that stiff point of the shovels, I’d be jumping onto the heavily rockered portion of the ski, and I’d find myself wishing that I had a lot less tip rocker so that the tips would just contact the snow sooner.

Of course, if you diminish the amount of tip rocker, then you’d likely be compromising how well this relatively narrow ski planes in pow, which you might not want to do. (And if you never ski steep, bumped-up terrain, then you can just disregard this whole section….)”

I’ll spare you more details on my fiddling with this ski, but the solution ended up being very simple: detuning the tips allowed me to land hard on them in steep, bumped-up terrain, and rather than having the edges dig in, I could more easily butter them a bit. This really transformed how the ski performed in huge, weird bumps off of Kachina, Pollux, etc., and after the fact, I could do exactly what I wanted to do on this ski, with zero hitches at all. And if you were one of the friends I was skiing with on day 4, you would have witnessed how (kind of embarrassingly) euphoric I was on this ski. Powerful, predictable, just loose enough (for my tastes) … magic.

With the tips detuned, these skis allow for a smash and bang style of dealing with steep bumps, but they also easily allow you to dig your edges in and carve hard and clean when you want them to. It’s not tolerant of backseat skiing, but I’m totally fine with that so long as I know the ski I happen to be on will let me get on the shovels. After the detune, I could.

Firm Steeps (Non-Bumped-Up)

Awesome. I’ve had the Origin96 in some very steep, sketchy entrances, and that stiff, stable platform underfoot makes this ski feel like a ‘real’ all-mountain ski that isn’t out of place in steep, techy terrain, even though the ski is heavily tip rockered and has tail rocker.

Trees

The skis were fun here, but I have to say, the Origin96 didn’t feel (initially) quite as loose in the trees as I thought they might given how much tip rocker they have. I definitely think you could continue to detune this ski to loosen it up as much as you want, but at a certain point, you would likely come to compromise the Origin96’s impressive groomer performance. Up to you.

Jonathan Ellsworth reviews the Liberty Origin96 for Blister Review
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Liberty Origin96, Taos, NM.

But if you prize quickness in trees above all else, I don’t think I’d be inclined to recommend the Origin96. Liberty calls the ski both “quick and powerful,” and I wouldn’t argue. But in the 187 cm version at least, I’d say the ski skews a bit more toward the powerful end of the spectrum, so stronger skiers who are comfortable at working at higher speeds in tight trees will be the folks who still like “how quick” this ski is.

Who’s It For?

The Origin96 is a modern shape, and looks like a lot of the “dead easy” skis on the market (Rossignol Sin 7, K2 Pinnacle 95, etc.) But the Origin96 dials things up a bit. I don’t think you have to be a powerful skier to enjoy it—especially if you aren’t spending your time in demanding terrain. But I have a hunch that advanced and expert skiers who really like to push their skis and explore the whole mountain will be the people who will be the most psyched on this ski.

The Origin96 is no noodle. It is stiff enough that I would not be quick to recommend it to low-intermediate skiers, unless you’re sticking to groomers and fairly easy, open terrain.

Bottom Line

Liberty calls the Origin96 “a new all-mountain standard.” That’s a big, ballsy claim for sure, but I can say that I haven’t skied anything that feels terribly similar. Five days in, and it feels like I can make this ski do anything I want it to.

 

NEXT: ROCKER PROFILE PICS

31 thoughts on “2017-2018 Liberty Origin 96

  1. Hi guys, Firstly I would like to thank you for the epic reviews. They are so addictive to read…

    So I am looking at the following skis, mainly based on your reviews and some from my own research: blizzard peacemaker, line supernatural 108s, Salomon q90, liberty96, Armanda tst, faction candide 2.0/3.0… Also maybe something like mantra or enforcer…

    I am very aggressive freeride skier, who is a racer by trade, who does a bit of ski instructing, however all my mates are big free riders, so would want something that can ride in switch when I want to hit 540s and that can really charge all over mountain.

    Anyway I currently have a pair of fis head sls and the Magic jjs.

    However as I am not skiing as much as I did before I want to carry only 2 pairs of skis, so if I am going to Japan I will bring magics, but right now I ski 99 percent of the time in Europe so the magic js are in retirement, I will be mainly skiing moguls and hitting cliffs, however as having a racing background I like something that can rip on hard groomers at high speeds, anyway sorry for the long message, so I would say I am looking for 1ski quiver, But when it’s sheets of ice I will bring out my sl heads, however if I am being honest it is an effort changing skis when you are on boys hard charging holiday… I am 5:11 and 155pounds if that helps. I am would say i am very aggressive skier and my boots are salomon xmax 130s…my bro has blizzard gunsmokes and salomon rocker2 108’s , love these skis, but just want something a bit more stable at high speeds and that can hold edge on groomers as well, but i am pretty stoked by the playfulness of both… would appreciate any views on which skis you would go for of the both or maybe something else.
    thanks fellas

  2. Sign me up. There is no doubt Liberty will be my next ski. I’m a big ON3P ski guy but there current line leaves me for dead. Hello LIberty.

    P.S. Enclosed is my subscription money for the monthly printed edition of Blister. Should you ever start with the Heli-shot B.S. photo’s please refund the remaining balance. Thanks again for keeping it real!

  3. Hi,

    I was wondering whether you have experience with the liberty sequence aswell, being a similar shape and core, and which one you think, between this ski and the sequence, which one would be more suitable for australian condition?

    Thanks

    • It’s like the Sequence with teeth. Way stiffer underfoot. More stable at speed. It’s still quick, playful and fun.

      I’ve skied both this season.

  4. Hi Jonathan, Thanks for the review. The ski sounds pretty exciting and I’m keen to hear a follow up on this with more time on the ski. Can you comment any further on detuning the edges helping with the steep bumps? It sounded like the issue was in landing on the stiff or softer part of the shovel required a different response to the ski flexing (or not) so I couldn’t quite work out how detuning the edges fixed the problem.

  5. I am hesitating between Whitedot Ranger 98, Black Crows Camox and this ski. Liberty Origin seems more powder orientated, tip rocker is substantial. Since I need a truly universal ski (if such thing exists at all, of course), should I opt for other two?

    BTW, i read great things about STOCKLI Stormrider 95 in the same category, will you review it in the near future?

  6. I skied the 182cm version last weekend and I was blown away. The demo ski had a 0.5 deg base bevel tune. I was on hardpack and boiler plate. This ski gripped the ice quickly and held on like a pit bull. Close to the best grip I have ever experienced on a ski. Tenacious hits the nail on the head. Most interesting ski I have ever been on. My son now owns a pair now and can’t wait to try the 186cm length for me. Can’t wait to try the ski in some soft snow.

    • Hi Scott,

      I am curious if you have any more feedback to offer re: the size you picked for these skis. I am 5’11”, 190lbs, fairly strong legs (also a cyclist), and am hoping this is the one-ski quiver for just about anything in-bounds in Colorado. I have two days on the 182’s in windblown/choppy spring powder at Loveland, and the did well all over the mountain, but they felt a little unstable when I was trying to lay down fast turns over tracked-out choppy powder, now I’m considering sizing up to the 187’s, but I don’t want to lose the playfulness in powdery trees or varied steep bumps. Next year I will be mostly at Copper, Winter Park, and Eldora.

      Thanks!

  7. Hi guys,
    Just have a sizing question between the 182 and the 187. I was looking at this ski to use between storms for the rest of the season in Utah and then as an everyday ski for the east coast, where I’m going to be for the next few years. I’m 5’11, 150 and a pretty aggressive skier. I have 184 moment deathwishes that I love, and 182 salomon rocker 2s that I’m not a big fan of. I like the idea of longer skis for going fast, but I don’t know how the 187 will work as an east coast ski, especially in the trees.
    Thanks a lot

    • Hi, Will – fairly tough question. My immediate reaction is to recommend the 182 – primarily when considering it as an everyday, EC tree ski. The caveat is that I’ve only skied the 187, but if the 182 has the same backbone as the 187, then I think you would find the 182 to be in-line with your 184 Deathwish. The 187 Origin96 is definitely ‘more’ ski than a 184 Deathwish. So pick your poison: you might really like the 187 Origin96 in more open spaces in UT (though there is a chance you might get by just fine with the 182 in UT). But I am a little hesitant to recommend the 187 for back east. It works beautifully when you’re able to ski fast, but at slower speeds in tight trees, I doubt you’d be saying that you need more ski than the 182, and again, the 187 will feel like more ski than your 184 Deathwish. (I’m not sure which Rocker2’s you have, but if its the Rocker2 108 in a 182, that is a good bit less ski than a 187 Origin96, and I suspect the 182 Origin96 too. Let me know if I can clarify any of this.

      • Thanks for the great review! It helped me pull the trigger on a springtime sale pair of 182’s, but I find I’m having almost the opposite question to Will. I am 5’11”, 190lbs, fairly strong legs (also a cyclist), and am hoping this is the one-ski quiver for just about anything in-bounds in Colorado. I have two days on the 182’s in windblown/choppy spring powder at Loveland, and the did well all over the mountain, but they felt a little unstable when I was trying to lay down fast turns over tracked-out choppy powder, now I’m considering sizing up to the 187’s, but I don’t want to lose the playfulness in powdery trees or varied steep bumps. Next year I will be mostly at Copper, Winter Park, and Eldora.

        Thanks again!

        -Killian

  8. Having skied the 182cm Origin two days now, I can report it has a lot of back bone. Even at my size it felt excellent to me, except at high speeds. I am 6’4″, 245lbs. It felt like I didn’t have skis on my feet due to the light weight and tip rocker. Easiest turning ski I have been on. On a double black, when rolled on edge, the grip was fantastic. It was like cheating, the double black skied like a green to me. I have a pair on order now. I went with the 187 cm length which should feel better at speed. I may loose a little quickness, but that would be a worthwhile trade off to me.

  9. I have been telemarking on the Liberty Origin 96 for 2 months now. I was looking for a resort ski that could do it all. For back country I ski a pair of bd’s. The first 3 days (over 2 weeks) were soft snow 6-8″, wow, they really rocked through the trees. Tight lines felt open, tracked snow was smooth. Finally got some hard snow (curious how they would hold an edge). Pleasant surprise, they are soft snow skis that handle hard pack with ease. Even ran some gates with them. Now have 15 days on them. BTW, have received more comp!iments on graphics than any other ski I have owned.

  10. I’m 6′ 140lb naked, ski Snowbasin Utah, and looking at pairing the 182 orgin 96 with my 188 Rossignol Soul 7 as a 2 ski quiver. The orgin96 would be my hard pack/no fresh snow ski and the soul currently is my powder day ski. Woud these work well together or is tere to much overlap?

  11. Hey let’s hear about the 116! It’s been mentioned several times on blister even as a reference to compare other skis to. I’m sure there’s others who would love to hear your take on it, cheers

  12. I got my 182 Origin 96 in October, and had app. 20 days on it since then in very different conditions (glacier, groomers of all kind, trees, pow, chop).

    It is indeed a fantastic mid size directional ski. It is very stiff, and loves to go fast, which is impressive for a fairly light ski. Where it really, really shines is 4-5″ of tracked snow on top of a hard base. Would it qualify as roughed up groomers or chop, I wonder? Anyhow, you can carve your way right through it when on edge, and ride very fast on top of it when not. It is good on groomers too, great for GS turns, but also capable in shorter ones. It is a quick and maneuverable ski. I even had good time on it on the glacier in October, i.e. ice and artificial snow.

    I was on it today after heavy snowfall, in about 20-25″ of new, heavy and somewhat wet snow, and I felt it was a little too much for the ski, I have to say. I had to ride very much completely on its tails to keep tips afloat. But the conditions were really, really heavy and difficult (not to mention -20C), where I thought Origin 96 was a bit overwhelmed. I am sure 10-15″ of dry powder would be great conditions for the ski. I need some more time on it in deep snow, but I suspect that one could find more playfull under 100mm ski then this one (ON3P Wrenegade maybe?).

    Those are my impressions for now.

  13. I’m seriously considering these Origin 96s since a buddy of mine will sell me his 182’s and only has 9 days on them.

    My question, is if I’m 5’11”, 225 lbs, will these hold up under my weight? I’m a strong intermermediate, don’t ski super fast. 60/40 on/off piste. Ski Tahoe exclusively. Thanks in advance for the input.

    • You should definitely read the comments from other readers, Thomas. I’m 5’10”, 175-180 lbs, and I’ve found zero reason to drop down to the 182s. Then again, if you look at Scott’s comments from 3.24.16, he’s a bigger guy who enjoyed the 182s … but he ended up ordering a pair of 187s. If you really don’t need a big top end, you might be okay with the 182s. But I suspect that the 187s might be the better fit for you … and I always think it’s a bad decision to pick the wrong length of a ski just to save some bucks. So I would think hard about which is going to be the best size for you, and then I’d get that size.

      • Thanks for the feedback Jonathan. I did read both those comments and for me I definitely value quickness over top end. I’ll be 43 next year and probably won’t be dialing things up much, if at all. Also with any luck I’ll be closer to 205 than 225 by next year so I suspect that the 182s should be fine for me. Worst case I could sell them for what I paid and get something else, but $300 for some pristine 182s with Tyrolia Attack 16s is probably too good a deal to pass up.

        Last weekend I skiid some Bonafide 180s and felt like the length was fine but they were too heavy and rigid for my taste so really looking forward to the Origin 96 in 182. Will post my thoughts when I get a chance to ride them. Thanks again, your website is like crack and I can’t get enough of it. I’ll be getting the paid subscription!

      • OK so having 5 days on the 182’s last year (at about 220 lbs) I definitely made the right decision for me. I never felt the skis were too short for me. Plenty stiff/stable but still agile and playful. It’s really impressive what they’ve done with this ski. Now I’m down to 205 and I think I’m going to love them even more this year!

  14. I have skied the 182 and I own a pair of 187 that I’ve skied all season I like the 187s but they give up a little quickness and short turn ability I would say the 182s are fine for anyone slightly over 200 pounds. The skis are stiff in the middle and can handle someone with some weight. Friend of mine is 511 – 220 and he loves the 182

  15. Hi all,
    I bought a pair of the 171cm O96’s this last fall and I’m 5’8″ 185lbs and these things rocked to a certain point. I’m a hard charger who loves to rip and live in the PNW, Eugene,OR. This is my first year skiing, I switched from snowboarding to skiing this year and have picked it up pretty fast. My hockey past has definitely helped.
    Here’s what I’ve learned this last season with the O96’s.
    1. These skis love to go fast. I mean like super fast. I’ve never reached the speeds I did on a snowboard. You can pretty much put them on edge and rip. Reaching speeds as fast as your ability takes you. I was able to reach 50 mph with my current skill level. I’m sure someone with more experience could double that. The ski just gives you the confidence to push as hard as you can. Short, Med to long turns are possible.
    2. Again based on my level (advanced intermediate) these skis rock on 6″ or less of fresh pow. Wet or dry you’ll love these things. I felt like I could just glide in those conditions and enjoy the day.
    3. Tree skiing can be done and fun but they are not a surfy playful quick turn ski. You will have to calculative and plan ahead. A lot of the better skiers in our area recommend a reverse camber or full rocker ski.
    4. My biggest struggle with these skis was definitely steep bumpy tracked out runs. I could not get these damn things to turn when I wanted and feel smooth on the bumps. I’m sure with more practice and skill I could get better but I’m not sure if I want to put that work into them. I leaning towards a fatter ski that can ride over the bumps…i.e. Volkl 100eight or Blizzard Rustler 11.
    All in all I freakin love these skis. I would recommend to anyone who wants a ski that can charge on piste and carve like a Kastlw ski for an affordable price but can also handle 6″ of POW with no problem. And if your free rider your golden.

  16. I have found the O96 to be very tune sensitive. Detuning (dulling) the tips and trails is very important. I have gone farther than Jonathan and dulled back to the contact point on both ends. This really helps the ski in rough terrain and moguls. As Jonathan said, you can pivot them or roll them on edge and carve them. These are the only pair of skis I detune in my quiver.

  17. Thinking of setting up a pair of these with some Vipecs as a touring ski. Anyone have experience touring on these? Tired of the heavy setup I’ve been using (2014 Zealots with Freeride Pros) and since I turned 50 last year I just have to accept that I cannot skis balls to the wall on the down anymore after a 4 hr uphill. I know these are a tad skinny for the pow, but I need light and fun without a huge expense. Mainly be using these in the Wasatch up BCC & LCC.

  18. I have some more info to report on the Origin 96’s. I own the 187, my son owns the 182, and a friend owns the 177 length. After skiing all three on the same day, and demoing the 182 length, I have found the factory “standard” line for mounting the bindings to be off on the 187 and 177 length. It needs to move back towards the tail 3-4 cm. I have measured all three lengths and found the CORS (center of running surface) on the 182 length is about 4 cm in front of the standard line printed on the ski. On the 187 and 177 lengths, the CORS is less than 1 cm in front of the standard line. My son’s 27.5 boot has a boot midsole mark mounted on the std line, which puts his BOF (ball of foot) about 2 cm in front of the CORS line. With my 187 ski and 29.5 boot, my BOF is 6 cm in front of the CORS line.

    I bought adjustable bindings and mounted them and moved the bindings back 4 cm and the ski carves great on hardpack, and feels perfectly balanced now. If you pivot out the tail, the ski is stable. On hardpack, before moving the bindings, I felt the grip was weak and the ski was unstable when pivoting it. I interpreted the unstable as it didn’t like to pivot.

    My friend skied his new 177 mounted on the std line and my son’s 182 back to back and said there was a night and day difference in carving. He said it felt like the 177 wanted to slide out from under him if he put a lot of pressure on his edges. That describes my 187 as well.

    In soft snow, I was very happy with the ski, as I attribute that to turning was controlled by the ski’s shape, which works well. If you own the 187 or 177 cm lengths, consider moving your bindings back if you want better hard snow grip and a more balanced feel of the ski. The factory graphics are off, or the rocker is different on the 182 versus the other lengths. The factory mounting line seems to work well on the 182 length.

  19. Really torn on this. Have a lot of experience skiing on the Nordica Enforcer 100 and love it, but have also been eyeing this ski (but have never ridden it). From your review it sounds like it will be better on the groomers than the Enforcer, but will it be as nimble as the Enforcer in the trees? The one thing that I love about the Enforcer is how smooth it was on groomers but was still very nimble in the trees given its weight. Also if I ride a 185 Enforcer should I look at the 182 origin?

  20. becoming a fascinating category of ski…

    i am looking at the master blaster, origin 96, tracer 98, M5, rustler 9, enforcer 100, qst 99, and probably others by the time i pull the trigger( renoun ?). so many great skis, so few days off…

    reading the de-tuning comments about the origin96, i wonder if de-tuning or adding base bevel tip and tail would be preferable.
    i do not know what the factory specs or suggestions are.

    as always, thanks to blister staff and readers for great information.

  21. Love the site you guys rock! Been on the moment pb and j for 2 or 3 years now. absolutely love them. Live on the east coast probably get about 25-30 days a year and a trip or two out west. It’s almost time for a new pair and I found the 187 origin for a really good price.. How do they compare to the pb and j? I really like the pbandj and how hard you can push them. I have the 188 and honestly they don’t seem to have a speed limit (at least for my ability). The only time the pb and j is meh out here is those rock solid days because it doesn’t really have the tail to lock down turns but those days are not too fun anyways so I am fine with that. Reading the review these sound similar to a pb and j just a tad narrower so if anyone has some input that would be great. Thanks!

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