After briefly skiing the 185 cm Foundation Wailer 106 last winter and then having spent most of the past winter skiing the Alchemist version of the Lotus 124, I’ve been quite curious about the Alchemist Wailer 106. While the Foundation Wailer 106 provided very easy turn initiation and excellent carving on groomers, the 185 cm version felt quite short to me, and I was curious what a longer version of the 106 shape would feel like with the energetic and relatively damp feel of the Alchemist construction (at least for its weight).
I started getting time on the Alchemist Wailer 106 early this winter and it has been one of my go-to skis at Alyeska this season.
In our 17/18 Buyer’s Guide, Jonathan Ellsworth said about the Foundation Wailer 106: “On piste is where the ski got the biggest ‘WOW’ out of me.” And I would agree that the 189 cm Alchemist version shares the trait of excellent groomer performance. On everything from cold, chalky corduroy to sun-softened late day groomers, the Alchemist 106 is a really fun ride. Turn initiation is easy and intuitive and, despite the ski’s stiff flex, it’s not difficult to bend early into the top of a turn, even on relatively low angle slopes.
DPS claims that the Wailer 106 is designed to bend around your ski boot, and we were skeptical about this given just how stiff it is. But at ~190 lbs, I don’t have much trouble bending the Wailer A106 into a variety of turn shapes. It definitely requires a bit more power to initiate than other skis I’ve used recently in this category, like the 16/17 Salomon QST 106 or the Black Diamond Boundary Pro 107, but the Wailer A106 is an able and intuitive carver.
My favorite sensation of the Wailer A106 is the energy generated between turns. I routinely found myself airborne during turn transitions on the Wailer A106, which is always a fun sensation when carving hard on groomers. Overall, they are probably the best groomer ski I’ve used of this waist width in recent memory.
It’s worth noting that the mount point of the 191 cm Alchemist Wailer 106 does feel fairly traditional compared to many of the skis I’ve been on recently, including the QST 106 and BD Boundary Pro 107. As a result, the Wailer A106 seems to prefer a little more pressure into the shovel when trying to force it into shorter turns as compared to more forward mounted skis that pivot and initiate a little easier from a more neutral stance.
I started most of my inbounds pow days this year on fatter skis, but there have been a few sleeper pow days where I found myself riding untracked laps on the Wailer A106. In comparison to other skis of this width (particularly the QST 106 which is an excellent pow ski for its width), the Wailer A106 is not a particularly great powder ski. The stiff flex does the Alchemist no favors for tip flotation, and the tips are easily driven under the snow where they seem happiest to find the base and start carving. The Wailer A106’s mount point also encourages a more directional, carving style of powder skiing compared to more forward mounted and / or softer skis that are more prone to float and slarve.
The relatively light weight and low perceived swing weight of the Wailer A106 does make up for some of the stiffness and directional feel, and allows for easier pivots and drifts than a heavier ski of the same shape and mount might feel.
Cold / Soft Chop
When the powder starts to get chopped up, the Alchemist Wailer 106 starts to feel like a better tool for the job compared to skiing it in untracked powder. The stiff flex that was a liability for flotation becomes an asset when arcing big fast turns through cut up snow. It doesn’t provide the stability of the fatter inbounds pow skis I’ve been using lately, but the Wailer A106 holds its own in these conditions, especially in more open terrain where riding the sidecut radius is possible.
When terrain gets tighter, the light swing weight and overall light feel of the Wailer A106 is again appreciated for quick skids and hop turns.
Crud and Warm Chop
Warm, dense choppy snow and crud are the conditions where DPS carbon skis of the past (and the majority of all light, stiff skis) have proven to be most out of their element. We’ve written extensively at Blister about the advantages of heavier skis in certain conditions, and in my opinion, chopped-up maritime snow and crud are the environments in which this is most true.
Based on almost two full seasons of regular use of the Alchemist Lotus 124, I was hopeful that the Alchemist construction that dramatically improved the inbounds ride of DPS’ ~120mm class pow skis would translate well to the skinnier shape of the Wailer A106.
To an extent, the Alchemist Wailer 106 is what I was hoping it was going to be. It’s definitely not as “pingy” as DPS’s Pure and Pure3 constructions of the past, and it tracks relatively well through crud and shallow chop. Even in deep, hot, cut-up chop, it can knife a pretty stable arc when tipped over on edge.
Where the Alchemist 106 really starts to show it’s weakness is when the terrain (or skier preference) dictates skidded turns and generally rallying around at high speeds, where the ability to throw the skis sideways in rough snow is paramount. In those conditions, the Alchemist Wailer 106 is no match for heavier, damper skis like the Blizzard Cochise or even the Enforcer 110.
That said, DPS has made remarkable strides with the Alchemist construction, and the 189 cm Alchemist Wailer 106 holds a hard carve in crud better than similarly-weighted skis I’ve been on. The more rearward feeling mount point makes the Alchemist Wailer 106 feel a little less playful and able to pivot but, as mentioned above, its low swing weight partially makes up for it.
The DPS Alchemist Wailer 106 is a pretty unique ski. I haven’t been on another ski of this width that is as fun on groomers, and it definitely rewards a more traditional, forward stance and a carved turn. For those who enjoy a carved turn whenever possible, it handles crud and chop as well or better than any ski in its weight class, and it has a very low swing weight that makes it feel quick and lively in tight spots. The Alchemist construction is a great step forward for DPS, and is well executed in the Wailer 106.
Deep Dive Comparisons: DPS Alchemist Wailer 106
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Wailer A 106 to see how it stacks up against the Salomon QST 106, Volkl 100Eight, DPS Foundation Wailer 106, Head Kore 105, and more…
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