Two seasons ago, Blister reviewers Cy Whitling, Paul Forward, and I all spent some time on the new Alchemist Wailer 112 (aka, Wailer A 112) at Mt Bachelor. And then this past season, Luke Koppa, Sam Shaheen, and I also got on the ski at Telluride and A-Basin. While we talked about the Wailer A 112 in our 17/18 Winter Buyer’s Guide, now it’s time to go more in-depth on the newest iteration of DPS’ iconic powder shape.
Here’s what we said about the Alchemist Wailer 112 in our 17/18 Winter Buyer’s Guide:
“With a mount point of -14.0 cm, the Wailer 112 is one of the most directional skis in our entire Guide. And despite some misperceptions that this is a powder noodle, the 112 is actually quite stiff through its back half. But then there’s the Wailer 112’s tight sidecut radius, low weight, and heavily tapered tips — all elements that make this ski much more of a quick turner than a crud buster. Still, we’ve been pretty impressed with DPS’s “Alchemist construction” and this ski is more damp than past iterations of the Wailer 112 while still being relatively light weight. And while that -14 cm mount point might seem extremely far back (because it is), it works well with the sidecut of the ski, and is one of the reasons why this ski floats as well as it does in deep snow.”
That’s actually a really good overview of this ski, so I’m going to go ahead and pat myself and our other reviewers on the back.
But there’s also a reason why we’ve taken so long to post this review, and honestly, it probably has a good bit to do with some ambivalence on my part. So I kept wanting to get more of our people on this ski before we dropped our “full” review.
The other thing is that we kept hoping to catch the right weather window to get this ski into really deep snow. But over the past couple of seasons, shipping the ski off to a different reviewer in a different state would seem to guarantee that a high-pressure system would follow right along.
So maybe we’ll drop this review, and then Ullr will make it start dumping in mid-June. Anyway, enough waiting. Here we go.
Alchemist Construction / Damping / Stability
Paul Forward (6’0”, 190 lbs): Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: does the Alchemist construction live up to DPS’ claim that it significantly dampens the ski? In his First Look, Jonathan predicted that the new construction would improve the ski’s mixed-condition performance based on its additional weight alone, and felt that the only question was “By how much?”
My preliminary answer, based on a couple days on the Wailer A 112 and a bunch of days on the Lotus A 124 is, “A lot.”
While still not a steamroller of a ski by any means, the Wailer A 112 was surprisingly well-composed in the firm and soft, bumpy conditions we encountered at Bachelor. On several occasions, I skied back-to-back on the same run the Wailer A 112 and the Nordica Enforcer 110 (which has a 2-layer titanal construction and is admittedly a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison in shape and design intent). While doing this, I was surprised by how much DPS seems to have narrowed the gap in stability between a more traditional metal-construction and their Alchemist construction (and it’s worth noting that this was on pretty soft, spring snow).
While the Wailer A 112 is still significantly more prone to getting knocked around, it is much closer than I thought it would be to the Enforcer 110. And I attribute some of the difference to the longer effective edge and less tapered tip and tail of the Enforcer 110’s shape — which makes the Wailer A 112 that much more impressive in my opinion.
I wish I had a pair of the Pure3 Wailer 112 to compare back-to-back, but based on my recollection of many days on Pure3 skis, I think the Alchemist construction is a big step forward in regard to dampness.
The other surprise for me with the Wailer A 112 was that its large, heavily tapered tips haven’t been flopping around nearly as much I expected they would. I think some of this is due to the new construction, and part is due to the fact that I’ve mostly skied it on relatively soft snow.
Luke Koppa (5’8”, 155 lbs): I never skied any of the previous versions of DPS’ carbon construction, but based solely on the fact that the 189 cm Wailer A 112 only weighs around 2060 grams per ski, I’ve been impressed by how surprisingly smooth it felt, even in some rougher snow.
And in the case of the Wailer A 112, I felt that most of the instability / twitchiness I felt was due to the ski’s shape, rather than its low weight. This ski does not feel very “tinny” or harsh like other carbon skis I’ve used. The Wailer A 112 still doesn’t feel as smooth as heavier skis, and I’d easily take the heavier and less tapered Enforcer 110 in any sort of difficult snow. But I think the level of stability DPS has achieved with the Alchemist construction is certainly commendable. The Alchemist-construction skis I’ve used (Wailer A 112 and Cassiar A 79) are the smoothest (and admittedly, the heaviest) full-carbon skis I’ve ever skied.
Sam Shaheen (5’10”, 140 lbs): I had a very similar feeling to Luke with respect to the Alchemist construction. But I think one contributing factor to the stability of the 189 cm Wailer A 112 is the combination of its long length and very traditional mount point (-14 cm from center). There is so much ski in front of the bindings and that helps when skiing at speed as I can drive hard through the front of the ski to help keep the tips tracking the right way.
Jonathan Ellsworth (5’10”, ~175 lbs): When it comes to performance in rough conditions, this Alchemist construction is a significant improvement over DPS’s previous PURE constructions. What I can’t speak to is how much of the improvement is simply do to the additional weight / mass of the ski, all I know is that this version is (1) heavier and (2) has better suspension than previous PURE Wailer 112’s.
Paul: On groomers, I’m typically not a fan of skis shaped like the Wailer A 112, especially in this waist width. To me, dramatic tip taper like that on the Wailer A 112 belongs mostly on skis that are at least 120mm-underfoot because it allows for a surfier ride in pow. In my experience, heavily-tapered tips on skis like the Wailer A 112 are much more of a liability in firm conditions largely because of how much they reduce the effective edge of the ski, even when tipped over at higher edge angles.
With that said, while skiing soft groomers at Bachelor, the Wailer A 112 held a strong edge at high speeds. Again, it’s more prone to getting knocked out of a carve than skis with more effective edge and / or a heavier construction, but overall, it’s a fun ski to lay into a turn.
The Wailer A 112 also did quite well in quick, short-radius slalom carves in which I’d cheat the top of the turn and initiate a bit further across the fall line. Like most skis with heavily rockered and tapered tips, the tips of the Wailer A 112 feel relatively numb when initiating turns. But after a few runs, it was easy to learn where on the front of the ski turn initiation should occur. It’s also worth noting that the heavily-tapered but less-rockered tails of the Wailer A 112 provide a pretty nice compromise between support in the backseat and the ability to break free and ski with relatively little effort.
Caveat: When reviewing photos of me riding groomers at Bachelor I was also surprised to see how much of the Wailer A 112’s tip I was actually engaging into the soft snow. It’s possible that some of the stability and groomer performance I experienced is related to how soft the snow was in Bachelor, and that on much firmer groomers, the Wailer A 112 might ski more like their heavily rockered / tapered shape would suggest.
Luke: At first, the Wailer A 112 felt a bit odd to me on groomers, though I was surprised by how well it carved turns given how big the 189 cm version is. While it’s a big ski and those tips look enormous (due to the -14 cm mount and their ripe-banana color), the Wailer A 112 has so much taper and rocker that — on firm groomers — it feels a lot shorter and more manageable than its size would suggest.
On smooth groomers, I actually really enjoyed carving small to medium-radius turns on the Wailer A 112. As Paul speculated, this ski definitely doesn’t yank you into a turn like skis with less taper and rocker. Instead, it’s more of a gentle suggestion (like your mom subtly hinting that you should probably eat a bit healthier cause you’re looking a little “hefty”).
The Wailer A 112 can definitely carve turns on firm snow, but you shouldn’t expect its edgehold to be class-leading (it has very little effective edge for how long it is) or expect it to feel super quick edge-to-edge (it’s 112 mm underfoot, afterall). And if the groomers were more bumpy / inconsistent, the Wailer A 112’s tips had a tendency to wander and get knocked around. But with all that said, I was still impressed by how stable the Wailer A 112 felt given how light it is. And with such a rearward mount point, I was able to really press into the shovels, which, as Sam noted, can help counteract the tips’ tendency to get knocked around in rougher snow.
Sam: I actually had a pretty good time carving turns on the Wailer A 112. The ski has a good amount of rebound and energy out of a turn (particular when driving the ski hard) which counteracts the sluggishness caused by its mount point and size. It isn’t an extremely precise carver or one that wants to mob at high speeds, but for a 112mm-underfoot ski, the Wailer A 112 offers pretty good of edge hold (despite its short effective edge) and is manageable on firm snow.
Jonathan: I don’t really disagree with anything that these guys are saying. But I just can’t get past this tip shape. I’m opposed to it both on design principles and aesthetic principles. I also want to quickly acknowledge that this is silly, unfair, and has nothing to do with anything per se … including how the ski performs on groomers. But the shape of this ski makes me grumpy, so I guess I feel the need to cast some dark shadows on all of these sunny comments about how well this ski carves (for having such a silly / unnecessary tip shape).
Paul: While I’ve spent most of my time on the Wailer A 112 in spring snow, I have little doubt that the big, heavily-rockered shovels of the 112 will likely float better than those on many other skis of this width.
Luke: I have no doubt in my mind that the Wailer A 112 will offer a lot of float in deep snow. This ski has so much rocker and such a rearward mount point that, at 5’8” and 155 lbs, I would be extraordinarily surprised if I was able to sink the tips on the 189 cm version. And at the same time, the Wailer A 112’s taper, rocker lines, and tight sidecut make it super easy to turn, slash, and slarve. I can’t currently think of another ~112mm ski that seems better suited for skiing pow in the trees (and in that case, I’d probably size down to the 184 cm since I don’t think I’d need the float of the 189 cm version).
Sam: Yep, this ski just screams “pow day tree ski” to me. It is super easy to pivot and accepts a neutral stance surprisingly well. Combine that with a mount point that’s more traditional than pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for making windshield-wiper turns in deep snow in tight spaces.
There are definitely other skis that I would take over the Wailer A 112 if I wanted to ski at high speeds, jump off of stuff, and / or drop cliffs on a powder day. The Wailer A 112 doesn’t have the top-end stability or playfulness of many other skis of similar widths. But the more I was going to find myself in tight spaces at less than blistering speeds, the Wailer A 112 would be a good choice.
Jonathan: I skied previous iterations of the Wailer A 112 in deep snow, so I can vouch that those (silly-looking) massively-rockered tips absolutely will not dive on you. But again, since I’m primarily here today to register my gripes about this ski that is loved by so many — and, if you already love this ski, you should continue to love this ski, because, why would anything I have to say make you like less a ski that you already know you like?? — I will note that one of the upsides of having such a massive tip on a 112mm-wide ski is that you don’t have to ski on your heels to keep the tips up.
Other skis (namely, the old Rossignol S7, a ski that I also hated from a design perspective) were intended to make powder skiing easier by allowing a person to sit back / sink back in deeper snow and make windshield-wiper turns. But not even the S7 had a -14 cm mount point.
And eight years or so ago when the Wailer 112 was first introduced, it was intended to be a better S7. And I think it was. But as more time has passed, I’m ready for this still-popular Wailer to get an update. I see no reason to put a -14 cm mount on such a “modern” shape. (Of course, I also see no reason to taper the tips as heavily as the Wailer 112. It’s already super light and quick. Less taper and it would still be light and quick, while also tracking better in variable conditions.)
But did the Wailer 112 make powder skiing a lot easier for a lot of people? Yes. And does it still today? Yes. And is this Alchemist construction the best iteration of the Wailer 112? Yes. Unless you had touring bindings on your old PURE3 construction Wailer 112, and so are bummed to see this ski get a bit heavier.
Anyway, yes, this design still absolutely punches above its width in terms of its deep-snow performance.
Luke: I spent a day on the Wailer A 112 at A-Basin in late spring when the entire mountain basically consists of slushy snow that’s been cut up, pushed around, and mutilated by hundreds of costume-clad, probably slightly-intoxicated skiers enjoying the springtime.
In this soft, inconsistent snow, I again noticed the tapered shape of the Wailer A 112. This just isn’t a shape that’s designed to track and blast through chop. Instead, it’s meant to be easy to turn and slarve, and in that way, it does well. If I tried to make big, fast turns through the slushy chop, I could feel the Wailer A 112’s tips getting knocked off track. So I instead focused on making some more deliberate turns and slashes to maneuver my way through the parts of the run that were still fairly smooth. And again, I think most of the Wailer A 112’s instability in chop is due to its shape, rather than its construction.
Sam: I’ll echo Luke here. The Wailer A 112 tracks better than I expected when looking at the specs, but it’s still a light, heavily-tapered and heavily-rockered ski. It does get knocked around, especially when the chop gets heavier. But like Luke said, the Wailer A 112 is designed to be easy to turn and slarve, not mach down variable snow.
Jonathan: Yep. And for the record, I just had a ski built called, The Hammer, where I gushed about how excited I was about the ski even though it doesn’t really work at slow speeds, and won’t float in pow nearly as well as this Wailer 112.
It’s good that there are a lot of different ski designs out there in the world. Different strokes.
Also of note: I still remember being absolutely stunned / kind of mad that Cy Whitling loved this Wailer 112. He asked if he could take it back home with him after Bachelor. In case you don’t know, Cy mounts pretty much all his skis 2 to 6 cm behind center. Cy hated the Volkl BMT 109, a ski that Paul and I think is excellent. But he clicked with the -14 cm Wailer 112 and wanted to take it home. I said No. WTF. Point is … a lot of people click with this ski.
Bumps / Tight Spots
Paul: The balance with any rockered ski is between a long effective edge that supports and stabilizes carved turns vs increased rocker and taper that makes the ski feel shorter and quicker in bumps, tight spots, and in any kind of 3D snow.
The heavily tapered and rockered tips and tails of the Wailer A 112 make the ski feel quite short in tight spots in the trees, and it’s easy to throw the ski sideways for quick stops when needed. In the irregularly-shaped spring bumps around Bachelor, the quickness of the Wailer A 112 was appreciated, but I noticed myself skiing faster on less tapered and less rockered skis that inspire more confidence when smashing and carving my way down the mountain. This was in contrast to the Wailer A 112, which preferred to be finessed a bit more.
Luke: I agree with Paul. The Wailer A 112 feels very maneuverable for its size thanks to its taper, rocker, and sidecut. Even on the 189 cm version, I was surprised by how easy I found it to pivot and swerve my way through tight spots.
I spent a couple laps on the Wailer A 112 under Telluride’s Plunge Lift, which drops you off above several very long runs with lots of steep, big moguls. In bumps that were both tight and steep, the 189 cm Wailer A 112 did still feel big — it’s hard to ignore just how much ski you have in front of you.
But if I stayed on the front of the ski and drove its tips into the troughs, the Wailer A 112 was surprisingly fun in bumps. And I actually found myself getting a lot of energy out of the ski here, bending the big, fairly stiff tips / shovels into the troughs and getting a lot of rebound on the way out. This was the only area where I really noticed the energy of the Wailer A 112 — it felt more smooth (or sometimes, planky) everywhere else. And that could easily be due to the fact that I’m just too small / light to really bend the 189 cm version at moderate speeds (Sam said he got a good amount of energy out of the ski when skiing hard on groomers).
If you look at our flex pattern numbers for the Wailer A 112, you’ll notice that its tail is quite stiff. And while I could definitely feel that tail when I got knocked backseat, it’s also very short, tapered, and rockered, so it didn’t feel very punishing. And in mellower bumps where I had more space in the troughs, the Wailer A 112 was very easy to slide and slither through the moguls.
Sam: The 189 cm Wailer A 112 is a big ski. That is impossible to ignore. As soon as I put it on my feet (and no thanks to the bright yellow topsheet) I couldn’t stop looking at it — and then thinking “wow that’s a long tip.” I think the 184 cm version would obviously be much more manageable in trees and bumps, but the 189 cm version still does pretty well in these places. The very nimble shape is counteracted a bit by the inherent sluggishness of a -14 cm mount point, but the Wailer A 112 is still quite easy to pivot around.
Jonathan: I think I’d be less against the Wailer 112 if we’d reviewed it in a shorter length. Increasingly, with super quick skis like this that don’t really bring a big bump up in stability when you go with a longer length, I’m all in favor of not bumping up. I feel the exact same way about the Blizzard Rustler 10.
If we had reviewed the 184 cm Wailer 112, yes, it would sacrifice a bit of stability. But you’d also have a super quick, light, nimble ski that is even easier to stuff into tight trees or deep troughs. So these days, I think I’m actually more open to this design in its shorter available lengths. Though if you will be only / mostly skiing deep pow and open bowls, then there is little reason not to size up.
Luke: The Wailer A 112 is a perfect example of how a ski can be playful in some ways, but less playful in others. This ski has a ton of taper and rocker, so it’s very easy to slide, slarve, and slash. But it also has a very traditional mount point and a pretty stiff flex pattern. So while it’s a pretty loose ski, I found it difficult to get much pop out of the Wailer A 112, and it felt quite unbalanced in the air. This is not a good ski for spinning and jibbing, but it is much easier to throw sideways compared to other directional skis with less rocker and taper.
Sam: Man, Luke is on point here, and I would say almost the exact same thing. I would just like to reiterate the Wailer A 112’s unbalanced feel in the air. I actually can’t think of another ski in this category that feels worse in the air. The Wailer A 112’s swing weight is very high because of the mount point, and the shape is just not very freestyle-friendly. But the ski does love to slash quick turns and play around, as long as the bases stay on the snow.
Who’s It For?
Luke: I think the Wailer A 112 would be a great powder ski for people who want something that’s easy to turn and offers plenty of float for its width. It doesn’t shine while skiing fast through rough snow, but if you take a slower approach or ski with more finesse, the Wailer A 112 is very maneuverable and feels surprisingly smooth for its weight.
Sam: The Wailer A 112 is a good option for someone who wants an easy powder ski that can also be driven pretty hard outside of a pow day. The Wailer has a stable platform, a playful shape, and a mount point to keep those tips up — all traits that make it an easy ski to get along with in most conditions. Intermediate to expert skiers who want a powder ski that can pivot and slarve with ease, the Wailer A 112 is for you.
Jonathan: My friend, Pat Sinnott. Pat is a phenomenally good skier, and he pretty much skis the Wailer 112 as his everyday ski. He’s 5’8” ~155 lbs, and he slices up (with surgical precision and snappy, quick turns) steep moguls, techy chutes, groomers — literally everything — on the 178 cm Wailer 112. Pat is a finesse skier, and he’s a better skier than the vast majority of the people on the mountain. So, given all of my reasons for disliking this design, does it make me mad that Pat kills it on this ski? Yeah. Kind of. And is this also evidence that when reading gear reviews, you better think long and hard about your personal preferences and how you approach the mountain and what you are looking to get out of a particular product, and not just whether some reviewer says, “It’s great!!”? Yeah. Pretty much.
With the newest iteration of their classic powder shape, DPS has made a ski that’s pretty damp for its weight, but that is still very easy to ski. The Alchemist Wailer 112 improves upon the previous versions of the ski in nearly every area, and is still one of the best ~110mm traditional powder skis for surfing around in clean powder (especially in tight spots).
Deep Dive Comparisons: DPS Alchemist Wailer 112
Become a Blister Member or Deep Dive subscriber and check out our Deep Dive of the Wailer A 112 to see how it stacks up against the Rossignol Super 7 HD, Line Sick Day 114, Nordica Enforcer 110, Liberty Origin 112, Volkl V-Werks Katana, and more…
NEXT: ROCKER PROFILE PICS